Author Topic: An open letter from Alan Wilder  (Read 3901 times)

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Offline Janko

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An open letter from Alan Wilder
« on: March 04, 2008, 21:11:58 »
 :?


WELL, I WAS WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO OPEN THIS TOPIC, BUT SINCE NO ONE DID IT - HERE IT IS...


 ;)



An open letter from Alan Wilder
(EXCERPT ONLY, FULL TEXT AT  www.side-line.com/)


We live in a world of technology - exponentially increasing breakthroughs in all things scientific. So fast that we can't even keep up with it. So why is it that the audio quality of music is degenerating? Music 'sounds' worse. We have stopped listening, we don't have time. We only have time to be smacked in the face by the loudest, most attention-grabbing blast of souped-up noise imaginable until ear fatigue sets in and the desire to 'change the record' takes over. Why are the adverts on TV twice the volume of the regular broadcasts?
It's the only way to get our attention in the VOLUME WAR.

In recent years, a revolution in processing technology has instigated a change in the way albums are mastered. In order to compete, A&R men, producers, even the artists are demanding that mastering engineers, via digital compression, crank up the level so high that all dynamic range is callously sacrificed.

...


The download spiral...

At the moment, MP3 compression allows a smaller file to be created by excluding the musical information that the human ear is less likely to notice. Much of the information left out is at the very high and low end (MP3s don't reproduce reverb well for similar transience reasons). So when the already squashed CD master is then consumed via MP3, the flattening effect is enhanced further. The result - an unsatisfying, brittle, indistinct, hollow experience with no punch.

Just as the CD replaced vinyl, we all know that MP3 and other digital formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. This means more convenience but inferior sound (although that may improve over time). Even the audiophiles have moved on to multi-media - the iPod or iPhone being the 'must have' item of choice. Many have lost interest in high-end stereo systems while younger listeners have grown so used to dynamically compressed music that the battle has already been lost.

...


Art for art's sake

I am slightly out of the ordinary in that I am not a hugely 'successful' artist in terms of commercial sales and in that sense, I struggle to be heard just like millions of other musicians. However, because of my background in Depeche Mode, I am secure, which has meant (and continues to mean) that I don't have to tailor what I do to conform in any way. The market shift hasn't really affected me that much. It certainly doesn't change how I approach making music. It does reinforce my cynicism towards the injustice of so much good music lost in the mêlée of dross. But that is nothing new. The nature of mainstream radio hasn't improved in any way; magazines have minimal impact, television exposure is more limited than ever - notwithstanding MTV channels which have become more and more marginalised. In fact the best way to get your music heard is through a TV advertisement.

Leaving viability aside for a moment, I would like to see a return to high quality art, embracing all the wonders of technology and science, delivered at a price that reflects the time and effort the artist has put in. Call me old fashioned. Just as one would expect to pay for a hand-crafted piece of furniture or a designer dress or a beautifully printed photograph. Rather than pandering to mass media, why not also produce higher resolution audio - maybe on DVD since that's a format most people can engage with without having to buy new equipment? Combine this with lovingly produced artwork which, if a printed option is too expensive, can at least be downloaded.

...


From Russia with love

Recoil recently released an enhanced CD including a film and a special booklet. Let's take a look at the process. The 'Prey'/'Allelujah' package was brought about through fan pressure; by those that want a physical product - completists maybe, but also music lovers who prefer the audio and tactile quality of a CD over downloadable 'faceless' products. The tracks had already been available as downloads but it wasn't satisfying for many. The generation gap is showing.

Following a successful promo appearance in Moscow, a local DM/Recoil webmaster managed to persuade Gala Records (EMI's local label - Mute's partner) that it would be worthwhile to release this disc. They agreed - not without conditions mind you. So what was agreed?

...


Pop will eat itself?

So why bother with a record deal at all? And that is what many artists are now asking themselves. Why wouldn't they when they are being told that their company just can't afford to spend any money? Or that the company wants a cut of the artist's live income to pay for marketing. This is why we see the mass exodus taking place, squeezing the already crippled record industry. The artists that find it easiest to walk away are those that are already highly successful, compounding the problem still further. Why? Because the likes of Radiohead and Prince can afford to give their music away as a cheap promotional gimmick in order to create publicity for their respective machines. They get noticed for doing so and benefit in other areas. So with everyone now expecting free music, all the other artists lose what little income they could expect from record sales, even though the love and money spent producing their product hasn't changed.

...


So who shall we blame for the whole mess? Do we stick two fingers up at the record companies who have sat around twiddling their thumbs, peddling overpriced re-issues for years while their A&R men bombard us with shallow, faceless pop idol, X factor boy bands? Is it fair to say “... well, you had it coming”...? Or do we accuse the casual 'non-listener' with the attention span of a three year old living in a disposable, homogenized, Paris Hilton-obsessed society, over stimulated with too much life choice? A society that places value in triviality and accepts mediocrity without much question? Or perhaps the devaluation has evolved from the cult of the DJ, where anyone can regurgitate the very essence of rock 'n' roll by lifting an entire 70's funk classic, adding some rap drivel over the top and calling it their own work? Is modern music regarded as an art form at all anymore? Or is it just another business now?



Alan Wilder
(For SIDE-LINE)


---


WHAT DO YOU THINK?


Fatter than Bob, balder than Porl, as sober as Simon, as amusing as Jason


Offline japanesebaby

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 21:38:49 »
huh, what can you say?
we've discussed loudness war several times, for instance:
http://curefans.com/index.php/topic,3779.msg41504.html#msg41504

just run the site search and you'll find other occasions too.

i'm glad to see someone "someone" bringing it up in public, even though it might have no effect at all. at least someone's saying something and showing he has some brain left. most people don't seem to, even bright people seem to enjoy appearing like common dummies these days. like they were sedated or something, i don't get it.
anyway i cannot but agree with all this:

Just as one would expect to pay for a hand-crafted piece of furniture or a designer dress or a beautifully printed photograph. Rather than pandering to mass media, why not also produce higher resolution audio - maybe on DVD since that's a format most people can engage with without having to buy new equipment? Combine this with lovingly produced artwork which, if a printed option is too expensive, can at least be downloaded.


Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine

Offline CureCrusader

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2008, 21:50:55 »
great discussion here JANKO. we have touched on these particular ideas at times on this forum.
 
I am not a music maestro. I do not have the answers or qualified opinion, as far as music technology is ascending/descending.

I just always think of the artists.
They should recieve royalties, especially when music execs/producers/companies do f*ck all, or f*ck things up!

But the main thing is- artists now have to become their own marketing/advertisers/music techs/producers/business managers/website mods.. etc..

How many (bands & musicians)are going to just gonna pack up and leave?

I just throw my hands up myself at these matters. I buy C.D.s. I download squat.
Technology will advance so rapidly.. and of course the quality of music will be different. Will someone step in and improve the quality then? Have we a crystal ball?

Of course I have bought remastered cd's. IMHO the sound is shocking. I prefre original masters. No 'wall of sound ' there.

A great topic to debate. and think. and wonder .. what will music be like 10 years further on? & is it necessary or demand-driven.

 :rocker

 
Who am I? Who are you? Is this world what we percieve it to be? Do we even exist?

Offline Janko

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2008, 22:28:08 »
huh, what can you say?
we've discussed loudness war several times, for instance:
http://curefans.com/index.php/topic,3779.msg41504.html#msg41504


 :?


I WAS ASKING ABOUT WILDER'S LETTER FROM LAST WEEK, NOT (JUST) ABOUT LOUDNESS WAR...

THE THING IS - THE CURE ARE (MOST PROBABLY) NOT AMONG THE 3% OF THE BANDS THAT WILDER MENTIONS, AND THAT BOTHERS ME...
Fatter than Bob, balder than Porl, as sober as Simon, as amusing as Jason

Offline japanesebaby

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2008, 00:07:48 »
huh, what can you say?
we've discussed loudness war several times, for instance:
http://curefans.com/index.php/topic,3779.msg41504.html#msg41504


 :?


I WAS ASKING ABOUT WILDER'S LETTER FROM LAST WEEK, NOT (JUST) ABOUT LOUDNESS WAR...

uuuh, ok sorry to comment a wrong section of the letter....

Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine


Offline Janko

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2008, 00:21:23 »
 :smth023

MY BAD, I SHOULD POST THE ENTIRE TEXT...

 :-D
Fatter than Bob, balder than Porl, as sober as Simon, as amusing as Jason

Online dsanchez

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2008, 11:22:00 »
"Just as the CD replaced vinyl, we all know that MP3 and other digital formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. This means more convenience but inferior sound (although that may improve over time). Even the audiophiles have moved on to multi-media - the iPod or iPhone being the 'must have' item of choice. Many have lost interest in high-end stereo systems while younger listeners have grown so used to dynamically compressed music that the battle has already been lost."

Nice :smth023. I'm personally happy that curefans.com opted for the ban to any mp3 here, altought I was hesitant in the beginning.
Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet and I am you and what I see is me...

Offline Janko

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2008, 15:40:08 »

Nice :smth023. I'm personally happy that curefans.com opted for the ban to any mp3 here, altought I was hesitant in the beginning.


MP3 IS STILL GREAT!

I THINK THERE MIGHT BE ABOUT 10% OF THE "AUDIOPHILES" OUTTHERE AND MAYBE 5% THAT REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY DEMAND SPOTLESS SOUND...

OTHERS WILL MAKE NO FUSS ABOUT MP3.

 :smth020
Fatter than Bob, balder than Porl, as sober as Simon, as amusing as Jason

Online MeltingMan

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2016, 20:32:32 »
Leaving viability aside for a moment, I would like to see a return to high quality art, embracing all the wonders of technology and science, delivered at a price that reflects the time and effort the artist has put in. Call me old fashioned. Just as one would expect to pay for a hand-crafted piece of furniture or a designer dress or a beautifully printed photograph. Rather than pandering to mass media, why not also produce higher resolution audio - maybe on DVD since that's a format most people can engage with without having to buy new equipment? Combine this with lovingly produced artwork which, if a printed option is too expensive, can at least be downloaded.
The technical advance has changed our habits, voluntarily or not and,
despite of current developments in music business, his major achievement
in the past century was to allow more sections of the population an access
to art.I think we shouldn't give up this point, although the trend is just contrary.
Wenn das Spätjahr kommt, werf ich mich in einen
Wagen, ziehe die Decke des Wagenleders hoch zu
meinem Kopf, hülle mich in einen Mantel - so daß nur
meine Augen übrig bleiben, mit denen nach Euch ich
greife.
(Sören Kierkegaard)

Offline Ulrich

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2016, 16:59:00 »
... was to allow more sections of the population an access to art.

In a way it does, but as Alan Wilder already pointed out (nearly 8 years ago btw!) is the fact that most music does sound worse when compressed to MP3 format...  :roll:

It's a bit like looking at a painting via a photograph of it: you can see it, you can guess how brilliant it is, but only if you're standing right in front of it, you can really appreciate it.

Here's what AW said:
Quote
At the moment, MP3 compression allows a smaller file to be created by excluding the musical information that the human ear is less likely to notice. Much of the information left out is at the very high and low end (MP3s don't reproduce reverb well for similar transience reasons). So when the already squashed CD master is then consumed via MP3, the flattening effect is enhanced further. The result - an unsatisfying, brittle, indistinct, hollow experience with no punch.

Just as the CD replaced vinyl, we all know that MP3 and other digital formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. This means more convenience but inferior sound (although that may improve over time). Even the audiophiles have moved on to multi-media - the iPod or iPhone being the 'must have' item of choice. Many have lost interest in high-end stereo systems while younger listeners have grown so used to dynamically compressed music that the battle has already been lost.

Thankfully, nowadays vinyl is winning back at least a little bit, because the "audiophiles" still prefer it over cds and downloads (of course). And even younger people discover it.
http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/vinyl-records-see-comeback-during-musics-digital-age-n435806

As this musician points out, "our culture loves music, but doesn't value it":
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/12/18/our-culture-loves-music-too-bad-our-economy-doesnt-value-it/

Quote
But this brave new digital world has a dark side, too — and it is the responsibility of everyone who loves and cares about music to acknowledge and deal with this uncomfortable truth.

Too much of the emotional, cultural and economic value that music creates is simply lost now, slipping through the digital cracks in some cases, outright hijacked by bad actors and online parasites in others.

Consider this: In 2014, sales from vinyl records made more than all of the ad-supported on-demand streams on services such as YouTube. I’m not running down vinyl — it is still the best-sounding, most durable medium we have for listening to music, by far. But why should a technology most people consider outdated generate more revenue than an Internet service with more than 100 million American users? That’s just wrong.
...
In the digital marketplace, everyone seems to have found a way to make a living off music except the creators who actually record the songs. Websites put up illegal copies of music — or turn a blind eye while others do — then sell ads micro-targeted at everyone who comes to listen. Eventually, a site may be forced to pull down the unlicensed (and for the artists and labels, completely unpaid) copy, but in the meantime, its owners have cashed in.
:roll:
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Online MeltingMan

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2016, 15:03:58 »
I appreciate Wilder's view, not only as musician and sound engineer, but also
as main contributor for DM's success.According to 'Der Spiegel' (2.1.2016) the whole
business worldwide is declining, even with Downloads and brand-new Streaming services. :(
I will close with a remarkable quote from Simon Reynolds in an interview with Colin McKean
from 8.6.2011:"The hallmark of digital technology is that it facilitates all these things that
are incredibly hard to do.There have been people trying to do this omni-, post-everything
music before.In the 90s some people were trying to make records that were kind of drawing
on everything, across history even.But it was much harder I think.The further back you go the
harder it is, or if you even can do this omni-type music.But now it's so much easier and that
seems to be an across-the-board thing with anything digital.It facilitates monstrously by a factor
of a vast amount what was actually thinkable and, to an extent, doable in an analogue world.
IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE HEARD EVERYTHING EVER, and you really had to work at it in
an analogue world-you had to buy the records, hunt them down."
Wenn das Spätjahr kommt, werf ich mich in einen
Wagen, ziehe die Decke des Wagenleders hoch zu
meinem Kopf, hülle mich in einen Mantel - so daß nur
meine Augen übrig bleiben, mit denen nach Euch ich
greife.
(Sören Kierkegaard)


Offline Ulrich

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Re: An open letter from Alan Wilder
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2016, 17:18:30 »
Thanks for the quote. My take on it is this: I never wanted to hear "everything" ever done - I'm not a music professor and don't need to know it all. Also, I can happily live without hearing boy groups, gangsta rap, (most of) techno, dance music etc.
In theory, it sounds interesting to hear everything, practically I think you'll go crazy when trying...  :roll:
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

 

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