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Friday, January 30, 2009

Microsoft Songsmith

There are no words to describe this.  On how many levels can you say, "Lame!!"?

The underlying technology might be cool, but the marketing.................... leaves me without words.

Only from Microsoft!

And as an added bonus, hear what Songsmith does for the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." There are also "interesting" examples from The Police and Van Halen available.

The above is an example of the program used in a way not intended, but it is curious how a software app perceives music differently from genius musicians. It could be a good entry to music for kids, however, but not if MS stays on the same marketing course.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Warner Music Group Goes Over The Top

Sometimes companies practice what they consider to be "good" business practices at the expense of common sense. Here's a perfect example of that in a Youtube response to the Warner Music Group. Warner's demanded and received the removal of a video just because the fan played a version of the Christmas classic "Winter Wonderland," which is controlled by Warner Publishing.

The girl is squarely in the demographic that WMG wants most, yet they choose to alienate a potential customer (although she probably is a customer already) just because she did a home video singing the song. If she was selling it, that would be a different story and, of course, they and the composers (both of who died over 60 years ago) would be entitled to their pound of flesh, but all this over a few hundred views?

Surely the WMG legal staff has more important things to spend their expensive time on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Video From The Motown Vault

Here's an excellent video about the vault where all the old master tapes from Motown are kept.
If the PLAY VIDEO selector doesn't start it, select the right arrow icon on the bottom near the slider.

In case you missed it, the 8 track assignments were:
1 - lead vocal
2 - group vocal
3 - tambourine/conga
4 - organ/piano
5 - guitars
6 - horns
7 - drums
8 - bass

In our current world of almost unlimited tracks working on only 8 might be tough to comprehend, but it was the way it was done in those days (and successfully so) when that was all that was available. It remains a tribute to the people involved that so much could be done with so little, from the musicians to the arrangers to the producers to the engineers. Of course, with all that great talent, the technicality of something like number of tracks becomes a small factor in their success.

If you're an artist or engineer, try limiting yourself to just 8 tracks on a project. It might bring out some additional creativity you didn't know was there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The New Record Deals

The last year most major record companies have resorted to what's known as a "360 deal," which is an agreement that allows the record label to share in all the money generating possibilities of an artist's career, from touring to publishing to merchandise sales income.  

Many desperate new artists signed a 360 last year, only to find out later that a label had no expertise in anything other than selling your music (and even that expertise is dubious these days). If things went sour (as they frequently do) in the older record-only deals, a label could freeze a record from coming out, but the act could still make money by touring.  In a 360, the label can effectively stop the artist's career in it's tracks!

There's no wonder that management is advising clients against such deals unless it involves a boatload of money. As a result, some enterprising label lawyers have come up with a new name to try to soften it a bit - a "multiple rights" deal.  Same thing, different name.

Of course, management has a built-in bias against these deals since the language frequently includes such gems as "the artist must limit the amount of commission you pay your manager".  The label, in effect, wants to be your manager, which is great incentive for any artist to stay as far away as possible from the major labels these days.

So to summarize:
360 + no $ = run far away
360 +$ = run far away
360 + $$$$$ = think about it strictly as a money deal, but understand it could be a death blow to your career.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman In A Memorex Moment At The Inauguration

Any audio person looking at the performance of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill at the presidential inauguration last week was probably thinking, "How is this performance so clean? Where's the wind noise and leakage?"

Well now the truth has come out.  Fearful of what the cold could do to their instruments, the quartet pre-recorded their performance a few days before and played along with the mikes muted during the inauguration.

You can't blame them for doing it, since such bitter cold can wreak havoc on acoustic stringed instruments (and not to mention the fingers of the performers), but it sure is a disappointment that such fine players had their own Milli Vanilli moment.


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