Re: Guest Post - Nick S. Buys CDs

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My other half, who is two states away, just had a heart attack scare that has been almost entirely ruled out as a heart attack.

At some point my pulse will come down, too. It is nice that I can go out for a walk without being away from my phone.
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Nick S.; D'you want the commercial pressing, or lack of DRM?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:59 AM
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1.1 Eeek!

1.2 I'm just set up to listen on CD (stereo at home, portable CD player, headphone amp at work). I've come to appreciate the convenience factor of being able to look up a song on youtube but I still think of music as separate from the computer.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:03 AM
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That was me (probably obvious)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:04 AM
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Fair enough. The last mass-market CD I bought was badly made, anyway... happier with classical music in tiny pressings and sometimes burning downloads from Magnatune. Which will sell you files of such size that having them burn it is about as convenient.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:08 AM
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2.2: Yikes, best wishes to the DwarfLord! And you, of course.

I've started listening to my old cds in the car, but still don't buy cds much or listen to music all that much. I'm not sure why not, though a lot of it must have to do with this job and that I'm more desperate for time that is quiet than some time when I have something pleasant and enjoyable to listen to.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:09 AM
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Yes, best wishes on the not-heart attack. Hope it's just a Prilosec kind of issue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:11 AM
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My preferred method these days, if I can get it, is vinyl with a digital download code. I have a long running Emusic subscription, where I have a grandfathered-in legacy cheap rate, so I get the equivalent of half a dozen albums worth of MP3 downloads a month and the price is low enough it seems silly not to keep taking advantage of it. So that's probably my largest buying method, with (largely second hand) vinyl second, and CDs third. I don't ever listen to CDs, though. They just get ripped and stuck in a storage box.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:13 AM
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And best wishes on the hopefully not a heart-attack.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:18 AM
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I'm mostly sure that it's a Prilosec RSI thoracic outlet kind of thing, interpreted through the first of our cohort to have a heart attack having had it last week. But wow, anxiety-inducing.

Also, how dispiriting to have gotten so old that being checked out for heart attack is SOP. Or, perhaps, how successful! Most of a life, and a good one! I think I'll.... put some Palestrina on my phone and go out for a run in the beautiful bright spring wind.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:32 AM
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I'm kind of in the other direction in that I'm surprised it's taken so long for it to get to this sort of vestigial level revenue, though I'm not particularly opinionated on what level that vestigial revenue should be. Ever since DRM free MP3s became the norm, there's been no reason for anyone comfortable with technology and not constrained by necessity of circumstance to buy CDs. They're more expensive, they don't sound any better (at a half-decent bitrate), they're relatively inconvenient, they're not particularly portable for listening purposes, and they scratch.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:33 AM
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I meant to add: CDs don't even have the audiophile angle that vinyl has, partly because of the format itself and partly because of the range-compression issues that have plagued the music industry in the last decade or two.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:35 AM
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CDs don't even have the audiophile angle

But just wait till you hear what you've been missing on these SACDs!


Posted by: Unrealistically Optimistic Sony Representative | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:40 AM
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I meant to add: CDs don't even have the audiophile angle

I'm not convinced. I haven't kept up with improvements in digital formats, but I can definitely hear the difference between a well-produced CD and an MP3 -- even one I burn myself at the highest possible bit-rate.

Now, I agree, many CDs are not well-produced, but that's a separate issue.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:42 AM
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I personally think the best sound comes from an 8-track tape.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:43 AM
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Nothing can really compare to the sound of my own voice live.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:04 AM
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I have gotten to the point where I am too lazy to illegally download stuff.

I really like songza. It is free and I like to listen to music on random anyway.


Posted by: lemmy cautiion | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:06 AM
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There's a game (invented by me) called Three Sounds, where you win if three different parts of your body are simultaneously making noise.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:14 AM
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I have bought exactly three CDs in the last, I dunno, 15 years. (98 seems to be when that changed, but I'm not exactly sure). Two, to support a friend. The other, by accident on Amazon. I have been given many more, most of which I haven't listened to, because they are annoying remix stuff or Burner culture thumpa-thumpa club music that doesn't do it for me. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I've probably spent something like $1k on music since then, all online, for MP3s and playing with music services. Not a fan of the services (apologies to a pal who does this for a living, and reads this), most of it has been to the people making the music.

I'm also sort of calcified in my music choices, so that may not be a useful datapoint.


Posted by: Grumbles | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:17 AM
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17: Do they have to be involuntary?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:17 AM
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I bought an occasional CD (and a lot of MP3s) until about a year or two ago, but I've now basically given everything up for Spotify, which is amazing, and although it does suck for artists it's probably the viable and inevitable way forward. Vinyl and download code is nice but my basic consumer attitude these days is eh fuck it listen to it through Spotify.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:21 AM
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19: Nope, you can count talking as one of them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:25 AM
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But you can't count tapping your feet, clapping your hands, or playing an instrument. Your body has to internally produce the sound.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:26 AM
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Otherwise any old shmuck could clap and sing every time they peed, and where's the competition in that?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:27 AM
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20: What is Spotify?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:28 AM
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A schmuck that could clap while peeing, let alone singing at the same time, would impress (or at least surprise) me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:28 AM
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How are parts individuated? If I crack the the joints of three fingers, does that count?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:29 AM
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Can you count the mouth and nose as two different body parts?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:31 AM
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I don't trust all of this online business. I want a physical object. With liner notes. I buy CDs occasionally (less often that DVDs, certainly), although not as much as I used to, of course.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:32 AM
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I read some band's breakdown of how much they themselves got from all the various music services; Amazon gave the most, and Spotify I think the least. So I use Spotify to explore, and when I decide I like something and want to keep it around, I go buy it on Amazon.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:33 AM
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24: from wikipedia

Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing DRM-protected[2] content from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:33 AM
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and although it does suck for artists it's probably the viable and inevitable way forward

You've probably seen this article

Consider Pandora and Spotify, the streaming music services that are becoming ever more integrated into our daily listening habits. My BMI royalty check arrived recently, reporting songwriting earnings from the first quarter of 2012, and I was glad to see that our music is being listened to via these services. Galaxie 500's "Tugboat", for example, was played 7,800 times on Pandora that quarter, for which its three songwriters were paid a collective total of 21 cents, or seven cents each. Spotify pays better: For the 5,960 times "Tugboat" was played there, Galaxie 500's songwriters went collectively into triple digits: $1.05 (35 cents each).

...

Which gets to the heart of the problem. When I started making records, the model of economic exchange was exceedingly simple: make something, price it for more than it costs to manufacture, and sell it if you can. It was industrial capitalism, on a 7" scale. The model now seems closer to financial speculation. Pandora and Spotify are not selling goods; they are selling access, a piece of the action. Sign on, and we'll all benefit. (I'm struck by the way that even crowd-sourcing mimics this "investment" model of contemporary capitalism: You buy in to what doesn't yet exist.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:33 AM
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re: 13

I have some friends who run a small recording studio, who did a bunch of extensive testing with their desk and various fancy monitors, and they could pretty much all consistently identify MP3s until bitrates got up over 200kbps, but once it got up to 256 or 320kbps, I think they all agreed their ability to pick out MP3s was not better than random at that point. I think they satisfied themselves that for the sorts of downloads they sell, high bitrate MP3s were fine.

For me, personally, 192kbps is fine for phone/mp3 player listening, when there's tons of shitty ambient noise, etc. But at home I play lossless files, if I have them. I can't say for sure if I could really consistently identify lossless versus high bit rate MP3s, though. I have goodish ears, but I'm hardly some golden ears type.

Ditto on the vinyl. Some vinyl pressings I have sound definitely better than the CDs I have of the same recordings, and some don't. There's lots of audio-woo snake-oil stuff around vinyl, which I don't really buy most of. I do like the format, though, and it's still a good way to pick up good quality older recordings cheaply, especially if you are buying as a listener rather than a collector. Funnily enough, some of the cheap floppy vinyl 80s reissues I have (of classic jazz and soul) sound really excellent. Better than a number of fancy-pants umpty-gram 'audiophile' vinyl pressings.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:33 AM
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How are parts individuated? If I crack the the joints of three fingers, does that count?

That would count as a single noise, being all part of the same mechanism.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:37 AM
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Can you count the mouth and nose as two different body parts?

Yes, as long as the sound mechanisms were separate. A sneeze that involved both your nose and mouth is a single event. Humming while sneezing would count as two events, and be most impressive, to boot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:38 AM
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31: Yep. It's unbelievably awful. But what can you do?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:38 AM
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There once was a schmuck who whilst peeing,
Whether supine or out of your seeing,
Could clap, snap and sing,
When he waggled his thing,
And he said that he found it quite freeing.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:38 AM
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I have some friends who run a small recording studio, who did a bunch of extensive testing with their desk and various fancy monitors, and they could pretty much all consistently identify MP3s until bitrates got up over 200kbps, but once it got up to 256 or 320kbps, I think they all agreed their ability to pick out MP3s was not better than random at that point.

I'd think it would depend on the style of music and how it was recorded originally. I haven't explicitly done that sort of A/B testing, and I know that for some recordings the mp3 sounds fine -- but it would be easy for me to pick out five or ten tracks for which I think the difference between the original and the .mp3 is particularly striking.

But I really don't claim to be an expert on this. I have suspect that if I did things correctly I could get .mp3s which sound just as good. But all I know is that using what is supposed to be an audiophile program to burn music (Exact Audio Copy), it isn't a replacement for my purposes.

Some vinyl pressings I have sound definitely better than the CDs I have of the same recordings, and some don't.

I've noticed that sometime "remastered" CDs sound better and sometimes worse than the original.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:40 AM
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There's 'audiophile' reasons to still buy vinyl, even if you don't believe the snake-oil stuff, of course. As a lot of vinyl stuff is mastered (or re-mastered in the case of CD reissues of older stuff) less aggressively. Less of the loudness wars 'everything on 10' thing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:42 AM
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IMX, the most common way to win is to be peeing, talking, and have yourself a toot. But every win is a celebration.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:43 AM
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Spotify is indistinguishable from straight-up piracy in terms of how much the artists benefit. But because the one person who has said in this thread that he exclusively uses it believes that everyone else will inevitably join him, well, who cares.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:44 AM
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Music wants to be freeee!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:45 AM
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I still get 90% of my music from FM radio.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:46 AM
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Which is freeee, except for the pledge driving at WYEP.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:47 AM
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I use Spotify, but I do tend to use it as a way of browsing music, or trying before I buy. If I like something enough to listen to it more than once or twice, I'll usually buy it. My struggle at the moment is finding new music I like enough to want to buy. The Guardian and a few other places I used to go to for music reviews have basically stopped covering music in the way that they used to, and I'm not finding as many useful recommendations on blogs or elsewhere.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:49 AM
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I'll link to Cole's entry on this story since he uses the musical reference.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:58 AM
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40: The choice is between no hope for a viable music industry and maybe some potential hope for a much smaller one (much smaller than that of 1950-1990, that is, most of the downsizing has already happened). I wish it wasn't that way, but it is, which is why labels have reluctantly made choices to run with Spotify, in the hopes that maybe someday they'll get near-monopoly power and can start really charging more. Which may or may not come true but at least there's some control over the distribution channel that connects labor and consumption and some possibility for revenue to flow through it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:00 PM
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re: 46

In the UK at least, sales of individual MP3 tracks are doing pretty well. Nearly £400 million* last year, up 15% on the previous year. It may not compare to the peak years but I don't think it's by any means certain that streaming services are going to be the only way things go. I'd expect the market to end up with some sort of mixed model.

* still a lot smaller than the CD market.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:07 PM
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47 -- yes, I agree, for now MP3 sales are still doing fine, as the OP indicates it takes a long time for changes to seep down, and you're absolutely right that there will be a mixed model for some time to come. But there will inevitably be streaming and shared music and it's important that there's at least the capacity for that distribution channel to connect consumer money and the artist or creator.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:11 PM
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I buy CDs because they come with printed information, which MP3s tend not to, and streaming certainly doesn't. But like Moby, I listen to a lot of radio. Other than that, if I wanted my music pre-randomised, I'd just download stuff from here.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:15 PM
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re: 49

I listen to a fair bit of radio at home, although it's pretty much MP3 only when I'm at work or travelling. Especially (at home) since the baby, as he seems to like background music and it's easier to just chuck on 6Music and leave it playing than actively choose stuff.

And yeah, sleeve notes are another reason I like vinyl. I buy a lot of cheap classical boxes, which are ten a penny in second hand record shops. Most come with a fairly fat booklet, which is in normal sized type, and pleasant to read.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:23 PM
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16: Me too. And I enjoy the process of deciding what to listen to - for example, right now I'm listening to a playlist called Electro-Swing (picked over both The Joy of Klezmer and The Balkans and Beyond) which I got to from Travelling the World (over Road Trip or Beachtime or Working (No Lyrics)) and then Eastern Europe.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:33 PM
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When I've bought CDs over the past five or six years, it's been mostly directly from artists, or in secondhand/thrift stores. I usually rip them, then send them to my dad. Sometimes Amazon will sell a CD + digital download for very close to the mp3-only price, at which point I'll buy it, then send the CD to my dad (he listens to them in the car).


Posted by: J,Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:53 PM
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What is the sound source in peeing? Isn't it mostly the urine hitting the water (or whatever)? In which case, how is it more of a sound your body is producing than clapping is?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:53 PM
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What is the sound of half a urethra peeing? In a forest, does it hit the ground? I think you know the answer, young Neb.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:48 PM
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54: It's blowing in the wind from heebie's fart.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:56 PM
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We don't use that word, peep. It's unpleasant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:10 PM
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56: I'm in big trouble now, aren't I?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:12 PM
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57: I'd take it back if I could, heebie. You have my permission to change it.

I'm sorry!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:19 PM
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I don't think pee would make any noise if you were peeing into a bottomless pit. Any more than drool.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:29 PM
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This seems like a good thread to ask a question about photos. I have some old family photos that are on the verge of falling apart. I'd like to find a decent way of scanning them or copying them.

There's also a framed portrait of my grandad. Would I need to take a new picture of that?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:57 PM
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re: 60

You can use either a flatbed scanner [assuming these are prints rather than negatives], or just any decent digital camera* mounted perpendicular to the prints in nice even bright light, with the prints filling more or less the whole camera frame. There are sites online with tips on digitally restoring old photos. I can try to find some links if you like.

More or less any flatbed scanner should do an OK job, assuming the prints can lie flat or close to flat.

* professionals or library types use very high end cameras but an ordinary dSLR or even a high end compact might be adequate if the prints aren't huge, and you shoot them in decent light, with the camera on a stand or tripod.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:09 PM
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What is the sound of half a urethra peeing?

The B-side of "Accidental Racist".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:34 PM
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Two of my bands have music on Spotify. I've never bothered to inquire about the amounts, because I assume it's a mere fraction of what we take in off iTunes, which is already hilariously few dollars per quarter.

We do still make decent-ish money when we play gigs. Clubs/bars continue to pay artists to fill rooms with people who will buy drinks, so there's still that revenue stream for struggling musicians. The people I know who do music full-time are on the road pretty much constantly.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:53 PM
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Any number of dollars per quarter above .25 is profit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:57 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:00 PM
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My tipjar donations online probably beat those Spotify numbers. It sounds like street busking would do the musicians as much good.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:00 PM
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I once saw a guy busking on a narrow sidewalk with a trombone. It was unpleasant for everybody involved.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:02 PM
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Oh yeah I saw a similar thing with a slide whistle at the proctologists.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:04 PM
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67 isn't a joke or a youtube thing. I saw it with my own eyes on the street going to my office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:07 PM
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My own eyes and glasses, also my own.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:08 PM
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The Guardian and a few other places I used to go to for music reviews have basically stopped covering music in the way that they used to, and I'm not finding as many useful recommendations on blogs or elsewhere.

With the caveat that I'm basically buzz-marketing my mates, I'd recommend having a look at The Quietus. It's easily my favourite music criticism site and they have some amazing writers.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:31 AM
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re: 71

I read the Quietus. It's great. Some of the writing, as you say, is brilliant. It doesn't review music in quite the same breadth/depth as the Guardian's weekly music/film section used to, though, and doesn't cover some genres I like.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 3:16 AM
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I never took to Spotify, but I think bandcamp.com is pretty much the best thing ever.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 3:54 AM
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While I'm buzz-marketing my mates' writing, I might as well recommend this "tribute" to Maggie by David Stubbs.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:59 AM
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71 -- that is really great music writing, and there's no way I would have heard of it other than here. Thanks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 12:07 PM
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My struggle at the moment is finding new music I like enough to want to buy.

This is probably cringeworthy for those with taste, but since I moved out of the US I get a lot of new music recommendations from NPR's all songs considered podcast. My taste seems to match Bob Boilen's pretty well, except for the whole Neil Young thing. I also subscribe to Paste and get their weekly mp3s but I don't like the curation as much as I did before the print magazine collapsed.

Spotify only opened in my country a month ago so I've gotten used to a streaming service from France called deezer.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 9:47 PM
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* still a lot smaller than the CD market.

Not like the US, according to the chart in the original post.

Also, does this "mastering" thing mean I have to stop rolling my eyes at vinyl weenies or can they still be grandfathered under the ridiculousness of extreme audiophiles.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 9:53 PM
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