Sunday, June 04, 2006

Rampant production costs

In the olden days, musicians walked into the studio and played as a group. They did a couple of takes, and the recording engineer decided which one was the "keeper". Nowadays musicians go into the studio one at a time and record in their own little booth. There is no group interaction. This might make sense if the group is Met*llica, where the members apparently hate each other as well as their fans, and simply do not want to meet. Most of the time, it takes away some of the dynamics of the actual performance. Rarely does this method make the music come alive more than the group-going-flat-out-together method.

It also jacks up the costs something fierce, apparently. Although the equipment has become increasingly affordable, the studio and production costs have skyrocketed. How else can this be explained; the movie "Gladiator" cost 103 million dollars to make. It has a cast of dozens if not hundreds of people and took a lot of time to make. It was promoted like nothing else, there was complete media saturation. It sells on DVD for $15.
The latest record by James Bl*nt sells on regular CD for $19 in shops. That would theoretically put its budget at 133 million dollars, and only the Deity of your choice knows how many people were involved then.
Perhaps the newer DVD technology compared to the older CD solution is the answer; the sound off a DVD is quite a lot better than the sound off a CD. Surround, for starters, and higher sample and bitrates. No contest, ask any technician. Newer digital tech is always better and cheaper than old.

Or is it simply that the music business is taking us for one hell of a ride? Could it be that someone is gouging consumers in a way that would make the mafia blush and stammer?
The infrastructure of movie theatres is not cheap compared to the music business, where any half-broke music lover can set up a shop with just a stereo to play samples on and a couple of tables. The retail of a CD is certainly not more expensive than the retail of a DVD, so there can be no real difference in costs there. Without marketing neither record nor movie would sell, and movie ads are no cheaper than ads for records. And still, the huge production movie is cheaper than the music. And in this case, has much better music (Lisa Gerrard is a goddess!).

Could someone that has at least an ounce of credibility explain this to us?


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