Interview: Analog Vs Digital, Streaming, Vinyl, and the Music Business
Interview Questions by A Random Lakewood Resident and Responses by James Kananen Producer from Bad Racket Recording Studio
How has music streaming affected you? What about your clients?
Streaming has affected me personally by allowing me to enjoy many types of music i may have not been able to get into before. Almost anything is just a few clicks away. My clients (which includes individuals, groups, and larger organizations too) have benefited from cheap distribution of content directly to consumers. Unfortunately, for most, the income gained from streaming has been very little compared to income from traditional distribution methods like CDs and records, and consumers are still trying to figure what they’re willing to pay for digital streaming.
How is a democratic and global internet market helpful for the studio’s business?
I would hardly say the internet is a “democratic” system. It’s more like anarchy with anyone able to publish anything at anytime at no cost. There’s no internet “vote” unless votes are clicks and views, in which case maybe it is a sort of great equalizer democracy in that sense. How this fits into our studio business is anyone can use these new tools to market and promote their music to millions of fans, and we can connect to help them with the services they need through tools like google. The internet is how people find things these days, the good will rise to the top the same as it always has, and you can’t stop that. .
When Bad Racket started, how did you expect your business to thrive?
I’ve been lucky to work with some of the greatest people, and share some of the greatest experiences; but i never expected it to “thrive”. I knew it was more about the experience than the money for me.
I had a perhaps naive idea, that through hard work and unrelenting efforts, we couldn’t fail, and by not accepting failure as an option, we could continue to work towards our goal of creating a community where creative music could be shared. And for the most part, we’ve been successful. Cleveland is like an island of talent with people that come and go from but there’s no reason why you can’t make it happen for yourself here. The cost of living is much lower, and the cost of making music is lower here too.
What is your stance on music streaming? What do you think of the following?
I thought: well the value of books probably went down when they invented the printing press too, and no one’s going to argue that that was a bad thing now that everyone can read. You can connect to almost anything with a few clicks of the mouse or taps of the screen. Yeah, probably musicians are less likely to make a lot of money, but a lot more people are making music these days, and so the money is spread around a little bit more. I want people to make music, and to freely communicate their art not just because I have a business in the arts, but because I want to enjoy awesome new music, which is made DIY by real people.
As for the book mentioned in the article, I feel like it’s hardly an exact fore-shadowing of the times, although, arguably I didn’t read it cover to cover, and it’s a difficult read. It goes through the the process of making and consuming music, and the control and monetisation that occurred by the people in power. To interpret the value of music purely on its dollar value isn’t how I see it, and the book looks at music from a social economic and political perspective based on money, not an artistic one based on feeling and experience.
How do you deal with vinyl? What about analog vs. digital? Which do you like, and why?
I like vinyl, I like analog, I like digital. It’s not a fight between analog vs digital, because analog is physical, digital is virtual. They’re just different tools, and a lot has to do with how you use those tools, not whether the tools you’re using are analog or digital. Vinyl has a special quality in its own, and just like a painting can be on canvas, or on wood, or represented as a digital copy, each has it’s place, and music can be enjoyed in many ways.
What happens when music streaming takes over?
Things change over time. People will always listen to music, and streaming services will continue to push out more expensive older technology naturally over time. Affordable DIY manufacturing and distribution will lead to more creativity and variety for consumers, and artists will create new revenue sources (like merchandizing and giving live performances) which go back to selling the human element of art. Its an exciting time for artists, consumers, and the people like me who are providing services to help connect the musicians with an ever changing world.