Why Vinyl’s Boom Is Over

As purists complain about low quality and high prices, vinyl sales taper off; Gillian Welch and David Rawlings cut their own records.

Old LPs were cut from analog tapes—that’s why they sound so high quality. But the majority of today’s new and re-issued vinyl albums—around 80% or more, several experts estimate—start from digital files, even lower-quality CDs. These digital files are often loud and harsh-sounding, optimized for ear-buds, not living rooms. So the new vinyl LP is sometimes inferior to what a consumer hears on a CD.

.. “They’re re-issuing [old albums] and not using the original tapes” to save time and money, says Michael Fremer, editor of AnalogPlanet.com and one of America’s leading audio authorities. “They have the tapes. They could take them out and have it done right—by a good engineer. They don’t.”

.. When labels advertise a re-issued classic as mastered from the original analog tapes, the source can be more complicated. Sometimes they are a hodge-podge of digital and analog. Often “labels are kind of hiding what’s really happening,” says Russell Elevado, a veteran studio engineer and producer who has earned two Grammys working with R&B singer D’Angelo.

.. Major labels say they use original analog masters when possible. Sometimes tapes are too brittle to be used to make a vinyl master. Low-quality re-issues may be the result of less-reputable labels that can’t afford to shell out big bucks for engineering and record-pressing,

.. Today’s digital files can sound fantastic—especially for hip-hop and dance music. But engineers say they need to be mastered separately for vinyl in order to have the right sound. To meet deadlines for releasing new albums, labels can’t always cut vinyl to the absolute best audio quality

.. “The scientists who developed how to cut good stereo were the brightest people in our country at that time,”



Does Listening to Music Improve Your Focus?

While tackling a work assignment or school homework, do you concentrate more if there is music in the background? A neurologist considers the ‘Mozart Effect.’

A study published in the journal Nature in 1993 showed that listening to specific music can affect spatial task performance, though the reasons remain unclear. The theory was called the Mozart Effect because the researchers used Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major in their study, which involved 36 students. Several follow-up studies have suggested that Mozart’s music may have a small, positive short-term effect on the ability to draw conclusions about objects from limited visual clues.

.. The problem, Dr. Pantelyat says, is that the Mozart Effect hasn’t been shown to have clear benefits beyond the 10 to 15 minutes during which subjects in studies were engaged in tasks.

 .. The distractions increase when words enter the picture. “If you add lyrics, you’re activating the Wernicke area, where language is processed, and other parts of the temporal lobe, and this may divert your attention or possibly overload the brain’s attentional capacity,”

Benedict Evans: Content isn’t king

People in tech and media have been saying that ‘content is king’ for a long time – perhaps since the VHS/Betamax battle of the early 1980s, and perhaps longer. Content and access to content was a strategic lever for technology. I’m not sure how much this is true anymore.  Music and books don’t matter much to tech anymore, and TV probably won’t matter much either.

Most obviously, subscription streaming has more or less ended the strategic importance of music to tech companies. In the past, any music you bought for your iPod had DRM and could only be played on Apple device

..  Even if you’d just encoded your own CDs (or downloaded pirated tracks, but in either case without DRM), physically transferring them to a different device with different software was a barrier. Your music library kept you on a device. With streaming these issues mostly go away. All the major services are cross-device (even Apple’s), and if you do switch to a different service you’re not giving up tracks you’ve paid money for, just a list of your favourites. Switching became easy.

.. Since music no longer stops people from switching between platforms, it’s gone from being a moat

.. Ebooks, like music, do not seem to create any moat for any broader platform strategy.

.. whenever I talk to music people or book people, very quickly the conversation becomes a music industry conversation or a book industry conversation. What matters for music are artists and touring and labels and so on, and what matters for books are writers and publishers and rights and Amazon’s bargaining power in books and so on. These aren’t tech conversations. The big tech platform companies rolled into these industries and changed everything, but then moved on to bigger things.

.. Tech needed content to make their devices viable, but having got the content (by any means necessary), and with it of course completely resetting the dynamics of the industry, tech outgrew music and books and moved on to bigger opportunities.

..  the shows that are watched mainly because they’re broadcast at 8pm on Saturday will suffer, and so will the channels that are watched because they’re high up on the program guide.

.. Amazon clearly is using content for platform leverage – as something else to speed up the Prime flywheel. Prime has become a third pillar to Amazon’s business, next to logistics and the ecommerce platform, and Amazon is always looking for ways to add more perceived value to it, preferably with no marginal cost – TV content that it owns outright is exactly that.

.. Unlike a Taylor Swift or Kanye West exclusive, this is more than just marketing – it’s something you lose altogether if you give up something else that’s not directed related. Cancel the subscription delivery service and you lose access to all Amazon TV shows.

..  For Google and Facebook, there’s no subscription to cancel – there’s no binary (renew/don’t renew, cancel/don’t cancel) decision you might take that would cut off your access to that great TV show. You don’t close your Facebook account – you just go there less. You might stop paying for the Youtube TV service, but that won’t cut off your access to any other part of Google

.. Buy an Android instead and you lose access to the (hypothetical) great Apple television service. This is why people argue that Apple should buy Netflix.

..  Part of ‘content is king’ was the idea that (at least in theory) content companies can withhold access to their libraries entirely, and in the past one might have presumed that that meant they had the power to kill any new service at birth. In reality, rights-holders have always had too strong a need for short-term revenue to forgo broad distribution, and few of them individually had a strong enough brand to extract a fee that was high enough to justify exclusivity

.. The reason Apple TV, Chromecast, FireTV and everything else feel so anti-climactic is that getting onto the TV was a red herring – the device is the phone and the network is the internet. The smartphone is the sun and everything else orbits it. Internet advertising will be bigger than TV advertising this year, and Apple’s revenue is larger than the entire global pay TV industry.

.. This is also why tech companies are even thinking about commissioning their own premium shows today – they are now so big that the budgets involved in buying or creating TV look a lot less daunting than they once did.

Local Worship Band Accidentally Performs Hymn

The audience at a Calgary megachurch was left in shock after the worship band performed  ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’ during the Sunday morning worship set.

“I’m not sure how this old thing got onto the set list,” said worship pastor Dylan. “I certainly didn’t put it there.”

When he noticed the song on the list in the middle of the service, Dylan was left standing awkwardly for a moment before proceeding.

“Ah, I’m sorry, folks, hold on a second here. It seems that something’s gone wrong…really wrong,” said Dylan to a bewildered audience. “Okay, well, umm, I guess, could you all get out your hymnals and turn to page 352?”

Audience members looked around at each other, not sure exactly what they were supposed to do.

“No, I’m being serious. We’re singing a hymn apparently,” said Dylan, who explained to the audience how a hymnal works and suggested that couples could hold a single hymnal between them. “All right, folks, let’s see how this goes.”

Dylan was able to coach the audience through all three verses of the hymn, despite a totally ill-timed attempt at a guitar solo by an overly eager worship guitarist.