SRL on Facebook SRL on Skype Contact SRL by Email Call SRL

Stream Skunk Radio Live on Samsung TV, Alexa Radio, Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, Alexa TV, Android TV, Twitch TV, Mixcloud Live and Google Assistant.

Type an artist name, genre, city, music service or anything else, or select a tag below

Why music lost its commercial value, Pt. 5 #TheLoudMessWars

09-05-2018 07:00 GMT

SRL News Column exploring today's (mainstream) music industry.


Discover why music lost its commercial value in this weekly music analysis article exploring to day's music industry from the point of view of fans.
A special feature article by indie writer, The Ghostwriter


Jesus doesn't walk here, good music takes you places.

In case you are just getting into this weekly music news article series, you may notice the cheeky "explicit" notice above. This is not to say the article is pervaded with curse words and bitch calling, it's simply a polite way of letting readers know they are in for a good few minutes of unhinged writing that may or may not piss them off or leave them totally disgusted. As a writer any of those results is just as desirable as putting a smile on someone's face, which I always try to do. If you've been following this column for a while then you probably know the "explicit" notice has been a long time coming. My last twitter post seems to have been the final straw - apparently I was too honest in my LinkedIn #WhenIWas15 post (read it here). Needless-to-say, I've been banned from posting to SRL's social media pages without proper supervision until I start being a little less direct and less honest. Now that that's out of the way, let's get right down to it.

As I mentioned in the previous article - which you can read here, I had taken some time out to do some indepth research into the subject of music's commercial viability today, in other words to find out why people aren't buying music anymore, or more specifically why music fans aren't prepared to pay for music anymore whether streaming, downloading or buying a CD, cassette tape or vinyl record. While there are many potential reasons, speculations and opinions, this article is simply for the purpose of exploration at this point. Yes, we may eventually find out why, but I'm not God or Kanye West (see previous article) so I can't guarantee that somehow it will lead to more people waking up the morning after a concert or music premiere and buying a record. I had also decided to refrain from writing for a while even after the last article but the passion and fury that stemmed from that new senseless Kanye West rant that brought me back after at least 3 glorious months away from the office has kept me going - damn Kanye!

In case you were wondering about the tag line at the very top of this post (which probably got you reading in the first place). It was inspired by Kanye West (listen to Jesus Walks by Kanye West) - I have nothing against Jesus. In this day and age where you can't get anyone's attention without saying or doing something out of ordinary, I try to use a catch tag line right at the top to get people interested. Initially, I was going to go with "Kiss My West" but I thought that was too strong.

First of all, I feel like I should confess, before we get into it - the real reason I decided to write this was so I could be first to post an article on the new Indie Music Press Release Board (SRL Music News) which is due to launch soon, if it hasn't launched already. I'd hate to see the first article go to some crappy hung over intern or newbie who thinks they deserve more awards than anyone else simply because they think they're that amazing. I probably spend more time drumming up amazing ideas on the treadmill every morning than they spend with their heads between legs (with pleasure). No, I don't do that, but no, I have nothing against it. I also don't like other people's spit on my junk or on my (almost) chiseled muscles, and most especially not in my mouth, and I have nothing against people who like that either. I'm sure I struck a cause in you there and to be honest it seemed a lot less peculiar in theory than in writing, so as a gesture of good will I'll put French kissing and fellacio on my bucket list - just for you. I'll even throw in salad tossing as a provisional entry in the unlikely event that I accomplish the latter, after all it's less than two centimeters away from Eve's Orchard (third base). Although it seems like this article has been severely derailed, we're actually just getting to the point. Imagine if "God" decided to move man's anus just one centimeter closer to sweeten the act of foreplay just a little bit more, afterall everyone is doing it (and more and more people are admitting it now). But let's say he didn't stop there, how about a set of knockers in-between the legs as well? And then the mouth for french kissing immediately after, surely, that would reduce the journey time considerably from X to O and everywhere in-between. However, it would also distort the human form a great deal or at least change it drastically from what it is right now. Not just that, it could also interfere with the proper functioning of the body parts involved if it doesn't in fact nullify their very essences. Yes, it would be pleasurable for those 3 to 9 minutes (if you're really thorough) but after that, the human body would be distorted and also completely useless or at least of less value to anyone who is accustomed with its original design and what makes it so special.

In the same way, music has changed over the years because certain parties have been pre-occupied with a lot of things most people don't even give a damn about and didn't even explicitly ask for in the first place - the number one on that list is making tracks louder (apparently to save us having to adjust the volume knob - but that's what it's for!) And just like in the ridiculous example above, music has become no more than a deformed "thing" that no one has seems to have any real use for anymore partly because it lacks everything that made it special in the first place - dynamics. Just as in the example, certain elements of music have been moved close together to extremes that are unnatural and in the process caused the deformation of what we know as music by altering too much of what made it special. Surely, if you fell in love with a girl only to wake up one morning to find her knockers in between her legs instead of on her chest where you had become accostomed to seeing them you won't even stop to pick up your possessions before racing out the door in your pijamas and never coming back - but music is quite different and a lot of music fans know something's missing or isn't right but the only people who can really tell is the music producers and engineers themselves (the old school ones mainly).

Over the years, record labels have insisted that their tracks be louder than their competitors' tracks (this is what is referred to as the loudness war). In music production, a very common way to accomplish this is by compression - the process whereby the highest sound on a track and the lowest sound on the track are pushed closer together, hence "compressing" the overall volume of the track and resulting in some head room so that they can crank up the volume of the resulting track and hence make both the lowest sounds and the highest sounds sound really loud. In music school, every self-respecting educator touching on the subject would start by saying "use it carefully" because it results in a loss of variation in the sound levels that sometimes if not all the time makes the track more interesting and meaningful at the same time. Not everyone wants to hear an overexcited drummer on ecstacy and weed banging enthusiastically on his instruments as a furious guitarist competes for loudness alongside with a screaming lead singer and 4 backing singers as well competing to be the loudest. That is in fact a genre of its own - not everyone wants that everytime. In the same way, imagine getting on a train and hearing the music in your headphones, the voices of other passengers and the noise from the train's motion all at the maximum volume - as if all the sounds were funnelled through 2 megaphones positioned right in front of your ears. Surely, that would be enough to drive one insane and of course deaf.

Music is the same, some things (things that are far away in general) sound quiet, and things that are nearer sound louder. Things that are bigger may also sound louder, just as things that are small may not make that much noise, generally speaking. Likewise, when speaking, one doesn't raise their voice all the time, or whisper all the time, there is variation based on subject, context and countless other variables that all stimulate an emotional response or other response in the listener. But all that has gone out of the window just to make things "sweeter", gone are the days when passionate R&B singers whispered softly and then slowly moved to a more passionate rendition which ultimately ended up in passionate excessively long high notes at the end of the song (with the singer on his knees probably ripping his T-shirt apart in the heat of the moment like in a Michael Jackson or Dru Hill music video. Let's not even talk about Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion or Boys II Men. Those days are gone. Sure, those moments exist in songs just as before, but nowadays they are probably being overcompressed and sped up so much that the variation is either not there, or it barely exists such that it means very little if anything at all.

Gone are the days when you listened to a song ten times and didn't even notice subtle strings or other instruments hidden in the background whether because you didn't turn it loud enough or you didn't listen in a room with acoustics that allowed them to shine through. Nowadays, everything is so loud that once you here a song, you are immediately bombarded with everything the song has to offer, yes that's amazing but then there's no room for interpretation or variation - it sounds the same every single time whether you turn it loud or low, whether you listen to it in the car or at home, or even in the park - it gives you no room to breathe or take it in - it just shoves itself in you like some kind of deranged rapist who thinks you love it no matter how many times you say you don't.

In the spirit of keeping it short, let's leave it there for now. If you were born in the nineties and you've read this far, congratulations, you're on your way to becoming somebody - no one reads anymore, so you are one in a million. If you were born before the nineties, you're amazing too. Have a wonderful day my honorable friend, and I hope you'll be back again soon.


For Music Publishing, Music Promotion/Synchronisation, Music Libraries and other music licenisng or PR related enquiries please contact the Music Promotion Department at