kinetoscope five :: 001 :: musings on music today

I thought I'd relaunch my 'kinetoscope' series of blogs and post one now and then.   This blog is primarily about music, either current, future, or past experiences.

Interesting times with music and the internet lately. Of course, everyone had noticed this... but the barrier to release is pretty much zero now. You don't have to go through 'gatekeeper' labels to get your music out there. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Youtube, Vimeo, CD Baby, Tunecore, Netlabels, and all provide many easy outlets, either free, freemium, or cost based models. 

The bar is so many rungs lower, we really couldn't have a limbo party.

I think this is great. Technology and people have provided the ideas to new distribution models. Listeners have shifted in droves to listening on ipods and now the shift to the cloud is in massive swing. 

The only downside, and it's a small downside compared to the ability for anyone with the drive to go do it to make it happen... is there is no longer a clear path to getting heard by a lot of people.  There are so many paths up the mountain, and so many people making that climb - that it's easy to get lost in the avalanche of artists and releases every day. 

I think that's where labels come in to play now... a label can be the tastemaker, gate keeper, curator, whatever word you want to use.  You pretty much know that a release on my label, Relaxed Machinery, is going to be ambient in one of ambient's many forms.  You know Lotuspike, Hypnos, DataObscura, AD21, Groove, Timeroom, Feedback Loop, Earth Mantra, etc. etc. etc...   they've created identies.  By working with certain artist, having a vision...

Podcasts and reviewers and bloggers can all serve that same purpose... being curator, tastemaker, gate keeper... if you find someone's who's opinions you trust - they can be go to sources for who next to listen to.  It's interesting how wonderful this world of music truly is now.

Before the internet... I was lucky to find 2 or 3 people locally who knew half the artists I love.  Now you're all at my fingertips here on Relaxed Machinery Community - or the Hypnos Forum - or whereever...

Where are we heading... we have to be heading to better file quality. FLAC solves this - but it's not available on ipods which are the single largest portable player - and FLAC through the cloud I doubt is ready for primetime.  I love to buy FLAC's because now I have a source file as good as CD - literally bit by bit as good as CD - and I can convert it to my ipod for easy listening at work - but hear the full audio spectrum at home in my studio.

Ok that's enough musing for today.

I look forward to your comments and questions - and thank you for indulging me!

John K-N

owner / artist

Relaxed Machinery - organic .: ambient


image:  I took at Springdale Cemetery, Peoria, IL, USA - full image:

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Tags: kinetoscopefive

Comment by Igneous Flame on June 7, 2012 at 8:42am

John, are you suggesting (in a diplomatic way, of course :)) that there is so much stuff out there, that you feel there is a need for some kind of 'curated portal' to steer listeners in the direction of the more interesting material ?

If that's the case, I agree with you. I feel we're hitting 'peak music' these days and I think there will be a waning interest in the everything and anything free-for-all as it is now.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that there is a non-ipod world out there still, with better audio quality and FLAC support. I don't know
what the stats are, but not everyone uses ipods, pads etc. Out of interest, could you give some examples of how have things moved so much to the cloud regarding peoples listening habits. I don't access the 'mobile' Internet, so I'm probably somewhat behind the times regarding this.

Comment by John K-N on June 7, 2012 at 9:06am

The cloud is coming - and coming fast.  How many people just listen to Spotify, Pandora, - with customized playlists?  

Apple, Google, Amazon, Dropbox - all can store your music.  Apple will upload your entire collection - even ones you've ripped or, cough, pirated. (I just read an NPR blog on someone who is trying nothing but cloud listening for awhile...).

There have always been independent musicians... whether we go to Russia or the US or I'm assuming many other places where you could record yourself onto a single vinyl record - and of course - every single record was a new and unique thing... or the cassette culture... or the earlier days of the internet mod scene or the early where you could hear many a bedroom musician who liked to upload every flippin thing they recorded... 

Now that bar of technology is even lower still - *anyone* can do it.  It's both the most wonderful thing I can possibly think of - and a royal pain - because the pool of people is so vast and large - who floats?  Who sinks?  Who just wanders aimlesslessly and only finds one or two friends to listen? 

iPod vs. other players... Yeah - I know lots of options out there... but iPod is to the point of being so much of the market share that to say it pretty much covers the vast amount of people listening. 

If you ignore the audiophiles - like the majority of us here who frequent a community like this...  the masses are all cell phones of one kind or another or ipods...  but case in point - my nephew is a diehard microsoft zune lover...  not sure what he'll move to next, but he hates hates hates apple with a passion - so it won't be apple.  :-)

I do think people get overloaded... I mean even I get tired of seeing all the new release announcements everywhere - here, facebook, twitter, hypnos, other forums, etc...  and I *love* music and *love* supporting artists.  So I know my higher tolerance for ads - and I know people like my family - cousins, nephews, etc... I know kind of how they consume music and listen to music - and none except maybe two are even close to having that music loving / collecting / fanatic gene that I have.

I think labels are changing, evolving, and will have to get better at embracing new technology. 

I'm not even going to pop music on this - that's a whole different realm of singles and mass promotion and the remaining mega-labels. I'm only talking about our niche of ambient and the many other niches that are like ambient - idm, electronic, techno, whatever...



Comment by Jaja on June 7, 2012 at 9:24am

John, i loved your words. Internet is the big radio station in these times. Everyone is on to create music. Im looking forward to the future. We connect !!

Comment by Cloudwalk on June 7, 2012 at 11:42am
I love this time! There is so many resources on the web that either help us make music or be heard. But I have to admit, when it comes to marketing, my brain is still stuck in the old way of thinking. I am an amateur musician, and I've never made any money from it, and most of my work I'd just assume share for free, but I am curious how professional musicians are adapting to a world where so much music is offered for free. There doesn't have to be a physical media like a CD that you buy. Are labels helping retain monetary value for an artist as well as identity on the web? I do see more and more artists offering music for free as more of their philosophy behind why they share music. Who knows. Maybe the future might see a surge in live performance value again, where recordings are merely promotional tools that lead us to artists we pay to see? I dunno!
Comment by Steve Brand on June 7, 2012 at 1:56pm

Paul, I personally have shared my views on why I choose to sell my music many, many times here on We've had a LOT of (maybe too many) discussions about the nature of the current scene and the future of music...and creativity.  As you can imagine, there are many different points of view. Here are a few links to some of those blogs...

I'm probably leaving someone's blog out, so feel free to post here for Paul.

rM.ning is a great resource for this kind of question, Paul. I wish I'd had access to so many other artists and their experiences 20 years ago...I'm grateful to have it now. Invaluable.

Comment by John K-N on June 7, 2012 at 2:33pm

Hi, Paul - Steve is pointing to some good discussions.  And always feel free to start your own blog discussion on a topic. The community ranges from netlabels to commercial, bedroom artists to artists that primarily make their living from music.  So there's a wide array of opinions, insight, and thought to kick around...  just depends on who's looking and feels like posting.  With nearly 600 members - a lot just lurk until something grabs them.


Many people enjoy sharing their music for free through the netlabel and cc music scene.  I know cc doesn't necessarily mean "free" (I release under cc and charge...) - but most people tend to equate "cc" with netlabels. 


CD vs. Cassette vs. Vinyl vs. CDR vs. mp3 vs. FLAC vs. WAV/AIFF ... yep - tons of options.  I think it's important that you as the artist pursues what matters to you.  I used to be very pro CD / CDR... but then I finally after many years bought an iPod... now I find files to be more important.  I still release CDR's - but I won't go pressing a CD anytime soon.  I also plan to release on vinyl because... I've always wanted to...  once I become independently wealthy...


Live performance... wow...  if you're doing ambient - GOOD LUCK.  There just aren't that many shows available outside of coffee houses, art galleries, and house concerts - and none of those are going to pay well.  The normal model of a rock band paying for the cost of touring with their merchandise - and covering CD release costs from the tour...  just doesn't apply.   Ambient artists play live for the love of playing live.  Just like they release albums... for the love of it.  Just my opinion - but I don't think I'm all that far off the mark.  


I've played countless gigs... bar bands, college bands - none of them ambient that actually paid.   I've played several ambient gigs - and I lost far more money on the ambient gigs then I made from either being paid to play (from splitting the ticket costs) - and from merchandise.  


Ambient music boils down to love and passion in my mind.    Well - all music and musicians hopefully can say that, not just ambient ones. 

Comment by Cloudwalk on June 7, 2012 at 6:48pm

Thanks Steve and JKN for the insight and resources! I appreciate it! I feel like I'm finally stepping into a much larger world, and I'm glad there is a community like this!

Comment by Steve Brand on June 20, 2012 at 4:57pm

On a sort of tangent... From what I can see, if an artist (music, film, written word, whatever) wants to have his work read, seen or heard these days, we have to make a concerted effort to be visible in a world that is dominated by "social media." The days are gone in which one can just sit in the studio, make music, write a book, make a painting and sell from a URL. (Most of us know this was NEVER enough and most of us reached out in one way or another, but it's just that the nature of the connecting and reaching out that has morphed over time.) There's a tacit expectation from listeners, readers, viewers, etc. that the artist be visible, reach out, connect, respond...which sort of chaffs the hermit artists in some of us! My wife is "Friends" on FaceBook with several authors, fashion designers, film makers, stars and musicians whom she follows regularly. It's an expectation now and if you're not doing it, you're nearly invisible.

To be clear, this isn't about "doing what's necessary," our doing something because it's trendy or out of obligation, connecting with others, with our audience, with other artists is...whether we acknowledge it or not...fundamentally what it's all about, and ultimately serves us all.


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