Beware of the coin men! 

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I’ve been reading about Blockchain lately… You’ve probably heard of it, at least you must have heard of Bitcoin, and have heard the latest crypto babble that the media enjoys so much. After all a good jargon is the wet dream of every journalist.

Now this technology is supposed to be the remedy to everything… Yes! Even the music industry! And well, if it can cure that, surely it will cure cancer!

Enter Musicoin and co

In the unsigned world, I see some people rave about Musicoin for example, and how this wonderful platform is going to pay out more than any streaming platform and materialize money out of thin air, without any ads, while still being totally free for listeners. That’s pure magic or I don’t know what!

Turns out that Musicoin is only one of the many new platforms with more white paper than sense, apparently. (Boy! Do they love their white papers! They are all chock full of technical jargon that is mostly included to confuse you even more than you were). Digging a bit, without too much effort, I then found out about other platforms like ArtbyteSoundchain, Emanate, eMusic, Bittunes, Voise, ChoonUjo (this one is funny, with Imogen Heap herself having released her “Tiny Human” song which sales amounted to a grand total of $133.20!) plus all these exotic new “currencies” dedicated to music like Musicoin but also Audiocoin, Songcoin, Metal Music Coin, Muse, Beatcoin… looks like they invent a new coin every day. Check out this website which references 1916 of these entries (as of today anyway!) Actually there is even a platform that allows anyone to create their own! Time for a BeardCoin?

My first contact with Musicoin was from links that some indie enthusiasts were sharing. Being curious I tried to listen, but the player would never want to play, so I went to the website and it looked rather messy to me. Not a really good impression overall. But OK. That’s another beta platform, right? <insert big sigh here>

Since their claim to being able to pay a decent amount per play was pretty extra-ordinary, I decided I would dig further… But I’m going to tell you straight up: I didn’t like what I found. At all.

Monkey money, monkey business

First, the value of Musicoin is in fact so fluctuant that what you read on their platform about the supposed earnings of the artists is never even close to reality. You see, first you have to exchange $MUSIC currency into another more accepted crypto currency (Like Bitcoin or Ethereum), using a convoluted process involving trading on a coin market or another (there are only a couple that can do this at the moment). The process is so ridiculously complex, involving installing a wallet application on your PC, opening an account on a couple trading sites, juggling with obscure hashes and calculating decimals, and gauging whether the time is right to “sell” your precious coins, that only seriously chronic nerds are going to want to go near it. I’m not joking, see this tutorial.

The real cost of Blockchain

The recommended process to ultimately withdraw your few Musicoin earnings is to trade them first against Bitcoin. Of course you will have to pay big fees to do so because the computing of your transaction involves a lot of computers in a pool, and it gets increasingly more complex as days go by, involving increasingly more processing power, and ultimately, increasingly more electricity. Fact is, Bitcoin today is already using 0.5% of the world’s electricity and by late next year, will be consuming more electricity than can be produced by the entire world solar panels. Let this all sink in for a moment. 

And then of course, once you get your Bitcoins fractions, you will have to trade them again on another coin market into some real money, which means a lot more transaction fees (up to 50% from what I’ve seen) and a lot more electricity consumption…

Techno magic

Reading further on the Blockchain craziness, it turns out there is a lot of approximation and misinformation around (but of course there is, it’s a big buzzword in the press, and most journalists have no clue about the underlying technological issues, which are apparently numerous). I also found some articles that took to debunk all this hype, for example this one about eMusic (a Musicoin competitor). Let’s just say that I don’t have all the background that this guy has, but I have the general feeling again (thanks Mom, wherever you are!) that when something looks too good to be true, it generally is! Anyway, the guy wrote a book about the Blockchain scam.

So, to sum up: you get your tunes on a platform that’s pretty buggy (it’s beta), people are going to listen to them for free, you get paid virtual coins that you need to exchange against other virtual coins using a complex process, opening many accounts on various platforms, leaving more of your private information everywhere, trade on a virtual market that is bound to spiral down when all is said and done (remember the internet bubble burst? I do) and is consuming electricity at an exponential rate, which will ultimately eat all our planet resources… what’s wrong with this picture?

The worst of it

All of this and I still have another issue with this whole thing. And it’s another big one: turns out that this whole mess is again making everyone believe that it’s perfectly normal to listen to music for free, that no one needs to pay for it. Aren’t we all tired of this refrain?

If the fact that it’s all based on more hype and technological magic than reality, the fact that it’s unsustainable long term, the fact that it’s endangering our planet resources, if all of that wasn’t bad enough they are also basically saying that music is not worth paying for. 

Finally, the terms of use pertaining to license grants on most of these new platforms were alarmingly similar to the ones I advised everyone to stay away from

In conclusion, you know what? I wish you all good luck with this, but you can count me out. I mean until they come out with something really significant of course, like a BeardCoin for example, at which point I might trade my Monopoly money for it.

License to steal 

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The indie world is full of wonders! No, really! Every day, if you are an unsigned artist, you will get at least a dozen of marvelous opportunities in your mailbox, or via social media private messages… It’s amazing how everyone wants you on their platforms or radio, amazing how many people want to promote your music, and bring you in front of millions of potential fans!

Turns out that all of these so called opportunities are click baits and you will soon learn that for the discounted price of $$$ (they accept Paypal!) you will be the new star of a social media no man’s land, guaranteed!

I must be getting old, because I will repeat what my mama used to say: when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! That’s right, if you look closer, all of these wonderful opportunities turn out to not much… but hey, they are at a discounted price!

If you are new to this business, you will quickly learn to discard all these scams, they are not that hard to distinguish, really!

What might be a bit harder to wrap your head around are the countless platforms and radios who are not asking money upfront. You might think: “Great! These are not the scammers, finally! These are real genuine music lovers and they are going to help me reach an audience”.

Now is the right time to read the fine prints. 

They usually have that kind of things on a form you will need to sign or agree to when you submit, or as a “terms of use” on their website. Don’t skip that reading! There’s a lot of boring boiler plate stuff, but there’s usually a paragraph about Intellectual Property, or Ownership, or License, or License Grant, or something that defines who owns what, and what you agree to when submitting as pertaining to your content.

USER TERMS - LICENSE

Here’s one of these paragraph, taken randomly from a radio website (that shall remain unnamed - XXX below -, but believe me, there are countless of the same clauses in the “terms of use” everywhere on a big majority of these platforms and radios), so here is just one example:

“With respect to any Content posted by or in connection with the Products and Services, you hereby grant XXX a WORLD-WIDE, ROYALTY FREE, IRREVOCABLE, PERPETUAL license, alone or together or as part of other information, Content and/or material of any kind or nature, to use, copy, modify, publish, edit, translate, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, and otherwise EXPLOIT such Content (specifically including through streaming, podcasting, online/broadcast and satellite radio, suggested playlists and user playlists, but specifically excluding through phonograph records), to publish and promote such Content in connection with the particular Products and Services (including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes), to publish and promote such Content elsewhere within XXX or any other XXX website through links to XXX, and to SUBLICENSE such rights through multiple tiers of sublicenses, all without any obligation to you, whether by way of compensation, attribution or otherwise. Such license shall apply with respect to any form, media, or technology now known or hereafter developed.

I have highlighted here the part that they especially DON’T want you to pay too close attention to. Read it again. Let it sink in!

What this basically says is that you are granting these people the perpetual, irrevocable right to do anything they want with your music, to use as they see fit on their platform/radio or any other that they might be affiliated to and might create later. They might use it and license it somewhere else, without your knowledge and you will have no recourse against that. They will have NO obligation to you, not even the obligation to say that this is YOUR music. In short, it’s the good old “all your data are belong to us” again!

So I suggest you read all these “term of use” very closely. Each time you submit your music somewhere. You might have already submitted somewhere with these kinds of terms. I’m pretty sure you did, because they are everywhere. Now is time to think of how much you want that supposed exposure, are you prepare to forfeit your rights to your own music perpetually and irrevocably? What kind of compensation will you actually get from it?

So, again, think long and hard about where you put your music, because otherwise one of these days you will realize that they might not have a license to kill, but you might have granted them a license to steal!

How much is fair? 

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On twitter this week, Indie Music Bus asked an interesting question to artists: What do you think is a fair amount of money to stream 1 of your songs?

I thought about it and I will try to elaborate my reasoning here.

Let’s say the average number of plays for someone buying one of your tune on iTunes or others at a price of $1 (let’s forget the taxes and such to make this simpler) is about 50. That’s a generous number, because I would think that most people will get bored with your tune before hearing it fifty times, some songs might get more love, but most would get less, so let’s keep it simple again, even if this is a gross exaggeration…

Now let’s say that on average the artist gets 50% of the $1. Again that would be an average, because if you sell on your own site, you will get 100%, on Bandcamp you would earn 85% on iTunes, around 35%. So it really depends where you would have sold the song in the first place… But let’s say that you get 50%… this means that you should get $0.5 for about a 50 plays, right?

So to me, the logical, basic, common sense answer on the artist side is $0.5/50 = $0.01 per stream… Now, compare that to the average (ponderated among all streaming platforms) of $0.0016 and you will see that we’re far from what would be considered fair right now.

You would say: but these streaming platforms have servers and development costs, employees to pay, offices to rent, etc. Of course! And I would never imply that they shouldn’t take their cut and cover their expenses and costs.

But let’s take Spotify for example: because they keep offering freemium subscriptions (which they have said will increase), spend their money on huge paychecks and royal accommodations while losing millions of dollars and letting scams undermine their own business model, it looks like their cut is never going to be enough. And this is why they are paying less and less royalties, use loopholes and lies to avoid paying royalties and are sued for not paying altogether… 

It’s hard to believe that they are acting towards making things right, nor that they have the will to do so in any foreseeable future. I don’t see streaming platforms in general working towards paying artists fairly, quite the contrary, and because of that, I believe we, artists, should not support them in any way.

So in the end, before asking what’s fair for artists, perhaps we should start exposing how unfair the current situation is and make every music lover aware of it.

Questions, questions 

Since I’ve started this thing on social media and reached out to many people in the unsigned world, I’ve virtually “met” countless passionate individuals both sides of the mic.

I’ve been interviewed a few times, and each time I enjoyed the conversation, as much as I hope people listening or reading have enjoyed it…

Still I’ve always felt that I needed to know more about the one behind the mic or the email, because as much as it’s fun to be asked questions about your passion, it’s also a bit frustrating because it only goes one way.

So I’ve started thinking (yes, this happens to me sometimes, I try to reduce that to a minimum, I assure you!), and came to the conclusion that I would like to reverse the roles for a moment, basically interview the interviewers… Not quite sure yet what form this will take, could be a written interview via email, or a Skype conversation, and it could be published in writing or as a podcast, or both.

I’ll probably need to add yet another section to this website which is becoming a monster hub of many things (hopefully fun!), but I think it would be nice to hear about these people that I call partners: Radio hosts, bloggers, promoters, etc… How they got the bug, how they started, how they operate, what are their goals and ambitions, what they think about the state of the music industry… I believe there are a lot of subjects that could be discussed and this could shine a light on those unsung heroes of the unsigned world.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions? Are you a partner that would like to give this a try? Let me know in the comments below…

Piracy vs streaming 

One of the argument I hear often about the marvelous benefits of streaming is how it has been the music industry savior, after the Napster years of generalized piracy which killed the cash cow that labels were enjoying, selling CDs and CD re-releases at prohibitive prices…

Perhaps it’s true for big labels, who, although they’ve seen their margins drastically reduced since their heyday (but truth is that they were pretty guilty of milking that cash cow much too much), are now enjoying some renewed revenue from streaming, thanks to their partnership contracts, allowing them to collect most of the revenues generated (the top 10% of the streaming catalog from all providers is collecting 99% of the revenues). Not so surprising when the search algorithms and big playlists pushed to streaming platforms users are carefully tweaked to favorite the big labels and their artists.

Once again, it’s the independent labels and the unsigned artists who bear the brunt of the industry debacle. And I would argue that the supposed streaming savior has made no difference at all for these 90%, who are truly the collateral damage of this digital economy, as Maria Schneider, five time Grammy award winner, points out in her open letter to the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) outlining her perspective on the MMA (Music Modernization Act). 

And not only didn’t streaming made any difference for independent artists, I would also say it made things worse.

But hey! Piracy has been vanquished, hasn’t it? Well, there are some indications that it’s actually not the case, as you can see in the chart above which lists the percentage of various types of copyright infringements by age group (based on consumer research from IFPI - the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry). 

Combine Youtube free-for-all, – knowing they are by far the biggest streaming platform nowadays, with a pay per play rate far below any other thanks to infamous “Safe Harbor” loopholes –, with a rise of “stream ripping” tools, allowing anyone to download what’s played from free accounts on any streaming platforms, and you get a much more insidious kind of piracy, one that takes the guise of legality and one that is mostly benefiting the streaming giants.

Again, if big labels, and indeed streaming platforms can brush that off as simple losses compensated by their ad-generated huge profits, it cannot be the case for unsigned artists who are seeing their work stolen, or abused at a pay per play rate so low it’s laughable. What artists lose by believing in the streaming golden mirage is real physical and download sales that is fair pay for their craft, investment, time and efforts.

In the end, I would argue that piracy was better for unsigned artists, as it was mostly touching big labels, and it was after all, illegal, so actions could be taken against it. Nowadays, streaming is little more than legalized piracy and there’s not much we can do about it, or so it seems, short of opting out and educating our fans. I believe that opting out is our only option because it is our work that is exploited… Remove the work and that could ultimately force the industry to reconsider the digital economy landscape. If they don’t do it, then I suppose it’s time we do it ourselves.

But until we all remove our copyrighted work from all these places where everyone can access it and pirate it freely at no cost and with no consequences, there’s no doubt we are in fact just feeding the monster…

Ready for a change?

EDIT: Also see, published today, this article from Digital Music News

The true story of royalties 

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I wanted to share my experience, what I call “the true story of royalties for unsigned artists”…

First, know that Radio airplay is considered a public performance. Public performances generate performance royalties for songwriters, which are collected by the PROs (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC in the US, SOCAN in Canada, PRS in the UK, SACEM in France, basically every country have their own Publishing Rights Organization). There’s an issue with FM/AM radios in the US not paying performance rights, only songwriters rights, but that’s a story for another day.

Now I’ve had various discussions lately with artists and some radios hosts, and some people argued that right now the issue with internet radios is that the vast majority of them is not paying any royalties. It should be illegal, right? For sure, but the reality is that there is so much of them that no law enforcement action is taken against them because of lack of clear regulations (some loopholes being used?) or simple lack of resources for the law to be enforced in the first place.

The internet is really like the old Wild West, and when it comes to trying to defend the artists copyright, there’s basically no sheriff you can turn to. In the US for example, if you really want to make a case of it, you’d have to sue in a federal court, which is going to cost you such a huge amount of money that it’s basically not practically possible.

But then, there is also another problem… The fact is that whether these radios you are played on are paying their dues or not is not going to make any difference for you. You will not see a cent from the airplay anyway!

That's right! Believe it or not, being played on a radio that pays royalties or not is not making any difference for unsigned artists right now! Even radios who are playing nothing but unsigned artists are actually not paying royalties back to the artists they play, they are just sending checks to big labels. How screwy is that?

All of this is because basically the radios (or their internet providers paying royalties out of the radio subscription) are paying a “blanket” license for all the airplay. These blanket licenses represent X amount of songs played during X amount of hours. This is paid to the PROs, and what do the PROs do with that money? Well, they are not looking at who has been played, it would be too much of an effort, right? So they are paying a pro rata to labels based on their market share. Yep, you got that right! It basically means big labels get the big checks, the little labels get little checks, and guess what kind of check the independent artists get? 

The result of this is that since I’ve released my first EP, in June last year (almost 9 months ago!), I have received 0 cent from airplay, even from radios that I know for sure are paying royalties. I just went again to my SOCAN royalties statement who is still desperately blank, 9 months and many airplay later…

So really, there is a dire need for radios to do things right. But first, the legislation that governs the copyrights and the blanket licenses should be amended so that the true owners of the copyrights are compensated for each airplay and not as a pro rata of their market share, because truly they get nothing from that.

The value of music 

You will hear it everywhere, from all sorts of sources: people don’t buy music nowadays! And truth is, why would they? When you can stream music for free everywhere, right?

Still there are indications that there are some people still buying music, which gives some hope for its future.

First was a report from Bandcamp (an indie music store) that boast 73% revenues increased for 2017 - so surely some people have bought some music…

Another trend (and something I would myself call a fad, but one that is significant of a slight change in listeners’ habits), is the unlikely rise of vinyl records sales. Personally, I don’t believe at all that vinyl sounds better, because it’s a proven myth that has no scientific justification, but the fact that people are buying them again is significant to a certain attachment to an object, and what it represents… Albums in particular were once seen as treasures and something we enjoyed discovering, something we placed value in. 

Anyway, again this proves that some people are buying music and are finding value in it and in the artists who have made it.

So I believe that if artists stopped devaluating their own music by giving it for free and for streaming altogether, this would further incite people to buy their music. If artists started seeing value in their own music, others too would see it again as something of value. 

Now that’s a thought!

Inward - early feedback 

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As you might know, I’m going to release a new album soon, called “Inward”, the date is set for May 4th with a pre-order date as soon as March 2nd

I believe this is my best album to date. It contains what I consider some of my best songs and defines my own sound and style, which is a blend of many influences from many genres and the result of years of practicing and learning my craft. I believe it is also my best sounding album, where I’ve been able to truly find the sound I was looking for along the years...

I have sent a preview to a few close friends to get some early feedback on the last mastering, and have been blessed by some truly humbling comments. Here are a few (excuse their French!).

 

Al Yardy (KB Radio)

“This is fantastic.   blown away.. I am hearing so much in here.   You should be very proud.   I truly am very impressed.  Friends or not, I wouldn’t blow smoke up your ass. I might be diplomatic, but I won’t give you glowing accolades if I don’t mean it.”

Lee Pugh (The Puss Puss Band)

“Production is absolutely fucking beautiful man….really exquisite job it must be said and sooo many sweet progressions, and groovy soulful changes man.  . For me though personally Let Go is my favourite. It’s so hip it almost hurts :D”

Lakisha (KiKi) Skinner (Klef Notes):

“Ghost??  Ghost??  Just drop the mic.  You have done it again bruh!  I too really love the overall quality of the production and direction of this new stuff.“

Clare Shorthouse Fowler (Dandelion Charm):

“The production is delightful, really clear and wide, this is a fantastic sounding record. Love the lyrics and vibe and the guitar sounds and playing are just stunning!! I love how good music reveals its gifts with repeated listening.”

Virginie Lacour-Puiboube (Laughing at the Raindrops):

"As usual, superb production (some choices are surprising) , and I hear cohesion, accessibility and similarities with previous work with is a good thing (a sign of strong musical identity). The great thing about Ghostly Beard is there is always one tune you WILL really really like!”

Veronica Philips (Photograph):

“It’s spectacular!! Absolutely in love with your guitar playing. Well done sweetheart! You’ve got every reason to be proud of yourself.  The guitar is masterful throughout – I hear hints of Pink Floyd and even a little ELO.  It’s a beautifully constructed album.”

Chris Leon (Your Music Radio):

“I can understand why you are proud of this album, because it’s really great! Somehow it’s exactly what I expected of what you told me before. Really getting some cool unplugged Eric Clapton vibes. The songs are great and they give me a warm feeling actually. I really can feel the love you’ve put into this album.”

Elizabeth O.S. Chute (Passion and Meaning):

"It's absolutely awesome on an emotional, musical, lyrical, instrumental level. What I like so much about your work is the different layers that you are able to create which blend on a 3 dimensional level - from foreground to background and the overall enveloping intimacy. And what can I say about your lyrics? - they are so poignant. Together all of this is an experience which flows so well from each song to the next, and leaves your ear wanting for more...  Also because your instrumentals are rich, complex and subtle at the same time - on each listening to get a new experience.  For me that is so important, that there is always something new to experience to take away from a song."

 

So there you go. I asked permission to reproduce these quotes because I’m proud to have touched these people, all good friends, with this album and to know they have been loving it, and of course to make you, the reader, want to hear it!

So be prepared and watch that space! The album will be available for sale on my website (as downloads and CD), and on Amazon, iTunes, Bandcamp and CD Baby. Best place is here of course because no one is taking a cut.

And remember that all net proceeds from sales of the album (whether download or CDs) are going to benefit MusiCounts, so not only will you get great music, but you will do good as well by helping children get a musical education!

Giving back / MusiCounts 

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As I’m preparing to release my third album “Inward”, which I believe is my best work to date, I was wondering how I could give back in a significant way…

If you’ve heard about me, you’ve probably guessed that the album itself will NOT be available for streaming, for reasons I’ve already outlined in a few blog posts: I believe streaming platforms are hurting indie artists by not redistributing their wealth to the rightful copyright owners. Actually, let me rephrase that: streaming platforms are ripping off artists to make a profit!

So, the album will be available for sale only, as download and physical CD, on my website as well as iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and CD Baby. The release date is set to May 4th but it will be available for pre-order as soon as March 2nd.

Now, I’ve always said that I was not doing it for the money, so why not giving it for free, would you ask? The reason is that I strongly believe that music shouldn’t be given for free… In the mind of too many people, music has become a disposable item, which has no value, and I believe it’s wrong! It’s hurting artists, especially indie artists, who put their own money and time and efforts in producing it to give you the best musical experience possible.
Getting it for free is basically stealing it, and depriving artists of their way of life.

If I don’t care about the money, but don’t want to give my music for free, what’s the best option? I figured that the way to go was to give all the Net proceeds from sales of the album (whether download or CDs) to benefit a charity here in Canada. For this I have chosen MusiCounts, because their mission is dear to my heart.

But who is MusiCounts? 

MusiCounts is a Canadian music education charity associated with The JUNO Awards that aims to keep music alive in schools and communities across Canada.

MusiCounts’ mission is to ensure that all children and youth in Canada have access to music education.

What they do is to put instruments into the hands of children who need them the most.

MusiCounts achieves its mission through the Band Aid Program, the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program, the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, Scholarships, The Fred Sherratt Awards, the MusiCounts Inspired Minds Ambassador Award, and other music education initiatives.

I believe it’s a charity worth supporting!

You can find out more about MusiCounts on their website: https://www.musicounts.ca/

And follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MusiCounts/ and Twitter: @MusiCounts

Compression #7 - wrapping up 

I hope you’ve learned a little bit about compression, what it’s used for and how it’s misused as well.

As a listener you should be able to hear over compression and ask your favorite radio hosts to ease off on it if you ear them overdoing it. You can point them here on this blog if that helps. There’s also tons of reference literature on compressors and compression all over the internet.

Here’s a little audio example that should make you clearly hear the destructive aspects of over-compression:

One way I’ve read compression described was that it was similar to a boxer kicking a boxing bag as opposed to a concrete wall (with no compression). The sound is splattered and rounded the same way. The problem is that music needs concrete walls too!

Radio concerns

Don’t mistake over-compression (which sounds like there’s little difference between the low levels and the high levels of a song and everything seems to have been smashed against a rubber wall) with file compression or streaming compression (as we said earlier, most radios air at 128 or 192 kbps), the effects of file compression is often that the sound is a bit phase-y, like the left and right side of the stereo image are a bit off and you get that impression that the sound source location is hard to pick up, the sound kind of swirl in your ears. Bad but unless the bandwidth gets higher (to 256 or 320 kbps) there’s nothing much to be done. But audio over-compression can and should be avoided.

For radio hosts, compression has its use when it comes to your own mic levels, because you want to be heard loud and clear and this will help evening out your voice and put it on top of any background. However, when it comes to music you should be very wary of your compressor/limiter settings. If in doubt, avoid compression and especially limiting.

Since most music sent to radios is already mastered, no compression should be needed.

If limiting is applied, it should only be used as a brick-wall to avoid digital distortion from peaks that would go over 0 dB, depending on how hot the masters you receive are and how you push your faders. But it should never be reducing more than 1 or 2 dB and it shouldn’t be working all the time… if it does, you’re doing it wrong!

In short, please give a chance to the dynamics of songs you are playing. If the songs you get have already been over compressed that’s not your problem, but some songs are mastered to their best level and they shouldn’t be penalized by over compression after the fact.

Remember how tricky it is to assess the quality of a sound when louder always sound better, so you will be fooled by your own ears thinking you’re making it sound bigger and better. More than anything remember that the ultimate level control is up to the listener, so trying to make things artificially louder is going to be futile in the end, and will only be detrimental to the sound quality. When your radio is played quietly, the effect of over compression will make it sound bad, and there’s no reason for it.

The new loudness standards

There is now a general standard in audio land, and indeed most streaming platforms have adopted it as well as most TV and FM radio broadcasters. The consensus nowadays is to use loudness compensation to bring down everything around -14 LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale – I will not go over the details of this norm but there is plenty of literature on the subject all over the internet and I invite you to research a little bit about it).

The fact is that a lot of internet radios and podcasts shows I hear nowadays are playing around -8 LUFS, sometimes even less, sometimes a lot less! Which means that on average they are 6 LUFS (roughly 6 dB) under the generally accepted level of dynamic range. Their sound is over-compressed way more than necessary, and if you remember that a difference of 3 dB is perceived as doubling the level, you will understand that 6 dB of lost dynamics is huge.

Finally, my advice to all radios and podcasts is: have a look at your compression and limiting settings, and when in doubt, avoid it entirely. Your listeners will thank you in the long run. I sure will!

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