JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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T-Bone Burnett is either having a good laugh or he's a moron.

Recently, T-Bone Burnett, a musician/sonwriter/producer, went all Mellencamp on the world when he warned up and coming musical artists to “stay completelly away from the Internet” and lamented how bad sound quality had gotten over the years. On sound quality, he said “if one can't hear the difference between a tape recording and an mp3, he should not quit his day job.”

Let’s start with his unsound observations on sound quality. First, if by “tape” he means a 2” master running at 30” per second and being played through thousands of dollars worth of gear, including state of the art studio monitor speakers, vs. an 128Kbs MP3 downloaded for free off of Limewire and being played through an iPod and earbuds, well, he has a point. But if he means a cassette vs. a high quality MP3, both being played through some decent ‘buds, he’s also got a point, but for the wrong reason. The MP3 will smoke the cassette, which willl have tape hiss, wow and flutter, no highs, and drop-outs. Here’s the bottom line: not all MP3s are created equal and if you’re listening to what is standard for MP3s today, namely 256 kbps, you’re getting a level of sound quality very close to that of a CD, which uses AIFF files. Don’t believe me? Grab a CD and rip it into iTunes using AIFF, the convert those files to 256 kbps MP3s. Now, put on your best headphones and A/B them. Told you so.

Now, about T-Bone’s other bit of wisdom, staying away from the Internet. Again, not sure what he mans here, does he mean never use it or just don’t put your music on it? Whatever. If he means never use it I would have to ask how he would suggest we discov new music, book gigs, find musicians, stay up with culture, learn about new gear, find the best local music shop, seek vinyl records and on and on and on. As for the notion that putting your music on the Internet “reduces its value to zero”, man, all I can say is a disagree.

T-Bone is hardly a clear thinker on all this, so parsing his words for real meaning is impossible, but he seems to be mainly upset about sound quality, which, in my opinion, is worryingly stupid, but he also seems to think that as an up and coming musician you should do nothing but practice and the Internet is just a distraction. Wow, what a dope. I mean, for starters, the Internet is packed with killer education videos that I would have killed for when I was a kid. Did I get better because I had to spend hours trying to figure something out and then most likely figure it out wrong? I doubt it. Sure, there was some value in my exploratory work, but far better would have been to hop on the shoulders of giants and then start exploring.

Maybe T-Bone was just trying to be provocative, who knows, but if he’s serious, here’s my advice: stay the hell away from T-Bone.