Why would consumers—many of them baby boomers—pay upward of $100 or more for elaborate and expanded digital packages of music they probably already own? Their buying decision often comes down to a single seductive word—”remastered.” To repeat buyers of Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Miles Davis, the Beach Boys, Glenn Gould and many other iconic artists, “remastered” signals that the original music has undergone a restoration process to upgrade the sound.
In truth, many consumers are unfamiliar with the process and unsure how to determine whether a new version is indeed an improvement. “Remastered isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be excited by the results—or even notice a difference,” said audio engineer Jay Kadis, a Stanford University lecturer and author of “The Science of Sound Recording” (Focal Press). “From the engineer’s perspective, remastering is a delicate balance between the original artist’s intent and what you can do with today’s technology. The best remasters are often subtle.”
The word remastered—like “organic chicken” or “business class”—can mean many different things. Some record companies invest tens of thousands of dollars to painstakingly upgrade the sonic quality of an album using sophisticated equipment while other labels merely use inexpensive software to re-equalize the digital sound and then call it “remastered.”
Around mid-summer this year, Zoe Keating released a public Google Doc that reported her earnings from Spotify – which turned out to be around 3/10th of a cent per listen. (Nice summary article here in The Atlantic). This opened up a can of worms for the streaming content world, and was the first public shot in what has become an increasingly voluble debate about how much musicians earn from streaming services. Other bands followed suit with numbers. Pandora countered with numbers of its own. Cartoons on the subject were even made.
To round out the picture, a month later, Keating released ALL the information she had about her music sales from the previous year (2011), causing further attention and stir. And making her a bit of a cause célèbre as an information hactvist in the muddled world of music, income, and the relationship between artists, labels, and digital services of all kinds.
CDM was able to catch up with her at October’s SF Music Tech conference…
Grizzly Bear aren’t rich: New York magazine story reveals how even indie darlings can’t afford to live like rock stars.
Despite all this, Grizzly Bear are not living like rock stars. In fact, after riding a steady trajectory of success for more than half a decade, they’re living more or less the same way they were when they started. As Nitsuh Abebe notes in his excellent profile and cover story for the newest issue of New York magazine, many of them don’t have insurance. Band founder Ed Droste still lives with his husband in the same 450-square-foot Williamsburg apartment. Though they’re living comfortably for now, they haven’t earned any stability. Abebe identifies their joint musical venture as essentially “a risky small business,” and guitarist Daniel Rossen point out that when “your livelihood is in songwriting, you never know when that’s just gonna stop.”
A legitimate secondhand marketplace for digital music has never been tried successfully, in part because few people think of reselling anything that is not physical. But last month a new company, ReDigi, opened a system that it calls a legal and secure way for people to get rid of unwanted music files and buy others at a discount.
The Web turned songs and albums into commodities — easily downloaded, uploaded and distributed with the free click of a button. These days, to mint what they make, bands have to put their music to use — by hitting the road, by licensing to commercials, by excepting corporate underwriting, and by diversifying their appeal.
Rappers have long understood that the real money in music isn’t from selling tunes, but from selling lifestyle. Dan Charnas’ new book on the business of hip-hop The Big Payback reminds us how Def Jam realized the potential of marketing music before Sony.
Read the full article here.
This “branching” video technology was developed by a small Israeli firm called Interlude. …
After Mr. Greenberg demonstrated the Interlude concept to Old Navy, the company agreed to sponsor Mr. Grammer’s music video—a rare commitment for an untested artist—by putting up about two-thirds of the production budget and providing wardrobe. At the end of the video, viewers can download Old Navy coupons and free songs by Mr. Grammer.
In the latest in The Art of Money series, Kai Ryssdal chats with Corin Tucker, formerly of Sleater-Kinney and now fronting her own namesake band, about the musician’s life in Portland — a city facing high unemployment rates.