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Digital Music Deadpool

By llurk42 in MLP
Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:15:59 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)
Music

Riffage.com announced on Friday that it was closing its doors due to financial problems. Riffage is just the latest in a string of spectacular failures -- digital music dot-com companies have had about as much success as Eric Roberts' acting career. Check out this story over at Loudwerkz.com which talks about the death of Riffage and poses a question that I think is on all of our minds: why are these digital music companies imploding when the market seems like it should be doing just the opposite? What exactly are they doing wrong?


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Digital Music Deadpool | 14 comments (14 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
market market market (3.40 / 5) (#1)
by TheReverend on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:46:11 AM EST

You need to fill a void. Let's be honest here, in just about every major city in the US (where a majority of purchases are made) you can't swing a dead elk without hitting a Sam Goody, Best Buy, Media Play, Record Town, whatever. We are bombarded by places to buy music, videos, t-shirts and posters. And face it, most people want what's on the radio. Why should I order it and wait 3 days when I can pick it up at best buy NOW. If everyone had broadband and cd burners I might feel differently, but it's not happening yet. Really, hardly anybody is making money online dealing in actual goods. The net has become service oriented. My.Mp3.Com will probably do better as a pay for service than these other sites.

---
"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
lol

Buy what? (3.33 / 3) (#11)
by antizeus on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 01:06:54 AM EST

I'm sure you'll have no problem finding the latest Backstreet Boys CD at those many record stores. You might even be able to find something by Captain Beefheart. I've never seen Splashback (a surf music band) at a record store. I think that the Internet's best market is in the more obscure material that most brick-and-morter stores can't be bothered to stock. What we need, though, is a good mechanism to promote these acts.
-- $SIGNATURE
[ Parent ]
I agree, however... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by TheReverend on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:11:10 AM EST

The reasons that stores don't want to carry that stuff is that it doesn't sell. Example. I love the Blue Meanies. But 99% of my friends think it's crap. And I have a wide variety of friends (musicians, geeks, jocks, business people), but they still don't want to hear it. I don't think that is a bad thing either, more meanieliciousness for me. But having a business around unknown bands is hard. I used to work in an indie record store, and it was damn boring. Sure, if you added up all the people in the world who want modest mouse 7" albums, it may come out to a lot, but how many stores can survive based on that income? Not many. Personally, I still prefer mail-order or buying direct from the band at a show.

---
"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
lol
[ Parent ]

I'll tell you what they're doing wrong... (3.00 / 5) (#2)
by bradenmcg on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:21:16 PM EST

... intending to charge money for music.

I'm not about to say that musicians don't deserve money for their music, but look at it this way.

Ever since medieval times, music has been performed. Were these performers paid? Sure, by the king. The general listening rabble paid nothing out of their hand, or so it seemed... truly, they paid through taxes. Now, i'm not about to say "have the government sponsor music" because that will just get us overrun with (IMHO) crap like Spears, Backstreet, Sisqo, Bone, blah, blah, blah, etc.

However, companies don't seem to realize that people do NOT want to pay for music, at least not in the "off the shelf" form that we consume most crap. Music does EXCELLENT in venues such as concerts - entry fee, flat rate, and then all the music you can handle (or they can play). We need something more museum-format. With art, you are charged to go in and look at the stuff, or sometimes it is even free. You are able to take away a drawing or a photo (in most cases) - the musical analogy is an mp3. Not quite as good as the original, but still there. Plus, you're missing the liner notes.

There's a huge stink about music... why isn't there a huge stink about art?

Probably because artists gave up trying to sell and make big money off of individuals a LONG time ago. They auction art, for high prices, to individuals who are monitarily more like corporations.

Maybe the music industry needs to look at making their money off of different sectors. Movies, for instance. I don't have hard numbers, but I'm willing to guess that an artist doesn't make a TON more from a movie soundtrack spot then they do off of a few thousand sales... and the movie is seen by many more people, sometimes.

*shrug* If i had an answer to the "music problem," I'd for sure tell everyone, but I really don't. I just know that a lot of the problem is the fact that people are cheap, and we don't want to have to pay for something that has no real substance... Music is ethereal, and it's a basis of human existance (that's another rant in it of itself). I'm not saying the artist should get nothing, but i am saying that there should be a lot more "music for music's sake," and not just for the money.

<leonphelps>Yeah, now, uh, "sig," what is that?</leonphelps>

court musicians (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by plastik55 on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:24:46 PM EST

Ever since medieval times, music has been performed. Were these performers paid? Sure, by the king. The general listening rabble paid nothing out of their hand, or so it seemed... truly, they paid through taxes. Now, i'm not about to say "have the government sponsor music" because that will just get us overrun with (IMHO) crap like Spears, Backstreet, Sisqo, Bone, blah, blah, blah, etc.

In general, the king's appointed court musicians produced music for the court, which was played at the court. The "general listening rabble" was not invited. Court music tended to be over-intellectualized and deliberately inaccessible to Joe Average. Bach, for example, was a fucking genius and produced incredible , but if I go to a lively party where everyone's enjoying themselves, I'm betting you 100:1 that it's not Bach being played. And it probably won't even by popular contemorary arrogant over-intellectualized music (Aphex Twin) either.

If the government sponsirs music, I think the situation will be rather analagous to court musicians, or to movies produced by the National Film Board of Canada--not crap in the sense of popular pablum like Spears et al., but the opposite end of crap. By which I mean there will be arguable "artistic" value to the music, but the public will derive little enjoyment from it. I'm thinking people like John Cage here, who have been already adequately provided for by the academic system.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

The (film) Boards of Canada (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Kartoffel on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:35:10 PM EST

.... are also a nice musical group. The funny thing is they actually do sound like the background music from 70's Canadian nature films. It's nice chillout music.

And it probably won't even be popular contemorary arrogant over-intellectualized music (Aphex Twin) either.

Great observation. That made me chuckle :) I like Aphex Twin very much, yet it's not the kind of thing you play at a party.

I dunno, sometimes crap is okay. People do like playing Britney Spears at parties. National Public Radio is partially sponsored by government (and corporations) but they still have great radio programs.

[ Parent ]

more specifically... (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by plastik55 on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 05:23:37 PM EST

More specifically, Boards of Canada are a Scottish musical duo who take their name, and most of their samples, from Film Boards of Canada films (as you may know, finding a sample source that won't sue you is a big problem for electronic music producers.) Hence the similarities you noticed...they are the same sounds. ;)

I don't know what gets me about Aphex Twin, I just don't like listening to his music...I'm in love with all his supposed contemporaries (Mike Paradinas, Autechre, BoC as mentioned above...) but I get the feeling that Richard James doesn't write music to be listened to, he writes music so that people can appreciate how clever he is. Rubs me the wrong way.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

hmm... (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by bradenmcg on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:44:02 PM EST

but if I go to a lively party where everyone's enjoying themselves, I'm betting you 100:1 that it's not Bach being played.
From what I understood in my music class, that's not true. One of the great things about those composers is that they were enjoyed by all. Granted, it took longer for the music to "trickle down" to the rabble, but Bach and the like were popular among all classes.

As for governmentally-sponsored music... in the US at least, I think it would all be hip-hop and rap, only because "it's what the people want." As much as the US touts our great democratic system, the way the individual is heard and all that... It's bull and most of us know it. The government is run by the rabble, not by those best fit to run it. I imagine that most readers of k5 would make better leaders than what the US has in its offices right now... but once again, that's just my opinion.

<leonphelps>Yeah, now, uh, "sig," what is that?</leonphelps>
[ Parent ]

Simpletons want everything Free (2.66 / 3) (#6)
by turtleshadow on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:04:14 PM EST

Your reponse is obnoxiously simplistic.
The argument that the public would appreciate free music more is flawed and pedestrian. EVERYONE wants something for nothing. But the rule of physics is matter and energy is neither created nor destroyed but only converted -- and that a cost is payed for the conversion

Enjoyment of Art and access to Nature all have a price that is obscured by the fact that all modern people have them "subsidized" aka Free to the idiots. Scrutinizing the situation more shows this.
    There were no parks until society subsidized the city. People fear the wilderness -- exile out of society is often a death sentance
    There was no Art till people with the talent didnt have to spend 100% of their time trying to stay alive

You must pay for the conversion of thought to physical reality as persons would not be motivated otherwise -- art for arts sake is altruistic and rare.

Regards, Turtleshadow

[ Parent ]
Of course. (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by bradenmcg on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:32:33 PM EST

Sure, there are costs involved. Such is the law of ECONOMICS as well. Opportunity costs, if not necessarily outward payments of money or other services. I honestly don't see why you're trying to drag physics into it; never did I mention thermodynamics... To each his own, I guess.

I don't really want to look at this from the economic standpoint though (i.e. charts, graphs and numbers).

You raised the point that "There was no Art till people with the talent didnt have to spend 100% of their time trying to stay alive."

So that means they spent 85% of their time staying alive and the other 15% creating art. (arbitrary numbers) Who says music can't work the same way? Make music in your free time, give it away for free, simply for the enjoyment of others and yourself. Work another job to live from.

art for arts sake is altruistic and rare

Have you been in exile or something? Most people have untapped desires to create art, in one form or another (music, visual, dance). Granted, not everyone is GREAT at it, but something is better than nothing. Many people sketch/doodle, or sing in the car, or enjoy dancing at parties, or like to build stuff (LEGOs, k-Nex, whatever)... That's art for art's sake.

I don't see why people like Sisqo should make millions of dollars because they can talk about women's underwear while some machine sits behind them and makes a lot of thumping and "rap mood noises."

And that's him making millions... think what his record label skims off the sales! Sickening.

A good example of how I think music should work is in the coffeehouse jazz musician. Works for the tips. Plays because he/she enjoys it. People come and listen because they enjoy it. They pay the guy if they enjoy it enough.

That is how I think music should work. Oh, and don't bring up the argument that "there won't be talented musicians anymore because they need to be full-time musicians to keep their level of talent." That's bullshit. I've heard excellent jazz musicians who do it for fun. Marilyn Manson, who supposedly is a full-time musician, sounds like crap (IMHO, of course). The best music comes from people who are doing it for the love of the music, not for the love of the money.

My response was simplistic because it was intending to generate discussion without first tainting it with my ideas. I wanted to see what other people thought before I really added my $0.02. *shrug* Attack my character all you want, it's just a discussion board and I don't really care. =)

<leonphelps>Yeah, now, uh, "sig," what is that?</leonphelps>
[ Parent ]

Now your Points are Better (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by turtleshadow on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 01:00:14 AM EST

Your expanded points are valid and more explorable... having now performed my daily mantra... throttle back the anger... serenity now.....

My main concern was to deliver that there are costs. I do see your an enlightened individual and applaud your insights and awareness

The physics and economics part was really about Humanity's surviving scarcity by improving resources.

I can't call myself an artist, I'm relatively talented but not great. The resources it takes to complete a drawing is considerable compared to other activities. I transfered that logic to music as well.

The resources being mainly time. When I create and study I have made the conscience decision my time is invested doing labor for myself to feed my hubris rather than say working for a wage that would feed me.

In modern times this is not a substantial decision. Pre-Industrial Revolution that would certainly cut out the woulds from the would nots. I can start at night after my days work by electric light. Serfs worked when the Sun was out and tried to get ready for bed before the lamp light faded. Post Internet the decision is really inconseqential but the often product's intrinsic worth parallels the effort.

I firmly believe only the really motivated -- by inspiration -- pursue the highest of arts. Just look at the caves of Combe d'Arc (Arde`che) or at Lascaux.

I mean yould you spend a days+ hard physical labor climbing through caverns by torch to express yourself, by a painted simple hand imprint? Not that spelunking is required for High Art its the reaching outside the normal self.
I don't see why people like Sisqo should make millions of dollars because they can talk about women's underwear while some machine sits behind them and makes a lot of thumping and "rap mood noises." And that's him making millions... think what his record label skims off the sales! Sickening.

Very good point. I state I don't know why people are buying this stuff. Its just kibble

Your point about the coffehouse musician is valid to a point. But would you ever pay the guy to press play on his CD -ahem MP3 while he stood there looking stylish? Are you paying for the enjoyable auditory stimulation, for the live performance, (physical & mental talent + showmanship) or that instance in time which is non duplicable? -- he could leave & get hit by a falling flower pot never to play again.

To paraphrase The making of a balladeer It takes a lifetime to become a blues singer; It takes a war to kill your brothers, flood then influenza to kill your mother and sisters, being on top, starting again at the bottom (the depression). This was the life of Lonnie Johnson
Read the link, credit to James Sallis, If you dont know Johnson's life story.
I like Marilyn Manson, but most 20th century musicians can't hold a candle to Lonnie. Today You can make it big overnight... Johnson died after a lifetimes playing with and influencing the greatest and he isn't a house hold name.
I apologize for the apparent ad-hominim attack. It was uncalled for.

Regards, Turtleshadow

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (2.00 / 1) (#13)
by bradenmcg on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 01:13:49 PM EST

I think I'll start here...

The resources it takes to complete a drawing is considerable compared to other activities. I transfered that logic to music as well.

That's not entirely true. If you're decent at music, it really doesn't take that much effort. I played jazz for about 6 years of my life, about 2 of which I did a little bit of small-group coffeehouse-style work. We made some money. Never enough to live on or anything, but we did make a little bit of cash every night.

Effort-wise, all it takes is the right mindset. You have to be creative; there are many people who are naturally EXTREMELY creative and it isn't a big stretch to come up with ideas. (Often times, we geeks LACK in that department, simply because of the amount of logic and devotion to single tasks that being a geek can demand...)

I firmly believe only the really motivated -- by inspiration -- pursue the highest of arts.

What makes cave paintings the "highest of arts?" It's all relative... One person can find amazing beauty in the simplicity of a canvas that took 5 minutes to put two types of dye on. It may be skill, it may just be knowing what people want. The artists who tend to do the best are the ones who enjoy it, and they also tend to be able to do it with much less concious effort. To them it is fun, so even if it is an expenditure of resources, it is for their leisure, so it's not a problem to them.

As for Lonnie... I agree that having gone through a bunch of tragedy can make one a better singer... However, there were plenty of great jazz/blues musicians who DIDN'T have such horrible lives, and they were still great. Kinda pokes a hole in that argument... Whether or not you're a "household name" is irrelevant, in my eyes. All that matters is that you were good and that people enjoyed your music. End of story.

<leonphelps>Yeah, now, uh, "sig," what is that?</leonphelps>
[ Parent ]

Broadband (2.66 / 3) (#3)
by Wah on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:51:37 PM EST

I'd say wait for that before you throw millions at a music site. These things are just about totally useless on dial-up. Can you even think about listening to a 128k stream on a phone line? Nope.

I think this is an interesting phenomenon, where the techonological know-how is far exceeding the market know-how or even widespread use of the techonology necessary to experience these sites in anything resembling a positive light.

It'd be like the Home Shopping Network selling exotically colored clothing...six months after the announcement of Color TV. Sure they get "first mover" status, but what does that matter when you are technological generations ahead of your target market.

Personally I think something like Loudwerkz (this is the first I've seen it) would have a more sustainable business model than something that tries to jump to the head of the class like riffage. Building these markets will take lots of time, luck, and hard work, not just marketing.
--
Fail to Obey?

Tin Pan Alley 2001 (3.33 / 3) (#4)
by turtleshadow on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:23:23 PM EST

Could the spectacular explosion and implosion of DotCom music companies be related to the Tin Pan Alley days of yester year? For 20+ years all it took to setup a publishing office was a sense of rythmn, an instrument and a printing press.

Then things got too complicated; royalties, marketing, distrubution and then Rock & Roll change everything from self development to watching someone else perform!

I think that investors and the public need to realize that music has always been a shifty thing. Expecting it to be static goes against logic since it is really a reflection of the public.

The biggest losers are the artists who's work wont be heard or whose catelogs are now tied up as assets.

Regards, Turtleshadow

Digital Music Deadpool | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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