It’s called CMX. It’s not by itself either. CMX is a knee-jerk reaction to a project Apple us supposedly calling “Cocktail.” The premise is to package additional content into what would represent a digital album. You would of course get the music, but also liner notes, photos, videos, lyrics and the like. The goal is to revive life into the concept of the studio album.
The problem is that all of this content should be, and probably is, free elsewhere. I know the lyrics are online. Zune manages to package tons of photos in. For some odd reason these companies still try to charge people for music videos, which I always thought were a promotional vehicle to sell more music, but I guess I had that wrong.
This is just another example of the record labels refusing to understand that the business and the market has changed. I am a customer. Sometimes I want full albums, sometimes I don’t. I am savvy enough to easily find photos, lyrics, even the music videos are almost always available free on YouTube. I would love the lyrics to be available on the device, but it seems much more sense to just include them in the digital song file, instead of making someone buy the album to get them.
There is a trend in the software industry. The trend is that things go online, users pay more like a service, and instead of long drawn out release cycles with versions every few years, the software companies are able to be much more agile and release new changes when they are available. Give the customers what they want when they want it.
Apply that trend to the music industry, and you start to think about it differently. Artists release new music when they have it. They stay relevant the whole time they tour, and we don’t forget about them for years between each album. The album sales dwindle, sure, but the single song sales trickle all year, every year. The music, the videos, all drive us listeners to the concerts, they make money in product and movie/TV placements, and of course merchandise. There is absolutely still a profit model in music, the mob(Sony, BMG, RCA) has just lost their way to run a protection racket.
Most artists are starting to find the ability to record and engineer their own music. The need of a label to back a major studio is going away. The Foo Fighters, pictured above, have all the major label backing they could want, and they still built their own studio so they could engineer their own music and have control.
You find articles all the time about the music industry changing, and what they should do. Obviously they aren’t reading them, and they don’t care what customers actually want. Right now they are most concerned with trying to get you to pay $16 bucks for 4 good songs and 8 tracks of filler, because you chopped their leg off when you started only buying the good stuff.
Digital Rights Management has been a hot topic for quite awhile now. With record and movie companies going after users who download content without paying, people seem to immediately go to DRM as the culprit that record and movie companies use to control their customers and limit what they can do.
As of now that’s pretty close to how it has worked also. There are other models that are working and people don’t seem to mind or notice. Netflix currently DRMs all of it’s watch now content, you have to have an authorized Silverlight player in your browser or use a device that can handle your credentials to prove access.
Personally, I have no problem with DRM, I have a problem with the implementation of most DRM models. Imagine with me for a minute:
I currently pay well over $100 per month for Cable. Let’s take a huge number, say $75. Let’s say that I pay $75 per month to the Acme Media Company. For that $75 I get unlimited access via the internet to music, movies and television shows. I can watch as much as I want, and they support viewing their content on all of the devices that me and my family own.
I can watch on my TV, my Zune or iPod, my laptop or desktop computer or my phone. I register my family’s devices with this company and they allow any of their content to be played on my registered devices.
I no longer have to rent DVDs, buy CDs or deal with scheduling and recording television. Acme just handles that for me. I never own any of this content, it’s just like on-Demand cable for all of my media, except it comes over the internet and I can take it with me on my portable devices.
Does that sound good or bad? It sounds amazing to me. These models will never work without DRM. The current thinking says, they won’t pay, so lets fill it with advertising. I would rather pay a fair fee, get access to TV shows when they would normally be available on air, movies they day they release to DVD, and the entire music catalog. If it was open enough to give my wife and child access as well, I would already be on the phone cancelling Cable TV.
I already pay a service fee like this for ZunePass for music. For someone like me who buys two to four CDs a month usually, $14.99 a month for unlimited downloads for 3 devices and computers is a steal. I want that to cover my movies and TV too.
I was listening to the new Dream Theater album today, downloaded via ZunePass and is phenomenal by the way, and I had a thought. I really miss CD jackets. I miss being able to read the lyrics. I also hate having to try and read them from the myriad of spam and malware filled lyric sites on the internet.
So I am just wondering, why is there no quality, safe place to get lyrics for the albums we are buying?
I want my stinking lyrics back. Why don’t we insist that the lyrics are packaged in the MP3 meta data, and that the players provide the UI to view them on the device. Seems pretty simple and obvious to me, duh.
Antares Auto-Tune, the most beloved tool of the music recording industry lately, and also the latest hip-hop effect in fashion is getting a really bad reputation lately. I want to take a minute to put one myth to rest.
To put it clear and simple. If you cannot sing, Auto-Tune will not make it sound like you can. It does nothing to fix poor tone and quality, it merely alters pitch and intonation. Now I will say I have heard some severe over use of it, and tell tale signs of using it beyond it’s intention, but a line in a recent article on MSNBC.com states “…you still had to be able to sing, with Auto-Tune, you don’t.”
Man, I beg to differ. What makes a good singer? There have been some great voices, unique singers with terrible pitch and intonation, Janis Joplin anyone? How about anything from The Smashing Pumpkins or Nine Inch Nails. Those guys have terribly unique voices that are commonly flat or a little out of tune. It’s part of the musical style. Does that make them bad singers?
Auto-Tune and Melodyne both offer the same thing, the ability to fix bad notes. Articles like this one would have you believe that in the old days they came in, belted it out in one take and you had a hit. I am sure a legion of very talented tape splicers would have a big problem with that assumption.
That’s the reality, today they use a software plugin or hardware device to nudge a note or two back in tune (not counting the Kanye/T-Pain effect use of the plugin) where back in the day, they just had the singer sing it over and over, then cut apart the takes until they got it all sounding right. What’s the difference?
This MSNBC.com article even goes as far as to blame Auto-Tune for declining CD sales. Wow, how about blaming the sales of single tracks on iTunes as well as piracy, they seem a much more likely culprit.
It’s absolutely true that there are some pop stars out there now that can’t sing “well.” I am sure that it’s root cause is similar to why half the NBA today can’t shoot free throws. Poor training, no attention to fundamentals and no practice. It’s an instant gratification society and people want to grab a mic, make a record and get rich. I seriously doubt that people just quit trying because of the plugin and it’s the cause of the diminishment of talent.
One last note, it used to be much, much harder to get big enough to be on the radio and selling CDs nation wide. Maybe part of the reason we hear such less talented singers is that with the decrease in costs for production, the increase in ease of getting to market, you don’t see the top tier of artists now, you see them and a few rungs below. Tell me that Celine Dion, Tori Amos and Myles Kennedy get by with Auto-Tune, I don’t think so.