Should we be collecting Audiophile Releases?

The all things strange and weird Boing Boing blog had an interesting article yesterday talking about Audiophile recordings. SACD, DVD-A, and 5:1 surround re-releases could all be going the way of the Dodo bird. Heck even CDs are on their way out. Are we going to be left with only one option? The craptastic MP3?

I’ve personally never heard an SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) or DVD-A but I do know my old vinyl collection sounds superior to my MP3s. Surely we can’t let all our high quality options disappear. I always assumed that when broadband adoption and hard drive space became readily available we would see online music retailers offer lossless formats. So far that hasn’t happened.

“Super Audio CD (SACD) is a read-only optical audio disc format that can provide higher fidelity digital audio reproduction than the Red Book audio CD. Introduced in 1999, it was developed by Sony and Philips Electronics, the same companies that created the Compact Disc. SACD is in a format war with DVD-Audio, but neither format has managed to replace regular audio CDs.” – Wikipedia.org

Richard Metzger over at Boing Boing thinks we should run out and start collecting SACD and DVD-A’s. Personally I don’t think we should encourage more plastic production. We should demand higher quality digital downloads. There are only a few options available today. MusicGiants.com offers “High Definition Music Collections”.

“MusicGiants, the leader in high definition entertainment, aims to deliver the highest quality entertainment experience possible. Still the only digital music service licensed in HD from all of the major music labels…” – MusicGiants.com

We really need iTunes and Amazon to get on board otherwise large portions of the human’s music canon will end up only available in MP3 format. What other online shops sell high quality music downloads?

Check out the Boing Boing article: Audiophile Releases… Get ‘Em While You Can

Turn off the iTunes Sound Enhancer.

Did you know that by default iTunes is mucking up the sound of your recordings? I’m not sure with what version this started with but iTunes when first installed has its Sound Enhancer turned on. This is fine for easy listening but if you don’t know it exists it can wreak havoc on you mind when you play your own recordings.

I first noticed this when I was mastering my last album. I was listening carefully to a song called The World Will Know Us which had some alternating panned tom fills. In my DAW the toms where perfectly tickling each ear as they bounced from left to right. Later I put all my mastered songs into iTunes and was playing with the order of the songs to see how the album should be best arranged. When The World Will Know Us came on something was very wrong because the panning was strange. The toms seemed pushed to the center right ear only. I rerendered and remastering the song and again the same thing. It was pure luck I discovered that the iTunes Sound Enhancer was on and it was the culprit causing the phenomena. One good fact is iTunes remembers your settings each time you upgrade to a newer version.

“Sound enhancer is absolutely the STUPIDEST thing… App-hole also have it set to ON by default.. I have to send the following disclaimer to all my clients who listen to mixes on iTunes “Please be aware that iTunes had a setting in the preferences, under the “Audio” tab which engages something they like to call “Sound Enhancer”. This setting will increase the L-R component of the stereo signal and supress the L+R component. What does that mean? It means that anything which is only on the left, only on the right or has significantly different information in the left and right channel will be made louder (cymbals, percussion, BGVs, guitars, ambiences) and anything which is identical in the left and right channels (therefore “mono”, Kick Snare, Bass, lead vocal, etc…) will be much quieter. Please be sure that the “sound Enhancer” is OFF before you call to complain that you cannot hear the lead vocal in the chorus, etc…” Apple are ****ing idiots about pro audio…” zmix, Gearslutz.com

Have you noticed this yourself?

Which music related social networks do you use?

I’m curious if you keep and maintain public profiles for your music on social networks other than MySpace. Last.fm? Imeem? Bebo, Fairlitzer? What about Pandora or The Hype Machine? Do you upload your full songs so services can stream them without compensation? Is it worth the promotion to you?

I bring it up because yesterday I got pretty frustrated using the new Last.fm. Once accepted as a label you get access to a part of the site called the Music Manager. You can upload and manage your tracks there. After I uploaded a new release I added in the album cover. The album art showed up in the Music Manager. However, it never show up in the general public area on Last.fm. I tried about 10 times, re-uploading the same album cover. Eventually I hit the help forums. Sure enough this is a known problem. How could image uploading be broken for more than two weeks? How could they not disable the uploader or put a note on the page so I didn’t waste forty minutes on this crap?

Another other thing I really don’t like about Last.fm is that you don’t have any comment control on your own artist pages. People can log on and rail you and it’s there forever. They could at least implement a comment voting system so nasty comments get greyed out using Ajax or something.

What finally ended my session yesterday on Last.fm was the events section. I wanted to add in a few upcoming live shows I have. I head to: last.fm/music/The+Horrorist/+events because that’s where the shows for The Horrorist are listed. I search for a button that says “Add Event”. Nothing! Nada! After twenty minutes of searching I find the only place to add a new event is if I go to last.fm/events. How frustrating.

Maintaining a your image and uploading fresh content on every site is impossible. Which sites deserve attention? I will always keep my own website on my own server but clearly the hearts, minds and ears are in lots of places. Do you simply cover the sites which have the most users? No matter how lame they are?

If you go to Alexa.com you can enter in the a few sites and see a comparison of how many users each site has over a time period (thanks Vergel for the tip). You maybe surprised that for example Imeem has so many users. MySpace still trumps them all by far though.

As more sites start to pay royalties for streaming and incorparate there own download stores the lines between iTunes, Beatport, Amazon and the social network sites will become blurred.

Is your head starting to hurt too?

Tunecore makes a price change. Im still using it.

Last week I uploaded my record label’s new release Ionic Vision – Club Isolation to TuneCore. I use them to get my releases onto iTunes, Amazon and eMusic. You pay a maintenance and service fee charge of $19.98 per album. This is reoccurring yearly charge for every album you have “live” for sale. You also pay a one time charge of .99 for each store you want to have the release on. For example .99 for Amazon worldwide, .99 for eMusic and for iTunes each world store is separate so .99 for iTunes USA, .99 for iTunes Germany, etc… I don’t bother selling my music on some stores they offer like Rhapsody or Napster.

One thing you may notice if you used Tunecore in the past is the maintenance and service fee charge has doubled from what it used to be. I emailed Tunecore about the price change and they told me yes it did go up but only effects newly added releases. So for example, your older albums on iTunes won’t start incurring a double charge. My albums make a decent amount of money per month so its not a major issue for me. However, for the new single on my label with just 4 songs on it I now have to question if it’s worth doing. Beatport, Neuton, Juno Download and of course my own online store (using Easybe) don’t charge me anything to put a release up. I do want these releases on iTunes and Amazon but only if I will surely will not loose money. I’m a glass is half full guy so this release went up using Tunecore.

I still think Tunecore is a good service. They have a great website. Uploading and organizing your releases works smoothly and is a nice looking process. They always answer my emails right away. Storage is getting cheaper so I’m not sure why thier fee doubled. Let’s hope for more competition in this space as really at this point Tunecore is the only good option for independent labels to get onto iTunes. I do feel it’s important to keep the concept of “point of sale” in mind which states the more places you sell your stuff the more money you should make.

Music charts are a good promotion tool.

Music Music

Each month on the first I make a top 10 music chart. Songs I am really into at the moment. There are a few good reasons to do this. If your a band or an artist, some of your fans will be interested in what your current tastes are. The fact that I know I need a chart each month forces me to discover and seek out new music. As a musician it’s important to be always listening to what’s out there and not get stuck completely in the past.

There are places you can post your chart other than your own website. Your MySpace, Facebook and Last.fm pages can host your chart. Slow news week but it has been a while since you sent an email newsletter? Make it look a little more meaty with a chart. If all the songs in your chart are on iTunes then turn your chart into an iMix. Likewise, if your music is entirely available on Beatport you can publish the chart on Beatportal.com. Anytime your interviewed include your current top 10 chart. If your known enough many magazines print DJ charts each month. Groove Magazine often prints my chart.

Should you put your own songs in your chart? Hell yes! If your own new material isn’t in your favorite new songs of the month then you shouldn’t be releasing it to the world! If you want to get fancy make the song titles click able links to a place where someone can hear and buy the song right away. Also consider including a photo of yourself or the album cover of the number one song on your chart. If you like you can even include a little description of your chart’s style. I add a disclaimer to my chart because I put everything on from Country to Minimal! Don’t forget to put your website next to your name and a little message somewhere saying “feel free to reprint this chart anywhere”.

With the onslaught of a million net labels charts have become an important tool to find hot songs. I like to read them and make them.

The Horrorist – Top 10 – February 2008*
The Horrorist www.myspace.com/oliverchesler

01 Electric Feel – MGMT
02 Washmachine – Workidz
03 Nietzche – Abstrackt Keal Agram
04 Story of an Artist – Daniel Johnston
05 You Should Tell Me So – Orilla Opry
06 13 Dobermans – The Horrorist
07 Bubbleblitzen – Miro Pajic
08 Beneath You – Mark Mendes
09 U Turn – Mark Ramsey
10 Stereos and Such – Popof

*The Horrorist chart is not your normal DJ Chart. The music here is not normal. These are songs Oliver Chesler is listening to now. If your weird and like great music then listen to these songs. If you are normal I am sorry this chart is not for you.

photo credit: phil_h.psd

A tip to explore and find new music on iTunes.

Cat and iTunes - photo

Here’s a little tip on how to find new music on the iTunes Music Store. The front page on iTunes has the popular stuff. However, I’m not really into Kanye West or Carrie Underwood. I used to go to the iTunes Music Store and look at the main pages of the genre I wanted to explore (like electronic) to see what’s new. Rarely would I find something I like. Sure, I can search an artist I already know but I already know about them so what’s the use?Front 242 - photo

I found a way to explore iTunes and find new music. First, search your favorite artist. Click on your favorite release by that artist. Now see the reviews below? Find someone who agrees with you. You see “Jackrabit99″ is saying very similar things to what you would say about this release. Click on his name. Now you get a list of all the records he reviewed. Already you see releases you may like and you see things he highly recommends so go and listen. This maybe all obvious but I found countless great songs this way.

Here’s an example. One of my favorite albums is “Geography” by Front 242. On the iTunes Music Store there is a review that says “Groundbreaking Industrial Classic” and the reviewer named Psinex gives the album 5 stars. I agree with Psinex 100%. I click his Continue reading →