Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don’t Bang The Drum

A few days ago, dear old Auntie BBC broadcast the first in their series of Electric Proms performances – the mighty Leon Russell musically re-united with Sir Reg of Pinner - live and direct from The Roundhouse.

Not only was one able to view Sir Reg’s hair-extensions as well as LR’s monumental white beard in High Definition but, one could – if one chose to – listen along in equally HD sound via the BBC's I-Player.

And I most certainly did. Not once but quite a few times – perfect music-while-you-work fodder. A few bits, frankly, didn’t bear repeated listens but… most certainly some of the stuff that featured more LR than EJ did.

And… it got me thinking… wouldn’t it be great to have an audio souvenir of that evening at The Roundhouse. Not least, as I know that stuff up on the old I-Player gadget is only available for a while, ie its time specific.

So… how would I listen to my favourite bits in, say, a couple of months time?

One phone call to the audio-equivalent of Dr Watson, located a couple of parishes away, three emails later and a bit more Holmes-like investigation on the wibbly-wobbly, and… a rather splendid solution presented itself.

Its a gadget called Audio Hijack.

And, while its perfectly legal, its one of the scariest things I’ve seen on the web.

In brief, no audio recording out there available to listen to via wibbly-wobbly land is safe.

Audio Hijack takes but a few moments to download… Since I was in pure research mode I went for the freebie variant but, if you want all the bells and whistles, it comes at a price (about 20 squiddlys).

Installation is a doddle… a simple case of dragging the App into one’s App folder and the regulation double-click and bingo… you’re ready to go. Obviously I didn’t read the help-file or on-line manual… that’s a bit like reading the instructions on an Ikea shelving unit… hardly manly, is it? Plus, that’s why hammers were invented.

Anyway… I figured I’d try it out…

I called up Sir Reg and Mister White Beard via the BBC’s I-Player thingie, set the slide-control to a particular track I like and… pressed the button marked record. Music, maestro please… but, to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if I was listening (again) to the tune I’d chosen or if I was listening to it as being recorded by this gadget.

Pressed stop at the end as gales of applause from The Roundhouse hit the headphones and… drat, nope, must have fucked up somewhere as no MP3 file was in sight. Hmmm… maybe I should have squinted (however briefly) at the manual. Thirty seconds later, I’d found the object in question, did the old double-click fandango and… bloody hell, there it was playing away perfectly out of I-Tunes.

Eeeek… I’ve hacked the BBC.

But… and, I promise you, this is quite serious… over the past few weeks while I’ve been re-designing Website X, I’ve also been planning on integrating music into said re-design.

And so, I have been studying the whole SoundCloud scenario which, on the face of it, was starting to look like the way to go.

Because, from what I had worked out, SC gave out great quality (ie you can stream .FLAC files – ie, lossless quality). Plus, various friends of mine from a variety of (name) bands had started to use it as a way of streaming their music… so, if it was good enough for them, then certainly good enough for my purposes. And, most importantly, from what I could work out, it didn’t appear hackable…


I’ve hacked SoundCloud as well.

Which basically means, if I can, then anyone can.

After a bit of a prowl around the wibbly wobbly again, I selected a juicy nugget posted on SoundCloud and… oh, shit, within five minutes I’ve acquired a track that was bonafide posted there as one of two things: (a) for anyone’s listening pleasure or… (b)if you paid X, then you were able to download it.

(a) is a great method of letting one's 'fans' listen to (say) early demos or otherwise unreleased tracks, perhaps rough mixes from an album in progress or finished tracks... all manner of things really. But, most importantly, since the internal SoundCloud gadget is set to non-download... thats the way it is - the listener can listen only and the creative isn't ripped off... Splendid... IF it works.

(b) is equally perfect since it means that creative person Y is PAID for their creativity on tunes that they are quite comfy to have downloaded.

Only problem is - as I proved earlier... it doesn't work.

So.. the solution to my own web-streaming-of-music conundrum?… Well, I guess it’'ll have to be a case of just doing what Apple are about to do on I-Tunes… and that’s plonk up only 90seconds of music.

And… streaming music as being the ‘solution’ via ‘sound clouds’ for creatives being paid as they should be… errr… nope… I wish it was, but today’s little exercise proves worryingly otherwise.


Neil Storey said...

As a quick addendum to the main post, nothing on YouTube is safe either... its almost as easy as drag and drop (copy 'n paste technology) - a couple of clicks and... the HD audio to a previously only viewable as HD video from the Crossroads Guitar Festival of 2007 now nestles in perfect I-Pod quality on my desktop.

OK... so its an MP3 = its not totally lossless but, for the vast majority around the world, that suffices.

Nothing is safe... and, more importantly, how the hell are 'creatives' going to combat this and earn properly as they should?

Foster said...

"How the hell are 'creatives' going to combat this and earn properly as they should?"

They can't.

In the US this is covered under the home recording act of 1986. It is legally the same activity as recording a song off the radio or a TV show to VHS for viewing later.

There is no way to protect the per-copy payment mechanism that the music industry used to make money in the 1900s.

Today, if it can be heard, it can be had.

If your primary model to make money as a 'creative' is to charge listeners/users on a per-copy ownership basis, you are fucked. There is no hope.

You're right; nothing online is safe. Quit trying to put a helmet and kneepads on everything.

Live dangerously. Besides, No risk = No reward.