Articles review on the net, revue d'articles sur la toile

Inscription : feeds, flux :
(Atom) Gabriel Real World News

27 décembre 2007

Spare us the liner notes

Saul Williams released a low-quality album as a free download in 2007

You don't need to hold an album to love it

When Radiohead made their new album, In Rainbows, available for download in October at any price fans cared to set, you'd think from the ink spilled by drooling journalists that they'd managed to revolutionize music's distribution system in one fell swoop. Lo and behold, Thom Yorke & co. will be selling the album in CD form on New Year's Day -- and it's not just for diehards from the musical stone age who want physical artefacts. As it turns out, Radiohead played something of a fast one on their fans at the outset by offering them MP3 files to download at the bitrate of 160 kbps (which is noticeably below CD quality) without alerting them to this first. If you want the music in reasonable quality, you'll have to pay (in many cases, again).

Less dubious is the model set out by Saul Williams, who is making his excellent new Trent Reznor-produced album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, available online either free (with lossy files) or for $5 (with maximum-bitrate MP3s or lossless, CD-quality files). No catch, no hidden fees!

Both In Rainbows and Niggy Tardust prove that, even as physical formats become less important to the way music is released, there's something to be said for the idea of the album itself as a collection of related tracks.

When he was launching his On-Demand Distribution system for music files in 2000, I asked Peter Gabriel if the advent of downloading spelled a death sentence for the album; he told me it wouldn't, as people still want narrative structure in their art. Such, indeed, seems to be the case, whether figuratively (with a set of tracks that "takes you on a journey" or a DJ mix) or literally (witness the spate of recent concept albums with storylines, from Jay-Z's American Gangster to Reznor's Year Zero). Downloading should, with any luck, spell the death of the cynically conceived "album" consisting of one or two singles and a whack of filler.

Now all we need is a better distribution system with high-quality, no-DRM MP3s and content from various labels and musicians at reasonable prices. The Songwriters' Association of Canada's proposal to impose a monthly fee on Internet users for legal file-sharing, while problematic for those who are uninterested, might lead to just that. Industry Minister Jim Prentice would do well to consider it -- anything is better than the U.S.'s restrictive, law-suit-heavy model. And after all, taking legal action against their customers is the best way for the major labels to speed their own extinction.

Aucun commentaire: