Indie Music 2020

Anne Stewart who writes The Buzz for GigHive asked for my thoughts about the future of the Indie Music Scene.. The feature is here: Indie Music 2020

Here's what i wrote...

"One thing that really caught my attention in the last week is that Apple purchased lala.com, which says to me that the biggest online music retailer will be moving to a more subscription-based model and will start allowing and encouraging users to keep their music in the cloud. This probably means that an obsession over storage capacity will give way to prioritizing bandwidth and constant connectivity.

As an independent musician, I always champion the dissolution of music prisons (DRM, mainstream record stores, horded music collections) because they prevent the flow of media and subculture from reaching the listener. When everyone’s music is in the cloud it will hopefully be easier to exchange and access new streams, though maybe the opposite is true if iTunes wants to tell you how to manage your music.

Another thing that I’m pleased to see happening at Bandcamp.com is that they are offering high-resolution versions of their artists’ music. This is an exciting trend because for all the joys of the mp3 craze it has caused a real devaluing of the high-fidelity listening experience. Listening to 128 kbps is like injecting bit-rot into your brain.

That is all in the next 2 years. After that, it’s anyone’s game. A few ideas:
  • Cell phones become a significant music production platform. They’ve already become home to demos and sketches for nearly everyone I know. I’m still waiting for the first #1 megahit produced on an iPhone.
  • Auto-tune is going to start to sound really dated.
  • I’m listening to how recording/producing is changing in indie music. Something that’s gone along with the loss of fidelity in the mp3 generation is that crisp and clean recordings aren’t so precious anymore. That used to be the signal of a professional studio but now a digital recording in a quiet apartment can be cleaner than an old studio recording with tape hiss (though now we have computer hum). So people are becoming more and more creative with how they are introducing noise and space into their recordings. Artists are getting more and more sophisticated with recording technology. I assume that most bands start recording themselves these days, so when they start working with a producer, they already have a developed idea of how they should sound recorded.
  • I’m heartened that the indie music scene has seemed amenable to real sonic experimentation and I foresee that only developing further. There is still somewhat of a mandate for rhythm but on top of that you can do nearly anything and people will be interested. People are getting used to massive amounts of parallel input and maybe that opens up avenues for composers and songwriters.”


Singularity (a song)

After a few years of trying I finally got out a song about the technological singularity. Here's the demo (Recorded and mixed on an iPhone): Singularity [mp3]

UPDATE: Hear the Studio Recording HERE


I’ll live to see a million things That men were never meant to see
My senses and my faculties are super-computing factories
Auditory mesmerizers Touch and taste olfactory
Digitized into data streams that register but will not delete
They’ll store it up on carbon atoms lined up into nano-diamonds
Priced just right for maximizing special year end price surprises
Every piece of food you taste and every thought you cogitate
Every sound that you can hear and sight you see for years and years
All stored up so conveniently on peta-bytes of memory
So you can always reference them in case you forget anything

Now once all that experience can fit into an easy grid
existence is no longer something mentally projected
The wires that you have inside are very easily realized
Through artificial imaging you duplicate 10 at a time
Your consciousness can be enjoyed by anyone forever more
And you live in whatever state that you or anyone creates
You could be Giant Squirrel, a statue or a talking cat
The Goodyear blimp, an etch a sketch, An octopus or a yoga mat
You’d have each and every memory and feeling to the one
And now you can commence your life as an uploaded extropian

My mother is so horrified by this post-human fantasy
She says you’d lose that special thing that makes us human beings be
But I don’t know I’m not so sure if humans are so good and pure
Perhaps we’d be much better off if we took these violent bodies off

Once everyone is in the cloud we’ll move beyond this earthly ground
Expanding into outer space as an informational signal race
Matter in the solar system converts into computing mass
And the sun becomes a central orb of a brain that grows into the vast
Expanse of space and emptiness for light years and light centuries
It replicates exponentially like a Russian doll in a cosmic dream
When every spot of the universe is filled up it will promptly burst
Eradicating finally the experiment that we grew from earth
As it explodes the brain will breathe into the dark impossibly
and anti-matter all around will collapse the universe back down
and right away what you would see if you were a fly in the vacancy
All the light and color in the universe is collapsing

Time would stop

From a tiny pinhead point a massive bang erupts into space
And trillions of new particles fly away at a photonic pace
And once again the clock would start to tick and tock and tick and tock
Years would pass, billions or more before the tiny proteins locked
And once again in the boiling seas of a miniscule blue anomaly
A planet floating helplessly around a tiny ball so fiery
an unextraordinary corner of the universe would cradle it
The flicker of intelligence that led us here and brought us this...


44 Considerations for Young Composers

1. Stop listening to what everything/everyone seems to be saying.

2. Then start listening again whenever.

3. Spend lots of time doing whatever you like doing.

4. Forget about everything you learned sometimes.

5. Make music that only your cat likes.

6. Music can be the wrong place to look sometimes.

7. You are very powerful.

8. You are very tiny.

9. You are perfect.

10. You are making a difference.

11. As an experiment stop trying to do the thing that you've been expecting yourself to do.

12. If you aren't doing anything you are still a composer.

13. Don't write a score for a piece that doesn't have a score just because the grant application says you have to have a score. (You might suggest that they read Varese's "The Liberation of Sound" 1936)

14. Don't take the rhythm out of your piece because "contemporary music isn't supposed to have rhythm."

15. Don't put a pulse in your piece because you think no one will listen to it otherwise.

16. Whatever your parents think about your music is fine.

17. If your significant other won't listen to your piece all the way through it doesn't mean that he/she is not right for you.

18. Read "Noise" by Jaques Attali

19. Read "The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross

20. Music bloggers have a disturbing appetite for live and recorded music, and you shouldn't feel like you have to keep up. In fact, just don't read them unless you really like the feeling it gives you.

21. Go to the library sometimes.

22. Listen to the city.

23. Take a walk.

24. Eat local vegetables.

25. Consider the semiotics/social impact/evolution/formal structures/psychological effects of recording technology.

26.Try to imagine that sonic art (music) is the non-linguistic expression (explanation) of an infinitude of things that happened, are happening, and that will happen.

27. Grant yourself permission to write the future of humanity's organizational efforts in all areas.

28. Work with the assumption that your music has a massive capacity to achieve transformative results.

29. Consider quantity over quality.

30. Allow yourself to keep everything and forget everything.

31. If you want to say "I hate music and I'm going to do something else" just say it.

32. If you went to a conservatory it doesn't mean that you are letting someone down if you:
a. Don't notate your music.
b. Do something different entirely
c. Put down the instrument you practiced for your entire life and only play an instrument you barely know how to play.
d. Never practice.
e. Have a healthy skepticism (disrespect) for all the crap you learned in conservatory.

33. If you didn't go to a conservatory you don't need to "go back to school" and refer to 9.

34. If you are currently in a conservatory don't take yourself so seriously, remember that you are learning inside a specific institutional dynamic (point of view), and refer to 9.

35. Specify failure. Generalize success.

36. All rejected applications are valuable gifts, the summed value of which will purchase tremendous acceptance in the future.

37. When you don't get the grant you will doubt yourself. When you get the grant you will be proud of yourself and then doubt yourself. All of that is fine.

38. Be wary of out dated and newly minted sonic and musical moralities.

39. Be wary of composers and teachers trash talking "Pop Music" if they aren't referring to specific artists or musical currents. It's entirely possible that they don't know what they are talking about.

40. Be wary of the cult of the "new."

41. Be cautious fixating on new technologies just because they are new. Consider letting your musical imagination guide you to the technology that will aid in the realization of the imagined sounds.

42. Think about what caveman music might have sounded like, and what purpose it might have served.

43. Send your music to your middle school music teacher. I bet he/she will be really happy you did.

44. Make more music. We need it.

I wrote this piece in response to Annie Gosfield's Article for the New York Times website entitled "Advice for Young Composers."