April 3, 2007

EMI Hops On Clue Bus, Yet Gets Off At Wrong Stop...

by Chris Randall

You've no doubt heard this by now. EMI has apparently decided to bend to the will of the market, sort of, and sell DRM-free music on iTunes. They'll be taxing the consumer for the honor of buying something that will play in all media players and not just iTunes, to the tune (pun intended) of an extra thirty cents. Aren't they magnanimous?

Now, just to be on the record about this, I don't care what the majors do with their catalogs. They can make their customers have to reach down the throat of a rabid coyote to try and grab a song wrapped in rusty razor wire, then sue that customer for cruelty to animals for all I give a fuck. The way I look at it, the consumer is usually quite willing to be fucked, as long as he/she is lubed up good and squishy first. No, what I take issue with are these two choice quotes. First, from EMI's CEO, Eric Nicoli:

"Consumers tell us overwhelmingly that they would be prepared to pay a higher price for digital music that they could use on any player. It is key to unlocking and energizing the digital music business."

Really. Actually, Eric (if I might be so informal,) the key to unlocking and energizing the digital music business is coming to the drastic realization that the MEDIUM is NOT the MESSAGE. The digital music business IS the music business, retard. Your business would be energized if you stopped spending so much money on Coldplay and started developing artists again. And that leads us to this choice nugget from our good friend Mr. Jobs:

"Doing the right thing for the customer going forward is to tear down the walls that impede interoperability."

Hey, I've got an idea: make Logic use the same fucking plugin format as everyone else, you fucking turtleneck-wearing burnout.

Okay, rant done. Discuss.



Page 2 of 2

Apr.03.2007 @ 9:20 AM
Honestly, I think this development- link [tech.monstersancs.co...]">link [tech.monstersancs.co...] -is a lot more interesting.
I've always been annoyed by the way releases vary from market to market. Japan and Australia in particular always seem to get extra tracks, and when I first started buying music online I thought it'd be much easier to get these tracks. Sadly that wasn't the case, but perhaps that's going to change.

Apr.03.2007 @ 10:46 AM
About EMI/iTunes: I believe the cost of full album downloads for the new DRM-free format will remain the same, trying to pump up "album" sales (for whatever reason I can only speculate). In the end it doesn't matter to me 'cause I avoid iTunes but I do see it as at least a baby step in the right direction.

About AU vs. VST: I'll come right out and say it (again): some intrepid dev sooner or later has to grab the bull by the balls and build a truly open source, cross-platform plugin format. Basically we need a Firefox for DSP development.


Apr.03.2007 @ 10:55 AM
Chris Randall
I feel the need to backpedal a little bit. I was in a rare mood yesterday; I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, and I'm obviously terribly allergic to something in our biosphere, which was causing me a great deal of agony.

To note obvious points, with our current backstage rig, it takes a couple minutes to port a Windows VST to OSX VST, and from there, maybe five hours to port to AU. So the time spent per product on the port is not that great. However, it took about 6 months of solid development time to make that backstage rig, and we have a wiki with pages and pages of notes on how to properly code a VST so that it can easily be ported to AU.

On top of that, the vast majority of our updates and maintenance releases are related to AU. An Audio Damage customer that uses both OSX and Windows will note that the AU/VST installer is usually several points ahead of the Windows version, for this reason. (For instance, we're shortly going to release Dubstation 1.1 for VST/AU OSX, and we could probably leave Windows VST of that plugin at 1.0.2, except it's getting confusing.) So to say that 70% of our development time is spent on AU is incorrect. 70% of our total time spent coding, period, is spent on AU.

As far as DP goes, I don't know how big the installed user base is compared to Logic; all I know is that the vast majority of our OSX customers use Logic and/or Live. If I was forced to come up with a number, I'd guess that maybe 5% of our OSX customers use DP. I don't know why this is; I have DP for testing purposes, but I find it unfathomable, personally. In any event, I apologize for belittling DP users; that wasn't my intention.



Apr.03.2007 @ 10:59 AM
Chris Randall
Oh, and one other thing:

The reason I think AU is pointless might not be as obvious as I'd wish. It's like this: AU is, in fact, better than VST. There are features in the AU kit, not at all present in VST, that would be really nice to use. However, in order to make any money in this business, a company MUST release in VST/AU OSX and VST Windows. Since 2/3 of those releases are VST, the AU and the VST must be the same.

Thus, it is basically impossible to take advantage of the extra features in AU and still be financially viable. Hence, AU is pointless. Q.E.D.



Apr.03.2007 @ 11:29 AM
I am one of the creators of Rhapsody and very well-versed in the "digital music business". As usual, CR is right on. Might as well drop the "digital" - this <u>is</u> the music business now.

Anyhow, "all you can download" for any price isn't going to happen with the majors, ever, unless there's serious revision of copyright law.

As for higher bit rates, it's just a matter of time before all services offer better-than-CD resolution for files. I figure another year before someone launches a starter service and another 2-4 before it catches on in the mainstream.

That said, you have to have some serious golden ears and a serious set-up to reliably discriminate between AAC @ 256 kbps vs. original 16-bit source material.


Apr.03.2007 @ 11:34 AM
puffer: the majors still think of the album as the product, they dont want to go back to selling singles again. So sayeth the people I know at Columbia Japan and Toshiba EMI.

Apr.03.2007 @ 1:31 PM
One would guess that they're determined to sink with the ship, but as an aside, I'll admit I've acquired almost every Shiina Ringo-related release Toshiba has put out. She's a remarkable artist and I have a hunch her oeuvre will be collectible some day.

Apr.03.2007 @ 7:00 PM
interesting. as far as downloads go i get various responses and requests. i released number 001 of a label last year and sold it for $10 US w/shipping included to anywhere and i'd get emails asking "where can i download this?" of course downloads were in the works and once it was all done people started downloading. and sure not everyone downloaded the full album but some people did and paid a similar price to actually getting CD quality plus nice artwork & packaging.

it's weird because one place i work w/for downloads supports FLAC and wav and higher quality mp3's. of course you pay more for higher quality so a wav is much more expensive than the lower quality mp3. however, people downloaded the entire album and paid more for it then actually buying the CD and having it mailed to them?? whatever. that's fine w/me.

if i'm going to download an album i try and find a source for FLAC. if not then i just order the CD.


Apr.04.2007 @ 3:18 AM
Personally, the only thing I ever order off itunes is singles. If I buy an album, I want the uncompressed version. I don't have any trouble using my US bank acct. to pay for singles at the US itunes store and download them in in Japan, though.

I hear that bit about it being hard to tell 256 AAC from the original a lot, and all I can say is that it depends on the situation. Even on my ipod, I use ER4ps, which are pretty detailed. I would personally say that for most modern pop, rock or hiphop type stuff, and most, but not all, electronic music, I really don't notice a difference between 256 AAC and cd quality even in a good listening environment, but that accounts for about half of the stuff I listen to. Acoustic guitars sound okay compressed, but I find the artifacts a lot more obvious on string and wind instruments. The absolute worst is old blues, jazz, old-time, and ethnographic recordings. There is always a fair bit of noise on the recording, and I can hear the compression algorithms acting on the noise clear as day, even on a shitty system, and it drives me crazy.


Apr.04.2007 @ 10:59 AM
Chris Randall
My experience mirrors yours, mostly. I do buy a lot of albums off iTunes. I always check eMusic and BLEEP first, and if the record I want isn't available at either of those places, and it's at iTunes, I'll buy it there. If it isn't at those 3 places, I'll order the real CD from Amazon or whatever.

I tend to hear compression artifacts in cymbals mainly, sometimes hi-hats. But 95% of my music listening takes place in my car, where it isn't a big deal.



Page 2 of 2



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.