Are Musicdisk Interfaces Dying Out?

Written by BenJam


Hidee-ho, I'm BenJam of TUM and Hypermatix. I am a musician and did a song for HUGI issue 14 (some of you might remember it). Well, this is my first article for HUGI. I wanted to write about something that seems to be a common phenomenon in the music-scene: - "Musicdisks with interfaces are dying out!". Some of you will maybe say now: "Mhh, that's nothing new...", but has anybody tried to figure out WHY musicdisks die out? Well, okay, maybe hundreds did. In spite of that, I'll try to figure it out ONCE MORE, but a bit more precisely. Just follow me to the next headline, please.


A common problem of today's musicscene is that most musicgroups are small and have no reliable coder(s). So, they are forced to release their songs without an interface. Anyway, even groups with coders seem to be unable or unwilling to create cute little interfaces for their musician's modules. I think the main problem here is lazyness. Lazyness that comes from the coders AS WELL AS from the musicians. Why is that? Look: musicians work for weeks, maybe for months to finish their songs. Afterwards, they just lack the energy to develop the ideas and design for an interface. The coders, however, lack the energy to code a gfx-engine and a module-player, or just don't want to stuff around with (excuse me) 'annoying' MIDAS-like playing-routines. If we have a look at the history of musicdisks, we'll see that more and more modulecollections are/were released without an interface. And those equipped with an interface are/were in most cases uncomfortable to handle or not innovative in design. What I am trying to say is not that every musicdisk released in the last few years is/was bad, but some of them might have been better left without an interface.


Yep, that's the question. In fact, there's no real need for an interface. Anyway, it's just boring to release a bunch of modules in a ZIP with some text-files. That, anybody can do (even me). One day, when I came to MBB/TUM and told him about a musicdisk with a nice interface, I found out that he considers musicdisks boring. He just wants to hear music while he's in Windows, while modelling, or surfing. With this statement I started to understand, that musicdisks with interfaces are something that you try out, say... maybe two or three times, then you know what it looks like, it starts to become boring, finally you delete it. Or maybe you are even unable to get it running. In this case you'll delete it right away. Another reason why interfaces are an obstacle for the 'consumers' is the size. A musicdisk with a pretty interface takes more space, and of course it needs more time for downloading. So, many people will never try out musicdisks, unless they're on some CD, or something.


Mhh, nice phrase. Maybe we could found an initiative like "Rescue the whales" or something. Kidding, but perhaps in times where everyone has some mod-player and nobody needs musicdisk-interfaces anymore, musicdisks will, or already have died out. In my opinion, the last real musicdisk was DEE2 using the HORS-2.0 interface. This was really a big deal, cute intro, nice design, a funny nibbles-game. Anyway, maybe it was the last milestone in the history of musicdisks. Believe me or not, I haven't seen a better interface since then, although I don't think that it will be so cute in following times. This fact raises the question: "Are there alternatives?" - Nur meckern ntzt auch nichts.


Yes, yes, alternatives are what we have to look for. The main thing to think about is whether there are alternatives. I have thought about this question for a long time up to now. Before I forget it: it was the main reason why I wrote this article. The alternative for a musicdisk-interface has to be something that... mhh... let's think... entertains - not only with the music, but also visual... and... wait... possibly, it has to be interactive... furthermore... mhh... stop! That's a game! Okay, okay, really flat here, but it's true. The alternative for a musicdisk-interface is a game or a demo, kind of a video or music-clip. Did ya recognize it? This has already been invented... Really? - Yeppa! So, alternatives are right on hand. And believe me, it's hard to think about other alternatives (or am I stupid?!?).


Okay, here comes my closing opinion. In times where a superduper 3D render-me-to-death demo is nothing special, musicdisk-interfaces have to catch up with this trend. If they do, we'll get musicdisks with a little 3D-demo for each song, matching the feeling of the sound - virtual worlds creating a fascinating atmosphere and being interactive forcing the user magically to be an audience. However, as long as nobody tries to make an effort in this direction, the musicdisks we once knew are dead. And the people who'll try to do something really oldschool... they'll surely fail.


Well, now you can shout at me, scream at me and laugh at me.

- BenJam^TUM/HM