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Music Media Software

Cheap Audio Production 716

Posted by michael
from the get-what-you-pay-for dept.
OneInEveryCrowd writes "Rolling Stone reports that four out of five new albums are now produced by a program called Pro Tools (or similar packages) that costs $495 for the home version or $15,000 for the pro version. The article describes a fairly amazing savings in time and effort compared to the older ways of producing an album. I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"
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Cheap Audio Production

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  • easy (Score:2, Funny)

    by B3ryllium (571199)
    the benefits aren't being passed on so that the industry can maximize profit margins. Old skool.

    Word.
    • by Faggot (614416) <choads@@@gay...com> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:13PM (#5862520) Homepage
      ProTools, while of course being immensely powerful and featureful, is responsible for many pervasive problems with modern music:
      • over-compression of everything (ever notice how most modern music is the same volume all the time?)
      • voice-tuning (as debuted by Cher on "Love After Life"). able to make a crappy singer perfectly on-key, and since it's matured a little it's much harder to notice
      • lifelessness resulting from using the "best" parts of a recording session (a riff here, a drum fill there, a bassline there) to collage together a song. the resultant music is (surprise!) devoid of the life which comes from musicians interacting with each other
      • the same effects make it into modern songs at the same time. unoriginal overuse of ProTools plugins

      it's depressing how such a featureful tool is used mainly for evil.
      • I think you mean "Life after Love". If you believe in Love after Life, then you're pretty twisted.
      • lifelessness resulting from using the "best" parts of a recording session (a riff here, a drum fill there, a bassline there) to collage together a song. the resultant music is (surprise!) devoid of the life which comes from musicians interacting with each other

        This isn't a new phenomenon. There was a recent show on VH1 discussing how this was done on the old KISS double-live album [vh1.com] from the 70's. They went into the studio and overdubbed certain parts to tighten up the music and gloss over mistakes.

      • Modern Pop Sucks. Pro Tools doesn't suck.
        Just over use of plugin's, production ideas and lack of creativity.

        My 2 Euro cents worth.
      • Well, consider that most music is going to be encoded at 128kbps mp3 and passed around college campuses like the crabs.

        I, too have felt the effects of these problems. 128kbps mp3 encoding should be a crime.
      • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:25PM (#5862654)

        ProTools doesn't run itself, not even in the $15,000 version. If too much music is coming out that's over-compressed, sterile, and voice-tuned to hell, then it's the fault of the person sitting at the console -- not the tool.
      • by Mr_Dyqik (156524) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:25PM (#5862655)
        I'm sure similar things happened when Les Paul invented multitracking.

        I think that it now needs different qualities in a producer to get good results with Pro Tools than it did to record with old style big desks etc., although the techniques haven't changed that much. Pro Tools essentially simulates using a very big and expensive studio in software, so you can do everything that very expensive studios have been doing for years. It does automate some of these things though, so that there is a temptation to over use some things.

        Just using Pro Tools doesn't mean that recordings suffer from the afflictions that you've listed (listen to Martin Grech's "Open Heart Zoo" for a recording which certainly isn't over-compressed, and was recorded on Pro Tools, with just two instrumentalists).

        Pro Tools is allowing my brother to record almost an entire album, where he plays almost all of the instruments (not the drums, but only because he has a drummer available, he can play drums), for the cost of a computer and the software/hardware, in his bedroom, and get a better sound than most people managed in the 1980's (from a technical point of view, I'm not diss'ing the 80's sound).
      • by onepoint (301486) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:26PM (#5862658) Homepage Journal
        Amazing, you post the best response about issues using PT.

        People don't realize that the best music comes from band interaction. the WHO who's music will live for a long time.. there band had a huge interaction amoung each other. same for Rush, Metalica and other very popular bands that feed off each other while creating music.

        but to the topic, the money is fronted to the band, the band then is required to produce the tracks. how they produce the tracks is not related to the lable, if anything they should be able to produce more tracks for the album because studio time will be less and the artist keeps more of the advance.
      • by martyros (588782) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:42PM (#5862831)
        Amen, mod that parent up. It may sound impressive at first, but if you listen you can definitely tell the lame music done the way described in the article from the good stuff.

        What's more, the article talks as though the studio is now obsolete -- as though the mixing decks and equipment were the only importnat part of the studio. One of the major reasons for going to a studio at all is the sound. No matter how good your mic is, if you record it in a square room you get standing waves and all kinds of acoustic crap, making it sound like you did your recording in a bathroom; furthermore, if you're not isolated, you pick up the ventilation system, the whir of the computer fans, and trucks (or ghetto blasters) driving by outside. There's only so much Pro Tools can do to compensate for a crappy input (I know, I've tried).

        Studios put a lot of work into making a room tha has good acoustic qualities and is isolated from all nasty bits of noise; designing, building, and maintaining such a room is still an expensive venture, and still necessary for a decent recording.

      • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) * on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:50PM (#5862927) Homepage
        Nonsense...

        Over-compression is a problem with many recordings, sure, that's not because of Pro Tools. Many amateurs over-compress too, and they have been since they figured out how.

        "Voice-tuning" is usually done by a product made by Antares [antarestech.com] and has nothing to do with Pro Tools. It's available for every other recording software too, and is available as an external box. Auto-Tune is actually used on many recordings these days to clean up the singing. Again, this is the fault of the people using Pro Tools, and has nothing to do with Pro Tools. Pro Tools doesn't do this out of the box (at least, last I used it).

        In fact all your complaints have nothing to do with Pro Tools. Popular music was faddish and homogeneous long before Pro Tools.

        PT is a great program and turns any machine into a flexible multi-track recorder. It reminds me a lot of Photoshop in that it has a good interface, it helps you get your work done, it opens up huge new possibilities, and certain features of it are cliched and over-used by a lot of folks (are we sick of drop-shadows yet? over-sharpened photos? "funky borders"?)

        There's nothing "evil" about PT. It doesn't "do" anything unless someone pushes the buttons and slides the sliders.

        You could argue that any music tech is bad ... tape recorders (no live music!) ... soundproof studios (where's the ambience?) ... electric guitars (all the sound is effects) .. microphones (they color the sound!) ... but you'd be wrong .. Pro tools like any other music tech has opened up a lot of possibilities, and popular music aside, I love to hear the things people can do when they start to push the boundaries of those possibilities.
        • PT is a great program and turns any machine into a flexible multi-track recorder. It reminds me a lot of Photoshop in that it has a good interface, it helps you get your work done, it opens up huge new possibilities, and certain features of it are cliched and over-used by a lot of folks (are we sick of drop-shadows yet? over-sharpened photos? "funky borders"?)

          Well, the over-compression issued mentioned by grand-parent is seriously encouraged by ProTools... ProTools does not do logarhythmic metering - it does linear metering. As a result, 3 dB down from full amplitude (which is 1/2 the power) is 1/2 of the range in the edit window for a track. Down 6 dB is 1/4. Down 9 dB is 1/8. Down 12 dB is 1/16th of the window - and that's the average volume you SHOULD be at (for pop... SMPTE standard is to go down to -18 dB FS for 0 VU). However, do that, and it barely looks like you've recorded anything. As a result, ProTools users are encouraged to record too hot, with too much compression/limiting.

          That's just ONE of the flaws of ProTools (can we say clicks and pops due to not finding zero crossings or doing automatic crossfades? yeah...)

          -T

      • Over compression was never a problem in the 'old' days- you'd have music spanning volumes from extremely quiet/1 instrument playing to the entire orchestra. Want to hear music that will get your blood pumping? Listen to Mars by Holst, from the symphony The Planets. Throbbing chords that pour through your body...

        The tool as you mention it is not extremely 'evil' in this regards- I'd say there are very few talented composers... listen to the music in the 50s- the main point was the words. Now it's the b
      • * voice-tuning (as debuted by Cher on "Love After Life"). able to make a crappy singer perfectly on-key, and since it's matured a little it's much harder to notice

        That's not voice-tuning, that's called "vocoding". Cher *can* sing on pitch, so the introduction of the vocoder was for the "techno" or robotic-sounding effect. Pitch correctors, on the other hand, are virtually impossible to notice in songs. Granted, the pitch-correction inside of ProTools might be lousy (which is why the pros call it "N

      • Record companies have much answer for when it comes to compression and worse, clipping. These two items may give you some idea of the continued trend toward contemp for your ears that recording industry has.

        The Death of Dynamic Range [raritanval.edu]

        CD "Hypercompression" Caught in the Act [raritanval.edu]

    • The answer is that prices will remain fixed due to an inherent flaw in the copyright system. There is no competition. Copyright runs against the "free" market principles which are supposed to help set a fair price. The only thing that determines the price of a CD is how much you're willing to pay, NOT how much a competitor is willing to sell it for, since there is no competition. For example, if I want to buy a CD of a certain group, there is only one label that I can buy it from, I don't have a choice
  • Because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lylum (659581)
    ...they are greedy and wan't to keep the money themselves?
  • simple! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Arethan (223197) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:05PM (#5862433) Journal
    but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

    Because they fit better in the RIAA's pockets.
    • Because the RIAA thinks it fits better in their pockets.

      Jason
      ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
    • Re:simple! (Score:2, Informative)

      by hashbrownie (313486)
      but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

      Because, as the article states, Incubus is renting a Malibu beach house to record their albums.

      Maybe not as expensive as a studio, but not too cheap either.

  • The Consumer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hsmyers (142611) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:06PM (#5862442) Homepage
    To hell with the consumer, how about the artist?
  • by julesh (229690) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:06PM (#5862443)
    why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

    I suspect its because 99% of the cost of producing commercially successful records is not (and never has been) studio related. Sure, studio time costs a fair bit, but never anything like the amount of money that is typically spent on publicity, production, promotion, distribution, and stuff like that.
    • > Sure, studio time costs a fair bit, but never anything like the amount of money
      > that is typically spent on publicity, production, promotion, distribution, and stuff like that.

      You forgot to add payola and litigation expenses to your list.
    • by PacketCollision (633042) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:22PM (#5862610) Homepage

      Despite the natural reaction to such a thread (I mean who doesn't want to bash the recording industry?) the fact of the matter is that studios are still very expensive. Add to Protools (which, in the configurations I've worked with, could easily cost over $30,000) all the other gear, and a studio can easily cost in the 100s of thousands to build. A good recording engineer isn't cheap either, nor is a good mixdown engineer. The best mixdown engineers cost several hundred an hour. All the design for the cover, etc. isn't free either, nor is mastering, nor are musicicans, for that matter. That, and as the parent post stated, there are many costs that aren't related to the production.

      All but the most popular albums don't even make much money (for the artests at least), where they make their money is off radio-play, which goes to the artists, not the label. But even this isn't free - you need a publicist to get your work out.

      All in all, the buisness isn't as easy as sitting down in front of a computer with some software. There is a complex set of variables, and making the statement that with the advent of ProTools, albums should cost less is a gross oversimplification.

      • by blamanj (253811) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:26PM (#5862662)
        OK, recording studios are very expensive. However, film studios are even more expensive and the costs of making a movie exceed the costs of making a record by an order of magnitue. But you can get some DVDs at prices lower than that of a music CD.
      • The studio and time for engineers is not that expensive in the grand scheme of things. A gold record, that sells half a million copies, and generally puts the band into debt, not makes them money, will net $5 million if wholesale prices are $10 bucks a shot.

        Your studio didn't cost $5 million to build from the ground up. Nowhere even close.

        The record companies are using copyright to enslave musicians and steal their work. Period. They're a bunch of bastard middlemen that drive up the price of everything for their own benefit.

        You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a studio and not come close to putting a major dent in the revenue of a gold record.

        Studio costs are not a major factor. It's marketing, payola, promotion, litigation and outright theft (from musicians and consumers) that cause albums to be so highly priced.
      • by chunkwhite86 (593696) on Friday May 02, 2003 @02:36PM (#5863878)
        Despite the natural reaction to such a thread (I mean who doesn't want to bash the recording industry?) the fact of the matter is that studios are still very expensive.

        Bullshit. Take an $18 music CD. Multiply by 4 million copies sold (which isnt THAT many, relatively speaking). That's $72 Million. The artist will see about $175,000 of that, a couple bucks more gets eaten by the actual cost of manufacturing and selling the CD's, and the remaining $71 Million goes into the pockets of the RIAA. That's the way it works and it's total bullshit.

        I'm still waiting for the price of a new music CD to drop to $7 or $8. The RIAA did make this promise when CD's first came out, citing the high cost of the then-new technology. "Once CD technology becomes ubiquitous and commonplace, the price of manufacturing CD's will drop dramatically, and the savings will get passed to the consumer!".

        That's why the RIAA is a bunch of money-grubbing bastards.
    • by 4of12 (97621) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:25PM (#5862652) Homepage Journal

      Exactly.

      Walk into any shopping mall, find where they sell CDs, for almost $20 a piece, look who's buying them, how they found out about them, and you'll start to get the picture.

      You'll get an even clearer picture if start asking the people manning the store if they'd be willing to sell some copies of your garage band's latest CD.

      In the same way, flavored sugar water of a few particular brands is sold in the supermarket for incredibly high markup. Great-tasting, lesser-known off brands are sold in lesser volume for higher prices than the big name brands.

      There is a market for shelf space (slotting fees) that is not a paradigm of the best features of a free market in action.

  • That's easy. There are 2 ways to increase profits -- raise prices of lower costs (ok 3 - you can do both). Any of the three ways results in a higher profit margin (== price - cost). To pass along savings means to lower your margin or keep it steady. Increased margins == increased profits.
    • In a competitive market, if you don't lower price in the face of lower costs, your competitor will - and you will lose market share and therefore, ultimately, have a lower profit.

      The key point here is that, sadly, the record industry does not really represent a competitive market....
      • In a competitive market, if you don't lower price in the face of lower costs, your competitor will - and you will lose market share and therefore, ultimately, have a lower profit.

        This doesn't really apply for intangible things like music. If you're building widgets for $1000 and selling them for $2000, I can figure out how to make my widgets and sell them for $1500 and blow you away- at least until you make your price cut.

        But with music, it's a little different. If stores are selling CD's for $18, of *course* I can make CD's in my home studio and sell them for $3. But who would buy them? People don't buy CD's based on technical features, they buy them because they're buying Madonna(tm) or Backstreet Boys(tm) or Metallica(tm). The music, the name, the image.

        We can make our little $3 CD's but people aren't going to buy them in large (comparable to major-label) quantities unless we make genuinely cooler music AND spend a shitload of cash getting radio play and doing promotion. That's really where most of the money major labels spend goes and why CD's cost a lot.

        Sure, they might (probably?) have an ungodly profit margin, but it's hard to tell. The point is that unlike a lot of products you can't simply compete with the major labels on "price" and "features" alone...

      • by Zenin (266666) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:47PM (#5862882) Homepage
        Exactly. With the exception of really old music, no two record companies ever sell the exact same album and most all have exclusive deals to everything a group produces (for a set number of albums or such, but effectively years). There is no competition in art.

        What's needed is some system where the laws of the open market can be applied to an artform. One method might be to (drastically) reapply the first performance rules to apply simiarly to the actual publication of albums. The idea might go something like this:
        • Original production company gets exclusive first pressing rights for one year from start of publication.
        • After one year, any other pressing company can press and sell the exact same recording (minus box art and such, but titles are the same).
        • These second run pressing companies pay resonable and fixed royalties to both the musician and the production company of $1 per album each (if track list is sold unchanged) or $.25/song otherwise (to each, not split).
        • Online pressing rights are identical to second run pressing of real CDs with reguard to these rules.

        The above idea is also very similar to the Brand Name/Generic Name drug markets (albeit with much shorter timelines, for obvious reasons). Record companies could still make their money hand over fist for new albums as they do now, AND not only cover the cost of bust albums with the high price of star albums, but they could use each other's older catalogs in open market form to help offset those costs as well. -And of course, if some other pressing company sells one of your albums, you get royalties as well, so your bust albums could even help offset your bust albums if/when someone else manages to sell them better then you. Furthermore it would open up a new business of the pressing company (which again could likely be an online only store, like Apple is doing, but without needing to cut deals with everyone under the sun, allowing startups to compete in a big player world).

        Honestly I just pulled this idea out of my ass, but the more I reread my own idea the more I like it. Anyone see any major flaws in this thinking?
  • The band gets a certain amount of money from the record company to pay for recording costs. Any money not spent goes up someone's nose.

  • by blakespot (213991) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:07PM (#5862460) Homepage
    Because the labels do not fully well realize, as yet, that the tapping sound is that of nails being driven into their collective coffin.

    Let Apple lead the way [apple.com].


    blakespot

    • by coupland (160334) * <<dchase> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:18PM (#5862567) Journal

      Apple is not leading the way. They are paying royalties to the same fools who worked so hard to prevent music ever being accessible online.

      Herein lies a moral dilemma as I see it. I've long said that if the major labels had offered a good online experience with no copy protection and songs at $1 a pop I would gladly pay. Apple has now done that. However the question I now ask is: "After years of litigation, accusations, predatory pricing, and complete disregard for customers, should I finally return to financing these crooks because after they lost the war they decided to do the right thing?" I suppose the answer is implied in the question. If the RIAA had had the slightest bit of respect for customers it would never have come to this, but quite frankly I've stopped buying music and doubt I'll ever return until someone comes along who cuts the fat cats out of the profits.

      • by WNight (23683) on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:33PM (#5863300) Homepage
        Apple is doing something that the RIAA thinks is good, but in reality, I think it's the surest sign that they're dying.

        Their profit margins are sky-high because they bundle content. You want that hit song? Sure, with these 14 crap songs, all at just over a buck each.

        On a song-by-song basis, they'll make more money selling songs now, with electronic distribution. But they won't sell any copies of the 14 crap songs. They'll go from 40% or so (what I've heard is label profit from a $20 CD) of $20, for one good song, to 60% of a dollar (assuming they keep all the gains from cutting out physical distribution and don't give any extra to the artist - a safe assumption).

        They're also cutting the throats of their retail partners. They need to own retail completely to keep their monopoly control. If they betray retail, retail is going to betray them. Selling indie music, not price-fixing, all these terrible things.

        This helps the consumer because, assuming we buy, we're buying more quality music and less crap. (Quality meaning, what we want, not any objective standard.) We're getting it at a much lower price, and there's no brand loyalty. We'll shop at Apple because they're the only one, for now, but as soon as another site offers it we'll jump ship for $.02 savings. There'll be fan sites listing the price differences at the sales sites.

        They'll have done what they always fought against, turned their music into an uncontrollable commodity. Sure, they'll get paid for each track, but their fantastic profits are gone. With that goes their huge advertising budgets and all of a sudden it's reasonable for other companies to compete in the publishing/promotions business.
        • Mod parent up; my mod points are all gone. But I would definitely modded this up as Insightful if I could.

          I agree on what you write with one exception:

          This helps the consumer because, assuming we buy, we're buying more quality music and less crap. (Quality meaning, what we want, not any objective standard.)

          Even if we get the music that we want and that means higher quality for us (higher quality in an subjective way); the result of this way of shopping music won't be only good.
          The focus will (on lon

          • It only means this if the fans don't agree with the artist about how the music is best appreciated. It does mean the end of albums, but I think you'd still have collections of song that flow from one to the other. If you don't I think it's the public saying that they don't think it improves the experience.

            I think the marketing push would almost be stronger. If you don't tie your music like this, the Britneys of the world, pop music producers, would sell whatever is playing on the radio (or whatever radio r
      • by BigJimSlade (139096) on Friday May 02, 2003 @02:15PM (#5863694) Homepage
        I've long said that if the major labels had offered a good online experience with no copy protection and songs at $1 a pop I would gladly pay... should I finally return to financing these crooks because after they lost the war they decided to do the right thing?

        Of course not! A Slashdoter would never actually purchase something. No, a true Slashdoter would say "I sure would be willing to pay for (Goods/Services) if they would only (Criteria to be met)," then change those criteria once met so that they still feel they should not pay for said goods or services.

        Sorry, this rant isn't directed at you in particular, but I've seen it alot on here recently, esp. with the advent of Apple's Music Store:

        "I'll buy music online when you don't have to buy the whole crappy album."
        "$0.99 a song? What a rip off! The whole CD would cost more than it would in the stores."
        "Oh, only $9.99 for a whole album? Too bad I only have a Windows box"
        "Oh, the Windows client is coming out at the end of the year? (Pause) WELL THEY DON'T SUPPORT OGG, SO THEY'LL NEVER GET MY MONEY!!!"

  • A Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by NETHED (258016) * on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:07PM (#5862461) Homepage
    Here is a Link [digidesign.com] to the people who make Pro Tools.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:08PM (#5862476)
    Because you gotta pay for all that COWBELL, baby!
  • Basic economics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TopShelf (92521) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:08PM (#5862477) Homepage Journal
    Production savings will only get passed to the consumer when other producers are willing to compete on price - but if Band X produces their next album for $200,000 less than the previous one, why should they cut the price at all?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:09PM (#5862481)
    because there is no competition!

    It it were a truly open market, then these increases in efficiency would be passed on to the consumer as lower prices. However, since the recording industry has done everything possible to insure that there is little or no competition, it just results in higher profits.

    This is the danger inherent in monopolies and oligopolies.
    • Yay for Apple iTunes Music Store!
    • To be fair, the RIAA isn't the only issue when looking at competition in the music industry.

      Popular music is not interchangable . It's not like wheat or oil. The product you get from one source is different than what you get from another source (boy band jokes aside). If the Aerosmith CD is $15 and the Britney Spears CD is $8 are you going to buy the Britney album simply because it's cheaper? Most likely you're going to purchase the type of music you like to listen to, cost is a secondary issue.

      Even if th
  • I'm still at a loss to tell what it does that is so special...

    Of course it records and mixes, but what else? What is so incredible that this has, that no other software has had before??? Anyone...
    • Re:What does it do? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Doc Hopper (59070) <slashdot@barnson.org> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:35PM (#5862776) Homepage Journal
      The big thing for Pro Tools is that it has been around a very, very long time, and is the industry standard. Cakewalk and its ilk have also been around for a while, but at least in Cakewalk's case it started out as a MIDI sequencing program in the early 1990's -- and many people still think of it that way.

      So yeah, there are a lot of programs that do this. But Pro Tools is, and has been for a decade, the industry standard in professional hard disk recording systems. Some great things you can do with a Pro Tools setup:
      • Looping tracks
      • Extending lengths of tracks with little (if any) distortion of the source. Think drum loops, changing them from 148bpm to 140bpm. The aliasing gets worse as you go further from the source speed, though.
      • automated punch-in/punch-out
      • undo. This is a huge win for tapeless over tape-based studios!
      • noise extraction
      • the list goes on...


      The basic thing is, Rolling Stone is finally catching on to the what musicians have been doing in the mainstream for about 7 years now, and that's completely tapeless recording, and the move of recording out of the studio and into other places. There are enough plugins out there to clean up sound from even very noisy areas, so the need for a completely silent "studio" is much less. Studios are definitely going out of business as a result of this move to home-studio-based recording, and ProTools is generally a compatability requirement.

      Me, I use Cakewalk Sonar at home, and this is one area where no free software product yet comes close. I'm on the Ardour mailing list, and use Ardour periodically to see how it's coming along, but definitely nothing there yet to replace my studio setup.

      So to answer your question, Pro Tools is simply one of many hard-disk recording packages. However, among professionals it is the most widely used, and boasts a much larger library of compatible software than any competitor. Oh, and until about 4 years ago, it was Mac-only.
  • ...and while it does make some good points about cheap, home-brewed recording (whether Pro Tools or not) it doesn't take into account:

    Using said studios
    Hiring people to mix, master, and produce albums
    Advertising and promotion
    Paying everyone associated with the album in a fair manner aside from the artist
    The fact Hilary Rosen does not have enough money.
  • What about Protux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ghost1911 (146095) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:10PM (#5862493) Homepage
    THere's an open source tool that I just started playing with called Protux [sourceforge.net] that just happens to be very similar to protools, but has a smooth keyboard and mouse interface. So... I guess the point of this post is that for $495 you can get the industry standard but for $0 you can get the "free" and "almost function complete-similar" tool that you could contribute $500 worth of work into to make better... IMHO a better deal :)
  • production cost savings would produce very little savings (i.e.: none) to the consumer.

    most $ the record companies spend covers marketing and their losses on the releases that fail (which is somewhere around 9 out of 10).

  • You're talking about a $14,505 savings. Big name producers, studio time, etc cost a LOT more than that.
  • Um, maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kalidasa (577403) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:11PM (#5862507) Journal
    because the bands pay production costs most of the time. Here's a better question: when CDs first came out, their outrageous price versus cassettes was justified by the fact that there were only 2 stamping plants in operation. Why didn't they ever go down in price?
    • Re:Um, maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:42PM (#5862832)
      when CDs first came out, their outrageous price versus cassettes was justified by the fact that there were only 2 stamping plants in operation. Why didn't they ever go down in price?

      Didn't they?

      I rarely pay more than $14 for a CD in the year 2003. That's less than the first waves of compact discs went for in the early 1980s -- not even taking into account the past 20 years' worth of devaluation of the dollar due to inflation.

  • by Ranma (3995)
    Actually I do a lot of recording myself, and I've never used pro tools before, although I have heard great things.

    If you are looking for a good alternative to pro tools, I am quite happy with my Tascam US-428 (http://www.tascam.com) and Cool Edit Pro 2.0(Multitrack recording)(http://http://www.syntrillium.com/)..

    Infact, I just recorded an eight track demo for my friends who are in a little band, and I can tell you the quality is pretty damn good compared to the price of recording in most studios(Some r
  • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:12PM (#5862511) Homepage
    I listen to mostly punk, and am very happy with the wonderful pricing of music. I can pick up sampler CDs for less than ten bucks to see what is really worth listening to, get samples from websites, and purchase whole, new CDs for $12 (shipping included). When I order direct, I usually get a thrown-in CD sampler and a sticker or poster.


    The punk mentality has paid-off in some situations. Look at Epitaph [epitaph.com] or Fat Wreck Chords [fatwreck.com]. Not only are they highly sucessful, but are good to the bands. And, the bands are good to the fans.

  • by MrTilney (188646)
    I don't want to start a flame war, because I pretty much hate the recording industry, but there are a lot more costs involved in recording than just Pro Tools.

    First, you need a good way to get that audio into your computer, and these are still expensive. The newest consumer level Pro Tools mixing board costs about $1500 and can mix 8 sources at a time. The price of larger boards increases exponentially. A professional audio DAT drive ain't cheap, and, most importantly, TO GET A HIGH QUALITY RECORDING YO
  • by geekoid (135745)
    "... why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

    No real competition in the industry. Any company will maximize its profits, with real competition, the products will have to be sold to someone with a choose, and all things equal people by the cheap one.
    What do I mean by 'real'? Two or more competitors that arn't either locked into some forced pricing, or in agreement to price equally.
  • by mdwong (586868) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:13PM (#5862518) Homepage
    How else are they going to pay for J-Lo's insurance?
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:13PM (#5862522) Homepage Journal

    but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

    Why do movies still cost an arm and a leg to go see when they use Linux clusters rather than SGI machines to do the rendering? Just because a company becomes more efficient doesn't mean they have to pass on the savings. What if the company was losing money until they found a way to shave a few bucks from their costs and make a profit? Are they supposed to cut their prices and continue to lose money?
  • Producers. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:14PM (#5862524)
    "...but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

    Pro Tools might knock a few tens-of-thousands off the cost of producing an album, but the real cost is the producer himself. Good producers can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a big album. In short, it doesn't matter what tools Puff Daddy uses to produce an album, all that matters is that Puff Daddy produced it.
    • What matters is the idea that artists who are not backed by major studios can now produce a very professional-sounding CD.

      We've see this over-and-over with RIAA... There is a lot of talent out there, it's just more profitable to pick a few, and seriously promote them.
  • Even with the slickest low cost hard disk recording system, there are still several other important items involved in making a good sounding recording.

    1.) Microphones: It's very easy to spend $30K on mics for drums alone. Using cheap mics makes things sound like ... well like you used cheap mics.

    2.) Recording Space: Without an Acoustically good space in which to record, it's easy to end up with a real thin "inside a tin can" sound.

    3.) Engineer/Producer: Even in a high-end pro studio, results will be p
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) * on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:16PM (#5862553) Homepage
    Why aren't lower production costs being passed on to the consumer? Because they don't have to be. That only happens in a competetive market (I have an econ final tomorrow). One record label isn't going to cut their pruduction costs and start selling CDs at a lower price than the other labels in an attempt to win market share. They're just going to pocket more money. There are two answers why, pick which one you like:

    1) The members of the RIAA are illegally conspring to stop competition in their market.

    2) Since the music market doesn't sell homogeneous goods, this is just how it works. Only one label sells Britney Spears CDs and they can charge whatever they want becaue nobody else is going to compete directly against them. But a Christina Aguillera album is a subsitute good that people will turn to if the Briney album is too overpriced (I'm going to ace this final tomorrow).

    -B

    Someone will more than one econ class can chime in now and tell me I'm full of shit.
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:17PM (#5862564) Homepage
    "but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

    Because the costs of production to a certain degree are not related to the cost of selling a thing, particularly in a monopoly situation.

    The cost of an item is realated to how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

    That is, if you make an operating system, it doesn't matter that you spend a billion dollars developing it, if you can get Windows XP for $200, then that's your price point.

    So as a producer, you have to get your production costs in line with your selling price in order to make money.

    However, if you have a monopoly, your pricing is basically unlimited to the degree that people can't feasibly switch away.

    To put it in terms that are realted to the article, if consumers have indicated a willingness to pay $16 for a CD, then you'd be stupid to charge less. And since each "Group" is essentially a monopoly, there is no price competition to speak of.

    So in that case, if you save on the costs of production, you simply make more money.

    That's not evil or wrong. That's simply what you do.
  • The rest of the money goes into gigantic Stonehenge monuments.. you know, like the druids. That, and custom-made amplifiers that go to 11, not 10.
  • Why should the cost savings be passed onto the consumer? The only mechanism in place to pass savings onto the consumer is competition. What incentive does the RIAA have to reduce the cost of their product? Unless someone else comes along and creates a product with equal demand for less money, they will not lower their prices.

    In an environment of true competition, it would be very difficult to become obscenely rich. Artificial restraints like patents, copyrights, and monopolies are the only way to becom
  • by pastpolls (585509)
    Yes, most albums are produced on Pro-Tools, which is a very good piece of software. As a matter of fact, the company that makes it offers a free version [digidesign.com] (anything below win2k and OS9 only). But saying that Pro-Tools in inexpensive, therefore albums should be cheaper is like saying the a hammer builds a house, and hammers are cheap, so I should be able to build a house cheap. Pro-Tools is a tool. The most expensive parts of album creation are the musicians (yes, most artists still use actual musicians, and
  • It could well explain why much of the stuff being pumped out by the music industry today is complete and utter crap.

  • here is the thing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RonenKauffman (533207)
    Passing the saivngs on to the consumer is a realtive issue. There are records youc an buy that were recorded on a traditional studio setup but which are somehow still only $8 from your local independent record store. Conversely, you can have items like "Bread You Off," from the latest Roots record - this song alone cost $300k - why? the licensing for the samples. a-ha! The truth is that there are way more players taking their cut than just the labels and the bands. take it from someone who knows!
  • Um... (Score:3, Informative)

    by liquidsin (398151) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:24PM (#5862643) Homepage
    Sorry if I seem rude, but that sounds like a stupid question. When you factor in studio time for recording, the cost of a decent producer, production of cds, marketing, etc, etc, etc, the *one time* cost of your mixing software is pretty much nil. If the billing department at your local garage switched to linux from windows, would you expect them to charge you less for an oil change? Hell no. Lower costs equals greater profit. This is basic business here. Just because it's the recording industry, doesn't mean we should be angry. They do a lot of vile, underhanded things, but this isn't one of them.
  • by clifyt (11768) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:28PM (#5862677) Homepage
    Because instead of having 4 studios that are full purposed, folks build their own studios and spend the money on their own equipment than they would have normally at the big boys.

    In the end, it STILL costs the industry the same amount of money or probably more.

    That and the human element has gone up steadily as the pricing of the hardware has gone down. before the Home Recording Revolution occured, I was able to charge $20 an hour to show up and help someone with their gear...generally I was paid for by the studio I was in. NOW I show up at someones home, read the manual to them and charge them $75 an hour and I'm not even what I'd call professional (I've worked with several professional artists in the past and I'm going to be the head music tech for an up coming Al Green show next month, so I work with folks that are VERY professional...still pretty much a hobby for me so I can support my university and its research addiction).

    And what happens AFTER folks finish their home opus? They generally head to the bigger studios to polish it up. Producers are going to ask a LOT of front money to work on this -- along with their own engineers that retrack certain items -- and they will STILL ask for points (though that generally comes out of the artists share...EVERYTHING comes out of the artists share :-) What kind of studios are they going to be running? Ones that are $100k - 300k in just equipment.

    Looking at my HOME studio, I have 2 K2600s ($5500 each), Digital Mixer ($3k), Mac G4 ($3k), PC ($1k)Audio Interfaces for both Macs and PCs ($2k), Software (DAW -- Logic Audio $1k / Softsynths & Effects $2k). Thats almost $25k right there (Heh! Glad most of this was comped as I couldn't afford it). There is NO WAY IN HELL that Vig's entire studio is $15k at Stone tries to make out...I wouldn't be surprised to know it was on order of $150k at the MINIMUM.

    BTW the $500 version of the CHEAP Protools is NOT Protools...its a cheap immitation with the same interface. its designed solely as a learning tool to get folks use to what the big boys use and hooked so that they can go into the studio with a little preknowledge OR convince them to buy the more expensive stuff.

    Theres no doubt about it, recording a major label album is going to cost a lot of money. Indie albums will be MUCH less.

    Don't take my word for it, I run one of the largest Logic user groups dedicated to digital audio. Take a look at:

    http://community.sonikmatter.com

    and check out our user forums. These folks know what they are doing and we have quite a few folks that have worked on albums that have resulted in precious metal on the wall. Again, I'm just a hobbiest that been caught up with the big boys because I was a geek when they needed technology taken care of and don't consider myself to be anywhere near their calibre -- but its a fucking shame to see that my bedroom studio is bigger and better than Butch Vig's if we are going to take this article at face value.

    clif marsiglio
    cofounder sonikmatter
  • Almost every time I hear a professional soloist or well-organized group play live music, I can buy a CD from them of their music. Recently I encountered a very good guitar/tambourine player in a restaurant. He didn't have a CD, so I referred my friendly local CD producer to him.

    Music production is moving from the expensive studio to the musician's garage. I don't use Pro Tools, and I don't have a sound studio, but I can make a simple demo CD for a music group by mikeing their rehearsal hall for about $500. That's $250 for me and $250 to stamp the CDs commercially. My friendly local CD producer charges more but gets better results. If all you want is a demo or a CD to sell at your gigs you don't need a $100,000 producer.
    John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)
  • by liquidsin (398151) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:32PM (#5862738) Homepage
    I just moved into a new apartment. The rent here is lower. I was thinking that the honest thing to do would be to tell my employer that since I now have an extra hundred bucks every month that maybe I should take a pay cut, since I don't want to appear greedy. Any thoughts?

  • by j-b0y (449975) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:40PM (#5862809)

    Because there is only so many times a week that I can stomach listening to Slashdot's collective indignance about the recording industry and its antics.

    Surprise, surprise: advances in technology drive down the costs of production; I'm sure that every aspect of the music business has benefitted from this in some way or another.

    Equally unsurprising: We're not seeing any of this money, as the industry is effectively an oligopoly [investorwords.com], with high barriers to entry on a national/international level.

    And between a) apathy-induced boycotts of major label artists on the grounds of not being very good, and b) illegal distribution of the very little we can be bothered to buy via P2P networks, we'll either remedy the situation through the collapse of recording industry as we know it or make it worse through yet further consolidation of record labels, putting even more power in the hands of the people we despise the most.

    God I'm feeling cynical today.

  • by copponex (13876) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:44PM (#5862851) Homepage
    I work in a pro audio shop called Atlanta Pro Audio (shameless plug). Saying that cheaper hardware has reduced the cost of an album is just like saying the reduced cost of computer hardware has lessened the expense of developing software.

    It is true that Pro Tools has made the hardware costs of getting a *demo* out pretty cheap, but to say that the pro version only costs $15,000 is an untrue statement. If you really want to cut an album that will be suitable to SEND to a real mastering house, you will spend $50,000 at the very least. And if you want the little Mbox for $450, you still need a computer ($1,500), and plug-ins ($2,000), and keyboards ($2,000), and instruments ($MUCHO), and outboard gear ($MEGAMUCHO), and mics ($1000)...

    Audio engineers are still expensive. Producers are expensive. Getting a record mastered, and I guarantee everything you've heard on the radio has been mastered, is *very* expensive. Mastering houses still have equipment in the .75 to 2 million dollar range.

    All of this is still irrelevant. Payola still runs the music industry. I have heard it from more than one of our customers that if you have a million dollars for advertising, you have a gold record.
  • where the $ goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drgroove (631550) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:45PM (#5862864)
    " ...but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

    This question deserves an explanation of how record companies finance record production.

    First, once an artist has been 'signed' (which essentially means that the record company retains all legal rights to material produced by artist 'x' for a specific duration of output, determined in either number of albums or number of years, contingent on performance, behavior, and sales), the record company then forwards the artist an advance on their future record sales with which to have their album written, produced, tracked, and recorded to a medium.

    This forwarded money is expected to be paid back to the record company by the artist once the record is on store shelves, regardless of how many are sold.

    Recording artists receive a pittance of record sales revenues, touring revenues, and royalties from radio stations, commercials, and the like for the playing of their songs... remember, the record company had the artist sign a contract which passed those rights onto the record company. Additionally, the record company applies all revenue to the repayment of their loan, and until this has been repaid in full, the artist does not receive any profit.

    Many recording artists (take TLC, the female african-american rap group, for instance) make an average salary of $30,000/yr - or less - after paying the record company back for their loan.

    This terrible financial arrangement being the case, the only way for recording artists to maximize their revenue potential is to retain a larger portion of the original recording loan, which can then be used to either pay the record company back more readily, or invested to generate its own revenue, etc etc. This being the case, many recording artists turn to commercial recording equipment in order to cut production costs, and actually stand a chance of making money off of their creative material.

  • by swb (14022) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:47PM (#5862886)
    ...still cost as much or more than they ever did.

    Cheap audio production is just *slowing* the increase, not a source of cost reduction.

  • One Tiny Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:51PM (#5862932)
    "$495 for the home version or $15,000 for the pro version.

    why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"


    Because that's one program. Install it on your Alienware PC and you'll still create terrible sounding crap.

    Now pay rent on a building. Properly set it up for acoustics. Add perfectly matched, pro level monitors. Add some seriously expensive sound cards that can work with multiple sources and no lag. Add a set of mics at a couple of grand a pop. Add a mixing desk that connects to pro-tools so you can actually make smooth fine controls. Add a decent guitar/amp (about $5k), now multiply by about five for all the variations used on a typical album. Add a drum kit and a lot of heads (Dave Grohl reportedly got through a set of heads per track when recording Nevermind). Add pro-grade cabling so your sound doesn't get muddied up. Add a PC capable of dealing with it all, fast SCSI drives and all.

    Those are just the bits and pieces I can think of, just being an amateur guitarist who never records but does spend too much time in guitar shops. I'd imagine there's a hell of a lot more.

    All of a sudden, the $495 seems insignificant. Even the $15,000 for the pro version.

    Yes, you can record music with pro-tools and a typical home PC. A lot of people do. And it sounds fairly good compared to recordings of say the 1950s.

    Just because one aspect gets a bit cheaper, doesn't mean the process gets cheaper. It just means that the capabilities get higher. I remember paying $200 for 4mb of ram, $3,000 for a 16mhz 286. Now I can get a hundred times that power for about $250 yet I still buy $3,000 PCs. How can that be?
  • Alsihad (Score:5, Funny)

    by kEnder242 (262421) on Friday May 02, 2003 @12:59PM (#5863001)
    Is this anything like Alsihad?

    From the chronicles of Mixerman: [prosoundweb.com] (good read, funny)

    "Alsihad is a very popular brand of recording software and hardware

    that uses a computer for editing takes. It is a very intricate program,
    and it requires a trained expert to operate it, called an Alsihah."
    • Re:Alsihad (Score:3, Informative)

      by sdo1 (213835)
      Mod up the parent! Anyone interested in how a major label album goes from demo to (maybe) finished product needs to read this.

      Their glossary of terms [prosoundweb.com] has the full definition:

      Alsihad: A recording platform that is used to destroy music in general. It makes musicians lazy and sounds like crap too. Some express their unabashed love for Alsihad, these are typically Alsihah (ones who operate Alsihad). Those that express a lack of enjoyment for Alsihad are typically Luddites (those that shun the forward advan

  • by c13v3rm0nk3y (189767) on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:05PM (#5863048) Homepage

    While I think that the initial question posed in the OP has been addressed, I can't help but think that the real impact Pro Tools has had on commercial music is not lower overall production costs.

    Like any software tool, Pro Tools can be an excellent way for skilled people to create good things. It can help novices or amateurs [reference.com] (see meaning [1]) develop their skills relatively cheaply. It can also create a whole universe of music that is flat, bland and mind-numbingly the same.

    Whenever a particular tool becomes dominant in a field (whether it "deserves" to be dominant or not) it tends to place it's mark on a wide swath of work in that field. I'm thinking particularly of tools like Photoshop and Quark. Anyone who is familar with these tools is usually familar with the standard dreck that is churned out using them.

    I've noticed the same trend with Pro Tools. In some ways, Pro Tools can be a bit of a lie: you can get four guys to stand up and belt out a tune and using Pro Tools you can normalize, compress, expand, quantize and otherwise tweak the hell out of the recording and make it sound good. Or at least as good as everything else.

    There is a universal sameness to much Pro Tools produced music. Everything is limited to just below peak. Vocals are compressed, doubled and quantized to unearthly degrees. Each instrument is patched through the standard reverbs de rigueur. There are 128 tracks per song not because they are put to good use, but because you can have 128+ tracks per song.

    This is not to say that Pro Tools can't be used to make good music. Nobody could say that, just as nobody could really say that Photoshop can't produce good print-ready images. But Photoshop is not a good tool to paint a picture, and Pro Tools does not replace the entire studio and a smart engineer with big ears behind the console.

    As a musician, the trick is to know the limitations of your gadgets. Pro Tools will not, and can not, replace old-fashioned tracking, microphone placement, wet/dry mixes, or human-tuned compression.

    The success of Pro Tools has created the Pro Tools sound, and one that I am not overly fond of. As music in the digital domain matures, I hope and expect we will move away from overuse of any single tool. This seems to be the history of popular music, anway.

  • by mr_burns (13129) on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:49PM (#5863474)
    the mixerman chronicles:

    http://www.prosoundweb.com/recording/mm/week1/mm .p hp

    This has by far been the most read and loved diary of an engineer on a major label project. It might take you a few days, but you will be entertained!

    Plus you will learn that one workflow improvement for one cog in this machine doesn't amount to a hill of beans as far as what it take to get the whole project firing on all cylinders.
  • I just happened to be in the studio (and have one more trip there on Saturday) and we recorded with ProTools. Now I'm not an expert on audio recording, and much of the credit for the recording quality goes to the engineer (and my band), but ProTools seems like an amazingly capable program. Not only could the engineer apply get a rich, warm sound in all the right places, but he could do this quickly!

    We were sitting in the engineering room, listening to a recording and thinking aloud what doesn't sound quite right, and the engineer kept up with our train of thought. By the time the song was done, he had applied most of our ideas to the song and we listened to it a second time, with everything as it should be.

    I suppose I should provide a link to the song, even though I'm not sure if I'm pimping or backing up my opinion: Flipside [frontmoneymusic.com] - it's where your secrets went to hide!

    If a tool like this can make such a great sound, the super-high-end systems may be answering a question nobody has asked in ten years.
  • by Rai (524476) on Friday May 02, 2003 @01:56PM (#5863536) Homepage
    I use a program called Buzz [buzzmachines.com] for composing and recording electronic music. It and a ton of plugins are available for free download. (Windows only, no Linux or Mac ports...yet) Also check out this site. [buzzxp.com]

    You can also find lots of free plugins and other apps at Database Audio. [databaseaudio.co.uk]
  • by maxpublic (450413) on Friday May 02, 2003 @02:14PM (#5863689) Homepage
    There's an argument running through this discussion which on the surface is coherent, yet in practice doesn't reflect reality. It goes like this:

    "there is no alternative to brand X, and only one company sells brand X, so there is no viable competition. Therefore, the company can set pretty much any price it wants."

    Yep, in a very basic, Econ 101 way of thinking, this is entirely true - up to a point, of course (i.e., where price exceeds consumer desire to purchase). If you have no viable competition you're in a monopoly position (corporate oligarchy, for the RIAA) and you can price fix all you like. So long as you don't raise the price beyond what the consumer will bear you can rake in the profit every time production costs decline.

    What folks are missing is that competition isn't limited to these simplistic factors. As price approaches the limit that the consumer will bear, alternate methods of distribution will be developed to satisfy the desires of consumers who wish to purchase the product, but not at the price set by the monopoly. These are known as 'black markets' because they distribute the product without the sanction of the monopoly (and in contravention to law) and at a lower price than the monopoly itself (for goods that *can* be distributed at all - obviously, SAMs and the like will cost more just because distribution exists at all).

    The more 'unjust' the price of a product is gauged to be, the larger and more developed a black market becomes. That is, each time you jack up the price of the product (or refuse to lower the price, when production costs decline), more and more of your consumers pass the point where the price is something they're willing to bear - whether or not they can afford the price. If percentage A of consumers find a CD ridiculously overpriced at $15 a pop, this percentage will turn to the black market for its needs. If percentage B of consumers find the price of the CD too much at $16, now percentage A + percentage B turns to the black market, and so on, minus those who simply stop purchasing in any form whatsoever.

    (Note: there will also be a certain subset of consumers who find the only acceptable price to be 0. But unlike what many slashdotters seem to believe, in practice this subset is always tiny and has no observable effect on the market for that product. This isn't speculation, it's fact - do some research if you need it spelled out for you. People aren't by nature thieves, and an enormous amount of economic and psychological evidence bears this out; if you think otherwise, this isn't a statement about the character of the human race, but your character.)

    The higher the price goes, and the more unjust that price seems to be, the more your consumers turn to the black market instead of buying from the monopoly. This has nothing to do with ethics or morals regardless of what ranting slashdotter decides to scream 'theft!' in response to this post. The fact is, increasing consumer use of the black market is an economic indicator that the product is overpriced and needs to be reduced in cost to the consumer. It's the economic form of 'civil disobedience'; when the powers that be don't listen to your complaints, you take action that hits them where it counts to drive your point home. Even if you yourself are unaware of the results of your actions (you just want cheaper CDs and don't care about the ramifications), from an economic point of view the group that turns to the black market is making a very clear statement about the price of the product provided by the monopoly, whether or not the individuals of that group care a whit one way or another about anything beyond buying the CD for less than the list price.

    Unfortunately for the RIAA, there exists a 'black market' in the form of file sharing that makes turning to an alternative distribution source easier than ever before in history. While short-sighted twerps post on slashdot, going on and on about 'stealing' and 'piracy' and whatnot, this
  • by Wansu (846) on Friday May 02, 2003 @02:53PM (#5864024)

    I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

    Obviously, you don't understand the problem. ;-)

  • by gordguide (307383) on Friday May 02, 2003 @03:05PM (#5864101)
    Yeah, $500 for "a professional recording studio that used to cost tens to hundreds of thousands" is major cost reduction. Unfortunately, the above quote (I made it up) is basically, like nearly every software program's hype, full of omissions.

    Like what you have to buy to get the program to work. Let's start with a computer, in the interest of brevity.

    Any old computer? Nope. How about my brand-new multigahertz PC wonder? Probably not. You have to run it on a ProTools approved system. One reason why a whole bunch of audio is still done with Macs; once it's all said and done, Macs and PCs for audio (at this level) cost the same, maybe even less.

    Like all the other stuff you have to buy. Including ProTools hardware; a bunch of extra software, and the rest of the stuff that makes a recording studio what it is. Singers are blowing through microphones that cost thousands of dollars and explode if you look at them funny (well, maybe not that easy; singing too close, or dropping them even once, maybe a hard bump, that will do it. Spend $5K).

    Wages, wages, wages. Heat, rent, electricity. A cable inventory that's worth more than your car. You know, the usual stuff. When it comes right down to it, you could get the software for free* and it still wouldn't make much difference in the bill.

    Now, many musicians are on the edge and do some great things with (only) many thousands of dollars invensted. Don't expect to see their efforts in a major label release though; if they get signed the record company is going to send them back to do it again, with the big buck guys. And yes, you can hear the difference.

    As to the question why the product hasn't gone down in price, the answer is it has. I used to pay $10-16 for LP records. According to this [westegg.com] inflation calculator, that translates as $33.73 to $53.96 (1975-2000, US). I won't go into about how the music industry has been trying to get us to pay $25 since the early 80's, suffice to say consumer resistance has tended to curb their periodic attempts to raise the retail price.

    * Get ProTools Free direct from Digidesign here (Win98/Me & MacOS9): Digidesign [digidesign.com] It will run on less critical hardware, and is a functional but somewhat limited version of the paid programs. Don't expect your next CD to cost $0 to finish.

    Read the System Requirements here:
    Windows XP [digidesign.com]

    For those of you who would rather not click the link here's an example (there's a lot of requirements, but whatever):
    The only fully approved CPU's are Compaq EVO W2000, an IBM Intellistation M Pro model 6850 or Intellistation Z Pro model 6221, and a Turnkey solution from a company called Carillion. Don't be expecting to run Quake and MS Office on this box either, it will probably break the audio hardware functionality. You can run it with any G4/AGP/OSX Mac though (although that's not all you'll need, on either platform).
  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@defor e s t . o rg> on Friday May 02, 2003 @03:48PM (#5864421)
    Audacity [sourceforge.net] has come a looong way in the last year -- I believe they're finally supporting professional-grade digital audio and not just CD-quality (not that I can tell the difference, or anything...).

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