New law against faked-up recordings?

New law against faked-up recordings?


norman lebrecht

July 29, 2011

The British advertising watchdog has banned airbrushed photographs of aging models for giving the false impression that certain creams can make any woman look 28. Julia Roberts and Christie Turlington (below) are among those being taken down.

Forces in the music industry are proposing that the same principle should be applied to recordings of elderly, talentless and half-trained artists whose recordings are pieced together with microsurgery to cover the false notes and dullness. ‘So many artists and OCD producers cannot make a
classical recording in less than five hundred takes and a thousand edits – then denoising, then covering in phoney reverberation,’ laments one leading producer.

No names, though we all know who they are. But maybe this should be one of Placido Domingo’s first campaigns in his new glove-puppet role as president of IFPI, the industry’s anti-theft and fraud organisation.

PD as The Home of Seville (c) Simpsons


  • Max says:

    Yes! There should be a clear distinction between live, unedited performances and the rest. Not just for the old guys. Today the technology is able to support recordings that get very close to the true performance experience.

    • Tony says:

      You are right about the availability of technology to make great dynamic sounds from recordings. However, if you can find a modern “unedited” performance you would be very fortunate. Few commercial releases of live concert performances are unedited. It all depends on who the artists and the producer are. No-one wants a recording to be released with massive howlers of mistakes, so for decades we have always done a little bit of clean-up using material from a rehearsal or post-concert patch to get round a split or big fumble. However where we are now is a different world where some so-called live recitals have literally hundreds of edits. I know because I have made several myself for ‘proper’ labels and the amount of editing requested shocked even me. Pandora’s Box has been opened and getting the lid closed again will be tough.

  • Melissa says:

    I disagree. Music that has been edited/autotuned/cleaned up is not the same as using airbrushed models for cosmetic treatments. The music isnt falsely advertising that it will “make you look younger” like the skin creams do. They are so fundamentally different in argument, that it’s strange a correlation is even being explored.

    While I agree that many singers (scratch that, PRODUCERS!) these days are relying heavily on autotune, it doesnt give the FCC any right to slap a warning label on an album expressing that the recording has been “cleaned up”. If they did that, then EVERY singer on the planet with a recording would have that label.

    • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

      Here is a suggestion: fat level disclosing is mandatory by law on food labels, how come the amount of patch editing in classical music marketing inferred live recordings could not be known to a buyer?

      There is indeed a difference between a live performance cosmetic editing and some recent 50/50 live/studio mix. I am yet to read any retraction on the latest that keeps garnering flattering reviews if not lately for mild disclaimers when the origin of the performances is discussed…