WHY, WHY, WHY??? (Again)

Obviously, the music artists, recording, and mastering engineers of the mainstream music industry are not reading this blog. Or at least ignoring my sage advice. (I joke, of course – hardly anyone reads this blog, mostly because I’m not famous, and I so rarely post, but I still somehow manage a small regular amount of highly appreciated traffic.)

I have built up a small backlog of CD purchases to rip for listening. And the mastering errors and odd track index points continue apace. I rant about this at length in an earlier post here. It really bothers me, and I feel compelled to fix them, which in some cases can be time consuming. And I end up being resentful for my lost time if I don’t love the album. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which albums will have problems (yes, I’m talking about you, Spoon, New Pornographers, and Weezer – the same artists who over-compress their music, as it usually happens).

So I say this again – if you want two tracks to be separate, make sure the index point between them is on silence (even if it’s a single sample). If you want them to be crossfaded, make them a single track.

It’s kind of a lose-lose situation. Separate tracks mean no album mastering the way you want, but no one is going to hear it that way anyway. And making a single tracks means you can’t sell two tracks at 89 cents each.


Meet The Pixels!

My RPM Challenge 2014 project is called Meet The Pixels!

My idea was to take a photograph and converting the image data into sound. Not the same way I did the Robert Rauschenberg pieces. I wanted to take the raw image samples and use them as PCM data.

The picture is of a brick wall with paint splattered on it. It’s mostly red, with an interesting texture, so I thought it might be interesting. I converted the image into the CMYK color space to get four separate channels of data, which I saved to separate 16 bit grayscale raw files and then added WAVE headers to create audio files.

I processed the audio files in a variety of ways (including Paul’s Extreme Stretch) to stretch them out to album-length. Then I layered and mixed them together.

It sounds like the soundtrack for a science fiction horror film.

The cover is made from the CMYK channels of the photograph.

The FLAC file is too bit for Bandcamp, so I had to do an exclusive special mono version!

Meet The Pixels! Cover

Digital Albums > Compact Discs

Music Ally notes that digital album sales have outpaced CDs for the first time in 2013. Thanks to The Trichordist for the link.

When you include vinyl and other physical formats (not sure what that would be – cassette? 8-track? flexi-disk?) physical media is collectively a winner with 51.4% of sales.

But in 2013, there were 11.8 million downloads and only 11.1 million CD sales.

This didn’t surprise me. iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Play, and the other digital sales venues are the high-profile retail channels now. There are too few physical music stores now. And I don’t think people really want CDs. I suspect that the majority of CDs purchased are ripped immediately and played back on phones and tablets, and never see the inside of an actual CD player.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but since streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify plays are counted in digital sales numbers (though not one-for-one), I suspect David Lowery (Mr. Trichordist, and successful musician of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker fame) considers this a dubious milestone.

I like the idea of digital distribution – mostly due to low overhead and world-wide audience potential – but unfortunately, there still aren’t enough good outlets for quality digital downloads. Most albums aren’t available in CD quality downloads, only MP3 or AAC.  Not enough albums are sold through placed like Bleep or Bandcamp, with WAVE or FLAC download options. I’ve been writing about the death of physical media for the last 5 years and the situation has barely improved in that time. Some of the high-profile artists who have experimented with FLAC or WAVE downloads have backed off the idea. I am happy that Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine both had well-done digital album releases this year. But other than that, big studio releases are only available digitally as lossy compressed files.

I make two CDs of each RPM Challenge album because it’s a requirement of the challenge (why? I’m not sure – they don’t rip them for the jukebox, and I have to try to upload for that separately). Other than that I haven’t made a physical audio CD for distribution in over 10 years. Now, I’m not David Lowery – I barely sell any music, so obscurity is always my biggest enemy. But as a music consumer, I appreciate being able to get music on demand and the way I want to consume it, and I believe in offering the same options to my listeners.

Sneak Peek

Almost there… (RPM 2014)

RPM 2014 Sneak Peek



RPM Challenge 2014

I have signed up for the 2014 RPM Challenge, although we’re already more than a week into it and I have no concrete plans. And the next couple weeks are going to be busy with work and life. So I’m not sure I’ll be able to actually finish anything.

Here’s my last year’s entry: