The Music That Immortalised 90s Subculture with electronic technologies

The 90s undoubtedly marked the Golden Age of underground music zines cataloguing subcultural movements. Without an avalanche of Tumblr accounts offering endless information on what your favourite band is wearing, Soundcloud recommendations about who to listen to next, or Twitter documenting your most-loved guitar player’s childhood fear, publications such as the pioneering DIY zine Sniffin’ Glue and groupie-focused Star found their way into the eager hands of music fans around the world. To celebrate a simpler time, here is our rundown of the five most iconic underground zines you might not have heard of, and where you can read them.

Starting off this list with the OG of all zines, Sniffin’ Glue was the first publication to chronicle punk from an insider’s point of view. Created in the UK in 1976, right after editor Mark Perry (who was a bank clerk at the time) watched a Ramones concert, Sniffin’ Glue’s haphazard DIY style, with felt-tip titles, shabby grammar, swear words and informal writing paved the way for the many punk zines that followed. Submitting to the movement’s idea of creating your own culture and rejecting the old, it did not subscribe to any traditional forms of publishing, and in fact was closed down after only 14 issues due to fear of becoming incorporated into the mainstream music press. Unfortunately, it is not catalogued online – but if you’re London-based, you can check out the full archive at the London College of Communication’s zine library.

Considered scandalous at the time, 1973’s LA-based Star magazine was aimed at teenage girls and chronicled the lives of the decade’s most iconic groupies, from Sable Starr to the hyper-controversial Sunset Strip “baby groupies”. With a manifesto that could almost be called feminist, the first issue opened riddled with angry letters from teachers and parents – one of them surprised the magazine “didn’t come wrapped in plain brown paper” as a porn magazine would – to which the editorial team answered: “How about letting Arkansas’ girls decide about Star?” It even featured a commentator that could’ve come straight from 2016, who stated that men like him don’t like this “Women’s Lib baloney” that the magazine advocates. Referring to their readers as Foxy Ladies (also a name used for baby groupies), Star never undermined their pheromone-ridden teen readers, and featured plenty of pictures of a young Mick Jagger, alongside comic strips of fantasy scenarios, for example where a fan dresses up as glam rock icon Marc Bolan to get backstage. With five printed issues painstakingly collected and digitalized, you can access the whole archive here.

Living in New York as a musician of the Opera’s Grand Theatre

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.

Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating — even problem solving.

Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula and the CCB chief Red House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNam have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfenjohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”

How To Market Music: An Effective No-Fail 3 Step Music Marketing Formula That Works

How To Market Your Music More Effectively

Knowing how to market your music is without a doubt THE most important thing you can do for your music business and your music career as a whole. You know it’s something that must be handled and if you’re not making efforts to learn how to market your music more effectively then you should know that, at the very least, nothing serious will ever happen in your music business career.

The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not you’re currently managing the most basic elements of an effective music marketing campaign.

What do I mean by this?

To begin it’s important to assess where you’re at right now and determine whether or not you know and understand exactly what the basic components of an effective music marketing campaign are? Let’s face it, if you plan on making a name for yourself in the music industry it’s important to realize you’ll be investing a lot of your personal time and money into your music career. If you’re certain your absolute goal is to mold your music talents into a true “music business” and you have no doubts about the career path you’ve chosen… then you’ll want to be as efficient and productive as you can possibly be.

Most indie bands and musicians whether from the Rock, Hip Hop, Folk or any genre for that matter, tend to work on only one or two of the three essential requirements of effective music marketing. For instance most musicians are great at connecting with audiences. What with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube in the mix, communications have become stupid simple for today’s musician.

On the other hand, asking for the sale is occasionally handled effectively but tends to be approached hap-hazardly and without a formula or the necessary accompanying awareness campaigns. This lack-luster approach tends to dampen the efforts of even the hardest working bands and musicians in the industry. Unfortunately, applying only one or even two of these key components without the essential third element in a music marketing campaign won’t bring in maximum returns for the time invested. This just isn’t how to market music effectively.

Don’t get me wrong, getting your name out there and partaking in conversations with fans can be cool, even self gratifying and it’s definitely better than not doing anything at all, but imagine how much more effective you’d be if you went to work on all of these essential marketing aspects of your music business armed with a formula and a pin-point focused purpose.

The Solution To Ineffective Music Marketing

The bottom line is that when you break down the ins and outs on how to market your music effectively, it becomes apparent that as a musician, it’s important to discipline yourself to focus on the elements that are most productive for your music business growth. Broken down in an easy to follow process these elements of music marketing and music promotion essentially consist of a 3 step formula:

Step #1 – Create Awareness: Find an audience who appreciates your music style, your sound and your identity. Take the steps necessary to communicate your musical message to them. Everything you do should create an awareness for you and your music at all times. Approach this with precision and a firm direction and your music business foundation will be solidified for years to come.

Step #2 – Connect with Your Audience: I mentioned earlier how stupid simple it is to connect with fans today. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the many other online “hangouts” make this process a breeze. Once you’ve laid the initial groundwork and you’ve made your audience aware of exactly what you have to offer, work on maintaining those important on-going relationships with your fans, the media and the all important music business contacts you collect along the way. Your fans and contacts want to know that you’re for real. That you care about them. That you’re here for the long-haul. Making connections with them and keeping them involved in your growth process will ensure this happens for you.

Step #3 – Sell Your Stuff (Ask for the sale): This one is essential. If you don’t have products to sell… you DON’T have a music business. Working to create a steady, consistent cash flow for your music business is paramount to your long-term success. Entice fans to spend their money and buy your stuff and the rest of your music marketing processes will flow and flourish so much easier.

Yes! It’s Easier Said Than Done

I recognize that it’s easier to talk about these things than it is to make them happen in your career but this is what the music business is all about so incorporating these processes into your music business campaign is a must, or you simply won’t last long enough to make dent in the music world.

And that’s not what we want for your music career… is it?

Again, it might seem easy enough to map these things out on paper but the truth is that most bands and musicians will find a hundred and one ways to screw this up.

You’ll either spend too much time on creating awareness and connecting with your audience but then fail to ask for the sale. Or you’ll ask for the sale way to often and forget about connecting with your people. I mentioned earlier that it’s cool to get all gung-ho, get busy, and head on out there and do a bunch of music marketing, but if you’re not touching all three elements of this process on how to market music, then you’re missing the boat and more importantly… you’re fans won’t be “feeling” your vibe. They just won’t connect with you on a deeper level. Without connection, there’s no sales and without sales, you don’t have a music business.

How To Make It In Music With The Training Of A Mentor

Have you been thinking about starting a career in music for a while, but are not sure what you must do to begin? If the answer is “yes,” then you are certainly not alone. In fact, this is a common problem for almost every musician who wants to start a career in music and become a professional in the music industry. That said, the majority of musicians become frustrated due to a lack of knowledge for the industry and give up on their dreams to pursue “stable” non-music careers. Fortunately, it does not have to end the same way for you.

The key to starting a career in music and becoming successful is finding a great mentor who has already reached the highest level of success in the music industry. In most cases, simply being around someone in the music business who knows a lot more than you is highly beneficial. That said, if you are able to not only be ‘around’ someone like this, but also receive direct advice from them about your own music career challenges, your potential success as a professional musician will increase MASSIVELY!

To show you what I mean, think about the world famous basketball star Michael Jordan. Even if you are not a basketball fan, it is likely that you have heard of the incredible success that Jordan achieved throughout his career. Over the span of about two decades, Jordan became known as one of the best athletes ever (in any sport) as he broke countless records, won many championships, and made A LOT of money from his player salary (not to mention through endorsements, shoe sales, and other means). By himself, Jordan was certainly a very talented athlete; however, he did not make it to the top alone. In every moment of his legendary career, Jordan continually received the advice, coaching and training of many mentors both within basketball and outside of basketball. As a result, he was able to take the incredible natural ability he had to play and turn it into something truly unforgettable. In fact, this situation is not exclusive to Michael Jordan, any athlete who has ever achieved incredible success has always maintained connection to a mentor even after winning major titles, awards or medals.

Similar to Michael Jordan, if you are starting a career in music, it is absolutely essential that you find a great coach, trainer or mentor who can help you leverage your natural abilities so you can achieve the highest possible success in your music career. To make the process for choosing a mentor much easier for you, I have written down the top 3 traits that your mentor should possess in order to help you start and maintain a successful career in music:

1. Is already highly successful in the music business, and is able to help you solve any problems that get in the way of your music career goals.

Starting a career in music is often a very frustrating experience for most musicians. Although there is a great deal of information about the music business online; most of it is intended for use by the general music community. As a result, you may have specific questions for your own challenges in your music career, but no specific answers to help you deal with them. On top of that, the music industry information you find online does not help you understand the difference between ‘useful’ information, and information that either no longer applies to most musicians or does not apply for you in your own music career. This is why it is absolutely essential that you find a mentor who understands the inner workings of the music industry and has already built a successful career by figuring these things out.

When you have access to personalized advice from someone like this, you will quickly be able to solve any issues that arise in your music career. This will give you the ability to approach a career in music with a clear understanding of exactly what needs to get done in order to reach your personal goals.

2. Has already helped many other musicians reach their highest music career goals (and has proof of this!).

In order to build a career in music, you will not need to complete any university program, become “certified”, or take any mandatory testing. This is something that sets the music industry apart from other industries. That said, it is very easy for amateur musicians to make claims of expertise when the reality is that they have not really achieved anything significant in their own career. It is very important that your music mentor is able to give you reliable, accurate and helpful advice that is truly effective for building a successful career in music.

A reliable method for determining whether or not a mentor can really help you in your music career is to observe the success of the musicians who he currently works with or who have worked with him in the past. A mentor who can truly help you succeed with a career in music will not necessarily need to tell you this directly. Instead, it will be obvious due to the overwhelming amount of positive feedback he receives from current (or past) musicians who have worked with this mentor and become successful in music. In the music business, a positive reputation takes a very long time to build. If you find a mentor with a reputation of getting big results for many musicians, then the chances are very good that he can do the same for you. Make sure to check for this by looking for reviews, testimonials or general feedback on your mentor’s website or other places online.

As someone who has personally trained many people to become successful professional musicians, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a mentor as you pursue a career in music. Fact is, I would not be where I am today in the music business if it weren’t for the help of my current and former mentors. Don’t make the mistake of trying to figure everything out on your own in the music business. This is the same thing that so many musicians do, and this is why most musicians DO NOT make it with successful music careers. Get the training, coaching and guidance a great mentor right now, and reach your full potential as a professional musician.

3. Has the ability to pay attention to the small details of your music career while also helping you to stay on track toward your larger, long term goals.

For many musicians, one of the greatest challenges is to stay on track toward their long term music career goals. These musicians will often become distracted by things that do not truly matter for their success, and will spend too much time on unimportant details or activities. Most commonly, it is thought that developing a successful career in music requires great musical skills. Although it is important to improve your musical skills, your success as a professional musician involves many more factors. It is important that you create an effective strategy for reach your goals in music, and stay focused on seeing it through. One of the worst things that could happen to you (I see this all the time!) is that you invest many years of your life into music, only to fail because you did not pursue what TRULY mattered.

When looking for your mentor, you must make sure that this person understands how to build highly effective strategies to help you achieve your music career goals as quickly as possible. With that in mind, it is possible that even with the right strategy in place, you may still become distracted, confused or uncertain throughout the course of your music career. Your mentor should also be able to instantly spot when these things are occurring for you and know how to help you overcome any momentary issues so that you can continue down the path to your goals.
Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, music career mentor and the guitar player in the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He trains and mentors from all over the world on how to develop a successful career in music. Take this music career coach assessment to see if working with a music career mentor is the right move for you.

The 7 Different Types of EDM Music

As a bassist, bandleader, teacher, and music copyist, I’ve worked with hundreds of singers throughout the years. Though working musicians know hundreds of tunes, singers need to have good charts in order to have their music played the way they want. I define a “good chart” as a piece of written music that effectively tells the musicians what they should play.

 

Written music comes in seven basic forms: chord charts, sheet music, songbooks, lead sheets, fake books, master rhythm charts and fully notated parts.

As a musician has a responsibility to play the chart before him correctly, the supplier of the chart has the responsibility of providing the right kind of chart. Knowing what type of chart to use for what kind of tune or gig is very important.

This article explains what the different types of charts are, and under what circumstances to use them. I hope you find it useful.

TYPES OF EDM MUSIC

Charts can be simple or elaborate according to the style of music and type of gig. Cover tunes are traditionally learned from recordings; classical and choral music can be found in sheet music stores as well as in various music catalogs; numerous tunes will be found in music books of all kinds; and many public libraries carry recordings and written music for your use.

The word “chart” refers to any piece of written music or any arrangement (music that has been adapted in a unique manner) of a tune. Decades ago it was strictly a “cool” slang term for a tune, but any piece of music could be called a chart these days, though a classical buff might not refer to a Mozart work as a “chart.”

Knowing what type of chart to use for what kind of tune is very important. When you’re playing a gig and someone hands you a chart — it is what it is and you either read it well or not. But, if you buy charts, have them made for you or provide them yourself, you need to know which kinds to use for which situations. Years back, while doing singer showcases, singers brought in all kinds of charts: good ones, bad ones, incorrect ones, inappropriate ones, and it was a real pain. The singers who provided the right kinds of charts got their music played the way they wanted. The singers who had the wrong kinds of charts didn’t, and weren’t very happy about it. Unless a musician already knows the specific parts, he can only play according to what’s on the chart before him. Though a good musician can improvise a good part in any style, if a specific musical line needs to be played, it needs to be written out.

As a musician has a responsibility to correctly play the chart before him, the supplier of the chart has the responsibility of providing an appropriate one.

Without getting into too many music notation specifics, here are the different kinds of charts and when they are used:

1. HOUSE

A chord chart contains the chords, meter (how the song is counted, e.g., in 4 or in 3 (like a waltz), and the form of the song (the exact order of the sections). This type of chart is primarily used when: 1. the specific musical parts are improvised or already known, but the form and chords need to be referred to, 2. to provide chords to improvise over, or 3. when a last-minute chart needs to be written, and there isn’t time for anything more elaborate.

A chord chart does not contain the melody or any specific instrumental parts to be played. To play from simple chord charts a musician basically needs to have steady time, know the chords, and improvise his part in whatever style the tune is in.

2. TECH HOUSE

Sheet music is a store-bought version of a song printed by a publisher, which contains the instrumental part, chords, lyrics, melody and form. An instrumental piece will, of course, have just the music. Sheet music is written for both piano and guitar. Guitar sheet music is in standard notation (often classical), as well as in TAB. A good piece of sheet music will always say whether it’s for piano or guitar. Most sheet music is not meant to be completely representative of the actual recording, and the actual arrangement that you’ve heard on a recording is seldom present.

Many people have experienced the frustration of getting the sheet music to a song they like, playing it, and discovering that the chords are different from the recording, and sometimes the form is too. Unfortunately that’s the way it is a lot, and it could be for a number of different reasons. To get the exact arrangement and chords, you need to do a “takedown” of the song: learn it by ear. A takedown is when you listen to a piece of music and write it down. Takedowns can range from simple chord charts to elaborate orchestral parts or anything in between. In order to do good takedowns, you need to have good ears, understand and be fluid with music notation to the complexity of the type of music you’re working with, and preferably understand music (the more the better). Having “good ears” consists of recognizing and understanding the music, whether heard on the radio, played by another musician, or heard in your head.

3. DEEP HOUSE

Songbooks are compilations of many tunes and often contain the same information that sheet music does, along with the chords and arrangement being different from the recording most of the time. Sheet music commonly has full introductions and endings, whereas songbook tunes are generally shortened to create space in the book for more tunes. Sheet music is generally written to be played on a keyboard, but songbooks come in different styles and for different instruments. They are compiled by artist, style, decade, and in various collections including movie themes, Broadway hits, etc.

Songbooks are a good reference source when other, more exact charts are unavailable. For example: I needed two movie themes for a gig once (client request). Instead of spending $8 for two tunes of sheet music, I bought a book of movie themes for $16 that contained over a hundred tunes. Sheet music and songbooks are pretty unusable at gigs because of cumbersome page turns and bulkiness; but in an emergency you use them and do what you can. If having to use sheet music or songbooks for live performance, either: 1. recopy the tune onto 1-3 pages or 2. photocopy it and tape the pages together (although, strictly speaking, this may be considered copyright infringement). Make sure to always provide a copy for each musician.

To play from songbooks and sheet music, a musician needs to be able to read the music notation, or at least improvise a part from the chord symbols, i.e., a guitar strum, bass groove, piano groove, etc., or better yet, both. A vocalist can sing the words if they know the melody, or be able to read the notated melody if they don’t know it.

4. TECHNO

Lead sheets contain the chords, lyrics and melody line of the song and are mainly used by singers, accompanists and arrangers, though they appear on the bandstand now and again. Songwriters use lead sheets to copyright their songs, and very often sheet music includes a lead sheet of the tune as a condensed version to use. Instead of having three to six pages of sheet music to turn, a lead sheet is usually one or two pages long. Lead sheets do not contain any music notation except the melody and chords, so a musician needs to know how to improvise when reading from one. A lead sheet is generally written out by a music copyist, who is someone who specializes in preparing written music. Playing from lead sheets minimally requires playing an accompaniment from the chords and understanding the form directions and symbols (the markings telling you to go to the verse or the chorus or the end, etc.) and maximally having excellent accompaniment skills and reading notation fluidly.

5. ELECTRO

A fake book is a large book of tunes that contain only the melody line, lyrics and chords. There’s no piano part, guitar part or bass part. That’s why they call it a fake book. You have to already know your parts, or improvise them in the style of the tune. Some people call that “faking it.” Faking it means to be musically adept enough to be able to follow along by ear and figure it out as you go: that’s one of the reasons for ear training. When a person’s ears “get trained”, they learn to recognize and understand the relationship of pitches and musical elements. With this understanding you can “hear” your way through tunes, even if you haven’t heard them before, you fake it. However, when you don’t hear so well, you’re really faking it!

Before there was an abundance of legal fake books on the market, there was an abundance of illegal fake books on the streets. (As of this writing, I’ve only seen a few at gigs.) Since a working musician needs to have access to a large number of tunes at gigs, musicians compiled books of hundreds of useful tunes containing only melody lines and chords. A working player doesn’t need all the notes written out, because he can improvise, so large books were made with choice tunes. Some fake books are hand copied, either by a pro copyist or casually done with pen or pencil, while others consist of cut up sheet music where all the piano parts are removed, leaving the melody and chords, all for the purpose of condensing space.

Rather than take stacks of songbooks to gigs, you pop a fake book of hundreds of choice tunes into your gig bag and off you go. A tune taking up five or six pages in songbook/sheet music form can take up a page or less when rewritten by hand or cut up, leaving only the chords and melody. Fake books are often used and I’ve seldom been at a casual where someone hasn’t had at least one.

The reason the illegal books are illegal is copyright laws. With the homemade books, nothing goes through the publishing houses that own the rights to the tunes, so neither the publishers nor the composers get paid for their use. The Catch-22 over the years has been the fact that there weren’t any good legal fake books that pro musicians could use at a gig. In a songbook of 200 tunes, maybe ten were usable. So, the players made their own, and gigging musicians lived happily ever after. But since making these books is illegal, some decades ago a few nationwide distributors were arrested and fined for copyright infringement. But you still see the illegal books on the bandstands, nonetheless.

Over the years many legal fake books have been published and are very good. There are music books for: pop, jazz, rock, country, specific artists and movie themes, and there are special wedding books with all the key music that brides like. Big sheet music stores should have them all. And recently, some of the most popular illegal fake books have been made legal. (Hooray!) The 5th Edition Real Book is an example. Filled largely with jazz tunes, the book is in the original format, but published legally as the 6th Edition Real Book.

Legal fake books are plentiful at sheet music stores, and illegal books… well, you’re on your own. Trade magazines and music union papers often advertise a wide variety of music books as well as joke books, ethnic music and other related entertainment materials. Sometimes instrument stores carry fake books as well.

Fake books are good to have, but the more tunes a musician knows, the better.

6. DEEP TECHNO

Master rhythm charts are charts designed for the rhythm section (piano, bass, guitar and drums). It is one chart that contains the general idea for everybody to play from: a sketch of the tune, a master copy of it all for each player. These charts are like elaborate chord charts with just enough specifics on them to make the music either feel and sound more like the original recording, or to provide just enough specifics to make it interesting and recognizable, leaving the rest to improvising.

Unless a tune is composed or arranged in this style to begin with, which many are, these charts are written by someone doing a takedown from a recording, or created from lead sheets or songbooks. Whereas lead sheets are primarily for the singer, master rhythm charts are primarily for the musicians. When a singer provides charts to the musicians in the band, these are the usual ones to use.

A master rhythm chart contains:

• All the chords

• Key rhythms (the main rhythms)

• Key melodic parts for the instruments

• Key lyrics for reference if desired

• Key background vocals if present

• Dynamics-how loud, how soft, etc.

• Any form, clarifying instructions and symbols needed to ensure a good performance of the tune.

All styles of popular music use master rhythm charts, and it’s common to have one along with a lead sheet for each tune when a singer is involved. Master rhythm chart reading, and writing, entails improvising fluidly in the style of the tune, and requires fluid notation reading abilities.

7. CHILL OUT

When the music needs to be extremely specific it will be fully notated. Everything that needs to be played is written on the page. What to play, when to play it and how to play it: the notes, rhythms, dynamics, and any and all notational expressions, such as tempos (how fast or slow), who cues what, etc. Most professional recording sessions and shows require fluid note reading and provide individual parts for each instrument.

LYRIC SHEETS WITH CHORDS

Though they are not written music, lyric sheets with chords deserve a mention.

Singers who play an instrument often use lyric sheets with chord symbols written above the words. For a singer/musician these are very useful, and are often used. I’ve used them myself.

Musicians reading these charts, however, can do well if they are familiar with the song, but this leaves a very large margin for error. Very often the chords are over the wrong words, or the chords are wrong or incomplete: very dicey business. Musicians like specifics.

My students use these all the time, and there are a number of Internet sites with thousands of lyric sheets you can download. For certain situations they are very handy!

Music, Economics, and Beyond

The whole point of digital music is the risk-free grazing”

Cory Doctorow, Canadian journalist and co-editor and of the off-beat blog Boing Boing, is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. Doctorow and others continue to write prolifically about the apocalyptic changes facing Intellectual Property in general and the music industry in specific.

In this article, we will explore the cataclysm facing U.S. industry through the portal example of the music industry, a simple industry in comparison to those of automotive or energy. However, in the simplicity of this example we may uncover some lessons that apply to all industries.

In his web-article, “The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free,” Michael Arrington tells us that music CD sales continue to plummet alarmingly. “Artists like Prince and Nine Inch Nails are flouting their labels and either giving music away or telling their fans to steal it… Radiohead, which is no longer controlled by their label, Capitol Records, put their new digital album on sale on the Internet for whatever price people want to pay for it.” As many others have iterated in recent years, Arrington reminds us that unless effective legal, technical, or other artificial impediments to production can be created, “simple economic theory dictates that the price of music [must] fall to zero as more ‘competitors’ (in this case, listeners who copy) enter the market.”

Unless sovereign governments that subscribe to the Universal Copyright Convention take drastic measures, such as the proposed mandatory music tax to prop up the industry, there virtually exist no economic or legal barriers to keep the price of recorded music from falling toward zero. In response, artists and labels will probably return to focusing on other revenue streams that can, and will, be exploited. Specifically, these include live music, merchandise, and limited edition physical copies of their music.

According to author Stephen J. Dubner, “The smartest thing about the Rolling Stones under Jagger’s leadership is the band’s workmanlike, corporate approach to touring. The economics of pop music include two main revenue streams: record sales and touring profits. Record sales are a) unpredictable; and b) divided up among many parties. If you learn how to tour efficiently, meanwhile, the profits–including not only ticket sales but also corporate sponsorship, t-shirt sales, etc.,–can be staggering. You can essentially control how much you earn by adding more dates, whereas it’s hard to control how many records you sell.” (“Mick Jagger, Profit Maximizer,” Freakonomics Blog, 26 July 2007).

In order to get a handle on the problems brought about by digital media in the music industry, we turn to the data most relied upon by the industry. This data comes through Neilsen SoundScan which operates a system for collecting information and tracking sales. Most relevant to the topic of this column, SoundScan provides the official method for tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. The company collects data on a weekly basis and makes it available every Wednesday to subscribers from all facets of the music industry. These include executives of record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film entertainment producers and distributors, and artist management companies. Because SoundScan provides the sales data used by Billboard, the leading trade magazine, for the creation of its music charts, this role effectively makes SoundScan the official source of sales records in the music industry.

Quo vadis? According to Neilsen Soundscan, “In a fragmented media world where technology is reshaping consumer habits, music continues to be the soundtrack of our daily lives. According to Music 360 2014, Nielsen’s third annual in-depth study of the tastes, habits and preferences of U.S. music listeners, 93% of the country’s population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes.”

For most Americans, music is the top form of entertainment. In a 2014 survey, 75% of respondents stated that they actively chose to listen to music over other media entertainment. Music is part of our lives throughout all times of the day. One fourth of music listening takes place while driving or riding in vehicles. Another 15% of our weekly music time takes place at work or while doing household chores.

It has become no surprise over the past five years that CD sales have diminished while download listening and sales have increased. Bob Runett of Poynter Online comments, “Start waving the cigarette lighters and swaying side to side–the love affair between music fans and their cell phones is getting more intense. Phones with music capabilities will account for 54 percent of handset sales globally in five years, according to a report consulting firm Strategy Analytics Inc. The report suggests that we keep watching the growth of cellular music decks (CMDs), devices that deliver excellent sound quality and focus on music more than images.” (“A Few Notes About Music and Convergence,” 25 November 2014)

Stephen J. Dubner summed up the mess quite well almost a decade ago. “It strikes me as ironic that a new technology (digital music) may have accidentally forced record labels to abandon the status quo (releasing albums) and return to the past (selling singles). I sometimes think that the biggest mistake the record industry ever made was abandoning the pop single in the first place. Customers were forced to buy albums to get the one or two songs they loved; how many albums can you say that you truly love, or love even 50% of the songs–10? 20? But now the people have spoken: they want one song at a time, digitally please, maybe even free.” (“What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum,” 20 September 2007).

Like many of us, I (Dr. Sase) also have worked as a musician/producer/engineer/indie label owner releasing esoterica since the 1960s. While occasionally made an adequate living off my music, I also developed my talents as an economist, earning a doctorate in that field. Therefore, I comment from this dual perspective of an economist/musician.

The post-future, as many music pundits call it, does not really differ that much from the past. How and why folks obtain their music continues to reflect at least three related decision drivers. We can summarize the three most relevant as 1) Content, 2) Durability, and 3) Time-Cost. Let us explain further.

1) Content

When I started to record music in the early 1960s, the market was filled with “one-hit wonders.” It was the age of AM (amplitude modulation), DJ radio. It was also the age of the 45 RPM record with the hit on the A Side and usually some filler cut on the B Side. It was not uncommon for anyone with a 2-track reel-to-reel to “download” the one hit desired from their favorite radio station. There were few groups that offered entire twelve-inch LPs with mostly great songs. The first such LP that I purchased was Meet the Beatles by those four lads from Liverpool.

During the late 1960s, the industry turned more to “Greatest Hit” collections by groups that had previously turned out a string of AM hits and to “concept” albums. During this golden age of LP sales, the Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and numerous other groups released albums filled with solid content. Bottom line: consumers don’t mind paying for product if they feel that they are receiving value.

2) Durability

Why would someone buy a twelve-inch LP when they could borrow a copy and tape record the songs to a reel-to-reel or, later on, to a compact cassette? The answers at that time were simple. First, it was “cool” to have a great album collection, especially one that a member of the opposite gender could thumb through in one’s dorm room. Let us simply say that one’s album collection could inform another party about one’s tastes and possible sub-culture and personality. Therefore, an attractive collection provided a certain degree of social currency. Might this account for the resurgence of
vinyl in recent years?

The second part of the equation came in the form of actual product durability. Like current downloads, self-recorded reel-to-reel and cassette tapes generally suffered from some loss of fidelity in the transition. More importantly, the integrity and permanence of the media also left something to be desired. Thirty to forty years ago, tape would flake, break, and tangle around the capston. Unless one backed up their collection to a second-generation tape, many of one’s favorite tunes could be lost.

Today, computer hard drives crash. Without the expense of an additional hard drive and the time involved to make the transfer, the same durability issues ensue. What about CDs? As most of us who use CD-Rs for multiple purposes know, the technology that instantly burns an image leaves a product that remains more delicate and subject to damage in comparison to a commercially fabricated CD, stamped from a metal master. Will the Internet clouds provide the same level of comfort for music producers and listeners? We will just have to wait and see.

3) Time-Cost

This third element basically reflects the old “tape is running/time-is-money” economic argument and may explain why younger music-listeners prefer to download songs either legally or illegally. It echoes the same economics that led listeners in the 1960s to record their favorite hits off of the radio. The substance of the argument has to do with how an individual values his/her time. If music-lovers works for a low hourly wage (or often no income at all), they will value the time spent downloading, backing up, and transferring cuts in terms of what they could be earning during the same time.

Let us consider the following example. Assuming that twelve downloads or a comparable CD costs $12.00, a baby-sitter earning $6 per hour could afford to spend as much as two hours of time ripping music to achieve the same value. However, someone with a skilled trade or a college degree may be earning $24.00 or more per hour. Spending more than one half hour at ripping would exceed the value derived. The counter-argument of the time-cost of travelling to a brick-and-mortar music store gets offset by a person’s ability to log-on to Amazon or elsewhere in less than a minute and possibly receive free shipping. The market will always change as the primary market demographic ages. It happened with the Baby-Boomers of the 1960s and 1970s and it will happen with Generation X, Y and Z in the current century.

The bottom line of all of this debate rests in the fact that a consumer will choose the mode of deliverable that optimizes his/her bundle of values. This bundle includes quality and quantity of content, durability, and time-cost effectiveness. These remain the lessons that music makers and music deliverers must understand to survive. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

“When I’m drivin’ in my car, And that man comes on the radio, He’s tellin’ me more and more, About some useless information, Supposed to fire my imagination, I can’t get no, oh no, no, no.” -Michael Philip Jagger, British Economist, London School of Economics

In conclusion, we recognize that certain values motivate consumers as well as businesses. These values include content, durability, and time cost. It does not matter whether the good or service under consideration exists in the form of real, personal, or intellectual property. The premise remains the same for making music, building automobiles, teaching economics, and providing legal services.

The British economist Adam Smith summarized this phenomenon 229 years ago in his concept of an invisible hand at work in the marketplace. In effect, markets work because all market participants seek to optimize their own self interests. As long as both parties involved in a transaction perceive that they will emerge better off after consummating the transaction, they will participate. If one (or both parties) does not share this perception, no music, automobile, education, nor legal services will change hands. In effect, the market fails to produce a satisfactory outcome.

How To Gain The Power To Create Musical Emotion

Have you ever wondered how your favorite musicians make such great music? The answer is this: They fully understand how musical emotion works, and how to use this to create intense emotions in YOU while you listen to them. Understanding musical expression is key to becoming a great guitar player and musician. When you control emotion in music, you will gain the power to greatly affect the listener’s experience.

Most guitarists want to be able to express themselves better with their guitar playing; however, the majority of guitar players have no idea how to actually practice this skill. This leads to a lot of time being wasted on practicing guitar in a way that does not produce big results. The solution to this problem is to develop a more accurate fundamental understanding of how to develop creativity in music.

Many guitar players try to enhance their musical creativity skills by searching the music of their favorite bands for cool riffs and guitar ideas and playing them over and over. This is certainly an enjoyable activity to do when playing guitar, but in reality it does not do very much to help you to learn musical expression. If you spend a great deal of time on this, you will be missing out on the two most critical parts of being able to create emotion in music.

Psych Fest Announces Line-Up

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.

Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia announces first wave of acts.

The next Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia will take place from 23–24 September. Now in its fifth year, the festival describes itself as a “pan-continental celebration of audio-futurists, operating at the bleeding edge of today’s psychedelic renaissance”.

Artists on the bill include Super Furry Animals, Demdike Stare, Eartheater, Sliver Apples, Acid Mothers Temple, Ashtray Navigations, Taman Shud, Silver Waves, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, and more. Tokyo based label Guruguru Brain will also present Narrow Road To The Deep Mind, which promises to present some of ”the finest PZYK wunderkinds from across the Asian underground”.

The festival takes place at Camp And Furnace, Blade Factory Liverpool. Tickets are on sale now via the festival’s website.

Copenhagen Club Culture Box To Lose Government Funding

Nightlife in Copenhagen is set for a heavy blow as one of the city’s main clubs, Culture Box, will lose a substantial amount of funding from 2017.

Since 2005, the Danish government has provided the club with €240,000 (1,800,000 Danish kroner) per year, but that’ll end at the end of 2016. The club describes the planned cancellation of funding as a “very hard blow” as the money goes towards bookings and maintaining facilities.

The press release also reads: “We are shocked that The State of Denmark has decided to remove the cultural support for the venue, and by that the support for electronic music culture.”

Some people have lives; some people have music.

House and techno has had a heavy presence at the club since it opened, with the likes of Moritz von Oswald, Ellen Allien, DJ Koze and Nina Kraviz all playing.

E-tropolis line-up complete

The line-up for the industrial, EBM and synthpop festival E-tropolis in Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Ruhr, on March 28 is complete.

For the most part, though, people just happening to pass by the two-block campus during Public Practice sessions are at the best advantage to enjoy the notes in the air, mixing with the environment. “We organize it so that several musicians are playing concurrently, in different areas of the campus,” explains Ming Ng, director of Active Arts. “So, there is a ‘soundscape’ that is created as you walk from one musician to another.”

Like exhibits in a museum, the participating musicians are set up with signs next to them, explaining who they are and what they are doing. Once in a while, people will stop to listen or to ask the musicians a quick question, but some don’t quite know what to make of the situation. “One man tried to drop a dollar into my saxophone case,” Oto recalls with a laugh.

Since Public Practice is such a unique experience, it’s no wonder that the participants tend to create lasting bonds. The relationships begin outdoors on the Music Center campus, when one musician might stroll up to another to sight-read through some duos. At the end of the project everyone takes part in a group dinner and discussion, and the relationships often extend far beyond that day. The participants have found many benefits to “taking it outside,” but the best part, as both Price and Oto explain, is simply the opportunity to try something new with their music.