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Recording Music Without the Recording Industry 234

hephaist0s writes "The 2008 RPM Challenge — to write and record an original album in February, just because you can — is about to begin. Hundreds of musicians from around the world have already signed up. Last year, more than 850 albums were recorded as part of the challenge, a testament to what can be done by independent musicians without a label, without the RIAA, and often without a professional studio. The efforts ranged from an album made entirely on a Nintendo Game Boy to a Speed Racer rock opera, produced by both experienced bands and novice musicians, often in continent-spanning online collaborations. Last year's challenge generated one of the largest free jukeboxes of original music available online, built to stream on-demand all 8500-plus original, artist-owned songs. Imagine if grassroots, independent systems like this foretold the future of recorded music and its distribution."
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Recording Music Without the Recording Industry

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  • I still need to own a computer, have Internet access, and pay for the electricity to hear it. Until the music is truly free, I am still going to spend all my time complaining on Slashdot.

    • by Gyga ( 873992 )
      Go to a major city and find a bum playing on the street. If you really like it you can donate money, but that isn't required so it is still free.
    • Just hook up a generator to your whining and the problem is solved. You can sell the extra electricity for money, which you can use to buy music, thereby becoming both part of the problem and solution!
    • on "Free" music... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:34PM (#22196272) Homepage
      After being part of the founding of 2 nonprofits, and working many years in offering free and near-free services, I've come to the following general conclusion:
          "Free does not work long term".

      What I mean is complex, and it includes many different factors. First off, living and existing requires money: for food, shelter, power, and security. There's no avoiding it. Getting great people to devote (significant) time onto projects requires that they be paid. If not, the great people go elsewhere. For short times, and for specific initiatives, one can get remarkable, free contributions: but it doesn't last very long. There needs to be a financial element to any project or organization that will create value and last long term.

      The second thing to realize is that for the long-term services and groups that we do see that are both great and free to you (eg Linux, apache, public parks, etc. etc.) - someone is paying, but it's just not you. There is typically just some kind of cost shifting going on. It is either the programmer who voluntarily spending their time, the foundation donors giving money to pay the staff, EFF staff fighting to keep legal protections available, or taxation programs paying for public services.

      There are increasing awareness now among people that there are several other forms of value getting passed around online that are not cash: for example (1) people's time and attention, and (2) social capital/connections and relationships, and others. When you incorporate these factors as ones of own value, then it becomes clear that absolutely nothing is "free". Someone does work to make and organize things, and they need to be paid back, or they will (eventually) move their efforts elsewhere. That payment back does not necessarily need to be only in cash: it can be in attention, credit, or other items or actions they find valuable. That said, for most artists and content creators making great work, they do need cash in order to continue to spend their time making high quality content.

      • Nice post. Totally agree. The only thing that perplexes me is that all respondents to my post seem to think that I was being serious. One would think that the line, "until blah blah happens, I'm going to spend all my time complaining on Slashdot" would clue them in to the fact that I was satirizing the common complaint about any forward movements in the music industry.

        Flat-rate subscription services - not good enough; DRM too restrictive. iTunes/FairPlay - not good enough; DRM doesn't handle every sin

        • by drDugan ( 219551 )
          I did miss your satire... but there are a lot of people, especially younger people (under 30) who have a warped sense of value for things online.

          Many great things online are "free" to the user: Google search results, Facebook profiles, Yahoo events listings, attending Meetup groups, and on and on. So much so that many users are attuned to the idea that all the stuff online could be, it "should be" free for them. But someone is paying all those people who created these services, usually, in a parallel to
          • Well, the funniest was one poster who indicated that the only scenario that fit my description was listening to a bum sing on the street. Free (to the listener) public and private performances are not always by bums, nor are they always dependent on the listeners deciding to pony up. Shit; I've seen U2, Devo, Green Day, and probably hundreds of bands you've never heard of without paying a dime. Sometimes they are part of craft fares, sometimes promotional tours, sometimes the music is at a bar where you
            • OK, I'm going to end this before I devolve into my standard socialist agenda.

              I've heard Portland is fun. I am living in Boston these days. Lots of socialism. Lots of fun and vibrant events taking place. Lots of money being spent on beer and beer being used to foot the bill to cover events (whether they be in Harvard Square or local taverns).

              The most perplexing thing about socialism, though, is that the people who tell you it is doomed to fail are either (a) not involved in the community, or (b) the first to complain if the subway is 15 minutes late because of trouble on the

              • There are a few places and times where capitalism and socialism brush lips, ever so gently. In my heart, I feel that Portland, right at the moment, might be one of them. I am trying to savor it while it lasts, until too many greedy people come to suckle at its teat, and by doing so, destroy that which they sought.

                One of my favorite examples of socialism--small scale--I have ever seen was in the structure of rice patties in Bali. The actions of the people at the top of the hill--water diversion, fertili

      • your quite correct but the end product doesn't have to be free. a $.99 cent each mp3 of every song there would make a few bucks back. Give $.90 cent to each artist and everyone could make a little money. It won't buy much but would pay for itself. even with random piracay.

        People don't mind paying for Digital music, iTunes showed us that. Give them a choice and maybe a watermark to let them know and while things will still be shared between friends, those friend will also encourage each other to go pay
      • There is a chance that these musicians can end up making money from their recordings someday, a much GREATER chance than if they had tried their luck with the RIAA. Feeding all of the CEOs, lawyers, marketing, walmart, etc. is taking money out of the pockets of musicians themselves.

        What MUSICIANS need is to be free of these commercial juggernauts so they can compete in the market without juggernaut approval.
      • by xPsi ( 851544 ) *
        Well stated. There is also a strange psychological element to "free" that I don't totally understand, but buy into -- no pun intended -- regularly myself (and I'm a "free content" kind of guy). If some product is offered substantially lower than what I mentally regard (albeit by market training) as a "fair price", I instantly become skeptical of the product. My first thought is "what is the catch?" or "this must be crap." This is something I bet most consumers do unconsciously, even other ardent "free c
        • The term is "perceived value" and drives a lot of unnecessary expenditures on the part of a whole lot of people, because to them there's a one-to-one correspondence between cost and value. Like you say, there's usually a correlation but it's not absolute. This is also a reason that some people refuse to even consider something like Linux or another "free" operating system. If it's free, then it can't be worth anything.
      • by cheesyfru ( 99893 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @11:46PM (#22197858) Homepage
        "Free does not work long term"? Define "doesn't work". I'm an indie musician with over 130 songs and 5 albums, and they're all available free as high-quality MP3 downloads from my website []. Because of this, I've had over a million MP3 downloads from my site alone, and iLike reports that I'm on one out of every 140 of the iPods they track.

        Granted, I'm barely breaking even financially when you factor in the cost of my gear, but why is everyone obsessed with measuring success with dollars? I'm probably happier with my music "career" than most major label artists, mainly because I'm doing it totally on my own terms, and yet people are hearing it and enjoying it. I have no doubt that my music wouldn't have spread beyond my immediate friends if it weren't for releasing it as Creative Commons.

        It's not a big deal that I have to work a day job to pay the bills. You'd be surprised how many signed artists have to do the same.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Plutonite ( 999141 )
          Way to go with that website. Not only is the music good(some of the work is fantastic actually), but the philosophy behind the whole thing is very worthy of mod points, and page hits, and large-scale fame.

          After looking through your "production" section though, I couldn't really find a specific place where you discussed equipment, recording, software and/or a basic setup that artists who wanted to produce for themselves could use. This would be very valuable info, especially as most of the artists on the "RP
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by zenkonami ( 971656 )
            Hopefully I'm not drifting too far off topic here, and forgive me if this comes off like a big advertisement. Maybe not what the poster was asking for, but maybe it's helpful for somebody.

            I think the first rule of recording outside of a studio (speaking as an audio engineer who works in a studio) is to accept that your recordings will not sound like they were made in a studio. I think the second rule is there's nothing wrong with that. Though the majority of great recordings thus far have been made in
          • I've got a general overview [] of my equipment and production process, as well as specific production notes [] for every individual song (see the "Read More" links). It's kinda my attempt at an "open source" model for music. The new model for indie music is great, but it's really hard to learn to produce on your own, so I always appreciate it when other musicians I admire share their dirty little production secrets.
          • There's a great podcast called "Inside Home Recording" that does software, hardware, recording equipment reviews as well as interviews with people who produce recordings for a living to get their take on it. Check it out at [].

            BTW, I am not affiliated with this site or podcast in any way. Just a happy listener.


        • by joe 155 ( 937621 )
          thanks for posting the link, I'll download an album or so when I'm next at my computer. I myself have had songs on collaborative albums which were free on the net and I agree its a good feeling that you get when you know other people are listening to your music - we even sold a CD (I know most people would not be happy with just one CD sale but we were young and not that good so it was ace). I wish you all the best with your music and if I like your music I'll consider buying a cd or donating or something w
        • by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
          One interesting thing I've noticed - your music is available for free on your website, and for sale on iTunes - but the iTunes tracks aren iTunes-plus - meaning they're lower-quality and FairPlay-encumbered. I'm not sure through which method you managed to get on iTunes (I know there are several for indie artists), but it would seem to me that this would be something you'd want to support.

          One question I'm curious about - how much do you actually get from iTunes? If I like your music, I'm more likely to gift
          • Believe it or not, about half of my music income comes from iTunes (available when you sell CDs at CDBaby). I don't claim to understand that one. I do hear from a lot of people who say "I want to support your music, but I didn't want/need a physical copy, so I bought it on iTunes." And more and more, people are discovering my music without ever even seeing my website. One big vehicle is iLike, which is an iTunes sidebar plugin. You might be listening to Death Cab, and over on the right side, you'll see a "H
        • by gwait ( 179005 )
          A quick glance at your website (seems to?) show that you don't have any ad service?
          With the kind of traffic you're bringing in, I would assume that even a low key single ad box on the page somewhere would probably bring you in a bit of extra monthly cash.

          I went to find out how much a single ad click is worth, but unfortunately failed to find out.
          I had heard a click was worth a few cents, so if 5% of your viewers clicked on an ad, you might make a few extra hundred a month,
          might cover your web costs, and get
      • "Free does not work long term".

        What I mean is complex, and it includes many different factors. First off, living and existing requires money: for food, shelter, power, and security. There's no avoiding it.

        Quite true.

        That said, for most artists and content creators making great work, they do need cash in order to continue to spend their time making high quality content.

        That said, for most artists and content creators making great work, they do need [food, shelter, power, and security] in order to continue to spend their time making high quality content.

        There, I fixed that for you. And now, I am going to level with you. Food is cheap. One-thousand farmers, ranchers, packagers, distributors, and supermarket clerks can supply 1,000,000 people with a years worth of adequate food to live. Shelter is cheap. The only reason real estate costs so much is bec

      • It's true that most people will only work for money and I don't blame them. As you said they have lives to lead.

        However there's an awful lot of long term volunteer work that goes on, and while you could argue recognition is a motivation, often the recognition is meagre. For example I belong to a model builders society which operates a large club for a wide variety of remote control vehicles. I'm involved with the model aircraft and the gentleman who's been the representative for that section of the club and
      • by Hugonz ( 20064 )
        Non-RIAA does not mean free. There's paypal and live performances and many options to profit.

        The RIAA performs a valuable function for those who don't want to get into the financial stuff of profitiong from music. But since they're abusing their position, the value of their services is going down and down and down everyday.
    • I still need to own a computer, have Internet access, and pay for the electricity to hear it.

      On the other hand we are off to a fantastic start. The software to do pro level recording is free. The hardware interfaces to do high quality multi-track recording are down in price. The Behringer U-Control series is quality at a bargain basement price if you only need CD or 48KHZ 16 bit quality. [] CD quality for under $50! Works out of the box in
  • Thieves... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:11PM (#22196138) Journal
    All of them are thieves and pirates, stealing money from the poor recording companies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by muuh-gnu ( 894733 )
      And by working for free, they are stealing money from the professional artists. The more money a professional artist makes usually, the more are they stealing from him by taking part in this competiton. Hobbyist work should be strictly prohibited since it is, by its very nature, simply theft. And we aren't condoning theft, especially on a large scale like this, are we? Making music kills music, and a new copyright extension (prohibiting non-profit publications) should prevent that. Act now!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        .And by working for free, they are stealing money from the professional artists. The more money a professional artist makes usually, the more are they stealing from him by taking part in this competiton. Hobbyist work should be strictly prohibited since it is, by its very nature, simply theft. And we aren't condoning theft, especially on a large scale like this, are we? Making music kills music, and a new copyright extension (prohibiting non-profit publications) should prevent that. Act now!

        I was at the C

  • > "The 2008 RPM Challenge -- to write and record an original album in February, just because you can"

    Nope. You don't have to write the material in the month of February, only record it in February.
  • What the RIAA does (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:32PM (#22196262) Journal
    The RIAA and producers aren't about making music - they make celebrities. They broker fame to those who are bound to them by contract, allowing the producers and industry to profit from the success of musicians. They control what songs radio stations can play, determine what music makes it into movies and onto television, and even what gets heard while you're riding the elevator. They wield the ability to present the masses with specific songs of their choosing.

    TV shows like American Idol reveal the fact that a substantial number of people can sing really, really well. They can find hundreds of talented people easily, so you can imagine how many more are out there that either don't try out, are not within the age range they are seeking, or are simply not shown on TV. If you figure one out of every 3000 people can sing really well, then that's 100,000 really good singers in the USA alone. The job of the recording industry is to pick out a handful that fits whatever mold they are currently using, and will agree to whatever contract they put in front of them.

    Of course it is possible to record music without the industry. However no-one will know about your music (unless you happen to rise about the noise of the internet, like Esmee Denters did on YouTube with her home-made webcam videos).

    Dan East
    • by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @08:47PM (#22197076) Homepage
      The RIAA and producers aren't about making music - they make celebrities.

      To be fair, there are plenty of plenty of member labels that put out some great music. Rhino and Decca,for instance, are both RIAA members and there are plenty more that shed light on undiscovered artists that deserve a wider audience. It's unfortunate that everyone thinks RIAA==Britney Spears. The music industry is as varied as the computer industry. Sure you've got your Dell and Apple, but there are plenty of smaller players (and some big ones)that make moves and money. Of course it's easier to just denounce everything RIAA as evil. Nuanced opinions are usually modded down in these discussions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jfengel ( 409917 )
      There are even more talented artists out there than American Idol suggests. American Idol has a very strict age cutoff, precisely because they're trying to produce stars rather than musicians, and stars start young. Experienced, talented musicians over 30 need not apply.
    • Access to retail (Score:3, Informative)

      by tm2b ( 42473 )
      You're missing a very important part of what they do: they control access to retail channels. Brick & mortar stores (heh, that dates me) still account for the majority of album sales.

      Want to get your CD in Wal-Mart, Target, or any other large meatspace retailer? You've got to play ball with the RIAA content cartel.
    • by syousef ( 465911 )
      TV shows like American Idol reveal the fact that a substantial number of people can sing really, really well.

      Sorry but you lost me right there. American Idiot (and all the new international variants thereof) prove the people who think they can sing should mostly stick to karaoke bars.
    • TV shows like American Idol reveal the fact that a substantial number of people can sing really, really well.
      TV shows like American Idol prove that the labels aren't interested in really good singers, they want passable singers with the right "look."
  • All Joking Aside... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tungstencoil ( 1016227 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:35PM (#22196276)
    So, the problem with this idea of going head-to-head with the recording industry is that the biggest challenge(nowadays) facing an artist is not recording, not production, and not distribution, it's advertising. Let's face it - most of us "find" new music by hearing it on the radio or in some other media (e.g. a movie), at a bar, or from a friend. All of those *except* the friend are pretty much the product of marketing (directly in the form of advertising or indirectly in the form of contacts and influence).

    I remember hearing (no idea how accurate, but it makes sense) that something like 10 CDs are released every day in the US (never mind how much is released only digitally). The obstacle facing the indie artist is not how to make the music and not how to get it to a fan (paying or otherwise) but how to get people to pay attention. This is the biggest thing that MySpace (personally, I hate it and it's probably not necessary to link to) and outfits like CDBaby [] have done for musicians: given fans an easy way to peruse music and find new artists in an enjoyable fashion.

    Hopefully, this will have a similar effect. However, any meaningful discussion about kicking the recording industry in it's posterior side ought to focus on how this makes it easy for new fans to connect with an artist (mostly), and not just how easy or free it makes getting said music to said fan.

    • CDBaby has been great for me - my band has found some listeners we otherwise wouldn't have, and I've found a couple of great other groups. I'm a big fan of the "random walk" approach to trying music, and their interface lets you listen to 2 minutes of the songs for free before buying. Much awesomeness.
    • by OSXCPA ( 805476 )
      Your post raises a point I think is often ignored - 'how to get people to pay attention'. Today, with all the RIAA and 'piracy' issues rampaging through the musical universe (not industry - I would argue that someone recording in their home to distribute themselves is so far removed from the 'industry' that there should be a distinction made) there is little discussion of how to actually succeed as a musician - which I'll define as 'the ability to derive enough income from ones' music to continue to create
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:35PM (#22196280) Homepage
    Part of what sells albums is the promotion of the material through radio play. What is the current frequency of independent works played on the mainstream media? Pretty low if at all depending on where you live. (That's what all that "payola" scandal is about... the labels are paying the radio stations to play their tunes to promote their sales.)

    And what will it take to make a shift away from the already controlled "top-40" format? Convincing the independent radio stations to play something other than top-40 for their genre. Are there any independent radio stations left? Aren't they all owned by Clear Channel now? Possibly not ALL but clearly, Clear Channel is now such a major power that they will be hard to resist when they put up a fight.

    So the reality is we have a kind of locked-in system such that "big media" has locked out the little and independent guys.

    It will be a difficult road to travel trying to over-throw the current locked-in system, but it's win-able. Using current media will not do the trick though. It has to be fought where the playing field is still rather level. The public Internet.

    So how can it be done? Get with the wide variety of Asian hardware makers to create a flood of internet-ready media players free of any DRM. Set up a wide variety of "pod-cast" programming sites (Internet Independent Stations) sourcing from the wide variety of independent media contributed to those sites by the artists and/or owners of the material. Then daily, people can "tune" into their favorite station(s) of the day or of the week to download their new play lists and listen to fresh new quality stuff every day instead of listening to the radio.

    Radio is convenient, but the quality is low and everyone knows it. This is why satellite radio is still growing in popularity -- better content control and much more variety... something you're not going to get from the current locked-in system that exists on terrestrial radio.

    These internet-based pod-stations will get by any restrictions or resistance people might have about satellite radio as the devices they select will be their own and have use in ways other than internet pod-cast downloads.

    This is a very workable strategy considering how eager these Asian manufacturers are to sell their stuff. We have a tremendous demand for such gear in the US as well if the iPod's popularity is any indicator. Further, as I witness the popularity of "internet radio" in offices across the U.S., a system that behaves similarly would be rather popular as far as I can tell.

    There's a huge, untapped area of media just waiting for the consumer public if some enterprising folks were willing to put the risk out there to give it a try. There's a lot of willingness on the consumer end and a lot of willingness for independent operators and independent artists as well. We just need a little unified interest to make it happen.
  • You can't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl ( 7759 )
    You can't because, when you do your independent production, whether you say so or not, you are *part* of the industry, even redefining it.

  • Another good source: (Score:5, Informative)

    by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:41PM (#22196314)
  • Label-free production isn't a new thing -- we're probably at least a decade into the era where anybody could pick up the basic tools to produce an acceptable quality album for less than $3000, and really, that would have even bought you enough time in some conventional studios to have them do it. I've heard some good albums produced circa mid-90s this way.

    And internet distribution isn't really that new anymore. That's also been happening to some degree since the late 90s, and it obviously had gathered considerable momentum by 3-4 years ago. We're not at the end of that trend, but once wireless data service becomes ubiquitous, it's pretty safe to say the old distribution channels (record stores & FM radio) will be outmatched.

    But there's still going to be a significant distribution challenge, and that's marketing. If anything, I think it's possible it will get harder. I kindof wish I'd gotten myself together and produced something high quality about 3 years ago, because I think someday, people are going to look at 2000-2005 as the easiest period for an indie artist to get attention, just like 1997-2001 was the easiest period to get a start as a high profile blogger. The wide net of participants increasingly means greater competition for attention.

    Some people will be willing and able to pay for people to help them get it. Something like a label will exist for that purpose for a long time.

    • Label-free production isn't a new thing -- we're probably at least a decade into the era where anybody could pick up the basic tools to produce an acceptable quality album for less than $3000, and really, that would have even bought you enough time in some conventional studios to have them do it.

      You make some great points. However, back in the 80s we did all sorts of label-free production on 2, 4, and 8 tracks (magnetic media) which we could distribute (in a grass roots sort of way) on our own with very modest budgets. I know what you are going to say: "but they all sounded like crap." But they really didn't sound that bad. Even in our living room, we put a lot of energy into the mechanics of placing microphones and other modest production details. The results were often quite good. I do som

  • Slashdot spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:49PM (#22196362) Journal
    I guess the RIAA has to get mentioned in any Slashdot story about music, but I don't really see this is about 'sticking it to the RIAA'.

    It seems to me it's more about just giving people a goal and a deadline - a cure for procrastination and all the other stuff that gets in the way of finishing things.
    • by Xeth ( 614132 )
      A competition like this builds visibility. More people will realize that independent people are creating good music and giving it away for free. When people can get more of their music for free, they will probably spend less on commercial music. Thereby sticking it to the RIAA.
  • 2007 torrent? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caveat ( 26803 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @07:24PM (#22196536)
    Anybody know if there's a torrent (or for that matter any centralized way to download) of the 2007 collection? I'm finding it pretty likeable, but that jukebox is really NOT doing it for me...I'd much rather have them stored locally and use iTunes (or WMP or xmms, point being I want them on my drive).
  • What? No way. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @07:27PM (#22196554) Homepage Journal
    You're asking me to spend time and money to produce an album, and then give it away? I'm all about the spread of the arts and aesthetics, but producing a good album takes A LOT of money, and time.

    I do a lot of music composition and production, myself. I spent $2500 this year on a new mac pro, upgrades to the latest versions of Digital Performer, Native Instruments Kontakt, EWQLSO Gold. I bought a bearbones Digidesign interface for $400, own a $1500 synthesizer, and two $100 microphones, and I'm NOWHERE NEAR capable of producing a rock/pop album. For that, I'd need to spend another $1000 on a 8-channel audio interface, $400 in decent overhead mics for drums, and probably a few more SM57s. On top of that, a good set of mixing plugins for my DAW (like Waves), is a good $800. To build a recording studio capable of providing even the most MINIMAL of recording environments is upwards $8000, and that's with cutting a lot of corners.

    No, while I have the potential to record and produce keys, guitars, and vocals, I'm taking drums to a studio, where I'm going to pay a couple $100 an hour.

    And then you ask me to give it away? Fuck you. That's not "free", that's negative. Even to do music for the joy of it, money's gotta come from somewhere.
    • by shark72 ( 702619 )

      I think the common Slashdot perception is that you, and others like you, are expected to release your stuff for free, and then simply go on tour to recoup your costs and pay for your investment of time. Musicians who can't or won't play live apparently have no place in the new musical utopia.

      I'm all for a future market in which there's less reliance on record companies that provide A to Z services -- in fact, I'm helping create it. But for far many people, information just wants to be freeeeeeeee, and in

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zeroweb ( 872966 )
      What else are you going to do?

      Try to sell your music online? Good luck being found and cared about.
      Get a record deal? Have fun with the paperwork.

      Personally, I've done all the hard work, spent the money AND given my music away for the last 8 years. And I'm satisfied. Not rich, not famous, but hey, not frustrated. I wish the situation was better, but you got to stand up and make it better - not stand up and complain

      That is why I even built a site to help other artists do the same as me: http://alo []
    • Your typical ./'r just doesn't get it, nor do they care. They just want to be able to download or rip whatever they want, whenever they want and do whatever they want with anyones work, no matter how hard the person had to work to create it, no matter how much time it took them and lets face it, time = money, or chicken, bread, soup, laundry detergent, orthodontist appointments, light & heating bills or whatever.

      I think your estimate is a bit low though, I would say to come up with a decent ( very sm

    • You're asking me to spend time and money to produce an album, and then give it away?
      Fuck you. That's not "free", that's negative. Even to do music for the joy of it, money's gotta come from somewhere.

      So don't participate. No one's forcing you.

      Incidentally, there's a reason it's called a challenge. Lots of people will take this opportunity to get past the excuses and actually put something out there.

      And guess what... we'll soon be actually listening to their music, and we won't be listening to yours.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chainLynx ( 939076 )
      Welcome to the future. The alternative to not giving music away for free is having no one listen to it.
    • by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:27PM (#22197550)

      I'm NOWHERE NEAR capable of producing a rock/pop album.

      ...Digital Performer...Kontakt...two $100 microphones...
      I'd wager the only thing getting in your way is you.
    • by Andy_R ( 114137 )
      While your argument makes sense if you don't already own all the gear, and if you are in a genre that requires a lot of hardware, but not everyone is. My setup for electronic music is all paid for already, and is mostly software-based, so the cost to me will just be time and 1 blank CDR. I take issue with 2 points you make:

      1) You don't have to give away the album, just give 1 copy on a CD-R to the organisers if you want them to use their bandwidth to give your music exposure on their jukebox. You are free t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stormwatch ( 703920 )
      How much of this nifty stuff was available when the Beatles did some of the greatest albums ever?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by thaWhat ( 531916 )

      These guys [] did and do. There is no competition involved, they just want their music to be out there. Hey, they don't even have to pay for hosting, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation [] does.

      Stream away. Better still, visit Triple J [] or even the catch of the day [], where they've even found the best stuff for you.

      There's also an annual "Triple J Unearthed CD" which is a compiliation of the top ten listeners' choices for the year. Unearthed #4 contains (track 3) Relapse by Endorphin []. I loved it the moment

    • Here's the thing, what if you forgot about all that. What if you just used a 15-year old casette recorder and sang into it for about half an hour. Just for the sake of hypothesis. There are plenty of singers who could make that worth listening to. Imagine if we had tapes like that from Elvis' early days? They'd be worth a fortune.

      Of course, if you're going to do it 'properly' and by the book, making an album is a hell of a job. But you can get around it. By working with what you've got, you're challengin

    • Music has no value but what will people are willing to pay for it to have the experience... if anything. Radiohead understands this. The 14th century troubadours understood this. Most people throughout human history have understood this. As long as ears and ideas are free, music will be free.

      The Musico-Idolatry Complex is a perversion.

      It's the artist's prerogative to go to great personal sacrifice, debt, and even bankruptcy to make a work of art. It's the artist's prerogative to do so knowing that no one wa
  • by kilgortrout ( 674919 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @07:38PM (#22196626)
    Meanwhile the Debian community has announce their competing project, the 2008 DEB Challenge.
  • "Everybody's in show biz, everyone's a star ..." We're all on stage looking at each other, the paid seats are getting emptier. (is that like the blogosphere?)

    Increasingly all the people interested in music actually make and play music as opposed to being purely consumers. This is probably good, was inevitable, and makes it harder and harder to stand out. Technology has made music much easier to make: tuners, protools, midi whatever - this is the (middle of?) the age of sound sculpture. The sound of lab rats
  • by localman ( 111171 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @08:17PM (#22196900) Homepage
    As a wanna-be artist who's recorded an album [] or two [] myself, there is an anxious excitement about the possibilities of self-recording, self-distribution, and self-promotion. When the internet was first taking off I thought it was going to crack the lid off of independent art, and soon listeners would have a wider variety of better quality stuff and more creative people would be able to find their audience.

    To some degree, this is all true. There's a lot of stuff out there, and most artists can find some fans. But in the end it hasn't practially changed much: being in an internet band is about as important as being in a high-school band. The difference is that the 100 people that love you can now be spread across the world instead of just the town.

    I think that most listeners really don't want better stuff (even by their own standards): they'd rather listen to stuff that their friends listen to. It's fun to be into popular music, and that's what most people do. They seek out popular music so that they can feel like they're part of something. I don't intend this as a put-down: they just want to enjoy life and I'll admit it's usually more fun to be into an okay-by-me-but-super-popular song than a more-to-your-liking-but-generally-unknown song. Because you can talk about it and play it at parties and people love it. Social interactions matter to music.

    Even people like myself, who are drawn to listen to less popular music -- there's just so much stuff I don't feel I need any more. I get all the media I can handle already. So overall as an artist I'm sort of accepting that the way the world functions doesn't financially support all the musical artists who want to be. It doesn't even support all the musical artists who could qualify as great. There's a lot of great artists out there, and only enough opportunity for a tiny fraction of them.

    It's kind of a let down, but I'm getting used to it. In the end, you can always make stuff you like, and probably find a few fans. You just won't be able to quit your day job.


    PS - this is not based on lack of acceptance of my own musical endeavors, which are admittedly (and intentionally) dumb shit, but rather based on observing other artists
    • by rhakka ( 224319 )
      maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think you are mixing up the fact that you are older and your tastes are calcifying (and you already have a stable of media producers you know you enjoy, that you relate to, and that have grown as you have) with media over saturation.

      I think you'll find that among younger listeners, if one finds something really good, they still have friends, they still share it, and being the one to "discover" a new band with your friends is still a social event prized by many.

      But just bec
  • For the most part it was just bad to mediocre.

    Now I must confess there were some bright spots, but they were far and away the exception.

    Mostly is was all badly mixed / mastered. The vocals were muddy and buried. When instruments took solos they tended to be either punched up WAY to much to the point that they were completely out of context, or not at all and the talent was lost in the background noise. Again this is bad recording engineering and thats why well recorded music that really represents what

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2008 @09:50PM (#22197372)
    is that there are too many good musicians. Right now I could go out to at least five different local bars which all have excellent musicians playing and I don't live in a big city. Sometimes when there's a decent amount of people over at my house there will be at least a half dozen talented musicians around. It's supply and demand. Music isn't worth what it once was because musical talent isn't rare, musical equipment isn't expensive, and because music is so prevalent and good no one wants to pay money for it. And let's face it, you get a better experience going to the bar and paying a $5 cover to watch an amazingly talented amateur than you do when you pay $50 to see a "rock star." Drinks are cheaper and the ride home is shorter, too. Good music is a commodity and is by no means profitable for record companies. Celebrity personalities are what the music industry deals with today. They need people who can sell t-shirts, posters, and appear in t.v. ads. They need people who can cameo in movies, people who have an interview presence. If you don't like the way the music industry is, then blame Kurt Cobain and Napster. Cobain proved that serious artists are more of a liability than an asset to the record companies. Ever since he blew his head off record companies have sought people who want to be famous first and an artist second. And really, who can blame them? It's just economics--if we had moral record companies then the industry would have gone bankrupt when Napster hit.

    As a musician I'm not particularly happy about the state of the music industry but the only thing I can hope for is that the majority of guitarist in the U.S. keel over a die for no apparent reason. As long as there are guys playing at the bar who are better than me who can't become rock stars I'll have no great expectations. I'll have succeeded when I'm the bar star, when I get paid a couple hundred bucks to play a bar. As a musician, that hundred bucks for a night says more about my music than the millions a night I'd make if I played sold out arenas singing whiney music about my libido to teeny boppers. And really, there's nothing wrong with that. So I'll always have to have a day job, but in no way does that compromise my artistic integrity. Most rennaissance painters never became famous and the ones that did usually remained close to anonymous throughout their own lifetime. It's not like being famous validates the work; if any artist feels that way then their art has failed before even started. I guess it sucks that no one will pay me millions for playing music, but at the same time the whole rock star thing is a bit ridiculous. No one expects to get rich painting - artists who get paid make logos, storyboards, and marketing materials. That doesn't mean the canvas art "industry" is in a sorry state - it's just evolved past being special and is now commodity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonTHC ( 208439 )
      I disagree. Commodity isn't really such a great word to describe music. Granted you can get it anywhere now, but it's that fact which transcends the definition of commodity. As a function of culture, music serves to entertain and teach us. We share music with others so that we may share our culture. In the past 10 years, music has become not just something consumed, but created by those who consume it. Yes, it loses qualitative differentiation in its supply chain. It's much more than that. The suppl
  • Actually, the RPM challenge is to record an album in the month of February. There is nothing to say that the album should be written during that month.

    There IS a web site that encourages writing an album in a month - and it (February Album Writing Month). The RPM challenge took this as inspiration and set up in the same month with slightly different criteria and has been better publicised. For it's first two years, paid tribute to but now seems to be big enough and arrogan
  • It's been a long time since I composed anything new, but I've been intending to start again, so what better time than now?

    Here is my RPM Profile [].

    All of my current music is Creative Commons-licensed. All the new material will be too.

  • more than 850 albums were recorded as part of the challenge, a testament to what can be done by independent musicians without a label, without the RIAA, and often without a professional studio.
    Quantity != Quality. And their jukebox certainly is a testament to that.

    Seriously, amateur musicians are recording this much all the time. This motley collection just demonstrates how much and why they're amateurs.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.