The hidden costs of MP3s

Now that the great Format Wars of the last decade have been reduced to a few occasional skirmishes, fought with talking points tossed around by both sides, it would seem that, for better or worse, non-physical media is music’s destiny. Even with vinyl making a remarkable spike in sales over the last few years, it is unlikely that we will ever see a physical medium as the norm for housing music again.

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MP3s have forever changed the audio landscape; I mean what’s not to love about them? You can have thousands of songs and the only space they take up is virtual. You can email a song to a friend and they can instantly listen to it just about anywhere on a plethora of devices, and with a little know how and a short internet search you can gain access to just about any song ever made, for free. Considering how much joy the little buggers have brought to the world how could anyone possibly speak ill of them? Aside from, of course, the fact that you can’t ask an artist to sign an MP3.

Whether your music collection consists entirely of free downloads or you took the “moral high ground to support the efforts of the artist” and paid your dollar per song, the fact remains that there have been unforeseen costs with this format change that the $0.99 price tag doesn’t cover.

Music is now disposable

Music has been a consumable product ever since the very first mogul realized that he could record some music and sell it for a profit. MP3s have now taken things a step further and turned music into a disposable product. You can download a song you like (foregoing the entire album if you so desire), listen to it a few times and delete or forget about it as soon as the next hit song comes around. This mentality has caused much of the industry to become even more formulaic than ever in order to turn a profit. There is also less of a risk for labels now as productions costs allow them to throw whatever they can to see what sticks, effectively removing any filters of quality. No longer exists the mentality that you buy an album and treat it with more permanence. Picking out music carefully, intentionally, and spending money only on that which connects most to you. Most of the filtering on the consumer end is gone as well, now it is more a matter of ‘this sounds good right this second, buy it, bored with it, next’. This leads to people being less likely to become genuine fans of artists as they are building a short-term relationship with a song instead of a long-term relationship with an artist’s body of work.

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This has become especially true for DJs. Once upon a time, good DJs tended to be a lot more selective about what they played, if not simply as a result of the cost alone. They would immerse themselves in the music, learning every high and low in order to work a carefully selected song into a set as a piece of the story they were telling and get the most out of that song as they possibly could. Records would continuously make their way in and out of the crate depending on the gig, some never leaving at all. Now DJs often buy a new set for every gig, exchanging most of the tracks in their set for whatever the most currently released version of their cookie cutter music happens to be that week. It is no wonder that so many DJs/Producers resort to putting so much attention on a stage and light show, it has become the only way to tell them apart and keep people interested since the garbage music isn’t doing it anymore. In short, there is very little connection to the music anymore, which seems to ultimately miss the point of music in the first place.

There is no culture

While pop music has always been a part of the corporate machine and void of any substantial culture, dance music was on the fringe, in the underground and rich in culture. The culture is already suffering at the hands of the current transition to the mainstream and subsequent corporate takeover, but at an accelerated rate thanks to MP3s. Interpersonal exposure to music has become much more removed and impersonal. People may in fact be sharing new music more than ever, but really, the quality of sharing is greatly diminished. Sending a file to someone for them to listen to doesn’t have the same impact as people being in the same room and listening to it together, something much more common when music was shared via a physical medium. There is no way to truly gain insight and understanding of how a person sharing the music interprets and connects to the piece without being present. You aren’t just sharing music at that point, you are sharing an experience, which ultimately deepens the connection to a piece or artist.

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Similarly, something important is also lost by way of no longer going to a music store to discover new music, specifically, interacting with people behind the counter or the other people that are browsing in the store. While ultimately music is deeply personal, we only expose ourselves to new music through a very narrow lens. Interpersonal connections play a very important role when it comes to music exploration and understanding, all the blogs, Kazaas, Napsters, and Pirate Bays in the world can’t replace that. It saddens me to think that there is an entire generation out there that has never experienced a boutique music store, being opened up to new sounds by someone who has an unmatched passion for all things underground and rare.

Most importantly, for DJs, with record stores came the ability to create a unique sound for a region and an individual DJ. A store would have a limited amount of space and copies of a track so both shop owner and DJ would have to be discerning about what to buy. While a few cities still have a reputation for focusing on a particular sound, the internet distribution of music has destroyed the possibility of a regional feel as more and more people have access to all the same music and end up playing the same Top 10 tracks. Unless you work for a record label or are good friends with a ton a producers and getting tracks before they are released, finding that secret weapon that is unique to your set/region is an impossibility. In fact, all anyone has to do now is hold up their phone during your set and they can instantly download any song you play.

Quantity over quality

Over all, the music industry has long been lost to the philosophy of quantity over quality. While labels have always been concerned with doing whatever it takes to achieve the highest sales numbers, that system is more prevalent than ever. And don’t be naive and think that music is popular or sells on its own merits alone, good music doesn’t magically fall into the awareness or the hands of the masses, that is just not the reality of the music industry. Record sales have migrated to individual song sales and the labels push individual songs more than albums or even the artists making them. Even worse, labels work harder to monetize songs via ad revenue from sites like YouTube than they do investing in the artist with any real A&R of legitimate value. An album now needs to be a compilation of hit singles rather than a complete piece of art with a one or two breakout singles. There is a reason you can go to a massive/festival and every song sounds the same, the industry is about selling a formula, one that can be duplicated and pushed on to the consumers for the maximum possible sales results. For independent music, digital retail sites like iTunes and Beatport are the only ones making any real money (a third or more of the sales) and they thrive through saturation even more so than the labels. There are no industry filters anymore, anything goes and the mentality is now ‘the more the merrier’ to increase the chances that they get something that actually sells well. In more ways than one, this makes the business side of Top 10 playlists even worse in that it perpetuates the must play mentality, if for no other reason than very few are willing put in the effort to dig through all the crap when ten popular songs are a few clicks of the mouse away. This ultimately prevents a lot of legitimate art from being heard and supported, further ensuring the monotony that is the dance music/Top 40 scene of today.

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I’m not going to drudge up the thoroughly debated quality of digital vs analogue sound issue, as it ultimately doesn’t matter when people are primarily listening to music through earbuds, computer, and portable Bluetooth speakers. People, for the most part, don’t seem to care about the quality of sound anymore, otherwise they wouldn’t settle for MP3s (which by their very function down sample music and remove elements of the original sound) through their cheap headphones. This is already assuming it was originally produced at a higher quality to begin with, which for a lot of electronic music is becoming less and less the case. Again, it is no wonder that we are saturated with a bunch of formulaic sounds, produced by people with no understanding of proper production methods, and are bounced to an MP3 in order to be posted on a digital distribution site by way of their or a friends ‘label’. MP3s have helped considerably to make mediocre music acceptable and standard.

What it all means

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to dump all your MP3s in the trash but to rather, at the very least, just recognize that there are valuable aspects of experiencing music that are lost as a result of the format shift. If there is even a solution out there to regain what has been lost, we won’t find it until we first realize that there even is a problem. In the meantime there are always the well known and basic ways to help maintain a higher quality of music experience; support physical releases on CD or vinyl, support full albums, buy music and then actually listen to the music consciously from time to time instead of in the background while doing something else, learn the history behind genres and artists, interact with people and listen to music together in person, dig for music instead of looking at fabricated charts, and support independent, lesser known, and local artists. Let’s work together and make quality matter again.

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73 thoughts on “The hidden costs of MP3s

  1. My 2 cents. The format doesn’t really matter and shouldn’t. The focus should be on selling music, regardless of the physical or digital support. What counts is to be heard by the largest number, and get paid for this.
    Let’s go back to pre-60 era. How did artists were making money? Few consumer had vinyls and turntables. Artists were making their life on the road, performing.
    What the digital age did is forced the industry to go back to performers. It’s not about selling single anymore, but filling up concert hall.

    I will give you that. Quality is down the drain. YouTube is horrible to listen too and there are no digital choice on quality sampler.
    At the same time, the industry doesn’t recognize quality. Aren’t these award show about “best selling” artists?

    • The issue isn’t about about focusing on format, but rather the result that format has had. I’m not asking or expecting anyone to change format but rather look for solutions to try to regain some valuable aspects of music experience that have been lost.

  2. Pingback: The Friday Roundup: The Hidden Cost Of MP3s + 3 More Stories

  3. Where can I buy digital music that comes in packages best online stores,visited some like beatport,traxsource,juno is there others I can visit let me know thank you.

  4. Technically the MP3 is better quality than a vinyl, or a tape, the dynamic range is better and event the headphone now are better (and yes, even the Beat by Dre are better than most of the shitty headphone people used to have with the walkman or discman in the 90’s). The CD was a good format, and with the blueray now, of course it could be better if the evolution was in this way, but the true is no one, even good sound engineer can really see the difference between a cd and a mp3, and I don’t talk about geek people who listen it on really good/expensive studio equipment. Most of the people don’t care, as long as they have the music, like before we were recording music on tape (a tape is like 6bits quality, when you are lucky…) and we were enjoying it.
    People now still enjoy the music, they go to concert and event more than before, they still share some experience, different one, but still. It’s a different generation, and those kids now will be nostalgic from this period in 20 years, like 30yo/40yo people are now. There is not less pleasure or enjoyment for this generation, they just enjoy what they have, and actully I enjoy it too, I’m not nostalgic, I liked the 90’s, it was awesome, I liked being in a vinyl shop and spending hour just to find one record, because not enough money for more, but now it’s different. But not that much, people still have connection with music, they just access to it in a different way, they still connect with artist, on live, or on social media when they can’t see them live.

    And for the quality of DJ set, electronic music now is the equivalent of pop, or eurodance of the 90’s, so yes, there is shit,but there is still good underground sound. And even the shit, is not that bad, I prefer seeing Skrillex in the chart than an old boysband from the 90’s. And for the DJ who are playing the same track, it’s not really the true. Of course it is a little, but same as before, with some lazy DJ who played only classic/commercial track from the top selling vinyl. But now it’s harder to be different, so creativity is more present than even. Everyone can produce his own track, or edit the track he buy, and make it is own. People mentality is still the same, good artist want to be different, it’s same now from before, they just do it differently. Adding production, and other effect to their mix. It’s not the same way it use to be, but it’s call evolution, and I don’t see anything wrong in that. People are still creative, and there is still people who just follow the mainstream, but it was same in the 90’s and 80’s, and even 70’s or 60’s, just different way to express it. Now, electronic music is the leading culture, so more people to enjoy, but more people to do shit, but also more people to do quality. I don’t see it as worst than 20 years ago, I just see it as bigger.

    Sorry for being so long with my shitty english :)

      • Even at 320 kps the mp3 does not produce a better sound. 320 kps is the compression rate. The simple fact that the song has been compressed indicates that the recording has lost some of the original continent.

      • most of the differences w/ 320kbps are inaudible to the human ear. doing ABX tests can prove there is just not that much difference between MP3 and say FLAC. As a DJ I can get away with as low as 192 at a club without folks noticing it….this in itself is proof. at the volumes we play, there is no real discernible difference.

      • Digital files sound more like the original recording than vinyl ever could. This is more true of source material that was digital in the first place but is also true of analog recordings. Vinyl colors the sound of a recording even in the most ideal audiophile situations (which the best DJ carts and turntables don’t even come close to).

        Not to mention the fact that a vinyl pressing requires a whole nother’ mastering process that most people have no idea how to do. A dance record mastered to be sold on Beatport will not sound great if it is cut to vinyl as is. It needs to go back to its pre-master state and be mastered (by a master at mastering) for the record.

        That being said I hope no deejays are playing any MP3’s with a lower bitrate than 320kbps.

    • This “source sound quality” debate is pointless for so many reasons I don’t even know where to start. Sure, some files are better sounding than others, but even that is not tied to the numbers or classification. I have some 192kbs and even a few 128 that sound clearer, fuller, phatter and overall better than some 320 and even FLAC or AIFF. Although I acknowledge and appreciate the technicalities of this, to me it has more to do with commercialism, slick marketing and hypre more than anything.

      Straight out, I dare anyone to hit 70% or above in a blind test of mp3s against vinyl against CD or whatever in a club environment – all played by an expert, conscient and good DJ of course. Every time I did this test people failed miserably. Club PA is artificially “coloured” (to highlight and “weight” the bass mostly), compressed and heavily manipulated. We have EQ to make up for some minor imbalances inherent to the mastering of tracks too. None of that makes up for bad sounding files, but it won’t for crappy vinyl either.

      We tend to forget this today, and some don’t even know about it really, but the truth is that we had some terribly sounding vinyl back in the day too. Bad pressings, poor mastering, different cartridges for left and right decks… I had my ears to trust, and I still do (and there’s a limit to that too, clubbing is not for audiophyles anyway…). Not only for beatmatching but also to buy music. And when I’m up there DJing, to adjust and compensate whenever possible, and as best as possible, considering the conditions of the moment (I won’t even start on the merits of club PA setup and quality here, working DJs know well what I’m talking about…).

      I’ve used vinyl from ’84 till about 2008 or 2009, and I absolutely love it. But the hard truth when I think of it is I love it as much for the sound as for the cover and label artwork, the grooves, the smell; for the whole culture surrounding record stores, for the turntable as an icon and also (perhaps the real reason behind my love for vinyl) for fascination. I mean, I grew up absolutely and utterly fascinated for a pair of Technics SL1200 in a DJ booth and all that comes with it, and I still am to this day. I’ve learned to play and used vinyl for over 20 years so it[s only natural I’m deeply attached to it in many ways and it won’t go away, ever.

      But when the push comes to shove I get it that above all is my love for music and DJing. And that’s why I embraced change and now play mostly digital. As long as I’m playing, I’m happy. Period. So, I strive for the best in all aspects but I put a limit to it. As I did when I played with vinyl, then with CDs and now with mp3s. And my limit is not over-obssessing with file quality, because it won’t ever compensate or overcome the other limitations in the “chain”. As long as it “sounds good”, I’m satisfied. And focused on the rest or what really matters, which we all DJs know what is.

      • I am not DJ, not even close, but I totally agree that when there is a dance hall (or actually a lot of different dance halls with different sound quality in terms of acoustics and system) the need for sound quality is very different from what you are looking for in the listening room. When one came to dance, you need mood, rhythm (bass) and dancing fellows around. In those situations vinyl is more contribute for the true love, but not the need for it’s “true” sound. On the other hand always ask yourselve where the files came from? If it is an old record FLAC, than some dude ripped it from his vinyl and all this talks about good quality flac files are pufff, as anything is actually is limited to this dude system. None of the chain members can improve the sound quality, but each of them can make it worse. So it is clear no files for me at home and I do not care to what bum – bum – bum I am jumping at the dance floor.

      • You guys are all talking about TECHNO, Made with COMPUTERS. And oftentime, those computers are housed in bedrooms and function at a 48-kHz maximum resolution. This renders going to a club and listening to discern which songs are taken off vinyl, and which off MP3, a MOOT point. Pick up a GOOD LP copy of Fleetwood Mac’s white album (or Rumours, if you prefer), James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue”, or even Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”, put it down on a decent Rega Planar turntable with Grado cartridge (or Audio Technica cartridge with shibata stylus), or so on. DON’T use a spherical (“DJ”) stylus (read: Shure Whitelabel, Stanton Trackmaster, or any “DJ” cartridge which allows you to backcue and scratch while minimizing “burn” to the record), DON’T put it on a Sears catalogue turntable or a cheap “LP to MP3″ USB turntable, and DON’T run it through a boombox phono pre-amp. Once you hear how natural music CAN sound, you will never again say that CDs are superior to vinyl or tape (both of which have the potential to sound even better, the faster the speed at which they’re played. Don’t believe me? Find a blank open reel and record the same track on it at 1 7/8 ips, 3 3/4 ips, and 7 1/2 ips… if you even know what an open reel or a reel-to-reel player is).

        Of course, this is all affected by how the album was mastered (which, once upon a time, meant each time a new lacquer was made, from which plates would be made, then mothers, then stampers), who mastered the album (why do so many analog enthusiasts speak highly of George Marino, Steve Hoffman, etc…), what quality grade of vinyl was used to make any particular copy (hence the old line, “Sounds like someone recycled tires to make this LP”), and even how many LP copies were made off the same lacquer/plate/mother/stamper which was used to press your exact LP copy. With the volumes of LPs that were pressed of popular titles in the ’70s and ’80s, this meant that record companies virtually had to use multiple pressing plants (and, at times, outsource to other record labels’ plants) just to meet demand. This meant that, theoretically, two people could walk into the same store together, each buy a copy of the same LP from the same store shelf, and then go home to the identical stereo setup and experience wildly different audio results.

        To me, this is the sole advantage CDs and MP3s can purport to claim, audio-wise: it is much more likely that each CD produced from the same master will sound as good as the first CD that was made off that master. Unfortunately, that doesn’t say much for the CD’s sound: a perfect visual analog (in my eyes) would be to open a window and stick one’s head out (LP/hi-resolution digital audio such as DVD-Audio at 24/192, or maybe SACD). then close the window and look through it (CD), and then take a picture of it, blow it up to life size, and paste it over the window (MP3).

        Thankfully, Blu-Ray is helping the everyday person get closer to hearing just what AMAZING audio sound is. 24-bit/192-kHz resolution does a really impressive job of coming close to analog’s “pillow” effect (warning: 192-kHz is NOT the same as a MP3’s 192 kbps, one is a frequency, the other a sampling rate). But unfortunately, for most people, the importance of Blu-Ray is not about absolutely stellar sound, but excellent video: ask home theatre enthusiasts how much they paid for their TV/LCD projector, and then how much they paid for their amp and surround speakers. Which is why you have completely clueless people to this day, still parroting over how “better” CDs sound over vinyl or tape. Open your ears. I’ve been listening to this for AGES, and I had my period of being “wrong” before: you’ll most likely come around as well if you truly open your ears.

      • @ vanminde:

        Pretty enlightening your rambling about sound quality. I agree with almost everything you said, technically.

        Only this is a DJ blog and debate! Sure enough, high-spec audiophile equipment provides the ultimate listening experience. Sure enough, it’s a small niche, a hobby. I guess we all agree that from the consumer standpoint, the “DJ standard” for sound quality is much more appropriate (and affordable).

    • Well you should no that if you use master tempo on the cdj and put the tempo well off it’s range it stutters. you can here the sample rate diffrence with wav’s and mp3. the lower the sample rate the bigger the stutter, so it’s actualy better to use wav’s. not just that if you’ve got an old school seprates stereo with a powerfull amp and half decent speakers, by cranking it up you can tell there’s something flat with mp3. if your buying shite like skrillex then this won’t make a diffrence as it was made for the mp3 era but if it’s an anologue produced album then it will sound much better on vinyl or wav.

    • True! I enjoy in music more than before, because more music is reachable online. Just have to pick a song, or album, in accordance to my mood. And I’m 42 :-)

      • Yes, but is that music you’ve already heard before and are well familiar with, or new stuff you’ve never heard before and are willing to take a chance and invest your time in it?

    • The difference between MP3 at 320 bit rate is indistinguishable from CD. The fact it is compressed is neither here nor there. Vinyl is rubbish, always was, always will be.

    • No, with CDs they already eliminated frequencies to fit the music in them and an mp3 at it’s best quality it’s compressed about 10 times a CD is. Just imagine…nothing sounds better than a vinyl…well, if it’s not too old and scratched :) great article by the way.

    • How is mp3 technicaly better than a vinyl.when the first thing that gets striped with a mp3 is bass quality to save space.analogue vinyl will always be able to hold and produce frequencies that a cd or mp3 will never b able todo

  5. Interesting piece and viewpoint. Some may argue that thanks to mp3s the consumer now has “choice” on what to buy and listen to, whereas in the recent past we were stuck with buying an entire album on CD or vinyl to have access to perhaps 1 or 2 or 3 songs. In that sense, the industry is adapting to the consumer… of course the final target is keep or even increase profitability. And of course that brings massification and compromises in quality.

    As a DJ (since the mid-80´s) and music aficcionado, I agree with many points made. I for myself try to act more consciously and strike a balance. On one part I must be realistic: to keep doing what I love, which is DJing to spread the music I like and appreciate, I simply cannot use vinyl anymore (I keep my collection and even buy a few here and there). And on the other part, keep working hard to dig, chase down and collect good and original music. There´s still a lot being made out there, it just got harder to find in the middle of the overwhelming ammount of formulaic crap being put out.

    I also suffer from the decrease in standard and attention span from the public. That is bad and makes it harder and harder to play and do good at clubs and gigs. But we must adapt. Some compromise must be made to keep on playing and bringing good music to our audiences, that has always been part of DJing, at least for my DJing.

    • I don’t discredit the positives that MP3s have brought to the table, just that there are problems that I think are detrimental, as I state, getting rid of MP3s isn’t the solution, but rather first diagnose the problem then see what we can collectively to do fix it.

      For me, getting the conversation started is step one.

  6. An absolutely wonderful article, However, İ do ALL of the things you state in your last paragraph and thats coming from someone who was a vinyl DJ for 20 years, so what İ have effectively done is ‘transfer’ my ‘skills’ including all of the appreciation, respect and knowlegde for the culture to a different format. Therefore i feel the problem is the ignorance of the new generation and the technological/economic model rather than the format and the technology itself, but isnt that the case with so many sectors and disruptive technologies within this economic system. The point about ‘regional’ sounds and degredation of the album are excellent points and they really have been lost due to digital including the loss of any quality control which is something only passionate knowlegedble humans can do. The Digital realm i agree has been massively disruptive but if i am as objective as one can be it has given me access to some truly awe-inspiring music and artists İ would never had heard of living in the country that İ live in; where there are no record/CD shops anymore!

  7. Having DJ’d since 1977, when scratching was seen as more sacrilege than talent (in fact the concept did not yet exist except in the context that it was damaging to your LP’s and 45’s) I have seen first hand the devolution of music as you describe. But I think the process started even before the internet & MP3 age. When I started, there was not yet any such thing as a ‘music video’ per se so you truly got your local flavour by listening to the radio, combing thru charts and indeed going to the record store. When the video came along music no longer stood on its own merits, it became more of an image as presented by a video. People experienced new music while lounging on the couch instead of in a specific context i.e. out with friends doing something when a hot track first came across the radio or blasted out a record store PA system. In essence you lost the whole idea of a time and place that you could harken back to when you first heard a track.
    As far as sound quality is concerned, forgetting for a moment the lousy production standards that you alluded to in your piece, I try my damnedest to avoid MP’s altogether just because of their inferior qualities. In a day an age where HD’s are sold by the TB space concerns are no longer an issue and as such I jock with FLAC files often ripped from my own sources (CD’s LP’s etc…) Web sites such as HD Tracks offer completely lossless LP’s for purchase and certainly with some effort you could probably find other sources of lossless music as well. I have had many an appreciative client compliment me for my sound after they have been bombarded by crap previously from other DJ’s.It has also earned me referrals too. As a result, for me it is all about the quality of my product that I’m putting out — so long as I’m doing my part I find everything else falls into place…..

    • It may be that those praises and referrals have more to do with your style, music choice and good ear to EQ than the fact that your music files are super-high quality. Simply because those aspects have way more weight for the public than anything else. But also because the ear of the DJ and his/her sensibility and capacity to adjust the controls at hand (volume included, lol) has more to do with overall sound quality in an environment (say, considering the same PA and equipment).

  8. Interesting read. I too miss the days of going down to the local music shop and thumbing through the used CD pile and seeing what gems were left behind. All the local stores are closed now. However, with the negatives of compressed digital music comes many, many positives, in my opinion. I love the fact that I can hear fresh tracks from London and Sydney even though I live thousands and thousands of miles away. Also, the advent of the DAW has allowed artists to achieve incredible sounds never conceived of before by man. So, there are definitely some pluses to the digital age of music production and things to appreciate. It all ebbs and flows!

  9. Totally agree with all of your comments and sentiments. A lot of the music is only popular if played on Radio, who have very narrow tastes for any new music.
    Being a retro DJ, I find that there used to be a greater variety of music that we were exposed to, and our appreciation of it appeared to be much greater.

  10. I think we can blame everyone equally- everyone is guilty of greed :) If artists didn’t create out of an idea that they want to sell their music and be famous but rather of their love for music and a need for sharing the experience with others (for free) perhaps the quality of music and the connectivity of people would be better. If the only way to listen to music and musicians creating would be to actually be at their concert and share the experience then perhaps that would preserve the quality of music and its society. If you make something buy-able, you make it commercial. Whenever money becomes involved it is not art or passion anymore – it is a business. Buyers are as guilty – they create the demand for music that is not emotionally charged. Perhaps because what we need is lack of emotions. Today everyone lives in fear of seeing what they really feel. The less we feel the easier it is to get by in a cruel, cold money driven world.

  11. Really?!?!?!: “This leads to people being less likely to become genuine fans of artists as they are building a short-term relationship with a song instead of a long-term relationship with an artist’s body of work.”

    Listen man why on earth should I be a so called “genuine fan”? I rather be a fan of a person who can cure cancer… or a fan of the thing that matter the most which is “the song” not the artist.

    These are new times, no more free rides for the album cultured artists. Now a days people have the freedom to buy only the songs they want and not whole albums of which they might just want and need one song. How often do you hear a 10/10 album? almost never!!!, so why should I support or waste my energy and time on something that’s not good enough?!.

    If an album is the bomb, that album will sell itself.

    And yes mp3’s are garbage, i buy only wav files and vinyl records, too bad you cant find the 24 bit wav files everywhere…

    Peace

    • So you’ve never learned to appreciate a song through repetition? Major labels rely on play repetition to get sales, this is why things like radio play are so important, repetition is a key component of exposure. I can think of plenty of songs that I didn’t like at first but learned to appreciate as some of my favorites, or vice versa for that matter.

      • Hey Sean, well the repetition thing is in my point of view pure brain wash.

        And yes I have brain washed myself with tracks in the past.

        Maybe Im a bit radical…, but seeing things in black and white can give the best experience, because you are picking the greatest songs out there that you respond to immediately and not something that you have been forced to like =)

        but I think a track should be loved the first or the second time you hear them, more than that is just brain wash.

      • Repetition doesn’t automatically mean brain wash, though I would tend to agree with that analogy for things like labels using radio play. It isn’t brain washing to listen to an album on your own and develop your palate musically for a song or genre that you initially didn’t like.

        While I understand what your saying about an initial gut reaction, for a lot of people it is the result of an easily consumable hook rather than the intent of the artist or the totality of a piece. There is a lot to be said from liking something right out of the gate but experiencing art in music can come from a lot of places; subtle sounds, understanding the intent of the artist, the spaces between the notes, etc etc.

        Truly appreciating a piece or an artist is impossible from a single listen.

  12. It was never about the media which you play your stuff, or the artist, sharing, or the label… it was all about the experience and the way it could make your soul flow and the places your fantacies could take you… nothing more…

  13. On the one hand, you might be right with your opinion of the decline of popular music quality. Popular releases, especially the EDM stuff nowadays sounds like they are all made in the same two or three music factories. The ubiquity of music in digital formats and most of all the illegal downloads have narrowed the margins of the music industry and also the budgets they spend on an upcoming artist. Investing a 100k for a music video for an unknown artist nowadays is a high risk for a record company. But this is also due to the fact that videos don´t play the same role as a marketing instrument as they did back in the 90s/80s.
    On the other hand MP3s brought a lot of benefit to me as a music lover and DJ. Gosh, when I think about how much LPs and CD albums I bought, ending up with only loving and playing 2 or 3 tracks per album. Nowadays I just rip these special tracks or just download them and forget about the other bad or average tracks of the albums. This really increased the quality of my music collection. Be honest: it is actually only 5-10% of all albums that are truly a piece of art as a whole. And then even now I don´t mind buying it on CD or Vinyl. Because it´s worth it. Shitty music also existed before MP3 was born. Just think of the “Euro Dance” stuff back in the 90s…
    Back in the days I had to carry 3 boxes of vinyl and maybe additional boxes with CDs to a gig and had to drive to the venue by car. Even with making a good pre-selection, there were some tracks missing, left at home, when I was playing my sets. Today, I pack my Laptop and a controller and can get there by metro or cab… I can choose out of thousands of tracks without breaking my back, which is important for me as like to play pretty eclectic :-) Well selected playlists are an important premise. For me, the quality of my sets and my DJ life has improved with MP3, but I still have some outstanding albums on CD and Vinyl, which I enjoy at home… I´m also glad, that I have reduced my CD collection from 1200 to 300 pieces and my Vinyls from about 2000 to 350…I don´t need “average to o.k.” tracks in physical form, wasting my living space. That´s quality instead of quantity, thanks to MP3!

  14. When I was growing up, my older brothers bought vinyl. For no other reason except that this was the model. Im talking vinyl LP’s here. Queen- Day At The Races, Pink Floyd- Dark Side Of The Moon, Cheap Trick- Live At Budakon.

    Im my adolescence, I discovered Hip Hop, which at the time was NOT an LP culture. It was a mixtape format, and maybe you bought the 12″‘s if you were a DJ.. Needless to say, my siblings hated Hip Hop, not so much as culture, but because the format had completely changed. the way you listened and participated in it was totally new.

    MP3 is a continuation and evolving of our entire culture, much in the same way Hip Hop was.

  15. It was strange going to Japan last October. Considered to be a leader in new hi tech electronics, I was amazed to see Tower Records thriving in the 3 major cities I visited. I went to a used record store in Osaka and was blown away the the soulful set the DJ was spinning using Vinyl. A solo version of Bad Weather won’t leave my mind. I forgot who sang it. Physical Media is alive and well in Japan.

  16. Reference to your words – “no longer going to a music store to discover new music”
    I mention many times infact when talking to people, how sometimes i miss the 80′s and 90′s ,because at that time, the “only way” to know what was being released by your favourite artist, was to call by phone with excitement your fav record store and then go running to buy that CD. I also have concernes if the countless hours and days invested by the artist into his music nowadays, is being repaid back and not at risk by the availability of full streaming sites. Which has it’s advantages especially for new artists who want to reach others with their creations . But i think CD’s has been affected as well as well during all this story. However i do believe that if the music is that good especially for independent artists, the person will pay for it, on CD or Mp3 etc..
    I also believe that emerging artists has to know what they are doing during production, song structures etc..
    I also have a question for today’s internet music world– How many will end up buying the music after listening to it full stream from the internet? I am curious to know!… ~ Brian

  17. Excellent points, but I disagree with the notion that regions have practically vanished. Compare popular music in North America and Europe (I’ll trade our lowest common denominator for yours any day). Another example, one that I’m fascinated by lately, is electronic “horrordisco”/techno coming out of Mexico City, in particular (but also happening to some extent in Rome, Argentina, and Spain). Labels like Coméme and Electrique Music are presenting this blunt, heavy sound that clearly sounds like laptop software, but exaggerated to more of a Vitalic-sized scope, with distinctly Moroder/disco/italo elements. A lot of it’s great! But by the time someone comes up with a catch-all name for it, it’ll probably be over, or just a cliché. But for now, I love what’s coming out of Mexico City while most people are distracted by flying cakes and CDJs that seem to run on zero power.

    • While there will always be some localized, small sub-genre sounds, this doesn’t really qualify as regional sound, at the very least not in the same way as something like “Chicago House”. Further, the point was meant more to address the idea that you can’t travel to a city and pick up the local flavor that is dominant in that city and not in your home town. Tracks that you may only be able to find in a certain city because of distribution or orders placed by the store.

      The internet has erased borders and regions, there is nothing stopping anyone from accessing any track. Which, on its face is a great thing, but it does destroy a sense of locality. There is a reason that there are names like Chicago House and French House, etc.

      • So Sean if I get you right, only something as specific and huge as “Chicago House” or “Detroit Techno” qualify as valid and with meaning? Sorry but I can´t agree with that. And I´m saying that having lived and enjoyed all that and what came since. It was great and all but I refuse to live in the past.

        What about the possibilities brought by the advances in technology, the internet and even traveling, which all have contributed to make the world “smaller” and thus incresing cross-polination in arts and music thoughout? We now see DJs from all countries playing everywhere all the time, bringing their “home” sound and influences to places that would never be able to taste or experience this otherwise (and vice-versa). What about the possibilities of co-productions between DJs and producers who are 1000s of miles away from each other, fusing their sounds to come up with something new and fresh?

        Chicago House was born not from isolation and regionality, but from external influences and creativity fostered by variety and interaction. A DJ from NY getting into the Chicago sound. The only limitation was in the “gear”, something vastly improved today with computers, internet and “cheap” production machines. I´ve read many books, seen many interviews and documentaries from “back in the day” (DJ history) and all the time I see old-school DJs and mention how watching a foreign DJ play influenced them and their sound.

        That´s just to name a few. Does it have an ugly side to it? Absolutely. But there´s no option, the world moves forward only. House legends had to live with this same dilema and in this same world back then, so do we just in a different time. That “sense of locality” that you mention still exists, and won´t ever go away, regardless of advances in technology or changes in global or local culture. Today is cool in many other ways too. And hey, let´s not forget: there were lots of bad things back then too, you´re leaving the many dificulties of the time out of your arguments, that´s not objective IMHO.

        With every advance and new technology, comes the good and the bad. I agree with many points you make but this is how the world moves. I agree with many points made but what you´re highlighting only the negative sides of these advances, when in fact it has opened a lot of new fronts to expand creativity and interaction between different people and diferent cultures.

      • I never said it wasn’t valid or devoid of meaning (quite the opposite actually), just that it doesn’t qualify as regional anymore, all music is accessible at all times. As you said, the “world moves on”, this is one of the ways the internet has made the world move on, it is not isolated to music.

        My point isn’t about staying in the past, but rather realizing that there are things of value lost that don’t necessarily need to be lost, that we can maintain quality in light of new technology and behaviors.

        I hear various manifestations of the “adapt or die” argument all the time but I feel it is a lazy argument. I’m never suggesting a lack of adaptation, quite the opposite, I am challenging people to adapt while maintaining quality and value.

      • True, you never said that. But it’s implied in your post and replies, the overall tone is that mp3 and internet and “all music being accessible at all times” are bad things for everyone, except perhaps for the industry and labels, for killing the regional sound and local flavor, for removing the filters of quality and value (from labels, DJs and consumers), among others.

        At the very least, you highlighted the negatives of mp3s (it’s in the title of your post), so I would like to counter that by doing my best to prove with facts rather than interpretations that nothing has changed much from the 80’s, or even the 60’s or 30’s. And that we have in fact “been there, seen that” before not once, but three or more times throughout history.

        Before moving ahead, I’d like to make clear that I respect your opinions and share a lot of them. I’m a deeply passionate curator of music and an old-school DJ who grew up fascinated with turntables and vinyl and the whole old-school DJ culture. I still am. I find your rant thought-provoking and diverse, and the fact that I’m here disagreeing and presenting my arguments should prove that.

        Now to the topic…

        What’s new here? Haven’t we been there, seen that before in history? A quick check of facts from the past show us that we have, indeed, and every time a new technology presented itself the same happened. You argue pro-establishment with your arguments, I’ll stick to the facts to prove it’s just more of the same and nothing really changes much. Ever. I said “the world moves forward”, I should have added “…but in cycles” (lol).

        You defend there is a problem with mp3 and that quality and value are intrinsic to vinyl and analog, for the reasons you presented.

        OK, but the same was said when vinyl started to replace live bands and orchestras at radio broadcasts and ballrooms across US and Europe, when the phonograph started to threaten musicians at their long-time areas of domination. Before that, non-electrified instrument musicians felt the same when the first electric guitar and bass came around. Then synthesizers, then drum pads, then drum machines, sequencers, then samplers, then CDJs, then Ableton, then controllers.

        People gather in different ways to listen, to consume, to enjoy music. Long ago it was in front of orchestras, then bands, then DJs. We should not confuse the music performers with the public, the consumer. The performers are the curators, but it doesn’t matter much HOW we curate as long as we do. That’s what keep quality alive. We only need a few of us non-lazy, non-conformist (like you) to keep it going. Of course the majority will take the easy path and download/play Beatport Top 40 or whatever and, as always, jump the bandwagon. Mainstream is mainstream for a reason, the underground will always be small, a niche. It was never the other way around, it’s not today so it probably never will.

        People “adapt while maintaining quality” simply because there always will be quality, no matter the level of massification and commercialism in music. Nothing can’t kill creativity, originality and the underground, above all because commercialism NEEDS all that to survive. Every formula needs a small but powerfull, creative and thriving source to copy from. When the source is exhausted, they move on to the next new wave so it can’t kill the hand that feeds it. Where do you think the industry feeds from?

        There is a lot of good, original, quality music being made, released and played today. There was a lot of crappy, commercial pop music being released and played “back in the day”. And vice-versa too. The filters are in place and working fine as they always have (and always will IMHO). Everything adapts all the time, there’s really no choice here. For us DJs it will always be about digging, searching, curating, be it vinyl or CDs or mp3.

      • I don’t dispute that problems that exist today existed before. Cassette tapes which were wildly popular were abominable in sound quality. My focus for this article is not about the quality of medium but rather the quality of the experience.

        Yes, bad music is nothing new, but I feel that now more than ever the bar is set so incredibly low. We are on a downward trend where saturation and formulation are not only accepted, but expected. The lack of physical media takes something massive away from us, there is nothing to interact with, to care for, so symbolize the fruits of our labor (for both artist and consumer).

        Again, I am not anti-MP3 per se, just calling out problems I see as a result of adopting non-physical media as a norm.

  18. I doubt that the whole argument is REALLY about quality of music (vinyl was rubbish to start with) and the experience of selecting music in a music store sharing your thoughts with other “musos”. In my neck of the woods, I was one of the first DJ’s to change from Vinyl & CD formats to digital. It ensured that I could pick individual tracks for each set without having to break my back getting to the venue.

    I have read similar arguments on various blogs where some DJ’s go as far as saying that only “vinyl spinning” turntablists are real DJ’s and that controllerism are fake DJ’s … bullshit!!! Their whole argument are based on selfishness. The fact that anyone can now have a similar collection is the basis of this argument. You now don’t have to have a “special” relationship with the store owner OR play in a certain club to be privy to the best mixes and re-mixes – anyone can now search the internet and buy (or download) the very same track. This now exposes and differentiates the true artist, the one that understands the dance-floor and reads the crowd’s every mood, from the one that plays one song after the other without even considering the crowd.

    DJing is an art, there is no argument there, it never had anything to do with the format. I remember having cassettes at some gigs – it still rocked the place.

    • This article is more about the effect of adopting non-physical media as the norm than anything else. I am not anti-MP3 outright, just calling out the lowered expectation and increased acceptance of a general lack of quality in regards to the experiencing of music that has occurred as a result.

  19. I agree that it looks bad out there. As a working DJ (though I don´t play for a living), I feel extremely frustrated at times. As I said, the attention span of the overall public is at the lowest, as is patience and open-mindedness. But then again I´ve always felt like that every once in a while throughout my DJ career, though most of the times I guess I was the wrong DJ at the wrong party (LOL). We live in a immediate reward society and times.

    And indeed formulation is not only accepted or expected, I´d go as far as saying that it is DEMANDED, especially at some places. But people go out to party for diferent reasons, and in fact to have diferent experiences. For instance, I for myself only go out to watch, listen and dance to a good underground/upfront deep/tech/techno/house DJ at a small club (200-300 people) with a good soundsystem. Some people go out for booze, some to get lucky with the opposite (sometimes not) sex and don´t really care about the music being played. Nothing wrong with that.

    Finally, again in my opinion the medium has no effect on the quality of the experience. Just like before, there will always be crap DJs, good DJs, awesome DJs. It has little to do with the medium and a lot more to do with things that don´t change, like love for music, love for DJing, dedication, competition, hard work, open mindedness, etc. I rocked and cleared dancefloors in equal measures playing vinyl, CDs and now mp3s (except that now I´m older, thus a bit wiser and experienced, and ultimately more efficient and calm at controlling the vibe and energy of the night). I believe it´s the same for most other old-time DJs.

    My personal methods for finding, digging and collecting music have changed and evolved but just because everything is always changing. At the core they´re still the same, and that´s what defines me as a DJ. Vinyl, CD, mp3, whatever – as long as there´s music I consider “good”, I´m going after it regardless. OK it must have an effect on starting DJs as they never went to a record store, never received a promo, never had to chase down that big tune that had only 50 copies of it sold during the WMC or whatever. But I keep defending that diferent doesn´t mean necessarily bad, and this should sort itself just like we did in the 80´s or 90´s.

    Cheers.

    • I see your point, and from the DJ view it makes sense, especially since you personally already seem to be of the state of mind that you want something of value and quality. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear enough in the article, but my wants aren’t limited to the DJ or the dance floor on this matter, it really is focused on the consumer end of things.

      I take no issue that different people want different things when they seek out music. I just think that things have once again shifted for the worse and people more than ever accept what is fed to them. Especially considering that when people don’t have to even pay for it, why should they be discerning? I’m asking people to be active instead of passive.

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  21. boo hoo.

    music has always been disposable – throwing away records or tapes or mp3s, doesn’t matter. now we have less physical waste, which is a good thing, not a bad thing.

    there was absolutely nothing worse – NOTHING – than buying an album and having 3 great
    songs and a load of filler shite on the rest of it. an album that cost $20 or more… you remember. being able to find an artist you like and choose the songs you want to listen to is GREAT. it’s the logical progression. if you want to discover more of their music, you have the OPTION.

    great DJs who don’t rely on stage shows, but rather good music and know how to set a proper mood – Theo Parrish, Kenny Dixon, Nicolas Jaar, Mark E, Soul Clap, Prosumer, Motor City Drum Ensemble….

    and your argument that particular cities don’t have a particular sound anymore (even if it were true, and you provide ZERO proof or evidence that this has happened) – so what? people can focus on a sound that speaks to them. maybe not everyone in Chicago wants to hear a particular style of house anymore – this makes people search for NEW things, NEW ideas, NEW sounds.

    i still discover new artists all the time, i don’t need my friend to be in the same room, and it’s still exciting – i’ve had people from around the world (friends, strangers) send me an mp3 that got me excited about a new artists or someone whose name was new to me – there’s something wrong with this? nonsense. no physical album – “the magic is gone!”… well grab a box of tissues you’ll have a lot of crying to do over the next few years.

    you’re afraid of the future… you should be embracing it.

    • There is a big difference between consumable and disposable, especially in terms of how one treats, experiences, and relates to the music. Just because people threw away old cassettes and worn out records doesn’t mean there was the mentality that music was disposable. This is a new phenomena, especially at the levels it becoming the norm or expectation.

      What more proof of dissolving regions do you need other than all music is available in all regions at any time? How many DJs are playing a fairly interchangeable set? There is no limit to how many people can have the same music in the same area. This has never been the case before the Internet and MP3s.

      I never denied that MP3s don’t have merits, nor was I calling for people to trash them and go back to the ‘old ways’.

      At no point do I suggest there be a fear of the future or suggest a lack of evolution. I myself have been an early adopter of several DJ/music technologies and got shit from people who several years later finally started using the same tech.

      What you seemed to have failed to catch on to is that there are areas of diminishing quality as a result of where things have ‘progressed’ (in many cases what people have called progression has actually been regression), that people are accepting and expecting the mediocre as the high bar. That is what I want to prevent. So fine, if you want me to be fearful of the future, a future where no one expects or values quality scares me.

      Before you start throwing your talking points around perhaps you should take some time to more carefully evaluate what points I’m actually making.

  22. people who truly love music – not just as radio fodder or background noise – will always expect quality. you seem to be upset there is no physical media. we get it. but physical media doesn’t make crappy music any better – it just adds some album artwork to it.

    how many DJs are playing a fairly interchangeable set? no idea – i don’t listen to uninspiring DJs. have you ever listened to the DJs i listed in my original comment? they don’t need to be flashy, they just curate a proper, interesting, sometimes very challenging set list. maybe you need to get out of the progressive/tech/house bubble and see what else is out there…

    • The topic of quality isn’t limited to media or format, in fact I avoid the discussion of the quality of formats, but rather focus on how MP3s are distributed (primarily in terms of independent labels) effects overall quality expectations. The market is saturated with crappy music because anyone can put up their shit, so few labels filter, they just blast as much as they can and hope something hits.

      There are plenty of great DJs out there, the ones you have listed and others I have praised in other articles. Part of the problem is that they are few and far between these days, DJ saturation creates the same quality issue. DJs are a dime a dozen now, the majority of which have no sense of history and thus aren’t exposing people who are new to the scene with education and understanding.

      There is no ‘bubble’ that I am speaking from or to. I am just pointing out what has and what is happening, hoping that something can be done to stop the regressing of quality.

      If new generations don’t have the access to quality, how can they be expected to learn to achieve for it?

      • Sean you’re not just pointing this out. You keep saying quality is at an all-time lowest but this is just your opinion. There’s nothing supporting that, no research, no studies, no number crunching, nothing. You’re trying to sell this as FACT when it’s not. I understand and may even agree with some points but not the whole. Your prose is inspiring but if you have any data to back up your affirmations I’d like to see it. Classic music lovers may have a point in saying that no good music was made since the XVI or XVII centuries. Ditto for jazz lovers and the 60’s, rock lovers and the 80’s… you get the idea. And we know none of that is true.

        Yes, it’s never been so easy and quick to start a label. Ditto for making music, selling music and playing music too. But there’s nothing indicating that the PROPORTION of good music/bad music being produced or played in clubs has changed for one or another just because of those factors. Crappy DJs and clubs have always existed, I don’t understand where you get the idea it’s worse today than it was in the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s. It’s just your own pessimistic view of the current state of music (or dance music, whatever) in the digital era.

        It’s much more plausible, rational and LOGICAL that the same filters that have always existed within the DJ community are still in place and running. Those are the filters that matter. Even though DJing is by no means charity, music selling is much more of a business – and thus less idealistic and more pragmatic – than music playing. Good DJ have and always will dig deeper and work harder to get diamonds.

        True, everyone’s a DJ today, but there are far more clubs as well, far more market and thus we have Paris Hilton and her dog with a residency in Ibiza and Vegas. But you still have the small club catering for the kind of DJ, music and people you and me love. But you and me are not everyone, and not everyone can go to this kind of club. That’s what I meant when I talked about commercial/mainstream/pop versus underground. I’m playing devil’s advocate here because I can’t stand crappy music and DJs, but I hate to be a snob. My standards only matter for me and my public, but I understand that some people would rather hear Paris Hilton play!

      • Though there hasn’t been any hard data research done we can clearly see that over the years there has been a saturation of dance music production. Just watching Beatport expand over the last 10 years can be very telling. Just listening to a sample of a few hundred tracks at a time you can hear where the quality has gone. Fewer and fewer labels are investing in professional mastering, a skill which many producers don’t have. You can hear an increase in the use of loops and presets. All of this, and more ultimately decreasing quality. There is no snobbery involved, this trend is not genre specific, and this is all fact. There is more dance music being produced at a lower quality, with less creativity/originality, more use of a formulaic approach, and less industry filtering than ever before. It is easier and cheaper than ever to make and release a track, so more people are doing it.

        If challenging the acceptance of poor quality and the overuse of making music by following a formula makes me a snob, I’m all in.

      • Sean as I said I understand your position and above all I respect your stance. Call it snobism or not I don´t mind it really, if I did I wasn´t here ´cos I´m not a troll. Actually, if I´m honest I´m a snob too, for so many reasons least of all for “challenging the acceptance of poor quality and overuse of making music by formula”. I´m a DJ, music lover, digger, collector, I simply cannot listen to bad music and many if not all relatives and friends give me flack for it, they sure think I´m a big snob and just like you I couldn´t care less. So how can a snob call someone else a snob? lol

        My point is not the merit but the arguments. I acknowledge there is a lot of bad music out there, formulaic crap with low quality problems in all aspects. But it always has, and always will. You make it like it´s some sort of “comtemporary disease” the making, performing and selling of poor quality when it´s in fact anything but. There´s simply absolutely no way to tell it is worse than, say, any other era in music. Beatport´s not for sure, nor is iTunes or Soundcloud or any other outlet.

        There was a time when you had to study music A LOT to become a musician. And we had the Mozarts but we also had the Salieris wich were not as divine, but very good still… I´m sure there was a lot of mediocre performers too, copying and trying to cash in on top of those accepted and revered artists and composers. Because only a few could afford a Salieri and even less a Mozart, but everybody still wanted music and would pay for it. It was the same with rock, jazz, house and all genres. What makes you think this is something new? Beatport? Come on mate! Just because technology has allowed anyone with a computer to make and sell music? IMHO that has INCREASED the quality of music: never before commercial music for masses has been so well produced, just listen to some 80´s cheap italo house and Top Of The Pops and compare that to today´s hits. Yeah there is still a lot of crap, but overall it has become professionally produced.

        I repeat: I had to dig A LOT for good music when I started playing back in the mid-80´s. Always had, always will. I believe most DJs were the same, back then, and now, and ever. I have a few large boxes of crappy records, from northern soul to bossa nova to acid house and techno. Just as I do with mp3s, except I´m now much more selective and demanding thus I kept those shitty tunes in vinyl only. Most people won´t take the trouble, they´ll just download Skrillex or Guetta or Beyoncé or whatever is playing on the radio or topping the charts, without much thinkering. That´s always been like that too. Underground music has more quality but is not as accessible, sometimes it crosses over but that´s rare (and sparks a new formula rage of course… such is the way of things). And that´s why you and me and a few others are DJs and most people are just consumers of music.

        One Mozart or Bach for what, 1.000.000 regular folks? Today it´s more like 1-to-10.000, so of course there´s a lot of crap but also a lot more good stuff too. That proportion must fluctuate throughout the eras,but not by as much as you try to make it, that´s my point.

      • Dance music is not a “sacred cow”. It’s just a cow and thus it can be milked. Like rock, jazz and every other music genre before, it reached a tipping point and became mainstream, open to formulaic dillution and commercial exploitation. This has never killed any musical genre in history, perhaps made many stronger. As I’m defending, creativity and originality prevail.

        Now I totally understand purism and nostalgia, being a mostly an underground old-school DJ myself I get jaded and depressed sometimes too. But that doesn’t blind me from the fact that it will always be about numbers, business and money for some; cheap, superficial and instant rewarding for many; and idealism and legitimate passion for a few. Can’t kill that either, with the good always come the bad and vice versa.

        Sean is right to be a voice against it, estimulating debate and reflection however he seem best. But I’m sorry, as much as I try I just cannot see Beatport (or any other music outlet for that matter) as evil, the visible face, least say the culprit, for the current state of dance music. Above all, because I don’t see it as bad from the industry standpoint as it’s being painted. There is A LOT of excellent music being put out there and everywhere, just need to dig. Find the gems, they’re rare but exist.

        Besides, everything is cyclic. Whoever holds the truth and whatever that may be, we shall see it leading to changes that might or might not bring things back to a balance… Yet again! Who knows uh?

      • Just for the record (pun sort of intended) I don’t label Beatport as the face of evil. Beatport just provides a clear demonstration of so many things that have gone astray, particularly saturation and quality. Beatport provides a great service, even better when they were more stringent over what labels they allowed on the sight. They have gone down hill in terms of quality control, but I can’t blame them for wanting to make a buck. They are a middle man. The responsibility falls on the producers, labels and consumers.

        Though, it will be interesting to see what happens now that SFX Entertainment runs the place and has laid everyone off.

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  24. I’m 59. I’ve been buying my music since the 1960s on vinyl, tape, cd, mp3 and flac. I even had some of my dad’s old reel-to-reel stuff.
    My ears can no longer hear 20kHz [at the last test my left ear registered 17kHz, my right ear 12kHz – too much mobile phone?].
    Whatever the format, someone will promote or attack its audio quality but that no longer matters to me.
    What does matter is that I now buy more music than I ever did and my gig-going is getting back to teenage levels.
    Correlation is not causation, but I’d be surprised if the amount of digital music available today had not had an influence on my purchasing and gigging habits.

  25. This article made good points and also some pointless or irrelevant ones. Music is only NOW disposable? And not everyone who acquires MP3s only goes for the “flavor of the week”. Some of us don’t particularly care for the low quality garbage on the radio. Speaking from personal experience, I only acquire music I enjoy listening to, not simply the hot new song that’s caught my attention at the moment, so of all the MP3s in my collection, I wouldn’t dream of deleting a single one simply because I got bored with the song. Also, MP3s, for as much flak as they get, have several benefits. I’ve actually bought albums and not cared for but a few songs on them. I can honestly name only 5 albums in my entire lifetime that I listened to in full and liked every single song on the album. Also, many times you hear a good song on the radio, go buy the album and find out the artist doesn’t live up to the hype. Within my life, I’ve made the complete progression from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 and at this point, I refuse to look back. As far as the music only now being disposable point goes, anyone who’s ever had to deal with vinyl or CDs becoming scratched and unplayable or one of those god awful tape players that ate cassettes knows music was disposable long before MP3s became mainstream. I’ve thrown away enough scratched CDs and LPs and unraveled cassette tapes that I’d never bother abandoning MP3 for those more primitive musical formats. Unlike all of those, MP3s don’t have a shelf life, can’t be destroyed through long term usage and best of all I can have all the songs I like listening to in one place, and even better, on the go without having to lug around an assload of cassette tapes or CDs with me.

    • There is a difference between being disposable in terms of the physical medium and in terms of the content. What I am concerned with is that more often than not people treat the content as disposable which wasn’t the case when people had to put more effort in to getting the material in the first place.

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