Editorial: March 2005

The ugly head of commercialism

Neil Carr
Contrary to popular opinion I’ve not died, although it has been said that I was last seen in McDonald’s with Elvis, sharing the culinary delights of a Hamburger with extra cheese. The plan to re-introduce the articles and interviews so far has failed to materialise as originally planned. You know how things are, life can be very time consuming and more often than not you find what you want to do is put back a little to what has to be done. Rest assured though, the plans are still firmly intended to re-introduce sections that have been missed for so long.

Discussions this month have raised the ugly head of commercialism. There are two sides to commercialism. There’s the love side of things and there’s the exploitation side. Many may see that the attempts of Jan Zottman, Chris Abbott and myself are exploitation – trying to gain a quick buck from the hands of fans. Well, I think I can say for everyone who has created such CDs as Immortal, Back In Time and Remix64 - that is far from the case. I know the reasoning behind my ideal was to improve the overall quality of sound and professionalism in creating a very new experience that wasn’t available previously. The love, care and attention in bringing out the music is exhausting for all involved. It’s exhausting, because you just don’t want to use the material at hand, but you seriously wish to guide it into a direction that’s worthy of a CD release. Because of the genuine love involved in creating these CDs, you can hear it in the final release. Why do we charge for such CDs? Well, that’s because it costs us to make the CD in the first place. Without financial input and hard work the tracks made for the CDs would never appear. Be it in CD form or FREE form. The guys behind these CDs genuinely love the music they work on and their efforts are not rewarded in profit but are rewarded in a job well done. It really is a love affair.

Now, let’s look at what the ugly side represents. Output64 and other such enterprises are made not with love, not with care, and never with attention to detail. The sole reason for using the original work is for profit. Any c64 music fan will tell you that the projects outside the scene really do stink. More often than not the originals are turned into something that can only be best described as commercial destruction of the originals, and virtually no respect has been given to the original composer apart from maybe a small pay check at the end of it.

Output64 and other such releases are generally quick mock ups which utilise a melody in a way to gain success. Now, what is success? Is it about how many units are sold? Sure, of course it is if you wish to become rich. Success for me is for the CD to gain recognition that effort and love has been implemented in such a way that I feel the CD is worthy of. If I am happy with the results that’s success for me. A bonus is definitely if persons who buy the CD also enjoy the product that you created. Now, for me a combination of pride in your own idea and indeed customer satisfaction is worth more weight in gold than selling xxx thousands amounts of copies.

Yes, generally all the producers of CDs would love to sell thousands and thousands of copies. The reason behind that that subsequent CDs can be given a bigger budget and the constant improvement of such CDs can continue. Profit comes last on the grand scheme of things.

Why are CD releases of c64 mixes becoming less and less? That’s simply because many of the producers of such CDs feel they have taken the quality issues as far as they can, without spending more money than what is essentially possible in due to the limited sales. If sales improved then the money gained through such efforts could be utilised to making better and better CDs, and thus continuing the constant race for better and improved mixes. But what can you do, when sales are limited? Do you pump out mixes of the same quality as before, or do you say… Time to call it a day? Well, I think I can speak for most when a CD reaches its maximum potential that creating another CD is a waste of time, in both, effort and ambition.

The same could be said for the fantastic BITLive events, Chris has worked so hard in creating these events, and it finally over the years reached its maximum potential. It could not be improved any more without more visitors attending and now after several great years the events have come to an end. All in all, it was great while it lasted but there you go, you can only do so much when demand isn’t strong enough.

That’s the difference between outside projects and inside projects. The money gained from CDs / events are pumped back into projects that wish to evolve and create a better and better vision, while outside projects are in it for the sole reason of exploitation.

If these outside projects are so successful, then I’d like them to respect the originals more and help the scene by utilising a small fraction that is gained and helping what really has become their exploitation. It would be a great gesture and a respect to the people and fans of c64 music if they did do this. I won’t hold my breath though.

Take it easy.

- Neil

Chris adds:

Chris Abbott
I agree with your sentiments there Neil, though I think that there's still some great CDs to come which can still break new ground: it's as much about imagination as it is about technology. The main reason for the lack of new CDs has been difficulty in finding the time and motivation to finish (both myself and the others who are working on albums). It's difficult even to start! I have to admit the quality bar has been raised so high that I can't now imagine what BIT 4 could possibly deliver that hadn't already been done by BIT 3 and Remix64 IE, so I probably won't be doing it. No Boz joke this time, since this isn't a proper editorial 😊 See ya next month, when I'll talk about how hard life is. But I'll leave you with a joke: what do you call Ben Daglish in a lift with a spliff? Anything you like, he's too mellow to care 😉 Shaking a shaker and over and out… (that was fun except the leg cramp!!) - Chris

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