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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Is Logic Being Discontinued?

Logic Studio image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogWhile Pro Tools is the king of the professional DAW world, there's still a large and dedicated Logic Pro following, with many users swearing by its versatility and sound. Those users have clamored for a new upgrade, since the last version of Logic was released way back in 2009.

That new version may never come, as word has leaked out of Apple Europe (where Logic development is based) that the company has let go virtually its entire Logic team except for 2 pro application specialists. Word is that there is no plan to hire anyone else, which does not bode well for the product.

A quick look on Apple's job site shows lots of audio related jobs at various spots within the company, but none related to Logic. Apple has hinted that the next big audio app in the future will be for iPad.

I hate to say it, being an Apple fanboy myself, but company does seem to be turning primarily into a consumer audio company, and little by little abandoning the pro users who stood by it during the hard times. I'm personally not a Logic user (I never could get my arms around it), but if it does disappear, I mourn its loss, since that's just another reason for a pro to look at another platform.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised that a new Mac Pro is in the offing (probably in January), and that will go a long way to bolster the state of the pro user at Apple. Until then, we can only wonder if all pro apps and hardware will go the way go the same way as Logic appears to be going.

Update: There's some question as to the truth to this report. Check out this post on AppleInsider, this one from Macrumors, and this one from Music Radar for more on the subject.
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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, November 28, 2012

What Taking A Gig For "Exposure" Really Means

Exposure image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
The longer you're in the music business, the more times you're approached to do a gig for "the exposure." This usually means that either you won't get paid at all or you'll be paid a discounted rate for the privilege of doing the gig, ostensibly in order to gain higher visibility that will lead to more or better paying gigs later.

I've found that whenever "exposure" is brought up by the party offering the gig, that usually means they're just trying to get something for nothing, so the exposure doesn't amount to much. On the other hand, if the concept of exposure isn't brought up at all or even given a soft-sell, it occasionally can turn into just the thing you need to help advance your career.

So just what is this "exposure" thing and what can it do for you? Exposure can mean building awareness of either your personal brand or that of your band. This extended awareness will hopefully result in additional gigs or additional sales for your products. So how do you determine whether you'll gain enough exposure to make the gig worthwhile? Here's the formula I've come up with after years of getting burned:

1) Don't believe what anybody tells you. If you're told that agents, managers, record labels or a possible new audience might see you, take it all with a grain of salt. Do some research and find out for yourself before you make a commitment. The gig is going to cost you time and probably money, so try to make sure up front that you'll actually be getting what's promised.

2) Try to match any potential exposure to your promotional needs. Assuming that you've verified that you'll actually be playing in front of a crowd (that's not always the case), try to find out:
  • Is this a crowd that wants to be entertained in the first place? No use playing to a thousand people who just want some background music instead of the type of show that you have to offer. An example would be playing a wedding because a manager that you want to meet will be there. The problem is it's the bride's day and she'll control what you play and how you'll play. You'll never be at your best no matter what you do so it's a no-win situation. Avoid gigs like this all costs.
  • Is this a compatible audience? Don't take the gig to try to open up a new market segment that you don't already have a handle on. It hardly ever happens. If you're a great ska band but you're asked to open up for a hard rock band at a biker rally,  chances are the crowd won't like you no matter how great a show you put on. It's an incompatible audience, so don't waste your time.
3) Never play for a convention or conference crowd. You may have 5,000 people in the audience, but there won't be enough of them that like your type of music to make a difference. I once saw The Cult absolutely bomb playing to a NAMM crowd. Thousands of musos, but they were there for the party, not the band. And what's worse, at least half of them were thinking, "I can play better than that."

Don't let that exposure gig go the wrong way. Think really hard about it and do your homework before you commit.
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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, November 27, 2012

Gene Krupa - Buddy Rich Drum Battle

Even if you're not a drummer, I think you'll be able to appreciate the following video. It's a drum battle between two drumming legends, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, on the Sammy Davis Jr. Show in 1966.

Many consider Rich to be the gold standard for drumming technique, but Krupa proves to be every bit his equal here.

One of the things that I loved about rock drummers in the 60's and 70's was that all of the good ones were able to swing hard because they studied jazz drumming first. These two guys were the people that influenced every drummer from that time.



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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, November 26, 2012

10 Things About Sound You Probably Didn't Know

Julian Treasure image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
This is something that I posted a couple of years ago that's worth posting again. It's the 10 things about sound, some of them which you probably didn't know. They come from Julian Treasure, the author of "Sound Business" and chairman of the the UK audio branding company The Sound Agency. He speaks internationally about the affect of sound on people, business and society. The following comes from CNN article outlining Julian's TED Conference presentation.

Especially be aware of #7!

"1.) You are a chord. This is obvious from physics, though it's admittedly somewhat metaphorical to call the combined rhythms and vibrations within a human being a chord, which we usually understand to be an aesthetically pleasant audible collection of tones. But "the fundamental characteristic of nature is periodic functioning in frequency, or musical pitch," according to C.T. Eagle. Matter is vibrating energy; therefore, we are a collection of vibrations of many kinds, which can be considered a chord.

2.) One definition of health may be that that chord is in complete harmony. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" which opens at least three dimensions to the concept. On a philosophical level, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and Confucius all wrote at length about the relationship between harmony, music and health (both social and physical). Here's Socrates: "Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful."

3.) We see one octave; we hear ten. An octave is a doubling in frequency. The visual spectrum in frequency terms is 400-790 THz, so it's just under one octave. Humans with great hearing can hear from 20 Hz to 20 KHz, which is ten octaves.

4.) We adopt listening positions. Listening positions are a useful set of perspectives that can help people to be more conscious and effective in communication -- because expert listening can be just as powerful as speaking. For example, men typically adopt a reductive listening position, listening for something, often a point or solution.

Women, by contrast, typically adopt an expansive listening position, enjoying the journey, going with the flow. When unconscious, this mismatch causes a lot of arguments.

Other listening positions include judgmental (or critical), active (or reflective), passive (or meditative) and so on. Some are well known and widely used; for example, active listening is trained into many therapists, counselors and educators.

5.) Noise harms and even kills. There is now wealth of evidence about the harmful effect of noise, and yet most people still consider noise a local matter, not the major global issue it has become.

According to a 1999 U.S. Census report, Americans named noise as the number one problem in neighborhoods. Of the households surveyed, 11.3 percent stated that street or traffic noise was bothersome, and 4.4 percent said it was so bad that they wanted to move. More Americans are bothered by noise than by crime, odors and other problems listed under "other bothersome conditions."

The European Union says: "Around 20% of the Union's population or close on 80 million people suffer from noise levels that scientists and health experts consider to be unacceptable, where most people become annoyed, where sleep is disturbed and where adverse health effects are to be feared. An additional 170 million citizens are living in so-called 'grey areas' where the noise levels are such to cause serious annoyance during the daytime."

The World Health Organization says: "Traffic noise alone is harming the health of almost every third person in the WHO European Region. One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to sound levels at night that could significantly damage health."

The WHO is also the source for the startling statistic about noise killing 200,000 people a year. Its findings (LARES report) estimate that 3 percent of deaths from ischemic heart disease result from long-term exposure to noise. With 7 million deaths a year globally, that means 210,000 people are dying of noise every year.

The cost of noise to society is astronomical. The EU again: "Present economic estimates of the annual damage in the EU due to environmental noise range from EUR 13 billion to 38 billion. Elements that contribute are a reduction of housing prices, medical costs, reduced possibilities of land use and cost of lost labour days." (Future Noise Policy European Commission Green Paper 1996).

Then there is the effect of noise on social behavior. The U.S. report "Noise and its effects" (Administrative Conference of the United States, Alice Suter, 1991) says: "Even moderate noise levels can increase anxiety, decrease the incidence of helping behavior, and increase the risk of hostile behavior in experimental subjects. These effects may, to some extent, help explain the "dehumanization" of today's urban environment."

Perhaps Confucius and Socrates have a point.

6.) Schizophonia is unhealthy. "Schizophonia" describes a state where what you hear and what you see are unrelated. The word was coined by the great Canadian audiologist Murray Schafer and was intended to communicate unhealthiness. Schafer explains: "I coined the term schizophonia intending it to be a nervous word. Related to schizophrenia, I wanted it to convey the same sense of aberration and drama."

My assertion that continual schizophonia is unhealthy is a hypothesis that science could and should test, both at personal and also a social level. You have only to consider the bizarre jollity of train carriages now -- full of lively conversation but none of it with anyone else in the carriage -- to entertain the possibility that this is somehow unnatural. Old-style silence at least had the virtue of being an honest lack of connection with those around us. Now we ignore our neighbors, merrily discussing intimate details of our lives as if the people around us simply don't exist. Surely this is not a positive social phenomenon.

7. Compressed music makes you tired. However clever the technology and the psychoacoustic algorithms applied, there are many issues with data compression of music, as discussed in this excellent article by Robert Harley back in 1991. My assertion that listening to highly compressed music makes people tired and irritable is based on personal and anecdotal experience - again it's one that I hope will be tested by researchers.

8. Headphone abuse is creating deaf kids. Over 19 percent of American 12 to 19 years old exhibited some hearing loss in 2005-2006, an increase of almost 5 percent since 1988-94 (according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Josef Shargorodsky et al, reported with comments from the researchershere). One university study found that 61 percent of freshmen showed hearing loss (Leeds 2001).

Many audiologists use the rule of thumb that your headphones are too loud if you can't hear someone talking loudly to you. For example, Robert Fifer, an associate professor of audiology and speech pathology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, says: "If you can still hear what people are saying around you, you are at a safe level. If the volume is turned so loudly that you can no longer hear conversation around you, or if someone has to shout at you at a distance of about 2 or 3 feet to get your attention, then you are up in the hazardous noise range."

9. Natural sound and silence are good for you. These assertions seem to be uncontroversial. Perhaps they resonate with everyone's experience or instinct.

10. Sound can heal. Both music therapy and sound therapy can be categorized as "sound healing." Music therapy (the use of music to improve health) is a well-established form of treatment in the context of mainstream medicine for many conditions, including dementia and autism.

Less mainstream, though intellectually no more difficult to accept, is sound therapy: the use of tones or sounds to improve health through entrainment (affecting one oscillator with a stronger one). This is long-established: shamanic and community chant and the use of various resonators like bells and gongs, date back thousands of years and are still in use in many cultures around the world.

Just because something is pre-Enlightenment and not done in hospitals doesn't mean that it's new-age BS. Doubtless there are charlatans offering snake oil (as in many fields), but I suspect there is also much to learn, and just as herbal medicine gave rise to many of the drugs we use today, I suspect there are rich resources and fascinating insights to be gleaned when science starts to unpack the traditions of sound healing."

It's worth it to check out the original article on CNN.com since it also contains the original TED video that the above came from.

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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, November 25, 2012

A Musical Cyber Monday Shopping Guide

Here were are at another Cyber Monday, so I thought I'd post my own gift ideas and forego the usual New Music Gear Monday. Some of these are my own books and courses, but despite the self-promotion, they'll still make some fine gifts. Some of the other items are things that I personally can't live without in the studio, so you might find them useful as well. Here we go:

Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogAbbey Road To Ziggy Stardust: Ken Scott is a true legend, having worked with the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, The Stones, Kansas, and Devo, to name just a very few, and his story is a great one. I admit that I'm biased since I co-wrote the book, but I gotta say that every time I read something from it, I get drawn back in and forget that I was even involved. A great gift for anyone that's a fan of the music, engineering or the music business. You can read more about it at abbeytoziggy.com.




Audio Mixing Bootcamp image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Audio Mixing Bootcamp: To someone who's either never done it before, or who's never done it well, mixing can be a total mystery. I wrote the Audio Mixing Bootcamp specifically to take the mystery out of it by making this a book about the reader actually doing it. Instead of talking about the mixing in the abstract like most other books, this book is a guided series of exercises that allows you to show yourself why something sounds good or why it doesn't. Read more about the Audio Mixing Bootcamp here.





Lynda.com Audio Mixing Bootcamp image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog

Lynda.com Audio Mixing Bootcamp: If you don't know about Lynda.com then you really should. They're the #1 portal on the Internet for video learning, with over 1600 high-quality courses on just about any kind of high-tech you can think of. I was lucky enough to do this video version of the Audio Mixing Bootcamp book for them, and a lot of people really like. I hope you will too. Lynda is just $24.99 for a full month, which allows you to access as many courses as you can watch. Here's a free 7 day trial.

Lynda.com Audio Recording Techniques: Here's another course I just finished that covers all the basics of recording. You even get an inside look at a session with a bunch of LA A-list players as we record a song from scratch. If you want to see what goes into the making of a record with a rhythm section, vocals, background vocals, strings and horns, check it out.

Etymonic ER20 Earplugs image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Etymonic ER20 earplugs: These are the best earplugs made, and at around $10, they're a bargain too. My entire life around live music changed when I got these. They're one of the few earplugs that actually attenuate the audio while keeping the same frequency response. I've not found anything that works better at any price.









Mastering For iTunes: This is a free Lynda.com course that shows you not only how to make your files sound best on iTunes, but also everything about the new Mastered For iTunes program where they now accept hi-res 96/24 files. You'll find information here about the MFIT tools and how to use them that you won't find anywhere else.

Etymonic ER4 Earphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blogEtymonic Research ER4 Micropro Earphones: Not only do these things sound great, but they're the absolute best for traveling, small and compact with great isolation and high-quality audio. If they're too pricy for you, try the HF5's instead.









Equator D5 monitors image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog

Equator DS5 Monitors: I'm going to cover these in an upcoming edition of New Music Gear Monday, but let me say that you just can't find a better pair of monitors at this price point ($299) anywhere. Heck, you might have a hard time at twice as much, they're that good.



Music 3.0 book cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age: This is the definitive book on the music business today and how to take advantage of vast number of changes that that the industry has undergone recently. It includes everything about social media that you need to know in order to communicate, promote and sell directly to your client or fan. You can read more about the Music 3.0 Internet Music guidebook, as well as some excerpts, here.






The Studio Builder's Handbook image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
The Studio Builder's Handbook: The acoustics of a room is often discussed in dark, mysterious scientific tones, but it doesn't have to be that way. The Studio Builder's Handbook breaks room acoustics down into a really easy to understandable way, with less math than you'd find in a cookbook. The best part is it shows you how to really improve the sound of your room for $150 or less (yes, that can really be done.) Read more about The Studio Builder's Handbook here.





Music Success in 9 Weeks image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog

Ariel Hyatt's Music Success In 9 Weeks: Ariel Hyatt is one of the smartest people in the music public relations business and a real pioneer in social PR. This book teaches you the right way to get ahead in the business using social media, and fills in where Music 3.0 leaves off.

Monoprice 8323 Headphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog









Monoprice 8323 Headphones: It's hard to believe how good these are for only $28. These are finally the answer to expensive headphones that get lunched during sessions but are expensive to replace. Buy these and no one will be the wiser, because they really sound great for the price.


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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.

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