Why music is not lost

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Ausmusic Month: Making music in regional Australian studios

Does the rise of streaming mean the loss of music?
Revenues from live performances are expected to grow. The Conversation

By Professor Richard Vella, Shane Homan and Tracy Redhead

Posted

November 28, 2016 07:21:47

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Punters cheer at an Australian festival. (ABC)
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The 2015 Worldwide Independent Network report on the global economic and cultural contribution of independent music showed that independent labels have 37.6 per cent of the global market, worth $5.6 billion.In relation to music distribution, academic Patrick Wikstrom writes that technological changes consist of three models: ownership, access and context. Video: Justin Timberlake on trolls, technology and evolution

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Musicians today must be multi-skilled. The royalties paid back to artists for streaming or YouTube dissemination are minimal — only massive amounts of streams can produce substantial income. The revolution in the 1990s of audio software platforms such as Protools and Cubase enabled creators to be producers of their own music, cutting costs dramatically. The music industry is currently in a state of flux — due to the internet and digitisation — as are many other industries affected by technological and social changes. (ABC)
The CD as calling cardAs with all previous eras, the music industry is highly competitive. The release of new cars and computers without in-built compact disc drives is further evidence of the change in consumer behaviour. A recent Price Waterhouse report predicted revenue from performances would rise by 3 per cent annually through to 2020. This is the “value gap”. In Australia, combined revenue from all income streams for musicians actually increased last year to a historically high growth rate of more than 12 per cent, according to APRA-AMCOS.Crucially, in Australia, digital revenue (downloads, basic and “premium” streaming services, on-demand video, website use and user-generated services) provided the impetus for growth from $47 million to $68 million from 2015 to 2016. But this endless re-working/bundling/re-contextualisation of digital music is, of course, not well served by older 19th Century frameworks of copyright protection.Many income streamsToday’s musician relies upon many income streams: live performance, royalties from performance, recordings, synchronisation rights, teaching, licensing, merchandising etc. This has provided some correction to earlier industry periods bereft of answers to the spectacular rise of downloads and file-sharing of music mp3s through computer systems.Obstacles remain. The consumer transforms from passive recipient to active co-creator. Musicians must adjust to these changes and to consumer demands.This means not just changing distribution formats of music, but also musical forms. Suddenly, music was being played with no compensation or income streams available.Record companies worried that sales would drop. When radio became popular in the 1920s, many believed this was the end for recording artists and live music. The “ownership model” has dominated the last century with the sale of recorded music on formats like CDs and records.The “access model” refers to the rise of online subscription-based music streaming services like Spotify. These days there is now music that adjusts to your mood or activity like Spotify “running”, a playlist tailored to keep energy levels up while exercising, or Melody’s Virtual Reality player, which will allow audiences to watch and stream concerts in 360 degree surround visual and audio from their own lounge room.The increased complexity of digitisation, and related changes to cultural products, business, trade and consumption, require massive innovation. Photo:
Montaigne accepts the ARIA for Breakthrough Artist (AAP: Paul Miller)

Can’t get enough of the ARIAs? Each block is like an individual bank statement and a permanent record of a transaction. Also needed are innovative new copyright and royalty models before new revenue streams can be realised.Richard Vella is the Professor of Music at the University of Newcastle; Shane Homan is an Associate Professor in English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University; and Tracy Redhead is a senior researcher in Music Export and Technology at the University of Newcastle. It is transparent, open and immutable. But independent music labels — which provide an important platform for new talent and music-making — are disrupting this paradigm with new business models and artist/audience relationships. However, history shows these industries are always in flux. Consumers are now informed, connected, empowered and consequently have more market power. It requires continual exposure through performance and/or product availability via distribution and social media platforms. While aggregator services such as YouTube rely heavily on advertising, hundreds of millions of users can freely upload and watch content, producing a significant gap between usage and payment. Venue owners believed people wouldn’t go out and see live music any more. The authors are part of a research team investigating the economic and cultural value of the Australian music export.Originally published in The Conversation. (12-inch mixes of LPs, for example, came in response to DJs sampling and creating mix tapes in the late 1980s and early 90s). Musicians’ Unions and Performing Rights Associations fought for compensation and a slice of radio advertising revenue.This is a complex story to summarise, but it took nearly 15 years to implement new copyright and royalty models for musicians. (Flickr: monophonicgirl)
Social media platforms have enabled musicians and music companies to develop new strategies for distribution that disrupt the more traditional linear supply chains dominated by the major record labels.Under the old, linear model, a series of intermediary steps (contracts, production, publishing, distribution, promotion) eventually lead to a retail outlet. In the first decade of this century, the emergence of web 2.0 has propelled the democratisation of production tools resulting with the rise of “the Produser” (coined by Axel Bruns) — part producer, part user.The new digital economy is a shared economy, built increasingly upon user-led content creation. It is not enough to be “talented” and hope to be discovered. A “context model” enables audiences to “do things with music”. These days the CD, like vinyl recordings, has become more like a calling card and promotional free giveaway by artists. Australian music sounds like … For Spotify, royalties are around $0.006-$0.0085 per play; YouTube is $0.001.A legislative solutionBut the solution is legislative. We asked some stars of Australian music a simple question: “What does Australian music sound like?”
To state the obvious: contemporary music industries are struggling to find new ways to connect with audiences and create value in their products and services. There is now a worldwide push to address this value gap so that more of the royalties go to the copyright owners. Photo:
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker recording in a farm house near Bunbury. For musicians, it has the potential to be a smart contract embedded within a music file that automatically sends licensing, payments and usage agreements to anyone using that file around the world.Blockchain is in its early days, with problems still to be solved (relating to bandwidth and issues of consumer trust), but it could signify the future. The loss of music Whenever you listen to a streamed song, like it but don’t buy it and instead stream it again, you are casting a vote for the future nonexistence of professional musicians, writes Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith. Once music has been digitised, it can be changed into any format. Amongst other things, it would oblige companies such as YouTube to work with copyright holders (labels, publishers, individuals) and address the value gap between those who own the rights for music and the creators of it.Then there is Blockchain, currently being trialled by global banks and seen by some in the music industry as a possible future solution to copyright problems.Blockchain is a public decentralised ledger used in digital currencies. Test your knowledge with our quizCheck out the best photos from the red carpetSee which Aussie acts have won Best Album over the yearsAnd were you at the 1996 Crowded House concert? In September this year, the European Commission published a proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market to address the value gap. Streaming, downloading and stem releases (the creation of groups of audio tracks, processing them separately prior to combining them into a final master mix) are for the moment the main consumption models (with a nostalgic resurgence in high quality vinyl).This fact is reflected in the 2015 International Federation of the Phonographic Industry report, which shows that digital sales of music made up 45 per cent of the market.Physical sales (CDs, vinyl) comprised 39 per cent, with performance rights (broadcasting royalties) at 14 per cent and synchronisation (rights aligned with uses such as film soundtracks) at 2 per cent.Beyond digital sales, the other growth trend is in live performance revenues. Photo:
Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker, is signed by independent Australian record label, Future Classic. But as the radio example shows, there is a well documented history of musicians adapting to technological and social changes over the past century.As long as there is technological innovation, musicians and the industry that supports them will either embrace these changes or feel threatened. Survival today requires musicians embrace these new approaches — either individually or collectively — in order to reach their audiences.This is hard work.

When music lover Julian Scharf got his hearing back, he threw a party for his new ears

By Monique Ross

Posted

November 28, 2016 06:07:30
He likens it to watching a house full of photo albums go up in flames.”I was still always playing songs in my head. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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A stack of records are seen at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian Scharf flicks through records at his party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
Doctors think Julian’s hearing loss began when he was three, but he wasn’t diagnosed until he was eight.In the middle of last year, the Brisbane father of two rapidly lost the hearing he did have. But for Julian Scharf, it’s different.He’s only hearing the records he’s spinning thanks to his “robot ear” — a cochlear implant that’s embedded in his head.”I’m just so happy that music’s back in my life,” says Julz, as he is known to his mates. External Link:

How a cochlear implant works
Initially the quality in his left ear was “choppy” or “pixelated”.”It literally sounds like the audio equivalent of a low-resolution photo. Lost and sound Julian Scharf once thought he’d never hear music again. “Jazz is so much better than it was. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
In May, salvation came in the form of a cochlear implant in his left ear. That was really, really cool.”

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Myles Scharf plays with glow sticks at a party on November 19, 2016. But every now and then I see someone with a different disability to myself, and I think ‘wow, it must be really hard for them’. I can hear it and feel the surge of energy again, and I definitely do not take that for granted,” he says. At the start we played a few tracks together, and he decided what the next song would be. And live sounds are phenomenal.”

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Two girls wear neon face-paint at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. And I would not have thought to be able to listen to that,” Julian says. With a hearing aid you can’t hear the form of the song, you can’t follow the beat.”And there are already plans for another party.”We have so many songs to listen to. We had this red double cassette album of the Beatles — all the super poppy ones from the early ’60s, like Love Me Do,” he recalls. “Because it just doesn’t compare. Everything sounds like R2D2, and squawky, and chipmunky, and robotic,” Julian says.But it slowly got better, and Julian began to rediscover the music he thought he’d lost forever.”I can hear music and feel the euphoric nostalgia again. I can forget to put my hearing aid in, and not notice. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
The quality of Julian’s hearing is now better than ever before.”It’s amazing how little hearing I had, and how much more obvious that is now I have a cochlear implant. As the sun goes down, the dance floor fires up. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Children play at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. It’s 70 guitar tracks layered over each other, and it creates this tunnel of sound. “And then I have to do a little check on myself, and think ‘I wonder if people might be looking at me in the same way’. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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A Blondie record at a party thrown by Julian Scharf on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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The dance floor starts to pick up steam. It made the time go quicker, it made things more fun.”The idea of not being able to have those memories with my own children was really hard.”

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Julian Scharf DJs at his party on November 19, 2016. And then I look at them again, and see that they’re just taking it in their stride, so it’s not that big of a deal, they’re just doing their thing, like I am.”

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Julian Scharf DJs under lights at his party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
The party, complete with a garage disco, was his way of celebrating “old stuff, new stuff, good stuff, bad stuff, cool stuff, not-so-cool stuff” — and the trove of memories those tunes bring back.On the playlist was everything from James Brown to Daft Punk, Led Zepplin, The Smiths, Joy Division, Michael Jackson, Blondie, AC/DC, The Dandy Warhols, David Bowie, The Cure and Coldplay — but not, Julian jokes, U2, who “still suck”.”We just played music all night — my cousins, and my wife, and my mum, and my friends danced all night. I was putting on record after record, it was really good fun,” Julian says.”There was quite a few people there that I haven’t seen in a very long time.”The best part was sharing music with [my son] Myles. I couldn’t hear it, I couldn’t feel it.”

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Julian Scharf looks for a record to play during his party on November 19, 2016. Photo:
Julian Scharf’s hearing loss hit ‘severe to profound’ levels last year. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian Scharf listens to a party guest on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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People gather in Julian Scharf’s backyard during a party on November 19, 2016. But it just is what it is,” he says.”I don’t really see myself as being too different to anyone else. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
The backyard party looks just like any other: friends laugh and swap stories over a beer, as children play on the grass. “Mum just used to play them all the time, in the car, wherever we would go, and it just melded into our brains. But that isn’t how he sees it. There’s an album called Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis that I love. I can’t remember ever having much of an enjoyment for any kind of orchestral production. (ABC News: Monique Ross) (ABC News: Monique Ross)
It’s about to get even better for Julian.Tomorrow he is getting a cochlear implant in his right ear, and says he is “full-blown excited”.”Right now there’s no sound coming in my right ear at all. The contrast is huge,” he says.Music, which was always turned down so Julian could hear basic sounds and conversations, now plays constantly, and he’s discovering new loves on a daily basis.He recalls being “flooded with tears” three tracks into Jeff Buckley’s Grace, loving Joy Division’s “gorgeously heavy” Unknown Pleasures and thinks Led Zeppelin “sounds epic”.”Two days ago I put on this album by My Bloody Valentine — it’s really heavy, thick, distorted guitar. It was a scary step for Julian — if it didn’t work, he’d be worse off.But it did, and Julian’s world “exploded”.Unlike hearing aids, which just make sounds louder, the electronic implant does the work of the damaged parts of the inner ear, or cochlea, to provide signals to the brain.”The mapping process is pretty weird and interesting — you’re getting your brain stem directly stimulated, and then over the next couple of months your head tries to make sense of that,” Julian says. It’s gorgeous — he actually recorded it with an orchestra. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian Scharf’s music taste ranges from classical to electro, and everything in between. I’d always wake up with a song in my head,” he says.”I didn’t stop grooving in my own way to the music I already had in my mental hard-drive.”But I just couldn’t add any new music. Photo:
Julian Scharf chats to guests at his party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian Scharf’s backyard full of people attending his party on November 19, 2016. Photo:
“To infinity and beyond” written in neon paint on the floor at Julian’s party. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Decorations at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. Photo:
Julian Scharf plays music during his party. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian Scharf kisses his wife Roxanne on the dance floor at his party on November 19, 2016. I can have the battery in my hearing aid go completely flat, and not know how long it’s been off for,” he says.”Still, every now and then I’ll turn my implant off, and just listen with my hearing aid ear and think, ‘I’m about to lose this, do I really want to do this?’ And the answer is yes, I do. And the garage is already a disco!” Julian laughs. But this song-loving papa’s got a brand new bag, and he threw a party to celebrate. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Myles Scharf plays with glow sticks at his father Julian’s party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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The neon paints and blue lights that transformed Julian’s garage were a hit with the kids. “It’s definitely not just electronic music now, it’s everything. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
As Julian’s hearing faded, the world of music that had always filled his life got smaller and smaller. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Myles Scharf plays with glowsticks during his father Julian’s party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
Friendships built around music ground to a halt, and a devastated Julian mourned the loss of a future where he shared songs with his kids.”With my childhood, it was all about music. Julian says while things like playing guitar would be easier if he could hear like everyone else, it’s not that big a deal.”I can understand why they might think that. His hearing aids lost clarity, and he was left “pretty much totally deaf”.”With my hearing aids out, I could mow the lawn and not hear anything, or use an angle grinder and not hear anything,” the 32-year-old says, explaining his ‘severe to profound’ level of hearing loss.”I could go clubbing and be standing right next to the speaker and not hear a thing.”

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A Lou Reed album is seen at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
When they talk about Julian, his friends use words like “courageous” and “brave” and “legendary”. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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A girl plays with neon paints at Julian Scharf’s party on November 19, 2016. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

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Julian’s nickname written in neon paint on the floor of his garage.
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