So you want to make music, and you want to make money?

Making money with music tends to follow some patterns which are inherited from other industries. It often turns music into a classic business, quickly focusing only on generating profit. However, this is not what music is all about. Art is the essence of humankind and we all need to be careful not to spoil it.

If you have a factory producing steel, you buy iron, coal and energy to process the raw materials and then sell your final product. You package it into standard shapes so that many people can easily consume it and make it meet their precise needs. This is all very good in its own right, you might even say it leads to a better world as it makes things such as trains and the Eiffel tower possible. As you improve your factory, you make more profit and produce higher quality steel in a very reproducible and controlled way.

Then if you have a music hit factory, you basically follow the same recipe but using different ingredients. You make products that you know people will easily listen to by processing raw musical elements in a controlled way. But if you take a closer look, you'll soon discover that this is in fact a very perverse activity. It starts to go wrong by keeping the emphasis on the result, so net profit and quality standards of the final product matter more than original artistic input. In the music industry, product characteristics are largely determined by what people want to listen to, which in turn is based on what they have already listened to in the past.

This leads to clever techniques which re-use musical ideas that have a guaranteed level of success and add just a few superficial changes all wrapped in sexy packaging to raise attention and create the desire to buy the product. The tragedy is that it asphyxiates musical creativity. What's worse is that even in an utopic situation of a very open-minded public and a very creative music industry, the artists' work would still be dictated by the system that would consume it as a convenient product. With this scheme, if they don't produce the right kind of stuff, artists never eat.

In the name of human dignity, this needs to stop. Make easy-listening music if you want to, but never because you have to. Don't build up expectations about what artists should do but learn to appreciate things you didn't know existed. Reward artists for their efforts, especially if they distribute their music freely. Think, and enjoy.

About the sounds

This song features field sound recordings of the Great Eastern Railway in Cambridge, UK as well as a huge thunderstorm that kept the South-East of England awake during a summer night, and fireworks in Berlin on the 31st December 2013. They were all recorded with a Zoom H2n, edited with Audacity and put together using Splat with some randomness in picking the samples and induced errors in the timings and amplitudes. The bass was also generated by Splat using triangular waves.

The electric guitar features a home-built tube distorsion, and the voice was recorded using a SM58 microphone with an impedence-matched home-built transistor pre-amplifier. This was all recorded using Audacity on a Debian Linux system, with a Komplete Audio 6 sound card. Unlike most other recordings on, no reel-to-reel tape recorder was exploited during this process.