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Question ? If Bill were to re-issue one or more of the following albums as a 'lossless' FLAC download for you to burn to CD. Which ones would you want ? The download would also include high quality 300dpi artwork for you to print out.
The Alchemical Adventures Of Sailor Bill 12%  12%  [ 17 ]
Neptune's Galaxy 7%  7%  [ 9 ]
The Romance Of Sustain 33%  33%  [ 45 ]
Orpheus In Ultraland 28%  28%  [ 39 ]
Custom Deluxe 13%  13%  [ 18 ]
Dreamland To Starboard 7%  7%  [ 10 ]
Total votes : 138
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:05 am 
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csp wrote:
There are always people on forums that think they own them and have the right to direct any thread. Not to worry, I will now ignore you as you suggest as you indeed have nothing to say.

And that is exactly what you are doing. Look, you attacked me and continue to talk down to me. You decided to make it personal, not me. End of story. Thank you for ignoring me in the future.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:45 am 
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Come on, folks, let a little light in. It doesn't have to be such an intense issue. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but let's try and be fair about it and not turn it into a slagging match. Personal attacks only bring people down. Relax, live and let live, eh? :)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:59 am 
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:lol:


Last edited by Carole Young on Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:24 am 
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Let's get this Thread back on track !

Given what people have said so far I thought I'd make clear some points.


The Download Poll:

Sound On Sound have been involved with Bill as both the host/ maintainer of his web site, the manufacturer of his CDs and provider of the mail order service since 2005. We got involved because we, as fans, saw that Bill needed help reaching a wider audience and it was difficult to purchase the CDs. The previous 10 years or so had seen Bill's music released and distributed by a number of companies, few of whom ever fully paid him for his efforts. Like the big record companies, many of them used the excuse of the CD not having recouped it's costs. It was only when Bill's previous fan site RWBV got involved that things improved.

SOS made a commitment to Bill that he would see the very best possible percentage on every CD sale. Bill is fully aware of the mastering and pressing costs, the credit card fees, postage & packing charges and his management company's percentage. Today, it won't come as a surprise to know that artists like Bill having got this level of control wish to hang on to it. The Music Industry has a long history of ripping off artists. With full artistic control and the means to deliver direct-to-market, artists like Bill and his peers are finally getting a better deal. Now all we need to do is get the numbers up !

The inspiration for this Poll came about as a result of a very interesting thread on the Forum discussing the merits of Downloads. This discussion has touched on the single track or full album download, the benefits, or not, of going with the big boys i.e: iTunes etc and the sonic quality or lack of it delivered by MP3 and other formats.

SOS is committed to supporting and helping Bill find ways to deliver his music to fans whether that be through CD or download means. The point of the Poll was to gauge the 'true' interest in 'out-of-print' back catalogue material. Bill chose the initial list of CDs to test the water.

The current situation is that 'out-of-print' CDs often sell on eBay for astronomical prices. Bill as the artist sees none of the revenue. There is obviously a demand from fans to obtain these CDs. It's not that they probably haven't got the music by some other means though ;-) Pirate download sites or a CDr from a friend.

Re-press or not ?

The democratic and legal way to make the old material available is to either re-press the CD or make it available as a download. The cost of a 'proper' re-press is not cost effective. Remember there's no big record company cash-flowing the manufacture of dozens and dozens of different artist's albums, where the big sellers help to off-set the lesser selling albums. The cost of re-pressing directly hits Bill.

SOS deal with many of the UK CD pressing companies because they advertise in our magazine. So, you'll appreciate we know where to get a 'deal' on pressing. Nevertheless, these days few companies actually want to press less than 1,000 units. In fact, to deter you they make the cost of 500 around 85% of the cost of 1,000, not half ! So, if the immediate demand for a back catalogue CD is perhaps 200 or so, the cost of manufacture and the very slow stock movement don't make re-pressing sensible. Not to mention the upfront capital outlay to pay for the pressing. Re-pressing one or two CDs may be OK but it seems fans want many many more 'out-of-print' titles, perhaps 10 or 15 different ones. The cost of physically re-pressing that number of albums is just not feasible.

You might say "what about burn-on-demand or short-run CDr copies". Well we're back to the eBay problem because it's something different and collectable again ! Any such items that smell of being unique add value and the price goes through the roof.

The only way to make the music available to fans within the bounds of current technology and at the audio quality Bill prefers, is via a FLAC download. However, it does seem that some people are confused by this and think it's only going to be slightly better quality than MP3. It's not slightly better, it's perfect. Exactly the same as the master disc that the CDs are manufactured from.

Sound Formats:

MP3, Apple's AAC or Microsoft Windows WMA formats are all compression based lossy formats. That's why the file sizes are smaller and quick to download. FLAC is akin to a .ZIP file for computer programs. Yes, it's a means of file-size compression but nothing is lost. It's a 'delivery' format not a sound format. There is a big difference. Like a .ZIP, a FLAC file makes it quicker to download but then you can't do anything with the file until you've restored it to it's former glory. Decompressing the file back to it's full size results in a perfect fully functional program, or in this case a 16-bit 44.1kHz music file. All you have to do then is burn the file onto a blank CD and you have the exact same quality as the pressed disc. Zero's and One's are just that, 0 and 1. If you then choose to import the tracks into your iTunes or MP3 player that's your choice. When you add in a high resolution 300dpi artwork file, yes the exact same one that's sent to the pressing plant for printing, then all you have to do is print it out on your inkjet, trim and fold - Voila !

iTunes and other Download sites

Commercially, the most popular download sites such as iTunes all work on a similar basis. In iTunes case, 79 pence / 99 cents per track or buy the whole album and get a discount. Whilst it has been reported that Apple offer a 70-30 split in the artist's favour, let's look at that in detail:

How did the music get onto iTunes? Well Mr Big record company got it there. And, just like when they manufacture vinyl or CDs, there's a deduction from the artist. True, iTunes and others have made it easy for small independent artist to get their music heard. How does that happen? Well there's usually a company in the middle called a Digital Music Distributor or Aggregator. These companies have emerged as yet another 'middleman' to make money out of musicians. They operate on several different business models but most charge an upfront fee per track
which is often a re-occurring annual fee and often they take a percentage of the sales too. Do they report back the true number of downloads? Do they pay on time ? What other deductions creep onto the invoice ?

These companies have helped Apple and the like deal with the thousands of artists who want to get their music onto a download site. You can see that nothing has really changed. The record company or independent artists originate the music. The Digital Music Distributor is the equivalent of today's pressing plant except unlike a pressing plant that manufactures a physical artefact, these guys deal in 'digits' and they keep reapplying a fee. iTunes and the like are just the modern day record store, your HMV, Virgin, Tower Records, etc. All the way through this journey, from the artist handing over the master CD right down to the store, people are taking a slice. Different technology maybe, but the same old people are making a buck !

Most of these Digital Music Distributors are still privately owned companies but as they grow, and they are growing very fast, time will see the big boys swoop in and buy them up. Just like EMI owned their own pressing plants. The more you control the chain the more chance you have of dominating the market. What ? Big record companies fast- tracking their artist through the Digital Music Distributors and onto iTunes ahead of the 'also rans' they're supposed to be uploading to iTunes? Surely not, that would be market manipulation !

In Conclusion:

It seems that, given the demand for so many of Bill's back catalogue CD titles, the only economical way forward and at the level of quality that Bill would wish his music to be heard, a FLAC download is the best solution. It's fairly low-cost for SOS to encode the CDs to FLAC format and we already have an existing relationship with a FLAC Download site partner.
It's now up to Bill to decide if he wants to do it.

Paul Gilby
New Media Manager
Sound On Sound

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posted by Sound On Sound - The magazine not the album !


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:39 pm 
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Paul,

That is an excellent summary of the various issues and I personally found it very interesting and informative. Thank you for taking the time to post it.

While I do not need the download option at the moment I hope, for the sake of those that do, that Bill takes up this option.

Mick

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:40 pm 
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Well that just about clears that up!..all that needs to be done now is decide which album gets most votes..which is what this thread was all about to start with!.. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:47 pm 
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Bill:
I apologise, not my intention to come here to argue. I am interested in this thread though, as I'd like to obtain a couple of things I missed. I took offense at some, in my view, less than proper comments.

Sound on Sound (and Bill):
I appreciate the long explanation.

One point I will raise is that the albums listed (and many others) have long been available to anyone wishing to (illegally) download them, in both FLAC and mp3 format, ripped from the real CD by people that are less than scrupulous. Do a search on Google and you'll see what I mean, the torrents are there and I downloaded Orpheus in Ultraland today to see if it was genuine. It is, complete with hi-res artwork! I'm not interested in this though, I'd like to have the CD with professionally printed artwork, not as files in my MacPro...

My point is that you can put the FLAC up for download at whatever price you want, but the fact is that these things have long been available in that format "for free", representing already lost sales and a free alternative unless you can prevent it... I suspect people here are not daring to write this.

The real currency is the actual item, that's why the CD sells for so much on eBay and the FLAC is free for anyone that is guilt-free enough to download it.

Sorry to point this out, but do the test yourself...


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:09 pm 
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I had to just vote for Orpheus as that's the only one that I don't have. But I'm glad to see the FLAC format being used. To me that adds value over any mp3 release. I've noticed that a number of jam bands offer both FLAC and mp3 with FLAC being a bit more expensive (and worth it.)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 4:49 pm 
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Bill is aware that his CDs have been available via bit-torrent sites for many years. In fact it astounds me that a fan actually buys a proper CD from Bill's Dreamsville Store, converts it to FLAC and then uploads it to such sites. What kind of a fan is that ?

Anyway, the point of making them 'officially' available as FLAC downloads will give those people who would prefer to purchase from a legal site the opportunity to do so.

And yes we know that even these official download files will get copied and uploaded to pirate sites.
However, there are ways to uniquely fingerprint a FLAC file :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:32 pm 
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I have no misunderstanding at all about FLAC , just that I have experienced problems with it in the same way that I have experienced problems with any compression system either zip, rar ...

Good luck with whichever download wins ...

Last time I checked FLAC is not self extracting and although I for one make money dealing with music technology , some people, even those owning computers won't know how to convert a FLAC file, or have the software to do so.. . there are even people out there who would not have a clue how to burn CD, yet enjoy listening to music...
And of course there are people that won't be able to print off the covers or labels either... they do exist and walk amongst us on a daily basis.

By using FLAC you are targetting the cognoscenti ....and them alone.


regards

Fitvideo

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Last edited by Fitvideo on Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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