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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yes, Math Can Predict A Hit

Everyone has heard the phrase "If it were so easy everyone would be doing it." Having a hit record might be within "everyone's" grasp, thanks to a new site set up by an artificial intelligence group at the University of Bristol, who believe they have "The Hit Equation."Yes, they have delineated the hit record down to the equation below:


OK, that didn't mean much to me either, but the site does have a few interesting tidbits. After analyzing hits on the UK charts over the last 50 years, they have determined:

1) In early decades, hits tended to be harmonically simpler than non-hits. However, nowadays the opposite is true.

2) Around 1980 seems to be a creative period in pop music.

3) Dance songs were more popular in the 1980s.

4) Music of all qualities are getting louder.

That last one seems to be stating the obvious. I'm not sure that I agree with first three.

The site, called scoreahit.com, has a section on Expected Hits (Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"), Unexpected Hits (Alicia Key's "Empire State Of Mind"), Hidden Gems (Sheryl Crow's "First Cut Is The Deepest"), and they even go as far as to make predictions on current songs.

If you ask me, this is fools gold. Even if it were possible to predict a hit, it still is working with last week's (month's, year's, decade's) data. By the time you determine what works, the public (fickle as we are) has moved on. The only thing different between using math to predict a hit and the record labels following jumping on a trend is the time lag. You can only follow a trend, you can't make one this way.

Check scoreahit.com out and let me know what you think. Have a great holiday.!
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Foo Fighters Cause An Earthquake

You've got to rock pretty hard to make the ground shake, and apparently Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters know just how to do it. According to New Zealand's GeoNet blog, two seismic stations outside of Auckland's Western Springs Stadium recorded geological tremors that were consistent with that of volcanic activity caused by the Foos’ Dec. 13 show.

Strong low frequency of tremors were detected at the time of the show, and correlated specifically with the highs and lows of the performance (see the graph on the left).

“The first vibrations were recorded around 7:30pm, part way through the Tenacious D set, but the biggest shakes started at 8:20pm when the Foo Fighters took the stage, and then it all went quiet at 11pm when the gig ended,” Geonet states.

“The concert vibrations were recorded as a semi-continuous harmonic signal with a peak osculation of 3Hz, i.e. the ground was shaking 3 times per second in a nice rhythmic motion.  There are lulls in the signal between the songs and peaks in signal intensity during the songs.”

This just goes to show the kind of energy that comes from 50,000 fans. Is it any wonder that musicians can't get enough of it?

The Foos are also up for six Grammy Awards this year, including Album of the Year for Wasting Light, as well as best rock performance and best rock song for “Walk.” A little bit of that seismic energy would go nicely at the ceremony.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Acoustic Riot Shield

For those of you who've considered using your music as a weapon at one time or another  (I know you're out there), now comes a patent from Raytheon for a new type of riot shield that generates extremely loud pulses to disrupt the respiratory tract and hinder the breathing of the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

The shield has a heads-up display that allows the operator to set it to warn, stun or incapacitate. The patent points out that the sound waves being generated are actually not that powerful, so while protestors might collapse from a lack of oxygen reaching their brains, their eardrums won't be damaged in the process. Of course, since this is the age of communication, shields can even be networked to fire as one, so there goes the "not that powerful" argument.

Essentially the shield is a folded acoustic horn that focuses a tunable 500 to 5kHz pluses singly or in multiples. No word on how much these may cost (a lot, I suspect), how much they'll weigh, or if you'll have to enroll in the Darth Vader School of Policing to operate one.

You can read the patent for yourself here. In the meantime, rejoice in the fact that we only have to deal with traditional riot shields during peaceful protests for now.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.


Monday, December 19, 2011

What Is A Professional?

Many younger musicians haven't had a mentor to teach them the ropes of the business, and as a result, their professional demeanor can be lacking. In this excerpt from How To Make Your Band Sound Great (the band improvement book), I describe just what the term "professional" really means.
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"In the strictest sense of the word, a “professional” is be someone who makes his living only playing music.  But whether that describes you or you’re a ways away from that, what you really need is to have a professional’s attitude in order to get ahead both on a personal level and with your band. Let’s take a look at the qualities of a professional attitude.

A professional:
  • is always on time.  Time is money and a pro is not only on time, but usually early (as illustrated in many other chapters of this book).  If he’s delayed and won’t arrive at the agreed time, he calls ahead to make sure that everyone is aware, then gives his best estimate when he’ll arrive.
  • is always open to ideas.  Instead of arguing about the value of an idea, a pro simply says, “I haven’t tried that before, but I’m really interest to hear what it sounds like!”  No idea is too crazy to at least consider, because you never know when something that you initially thought was too far out is actually the perfect solution to a problem or addition to a song.
  • is focused only on the music.  When a pro is at a rehearsal, gig or recording session, he’s 100% there and in the moment and focused on giving the best performance she can.  He’s not thinking about  his girlfriend, paying the bills, or the after-gig party.  All his concentration if on the music.
  • is open to criticism or suggestions on how to play something.  A pro doesn’t take any suggestion or criticism personally.  He takes it in the spirit of making the music better.  This is a hard one to uphold, especially if the criticism is coming from someone not as sensitive as you, but it’s the right thing to do.  If someone is being abusive however, it’s OK to say, “I don’t agree with you, and unless you speak to me in a respectful manner, this conversation is over.”
  • presents his ideas in a respectful manner.  He doesn’t say, “I should sing this because your singing sucks.”  He says, “Would you mind if I give it a try just to see how it comes out?”
  • takes responsibility for his mistakes.  A pro immediately owns up to any mistake, oversight, error or blunder and says, “Sorry, it was my fault,” and accepts the consequences.
  • never parties on the job.  As stated back a little bit, a pro is 100% focused on the music at hand.  While a few beers might not constitute a party, it certainly doesn’t help you play better during a rehearsal or gig if your mind isn’t all there.  There’s plenty of time to party later so save it until then.
  • treats his band mates with respect.  A pro treats his fellow musicians as equals and peers and would never intentionally do or say anything to disrespect any of them.
  • treats his road crew, engineers, light man and everyone working for the band with respect.  A pro understands that all the people around him are working to make him sound and look better and they deserve to be treated respectfully as well.
  • treats his audience with respect. A pro understands that he’s there to entertain the audience and without them he’d be playing at home in his bedroom.
If you assume a professional attitude by following the above points, you’ll find that the respect for you will grow, any interpersonal tensions will ease, and band life will suddenly go a lot smoother.

You can read some additional excerpts from How To Make Your Band Sound Great as well as my other books on the excerpts page of my website.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Real Opening Chord To "Hard Days Night

Do you think you know what the opening chord to The Beatles song "A Hard Day's Night" is? I did. I thought for sure that it was an F9, or an F chord with a G on top. But there's a lot more to it than that.

In this video we have the legendary guitarist for The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman, describe that first chord, thanks to Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George) being kind enough to play him the multitrack source so he could dissect it.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

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