The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) had its annual convention a couple of weeks ago, and Chris Muratone and Rob Sisco of SoundScan gave an overview presentation of Soundscan data from 2006.
The data is fascinating. Think music is heading to the long tail? Well 89% of all albums released in 2006 (by indies and majors) sold fewer than 1000 units. 74% sold fewer than 100 units.
So if you crack the top 11% of all artists, keep your album production expenses under $5000, and earn $5 an album, you can break even. Earn $10 an album and you’re making $5000.
There are many more fun facts in the deck (just don’t read it in slide show mode – too many animation effects in it…)
The Hartford Courant wonders whether the super-short musical intros to Lost, Seinfeld, and Ugly Betty are a sign of TV theme songs dying out:
So, obviously, people like TV themes. Why don’t network executives? They’ve been trying to kill them off since the 1990s, when “Seinfeld” opened with a funky – but very quick – bass line.
Bob Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, blames it on network consultants fretting over viewers’ itchy remote fingers.
“The idea was that you had to immediately close in your audience like quicksand, and a theme song that would provide nothing new was an invitation to check out other channels,” Thompson says.
Sure, sales execs are going to fight for another 30 seconds of commercial time to sell each week. But I can’t agree with the article. Theme songs are thriving. American Idol, CSI, Battlestar Galactica, House, and The Office – plus anything on in late night – all have prominent themes.
The article laments that Ugly Betty devotes a scant 11 seconds to Jeff Beal’s theme. But Lost’s theme song – basically a few seconds of interesting sound design – is essential to the show’s atmosphere. (Really, can you imagine anything else? Try this alternative Lost theme song
on for size. Not quite the same, is it?)
Whatever the length, TV themes are still essential to establishing both the storytelling atmosphere and the “brand” of their shows. Seinfeld’s bass-and-beatboxing and the 60 Minutes stopwatch may not be as musically complete as Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance or Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, but they are just as indelible.
For film makers needing a score with traditional Chinese instruments, here’s a site to do quick research on Chinese instruments. Spend a few minutes here and you’ll soon pass the quiz to identify the Er-Hu vs. the Liuqin, or the Dizi vs. the Bawu. You’ll recognize nearly all the sounds from movies you’ve seen.
There’s so much going on in search engine land right now I can’t help but make a couple of comments:
So you’re doing your demo, and if you don’t have it mixed well, people will reject you as a loser after hearing 5 seconds of it. So here are some mistakes to avoid.
The first is mastering your own stuff. A successful composer recently told me: there’s a reason why people are mastering engineers. If it was easy to do, the world wouldn’t have mastering engineers. Besides, you probably don’t own the gear you need to do the job well.
Yes, hiring someone can be expensive, but there are places online which work cheap. MasteringCafe is a Warsaw-based mastering house, they’ll master a track for $40. (considering they probably spend a few hours on a track, that’s $15 an hour, which ain’t bad in Warsaw). Are they any good? Your call – their demos are here.
OK, so the second biggest demo mistake is making a bad mix. OK, so there are a billion sub-mistakes in that one but the MasteringCafe guys have a tidy list of the basic mistakes to avoid, covering short, specific tips on things like mixdown, levels and compression. Enjoy!