Category Archives: Music

Free music guilt

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These days I’ve been thinking to write an entry about free music downloading because this issue is really flummoxing and intrigued me. And I’ve been grossly bad on english writing since my organization is really out of practice lately.

So lets start with the most controversial part, that is whether free downloads of music is causing depression to the music industry and hardships to artists(mostly indie and start up ones). I’ve seen articles debating with great contrast, some say it has literally screwed the entire music scene by suffocating start-up artists because their capital for practice spaces and tour buses and merchandises comes from mainly album sales and investment of labels, which was being cut down because of drop of revenue. See below a quote by one of the suffered musicians:

“one person uploads it to pirate bay and nobody buys it. The band has a good local following but without capital they can not afford to go on tour and of course without record sales the record company can not afford to promote the band EA The band is dead in the water

Illegal downloading has made it next to impossible for new bands to get off the ground.

who is going to carry on when there is nothing new? Who is going to innovate when all of the innovative people are no longer inspired to join the fun? Who is going to want to be a part of a dead industry?” – Decadepasts  from The Blacktop Cadence

Some say it did not, in fact the music industry did that to themselves. Here is the reference:

What the music industry says What actually happened “Music (new music in particular) was losing its edge and becoming more commercial.

Music since that time, at least comparatively, has not inspired the creation of heaps of new bands,…

Why does the music industry expect current revenues to be the same as the 90s or even higher? Aren’t we in a time where new music passes many people by save for the occasional epic hit like Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance – just like the 80s? Shouldn’t the music industry expect revenues to subsequently match the 80s and not the 90s?

The record industry is adamant that downloading is decimating music revenues but the facts are that the current global music scene is incomparable to the 90s and the industry still won’t sell MP3s to people at a reasonable price.” – The real reason Why the Music Industry collapsed by Ross Nick

Depression of music industry?

There is no space for further arguments on whether illegal downloads has actually caused fall of CD sales. It has been the but the impact is in fact more critical on developing artists and indie musicians.

To clarify, the musics we get from the free listening stations are not really free. The musics we enjoy and download from Youtube, SoundCloud, Hypemachine and Spotify(only americans) are actually licensed  and paid by the corporates who run the sites. Sites who released unlicensed musics without permission of the record labels will face threats of lawsuits for copyrights infringement. A recent case of Grooveshark sued by EMI can be an example.

Hardships on Artists

Difficulties happens predominantly on indie-music artists. They are minor group of musicians who produce records without the help of major labels. Limited examples I know includes: When The Clouds from Italy,  Mogwai from Scottland, the Irish band God is An Astronaut, and The Blacktop Cadence, GetBusyCommittee, Cherub in the US, etc. With little to no promotion, their musics are hidden at the bottom and are barely exposed to wider audience. But are these directly caused by illegal downloading? Or is it the Record Labels who refuse to lend them a hand?

Artists don’t get opportunities because record labels have biased artistic or non-artistic decisions on investing the band under the influence of commercialization. See Miles Copeland on how labels selectively choose to market artists on here.

Some may choose to sacrifice their own style(sell out) of approach to survive. For example Lady GaGa produce weird, freakish music videos in extravagant, almost naked outfits to rise prominence, Justin Bieber sings love songs over and over again to lure 13-year-old girls, One Direction have similar looks as Jonas Brothers which is also a typical attraction to young girls.

Record labels nowadays do invest more in certain type of artists with good looks, young age and sex appeal so they act like models in commercials that can promote a product. That is when artists start creating their art strictly for the money – when creativity goes out the window, and is replaced by cookie cutter work that serves no higher purpose than a paycheck.

“The trouble with commercialism today is that many musicians are steered toward a particular type of music, performance style and look, simply because it is commercial. ” –  Ethel Smith(a Freelance writer)

Indie artists also get more troubles in holding big events like live performances and overseas tours. They have less chances of doing world tours because their audiences are confined at local fans. They also have more troubles in touring as they have less insurances and money to hire people to guard them along. Here is an example:

In early 2008, the band(God is An Astronaut) embarked on their first tour of the United States. On the day they were set to return home, $20,000 worth of equipment was stolen from their van in New Jersey. Their equipment was not insured and a tour that had reportedly already cost the band $20,000 to organize had suddenly doubled in cost.

The Economy 

It is also sensible to attribute part of the drop of CD sales to the depressed economy, especially for the western countries. But not entirely because it is evident in some countries like China and Hong Kong, their music businesses are drooping despite the thrive of economy.

It is always good to have diverse opinions and contentions. So let me quote a thesis done by another fantastic human-being who write much much better than I here.

Conclusion

Free downloading had not directly damned the whole music industry nor the music scene in the past decade. Record labels had been exaggerating to convince the public to dish out more money in their pockets. They are also too slow in acknowledging their wrong direction of keep battling with illegal downloaders and out-dated business model of focusing on vinyl record sales that they should have turned to digital sales earlier before the CD sales get hit. In fact, the real damage has been on minor artists who suffers as a result of  not getting enough capitals.

Besides, free music downloading services are helpful in increasing exposure and gravitation of music to the the public and thus brings more consumers to the market.

“I love the fact that all the new digital services make it easy for people to discover my music, and for me to keep my fans updated on what I’m doing.” – Jason Derulo

Hence, there is no need for us to be guilty listening to free musics.

What (I think) can be done

Record Labels – Stop selling crappy musics and blaming illegal downloads for killing CD sales. Start making better musics by increasing the funding on new artists with potentials to innovate and create new music scene. Also by streaming more fresh releases by artists on radio stations, TVs and any free listening stations would probably do to increase exposure of musics to the public and thus gravitate them to the market.

Artists – Avoid being over dependent on CD sales. Live concerts would be a necessity.

Listeners – Support local bands by purchasing their albums, merchandises and concerts. Avoid mainstream pop musics so as to discourage this musical malady of over-commercialization which inhibits innovations and cutting edge musics.

Government – Consumer education is very important in changing the mind sets of listeners who do not want to pay for artists. They will have to know potential artists are likely to be killed without album sales as well as the good musics they make.

I look forward to a better future of the music scene of our society with diverse and innovative productions to bless our ears, as well as my enhancement of writing skills.

This is my very first attempt to write such a long article and the contents are rough and inaccurate. I will be grateful for comments regarding my inadequate analysis or information and misuse of languages.

Tribute to Linkin Park – Castle of Glass

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This is a school assignment of a music video review. Also a tribute to the band by a huge fan.

note: If you haven’t seen the video yet, do not read this. Its always better to watch the art piece before looking through another person’s opinions.

A uniformed officer’s message to the family of a deceased serviceman, a broken boy’s despair of a broken promise. The video starts with a quiet and poignant scene.

The boy, who appears to be the protagonist of the video, pace back to his house in slow motion as the painful silence morphs into the melodic intro of the song. Through the lonely corridor, a frustrated push in a vase pours numerous crystals beads of white and blue over the floor which creates a fairly nice visual effect with cold color. The voice of the lead vocalist – Mike Shinoda begins to sing as the glittering crystals slip through under his feet.(Mike’s expression is truly priceless, I’d have to say, that he must’ve mesmerized a lot of fans with his likeness here) As he sings with his signature magnetic voice, the white ceiling above his head shatters into pieces one by one, offering another fairly enjoyable visual effect as well as resonance of emotions to the song.

The chorus sings and the boy’s loneliness matches the sense of the lyrics perfectly. The music video then sets off with a remarkable drop of metallic guitar chords and strong break of splattering glasses piercing through the bandmates and my computer screen. Which hits like like a massive wave. And there it goes, the unstoppable train of effusive catharsis rushes through the air scattered in fragments of the “castle of glass” and then to the  highlighted refrains.

The story moves on as the band members scene turns back to the scene where the boy is looking over his father’s bedroom. Theres a hand written letter which I couldn’t actually read but my guess is something like “Dear son, when you read this I’m probably in heaven…” that is to reassure his boy not to grief because he was very proud to be a warfighter. There is a medal of honor, which I’m not sure if I could call it a product placement(The video game is involved in the production of this MV). And there is a nice cream-colored cap with a cool frog skeleton printed on it. Meanwhile, as the boy looks at the cap with endless yearning of his dearest father, there is this special scene where everything including the splattering glasses freeze and the intensity of the music halts. Then Chester would sing softly “’cause I’m only a crack in this castle of glass, hardly anything else I need to be” as he delicately grabs a piece of glass in the air and then put it back to let it flow back to the restored motion after the line finishes. What a brilliant attempt to implicate the look at the pain in the past and to let go and carry on! Also the act of putting on the cap represents the boy’s determination to succeed his father’s role and legacy.

Moreover, I like how the ending echoes the opening where the boy grows up to join the air force and becomes the man to inform families of the deceased soldiers.

To sum up, this MV is a great production of astounding graphics, realistic storyline with extended metaphors and well-conceived messages. And the compelling sensibility of the song fits so perfectly i can feel the poignancy in it. As well as a kind eulogy to war-fighters.

And don’t forget to leave a comment! Anything, including to discuss about the art or improve my writing skills, is welcomed.;)

Song review – All I Need by Radiohead

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I was asked to write a review about a love song on an english writing course. “All I Need” by Radiohead was the first one that came to my mind. Which is probably written by Thom Yorke(I’m not sure I can’t find this info in wiki which sucked) the vocalist of the band in their seventh album “In Rainbows” released in 2008 on TBD records.

“Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums, percussion) and Ed O’Brien (guitar, backing vocals).” – Wiki

This song like most alterative/experimental rock musics, is not composed of heavy danceable beats and catchy singer like the pop ones that will catch your ears the first time you hear them. But I’m the kind of person that always desire to avoid following mainstreams, like a hipster. Anyway, I love this song for its lyrics and artistic conception.

The song begins with a series of somber base violin verse from the keyboard, followed by electric bass with light beats like cartilages trying to hold the instruments together. So expressive I can feel my heart resonating with the violin strings. Then the vocal by Thom York, who has the best glowering voice, joins the delicate rhythm of gloom.

“I’m an animal traps in your hot car…I’m all the days that you choose to ignore. You’re all I need, I’m in the middle of your picture, lying in the reefs”

“I am a moth who just wants to share your light, I’m just an insect trying to get out of the dark. I only stick with you because there are no others.”

Then comes the instrumental break of the awesome piano verse with electronic guitar(for the synthesis thing I guess) played by Yorke and Colin Greenwood. Provoking and intensive makes me stick with the song even tighter. And it feels like something inside is about to pour out. Next second, the super sobbing vocal breaks in, repeating “its all right” and “its all wrong” blurry indicating serious confusion has grown inside. Whether loving a person is such a way is right or wrong is unable to be determined clearly. Then finally the vocal and the instruments altogether stops and gives the song a faint end. I have to say that I really love this ending here, really blew my mind!

I know many others will have different perspectives in lyrics analysis. To me this song has definitely used metaphor telling a sad love story about one who can’t gain love from the person he/she loved. Like a girl fell in love with a much older or distant man who she’d never gain affection from. The animal who had been trapped, the i moth who had been flying towards the deadly flame, the insect who had been trying to get out of the dark, they’re all referring to that girl who’s stubborn and absurd enough to continue her desire toward the impossible man. Because there are emptiness and shadows in her world which she desperate to escape. Using tiny creatures to represent the character of the song is an attempt to express the self-insignificant feeling of him/her. Which makes sense as Radiohead i 1992 had released a debut single “Creep” which is an inferior song that posses self-insignificant feelings too.

I’d really like to hear more different views on this song. Feel free to comment!

 

 

“I’m just an insect trying to get out of the dark..”

Death Cab For Cutie – Home Is A Fire

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This is one of the good music shared by Mike on his blog. I love it. I just can’t help falling in love with these epic, says it all lyrics:

Plates they will shift
Houses will shake
Fences will drift
We will awake Only to find…
Nothings the same Nothings the same…

With walls built up around us
The bricks make me nervous
They’re only so strong love…

The chorus simply makes me think of natural disaster(earthquake) and the end of the world. Reminds us that the things we are having right now is not taken for granted. Our world could be destroyed in a wink of eye. So we should cherish what we are having right now. Thats what I think about this song. Do you feel the same too? Actually I don’t understand some of the lyrics. Hope that someday i’ll find the meaning. I love figuring out meanings in musics.

Linkin Park – Waiting For The End

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I fell in love to this song because of the beautiful melody when i first heard it. I was like “Oh my god, they’re doing cool stuffs again. How come they always work musics out so good?” And I thought that is adorable.

I don’t really know what their true message is in this song. But I tried to imagine and guess. And here’s what I think of: The word “Fame”, is actually comes from flame. It’ll burn. It was hot. And it’ll shine and adore and impress everyone. But still, the end is to come eventually. When they’re “Waiting for the end to come”, they don’t know “What was left when the fire was gone”. So they feel fear and empty. Still, they wanted to go on, “Wishing I have strength to stand”. Go on and try new stuffs just like they did before. All they wanted to do is “trade this life with something new, Holding on to what I haven’t got”. This is who they are – Linkin Park, always revolutionary, innovative, authentic and never sell out.

I’ve seen many comments on the linkin park websites. Some people are talking about the album A Thousand Suns how it sucked and how it disappointed them. I know some people are persistent to music. They just like to listen to a type of music and don’t prefer the others. But Linkin Park in the first place was a band who is “Hybrid”, I mean they mixes stuffs up. They combine different types of musics together and make awesome tracks. Isn’t it the reason why they got hit by millions of fans back in the days when they first released Hybrid Theory? So why so much complaints? Isn’t that easier to just chill and enjoy the music? I have faith in my favorite band. I was impressed by their artistic honesty and the attitude of never selling out and I do believe their true fans do, too. Following them makes me feel like I’m going on a right path to true art. And the more I follow them, the more I know about this lovely beauty. Thats what I think about my favorite band, as well as my idol Mike Shinoda.