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A rant on digital files for promotion/reviews...


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Just about all the record labels have shifted from physical discs to digital distribution for their promotional media. From the perspectives of cost, ease of distribution, and ability to track, I get it. I actually like being able to grab promotional releases without having to wait for a disc in the mail.


That said...




I cannot tell you the number of times that after receiving promotional media MP3s, that I later go out and purchase the CD because I want it for my collection, and it sounds like a COMPLETELY different album because it's full-bandwidth unfiltered raw audio, not bitstarved, processed, filtered shit.


How the hell are we supposed to be able to critique the mix or production job if what we receive isn't the same as the end product?


When I hear an album that sounds like crap sonically, I have no idea whether the album really does sound piss poor, or it's the encoding job the label has done on the MP3s.


Case in point: I'm listening to the new Issa album, and it sounds like there's a wall of fog between the vocals and the mike. It sounds thin and underproduced. Is it? Fuck if I know. I've given up trying to guess what any CD will REALLY sound like.


Server storage and distribution bandwidth are dirt fucking cheap any more. There is NO excuse for not providing 320kbps unprocessed MP3s. None at all.



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  • My Little Pony

I HATE digital promo's.


Yea I get the cost stuff, etc... But I need to see it, touch it, taste it and smell it to properly reveiw it.


Yeah, taste and smell are two factors that aren't taken into consideration often enough, and can't be done with digital files.

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Could not agree with you more, but I keep it simple--I review whatever they send and if it sounds like crap, then crap is what I call it. I'll let the band remain nameless, but I recall early in my reviewing "career" a heavy metal band sent me a digital download and I pointed out that the backing vocals sounded way too high in the mix. The band promptly sent me a physical CD and requested a retraction, citing the fact that the album had been engineered differently prior to the physical pressing and the download I had received was the "rough mix." Really? You sent a reviewer rough-mixed digital files and then complain when the reviewer points out the poor audio quality? So now I review whatever I receive and fret not about whether it differs from the end product.


My personal pet peeve is streams. Nothing irks me more than a label/band telling me they want me to review their album and give them promotional coverage, but refuse to actually give me their music, instead only allowing me access to a private "stream." I don't mind an advance stream followed by a download or CD closer to the release date, but telling me you're only giving me a stream and that's it...well, to that I always respond, "I don't review streams, I review albums. If you won't provide the album, I won't provide a review. End of story."


But yeah, to get back on point, I simply do not understand why a band or label would not want to put their best foot forward and provide 320kbps unprocessed MP3s to the media. Providing substandard sonics to reviewers and then expecting glowing write-ups is just retarded.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I hear ya. Although the thing with the digital promos is, the companies which provide such services - like HAULIX, are actually quite pricey and restrictive.


For instance Haulix' lowest tier costs $20/mo and provides only 196mb storage / 5gb bandwidth... with the downloading and streaming capabilities, this bandwidth is consumed quite fast and then it is so-much-per-gb extra which snowballs pretty fast, especially if someone starts the streaming player and then walks away from their computer, because as you can imagine the player has only one mode, and it is continuous playback...


Upgrading to the next tier is not a real solution either, as the next tier costs a whooping $90/mo for only 512mb storage... So file size is definitely a factor to be considered... of course ti doesnt make any good to serve goofy overcrunched samples, but given all above, I do tend to prefer to serve 192kbps mp3s instead of higher bitrate or lossless...


And of course multi-page pdf file with readable previews of all booklet/traycard pages is a must (not that many reviewers ever bother to comment on packaging, but that's different rant altogether)

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I HATE digital promo's.


Yea I get the cost stuff, etc... But I need to see it, touch it, taste it and smell it to properly reveiw it.


in an ideal world I'd love to be able to send unlimited real cds to everyone. But the truth is, with releases limited to 1000 or even 500 copies pressing run, it is very hard to allocate "promos" (aka real cds with punched bar codes) and ship them for free (easpecially overseas)... and then we run into the biggest problem I had with sending real promos - which is getting only 10-15% turnback...


At least with the digital promos I dont have to worry when only 10-15 people send back reviews to me - it irks me of course, but not as much as when you spent $300 in sending out 100 real promo packages, and only 10-15 people bother to send anything back...

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