Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week 4

This is a summary of my thoughts of Chapter 7 and 8 in The Future of the Music Business and the introduction and Chapter 1 of A Manual for the Performance Library.

Chapter 7

Firstly, I was amazed to find that at the time of publication that ringtone sales were exceeding the sales of digital downloads. In the latest generation of music, it has been interesting to find the increasing willingness to sacrifice sound quality for convenience. Rather than have a great sounding recording of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, the average music consumer would prefer to have it ripped into an mp3 file along with many other CDs to make it more portable. I feel the same way with ringtones. Cell phone speakers are not made for sound quality and I find it strange that a short clip of the chorus of a song would be so sought after. Despite the steady decline of CD sales, it is interesting to find that the major record labels are finding ways to continue to make money. It seems the sales of "master" ring tones might be the key (ringtone mp3s made from the original recording masters).

Gordon's prediction that music in video games will become a bigger part of the music industry is correct. Even in this generation of video games, licensed music has become important. As Gordon mentioned, developers of music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero spend millions to acquire licenses to features artists like Metallica, Green Day, and The Ramones in their video games, but are repaid with even more millions of dollars in sales. Much like the modern music business, players may also purchase more songs to play on Rock Band for a small fee.

Chapter 8

Reading about the recording industry's financial troubles struck an odd chord with me. As a musician and music lover, I support local bands and small independent labels. As a whole, I think this is a rare stance. Although I do not often help major labels in terms of sales, I don't hinder them either by illegally downloading their music. Consumers think it's a victimless crime to steal from huge corporations like Sony/BMI, but at the rate that peer to peer applications are being used to download music, it seems that these corporations are being pushed out of the market. Gordon's assessment of major labels being slow to jump on the digital music bandwagon when Napster made it clear that the public was ready for digitized music was apt, but as he said, not the sole reason.

Seeing that the major labels and record industry had to work with other industries like electronics companies was interesting. Asking an electronics company to make their product less user-friendly and workable in exchange for nothing except success on the record industry's end is a tough sell. Since there was no real benefit in adding hardware or software to computers to reduce music piracy, I'm not surprised this did not happen. At the end of the chapter, when Gordon mentions that technology allows for this generation to pirate music, it made me realize that technology and music will eventually have to embrace and work together for the music industry to work.

The RIAA's lawsuit against "children and grandmothers" baffled me. As Gordon said, the RIAA did not exactly profit from these thousands of settlements and court cases. The only rhyme or reason I can think of for these lawsuits would be for the RIAA to send a message that they will track down and punish whoever might illegally download music. I think part of the reason consumers don't have any remorse for using peer to peer applications and acquiring music illegally is for reasons like this; these large corporations seem heartless and greedy, so why should the average consumer not try and stick it to them a bit?

Intro and Chapter 1

A performance librarian seems like an interesting niche profession. It's truly a combination of two talents or hobbies, information retrieval and reference skills mixed with a love and knowledge of music. The way Girsberger describes the job, performance librarians must have an intricate knowledge of whatever ensemble or conductor he or she is working for since the librarian must help select music that corresponds with their style and skill level. The performance librarian has much more responsibility in the final product than say a law librarian or medical librarian. Though my knowledge of these professions is lacking, I'd imagine law and medical librarians must have familiarity with information unique to these fields, but the performance librarian's responsibility to edit sheet music and select it shows that he or she would be much more in touch with the musical group he or she is working with and their successes or failures.

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