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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 3:15:00 AM

White Bread Music
I've been spending some time at a site called slicethepie.com..Basically listeners review and score music and the top ones rated go into a final..

Every single final they've had there has been stuffed full of unatmospheric,unimaginative white-bread tracks-with pristine vocalists singing totally generic mediocre songs..Out of 30 tracks i've listened to in the finals there there's not been ONE i've liked..


Its heartbreaking when- left to their own devices-it seems the general public en masse will always choose the blandest,safest,well presented McDonalds fare as its favourite dish....

Have people been conditioned so completely-and the general taste so dulled n homogenised by the likes of American Idol and X Factor, that any rough edges,or individual qualities,eccentricities,charm and magic(i.e things that make music GREAT) are no longer valued?


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1/19/2008 3:44:16 AM


a lot of it is the voting apparatus in online contests. It's generally a complete free-for-all. Part of the reason the Golden Kayaks have gone over so well I think is because for the IAIA part, there is a controlled voting body, like the Motion Picture Academy.

Also when you juxtapose musical tastes in relation to the kind of pop tally you're talking about, the results always tend to be skewed by a system that penalizes the unique song. A certain percentage may truly love a song enough to want to buy it right then, but the originality of that song is too disorienting for many of the participants and loses the vote to a group of people with short attention spans who vote for whatever sounds like their favorite song on the radio. Even though these voters have far less at stake, that's just the nature of things, you got to regard these kind of situations as mostly promotional and not indicative of some kind of quality standard. As a listener you get to determine your own quality standard anyway.


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 4:25:37 AM


Yeh,nicely put FT..I totally agree with what you're saying..And (unfortunately) as you said 'thats just the nature of things'...

Unfortunately the 'kayak' system is flawed too imho-tho undoubtedly rewards more interesting/diverse/creative music....Much as i'm grateful for being voted 'Best Male Artist' a couple of years ago-i'm not gonna delude myself that was purely on merit.I was an active member of the community here-and thru that had a large prescence

Without having those things in my favour-i doubt very much i'd've won-and i'm sure many other past winners would agree if they were forced to be honest..


Saying all that -I can't really think of a better system you could use...Everyone has a chance to put whatever track they want in the mix before voting commences.Unless someone's spent a helluva lot of time looking around for new music here tho-their awareness about the choices available is (naturally) gonna be limited ..

So most of the focus-and potential winners- is of course gonna be made up of friends n fellow pipeline users who post regularly here..


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Larry Migliore

1/19/2008 4:34:41 AM


Hey Steve:

What exactly does the "golden Kayak" look like? And you say the system is flawed. Please tell me, how the whole thing works. You won for best male vocalist, so what genre? If I write country tunes and don't sing them personally, is there a country songwriting category? Would like to know what the criteria and breakdown is before I go getting excited with anticipation!

Larry

PS: I checked out that Slice Of Apple Pie site, from the UK and I personally find it a bit complicated and just another site that wants a "piece of your pie"


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 4:48:48 AM


Larry..Just click on my link and you can see what a golden kayak looks like!

I didn't win for best male vocalist,but best male artist..

There's categories for 'best male','best female',best band' and for 'best song' in all the genres listed when you upload your song as far as i know..

No 'country songwriting category' award tho i don't think..


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1/19/2008 4:57:38 AM


There is best country song.

Steve, there was a much higher volume of participation last year and the majority of the growth had to do with artists outside the immediate community. In regards to the voting especially.

The preliminary part of that, the Indie Song of the Year polling is getting underway very soon. Stay tuned for details.


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Larry Migliore

1/19/2008 6:59:05 AM


Steve this may sound silly, but did you actually receive a trophy? Looks great in the picture. AND congrats!


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 7:25:42 AM


Thanks Larry-haha no, i just got that picture


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The CODE

1/19/2008 7:39:49 AM


Steve - agree with your comments re: White Bread Music!!! It seems to me that the 'biz' is one big media circus, as one of our (yet unrecorded) songs will testify:

'Top of the Shitpile' - that's where they all want to be!!!

Saw a magazine cover an hour ago with Pete Doherty on the front - man he looks healthy! (How come!!!) He's caused a media storm over the last few years now it's time to 'cash in!'


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Magnetfisch

1/19/2008 8:11:21 AM


white bread music, that's an issue for sure...
but I think the internet - as a quite democratic platform - may play a role for indie bands (aka brown bread bakers).

but you're right, X-factor and others are giving a wrong idea and somehow conditioning potential listeners. As Damon Albarn puts it on BBC:

The current celebrity culture "sends out all the wrong messages", he said.
"It's creating a mindset that suggests you can get something for nothing and that it's easy to acquire status and fame," he told BBC Radio 4.
"It should be one of the hardest things to do"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7161966.stm

almost a happy end, is it not 8-)

(and a dead-end for eager majors pushing meowing idiots and their caterwaul - and letting them fall afterwards as a thank)


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Chris Hance

1/19/2008 8:13:26 AM


Ha Ha, "White Bread" music,
My kid bro was involved in an incident with a guy of different ethnic background whom he claims called him a "Whitebread",
Is it a racist term, was the music on the site "mono culture" to the point of karaoke?

@The Code,
Poor Pete, hes had a roasting from the press over the years,I do see him as a pretty sensitive and artistic guy, although he does indulge in self torture as an escape, it's a shame that our media looks for ways to make artists and creative people look dirty and cheap,
Journalists, jealous failed musicians?
Not Will Self.


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remote_s

1/19/2008 8:22:28 AM


hey steve, sorry if i'm hijacking, but do they still pay folks to review @ slicethepie? if so, and you wouldn't mind, can you expound a bit on how that works?

i've found it hard to get info from that site in the past...

as for mainstream musical taste, or whatever, i think the point's been made (boy i hate not being able to see the whole thread when typing a response) that the average listener (whatever that may mean) has their "tastes" shaped in large part by marketing. millions and millions of dollars worth of marketing. the book "the trouble with music" by mat callahan (great read) goes into this in detail.

troubling, to be sure. the reality that no longer are our biggest stars our greatest talents, as it was in large part up to the 80s, is a tragedy . but the discerning/discriminating listener will always be able to seek & find out great music. because there will always be artists compelled to create it. jus tlike around these parts...

remote(s)


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Hugh Hamilton

1/19/2008 9:55:31 AM


My palms are sweating...lol...


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 10:10:33 AM


Is it a racist term, was the music on the site "mono culture" to the point of karaoke?

It was Celine Dionist,Nora Jonesin',charmless blustering indie n Hooty n the blowfist style pop/rock- with a huge Xtra dose of modern singer-songwriters delivering their self-pity, cod-soulin' n hyper-earnestness..
All singing thru cut-glass sterile productions in their X Factor voices over chord changes you could usually see coming from 10 miles away..
It's the corporate sound..The sound of buisness ambition crushing artistic ambition...
A world where tightness ,clarity,instrumental virtuosity and pitch-perfect singing have far greater importance and value than magic,individuality and imagination..

@The Code..I really like Pete Doherty's music..Definitely one of my favourite artists.Imaginative,individual and with loads of personality..There were tons of bands on that site who were copying his vocal and particular shambolic music style(without the magic)..None of them reached the final tho lol


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 10:19:26 AM


"hey steve, sorry if i'm hijacking, but do they still pay folks to review @ slicethepie? if so, and you wouldn't mind, can you expound a bit on how that works?"


Yeh they still pay you to review there..Anything from 3p per song to 15p per song depending on your 'star' rating (1-5)
Thats decided by both the quality and number of reviews you do-and how 'accurately' you guess how everyone else votes on a single track-Thus making you a better 'scout' apparantly..


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Hugh Hamilton

1/19/2008 10:28:54 AM ---- Updated 1/19/2008 10:28:54 AM


Aw shucks, Steve, I liked Norah's first album - trying to think - her piano playing inspired a simple piano thing I did that definitely enhanced the song...hmm...pretty sure it was "Time to Remember"...it was a guitar song, plain and simple, but I added a Norah-like piano line and it "hit the spot" (for my ear, anyway)...

Last year was my first "voting" experience here. I was appalled by the whole idea, as I generally don't believe in "competition" when it comes to music. I did not issue any nominations and was planning on sitting out the voting as well, after expressing my fundamental opposition to the scheme. When I was nominated for a couple of kayaks though, I decided that I would actually listen to every nominated song, vote my ears (not my friendships) and in addition NOT vote for myself. Ultimately I was awarded a couple golden kayaks and I took it as the kindest and most generous act that the other voting artists here at the site could bestow, and although I don't believe either one of the kayaks I received to be "factually correct" the fact of it definitely was a welcome endorsement of a whole lot of hard work over many years, and encouraged me to move forward in a big way on expanding my home studio. I also came to realize that the site benefits from the process because it does encourage a lot of activity, especially listening...in my opinion the process does reward activity on the site to a large extent...I've said publicly before that my preference would be for the things to be "favorite" instead of "best"...but all in all, it is what it is what it is what it is (lol) and the more participation there is in this process the better it is for the site as a whole and the artists here. One man's opinion...

:)
H


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 10:49:12 AM


"the reality that no longer are our biggest stars our greatest talents, as it was in large part up to the 80s, is a tragedy"

Yeh..I've thought about that too...

The best 60s and 70s artists valued songwriting as an artform.Interesting chord changes,melodies-development,SUPRISE in songs was highly valued and rewarded in the marketplace
Dance culture and bludgeoning rock-2 of the main growth industries since then cared far less for such subtleties....
THE SOUND is now King.....


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Steve Ison

1/19/2008 11:01:20 AM


I've heard a couple of Norah Jones tracks i like Hugh (tho can't say the same for Celine Dion and Hooty and the blowfish lol)

Yeh,i agree-anything that encourages people to listen to new music is definitely good :)


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srm

1/19/2008 11:23:17 AM


I think they call it 'white bread' music, because that's where the dough goes.


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SILVERWOODSTUDIO

1/19/2008 2:45:06 PM


Great post Steve

I refuse to get dispondant----how long does it take to undo mass brainwashing?
A generation or two?
The big ship is slowly changing course, inertia is powerful in this setting, the audience is resisting---as Larree said in another post "maybe we have to go back to the stone age"---one on one----- hey buddy listen to this--- -bangs two rocks together---nah I like the commercials!


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Vincenzo Pandolfi

1/19/2008 3:21:39 PM


There is a price to being different, but is probably what is different that will last the test of time. Everything else may be too similar to stand out over time....

One of the best compliments I ever had, although it obviously was not intended to be so, was by a Garageband reviewer who stated:

"You don't sound like anyone who has ever made it in the music industry"

Thank goodness fot that!!

Vincenzo


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The Man With No Band

1/19/2008 4:25:16 PM


"You don't sound like anyone who has ever made it in the music industry"

Congratulations Vinzenzo !

... but I would disagree to a certain extent in saying that reviewer has obviously only been around the "recent" music industry ... (such as that nasty thing called the radio) ... :)

Your music has a charm an an ambience that may not reach the "brain washed masses" .... through that medium ... but your stuff could easily be thrown in on them through film and they would not even be aware of it !

...and your classical pieces are just that ... classical ... it's a shame people do not even know where their music came from....


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kurtkurtley

1/19/2008 6:19:19 PM


Steve - the late 60's to late 70's were the last great era of popular musical diversity in the commercial world. It's basically been about formatting and packaging ever since. It became obvious to me when my kids favorite bands and music are the same as mine (yes, I am of that vintage!). As life affirming and bonding as that may seem, I sure didn't listen to much Doris Day and Perry Como when I was younger. So your comments on "White Bread" are essentially correct about the commercial music world. The upside is that there are outlets such as this to bring great music to the fore. My fear, though, is that it is mostly musicians writing for musicians. I don't get the feeling that there is a listenership outside the artist base....am I wrong?


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1/19/2008 9:35:47 PM


Yes, you are wrong. There is a really large pipeline membership of non-artists here, a number of whom run some of the top stations in fact.


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RedRobin

1/20/2008 2:17:59 AM


"The best 60s and 70s artists valued songwriting as an artform.Interesting chord changes,melodies-development,SUPRISE in songs was highly valued and rewarded in the marketplace
Dance culture and bludgeoning rock-2 of the main growth industries since then cared far less for such subtleties....
THE SOUND is now King....."

.... That is such a generalisation!

The biggest disappointment I have with IAC is reading the strong undercurrent in the blogs which incessantly likes to trash all music unless it's indie. There's 'excellent' and 'crap' music in ALL eras and also on ALL music sites (including IAC).

Dance music has been going on ever since people have been walking! I think that some people here need to stop intellectualising and just let themselves go and move their bodies to some good dance music sounds and rhythms.

You might not like Celine Dion or Norah Jones' music (I don't much either) but can you deny their talent? Perhaps you think that Whitney Houston has a crap voice too - Have you ever heard her live?

I'm off to have some breakfast - Locally baked, warm and unsliced white bread - Much preferred to bread that does my head in with all the hard seed bits in it!

:)


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Steve Ison

1/20/2008 10:01:39 AM


Yeh,of course its a generalisation red robin-but a fair one i think...

There's just a limit to the creativity you can express if you have a very limited ability to move the music chordally..
The best 60s n 70s artists like Bowie,Arthur Lee,Syd Barrett,Stevie Wonder ,Ray Davies and Lennon etc were creatively free in a way a dance producer can never be imo,'cos they were so inventive songwriting-wise..

I like some dance music and can appreciate a great groove.However,i get really bored with the incessant looping/sampling that modern electronic and dance music relies on so heavily..The endless, repetitive 2 or 3 chord cycle where the only change is in the layering of sounds underneath..So its like you pretty much know the whole story in the first 10 seconds..
Of course,there's some thrills to be had with that approach and a few brilliant records made i've loved too..

To my way of thinking tho,writing on a piano or a guitar is infinitely 'freer' than writing over a loop....You can make unexpected chord/rythm changes-and with skill- take the listener on a far more interesting,imaginative journey than the producer-however skilled-chained to a repetitive loop and a 4/4 beat ever can..

If your main love is for the groove and 'the sound' - not the song-then of course all this is gonna seem pretty meaningless..And from a modern perspective rightly claim (as my 11 year old nephew did recently when it came on TV) that Life On Mars by David Bowie is 'boring' ...





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Andy Broad

1/20/2008 10:29:12 AM


One of the reason's that previous era's music often seems "better" or more inovative / interesting than today's is that people tend to remember the best stuff, the stuff that survied the test of time. Loads of formula crap was written in the 60's and 70's but the chaff has fallen by the wayside.

I suspect the same will happen with much of todays dance music, (or any genre for that matter) the stuff that is little more than a complicated metronone will get forgotton and the stronger material survive.

I'm not much of a fan of dance music, I prefer music you can dance and listen too, I only like to dance to music I like, it seems many people don't care about the music as long as they can dance. (This has probably always been the case).


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Steve Ison

1/20/2008 10:29:43 AM


"Yes, you are wrong. There is a really large pipeline membership of non-artists here, a number of whom run some of the top stations in fact."

I can think of 5 that i'm aware of Toby..Sue (Rock Goddess),qelizabeth,Nathan(who MAY be a member of staff in disguise) Verity and Sandman( IAC staff/co-owners?)
I really hope there's a large active station making,listening community of non-musicians here-but,as i said, i'm not aware of them...


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RedRobin

1/20/2008 12:00:02 PM


....Fair enough, Steve. I mistakenly got the impression from your original post that you disliked most current music. Apologies and thanks for bothering to expand and not flaming me!

I agree with what you just written. And if loops are to be used the real skill is how finely you chop and vary and mix. There's some great Trance DJ's out there in my opinion.

RR


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Steve Ison

1/20/2008 1:17:39 PM


I'm not interested in flaming-Just ideas

I like it when people express their own truth-even if i disagree..At the very least it helps me reassess or hone my views..:)


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Carl Schonbeck

1/20/2008 3:51:35 PM


Hi there Steve...totally agree with what you're saying about so much of the contest music being so banal. I mean, just look at American Idol or its UK equivalent (if you're lucky there isn't one) but I suppose it's really nothing new. I think many would agree Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane is probably the Beatles greatest single (in that it's a double A side) and yet it never made no. 1 in the UK ("pleeeease release me....let me go!"). Taste is so subjective and yet it's so bvious when it isn't there......I guess someone figured out lowest common denominatoer = bigger sales. I'm glad there are quality sites like IAC and talented musicians like yerself to keep things from tilting too far into WonderBread land!


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