Warner Music’s share price has fallen more than 50 percent this year as sales of recorded music struggle against digital music and piracy.
“It’s a losing battle for musicality,” [award-winning mastering engineer Bob] Ludwig laments. “To me, it’s a fact that highly compressed music is tiring to the ear and doesn’t make you want to listen to something over and over again. Could this be one of the reasons for the record industry’s demise?
“The problem is that many artists, producers, and A&R people are very short-sighted,” he continues. “If you take a new recording and compare eight bars of a piece that’s been mastered by four different engineers, often the loudest one sounds immediately the most impressive to the listener. Hardly anyone listens to 40 or 50 minutes of the whole recording and decides how the total musical experience was for them. Radio play used to be an excuse, but levels now are radically high, and it can be proven that the high levels make them more difficult to broadcast. Just ask Bob Orban, who makes many of the compressors used in FM stations around the world.”
The industry needs to own up to the sonic quality of its product and quit blaming new technologies and its customers for its losses.