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:



Reading And Writing

Lawrence Lessig’s Read/Write Culture concept centers around the notion of remixing other people’s media. But there is a second implied meaning that is even more fundamental. Read/Write should be about enabling everyone to create culture (whatever form it takes), rather than just consuming it.

The Free and Open Source Software movement is a big part of this by minimizing the cost and barrier to entry for free alternatives to expensive media tools like Photoshop, Logic, and Premiere. Lessig has tried to use Creative Commons to help make an Open Source Media movement.

But the internet is more than just music, videos, and ebooks. Social media depends on user-generated content – people have to post content to make YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. interesting to look at.

Lately, I’ve found myself consuming the internet, and not doing much contributing. When I logged on to write this, I was shocked that I haven’t been on in over four months. There was a pending comment from October. For shame.

Real life has been busy for me lately, but I’ve been drowning in the online reading, too. Keeping up on e-mail, Twitter, and my RSS reader was overwhelming and I couldn’t get “caught up” enough to even think about posting.

Thank goodness for the RPM Challenge. I almost didn’t participate this year, but I didn’t want to break my 5 year streak. I wasn’t able to get as elaborate as I wanted, but I put together “Address.”

It’s by far the creepiest noise I have ever made. I don’t expect anyone to like it or listen to the whole thing, but it gives me chills. And I feel so much better to have actually made something.