Brave New World: The Indies Go Digital

By: Ryan Foley

Posted 09/17/2007 - 05:25:56 AM by ChrisP:
 Really well written interesting article. Got me thinking, why don't independent record labels band together and form their own digital distribution site/company, sort of like the Beggars Group? I also think once mobile phone providers (at least here in the UK) start to realise the potential of directly downloading to phones then online sales will become completely dominant.
Posted 09/17/2007 - 09:02:50 AM by smezzer:
 Good article this. Personally, the pay to download phenomenon doesn't appeal at all. I prefer having the real copy of the album with the artwork yada yada yada, maybe you could label me as a materialist because of it. But the thing which genuinely makes me angry about the role of downloading is the dominance of iTunes - their standard quality of 128kbps is fucking disgusting, an insult to the musicians involved as well as the buyer's ears. I'm not a rabid audiophile but i know enough (and can hear enough) to realise that this is a disgrace. Not only does it make the whole experience less enjoyable, but it's also affecting the way music is created completely. Poorly produced albums, the increasing emphasis on live music, you can lay these issues partially at the feet of poor quality downloads. OK, poor quality downloads have existed since day one, but iTunes have legitimised the selling of a substandard product, made it the industry standard. And their entire user base just lies back and accepts it. Seriously, it worries me that iTunes has become so powerful. I just hope i'm not of a dying breed
Posted 09/17/2007 - 09:49:37 AM by meatbreak:
 I'm with you on all of that Smezzer. Nicely put. Give me the real feel of a lp or cd any day - the joy of scanning through shelves is also infinitely more rewarding than burning your eyes out over the luminous glow of a vdu too. Having said that, I don't think bands and producers will happily finish off an album with poor production because they know that the shitty bit-rates will undermine any extra efforts they've made. If they are listening to their finished products on all the formats it's available on then they will really be pushing for hard copies and kick back if labels insist on digital distribution as the lead (and potentially only) format. There's a fine line for bands and labels between being happy with the sonic qualities of records and the number of people listening. I guess most can be easily swayed into favouring the latter and that's what seems to be happening.
Posted 09/17/2007 - 11:03:19 AM by smezzer:
 you're probably right i know, but part of me feels this embracing of lower quality distribution has and will bring about a "that'll do" attitude in the industry. Once they've seen that people don't care that much about it they may take it as a precedent and cut back funding for production duties etc. Or they might just continue with their campaign to make everything as loud and overly compressed as possible. Of course, the more independent labels and bands will probably do their best to avoid it, but it could filter down even through them
Posted 09/17/2007 - 11:33:27 AM by syurix:
 $10 is too much to pay for an album at 128kbps when the physical product costs the same thing and can be ripped/swapped/perused/played in your friend's car with way more ease. For me to consider itunes they need to do a few things. 1)get rid of DRM, it runs completely counter to how music is shared among fans in 2007 2)encode at either lossless or at least >256. 3)Drop the price so its in line with the reduced cost of getting the album to me. I know what shipping, manufacturing etc. cost so don't piss on me and tell me its raining. Otherwise, I am a fan of the tactile experience of the album, but I think there's plenty of room for the digital tchotchkeization of shit to grow.
Posted 09/18/2007 - 12:09:08 AM by joeyjeremiah:
 Right now I have a housemate. She's eighteen and listens to music exlusively through her laptop speakers and ipod headphones. All of her music is pirated, and she doesn't own any CD albums. She's constantly bored and chops and changes songs incessantly. Is she the new archetypal consumer? Is this a depressing development? I'd say yes.
Posted 09/19/2007 - 04:35:10 AM by meatbreak:
 What's she listening to? hehe. Most important question of all, obviously.
Posted 09/19/2007 - 07:49:04 PM by cwperry:
 Joeyjeremiah's housemate is definitely the new consumer, and this makes me nervous. In my record collection there are literally hundreds of albums that I hated on first, second, or maybe even third listen that I came to love and value only due to patience and perseverance. The aforementioned housemate's choppy blasting through song after song, discarding anything that doesn't grab her in fifteen seconds, ensures that she will never sink into an album in the way that, say, it took me years to understand and appreciate Love's Forever Changes, for example. Only by sitting through numerous bored and frustrated listens--and then reading a book about the damn thing (one of the relatively few quality issues in the 33 1/3 series by Continuum Publishing)--did it become one of my favorites. Cruising for instant gratification or--even worse--something one recognizes and doesn't have to "work for"--could result in a person "growing out" of music rather than enjoying a lifetime of warm and familiar songs and collections. This could happen in the pre-download days, of course (I remember trying to get a roommate to listen to The Spinanes; when he opted for Soundgarden's Superunknown for the billionth time instead, he said "at least I know I'll like it). However, this choppy song-processing behavior described in joeyjeremiah's comment undoubtedly happens more and more as the number of laptop-only, download-only, never-buy-an-album people increases.