The Music Industry Really Is Full of It

Music, Rant Comments Off on The Music Industry Really Is Full of It

As reported recently on the excellent ArsTechnica, the BBC asked members of the public for questions to put to a small panel from various sections of the music industry. I don’t often flag up stuff on other sites, but this brought up some issues concerning Internet distribution that, being both a musician and web-type-person, I feel are really important.

The panel consists of high-ups from the IFPI, BPI, HMV stores, and Napster (the latter of which seems to be intent on explaining why Napster is way better than iTunes Music Store). Some excellent questions were raised, but the answers were less than convincing. Quite frankly, the responses of the panel were full of spin, twisted truths, and outright lies.

They seem convinced that DRM is essential to having music distributed by ‘digital’ means – what they mean is that if services distributed music without DRM, they wouldn’t be licensing their content.

One of the most ridiculous claims is that the high price of downloadable music is due to the costs involved, but the cost of producing a track for download must be negligable in addition to the cost of producing the CD.

It’s a common misconception that the costs involved in making a record equates to the cost of the packaging. The majority of costs incurred by our record companies are for making and marketing the music itself – and these remain the same regardless of how it’s delivered. Artists, composers and all those involved in recording and marketing a track all still need to get paid. Same as when you pay 8 for a cinema ticket, you’re not paying the price of the paper the cinema ticket is printed on.

They seem to think that the album/track must be re-recorded, marketed etc. for each format that it it released on. Digitally distributed music is a rip-off. I personally refuse to pay 8/9 for an album that I can purchase a physical copy of in a music outlet for 5. Labels receive almost two-thirds of takings from a download (can’t remember the source, sorry), and all they have effectively done is give iTunes Music Store, Napster et al the nod to rip their CD as audio files.

The music industry’s attitude to both its customers and its artists (another issue altogether) is disgusting. Hopefully it will bring about the death of major labels as we know them, leaving the way clear for indie labels who actually care about music, and are not afraid to look to the future.


Further to this, a Canadian record label has decided to defend an accused file-swapper against the RIAA! Even the labels are getting pissed off with the situation… (source: ArsTechnica)

@media is back!

Web Stuff Comments Off on @media is back!

It’s been known for a little while, but I thought I’d mention it anyway – @media 2006 is on its way! The event takes place in June, and follows last year’s event which was Europe’s first grass-roots Web Standards and Accessibility conference.

One change that’s been the subject of some discussion is that @media 2006 will feature a two-track schedule. There’s so much to pack in, that two groups of seminars will be taking place at the same time. Obviously this means that people will miss out on certain seminars, but the organisers are going to arrange the schedule so that delegates will be able to see as many of their preferred sessions as possible based on common interests.

Last year’s @media was a real inspiration, and is highly recommended for anyone who takes modern web design seriously.

For more information, visit the @media 2006 site.

Things to Hate About Mac OS X?

Apple & Mac 4 Comments »

It’s one month since I took delivery of my Powerbook, and I’m still chuffed to bits with it. It still runs smoothly, feels powerful, and getting used to the OS has been like falling off a log that’s been perfectly designed to fall off of. Both the hardware and software are graceful, unobtrusive and actually let you get on with doing something useful!

I’ve just seen the article Ten Things I Hate About Mac OS X on the Peachpit website. I read the article with interest, as I thought it might have a few frustrations that I could steer clear of. What I noticed, however, was that all ten points are really petty (e.g. “Pinwheel Pauses” – the equivalent of the Windows egg-timer)! That’s not to say that they aren’t valid annoyances, but it’s reassuring to see that someone who uses OS X all day can’t find any serious problems with it.

New Demos on the Way

Left Hand Red, Music, Recording Comments Off on New Demos on the Way

For a while the band have been feeling that our demos are sounding a little stale. With the exception of my contribution to the production of one of the tracks, I’m not on them, and they’re now approaching a year old and don’t really reflect how the sound of the band has changed since then. So, we’re currently in the process of recording some new ones. It’s very much a ‘homebrew’ affair – no expensive studios for us!

The four tracks we’ve chosen are the pick of our live set, based on our own feelings about the songs and also feedback that we’ve been given by people at our gigs. At the moment we’re working on the first two of those: Clockwork and Against the Grain.

The first step was to get the drums down, and after an abortive initial attempt we got a pretty good sound using four inexpensive mics. We had to use a bit of ingenuity as Russell’s trusty Tascam Minidisc 4-track recorder picked its time to expire – we’d intended to use it to record four tracks and later transfer them to my computer. Instead, the whole thing had to be mixed on the hop and recorded to stereo on location. We even roped in the main and monitor channels of the rehearsal studio’s PA to use as mic channels!

Afterwards, the stereo drum tracks were transferred to Garageband and aligned to existing MIDI guide tracks just to check them in context. Next on will go the bass and guitars, and then the vocals, hopefully in a slightly more organised manner.

XML and XSL for the Web

Life, Web Stuff Comments Off on XML and XSL for the Web

Hurrah! Slides for my SkillSwap talk on XML and XSL for the Web are now up! They were created using S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System.

See them here: SkillSwap Slides.

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