Here's an interesting (and at times chucklesome) essay by ex-Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder, concerning the music industry and its ongoing existential crisis. Topics covered include an increasingly fickle and attention-starved attitude towards listening, the loudness war's attempt to catch the consumer's ear for a moment---along with the ensuing ear fatigue that sets in when you try to listen intently, and musings on alternative modes of operation and distribution. Bang-on the nail and well worth a read.
Coincidentally, making use of the boutique-approach discussed by Wilder, Trent Reznor just released some new NIN, entitled Ghosts I-IV, directly available through his site (or at least, it will be available once the server-crushing traffic wanes---I ended up getting the free release through a NIN-authorised torrent). There's an almost bewildering variety of products and prices available in addition to the free version, right up to the $300 Ultra-Mega-3000 Edition.
It's interesting to see these special editions increasingly being offered alongside standard releases, to subsidise the mp3 and basic CD releases. Giving away part of the release for free also makes a lot of sense, especially when there are so many tracks on offer anyway; Ghosts I clocks in at almost half an hour of music, free for familiarisation, to become lodged in the mind of listeners, who'll then hopefully be back for more. Assuming I get enough material written, I can see myself utilising a similar method. After all, why limit a release to a single CD or 74 minutes of music if you've written the equivalent of two CDs? Package it all together as a single release, and give away 30--40% of it as mp3s to get people listening straight away before you're eclipsed by next week's news. Little use saving it for a separate release if no-one will give either release a chance.
It's that time of year again when the North-East of England sees the biennial AV Festival descend upon its streets for a week. Working feverishly over the preceding fortnight, I managed to get involved by writing a piece of music for the festivities being held in Newcastle's Culture Lab, as part of the Music & Machines VIII conference. My resulting contribution was a 4.1 9-minute piece called Reception.
This year the symposium shared the AV Festival's theme of Broadcast, featuring a variety of lectures, presentations and interventions by various key writers, artists and musicians. In between the scheduled presentations, artists from Newcastle University presented a series of installations and performance pieces taking inspiration from Jeffrey Sconce's notion of Haunted Media, using sample material sourced from Antonin Artaud's Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu, a recording originally commissioned by Radio France sixty years ago for a broadcast that never was (unsurprising, given the blasphemous and and somewhat scatological subject matter).
For those of you who were interested in hearing my very early works, I've added tracks from my 2001 demo CD, AudioMicroDevice, to the music page, completely remastered, with high quality versions also available for purchase. I guess it's the first time for almost eight years that these tracks are available in genuine lossless CD-quality, too.
AudioMicroDevice was originally given away to anyone who asked, and while the tracklist varied a bit depending on what I was writing at the time, I'm quite sure I've managed to collect all the tracks from the CD's various permutations (the discogs listing is pretty much accurate). Some of the tracks went on to be released on A Midsummer Nice Dream, others though various compilations, and so couldn't be included here; I'm just filling in the gaps, making the long-lost material available for those who are curious, for a bit of fun.
Stylistically, it's pretty varied stuff, written before I'd actually settled into any kind of musical identity; some of the tracks were actually college coursework pieces, which might account for the scattered nature of the CD.
After a few late nights spent tinkering with the inner-workings of my site, I'm pleased to inaugurate the new Ochre Download Store! It's basically an extension of the previous music page; in addition to the usual free downloads, you now have the option of purchasing 320kbps mp3s and FLACs of each track. I've been wanting to offer better quality versions of the tracks for quite a while now, so I'm glad to be able to offer some lossless CD-quality FLACs of each track for the first time. Hopefully I'll be able to cover the costs of the store, which is powered by E-Junkie.
I've priced the individual 320kbps mp3s at $0.79 (~£0.40) and the FLACs at $0.99 (~£0.50), which I hope is reasonable, given their quality. For extra savings, you can purchase a bundle containing the whole lot for $15 (mp3) and $20 (FLAC). Payment at the moment is via PayPal, though you don't need an account to pay---you can simply enter your credit card information in directly. Once you've paid, you'll be presented with your download links, which will also be emailed to you.
Of course, you're still welcome to download the full mp3s for free, and although the quality is limited to 128kbps 22.05kHz, this should be enough to still enjoy the music on portable players etc.
So, please test the store, make sure everything works, and let me know if you come across any bugs, or have any suggestions. :)
After recently reading some articles and interviews on Wired featuring Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and NIN front man Trent Reznor, I got thinking again about mp3s, and how best (if at all) to sell them directly. Looking at how Radiohead and Saul Williams have priced their downloads, can we glean any more clues yet as how best to price music downloads alongside CDs?
If I had to profess some sort of New Year's resolution, it would probably be along the lines of 'be more productive.' So, apologies for the radio silence over the past couple of months or so; I've been pretty much occupied by some festive employment, which will thankfully draw to a close this weekend. I'd like to think that from then on I'll be a little more forthcoming with blog updates and future project information.
But just to let you know I haven't been completely idle, as apart from the Ed Chamberlain remix, I've also been collaborating with the industrious multi-instrumentalist Benet Walsh, whose name you may recognise in electronica circles from his work with Plaid (providing guitar for the tracks Ralome and Eyen, among others). Hopefully we'll have penned a couple more tracks together, in addition to those we've already completed, for release at some point this year.
On the mastering side of business, I've been enjoying some rich and varied projects ranging from Gaelic laments to experimental ambient, house and metal---hopefully this will continue through 2008!
I've recently polished off a remix of Ed Chamberlain's track 'Styge', available at some point in the hopefully not-too-distant future on Baselogic Records. You can hear the remix in its entirety in exquisite 22kHz 96kbps nigh-fidelity on MySpace. I'm fairly certain when it drops it'll be 12" only.
Also, I've finished uploading decent streaming mp3s of A Midsummer Nice Dream to Virb, so you can preview the album there before buying it, should you feel so inclined, from Toytronic (because as far as I can tell, it's one of the few places left where you can still find it on CD and 12"). After all, you can't buy what you haven't heard, can you?
Benbecula Yearbook 2006 marks the premiere of an annual Benbecula release retrospective compilation, with a bargain price tag of 99p for all twelve tracks! It's a download-only release in association with Bleep, featuring the track highlights from albums released last year. The artwork is also available here for download in high-resolution print-quality, so you can make your own CD sleeve/insert, should you wish. Purchase here.
My contribution to the release is 'Bluebottles', from my most recent Lemodie album (also available on Bleep, naturally).
Although I'd joined quite a while back, I've only now just gotten round to actually putting some content up there. For those who have no idea what I'm writing about, Virb is basically almost everything MySpace should be yet isn't. The music you upload isn't badly butchered down to a poor quality pale imitation of what you uploaded; nor are the images you upload suddenly peppered with unsightly jpeg compression artefacts. The interface is clean and user-friendly, featuring nice modern shiny web design touches such as AJAX elements, and has a decent straightforward flash music player too (and doesn't appear to limit the amount of music you can upload, either). It also appears to be highly customisable, though I've yet to really test that side of things.
All it's missing is the user base! Time will tell whether Virb can attract anything like the amount of users its rivals can, and whether this will impact its generous hosting terms. But if you're on there, feel free to drop me a comment... and add me! ;) virb.com/ochre
Here's another live set provided courtesy of the kind folks at Musikcafeen, recorded at the start of the year in Århus, Denmark, for the Prototype event. Also playing on the night was the wonderful fiddle-thrashing Frog Pocket.