Is there too much heterogeneity in music?

Posted on December 14, 2011 by

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Mock-up of Spotify 2.0 Logo

Eclectic tastes within wireWAX studios means within the space of an hour it’s not uncommon to hear Paul Simon juxtaposed with System of a Down; Muddy Waters hot on the heels of Jessy J. As great believers in tolerance and diversity, we welcome everyone’s pick on the playlist but these seismic shifts can cause irritation and disruption of concentration across the board.

Over the past few weeks however, wireWAX studios has been a place of festive cheer. An atmosphere of harmonious warmth and wellbeing pervades, thanks not just to the chestnuts roasting on our open fire but to the presence of Michael Bublé’s Christmas on constant repeat on the office playlist. Christmas songs exemplify the problem perfectly. ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Santa Baby’ are both phenomenal works in their own right but who wants to go directly from Nat King Cole’s deep earthy masculine gold to Eartha Kitt’s floaty feminine sparkle? The transition jars. Bublé papers these cracks like tonic for the soul. This brings us to the leading question of this article: Is there too much heterogeneity in music?

The music industry has been widely criticised for being slow to adapt to a changing market place and though it is starting to move in the right direction in partnership with services such as Spotify, we believe there is still a long way to go. If we look at someone like Apple; their success is down to quality and consistency of user experience. People buy an Apple product and they know before they pick it up exactly how it’s going to behave. People dislike having to relearn an entirely new OS every time they purchase a new phone or mobile device. They want sleek uniformity; which is what we’d like to see offered in Spotify 2.0. All the content should have a consistent feel to it. Whilst we love the breadth and depth of content that Spotify provides, it can often lead to an uneven user experience and as such the Spotify brand lacks identity.
A user should be able to listen to a few seconds of any track and immediately know: that’s Spotify. This is something we’d like to see addressed in Spotify 2.0. In 2.0, all content should be arranged and produced in-house with EMI-Sony-approved composers, instrumentalists and technicians, with all vocals provided by Michael Bublé. The success of his recent album has shown that the demand is there for this kind of service.

Reluctant Hero: Bublé bears a heavy burden under our proposals for Spotify 2.0

Of course, converting the entire back catalogue would be a colossal undertaking, and you might think that in requiring Bublé himself to provide vocals the task would be rendered impossible. The surprising thing is however that it would take thousands of staff on the project before Bublé became the bottleneck. Michael has been a global megastar for many years now and his team have streamlined the dependence on him to an absolute minimum in the recording of any track. Over and above his uncanny ability to nail any melody on the first take, there are other efficiencies to be made. Choruses for example only need to be sung once, slow songs can be sung at a higher BPM and slowed down in post-production; all these small tricks reduce the burden on Michael and reduce the music’s intrusion into his personal life. As a point for comparison, the Jingle Bells song on his current album only required 56 seconds of Michael’s time; and that’s a 3 minute track which is heavy on vocals.

Imagine the result. You’ll have an end product where ‘The Immigrant Song’ can roll seamlessly on from ‘The Thong Song’ allowing us all to appreciate the songwriting and melodies of our favourite songs without the annoying inconsistencies introduced by different recording conditions and musicians of varying technical ability.

Audio may just be the start of this adventure. We’ve already discussed the possibility of having a button within the wireWAX studio to ‘Cloonify’ any video content using computer vision algorithms to supplant all faces in uploaded videos with the visage of George Clooney; though this feature is unlikely to make it into the forthcoming release of wireWAX 3.

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