January 2, 2012

Submit Thyself...

by Chris Randall

New Year, y'all, and it's time to get this party started. Pursuant to the earlier discussion on the subject, I'm hereby announcing an open call for submissions for the first Analog Industries compilation album. Here's the rules:

1. This will be primarily a vinyl release. As such, certain restrictions are in place that one would not normally find in a digital release. The track you submit can not be more than six minutes in length, and in the event of acceptance you must be able to provide an unmastered 24-bit version, so that mastering needs that are specific to vinyl release may be met.

2. The track you submit must be new, unreleased in any form, and will be exclusive to this compilation for six months after the release of the album. When you submit it, I should be the first person outside your Circle Of Trust to hear it. Ideally, you'll write it specifically for this compilation. Obviously, we're gonna have to go on the honor system for this, but you and I want the same thing here, and that's for this to be a special release. It is going to be expensive to make, and we have to pull off the nearly impossible in 2012, and that's to store all the value we can in the release itself.

3. Financially, this will almost certainly be a losing prospect, just by the nature of how this sort of thing works. When you submit your track, you are doing so with the knowledge that the ten artists chosen may be called upon to kick in a bit to realize the actual physical product. If I'm able to pay for it all up front when it becomes necessary to do so, I will, but the nature of my income (which goes in fairly severe cycles) dictates that when the time comes, I may not be able to do so, and making a physical album, especially vinyl, is not a cheap proposition. The ten chosen artists will decide what best suits them and how to go about it. In the event, it won't be a lot of money, maybe $150-$200 at the most? But the possibility exists that this will be necessary, and when you submit a track, doing so shows a tacit acceptance of this fact.

4. Here's what you're really looking for, isn't it? The musical guidelines. We're going to avoid a genre label here, and just set the style as whatever can loosely be defined by the term "abstract electronic music." When I'm listening to all the submissions to determine the best group, I'll be listening for two things: first, does the track add to and improve our collective experience? I won't dismiss a trance or dubstep or whatever track out of hand, but the stricter the limitations of the starting point, the less likely this will fit in with the whole. Second, technical craftiness is worth bonus points, because it's me doing the selecting, and that sort of thing impresses me. If you just throw a bunch of pre-made loops in FL Studio and mix to taste, I'll be able to hear that, and the songwriting better pick up the slack. Likewise, if you did something new that pushes the boundaries of our field, I'll know when I hear that, too. If you work to impress here, you'll be well-served, and whether or not the result makes the cut, everyone will be better off for having made the effort.

5. The release will be sold via Bandcamp. Initially, it will be vinyl only, get the download when you buy the vinyl. Once the supply of vinyl is exhausted, then it will be digital only, no repress. First in, first out for money, so if you are chosen and have to kick in to make the release, you'll get paid back first. Once all expenses are met, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to a charity that the ten chosen will collectively decided on. The release will be a CC A-NC-ND 3.0 license, but you, the artist, will retain all copyright to the track.

I think that about covers the highlights. All submissions must be received by February 1st February 15th. (EDIT: changed due to NAMM.) The only way I will accept a submission is as a high-quality MP3. If you feel that the transcoding removed important information, then feel free to also provide a link to a place I can download an uncompressed file. But the initial submission should be a good, listenable MP3. Send me a link to the track. Do not email the track itself, nor send me to a Soundcloud, Myspace, or Facebook embed. Make sure the metadata for the MP3 is filled out as thoroughly as possible, so that I can find you again assuming the two become separated. Due to the volume of submissions I expect, anything that doesn't meet this mild guideline will be dismissed out-of-hand. In other words, help me help you.

So, you have a month and a half. Go forth! When you're done, hit me with it.


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Jan.05.2012 @ 12:44 PM
Eric Beam
I don't think there is much hate for the CD. It's the best consumer format we have had to date. Lossless 44.1/16 as a final delivery format surpasses the quality requirements for just about all listening environments outside of the mastering studio.
The CD format has been the standard for so long now it has reached "uncool" status by hipster assclowns. Not because it's flawed, because it's not something you can put on a T-shirt with a retro logo attached. Not yet atleast, give that 10 more years.

Jan.05.2012 @ 12:53 PM
I have been saying for years (probably frequently on AI) that the is a dead medium. Vinyl is the way that you purchase music that you "care" (for lack of a better word) about more than the music that you casually listen too, and some form of digital file would end up being the obvious convenient choice for casual listening. Filling up an iPod with 10k tracks is what people want. But for me, when I want to really get into music I prefer to pull out my vinyl. Its not so much the ritual, but the acknowledgement that my day has reached a point where I have the free time to flip a record over every twenty minutes to hear more music. Listening to my vinyl means that I have won for the day. That I have found just enough of a window of opportunity to taste a little bit of freedom. Hell, I might even taste a little bit of scotch and some fine pipe tobacco if I feel real accomplished for the day!

As far as DJing is concerned, I can see the appeal of vinyl in a casual DJ atmosphere like boobs is talking about, but I have said for the last fifteen years or so that vinyl is a terrible medium for DJing. Back when all of the music was recorded onto tape and there wasn't anything really done in the box it wasn't a bad idea. No point in doing a needled AD conversion. But for club music the formats issues with a muddy or lacking low end become obvious. Not to mention that now days everything goes into a computer at some point in the recording process. If your mastered track is in a digital format, why would you think that a DA conversion to a format that can't handle bass well and has limited headroom be an upgrade in sound? As soon as it became viable to play an uncompressed .wav file DJs should've been lining up to sell off their records. And now days that there are several lossless compression codecs out there a club DJ that doesn't mix digital makes me just shake my head. It's like looking at a relic. As if Tutankhamen hopped out of a sarcophagus to show me his chirps, flares and transformers!

The other day I heard a DJ say that dubstep just sounds better on vinyl than a digital track. I ignored the fact that he spins dubstep (dude's gotta make a living and that's what the kids want these days), but just lost it at the idea that vinyl sounds better than digital for a type of music that is entirely based on heavy low end and sub bass. Then it hit me that the guy was more than likely using low bitrate fileshared mp3s and not the uncompressed 96k/24bit that I mean when I talk about the power of digital for DJing.

Anyway, the CD is dead. It's something that I burn some tracks to so that I have something to listen to in the car as I commute to work. Completely disposable. My vinyl is my free time and great artwork. MP3s are a way for me to lose an entire day trawling discogs.com and All Music trying to get my ID3 tags perfect. Either that or I turn on iTunes and hit the shuffle button and don't know what I've been listening to until after dinner has been cooked.

Also, did I mention that I'm way in on a vinyl compilation? If it works we should make it a regular thing. Maybe not annual but more than just a one off event.


Jan.05.2012 @ 9:36 PM
Clearly then, vinyl is alive and well again for a number of reasons, and being enjoyed by multiple generations. When it comes to DJ'ing with vinyl, while perhaps sonically inferior and less "bass manageable" in a given club setting, there are still those who appreciate the very physical art of, and dexterity involved in, mixing and performing with vinyl, for instance, despite the last few years advances in making this happen in the digital world. Vinyl will never be as big as it once was, nor should it, but it'll never go away completely either. Neither will CDs, at least not for a long time yet. As unpopular as they might be among some people these days, CDs are in fact far from dead, their 'market share' is just in the process of shrinking to adapt to current realities. It's just cool to say that they are 'dead', and it certainly has given a lot of journos a flashy headline for their simplifying article. CDs still represent an extremely practical storage medium for recorded music, they (can) sound very good, they can be and are bundled in very attractive, keep sake box/book sets for both new and reissued music, hence collectible (ensuring their longevity), they are sturdy (hello crashed harddrive... oh, shit, my last backup was 2 months ago...CDs, if pressed with certain materials, can likely last at least 100 years), but they're just not very popular with many (mostly young) people these days. This was inevitable and quite expected, considering the advances in digital technology and the (sad) realities of the mass market, RIAA and all of that, of course. However, I like my CD collection. I have lot of them in crappy looking/feeling jewelcases, but I also have a lot of highly collectable CDs and CD boxes. If you are enough of an audiophile, even playing CDs can be more 'physically satisfying' than launching audio files on a computer, imho. Maybe this is just stupid, but I don't care. Yes, I collect DVDs too.

And, there was UPS just now delivering a beautifully "booked" anthology of 4 CDs covering a certain band's best years... Granted, that same book could of course instead have contained all the digital data on a designer USB stick, or some other form of storage, which has been happening. I'm open for that too, except my CD player doesn't currently have a USB port, and I wouldn't want to even touch my computer while listening to this music, let alone have it (and its whirring fans/drives) in the same room with me.

OK, then there are the multitude of digital audio file formats banding about in the binary universe. I use these for work, not for recreational purposes. I have made a slight, occasional exception when it comes to streaming lately, when the streaming is of a higher quality than that of your average mp3 (which I can't stand to listen to unless it's just part of my job), and filing some stupid forms or whatever require me being positioned in front of the screen. Most all of these digital file formats serve well in a number of specific purposes, but of course a lot of people don't really know or care which format or quality they are using, for a number of reasons. That, plus the ridiculous "loudness war", and the many really crappy ways of listening to music that people engage in these days, ensure that perhaps the majority of (at least younger) people have a new sonic reference, a new reference for what music should sound like for them to be content: crap.

May every format live and prosper as long as there are a group of people who has a use for it, a liking for it or a nostalgia for it. There are still people collecting 8-track players and tapes, and people recording to and listening to Elcasettes! Well, for the latter, at least in Finland, where reportedly all the surplus inventory was sold off when Sony abandoned the format in 1980. This, of course, reminds me of a certain Monty Python song... hmmm.. Spotify or CD? OK, I'm here, in front of the screen, in this case the hifi of it is not that important anyway... Spotify then, hailing from, coincidentally, 'so near to Russia, so far from Japan'...

Jan.09.2012 @ 10:36 AM
Table Man
I love vinyl. I find the crackles, pops and hiss actually make my tunes sound better.. ahem :-)

Nostalgia and sound quality aside, the vinyl format is important because it has been with us 150-ish odd years. Of all the music committed to vinyl... only a small fraction has been converted to other formats. It's kinda our musical heritage.. which is why it feels more permanent and more of an indelible act to commit music to vinyl...

and of course it's easy to support the other formats after.

Jan.25.2012 @ 7:21 PM
As DBM asked if Box.com will work for you would dropbox.com work for you as well?

-Thanks, Daniel

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