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Author Topic: My 2002 Trip To California.  (Read 1941 times)

hargerst

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My 2002 Trip To California.
« on: June 05, 2004, 03:13:50 PM »

From November 2002

Every year in October, the Audio Engineering Society holds a big four day convention, in Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.  This year, it was in Los Angeles and I try to get to that show whenever possible.  

In addition to seeing all the new toys that will be available, and talking with the manufacturers, I get to hang out with a lot of friends that I knew back in the old days in L.A. and also hang out with some of the people I've met on the Internet.  Plus, some of the manufacturers throw great parties after the show each night, usually at the big studios around town.  

All in all, it's a pretty exciting four days; hanging out with the "Who's Who" of the recording industry, and seeing what's gonna be available in the furure.  Plus, just sitting around with people who know the music industry and trying to figure out where the industry is headed.

So, where is the music industry headed?  Short answer: Nobody knows for sure.  Long answer: It's a complicated problem.  Currently, the industry is reboxing as much of their old stuff as possible to try and get money in without spending a lot of money doing it.  

Breaking new artists is a lot tougher these days, especially in the shadow of the manufactured stars, which require bushels of money to finance the operation.  The available outlets for a new artist to get signed are shrinking at a high rate ever since a few giant corporations went on a record company buying spree a few years ago.

By buying up most of the smaller record companies, these giant companies have eliminated the possibility of competition and they can concentrate on pushing a few mega star artists to maximize their profits and reduce their risks.  Things like TV shows such as "American Idol" and "Nashville Star" fit into their plans perfectly - the show promotes the talent, gets a buzz going, and then the record company signs them and puts out one album that they're 99% sure will be a hit, without any risk on their part.

What's this gotta do with the AES show?  Well, we all pretty much agreed that while it may produce some short term money for the big conglomertes, it can't last forever.  There's still a need out there for good quality new music, and the industry will survive very nicely, even without the big 5 labels trying to push Britiney down everybody's throat.  

XM (satellite radio) is one of the avenues that holds great promise for new artists as a chance to be heard. If XM catches on, new artists are gonna be needed to fill the hundreds of hours of airtime available.

We also agreed that the Internet still might hold some exciting possibilities for showcasing new artists, but it ain't gonna happen next year, or the year after.  Websites for bands are a very good thing for finding out more about a group, but they're not very good for getting noticed.  Most websites are pretty pitiful, either slow loading, or no information about what's happening with the group currently.  Most of the A&R people I talked to at the show felt like there's a lot of talent still out there, but most of these new artists don't have a clue as to how the business really works.

As far as new toys, there are tons of new gadgets, but for the most part, the prices are going up, not down.  With the exception of some low cost mics and preamps (designed primarily for the home studio market), the cost of admission to the the "big boy's sandbox" has just gotten higher.  The advertising still continues by a lot of the makers of home studio gear that " now you can do it all at home yourself".  

Unfortunately, that only helps those companies to sell their gear, and when the sad reality hits that gear alone ain't the answer, the stuff winds up on ebay, to begin the broken dream cycle all over again.  One of the major people I talked to (this is a guy that's paid to find new talent) told me that most of the stuff he listens to from home studios is so bad, that when someone announces that they recorded at home, he cringes.

If I took away one thing from the AES show, it's that the music industry is changing rapidly.  Right now, it's not changing for the best.  But almost everybody at the AES show believed it was gonna get better - and soon.  I hope they're right.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio
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