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Welcome to my home page. I live in Brooklyn, NY and Oak Bluffs, MA; I'm dad to Hazel. I work as a programmer; I have a dog, and she has a web site too.


Thatcher's rants and musings

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24 July 2017

DIY IR Capture

I wrote up notes on how to capture impulse responses of real rooms, for use in rolling your own room reverb effects.


16 April 2017

Spotify is saving recorded music

I just read the RIAA revenue report for 2016 and it's great news. Revenue from streaming continues to grow fast and is up to $3.9B/year, now 51% of the U.S. music industry's income. Also important: $ from subscription-based streaming (e.g. Spotify Premium) doubled last year. Other things to note: paid downloads are falling off a cliff, same with physical media, except vinyl which was up slightly.

Why is this good news?

1. As a fan, I absolutely love on-demand streaming. I can instantly listen to practically any piece of music ever recorded. Enough people are on board now to ensure that the model will survive.

2. Very low cost overhead. After recording & production, my minimum cost as an indie artist for full distribution is $20/year for a distrokid account, and I get paid starting with the very first stream.

3. Even playing field: megastars, legacy catalog, emerging artists, niche genres are all on the same playing field; nobody is "subsidizing" anyone else, other than we're all collectively subsidizing music in general.

4. The streaming numbers are finally large enough so that it's viable for moderately popular songwriters, musicians, engineers etc to make a living without physical media or paid downloads.

5. (Potentially) much more transparency and control for artists. To the extent that artists own their recordings, they are in the drivers seat in terms of hiring people to help them, scheduling releases etc and they see the effects directly instead of being filtered through labels.

The historical industry based on physical media and radio resulted in a bottleneck, so that even very dedicated fans with money to spend and eclectic tastes ended up listening to the same stuff a lot; meanwhile a few massively popular artists got fabulously wealthy, labels acted as gatekeepers and financiers, and anyone in the margins just kind of scraped by or worse.

In this new world, even very small artists can get their slice, proportional to actual listens, and the label tax goes away.

Fun game with Spotify: pull up an artist, look at the number of plays for their top 5 "Popular songs", and estimate their Spotify earnings: dollars equals play count divided by 200. (The going rate for one stream is approximately half a cent.)

Caveats: this UNDERestimates by only counting the top 5 songs. Artists also get paid noticable amounts of money from other services like Amazon, iTunes and Youtube. It also doesn't count songwriting royalties, separate topic. This OVERestimates earnings in cases where labels or distributors are taking a cut.

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