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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Black Eyed Peas Stolen Song

This story has been making the Internet rounds for a few weeks, but if you've not heard, then here it is. The Black Eyed Peas allegedly stole their big hit "I've Got A Feeling" from a song called "Take A Dive" by Brian Pringle.

Below are the videos of the two songs to use as a comparison.

My thoughts? It's lot of ado about nothing. The basic track of "Take a Dive" is similar to "I Got A Feeling," but there's no melody, and the last time I checked, the melody and lyrics makes the song. Anyone who's ever gone to music school knows that you can take a melody and reharmonize it with completely different chords, yet it's still the same song, so a backing track does not a song make.

Then again, I'm not an attorney, so what do I know. Have a listen and decide for yourself.

By the way, I think that Brian Pringle's track sounds way better than the Peas.

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AES 2010 Report Part 4 - The Music

In the Part 4 (and last) of my AES 2010 report, we'll look at some music. Generally AES is a gear fest for audio geeks, and while most of us are musicians, that's not the immediate focus of the show. NAMM generally has a lot more music of different types because there are instruments to demonstrate. Truth be told, I didn't witness a lot of music or musical instruments last weekend in San Francisco, but what I did made an impression.

The Electrolyre was pretty cool for a number of reasons. It has 17 strings, an electric guitar-like finish, and a two octave range from C to G. But what made this lyre really unique was that it had three chromatic frets per string and a whammy bar (which you can barely see here because the play has her hand on it), which controls built-in pitch-shift electronics. St. Peter's angels can now join the 21st century.

Musically though, I was most impressed by a band that played at the Women's Audio Mission party on Saturday night called "The She's."  They're a group of 14 and 15 year olds from the Bay area that play way beyond their years. It's like they've studied all the pointers from my band improvement book "How To Make Your Band Sound Great" and really put them into action (I'm not saying that's the case - maybe they have parents in the music business or just inherently have "it"). So what makes them sound so good?

1) You can't have a great band without a great drummer and She's drummer Sinclair Riley plays better than a lot of guys many times her age. All you want from a drummer in any kind of band is a steady solid beat, and she has it.

2) They play within their skills. They only play what they can play, and don't try anything more, which is a common mistake that most young bands make.

3) Good songs. Most of the songs had pretty good form, with intros, hooks, a differentiation between verse and chorus, and a bridge for development. They don't have any hits by my ears yet (although one song was close), but they write way beyond their years musically (not sure about the lyrics because it's always so difficult to pick them out in a live setting).

4) They had an excellent sense of harmony. The She's frequently featured some tight three part harmony that was surprisingly good. The ear for harmony eludes some singers all of their lives (even some really great ones), but these girls have it.

The She's are a blueprint for how a young band should develop. My only hope is that don't break up, like bands tend to do. We'll hear some great things from them in the future if they keep at it.

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

AES 2010 Report Part 3 - Consoles And Stuff

In Part 3 of my AES 2010 report, we take a look mostly at electronics. This was a show where the console made a comeback. There were more of them, and they were larger, than in recent years, which either means that a lot of people are tracking again or more and more people are mixing with them after a few years of control services.

One of the more interesting developments was from a new company called Undertone Audio, which developed a high-end Class-A desk that featured something called ATWS - Acoustically Transparent Work Surface. It's a porous metal for the surface of the console to control reflections from the monitors, which is usually a source for a nasty 1 to 2kHz aberration in response.

Forgot to mention this yesterday, but Focal introduced an interesting monitor with the woofer on the the roof of the cabinet (the SM9). The monitor is also capable of being voiced as a two-way or three way system, which is somewhat unique. Sounded pretty good, but you can never tell for sure on the show floor.

As you can see from the photo on the left, Focusrite has now rebranded itself as "The Interface Company," around it's line of 1/2 and full rack space USB and Firewire interfaces. They've come a long way from the Rupert Neve days.

API introduced a new version of their popular 7600 channel strip called appropriately enough "The Channel Strip." This one has an updated mic amp and compressor, and the aux busses have been eliminated. I think I'm going to like this one better. Check out the video for the details.

Our old friends Trident Audio Developments introduced a newly updated Series 80 console called the Series 82. It's basically a good old S80 with that great rock sound but with a few more aux sends. I had a great discussion with designer Malcolm Toft about the history of how Trident Studios got into the business of making their own consoles. I understand that someone is now making a documentary on the Trident, which should be a good watch.

And finally, a company called Tac System have come up with the post production Holy Grail - a de-reverbizer called the NML RevCon RR (they really need a marketing person to come up with a better name). If it works, and I'm told it does, sound designers everywhere will be lining up with their credit cards.

Part 4 on the music end of the show tomorrow.

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 the music business.

Monday, November 8, 2010

AES 2010 Report Part 2 - Mics And Pres

For Part 2 of my AES 2010 Report, we'll be looking exclusively at microphones, mic preamps and speakers. To be clear, these are some of the things that caught my eye, and weren't necessarily the most talked about items at the show. After all these years going to these shows, the quirky things excite me more than anything, so take what you see with a grain of salt because they may be interesting to only me.

had a number of rather small mics aimed at recording drums or fitting into small places. Among these are some side addressable models, which I don't ever remember seeing from Shure before.

I overheard the Shure sales guy telling an attendee that the gooseneck of the mic on the right was specially made so it wouldn't make noise. I'll believe it when I hear it.

And speaking of small mics, Shure also had some of the smallest "face mics" I've seen for vocalists or on-air personalties. These things should blend in so well you'll never see them, unlike some of the popular models in use today.

One of the cooler mic introductions came from AEA, the company that specializes in RCA ribbon mic reproductions. This one is a repro of the ultra-rare RCA KU3A (sometimes known as the "shoebox mic"), which was a cardioid ribbon mic, which you almost never see (except for the Beyer M160).

This is supposed to be a phenomenal mic. Can't wait to try it.

2009 was the year for the 500 series Lunchbox modules but there was always something missing in that of the major console companies, only API was represented. This year AMS-Neve jumps in the game and released an official 1073 module for the lunchbox named the 1073LB.

The Lunchbox is one of the best audio ideas in years, and it's great to see that almost every manufacturer thinks so too.

Hard to see here, but this is a Neumann speaker. Yes, Neumann the mic company is now also Neumann the speaker company. Makes sense since they're into transducers, but these aren't internally developed by the company, as it turns out. These are actually rebranded Klein & Hummel speakers, a company that the Neumann parent company recently purchased.

K&H speakers have always sounded great, but they never really got much exposure in the US. Now maybe they will.

Here's an interesting mic preamp from Studio Blade Electronics. It's based around some exotic (yet supposedly easy to find) tubes, but what made this jump out at me is the fact that it puts out so much voltage (almost 1 watt!!) that you didn't even need a amplifier to hear what it sounded like. The headphones were connected right to a transformer on the output. I don't know why you'd need that much output unless you were feeding a DAW a couple miles away, but it's there if you needed it. The preamp also had a level control of both gain stages, just like a guitar amp with a master volume control, so you could easily control the color of the sound.

Much more tomorrow in part 3.

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

Sunday, November 7, 2010

AES 2010 Report Part 1 - The Rise Of Pro Tools 9

Just got back from the AES (Audio Engineering Society) convention in San Francisco, so here's part one of my report. Thanks for everyone who came to my sessions (Social Media For Musicians And Engineers Part 1 and 2) and book signings. Both were a great success.

The general mood of the show was upbeat, although everyone agreed that business is tough out there, whether you're a musician, producer, artist, or manufacturer. It seems like the whole world is working harder for half the money these days. That being said, most are now accepting their new fate and determined to push through it, and that lightened the mood a bit.

The introduction of  Pro Tools 9 at AES was perhaps the the biggest announcement at a gear industry trade show I've seen in recent years. In fact, I can't remember that last time a new product had such a big buzz. If you're in the industry at any level you've probably seen numerous articles on the details of the product by now (if not, look here) so I won't bore you with that stuff yet another time. What I would like to talk about is the implications of PT 9, which are many. Here's why it will affect nearly everyone on the creation end of the music business.

1) PT 9 now plays nice with others. Until recently, Pro Tools has been a closed system. The software was more or less free, but what you really paid for was the hardware, which was a great business model for Digidesign (now Avid). If you didn't own the hardware, the software wouldn't work. Although there were a lot of reasonably low price points to enter into the Pro Tools world, you were stuck with their sometimes inadequate hardware (to be fair, some of it was quite good too), and if you wanted to get into a full-on pro system, it was going to cost you a bundle.

Now that PT 9 will talk to any hardware, not just that from Avid, a whole new world opens up. There are a lot of great DAW applications out there, but Pro Tools is the professional standard. Want to do pro-level work? Better know or own Pro Tools. Now you can stay with any hardware you prefer, and PT 9 will happily talk to it. That means that you can now use your preferred DAW and cheaply have PT 9 around for those times when you want to do transfers or a quick fix to your DAW of choice. There's no reason not to have it anymore.

By opening up the system, Avid has just opened up the rest of the non-PT world as well.

2) PT 9 has built in delay compensation. What the heck does that mean, you might ask? Some plug-ins are processor intensive and cause a slight time delay in the track in which they're used. That means that there can be some tremendous phase issues in a mix as a result.

Delay compensation was standard in the expensive PT HD systems, but not in the inexpensive LE version. That means that if you wanted to mix with all those fantastic third-party plug-ins that are available, you were forced to use one of the big systems. Now that PT 9 has built in delay compensation, anyone can do a major mix on a relatively inexpensive system. You're going to see more inexpensive laptop systems as a result, and more plug-in sales than ever.

Bottom line, Pro Tools 9 means that those engineers, producers and musicians that have refused to use PT now have no reason not to own it since it opens up so many work possibilities. On the Avid side, it means they will rule the DAW world for some time to come.

I'm not sure what the long term business model is for Avid's opening up Pro Tools system to the outside world, but I have some ideas. More on this on an upcoming post.

Tomorrow - Part 2 of my AES report.
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 the music business.


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