Did Frank Zappa Come Up With A Business Plan For File Sharing In 1983?

from the looks-like-maybe... dept

Reader SunKing sends in this little tidbit that I’d not seen before (perhaps some of you have). It comes from The Real Frank Zappa Book and discusses his response to “the home taping movement” and the attempt to get everyone to rebuy their old albums on CD by proposing a system where you could subscribe to whatever genre of music you wanted and get it delivered in batches. He first talks about how ridiculous it is to focus just on selling discs of music:

MUSIC CONSUMERS LIKE TO CONSUME MUSIC . . . NOT PIECES OF VINYL WRAPPED IN PIECES OF CARDBOARD.

Then he talks about how to “embrace” home taping:

It is our proposal to take advantage of the POSITIVE ASPECTS of a NEGATIVE TREND afflicting the record industry today: HOME TAPING via cassette of material released on vinyl…. First of all, we must realize that the taping of albums is not motivated by ‘stinginess’ alone …. People today enjoy music more than ever before, and, they like to take it with them wherever they go. THEY CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AUDIO AND BAD AUDIO . . . THEY CARE ABOUT THAT DIFFERENCE, AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO SOME TROUBLE AND EXPENSE TO HAVE HIGH QUALITY ‘PORTABLE AUDIO’ TO USE AS ‘WALLPAPER FOR THEIR LIFESTYLE’.

So he makes the following suggestion:

We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company’s difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items [Q.C.I.], store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by phone or cable TV, directly patchable into the user’s home taping appliances, with the option of direct digital-to-digital transfer to F-1 (SONY consumer level digital tape encoder), Beta Hi-Fi, or ordinary analog cassette (requiring the installation of a rentable D-A converter in the phone itself . . . the main chip is about $12).

All accounting for royalty payments, billing to the customer, etc. would be automatic, built into the initial software for the system.

The consumer has the option of subscribing to one or more Interest Categories, charged at a monthly rate, without regard for the quantity of music he or she decides to tape.

Providing material in such quantity at a reduced cost could actually diminish the desire to duplicate and store it, since it would be available any time day or night.

Monthly listings could be provided by catalog, reducing the on-line storage requirements of the computer. The entire service would be accessed by phone, even if the local reception is via TV cable.

The advantage of the TV cable is: on those channels where nothing ever seems to happen (there’s about 70 of them in L.A.), a visualization of the original cover art, including song lyrics, technical data, etc., could be displayed while the transmission is in progress, giving the project an electronic whiff of the original point-of-purchase merchandising built into the album when it was ‘an album’, since there are many consumers who like to fondle & fetish the packaging while the music is being played. In this situation, Fondlement & Fetishism Potential [F.F.P.] is supplied, without the cost of shipping tons of cardboard around.

We require a LARGE quantity of money and the services of a team of mega-hackers to write the software for this system. Most of the hardware devices are, even as you read this, available as off-the-shelf items, just waiting to be plugged into each other so they can put an end to “THE RECORD BUSINESS” as we now know it.

Just imagine how different the music industry might be today if he’d been able to move forward with that idea. 1983 was probably too early, but jump forward ten years… and we’d be facing a very different sort of music industry.

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Comments on “Did Frank Zappa Come Up With A Business Plan For File Sharing In 1983?”

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101 Comments
Gary says:

Re: Re:

He wasn’t “weird for the sake of being weird”. He was “weird” because that’s what he happened to have liked at the time. The depth of his serious music composition will not be fully understood in our lifetime. He only did rock music as a means of generating money to support himself and his family. Listen again. Listen to all 60 or so album’s worth. Then pay especially close attention to works he did during his last years before you make any further judgment about his music.

Anonymous Coward says:

I like Frank Zappa, but...

Who is HE to tell ME what I want? Yes, I like to consume music, but my chosen form of consumption is plastic disks wrapped in cardboard, though it once was vinyl disks wrapped in cardboard. Yes, sale of CD’s is probably declining for a variety of reasons, but they will probably be around for a long while yet, if for no other reason than millions of people are still buying them.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: I like Frank Zappa, but...

Who is HE to tell ME what I want?

Well, maybe you don’t know how to read, but he never told you what you want. He only recognized, way before anyone did, that they way we listen to music was changing and that the industry should change to keep up.

I still buy CDs too. But the most people do not. They’ve moved on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I like Frank Zappa, but...

Let me see if I can find the quote above…

MUSIC CONSUMERS LIKE TO CONSUME MUSIC . . . NOT PIECES OF VINYL WRAPPED IN PIECES OF CARDBOARD.

I like to consume pieces of vinyl wrapped in cardboard that contains music. I also DO NOT LIKE someone telling me what I like. I will decide that for myself, TYVM.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Poorly-quoted

Maybe there would be less confusion/antagonism if Zappa had been quoted correctly in the article. The actual quote is:

MUSIC CONSUMERS LIKE TO CONSUME MUSIC, NOT SPECIFICALLY THE VINYL ARTIFACT WRAPPED IN CARDBOARD.

It seems pretty clear to me that all he’s saying is it’s the music itself that’s important, no necessarily one specific delivery method (vinyl, in this case).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, it sounds to me like he supported streaming to your tape deck through the phone line, at which point you would record music onto a cassette or Beta. There is no DRM in an analog sound recording (hence the “D” in DRM).

He did mention that some people might not go through the trouble of taping the music if it is omnipresent, since it would be more convenient to simply stream it again later. It sounds like that would obviate the need for DRM to me.

RD says:

Dear Big Weird Retard

“Who is HE to tell ME what I want? Yes, I like to consume music, but my chosen form of consumption is plastic disks wrapped in cardboard, though it once was vinyl disks wrapped in cardboard. Yes, sale of CD’s is probably declining for a variety of reasons, but they will probably be around for a long while yet, if for no other reason than millions of people are still buying them”

Please stop trolling weird harold, we are on to your game and arent fooled.

Oh and, once again, if the founding fathers had your attitude about innovation and change, we wouldnt have a country. With that attitude of “we already have something that works! why do we need anything else?” we wouldnt have the car, air conditioning, refrigerators, toilets and lots and lots of other things. You are the best example of a luddite ever seen.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yep-

The sampling process in a CD introduces no errors (as long as the input waveform doesn’t contain frequencies higher than 22 kHz). The quantization process, on the other hand, does introduce errors, but those errors are generally no larger than one part in 65,000. While still not perfect, this is better than any of the analog storage media.

So while CDs are technically not “lossless”, neither is any other format, so it’s kind of a trivial distinction.

zcat says:

Re: Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

that depends on your perspective.

MP3’s are compressed in a way that keeps the ‘important’ information and only throws away that which cannot be heard. When you convert from 24bit, 96kHz studio recordings to 16 bit 44.1kHz CD you’re indiscriminately throwing away about two thirds of the data.

CDs are very lossy.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Actually, it’s nowhere near that bad. Going from 96 kHz to 44.1 kHz only “throws away” the frequencies in the original signal that are between 22 kHz and 48 kHz, and that’s a tiny, tiny portion of the original signal, considering the frequency response of the microphones used during the performance, the frequencies/overtones produced by the instruments, etcetera.

Going from 24-bit to 16-bit doesn’t “throw away” *any* data – it just introduces additional quantization error, because rather than having 16.7 million identically-sized “buckets” to represent the signal level, you *only* have 65,000 buckets. So your theoretical signal-to-noise ratio drops from 144 dB to *only* 96 dB – still better than any of the analog media out there.

Mojo Bone says:

Re: Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

tubes wrote:

“CDs are NOT lossless. They are just as compressed as a mp3 file”

I can’t believe there’s still this kind of confusion in this day and age. Holy cow, we’ve been digital for decades. Yes, audio compression is used in making almost every kind of music, it is an analog process that tends to degrade audio quality if not used judiciously-and truly, these days, it’s mostly not. But we’re speaking of digital data compression, here; a totally different process with completely different audible artefacts. Once more, with feeling, lossless codecs have no audible digital artefacts. MP3s are digital, but are not lossless.

mikey says:

Re: Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

rich-

iTunes Store AAC downloads are compressed AND DRM’ed, the worst of both worlds.

The iTunes software itself offers ALE, a lossless codec to “rip” your CDs with. It is saddled with DRM, which makes it next to useless.

I rip everything in AIF: 44 KHz uncompressed and no DRM.

If you can actually refer me to a download service that offers ALE, FLAC, AIF or WAV formats, I’d be interested.

Scott Gardner says:

Re: Re: Re:2 iTunes Store & Software

The songs available for purchase from the iTunes Music Store are DRM-free as of a few days ago. And ripping a CD into ALE (or any other) format in the iTunes software has never added DRM or imposed any restrictions onto the ripped tracks, so I’m not sure what you think is “next to useless” about ALE.

mikey says:

Re: Re: Re:3 iTunes Store & Software

“The songs available for purchase from the iTunes Music Store are DRM-free as of a few days ago. And ripping a CD into ALE (or any other) format in the iTunes software has never added DRM or imposed any restrictions onto the ripped tracks, so I’m not sure what you think is “next to useless” about ALE.”

Mr. Gardner-

Its marketing? If you’re right, then everyone else would seem to be wrong.

I will continue to eschew compressed files and rip to AIF.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 iTunes Store & Software

If you’re complaining that ALE only has limited support among playback devices, that’s a valid point, but you’re still incorrect about ALE-ripped tracks in iTunes being “saddled with DRM, which it next to useless”.

If you rip a disc using ALE, you can turn around and burn it to disc as many times as you’d like with no restrictions, and you can play it on any computer/device that supports ALE. Playback isn’t restricted to “authorized computers” the way iTunes-purchased tracks used to be.

anonymous audiophile says:

Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

CD’s are by no means lossless. While there is a lot less frequency content cut than say an MP3 file, there is still missing freq content.

Vinyl on the other hand, is an analog format where all frequency content remains, though there is added mechanical and electrical noise to the recording.

rob says:

Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

cd’s and Vinyl are not lossless, vinyl especially. Music that is recorded in a studio is downgraded to make cd’s and vinyl. I prefer the actual album artwork and linear notes, but don’t like the “loss” of portability that comes with it. Sure a cd is portable, but lugging around a 200 cd book is a pain in the ass, compared to my small android phone that has a a headphone jack and connects to my car stereo, and carries the same amount of music and fits in my pocket.

Very Bad Panda (profile) says:

Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

Apparently you don’t have any idea what digital means. A digital copy is “1 for 1”. You have an exact copy of what you started out with. You may be confusing the term with mp3 format digital files, which are lossy. But that’s just the compression used. If you used flac (Free Lossless Audio Compression), or Apple’s Lossless format, they are by definition, lossless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

Missed the point, did ya? I merely said I like and buy CD’s. There are still people that buy buggy whips. My point is that there will always be people who buy CD’s, and anyone who suggests the behavior of ALL PEOPLE is smoking some strange weed.

Incidentally, I am not Weird Harold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Dear Big Weird Retard

anyone who suggests the behavior of ALL PEOPLE is smoking some strange weed.

You must be the one “smoking some strange weed” if you saw the word ALL in there because it wasn’t.

To further explain, this is Techdirt, and by Masnick’s rules the word SOME is automatically included if the word ALL isn’t. (I think maybe it’s something he picked up in a marketing class.) So the statement “dogs have three legs” is considered “true” around here as long as the word “all” isn’t included. And “MUSIC CONSUMERS LIKE…” should be read as “SOME MUSIC CONSUMERS LIKE…”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Dear Big Weird Retard

Heh. Well, for anyone reading in context, they can see that I used it correctly.

By Masnick’s rules.

By your definition…

Huh? What definition would that be? Considering that I didn’t give my definition, I’d say that you’re making stuff up now.

But, of course, that’s not how English works.

Usually in English, an unqualified statement is taken to be true only if it is true for all cases. But Masnick’s rule holds that it is true if it is true for any case. Thus, “dogs have three legs” and “people named Mike are pedos” are true statements under Masnick’s rules.

Anonymous Coward says:

>Some people prefer CD’s (and less commonly vinyl)
>over digital downloads because they are lossless.

I lose CD’s all the time…

Anyone else remember the scheme for recording a cassette from a bunch of songs in a catalog. It was a Kiosk sort of deal in the late eighties. You would pick songs from a paper catalog and give the store clerk a list. From the list they would produce a cassette full of single songs.

I loved going through the catalog but I never got around to trying it.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yep – you’re talking about the “Personics” system. Pretty impressive, considering that it was before big hard drives in personal computers were common. The songs were stored on CDs in a compressed format, and then copied to tapes via high-speed dubbing machines. (the one I went to had a Nakamichi Dragon for the cassette deck). You even got your labels printed on a laser printer, which weren’t commonplace at the time, either.

Eric says:

First, I have to say I love Frank’s music and he has a VERY VERY large catalog of music.

I purchase CD’s more commonly than I purchase digital, although that is starting to change some. BUT, the reason I purchase the CD, is because it has no DRM attached and I can encode it into any form I chose, also I’m automatically get a physical backup w/ a CD.

I’m not sure where Weird Harold gets there would be DRM, as everyone has pointed out it was analog at the time and Frank also talked about it being plugged directly into your tape recorder so you could record any and all of it you wanted.

Bear says:

Re: FZ on File Sharing

You know, FZ always hated being called a Jazz musician. He called his particular form of performance art “comedy rock”. He finally did an album of what he considered to be Jazz and it resulted in his only Grammy, “Jazz From Hell”. What an underrated, overlooked genius. Someday, long after I’m gone, he will be known for that genius.

Mikey (user link) says:

Zappa and music licensing to the end user:

From the article:

“THEY CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AUDIO AND BAD AUDIO . . . THEY CARE ABOUT THAT DIFFERENCE, AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO SOME TROUBLE AND EXPENSE TO HAVE HIGH QUALITY ‘PORTABLE AUDIO’ “

The best-quality available home format is analog, either high-speed tape or pristine vinyl. These audio sources contain more information than a digital AIFF file on CD. The difference is subtle; I like to describe it as “phase shifts” above 22 KHz or “image clarity.” You need good equipment, well-made music and good ears to discern the difference. But vinyl or tape can sound better than a CD.

MP3 compression is VASTLY inferior in quality to AIFF (CD). Its ONLY appeal is convenience or price, not quality. If you can’t tell the difference between MP3 and AIF, enjoy your iPod and leave the discussion of sound quality to those with actual hi-fi sets and loudspeakers.

The fact is, “the market” does NOT care about quality. The “market” is in MP3 audio, and it’s crap. The kids listening to MP3 are not discerning listeners. They stuff $2 speakers directly into their ears and it goes “tsk tsk tsk.’ Here is where the record pigs got it wrong: they were prosecuting a distribution monopoly and kids bought CDs because it was their only choice. Kids who are happy with the quality of MP3 sound won’t pay for quality. THIS REVENUE DIDN”T GO AWAY: IT NEVER EXISTED.

Me, I buy all my music on CD because, well, it’s my only choice. I do spin vinyl too, but not as much as I listen to AIF (CD). My amplifiers weigh about thirty pounds each and they keep the room warm. My speakers are eight feet tall and I can rock the 7-11 three blocks away. Yes, I can tell the difference and I pay for it. I’m about the only guy left who does.

Rock on.

EaglesintheFurnace (user link) says:

Re: Zappa and music licensing to the end user:

You certainly are not the only person left who cares. I rep the music school kids.

And you’re smaht, dood. If I didn’t think the biz model needed to be seriously rearranged, I might wish for a service that at least offered AIFF/WAV files to consumers, complete with richer metadata.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Zappa and music licensing to the end user:

“And you’re smaht, dood. If I didn’t think the biz model needed to be seriously rearranged, I might wish for a service that at least offered AIFF/WAV files to consumers, complete with richer metadata.”

Mr. Furnace-

Absolutely! I was given an iTunes gift card and was astounded to learn that I could ONLY download compressed (and DRM’ed to add insult to injury) music! I gave the card away.

In god’s name, why can’t I buy AIF-quality music online?? Sure, I can buy CDs from Amazon.com, and I do, when the title isn’t available at my local record store. Otherwise, I’m afraid digital music is a joke. It sounds worse and costs more than the analog models that preceded it. Open your ears, people! Demand a better experience.

THE BEST (user link) says:

THE BEST

We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST

THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST

Overcast says:

CDs are very lossy.

Yes, thus the ‘sampling rate’ – 44khz. Far as I know, vinyl is the only true ‘sound’ that keeps the original waveform intact – ehh, perhaps tape does, but tape pretty well sucks compared to most other medium – but was useful in it’s time.

But still – Cd’s can scratch, Vinyl can as well – backed up digital audio is good as long as you maintain redundancy – even for a thousand + years.

But like Detroit and the US automakers that refused to change their business strategy – the days of the old stuff is numbered. Even from the standpoint of energy – digital audio uses less than a CD – after all; a CD does have the need to ‘move’ – digital does not.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: It's not the sampling rate...

Study up on Fourier transform and the “Nyquist limit”. As long as the original waveform doesn’t have any frequency components higher than 22 kHz, sampling at 44.1 kHz doesn’t cause a loss of *any* information about the original waveform at all. You can re-create the original waveform from the samples *exactly*, with no ambiguity or aliasing. And while there are quantization errors introduced *after* the sampling, those errors are nothing compared to the errors introduced when storing a waveform on vinyl (wow/flutter, higher noise floor, etcetera). Plus, when dealing with vinyl, you have to apply RIAA equalization both during the recording and the playback phases.

Playing back music on vinyl sometimes sounds better than a CD (especially in conjunction with a tube amplifier), but that’s because a) the audio engineers that re-master the original tapes for CD usually do stupid things like adding dynamic compression and b) the even-order harmonics (distortion) added by a tube amp are actually quite pleasant-sounding. So even though the amp isn’t faithfully reproducing the original waveform, the end result can actually sound *better* than a perfect reproduction.

mikey says:

Re: Re: It's not the sampling rate...

“As long as the original waveform doesn’t have any frequency components higher than 22 kHz, sampling at 44.1 kHz doesn’t cause a loss of *any* information about the original waveform at all. You can re-create the original waveform from the samples *exactly*, with no ambiguity or aliasing. “

Mr. Gardner-

Hey, nice DD (digital-to-digital) converter you got there.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's not the sampling rate...

Not sure what you mean about “digital-to-digital converter” in your post, but digital sampling has been well-understood for many years. Just because you’re only sampling the original waveform at fixed intervals, that doesn’t mean that information about the waveform is necessarily being lost.

Just as you can completely and perfectly describe a straight line by sampling just two points, you can completely and perfectly describe any arbitrary waveform with maximum frequency F by using a sampling rate of at least 2F. It’s true that the low-pass filters used in the conversion cause you to lose a little bit of the highest frequency information, but that’s why the CD sampling rate is 44.1 kHz – so even after the filter, everything up to at least 20 kHz is reproduced accurately.

Mikey says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's not the sampling rate...

Mr. Garnder-

Real life is analog. Real music is analog. There is no “maximum frequency.” Your “sampling” is exactly that- a sample.

In my living room, I can set up side-by-side comparisons between CD, vinyl and 7.5 ips (inches per second) tape. Everyone who can discern the differences (they are subtle) agrees that analog sounds better than AIF (CD) digital. In my experience, humans can discern musical qualities that are indeed lost at 44.2 KHz stereo.

If you can’t tell the difference, or don’t care, that’s fine. Rock on.

Some of us can tell, and do care. What’s sold today as digital music is inferior to analog music, and it’s been getting crappier for years. Wake up! We’re being lied to! Demand a better experience.

PS- don’t get me started on the “loudness wars” digital compression that’s used these days.

PPS- “It’s not getting any smarter out there” -Frank Zappa.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Much more likely...

It’s much more likely that the differences you’re hearing in your CD/vinyl/tape comparison are the result of the fact that the original studio tapes are mastered differently for each medium, and not the result of any particular limitations in the media themselves.

I have multiple copies of several albums on different formats. If I take the same album on vinyl, mass-market CD, and the remastered CD from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, they all sound different to me. The mass-market CD usually sounds the worst (back to that whole dynamic compression/”loudness wars” thing we’ve both mentioned). The vinyl generally comes in second place, with the MFSL CD routinely sounding the best to me. Basically, the MFSL discs have all the careful mastering of the vinyl releases, no dynamic compression or added loudness, and the lower noise floor and higher dynamic range of CD.

If you honestly believe that there’s all sorts of ultrasonic content in the original music that you’re hearing when you play back the music on vinyl, then you’ve got an awesome PhD dissertation (and several awards as well) in the bag if you can give any evidence.

Think about it this way – anything above 22 kHz is well beyond what any voices or instruments can produce, and is even above the 2nd and 3rd harmonics of just about any instrument. Then there’s the fact that you’re beyond the range of the studio microphones, and above the threshold of the high-pass filter used in the studio. Then, although the vinyl cutting machines can theoretically cut grooves for ultrasonic frequencies, you’re assuming that your stylus, amplifier and speakers can all reproduce the sounds accurately. Lastly, the frequency response of even a young person with good hearing doesn’t extend much past 20 kHz, so even if the frequencies managed to survive the entire recording/playback process, it’s doubtful you’d actually hear them anyway.

Mikey says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Much more likely...

Mr. Gardner-

Remastering CDs is a great way to improve the revenue stream.

Why do discoteques still spin vinyl? It sounds better.

Why do studios run 96 KHz bandwidth? it sounds better.

I won’t pretend to be able to hear any single frequency above 20 KHz. That’s irrelevant. The question is whether there is a discernible difference between a CD and real life. There is.

CDs are stereo, two tracks. Phase shifts between the two channels can have complex, discernible components that disappear when sampled at 44.2 KHz stereo. It’s a subtle effect I sometimes call “image clarity.” My big electrostatic loudspeakers do an excellent job of rendering “image.”

The fact remains: AIF digital audio (CD) is of lower quality than real life. Additional sins such as loudness filters and lossy data compression further diminish the relative quality of currently-available commercial music.

Why compromise? There is no fundamental reason why digital music should be aurally inferior to analog. We’re being lied to! Demand a better experience!

Mojo Bone says:

Mikey and Scott, you’re both right up to a point. I part company with Mikey when he said, “Phase shifts between the two channels can have complex, discernible components that disappear when sampled at 44.2 KHz stereo.” (it’s 44.1kHz, for starters) In my world, that’s called cross-talk, and it’s something to be eliminated, rather than celebrated.

Complex phase relationships can be maintained through a digital transfer, but only if the miking scheme allows-binaural recording with HRTF will do nicely, but there are some very good convenience-related reasons why few recordings, regardless of format, are made that way. It’s possible to digitally reproduce a musical experience that’s indistinguishable from ‘actually being there’, but modern recordings are designed to sound ‘better than real’.

Vinyl is in no way superior to any other format, (barring MP3) even under the best of circumstances. (under the worst of circumstances, a 320k MP3 can kick the crap out of a worn vinyl disc and a needle that’s been abused by Q-Tip) The reproducible high end tops out at about 14khz direct to disk without stamping and copying two or four generations before reaching the listener. Anybody that thinks vinyl sounds more accurate than tape is completely full of shit. (subjectively, I guess it could sound “better” to you)

No copy, regardless of format, can be superior to the source. In most cases, two-track masters-the source -are on analogue tape at 15 or 30 ips. I heartily recommend Bob Katz’ book Mastering Audio, second edition, to anyone who’d like to learn about how to make recordings sound better.

Mikey says:

Re: Analog or digitla?

“Vinyl is in no way superior to any other format, (barring MP3) even under the best of circumstances. (under the worst of circumstances, a 320k MP3 can kick the crap out of a worn vinyl disc and a needle that’s been abused by Q-Tip) The reproducible high end tops out at about 14khz direct to disk without stamping and copying two or four generations before reaching the listener. Anybody that thinks vinyl sounds more accurate than tape is completely full of shit. (subjectively, I guess it could sound “better” to you)”

Mojo-

Thoughtful comments. Upon review, you may note that I specifically referred to PRISTINE vinyl. Comparing an MP3 to a trashed LP is pointless and likely to make me grind my teeth. Also note that I referred to side-by-side comparison with 7.5 ips tape… I can’t imagine many folks run 15 or 30 ips at home!

Again, current digital music is in no way superior to the analog models (vinyl, tape) that preceded it. We’re being lied to! Demand a better experience!

SunKing says:

Missing the point.... as usual

To the people saying Zappa got it wrong… this isn’t a “Mystic Meg” prediction of the future – just a statement about the music industry as it was back then. To think that he was suggesting this back in 1983 pre-internet, itunes, napster, EVERYTHING really is amazing. The immediate question to ask is how can Frank see and understand this thing and yet the music industry is in EXACTLY the same place 25+ years later?

The parallels are astounding. Some things never change, eh? And yes, I’m a fan!

Rasmus Heide says:

Free music with your ISP/phone company

Denmark’s leading ISP and phone company TDC last year launched their TDC PLAY model whereby all their fixed line and broadband customers get free downloads of as much music as they liked from their online music store.

The store contains more than 2 million songs and rivals iTunes for choice.

The music can be downloaded free of charge to your mobile phone or pc. The music is DRM-protected and cannot be copied from these devices to mp3 players or to other users, but the numbers speak for themselves: in the past 12 months more than 76 million tracks have been downloaded.

This is all legal. TDC did a deal with all the Danish record companies – including the Danish branches of all the main international labels – whereby the labels and the artists get paid for the music they supply.

This is a huge success, and it has more than doubled the digital music market in Denmark.

Here’s their original press release from March 2008:
http://tdc.com/publish.php?id=16212

bob says:

the future is now

FZ has always been credited as a visionary.
look at rhapsody, the satellite and cable music channels, grouped by genre, and many other subscriber based delivery systems that i dont know about.
It woulda really been a boon to the cable companies back then because they were (and still are) scrambling for content to fill those big pipes. Industry politics and the attending foolishness won out then.
Also CDs are NOT “lossless”. it’s only 16/44.1, a serious drop from mastered tapes at the time, and way less than 24/96 (192) available today.
then there’s the matter of film/tape saturation, yada yada…
what really sucks is an entire generation raised on mp3 🙁
there’s a reason it’s called psycho acoustics-

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m actually disappointed in the fact that audio quality (ie: CD’s) haven’t increased very much while technology has advanced a lot. 700 MB per CD, how long ago did CD’s come out? DVD’s hold gigabytes of information (we can easily transition from two channel to four channel audio) and we can have music DVD players with much more information (much higher audio quality and more songs even) than before (especially given the advances in audio compression as well). With all this technological advancement audio quality should have advanced as well.

Analoguesound says:

Record an album with ANALOG instruments (no digital A/D, midi or virtual instruments) on a small Fostex R8 ANALOG recorder, 8 track on 1/4 of inch tape, 15 ips. Mixdown it on ANALOG tape with a stereo deck such as ReVox A77, 2 track on 1/4 of inch tape, also 7.5 ips and, in parallel, with a “good sounding” A/D converter, 96kHz @ 24bit. Let a transfer engineer to cut THE TAPE in TRUE FULL ANALOG CHAIN on lacquer disc, copy 1:1, without other mastering l, make the galvanic processing for father>mother>stamper matrixes. Make some test pressings. Take a copy, listen it on a pretty good hifi system, possibly not with a wearing head (a cheap ortofon well calibrated will be good). NOW speak. I did it! Then compare it with the digital backup and estabilish by yourself if you feel the same sound sensations. No prejudices, but use your ears.

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