John Van Eaton, a.k.a. JHVE, has been on the road, in the studio and around the world as a technician for such acts as Nine Inch Nails, Guns and Roses, Linkin Park, and KMFDM, just to name a few.
Following up on an earlier posting
on The Greener Grass, John paid a visit to Kaleidoscope's studio to have a discussion about the state of the music business.What has been the most significant technical innovation that has the greatest impact on your profession?JHVE:
The biggest step has been the power of the personal computer, the successive improvements in computers from 20 years ago to now. By the time we could all get a Mac G3 laptop, that was the beginning of something amazing. The machines are just getting better, more solid, and faster. Most machines from the past three years are really reliable. I used to not be able to trust that a computer would be able to run an application like Pro Tools or play Logic files over long periods of time without crashing, you could not use them in a live environment. We would use Pro Tools in the studio, but tracks that were used to back up a band, all that data, would be put on a digital tape machine that was more a hardware device that did not have crash issues like an operating system in a computer. But those tape machines were susceptible to environmental conditions such as humidity and condensation. When the computers finally got to the point of being really stable, we were able to use Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton live out on the road. The other thing is the software growing stronger,more robust, supporting creativity. It used to be to that the only way to put an album together was cutting tape, then in Sound Designer - with just two tracks! Then came multi-track Pro Tools and that became such an industry standard. Recently, Apple bought Logic and created Final Cut and they decided that these tools would be their new standard. People can now get a Pro Tools or Final Cut system and computer for under $2,000. In audio and video editing, the minimum systems used to cost hundreds of times more!What insight do you have on the current and future state of the music industry?JHVE:
In ten weeks Trent Renzor produced 36 songs for the Nine Inch Nails project "Ghosts 1-4" and achieved $1.6 million in gross sales through his own website and Amazon.com in the first week. This came after the end of his 15 year record deal with Interscope. He was a free agent. He moved 800,000+ pieces of product in the first week! On the previous NIN release "With Teeth" the record company moved 200,000+ units in the first week.
I wonder if the big record companies can continue to exist.
Prince and Madonna may be making money but there are many others who are in debt because they have a record deal.
A painting is it's own hardware key. It really cannot be re-produced. A photograph can be easily re-produced and has less value. It is worth less than a painting. Music seems to have almost no value if it can be copied by millions, how do we make a living now as musicians?
My friends Sean and Juliette Beavan and their band 8mm
have enjoyed great success through their MySpace page and their songs being featured on television shows such as Grey's Anatomy. That's what we are all trying to do as artists in this new world, find new types of income streams.I think that music is an emotional experience rather than a commodity. The live performance seems to be the way to deliver that. With ticket prices what they are now, the payday for the musician now seems to be the show.JHVE:
Nine Inch Nails always puts on an amazing visual live show. U2 always puts on an amazing visual show. As the record sales have gone down, the tour schedules have become more demanding. It is getting tighter and tighter.
Now Radiohead and NIN have given their records away for free, their income has to come from the shows.You live the life of musician and technician in the studio, on the road, and as an artist. Beyond that, what do you find that influences, stimulates and inspires you?
: The experience that made a 180 degree turn on my life was seeing the Cirque du Soleil in 1993. I had no idea what it was. I had such a beautiful evening and I remember everything from that night, from the girl who sold the tickets to the people I met at intermission. It has been a life-altering experience. It is always a celebration of the best, most beautiful things that mankind can do. It has none of the profanity, none of the rot, none of the decay. It shows the strength of the human body, mind and spirit.
It's the passionate pageant of humanity.
Check out John's music and more at www.jhve.com
Labels: Entertainment, interview, music, synthesizers, technology