Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Worst Album Covers Ever Vs. Project Cocktail And CMX


Back in the day of vinyl records, the album cover was a formidable marketing tool. Many a record was sold just by having a cool cover or because of the information from the liner notes on the back.

Great album covers are a lost art since CD artwork never had the same impact, and of course, digital music doesn't require artwork at all. This might all change in the near future as Apple readies its "Project Cocktail" in conjunction with the 4 major labels, which is their way of reinventing the soon to be obsolete album.

"It's all about re-creating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music," said one executive familiar with the plans. Supposedly, consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple's iTunes software. "It's not just a bunch of PDFs," said one executive. "There's real engagement with the ancillary stuff."

Not to be outdone, the major labels are creating their own version of the same thing called "CMX". Of course, this is just what the industry doesn't need at this time (or ever, for that matter) - a new format war. It makes you wonder what the people making the big bucks running the labels are thinking about (besides their salaries and how to protect them).

On a more lighthearted note, here's what someone considers the worst album covers of all time (although I don't agree with many of the choices). It should be noted that even bad album covers could still be great marketing tools.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Simple EQ Guidelines


Equalization is one of the most difficult parts of recording to get the hang of since there's literally almost an infinite number of possibilities. Most of us learn by experience and usually massive amounts of trial and error, but there are some brief general guidelines that can be an enormous help for those new to the process. They are:


  • If it sounds muddy, cut (decrease the level) at around 250Hz. Although you can get that muddy sound from other lower frequencies (especially anything added below 100Hz), start here first.
  • If it sounds honky or veiled, cut at around 500Hz. This is where a huge build-up of energy occurs when close-miking instruments because of the proximity effect that naturally occurs with directional mics. Just cutting a bit in this area can provide instant clarity sometimes.
  • Cut if you're trying to make things sound clearer. If the sound is cloudy, there's usually a frequency band that's too loud. It's easier to decrease it than to raise everything else.
  • Boost if you're trying to make things sound different. Sometimes you don't want clarity as much as you want something to sound just different or effected. That's the best time to boost EQ.
  • If you must boost, keep it to a minimum. If you have to add more than 3dB, chances are you're better off finding the offensive frequency band and cutting it instead. The more EQ you add, the more phase-shift that you add as well, which changes the sound in many unpleasant ways that can't easily be fixed later.
  • You can't boost something that's not there in the first place. Once again, you're better off to decrease other frequencies than try to add a huge amount, like 10 or 15dB, to any frequency band.
Although there are exceptions to every one of the above guidelines, you'll always stay out of sonic trouble if you follow them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Apple To Finally Release Beatles Catalog?


Apple has announced that it will be making a major announcement on 9-9-9, the same day the remastered Beatles catalog is to become available.

Does this mean that the Beatles catalog will finally be available on iTunes? The group has left a considerable amount of money on the table for some time by playing hard to get for their digital songs (not that they need it), but even though they'd probably get a bump in sales, it just might be too late to really cash in.

Word has it that the average age of the typical iTunes user is getting younger and younger as parents would rather their kids pay for songs on the site than take of risk of downloading illegally. Even though a surprising number of kids really like the Fab 4's music, it's still over 40 years old! It's surprising that any kid can relate.

And will the Baby Boomers flock to the site to make a purchase yet again? They have the records, they have the CDs, and they may even buy the about-to-be-released remastered CDs, so it's difficult to justify yet another purchase, especially in this economy.

So I'd be surprised if the coffers of the iTunes store explodes if, in fact, the Beatles catalog does finally make their for-sale lists. If I'm wrong, it will make for a fascinating study of exactly who the purchasing consumer really is.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Savior Of Print Media?

Would you read a newspaper or magazine if it had video embedded into it? As far fetched as that may seem, the concept is about to become reality. CBS unveiled a new "video-in-print" promotion, sticking a real video player inside a print magazine ad, advertising for a host of television shows from the pages of a magazine.

The "video-in-print" technology was created by Americhip, and will be inserted into subscription copies of Entertainment Weekly's Sept. 18 Fall TV Preview in New York and Los Angeles.

It's not surprising that the first use of video-in-print is for advertising, but I'm sure a clever publisher or author can come up with some interesting use in the future if the price is right (big question). Until we get a book that projects a hologram, this might be the next best thing, for better or worse.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Music On The Cell Phone Not Such A big Deal

For the longest time, cell phone manufacturers and wireless carriers have been predicting that music on the cell phone would be the next big thing and save the music business.

Now comes a new study by Forester Research that finds that 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. never listen to music on their cell phones.

That's the key finding in a new study appropriately called The Future Of Music On Cell Phones.

Of course people don't want to listen to music on the phones. Until the iPhone there wasn't a device friendly enough for music, and unless the carriers had a piece of it (like Nokia), they weren't really interested unless you paid a premium for it.

Since the streaming music services that consumers are most interested like Pandora and Last.fm, don't expect the carriers to make it easy since those services eat up a lot of bandwidth without producing much revenue.

Then there's the issue of battery life. The main use of the cell phone is for talking, and if you eat up your battery with any other persistent use app like one for music, battery life is short, defeating the purpose of the phone in the first place. So don't expect the survey results to change much in the near future.

CD Packaging At Its Best Or Worst?

Here's an interesting (I think) packaging idea for a CD release.

It's a CD case, it's an instrument, it's a circuit board, it's ??? The video tells all.

I don't know if the music is any good, or if I even want to give it a listen, but at least the guy is thinking out of the box.


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