Thursday, January 18, 2007

Buzz for Chapter and Verse

Check this out, folks. I've gotten people writing about the game, now. It even sparked a thread of comments about money and the gospel...

Mark Hansen

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Death of the CD?

Some friends are discussing the impending demise of the CD as a music format, and that inspired this posting:

I’ve got a lot of thoughts regarding the end of the CD:

  1. It is inevitable

Even though the final day is still fully a long way off, the format will eventually vanish. Music styles come and go, and in the same way, music formats, too. The CD was great while it lasted, and it will still last a while yet to come. But eventually, it will be replaced with something else.

  1. The return of the single

As the CD dies out, I think labels and artists will begin to recognize the value in releasing fewer songs at a time. Rather than sink many multiple thousands of dollars into recording 15 new songs, half of which are filler anyway, the big labels will more likely invest less money into two or three songs, and release them one at a time.

Indies, already strapped for cash, will release the songs as they have them done, rather than sitting on them until a complete CD is finished. This strategy will make for a more consistent marketing effort.

As a result, more and more singles will be released and purchased, rather than full collections.

  1. The final and complete death of album cover art

In the electronic world, the cover of the CD will be gone. Say what you will about little pictures appearing in my cell phone, the graphic representation of CD’s will die, possibly replaced by the graphic vision of the artist’s website. So, even though I long for the days of the great fold-out double albums in vinyl, I will bid it adieu.

  1. Ease v Quality

No matter how good the original mix is, an mp3 played over tiny speakers stuffed into your ears will not sound as good as music played through a large, full-spectrum system. Most people are OK with that, and are choosing convenience and portability over the audio quality. As a result, more and more of the original mixes are being geared toward that listening environment, and the result is a more compressed, less dynamic mix.

  1. The complete shifting of the music industry paradigm

In the past, new recording playback formats changed the way music was enjoyed, but didn’t really impact how it was created or delivered. With the looming death of the CD, we shift into an entirely new paradigm. No longer is music a tangible product. It is no longer a plastic thing we can hold in our hands. It is no longer ink on paper. It is now bits in a computer. And that means a total shift in the way it’s distributed. And that will make shifts in the way it’s created.

  1. Someone will have to win the format war

Ultimately, someone will have to come out on top and become the standard format for downloadable music. I predict it will be the iTunes mp4 format. But someone could well jump up and surprise me. But people won’t stand very long for formats that won’t play in all their devices.

  1. It opens up the field for indies, heaven help us.

For good or ill, this new paradigm opens up the field for indies with little or no financial backing. That means that there will be lots and lots more music available to the public. And when I say “lots”, I mean “Here comes the flood”. And that means that there will be lots more bad music than good. I’m fine with that. I say bring it all on. Someone will listen. The best music and the best promotions will ultimately come out on top.

  1. People listen to more variety

Ever look at someone’s iPod? I’m constantly amazed. Back in my day, you were defined by your tunes and what you listened to. You didn’t cross over, or at least not much.

Now, I see songs from all styles being mixed in together. One song’s rap, the next one’s retro, the next one’s rock, and-whoops-here’s a show tune! People are enjoying things more and more of a wider variety.

Think of it. You can now carry in your pocket more music than you can physically listen to in a couple of weeks. That’s, like, your whole collection, dude. So, why not stack it full of every mood you have? Why not shuffle it and mix it up?

And if you really like one song an artist does, but not another, you don’t have to buy them both…

Who knows what’s really going to happen? We’re all just guessing, here, anyway. It’ll sure be an interesting ride, though. That’s the one thing I can guarantee!

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Deseret Book, Covenant, and Me

Many have probably heard by now that Deseret Book has acquired its biggest competitor, Covenant Communication, including its Seagull Book stores. The addresses above include the articles that cover the event, if you haven’t heard about it yet.

There’s been lots and lots of talk on the ‘net about it in the aftermath. Who’s the bad guy? Who’s the good guy? What will it mean?

I don’t really know the answers to any of those questions. What I see, from my little perspective, is that it indicates a big lull in the LDS artistic scene. Let me clarify.

When I got interested in LDS music again, after a long hiatus (this was back in ’99 or so), I looked around and I saw a lot of very exciting things happening. There were some incredible new albums coming out. LDS publishing was exploring many new genres, and—wonder of wonders—people were making movies! It was like the LDS popular arts were exploding. It was a pretty heady time.

Then the movies played out and trickled off. Music started slowing down. DB bought out Excel and after a time, many artists were dropped from the roster. Now the biggest competitor is also acquired.

First off, I don’t really see it as good guy/bad guy. It’s easy to point fingers at the big, bad establishment and say that they’re stomping out the little competition. But it is, after all, a business, and businesses do what they do to survive.

For me, personally, it’s not going to have a big impact directly. Neither Covenant nor Deseret was pounding on my door to start a bidding war over my recording contract. There were probably few in either office that even knew my name. Still, to me, it is sad to see happen because it indicates that the scene is down. Not as much creative output is being published or bought. The demand isn’t as high as we’d like it to be.

There could be hundreds of causes for that. Some say it’s because the quality is so poor. Others say it’s because people simply don’t know it’s there to buy. Others say it’s because the economy isn’t as strong. Whatever the reason or the combination, it shows me that things aren’t as booming as they once were.

But my sadness is tempered by the knowledge that pendulums swing, and they swing back. Things shift. Interest ebbs and flows.

It won’t impact me all that much. I’ll still keep putting out songs. I’ll still keep telling other people about the other musicians I hear.

In the meantime, go out and buy a book, or a song, or a movie. I don’t care whose it is. Just buy one and enjoy it.

Mark Hansen


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