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Value in Your Listening Experience

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slartibartfast Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 14 2011 at 07:57
Originally posted by AtomicCrimsonRush AtomicCrimsonRush wrote:

I scanned portions of the OP and found there to be a case here. In any case in order to listen to as much prog as poss, the obscure stuff is impossible to obtain and demands to be downloaded, but I will buy as much as I can when I can. There is no harm in listening online before buying though to ensure the album appeals. 

That is troublesome that you can't get reasonably priced hard copies of some stuff and yet still encouraging that you can obtain it through buying a download.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Starless Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2011 at 10:22
When I was 11 I bought my first LP with my own money (Are You Experienced - a degree of purchasing hipness not to be repeated for a few years). Back then over here in the UK we had 3 TV channels in b&w, and music was the only outlet for the bored teenager. There was no social networking, computer games, skate parks, you name it. Now, with all those other distractions, music although still all around us is much more peripheral to the life of the average teen than it was in my day, and in that aspect the author is right.
 
As for major record labels if you do your research properly you will find that virtually all of the first wave prog bands (and any other genres of bands from that era for that matter) were ripped off by their labels at some point. so the author's defending of them is entirely misplaced, but I'll put that down to naivety as he is very young! Major labels are in it for one thing only, and it ain't for any high-faluting notions of artistic integrity I can tell you! Modern pop is made with serious intent...serious intent to make money.
 
My attitude to downloading is that where the more esoteric bands that we're all into on this forum are concerned, the absence of the internet would render 99% of those bands almost entirely invisible, and indeed a lot of these bands deliberately upload their wares as a means of getting exposure. My maxim is that if you like something enough you'll either buy the cd, assuming they have one out (mp3 and even FLAC are inferior to a cd played on decent hi-fi, and only the cloth-eared would argue otherwise!) or go see said band live thereby supporting their existence.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 23 2011 at 14:28

Originally posted by Alitare Alitare wrote:

That's like, your opinion, man.

I should get some royalties for that.

Meh.... Warner Brothers probably stole it all. In fact, the Coen Brothers are so poor now, they had to sell Frances McDormand on eBay.

Back on topic.......film piracy is affecting the film industry to a similar degree as music piracy is affecting the music industry, it's just that the film industry has generally higher value. It's a trillions of pounds/dollars industry rather than a billions of pounds/dollars industry, so it isn't hurting so bad (yet).

The OP makes a good point about we who buy the music valuing it more than the free downloaders, but it's not like they care (if they were the sort of people who cared about that, they wouldn't illegally download in the first place). The bolg isn't aimed at anyone. 

The whole philosophy of a person who illegally downloads is that they must justify it by whatever means possible. Of course, every single one of them is aware of the law, aware of the moral issues, aware of people like us ranting about it, but none of those things are enough to change their habits. Presenting them with what is right and wrong clearly has no effect, because they never would have started downloading in the first place if it did. These people already know what is right, but there is no punishment, no side-effects, no repercussions for them; and, given that we are discussing what people value, it only takes for you to value your own financial situation more than the music industry for illegal downloading to seem perfectly justifiable.

It's not a question of valuing other forms of entertainment over music (if they were easily obtainable for free, exactly the same categories of people would be exploiting that fact), it's a question of valuing oneself over the success of others, including the bands you like. It comes down to selfishness, a kind of selfishness that no shame is felt about, and one you can make excuses for, in the face of the angry opposition. On a general scale, I value "the economy". I value industry of any kind, at least enough not to steal any product or service. Someone who doesn't have this value is someone who either thinks stealing is morally good (unlikely), or thinks that their small contribution is having no effect on a large scale. When there's millions of them, it does.

The problem is, when one stops, there are still millions of them. What reason can we give somebody, who has no interest in the welfare of musicians they don't know, or no interest in owning physical packages with little extras, to pay for their music?

The answer: there isn't one.

The industry must die, and be reborn with a completely different model. It seems unfair for the morally justified side to back down, but it's the only option. Most businesses go out of business because of lack of demand, not because of large-scale stealing...... but that's life. We can't arrest them all. I mean, we should arrest them all, but no government is efficient or practical enough to carry that out. It's just impossible. A crime can only continue when punishment is out of the question.

Wow..... that turned into a really long rant. Hats off if anybody read it!

Some people have theorised the solution (i.e. the new business model) to this crisis. The one that looks the most tangible to me can be found in this book.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Starless Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 03:25
Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

.....value your own financial situation more than the music industry .....

Surely everyone values their own financial situation over the music industry, or any other industry for that matter? if someone values an industry more than their own personal situation, it's them who are being selfish to their family who rely on them for support? Or, maybe they are just a bit mad!
Although I can understand what you're saying, nothing is as black and white as you make out. What about the point I made earlier where bands who would otherwise be nigh on invisible deliberately make their music available on filesharing sites in order to gain exposure they would otherwise have no chance of getting? Can you honestly say that every new band you've dicovered in the last ten years has been through entirely legit means? Maybe personally, yes, but I'll bet a good proportion of them were discovered by someone further up the chain from you who did so by dubious means, assuming the band didn't put their wares up there in the first place. Doesn't make it right, I know, but we're all culpable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 06:28
Originally posted by Starless Starless wrote:

Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

.....value your own financial situation more than the music industry .....

Surely everyone values their own financial situation over the music industry,

Musicians don't........ well, they are one and the same to a musician. But yes, most people would value their own finances over any industry's. My point was that some people see this as a complete justification for downloading music. I value my credit rating more than value that of any band, but just not enough to steal from them. People who pay for their downloads obviously agree. Some friends of mine think its a stupid "compromise" that I make, just because I am going into the industry myself. Since when was 'not stealing' a compromise?!

[/QUOTE]

 Although I can understand what you're saying, nothing is as black and white as you make out. What about the point I made earlier where bands who would otherwise be nigh on invisible deliberately make their music available on filesharing sites in order to gain exposure they would otherwise have no chance of getting? Can you honestly say that every new band you've dicovered in the last ten years has been through entirely legit means? Maybe personally, yes, but I'll bet a good proportion of them were discovered by someone further up the chain from you who did so by dubious means, assuming the band didn't put their wares up there in the first place. Doesn't make it right, I know, but we're all culpable.

[/QUOTE]

The exposure is a good thing for bands, but it doesn't get them any money. This is a whole different argument, but basically, it just leads back to the first problem: When the free file-sharing earns the band enough popularity to actually start making money out of music, they go and get a record deal. But given that their audience and fan base is a digital one, why would anyone start paying for the music at this point? Again, this is off-topic, but I'll just add here that more and more money from CD sales is also being taken away from bands by the record companies who can't do maths...... or just want to screw you over. They've always been like that, but more so now that they are losing the battle against illegal downloads. If Band X this year make a million dollars less than last year, guess who doesn't get paid? The musicians. Warner will just make up figures to recoup their losses..... and no one is fighting for them because everyone knows they're still stinking rich. (I'm sure there are exceptions! Probably the smaller record companies....... what they call cottage industries??)

I personally have only ever discovered a band by a legitimate means, but that's mainly because I'm still working my way through a list of 70s prog bands who don't have a myspace! If a modern band doesn't have a CD out, I don't own any of their music. Digital music is great, just not for me. It would be even more great if bands were actually able to get any money from it. Spotify have the right idea: charge people for the right to access music rather than "per track" or "per album"...... then leave it to Spotify to distribute the royalties according to download figures (it's not like they, as an independent company, have any wish to screw musicians over.... although they will take their cut of course). The trouble is, Spotify have a free version..... and the people I described above would still rather sit through ads than pay anything.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 22:21
Let me bring in another dimension to this debate.  I intend to get into writing in a big way and I have thought about this subject because in my country, printing of spurious copies of books is rampant and there is nothing much you can do about it.  And yet, there are popular writers who get hundreds of thousands of advance copies printed and have been able to acquire property in a city like Mumbai, no mean feat given the prevailing rates of real estate.  There is the odd film that runs to packed houses for nearly two months in spite of piracy.  As for music, concerts for all kinds of music get good audiences, better probably than ever before.
 
I feel that over and above the battle artists have to fight against piracy, they also need to recognize hard realities of the post modern condition.  There is no inherent value in art anymore that the artist can proclaim.  Value is solely in the mind of the audience. Or, to use a more commercial term, consumers.  For art to be commercially viable, it must find takers. And that means you need to understand what the audience want.  It's possible that sections of the audience would be ready for something if it was offered but because such a proposition doesn't exist, they don't even know it is a 'need'.  The artist must have the foresight to understand what such a value proposition could be and see how he could deliver it. If that means changing one's business model, that should be par for the course. 
 
We are still caught up in selling an old business model, especially so in music. We have not appreciated the fact that we need to sell a product first and foremost.  The other problem is that artists feel squeamish about merely the mention of words like "selling". Well, if you don't sell something, you don't get to make money, as simple.  And it is also not necessary that you must dumb down to sell. On the contrary, offering something "different" and more "authentic" can also be a value proposition.  You know, like premium, branded apparel or luxury cars.  However, this "something different" necessarily needs to be something that people other than you would like to listen to. I really commend you if you want to play fusion in the vein of RTF because Chick Correa inspired you to play the keyboard but please do recognize that that may not get you anywhere because such a pursuit is culturally oblivious and irrelevant.   The market offers you the choice of being contemporary, cutting edge, snob or retro and find your niche within those or create a new one. But the problem fundamentally is that in, ironically, the post modern age, artists especially music artists attach too much importance and sentiment to what they play.  You must speak the language of melody, harmony and rhythm and not genres and that may help you overcome mental barriers to certain formats that you may have.     


Edited by rogerthat - August 24 2011 at 22:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote himtroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 24 2011 at 23:17
I wouldn't be into prog if not for downloading music.  Fact.  I never would have heard of anything I listen to without it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 06:15
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

Let me bring in another dimension to this debate.  I intend to get into writing in a big way and I have thought about this subject because in my country, printing of spurious copies of books is rampant and there is nothing much you can do about it.  And yet, there are popular writers who get hundreds of thousands of advance copies printed and have been able to acquire property in a city like Mumbai, no mean feat given the prevailing rates of real estate.  There is the odd film that runs to packed houses for nearly two months in spite of piracy.  As for music, concerts for all kinds of music get good audiences, better probably than ever before.
 
I feel that over and above the battle artists have to fight against piracy, they also need to recognize hard realities of the post modern condition.  There is no inherent value in art anymore that the artist can proclaim.  Value is solely in the mind of the audience. Or, to use a more commercial term, consumers.  For art to be commercially viable, it must find takers. And that means you need to understand what the audience want.  It's possible that sections of the audience would be ready for something if it was offered but because such a proposition doesn't exist, they don't even know it is a 'need'.  The artist must have the foresight to understand what such a value proposition could be and see how he could deliver it. If that means changing one's business model, that should be par for the course. 
 
We are still caught up in selling an old business model, especially so in music. We have not appreciated the fact that we need to sell a product first and foremost.  The other problem is that artists feel squeamish about merely the mention of words like "selling". Well, if you don't sell something, you don't get to make money, as simple.  And it is also not necessary that you must dumb down to sell. On the contrary, offering something "different" and more "authentic" can also be a value proposition.  You know, like premium, branded apparel or luxury cars.  However, this "something different" necessarily needs to be something that people other than you would like to listen to. I really commend you if you want to play fusion in the vein of RTF because Chick Correa inspired you to play the keyboard but please do recognize that that may not get you anywhere because such a pursuit is culturally oblivious and irrelevant.   The market offers you the choice of being contemporary, cutting edge, snob or retro and find your niche within those or create a new one. But the problem fundamentally is that in, ironically, the post modern age, artists especially music artists attach too much importance and sentiment to what they play.  You must speak the language of melody, harmony and rhythm and not genres and that may help you overcome mental barriers to certain formats that you may have.     

Clap This is exactly what I have been thinking about, for how I'm going to pay off my university fees (recently rocketed here in England) once I do music full-time. I am perfectly happy to save the really "out there" stuff for after I've managed to make a living. I don't really understand why some musicians turn their noses up....... some of them now think that just releasing a single is "selling out"....... even if it performs poorly on the charts!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Starless Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 11:03
himtroy - Well said that man! Exactly my point from earlier. If no-one d/loaded music there are literally hundreds of bands out there that you, me and the man in the moon would never ever get to hear of, or more likely would not exist at all as they would have no audience.
 
thehallway - Again, spot on. Most musos I know do what you might call "day job" music to earn a living and treat the stuff they really want to do, the more esoteric stuff, almost as a hobby, unless of course they get lucky.
 
rogerthat - So, to follow your argument the fewer people buy a musician's music the more it should cost to the buyer, for that's essentially what a premium brand is. I think not! Also, I hardly think playing fusion in the style of RTF is "culturally oblivious and irrelevant"! I think your analysis is far too clinical. Remember, although the likes of Sony treat music as a business it is still essentially an art form despite your attempted deconstruction. Normal commercial rules do not apply to art or those who make it, and never have, otherwise Van Gogh would have not died in poverty.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 12:13
Originally posted by Starless Starless wrote:

 
rogerthat - So, to follow your argument the fewer people buy a musician's music the more it should cost to the buyer, for that's essentially what a premium brand is. I think not! 



It does not work with STUDIO releases so well but I have definitely seen evidence of this in concerts.  Fewer but costlier seats for a classical concert and cheaper but many more tickets for a light music programme.  Again, the billing too comes into play. We like to automatically slot anything esoteric or serious as premium and anything mainstream as, well, basic but that's not necessarily the case and it often doesn't reflect the economic reality. The fact is some stuff that we might be tempted to label pop trash gets a big billing and that is premium, whether we like it or not.  Premium or not is a perception and is to be gauged from market demand, not musical analysis.  

Coming back to studio works, yes, specially packaged releases or so called limited editions cost a lot more so there are music products sold in fewer quantities that cost more to the buyer.  But it depends again on the packaging and positioning rather than the spread of appeal. Simply making something too esoteric in its appeal will not make the music premium.

Originally posted by Starless Starless wrote:

Also, I hardly think playing fusion in the style of RTF is "culturally oblivious and irrelevant"!


I am sorry but it is, as much as I wouldn't personally mind a band that attempts something like that so much. Music has moved on and something like what I proposed above is essentially harkening to a bygone era rather than affording a fresh experience to the listener. I think that implication was very clear anyway from my analysis. I am not saying something with a measure of influence of RTF is culturally oblivious but yes, to attempt to tribute RTF is because it has a very limited appeal as of today.  Ok, I was on post modernism and theoretically appeal to A single listener is valid enough and every member of the audience can have his own cultural zone. But that unfortunately does not address the issue of critical mass of audience that is necessary for the sake of commercial viability.  You still have to find the golden middle that appeals to large sections of the audience.

Originally posted by Starless Starless wrote:


I think your analysis is far too clinical.



It is an analysis of the business of music rather than music itself, so it has to be.

Originally posted by Starless Starless wrote:


Remember, although the likes of Sony treat music as a business it is still essentially an art form despite your attempted deconstruction. Normal commercial rules do not apply to art or those who make it, and never have, otherwise Van Gogh would have not died in poverty.


I have not said that music is not an art form but we cannot talk about musicians being impoverished in the same breath as remaining oblivious to commercial realities.  The fact that Van Gogh died in poverty perhaps also underlines that if an artist wishes to more than subsist on his art, he must recognize these realities.  Some artists follow their heart and still win much commercial favour, that is just destiny and not something that can be perpetually repeated. I am not saying people should not make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of art and on the other hand I admire such people. But you cannot then grumble about the lack of commercially viability for those who choose to make the music they desire to on their own terms. It's as simple as, if you want to make money as a musician, you have to understand the rules of making money and it is not enough to understand the rules of art alone.

Aside from all this, I am not convinced at any level that making art that is true to your values must necessarily always entail divorcing yourself from commercial considerations. It is more that artists are poor at marketing and positioning their own work and fear that they would be perceived as sellouts and lose a small but loyal audience.  That is understandable because they specialize in making art and not in doing business but the commercial world and the art world are not necessarily polar opposites and those who understand the rules of the former often get the best of both worlds.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 13:35
 
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

 
I have not said that music is not an art form but we cannot talk about musicians being impoverished in the same breath as remaining oblivious to commercial realities.  The fact that Van Gogh died in poverty perhaps also underlines that if an artist wishes to more than subsist on his art, he must recognize these realities.  Some artists follow their heart and still win much commercial favour, that is just destiny and not something that can be perpetually repeated. I am not saying people should not make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of art and on the other hand I admire such people. But you cannot then grumble about the lack of commercially viability for those who choose to make the music they desire to on their own terms. It's as simple as, if you want to make money as a musician, you have to understand the rules of making money and it is not enough to understand the rules of art alone.

Aside from all this, I am not convinced at any level that making art that is true to your values must necessarily always entail divorcing yourself from commercial considerations. It is more that artists are poor at marketing and positioning their own work and fear that they would be perceived as sellouts and lose a small but loyal audience.  That is understandable because they specialize in making art and not in doing business but the commercial world and the art world are not necessarily polar opposites and those who understand the rules of the former often get the best of both worlds.

The concepts of art and business indeed are not polar opposites, however, they don't have enough in common to ever avoid compromise (except in extraordinary cases like The Beatles), which means that, yes, even though people well-trained in both can make a decent financial gain from their art, it also means that they will never be 100% satisfied (unless their entire artistic desires happen to be exactly the same as what sells millions in the charts, which, given that that kind of music is fabricated by producers, record execs and calculating "hit-writers", and never the musicians, is unlikely). I hope that long sentence makes sense. LOL

You're saying that compromise is necessary in order to make any kind of practical living out of music, which is totally and unquestionably true. I just don't like it. It's not fair. It makes me grumpy! I'm sure if you've met any passionate artists, you'll know how they dislike compromise. A vision, a goal, a statement..... these things need to come out, and the harsh reality that you'll probably live in poverty if you don't compromise it in some way, sickens me. I wouldn't mind if it were even a poorly paid job, one that literally allows you to scrape by..... but it isn't, it's literally 0.00 (unless you start compromising). My own musical aims are not completely commercially infeasible, I guess, but they aren't exactly mainstream either. In ten years time I'll let you know how I'm doing! If I need a second job, so be it...... I think I would rather earn money by other means and keep art separate. If the current trends in art change in my favour however............



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lucas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 14:07
Originally posted by AtomicCrimsonRush AtomicCrimsonRush wrote:

There is no harm in listening online before buying though to ensure the album appeals. 
exactly. It's always risky to buy an album without having a glimpse of its content.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 20:16
Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

 

The concepts of art and business indeed are not polar opposites, however, they don't have enough in common to ever avoid compromise (except in extraordinary cases like The Beatles), which means that, yes, even though people well-trained in both can make a decent financial gain from their art, it also means that they will never be 100% satisfied (unless their entire artistic desires happen to be exactly the same as what sells millions in the charts, which, given that that kind of music is fabricated by producers, record execs and calculating "hit-writers", and never the musicians, is unlikely). I hope that long sentence makes sense. LOL

You're saying that compromise is necessary in order to make any kind of practical living out of music, which is totally and unquestionably true. I just don't like it. It's not fair. It makes me grumpy! I'm sure if you've met any passionate artists, you'll know how they dislike compromise. A vision, a goal, a statement..... these things need to come out, and the harsh reality that you'll probably live in poverty if you don't compromise it in some way, sickens me. I wouldn't mind if it were even a poorly paid job, one that literally allows you to scrape by..... but it isn't, it's literally 0.00 (unless you start compromising). My own musical aims are not completely commercially infeasible, I guess, but they aren't exactly mainstream either. In ten years time I'll let you know how I'm doing! If I need a second job, so be it...... I think I would rather earn money by other means and keep art separate. If the current trends in art change in my favour however............




Let me put it this way. You try to make the art you want to and THEN you look at how best you can position to to get the best possible audience. There are two mistakes commonly made here: one is trying to second guess what people like and deliberately dumb down your art. The other is in assuming that anything accessible or with wide appeal is dumbed down and necessarily compromised (hence a true artist must make something esoteric, inhabiting a rarefied sacred place). Neither positions are correct in my view. 

A case study here, which I have always been fascinated by, is Iron Maiden.  During their long career, they hardly changed their style (though they got more ambitious within it around Powerslave-SSOASS and again Brave New World - AMOLAD) and they did not depend only on radio airplay for success. They have seemingly mobilized or galvanized legions of metalheads all around the world and filled stadiums time and again on tour. Not just back in the 80s but even in the decade gone by, and they still found YOUNG fans, not 40 somethings feeling nostalgic for childhood or teenhood favourites. And if one were to ask Steve Harris, he would not say he had to compromise to ensure the band lasted longer. On the other hand, he would say they remained 'true' to metal ideals.  There is, as such, much to learn from the concept of 'true' in metal.  They could never convincingly sell something like that in rock because it was too mainstream from the get-go but 'true' is everything in metal.  Iron Maiden quite miraculously added new fans to the legion all the time while never alienating loyal, die hard metalheads.  I don't think it is a historical accident, it's just excellent positioning. 

Another thing is I have never felt convinced that merely making something accessible and appealing involves a compromise. I would personally want as many people as possible to read my work and same goes for music. I don't really understand how snobbery derives from making it out there and difficult.  If somebody WANTS to explore new horizons and the results of that would not be so appealing in the near-term (Stockhausen or Schoenberg's innovations, for example), I fully understand that but I don't know that one has to necessarily be out of bounds of the mainstream to be true to art.  Sure, people do compromise but I strongly feel that if artists tapped into many, er, non musical factors that influence the listener's preferences (and I don't mean anything dirty or unethical here),  they would not have to compromise on their work and still find a good audience. 

Lastly, I am not saying you said that but I don't think embracing contemporary sounds and technology in music is a compromise. It makes it sound 'different' but that is not objectively a bad thing.  In all honesty, I am at a loss when aspiring musicians talk about what "sounds good" because that is a highly opinionated and close minded way to look at music. I am strongly influenced by early 20th century fiction but I try to use specific words that are very commonly used nowadays without resorting to 4chan.  When I submit non fiction articles to websites, I use much shorter sentences than what I do on such internet forums LOL and attempt to communicate the same thing thus (and it is a fascinating challenge and learning exercise in itself). You must speak the same language as your audience, that being my point earlier about cultural oblivion.  The 'classics' that are admired by many rock listeners were all cutting edge for their time, be it Beatles or Led Zeppelin. They were 'with it' and pushed rock into new directions at the same time as they achieved commercial success.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 20:28
One related point I omitted in that long-ass post is that commercial viability can actually fuel ambition by providing the means and resources that an artist would be otherwise denied. That's what happened in the 70s when bigger was actually better. When lack of resources makes you pare down your ambition and scale, that also affects how exciting (or not) your music is.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darkshade Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 25 2011 at 20:54
Originally posted by Henry Plainview Henry Plainview wrote:

 
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

The question I pose to this general argument is if piracy alone is to blame for music's present state, why does Avatar rake in the millions? Why do kids rush to get their copies of Harry Potter/Twilight? I am not trying to talk up their quality, just asking how is that writers and filmmakers can still access a large audience in the same economic and social conditions as musicians?

Well reading a book on a computer sucks, and you can't repeat seeing Avatar in 3D on your computer screen. Music is the same no matter where you get it. I think we'll start seeing more widespread book piracy as digital reading devices take hold in the market. And movie companies are suffering hard from piracy, or at least people not going to theaters anymore. I can't find the link now, but I read that theater attendance in the US has stayed more or less flat even though the population increases. 3D has excited Hollywood so much because the same amount of people would go, but pay more money for tickets. Fortunately, people seem to be getting tired of this.


No time to go through this whole thread, but I just wanted to add, that pop music (-aka- anything that is shoved in our faces on TV/radio/internet/etc) still sells by the buttload. Maybe our beloved prog bands and jazz artists are getting hit, but pop is still thriving; as it gets more and more bland...

But on the bright side, our beloved prog bands and jazz artists are making more money touring than they were in the 90s (generally speaking)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 26 2011 at 04:40
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

 

The concepts of art and business indeed are not polar opposites, however, they don't have enough in common to ever avoid compromise (except in extraordinary cases like The Beatles), which means that, yes, even though people well-trained in both can make a decent financial gain from their art, it also means that they will never be 100% satisfied (unless their entire artistic desires happen to be exactly the same as what sells millions in the charts, which, given that that kind of music is fabricated by producers, record execs and calculating "hit-writers", and never the musicians, is unlikely). I hope that long sentence makes sense. LOL

You're saying that compromise is necessary in order to make any kind of practical living out of music, which is totally and unquestionably true. I just don't like it. It's not fair. It makes me grumpy! I'm sure if you've met any passionate artists, you'll know how they dislike compromise. A vision, a goal, a statement..... these things need to come out, and the harsh reality that you'll probably live in poverty if you don't compromise it in some way, sickens me. I wouldn't mind if it were even a poorly paid job, one that literally allows you to scrape by..... but it isn't, it's literally 0.00 (unless you start compromising). My own musical aims are not completely commercially infeasible, I guess, but they aren't exactly mainstream either. In ten years time I'll let you know how I'm doing! If I need a second job, so be it...... I think I would rather earn money by other means and keep art separate. If the current trends in art change in my favour however............




Let me put it this way. You try to make the art you want to and THEN you look at how best you can position to to get the best possible audience. There are two mistakes commonly made here: one is trying to second guess what people like and deliberately dumb down your art. The other is in assuming that anything accessible or with wide appeal is dumbed down and necessarily compromised (hence a true artist must make something esoteric, inhabiting a rarefied sacred place). Neither positions are correct in my view. 

A case study here, which I have always been fascinated by, is Iron Maiden.  During their long career, they hardly changed their style (though they got more ambitious within it around Powerslave-SSOASS and again Brave New World - AMOLAD) and they did not depend only on radio airplay for success. They have seemingly mobilized or galvanized legions of metalheads all around the world and filled stadiums time and again on tour. Not just back in the 80s but even in the decade gone by, and they still found YOUNG fans, not 40 somethings feeling nostalgic for childhood or teenhood favourites. And if one were to ask Steve Harris, he would not say he had to compromise to ensure the band lasted longer. On the other hand, he would say they remained 'true' to metal ideals.  There is, as such, much to learn from the concept of 'true' in metal.  They could never convincingly sell something like that in rock because it was too mainstream from the get-go but 'true' is everything in metal.  Iron Maiden quite miraculously added new fans to the legion all the time while never alienating loyal, die hard metalheads.  I don't think it is a historical accident, it's just excellent positioning. 

Another thing is I have never felt convinced that merely making something accessible and appealing involves a compromise. I would personally want as many people as possible to read my work and same goes for music. I don't really understand how snobbery derives from making it out there and difficult.  If somebody WANTS to explore new horizons and the results of that would not be so appealing in the near-term (Stockhausen or Schoenberg's innovations, for example), I fully understand that but I don't know that one has to necessarily be out of bounds of the mainstream to be true to art.  Sure, people do compromise but I strongly feel that if artists tapped into many, er, non musical factors that influence the listener's preferences (and I don't mean anything dirty or unethical here),  they would not have to compromise on their work and still find a good audience.

Lastly, I am not saying you said that but I don't think embracing contemporary sounds and technology in music is a compromise. It makes it sound 'different' but that is not objectively a bad thing.  In all honesty, I am at a loss when aspiring musicians talk about what "sounds good" because that is a highly opinionated and close minded way to look at music. I am strongly influenced by early 20th century fiction but I try to use specific words that are very commonly used nowadays without resorting to 4chan.  When I submit non fiction articles to websites, I use much shorter sentences than what I do on such internet forums LOL and attempt to communicate the same thing thus (and it is a fascinating challenge and learning exercise in itself). You must speak the same language as your audience, that being my point earlier about cultural oblivion.  The 'classics' that are admired by many rock listeners were all cutting edge for their time, be it Beatles or Led Zeppelin. They were 'with it' and pushed rock into new directions at the same time as they achieved commercial success.

I don't think it's intentional that a lot of musicians see commercialising their music as a compromise. It is inconvenient that the art people want to make rarely fits with mainstream tastes....... inconvenient but not desired. If the two variables aligned such that no compromise was necessary, I would love that! But as I said, it only happens to the lucky few, The Beatles, Iron Maiden....... You could try to say that these two bands were very shrewd at business, that they were marketing geniuses and were able to "tap into" audiences, and furthermore that their music aligned perfectly with this business model and they had perfect careers........ but that's untrue. The last part is true, and the rest is luck. I honestly don't think Iron Maiden knew what audiences want, it's more like audiences happened to continue liking whatever the band wanted to create that year.

I'm not making excuses.... or trying to say that it's out of our hands and hence, we are allowed to moan. But I also maintain that: in cases when the artist does feel they have to compromise their art, it isn't snobbery. It isn't that we only feel we're making true art when it isn't mainstream. Anything I create, I view as true art (whether it's truly good or truly bad!)...... and sometimes I feel it has an audience, but all too often that audience is nobody but myself. You could say I'm just not 'with it'. In addition, the loftier a goal is, the less likely it becomes commercially viable; probably why Prog isn't too popular. If your life's artistic goal is to get people dancing (and no, I don't think that that isn't "true art") then it is safe to say this is easier to achieve than getting people to sit and contemplate difficult metaphysical concepts. The more successful people have easier goals, which is fine..... hats off to them! But the loftier goals are not only harder, but they less often sync up with pleasant financial situations. Yeah, it's a stereotype, but sadly it's true.

Also, how can you tap into non-musical factors when making music?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 26 2011 at 04:47

Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

One related point I omitted in that long-ass post is that commercial viability can actually fuel ambition by providing the means and resources that an artist would be otherwise denied. That's what happened in the 70s when bigger was actually better. When lack of resources makes you pare down your ambition and scale, that also affects how exciting (or not) your music is.  

This is a case where I am happy to compromise, if I can reap the benefits later by using all the cash I've earned to make the art I couldn't afford to make when I first started out. It's just another unlucky trend in genres like Prog and Metal, that the best albums and the best shows are typically the most expensive ones (just look at Pink Floyd's lighting bill........)!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 26 2011 at 06:35
Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

I don't think it's intentional that a lot of musicians see commercialising their music as a compromise. It is inconvenient that the art people want to make rarely fits with mainstream tastes....... inconvenient but not desired. If the two variables aligned such that no compromise was necessary, I would love that! But as I said, it only happens to the lucky few, The Beatles, Iron Maiden....... You could try to say that these two bands were very shrewd at business, that they were marketing geniuses and were able to "tap into" audiences, and furthermore that their music aligned perfectly with this business model and they had perfect careers........ but that's untrue. The last part is true, and the rest is luck. I honestly don't think Iron Maiden knew what audiences want, it's more like audiences happened to continue liking whatever the band wanted to create that year.

Well, I think Steve Harris certainly is quite shrewd and knows what he wants on an Iron Maiden album. Yes, the first big break had destiny written all over it but he consolidated on it really well, which is a trick the rest of the NWOBHM crowd missed.  And generally speaking, metal musicians at least as of today know what metalheads want and serve it on a platter. Which is why it is one of the most networked and thriving underground music scenes. 
 
And with regard to compromise, it is all about how much importance one attaches to what aspects of music. I have personally never seen pop music inherently as a compromised effort, it is just that some or in fact a lot of pop is extremely 'manufactured'. But there is nothing wrong in my view in writing something appealing and memorable, whereas I have heard people from the art music crowd abhor the very presence of hooks.  It in fact takes a lot of skill and creativity to write something that is fresh and finds its mark in all of four minutes or so.  And I believe that, regardless of what IS the eventual commercial success of such music, a musician does give himself a much better chance of finding an audience when his music is very accessible and appealing. Rather than a compromise, I see it more as tapping a different dimension of compositional skill and a difficult one in my view.
 
So I do wonder if sometimes say the prog rock set wilfully avoid writing something memorable because they have already set out to write something 'difficult'. Certainly, Dave Stewart's observations made with regard to National Health's Of Queues and Cures suggests something of the sort. I am all for musicians writing with clear goals of expression in mind even if said goals take the musician in a not too accessible direction but  for all that I like prog, I have never been comfortable with the difficult-simple dicohotomy and don't like to look music in such terms.
 
You can write something lofty AND memorable too.  Beethoven's symphonies may not be pop music, but the motifs used are unforgettable and the music reveals a throbbing pulse when given the chance. I cannot say that all the 'lofty' music I have heard is necessarily driven by such clear goals and direction as the maestro's works.  So, while I do appreciate ambition, musicians need to be mindful of its pitfalls. It is not necessarily only a question of compromise or honesty but also a question of skill and limitations thereof. I have no objections whatsoever if an artist constructs an entire 50 minute long instrumental with barely any memorability and simply passages of music melodically leading into one another but I also don't see why a piece cannot be memorable and the moment it is, chances of it being well received improve. 
 
 
Originally posted by thehallway thehallway wrote:

Also, how can you tap into non-musical factors when making music?

 
Well, things like attitude, personality and such. There are many other aspects to it so I wouldn't want to reduce it to generalizations. But, for instance, Guns N Roses's success was driven greatly by how AXL was projected to the audience. I find the notion that they represented a break with the era of slick, cheesy glam metal barely convincing but the band were projected as bad boys and won much favour. To this day, their songs like November Rain are hailed as rock classics, so it is now a flourishing franchise and a legacy.  It may not be the most inspiring example musically speaking but it is again an example of tapping into things the audience cares about which may not have anything to do with the music. I have sympathy and admiration for the likes of Hackett who quietly play their music with a smile and do no 'more' but what again is the damage done at all in projecting oneself well and aptly to win more favour IN ADDITION to great musical talent? Why not?  John Lennon, I'd argue, is better remembered than Macca because of such non musical factors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thehallway Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 26 2011 at 14:20

"I think Steve Harris certainly is quite shrewd and knows what he wants on an Iron Maiden album."

Maybe he is. I don't know enough about the band to even know who that is. In any case, musicians being shrewd is rare. Robert Fripp comes to mind but not many others. Often it is a record exec or A&R guy that is shrewd, and that is when the compromises come in; whether they benefit or taint the music is just luck, the aim of these people is purely financial.

 "I have never been comfortable with the difficult-simple dicohotomy and don't like to look music in such terms."

Me neither. I was referring to the difficult-easy dichotomy, and regarding one's aims, rather than the music itself.

"I don't see why a piece cannot be memorable"

It can...... of course it can. If a musician creates something according to their artistic maxim, and it is memorable, then great. Win win situation. What I've been trying to get across is that, if a musician creates something according to their artistic maxim, and it is not memorable, then any attempt to take that music and alter it's memorability, can be defined as an artistic compromise. Even if it actually improves the music, and the music still makes its artistic statement, it is still changing a piece of art for financial gain. I'm all for being business-aware, but I just feel that the whole marketing process should be done after any music is completed, i.e. not overlapping with the actual creative process.

It's all to do with how music is made, I feel. Let's say I sit down with the goal of writing a number one hit single. If, when it's finished, I think to myself that the song actually isn't single-worthy, then I change it accordingly until the goal is achieved (or until I give up), then that's all fine. Chances are, the song may be worse than it originally was on other terms, but it succeeds in it's only purpose, which is to get to number one. This artistic goal happens to coincide with financial gain, so you can see how there would never be a need to alter this song on purely financial grounds. However, let's say I want to write another song that represents the sadness of unnecessary death in war, a protest song perhaps. Again, I can change it's musical elements at any point in order to help achieve the purpose of the song. But if I want to make money out of the song, and I find that it isn't a natural money-maker, I will have to change it more, and in other ways. If this still aligns with the artistic goal, then great, but it is unlikely. When it doesn't align, you have compromised one for the other. For me, the artistic goal is more important, which is why I am uncomfortable with such compromises, even if I have to make them from time to time in order to avoid poverty.

And, regarding the non-musical factors....... again, you're right in saying that having a particular personality can earn you money, while your music can remain safely unchanged by greedy hands. But Lennon was born with his wit and his charm, but if you happen to have a non-media-friendly personality, then it's just tough luck. Your personality isn't really something you can choose.

 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 26 2011 at 21:06
I don't deny that it is tough to write a memorable piece and further that what a musician may find memorable may still not get such a good reception from the audience and also that you may not be born with a great personality. But I also feel artists in general, and not just musicians, could work on these things and give themselves the best chance of succeeding.  I mean, we surely recognize that not all actors were born with macho presence and not all actresses had drop dead looks when they began to knock doors in the industry? Grooming can take you places and the need is much less for a musician so it could well be cultivated without much expense or expert advice.  We know that Peter Gabriel was an introvert and not even  comfortable being the frontman of Genesis(which is why the role was initially given to Anthony Phillips).  For the sake of the band, Gabriel began to wear masks and talk and such and eventually became one of the legendary theatrical frontmen of prog.  Personality is everything for metal frontmen and again not all of them were brutal from the time they rocked the cradle. LOL   

So, my point really is that, yes, business savvy, the ability to write something memorable, and the ability to present oneself charmingly, these things may not be easily acquired but you can "make your luck" to some extent by putting efforts in this direction too.  It would not bother me one bit how the musicians look, as in even apart from physical features, do they exude confidence on stage. I really don't care about those things but a lot of people do and  and, sorry to say so, a lot of people who I'd otherwise consider very erudite and open minded about music attach too much importance to these things. So it's essentially a losing battle if you don't understand what the audience wants and rather than hoping for favourable circumstances, a better approach imo is to adapt and see to what extent you can improve on these things without compromising on your artistic values.  Speaking of which, the other big marketing coup of rock is Sex Pistols and to this day the legend of Never Mind the Bollocks is unshakable though I'd personally much rather London Calling or Marquee Moon and find it rather boring.
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