Talk all you like about the “feeling” of something physical, something tangible, about having a real object, about ownership. There’s a cold reality behind selling physical goods: it’s hard.
Before you can sell something, you need money to buy the physical stuff you want to sell. Digital “solves” that by making the good intangible, but in the material world, you need materials. Before “capitalism” came to mean some complex international system of speculative markets, this, of course, was what we meant: you got some capital to start a business selling stuff.
Then, once you have that stuff, you better hope you got it in the right quantity. Turns out more people want it than you thought? Too bad – they’ll have to wait for another run, and by then, maybe they don’t want it any more. Fewer wanted it? Now you’ve an even bigger problem: you’re out of the cash you spent to get the stuff, and you’ve got extra stuff you can’t sell. You’ve lost your shirt, and gained excess inventory.
Crowd funding could be seen as a way around all of this. It’s no accident that Kickstarter’s roots began in music – the service began as a way to fund performance and recording projects.
But Kickstarter itself isn’t really set up for someone wanting, say, to release an album on vinyl by funding the pressing. In fact, Kickstarter made themselves pretty clear in 2012, for any of you imagining they’re a preorder system:
In case you had any doubt after that headline, they lead thusly: “It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one.”
Okay, fine, but – if you want someone to put out music on vinyl, then “risks and challenges” shouldn’t factor into the equation.
QRATES could be the link that would give independent artists and labels access to the vinyl record revival.
The just-launched service comes with a number of components. It’s a little like CDBABY and Kickstarter had a love child for vinyl enthusiasts. Continue reading »
It’s 32 years old. It’s supported by keyboards and electronic wind instruments and lederhosen. And now you can add your browser to the list. MIDI will never die.
Yes, as of more recent beta and stable builds, Google’s Chrome browser has built-in support for hardware MIDI. Plug in a MIDI controller, and you can play – well, this Web Audio MIDI Synthesizer, anyway:
If you want to control Ableton Live from an iPad, you’ve loads of options. If you want to control Traktor – not so much. The best all-in-one option is Traxus Control, which is free (though it requires Lemur).
Now, one app does everything. The same app has modes for both Ableton Live and Traktor – meaning you can tote one iPad and be ready for both the live set and the DJ set. And on the Traktor side, you get fluid integration with Native Instruments’ DJ software – ironically, when NI themselves have no such controller app.
And the advantages are clear: no room to tote more hardware? Cramped DJ booth? Tired of having to use the mouse and display just because something you need wasn’t mapped? Doing a mix or podcast on the go and don’t have a controller handy? Solved.
At the heart of the new system is a Traktor controller module, adding to the Ableton Live modules that were already there. (Live modules include clip control, lovely XY pads, mixing, and a MIDI keyboard for melodies.)
For Traktor, you get three views: Player, Mixer, and FX. (One module is free to try out; Conductr is fairly functional even in free mode before you commit to in-app purchases for extra features.) As with Conductr’s Live controls, you can customize your iPad to view whichever modules you like. Keep one on the display to make things simple (ideal if you’re augmenting other hardware), or fit up to four to cover all the bases. There are options for display, too.
It’s easy to make an argument to any cash-strapped producer that a free DAW is good news. And it’s easy to convince a free and open source software advocate that a free-as-in-freedom DAW is a good thing.
But that’s not enough. If we’re going to talk about software, let’s make sure it’s worth using.
Ardour, the free and open source DAW, has always been powerful. But it hasn’t always been seamless to use – especially outside of Linux. Ardour 1 and Ardour 2 were incredible feats of engineering, and some people used them to make music, but let’s be honest – outside developers and Linux nuts, you wouldn’t find a whole lot of users. Then Ardour 3 came along and added MIDI – but it still wasn’t quite ready for prime time.
Ardour 4 is something different. It looks better – maybe not pretty, exactly, but easier on the eyes and more comfortable to use. It works better – loads of new functionality changes make it a more well-rounded tool.
But most relevant to most people, you can now install it on Windows and OS X and have it behave like you’d expect a DAW to behave.
Record Store Day has come and gone over the weekend. But 2015 will surely be remembered as a year in which Record Store Day did less to increase the visibility of vinyl records so much as to increase the visibility of how much everyone has grown to hate Record Store Day. And that seems it’s time for a post mortem – and a call to action.
I watched closely the reports from this weekend, just to see if there was anything positive – and there was. For every Foo Fighters (Grohl was this year’s ambassador, weirdly), there’s something with more worth to lesser-known music, like a 12″ for Kiasmos on Erased Tapes. And clearly there are some shops that are glad to have an extra excuse to bring people into a store.
No doubt, too, there was a time when Record Store Day served a purpose – one it may have simply outgrown, as records have moved from curiosity back to norm.
But it’s clear that Record Store Day organizers aren’t just setting out to create a fun holiday for vinyl records. (Compare, again on Erased Tapes, Nils Frahm’s more innocent “Piano Day.”)
The Case Against Record Store Day
The entire focus of the “holiday” is on exclusive releases. It’s straight at the top of the official website. The entire focus is exclusive releases on the day and limited runs.
In fact, it’s also clear that Record Store Day is by definition a celebration of inanimate discs and the celebration of spending money. (To quote Douglas Adams, “Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”)
Yes, in fact, musicians and producers, the people producing the sounds on those inanimate discs, are a side show, a kind of incidental means of drawing your attention to buying some limited 12″.