the inferno of “hot” music

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I asked Brad yesterday whether he thought the explosion of access to new music provided by the Web (Difference) had actually led to an explosion of better music. To me, this is still the operative question: will more (and easier and faster) lead to better.

This article, widely disseminated last year on the blogosphere, perhaps points the way to an answer. It discusses the peril of “hot” music–that is, music which a recording engineer makes (artificially) louder in a final mix, thus flattening out its range, contrast, dynamics, but making it more engaging (for the first five seconds) on radio or iTunes sample. I think there’s no way without copious access to the long-tail that the (pop) music industry escapes this trend; indeed, it’s an interesting game theory phenomenon, for we would all enjoy music with more dynamic contrast, but if one band makes their songs just a little louder, they gain a disproportionate edge in the battle for short attention spans. Crucially, I think the Web Difference here is that because the amount of content available is now orders of magnitude greater, a band would do better to “cool” off their music to make it stand out.

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