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Re: [ARSCLIST] fwd: Everything Louder Than Everything Else : Have the loudness wars reached their final battle?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Find online some of the many refutations of "The Long Tail". The reports
I've seen is that the vast
> majority of iTunes business is very mainstream. The "tail" may be long,
but it's a tiny percentage
> of total sales. The difference with iTunes and manufactured/inventoried
CD's, of course, is that
> it's still profitable to sell a few dozen digital copies of a song each
month vs keeping
> manufactured CD's in stock. If one assumes that the typical iPod is made
up of a person's CD
> collection plus some purchased iTunes songs, then probably what's on most
iPods is very mainstream
> with a few oddball albums and tracks in there. There's a whole poser
movement among celebrities and
> would-be celebrities to have "cool" playlists that "pass muster" in these
"share your playlist"
> forums and there was a funny Wall St. Journal column about this a week or
two ago.
> Bottom line is, there is no mass "silent majority" audience for niche
music. There just isn't.
> That's why it's niche. Unfortunately, apprently, despite more options in
modern times, the vast
> majority of the listening audience still gravitates to what is being hyped
and force-fed to them by
> Big Music. I ascribe that to the fact that probably only a minority of
people are _really_ into
> music, so for the majority, it's more a background diversion or
keep-me-company noise which could
> just as easily be the TV on in the background. Once in a while, a megahit
comes along that captures
> a moment in time in the culture and it's much more than a music recording,
its a culture event. But,
> most of the time, it's just an on-going string of mediocre "superstar"
types and flash-in-the-pan
> one-hit wonders. In fact, from all the data I've seen in various business
publications and
> newspapers, the predicted "golden era" for smaller labels and "indie"
music that online commerce was
> supposed to produce has not happened at all. What has happened, very
slowly, is that some back
> catalog from the majors that was long out of print has appeared as
download-only in crappy
> lossy-compressed formats for CD prices. I suppose some call that
> -- Tom Fine
> PS -- one niche that is not being exploited at all is downloadable
discount priced issues of Really
> Old stuff from the back catalogs. I betcha if Sony/BMG and Universal put a
good bunch of their
> 1925-1950 jazz, swing and even pop and classical catalogs online for 50
cents or even a quarter a
> pop, they'd sell more songs than they think. Plus, the songs would start
showing up on TV and in
> commercials and all of a sudden there'd might be a mini-trend in nostalgic
music, and then some of
> it would end up sampled in some dance or hip-hop hit and it would be a bit
self-perpetuating. I
> might be wrong on this but I think some of those great songs and
performances have surprising
> staying power if properly marketed. Plus, these kind of recordings
actually sound good to excellent
> in typical iTunes MP4/AAC format. By the same token, I've been surprised
that Radio Spirits/Mediabay
> hasn't been more active on this front. I wonder how many dollars they make
selling individual radio
> shows at iTunes for $1-2 instead of multi-CD sets at $5-10 per disc. Maybe
not enough to justify the
> effort, maybe enough to get out of the CD inventory/shipping business.
Well, that "vast" (better described as "half-vast") listening audience is,
for the most part, teenagers (or, in the XXI Jahrhundert, PRE-teens!)
and as such is the most conformist, fad-driven segment of humanity!
If the "coolest guy/gal in the school" has a tune on his/her/its
IPod, then about 99% of the others, competing for status in their
dominance hierarchy, will buy/steal a copy of the tune...and flaunt
it to demonstrate their "coolth!" Needless to say, these fans aren't
all that interested in the fidelity or listenability of their
music...the important aspect is to play the "cool" (or "sick?!"
tunes loudly enough to ensure everyone within range is aware
one owns a copy thereof!

And I suspect this pattern probably goes back to the beginnings
of the "swing era"...when sound buyers were looking for a
specific performance of a song, not simply any version thereof!

Steven C. Barr

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