back to article Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed

U2 singer Paul Hewson (aka Bono) has hinted that Apple is working on a new music format that will make buying music “irresistible” all over again. With Bono – who is a director of a VC fund with an interest in interactive media - it’s hard to tell to what extent he may be hyping his own interests, or how much he’s hyping Apple …

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I used to think he was a tosser

It turns out he's and ignorant tosser.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

The man is an eejit, he reckons he can make music un-pirateble, I guess he'll block every analogue output huh? dumbass. I'm willing to bet the first "album" he releases as "un copyable" is copied and put on Pirate Bay (or another site) within 3 hours of release :P

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I used to think he was a tosser

.. and deeply self-interested, which pretty much confirms your conclusion.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

I was unaware until now that he is as talented a technologist as he is a musician.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

Agreed, and a Bono-fide one at that. Can anyone spell pretentious?

Looks like Apple want in one the LP-> 8-Track -> Cassette Tape -> CD -> Minidisc rebuy music you already have profits. (alright, maybe earlier format shifts were not taking the piss)

They'll be 'adding value' to video next for the VHS -> DVD -> Blue-Ray profits

The market (and not marketing) decided on non-drm mp3s (they could have decided better, but didn't have all available information or understood the issues otherwise ogg, flac or ape would have it).

That battle they lost, but they are still fighting it, while most people I know have moved onto Spotify etc.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

Yeah but... He's worth a few Quid and probably never has to work again. Can you say the same for yourself?

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JDX
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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

>>The man is an eejit, he reckons he can make music un-pirateble

You do realise you've fundamentally missed the point? He isn't claiming to have invented unbreakable DRM. It's about a wider "something" beyond simply listening to the track. Akin to pretty artwork in CD cases, etc, which are not the same if you try and photocopy them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I used to think he was a tosser

*cough* Spotify.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

or 'what U hear' ?

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

They desperately want to go back to the album. The thing that killed their golden goose was people being able to buy just the one track they like.

" increasing the value of music " is code for charging more for music. They think putting a fancy package, with a nice ribbon will make people happy to pay for 10 steaming turds along with the two tracks they want.

I used to buy about 5 LPs/CDs and take the tracks I liked and make a mix tape. Now for a bit more then the price of one album I can just buy what I want.

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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

LoL at the "10 steaming turds"!

But basically, you nailed the main gripe most musicians have against the iTunes-inspired singles downloading capability, namely the decline of the album format.

The age-old strategy has been to dilute our best offerings with "album-fodder", while releasing singles as a loss-leader to sell same album, which was the real revenue earner per musician. So, while the innovation has sustained the industry with more downloads, the average musician ( including successful ones) has seen earnings drop owing to the increased selection and choice for the buyer.

Tough tacos, I say: Vox Populi, Vox Dei...

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Trollface

Dear Mr Hewson,

Can you do the whole world a favour and just give up on making any more music and just go back to doing what you do best, that is, focus on your sucessful 'Dog Food' business after which you nick-named yourself (Bonio)

Yours sincerely,

My Ear Drums

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Apple seems to be enjoying their new Bono puppet

Someone at apple has been spending to much time on kickstarter and idiegogo. To think that monetising and keeping 90% of the profits for themselves is considered a new format.

Also since when was the monetising technique what kept people from buying music. Often people refuse to buy since its repackaged garbage, uninteresting, or maybe had no money to buy in the first place.

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Hmm, sounds like a big DRM sandwich - and I have to assume, also a closed proprietary format designed to keep existing users locked in and competitors locked out.

As to production/technical quality - well I have to agree. I'm no audiophile, my hearing isn't that great, but even I can spot something that's been heavily compressed to make it sound like it's turned up to 11.

As an aside, I once went to a gig at a small local venue. The music was turned up to 11 and the clipping distortion was just horrible. At one point I stepped outside for a breather - both from the noise and from the heat, and as it happened, from outside the volume was about right ! Someone else doing the same opened the conversation with "have you had your ears syringed lately ?" before quickly moving on to a recommendation for olive oil for softening up ear wax (it does work BTW). I have to admit that I've never heard such an opener before or since !

We then had a conversation on production/technical values, and having ascertained that I know how to solder plugs on and leave then still usable, expressed an interest in getting me involved in local events as there's a shortage of people who actually understand how the electronics stuff works. Really tempting but I was already overcommitted for my spare time.

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F*** off Bono ...

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Trollface

Re: F*** off Bono...

Isn't that what Mandela said? He was a wise old owl.

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xyz

That's a load of my mind then

I knew I must be wrong not monetising* myself, as I'm using the free Music+ app on my winphone to listen to free music. I'll never make the "quality" grade to be an iPhone purchaser. Hey-ho.

*kudos for the non-'Mercan spelling by the way.

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Bronze badge

You can all join in!

Remember that sampler album from Island Records? The one whose cover photo showed all the musicians featured on it? Well, that's about how many stand to benefit from the latest wave of "new tech" music. What the recording industry achieved in the second half of the 20th cent. was to create a way for a few people to get very rich indeed (along with various executives and media functionaries, with or without Hawaiian shirts) while leaving the rest to fight over the scraps and aspire to a place feeding from the trough. Bono's messianic pronouncements are the tail end of the dying of that business model. For 99.999% of active musicians, nothing will change.

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Yeh, but Bono's a twat so who give a crap what he thinks......

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Anonymous Coward

Visual music with lyrics, behind the scenes stuff etc already exists. Its called Youtube.

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Pirate

Can't be pirated?

If it can be played aloud then it can be sampled, and if it can be sampled it can be recorded.

Perhaps not to the same quality as the original, and not with all the fancy stuff, but it's still the songs in the end.

That said given the reaction to the recent give-away, maybe it's something of a moot point in their case when some people don't want their outpourings even for free..

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JDX
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Re: Can't be pirated?

Music isn't just about the audio though, is it? Otherwise people wouldn't pay loads of money go to listen to songs in a big room with poor acoustics next to lots of sweaty strangers, that they already paid for and can listen to in an armchair through some nice headphones.

I think that's what this is about... something beyond just the sound. If you record a concert, even in blu-ray, it is not the same as being there. The musical experience IS fundamentally un-pirateable.

How on earth you get that kind of stuff into iTunes I have no idea of course :)

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Re: Can't be pirated?

"How on earth you get that kind of stuff into iTunes"

You answered your own question there at the end. Anything that can be put on iTunes can be copied. The stuff you can't copy can't be put on iTunes as iTunes is just a copy you pay for.

Any attempt to DRM / tie it to iTunes will not work (see video on iTunes for example), but will stop some people from buying a crippled copy.

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Stop

Re: an audiovisual interactive format for music that can't be pirated

But Paul, music has to be converted to analogue to be reproduced by loudspeakers, ergo, it CAN then be copied...

DRM doesn't work, and only pisses off legitimate owners.

See icon.

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Re: an audiovisual interactive format for music that can't be pirated

It doesnt piss me off but if I wanted to re-transcribe it I'd run up a VM and take the audio and video as-is from that. Now they could stop that but that would really really really piss of the developers of... well shit like that and take eons to debug.

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Stop

Just do what the sign says over there Mr Bono.

Unless this new thing is a product that's shipped in a full size 12" gatefold then there's nothing digital you could ever do that would recreate the magical moments I spent as a kid listening to my first self purchased LPs and staring at the amazing art work on those sleeves. The work of Derek Riggs ( Iron Maiden ), Roger Dean ( Yes and Budgie ), Ed Repka ( Megadeth ) and many many more that I still cherish but sadly now mothballed in my spare room.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm puzzled

I occasionally meet up with a few people that know their stuff pretty well when it comes to music quality, and one of them has pretty much everything in Open Source formats, I think he uses OGG or FLAC (sorry, not my field but it's always a good conversation).

What would possibly possess people to cook up something new? If it's DRM laced - well, even Apple abandoned that eventually. If it needs to be high quality, well, try a lossless format - in any case, an OPEN format.

I'm confused - anyone with more insight?

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JDX
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Re: I'm puzzled

Who said it was a new audio format?

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Megaphone

Re: I'm puzzled

Not sure what your question is exactly.

Ogg is a great format, providing comparable quality to .mp3 at superior compression (smaller file size) rates. REAPER the DAW made by Cockos has it as a native format so that should tell you something. Justin Frankel was the genius coder that created a little program you might remember that changed the game, called WinAmp.

I think that's right, you can look it all up yourself - the info is out there in spades. Ogg was created by another genius coder. Check out:

Xiph.Org

Also find the essay on there why Neil Young has a screw loose and that higher sampling frequencies are counter productive due to inter modulation distortion.

No one needs more than 16 bits for playback. Anything more contributes to a waste of disk space and bandwidth. It is prudent to work at 24 bits when you are inside the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), because it gives you extra headroom and is very very difficult to overload, so it's ideal to give you a bit of wiggle room when recording. Having said that, the internal operations of the code that makes up the DAW work at 32 bit and even 64 bit I believe. Something to do with floating point operations and rounding errors that can exponentially get out of hand when doing DSP (Digital Signal Processing).

Again, I hope I got that right. I'm just a layman that takes an interest in these things and I enjoy talking to the code developers that actually write the algorithms for their Linear Phase or Minimum Phase Equalisers, say. Some of them are a bit gruff, but a surprising number are happy to explain as best they can.

At the end of the day, you can't get better quality than an .mp3 recorded at 320Kbps with CBR (Constant Bit Rate). Never in the history of the world has any human being been able to defeat a double blind test when comparing any other lossless format you might care to choose. Many consider LAME to be the best encoder.

-------------------------------------------------

Nowadays LAME is considered the best MP3 encoder at mid & high bitrates, and features the best VBR model among MP3 implementations

It has been developed by the open-source community since 1998, and has become the highest quality MP3 encoder for most purposes.

Some benefits of using LAME:

Highly optimised presets

Fast encoding

CBR, ABR and quality-optimized VBR encoding methods

Gapless playback with LAME-header compliant decoders

Supported by recommended CD rippers Exact Audio Copy and CDex

Highly tunable

---------------------------------------------------

Now there might be other arguments for using other formats, but why reinvent the wheel. MP3 and OGG are about as good as it gets.

I trot out the same old lines and say the same old things when it comes to this subject.

Some of the greatest sonic architecture ever created was mastered at less than 16 bit. See Robert Henke (Creator of Ableton Live) and his lecture, where he cites early Trevor Horn recordings being mastered to what iirc was actually only 14bit. Yes, they had to be bloody careful through the gain-staging of that to get such superb results. But that is why Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson are professional record producers/engineers.

The greatest sin against audio is the over use of Limiting at the mastering stage. Reducing the dynamic range to something that almost represents white noise in severe cases. This is why they sound great for five minutes but your ears/brain hurt after that. It is quite frankly intolerable if you like your music loud. Hence the 'Turn it up' campaign which I am a fervent supporter of.

There is a counter intuitive paradox with audio engineering and mastering of music, and that is if you want it louder, young Luke, you have to make it quieter. Raising the volume only makes people turn it down at the end of the chain. It is more complicated than that. But good gain-staging in essential even today to making great sounding recordings. Whether you work in 24 bit or even 32 bit. If you overload your DAC (Digital Analogue Converters) when you are recording in say, a vocal to your DAW, then it will always and forever be distorted whether represented in 16/24/32 bit format. Common sense.

Also different VST manufacturers set the standard output of their instruments (synths/drum machines) at different volumes. There is no consensus and the best producers need to keep an ear open for any offending software.

But really, it is a culture of fear. Look up the Loudness Wars. Many respected and revered people in the industry reckon that the Loudness War has been won and that things will get better. But I beg to differ, if by won you mean people turning their recordings down so we can play them LOUDER, then that doesn't seem to be borne out by the sheer number of amateur productions currently inhabiting the upper echelons of the top 10 stratosphere. Very often, these recording were produced with love and attention, then mixed maybe with the same (perhaps a bit more aggressively), but by the time it reaches the mastering house, their brief is to squash the life out of it, much to their chagrin. But hey, they're paid to be told what to do by the men at Sony that don't want a quiet record rotating on someone's iTunes.

Oh God, back to that monstrosity.

Apple are a very silly company in my eyes. Exploitative and what's worse, painfully uncool. It says a lot about our society as a whole that people think this marks them above the crowd. I'd pity them if I had the energy. Am I bitter? Yes. But not coz of Apple. Dr. Dre is the man in my books. Straight outta Cupertino

Seeing as you have indulged my ramblings so far, please stick with me while I take a moment to reflect on the gobshites that are U2. Bono specifically. He's spent far too long getting high on his own supply. That is air supply. The man is an oxygen thief of the highest order. Ok, Larry and Adam do it for the cash, nothing wrong with that. But Paul and David do it for the glory. The heady aroma of not just hob-nobbing with world leaders, but tech leaders such as Tim. They're probably only sorry it was not the original Jesus Jobs, but Tim will do. Not only does Tim look uncool, he says uncool things and commits uncool actions. He paid U2, probably the most embarrassing band on the planet to help promote his 'brand', and what's Dr. Dre got to say about this? Talk about coherency of vision.

I could ramble on for hours and go more in depth. I'm genuinely sorry coz U2 have made some of the best records ever recorded, working with geniuses such as Lanois and Eno. But I must be getting old, or Bono is becoming more of a gobshite, coz I can't listen to them anymore. Bad move Apple. It probably even makes some kind of business sense and has served some kind of purpose, but U2? Bono? Really.

And now they are talking about new formats if I got that right, maybe I didn't. I've actually gone past caring. Feel free to correct me or elucidate on any glaring points I might have missed.

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Re: I'm puzzled

--------------

Apple (we infer) is developing a "an audiovisual interactive format for music

----------------------

Maybe I didn't understand the question.

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"can't be pirated" ... uhuh.

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I used to be a U2 fan

I like their music, but this behavior on Bono's part will force me to boycott all their product, at least until he/they come to his/their senses.

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Re: I used to be a U2 fan

You could protest by paying him nothing for their latest album

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Mastering for iTunes

Engineers have been mixing/mastering for multiple formats for decades. Reel, vinyl, cassette tape, CD, SACD, DVD-A... good engineers with the appropriate budget and an artistic directive want listeners to receive the best possible listening experience. If that sounds a bit fussy, it's because it is. It's also necessary.

Engineering a record for a STILL-lossy, proprietary format seems backwards and dated. Apple have the market share to mandate as standard a high resolution, lossless format, perhaps split between differently-engineered versions for hifi/stereo and portable/headphones, but they don't. I'd wager that engineering for the unique qualities of headphones (e.g., the way they present the stereo image, their dynamic range and response) would be of greater benefit than Apple's current certification that requires mixing for a lossy file format.

We have been increasingly engineering for higher and higher fidelity consumer products. Arguably, reel to reel was the pinnacle, only recently being surpassed by consumer formats. Engineering for lossless AAC would be the equivalent of engineering for cassette tapes; yes, it's a far more convenient format, but the resulting product is sub-par, so you might as well expend the effort engineering for the high quality, if less convenient, alternative. To wit, engineer for lossless 24-bit 96kHz flac and let Apple cut the damned head off of the master themselves.

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Re: Mastering for iTunes

Problem is, formats like FLAC o Apple LossLess (ALAC) require a lot of space.

1378KB/s is what a CD has.. FLAC (and ALAC, monkey audio etc) can compress to about 670KB/s

Apple offers just 256KB/s bitrate... this means capacity would be reduced by a factor of 8.

A we know that Apple memory is 2.5x more expensive than regular one.. so... no FLAC.

As for SACD, 96 Khz 24 bit.. well, they can't even bother offering decent quality!!

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"new music format that will make buying music “irresistible”"

Sounds to me that U2 stunt was just a test run. Next Apple will simply dump new releases in our libraries and charge our cards directly. No opt-out, therefore irresistible.

Well, maybe 'some' tailoring to your taste will be possible. Until the next Justin Bieber mega-hit will come out.

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> Next Apple will simply dump new releases in our libraries and charge our cards directly

I'd love the see them try that with my account that has no credit cards attached to them and funds are primarily added on via gift cards >:D

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Silver badge

Bah!

"Apple is working on a new music format that will make buying music “irresistible” all over again"

Arr, be they packaging it in a gatefold 12 inch cardboard sleeve with a nice paintin' er two and a lyric sheet to look at as y' listen to the sounds? Mebbee a five page booklet bound into the spine like Fragile had? Perhaps a clever 4 square foot pop-up, fold-out design like a certain Man album had? Cunnin' cutout "inner sleeve seen through the outer" art like Physical Graffiti had? The fascinatin' pictures inside the ELP Pictures at an Exhibition sleeve? Geiger art?

"Multimedia experience". We had that back in the 1970s so we did, an' y' didn't need no electron microscope to read the sleeve notes neither blast ye fer a pasty-faced landlubber!

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Never been able to take U2 seriously

Since seeing Bill Bailey. Just get Jingle Bells in my head...

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Silver badge

I've been doing this for years

" ... you can play with the lyrics ... when you're sitting on the subway ..."

If you change your mind, on the Circle Line, go to Bank with me, go to Bank with me ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've been doing this for years

Waterloo?

Baker Street?

Don't ever forget the ultimate Tube song though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYVJSOFZxDE

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Pono > Bono

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.........

Pono > Bono

.............

Perhaps: Pro>Bono?

Or more likely, as my unsavoury friends around the East End of London did explain to me once:

When asked what they thought of said thing, they said: 'It's Pone!'.

'Pone?' I enquired.

'Yeah', they said - 'Pony and Trap - Crap, innit!'.

Indeed.

What a load of Pone!

Bro Pono!

This is a copropraxic's dream, only restrained by time.

Bono, Bro. You're Pone, Bro. Cui bono, Bono, Bro, you Pone! What you listening to on your Pone Pono, Bro, Bono?

Eh?

Yeah, you're Pone, Bono, Bro...

I'll give it up there, but I am sure a writer of greater talent than I could have a field day with this one.

My greatest fear is the fall of civilisation and people trying to hang the fellows from trees and lamp posts.

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So that's why they bought Beats - to make digital headphones with end-to-end encryption like HDMI. If they do that I'll know that they can't survive without Steve Jobs after all. What did he say about DRM and "a world of hurt"?

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End-to-end encryption

WTF? Hardwired brain-interface?

transducer-splice -> line-in, Job's a good 'un

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Load of codswallop.

If you wander off to the SOS website, and dig around a bit, you'll find an excellent article on digital audio, that goes into the science in great detail.

Short version -

16bit is a greater dynamic range than your ears can stand (taking into account room background).

44.1kHz will definitely resolve up to 22kHz perfectly accurately.

So, to just play your music, a well mastered and recorded CD is all you need. Higher bit depth and sample rates are only needed if you're intending to go into music production.

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Thumb Up

Re: Load of codswallop.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you wander off to the SOS website, and dig around a bit, you'll find an excellent article on digital audio, that goes into the science in great detail.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Indeed. There is a mass of good info out there. Not the least the Xiph.org link I gave

It needs some thorough depth of research before any one can understand this stuff. And most do not take the time. That includes producers and even engineers, that fally prey to the same old myths. Many do not even know that there is a differerence between bit 'rate' and bit 'depth'. Let alone what they entail. But a few days studiously spent learning the basics pays dividends. You will forget it in your day to day work, but at least you will know there is a difference, and can adjust where needed.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Short version -

16bit is a greater dynamic range than your ears can stand (taking into account room background).

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yup. Exactly right again. I'm no authority on the subject, but I have studied it. More than most. This is the consensus of things. Both in scientific theory and experimentation (double blind testing of source files). That is why I said that 16bit is MORE than enough for end reproduction and listening.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

44.1kHz will definitely resolve up to 22kHz perfectly accurately.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem, I believe you are referencing here.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

So, to just play your music, a well mastered and recorded CD is all you need. Higher bit depth and sample rates are only needed if you're intending to go into music production.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Exactly right again. With regard to recording or production as it is now sometimes called - Higher bit depth up to 24bit pays major dividends and allows you to be slopppy with the dynamic range. This is a good thing as you can now play your instruments or sing very quietly or very loudly and there will be no overloads if you belt it out and if you decide to be quiet then the signal to noise ratio will be optimum.

Higher sampling frequencies seem to be more hotly debated as to their efficacy over all, relative to file sizes and whatnot. Me? I'm more than happy to just work at 24bit file size in my DAW, with the internal operations of said daw working at 32/64bit depending on which one I am using at the time. And a sampling frequency of 44.1KHz is more than enough as you have alluded to with the nyquist being at 22.05KHz which is far above what any human being on the planet can hear, no matter how young you are or how golden your ears.

I'm getting on too so can't hear a peep above 16/17KHz, but that's ok, most people can't and .mp3 Low pass filters everything above 17KHz anyway. No one knows, no one complains. It may be possible that a very young and discerning listener with perfect hearing could actually tell the difference, but so far, no tests have been done with anyone coming forward to achieve this in double blind tests.

Never say never. If you're over 25, forget about that anyway. There are many tests online to check your hearing and to also give you an average of your hearing loss as you get older. You will lose high frequency recognition but you will also lose low frequency recognition too, though not so much.

Psychoacoustics is an absolutely fascinating field, a bit like optical illusions for the ears. I never trust my eyes, my ears even less (masking and other reproducible phenomenon), and certainly never my brain.

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Silver badge

"And if Bono wants to save the world, shut the fuck up!"

-- Billy Connolly

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Meh

Look...

...I'm quite a bit older than Bonio and even I think he is a boring old fart. His opinions, thoughts, proclamations and pre-historic (so-called) music is of no interest to the vast majority of people, except of course himself and his loyal band of luvvies.

And why does that other old fart he is often seen with always wear a silly hat?

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"an audiovisual interactive format for music that can't be pirated..."

Oh no, does this mean I can't play bono tunes on my ordinary MP3 player?

Horray!

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