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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't Smack Your Guitarist - Hire The Right Guy

Here's a video that's both funny and sort of sad at the same time. It shows a lead singer so fed up with the solo that his guitar player is playing that he smacks him in the head. Take a look.

I've gone over situations like this before in various posts and especially in my book How To Make Your Band Sound Great, and it always comes back to professionalism.

1) The guitar player may or may not have deserved it, but take any argument off the stage. Regardless where you're at in the entertainment food chain and how outraged you are over the performance (or lack thereof), iron out your dirty laundry somewhere else.

2) This wouldn't have happened if the band rehearsed more and determined the song wasn't ready, or made sure that the guitarist could play something that made them all look good.

3) This wouldn't have happened if the band hired the right guy in the first place. Too many musicians settle for players who don't fit the direction or musicality of the band.

Playing music is more than just playing music. It's about entertainment, and unprofessional behavior is not entertainment. How do you learn professionalism? Having a mentor is the best way, but if one isn't available, you can learn a lot just by looking at any act that's making a living from music. They don't get to that point by shoddy performances onstage in any way. Remember, how you act is how you're perceived.
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 the music business.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook

Today my new book, The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook, makes it's debut at NAMM 2011. The book was co-written by Rich Tozzoli, who many of you may recognize from his contributions to Pro Sound News and Premier Guitar. You've also heard Rich's guitar work on shows on the Discovery and History Channel as well as Fox Sports.

Both of us are extremely passionate about guitar tone, and we know how difficult it is for a guitar player to not only get the tone that he hears in his head, but then record it too. That's why we set out to write a book that would explain just why electric and acoustic guitars, amps and effects sound the way they do, how to realize the sound you're looking for, then have the miking and production techniques to make sure it works in the track.

You can read a table of contents and some excerpts on my personal website.

The book includes interviews with experts like Dick Boak from Martin Guitar (discussing tonewoods and acoustic guitar tone), platinum selling engineer Chuck Ainley (discussing electric and acoustic guitar miking techniques), Jim D'Addario from D'Addario Strings (discussing string technology), guitar virtuoso Al DiMeola (discussing his lifelong quest for guitar tone) and many more.

The book also comes with a DVD that looks at the miking and production of both electric and acoustic guitars. Here's an excerpt, which is about the making of Driven, a song from Rich Tozzoli's solo record.

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 the music business.

Winners Of The Music Producer's Handbook

Raul Silva and Craig Green are the winners of the Music Producer's Handbook giveaway.

Thanks to everyone that participated. There's a new giveaway coming soon!

Even though you can't win this one, you can still sign up for my newsletter.

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 the music business.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CES 2011 Report Part 3 - Oddities

Here's Part 3 of my CES 2011 report. The last couple of posts we looked at some of the big picture items of the show, today we'll dig in a bit deeper into some of the weirder items.

Marley Products
Yep, Bob Marley branded boom boxes, headphones, and even a relaxing drink. I applaud the fact that it's only taken the Marley family 30 years to realize the strength of the Marley brand, but it could've been used in much less cheap feeling way. I'm sure Bob has rolled in his grave a few times over this. See for yourself at

Robots weren't quite as big as they were last year, but there were some interesting new variants, like the back massaging ones here.

The Personal Amplifier
When is a hearing aid not a hearing aid? When it's a "personal amplifier." A number of companies showed these, but here's the advert in the RCA booth that caught my eye.

This will be a must for many of my aging rock and roll musician/engineer/producer friends.

The Washer/Dryer Of The Future
LG not only had the coolest TV's, but the "clothes manager" of the future as well. This unit supposedly cleans, sanitizes and deodorizes your cloths all at the same time, without the traditional washing and drying cycle.

I saw a number of air ionizer units around the show. Ionizers were big in studios in LA for about a half a minute during the 80's. They're supposed to clean the air, but since they emit negative ions (just like what you get after after a rainstorm), they're supposed to have a calming effect on you as well.

Can't say they work, but I sure enjoyed every studio that I worked in that had one.

Swiss Army Knives
And just to show you that the CES is not only about electronics, the company that makes the Swiss Army knife even had a booth. Yes, some of the new knives are high tech too, employing a USB memory stick and credit card tool.

There you have it. Now aren't you glad you stayed at home?

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 the music business.

Monday, January 10, 2011

CES 2011 Report - Part 2 Audio Products

Here's Part 2 of my CES 2011 report, but this time it's strictly on the audio products that I saw. Keep in mind that everything below was seen on the main floor of the convention center and not at the hi-end audio-only Venetian.

Wireless Speakers
Wireless speaker technology was another thing under the radar at the show. Polk Audio came out with a wireless subwoofer (makes sense since you only need a limited bandwidth), and there was some talk that they'd have an entire 5.1 wireless system available in a few years.

Actually the technology for a full bandwidth wireless speaker system is already available, it's just incredibly expensive. The whole trick is to keep the quality high while keeping the cost down, which isn't so easy with high quality wireless products. We'll see what the next year brings.

The speaker on the left was one of the best sounding wireless laptop speakers that I've heard. Unfortunately, the picture that I took of the speakers details didn't come out so I don't know the make or model.

Samson's Laptop Mic
This was pretty cool. Samson's Go Mic clips to your laptop's screen and connects via USB. It's inexpensive ($59 retail) and gives you a better sound quality than you can get from most laptop mics and cameras.

Car Audio
It's hard to believe but after-market car audio is still alive and well. The extent that some people will go to in order to hurt themselves and bother their neighbors never ceases to amaze me. It's one thing if fidelity were an issue, but it's not. SPL is what counts.

Take a look at the picture of the pickup truck on the left, which can only be devised in order to announce it's presence from as far away as possible.

Ipod Docks
They're everywhere, and some of them are even starting to care about fidelity a little. Of course, most of them are still just a fashion statement, as evidenced by the picture on the left (yes, they are iPod docks).

Marshall Headphones
Marshall (yes, that one) was at the show rolling out their headphone series. Now this is a company always noted for its amplifier technology, not its transducers. Nonetheless, it looks like a way to take advantage of an established brand name in another market.

The amp stacks were there strictly for shock value.

Gibson Guitars was also at the show. Don't know exactly why they were, but their booth was busy. In fact, every booth that had musical instruments had a lot of interest.

In the past, Gibson actually had a huge tent outside in the parking lot, complete with endorsees playing signing and playing shows. They've obviously scaled back this year.

No, I didn't see many, not even in the Dual booth (they used to be one of the largest manufacturers), but this one caught my eye. It has a USB connection so you can digitize your records. Good idea, but the tone arm and platter were made so poorly that I'm sure you'd do a lot of damage to your discs in the process. In this example, they were playing an expensive Michael Jackson picture disc, for probably the last time.

Tomorrow, Part 3. Some of the oddities of the show.

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 the music business.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

CES 2011 Report - Part 1

If you ever had any doubts about the economy coming back, all you needed was to attend the 2011 CES show in Las Vegas last week to change your mind. From just an exterior look at Vegas, there seemed to be a number of new hotels and a lot of renovations to some of the older ones, so the town has a shiny new look.

But the show was the best evidence of the economy coming back, with both attendance and exhibitors up over last year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the entity that puts on the show. Another indication of the economic upturn was the fact that the major manufacturer's booths were larger than ever, and the abundance of booth babes. It seems that every model or dancer in Vegas was hired by the show, and at about $20 per hour plus expenses, a manufacturer has to feel pretty good about things to authorize that sort of extra outlay on something like eye candy.

As usual, I was at the show more to spot the trends than to see anything in particular. The only time I stopped my rounds through the isles was if something really jumped out at me. Here are my impressions.

Contrary to what you've heard in the mainstream press, this was NOT a tablet show. Sure, there were plenty of tablets around, but most were by no-name companies that will never get any traction. As you can see from the picture on the left, many companies couldn't even decide on the size that their tablet should be, so they offered multiple sizes. Most of them also used the Android operating system, obviously a blow to the Windows world. All that being said, what's the point of having a piece of hardware if there's no great software apps for it? Only the iPad can guarantee that so far.

Make no mistake about it, CES 2011 was a 3D show. It seemed like 50% of the booths had something to do with it. The problem was, most of the 3D I saw was crap, but you couldn't tell if it was the content or the product that was deficient (I think mostly the content). After having been exposed to some great 3D a few weeks ago (as well as a lesson on what makes great 3D), it was pretty easy to spot the difference. I'll devote a couple of posts to 3D in the near future.

3D Cameras
There was a fair amount of inexpensive video and still 3D cameras (under $2k) at the show, and Panasonic even had an adaptor available to turn a regular camera into 3D.

One of the coolest things I saw all day was a team of sand sculptors in the Panasonic booth, surrounded by different camera models connected to monitors so you could evaluate them.

The Chinese Are Coming.
There was a huge contingent of Chinese companies at the show. I mean really big, and not just in the Chinese section of the floor. They were everywhere, and they all seemed to have variations of the same items that the major and secondary manufacturers were selling. Where could all of these products be going? Is anyone actually buying them?

Solid State Drives.
A very subtle trend was the one towards solid state drives, or SSDs. Just about every new device has solid state memory, and it looks like spinning hard drives will soon go the way of the CRT television.

A couple of final comments for Part 1 without pictures.

Handhelds - Easily the most vibrant part of the show was in the handheld area. Lots of activity at just about every booth and a really exciting vibe overall. IK Multimedia seemed to have a big hit with their iMic (which we'll see next week at NAMM as well).

Televisions - TV's are getting thinner and thinner, with the most impressive (to my eye) offered by LG. There were even some larger (20 inch plus) OLED versions around, although there wasn't a big deal made of them like last year. Of course, everyone had several "connected" TV versions available, but again, the buzz wasn't like last year.

Audio - Unlike other years, there was a clear de-emphasis of audio products and there weren't very many on the floor (hi-end audio was all at the Venetian as usual). I guess the good part of that is there are now fewer crappy audio products out there, but the fact that audio has become less than significant does give some pause.

More on some of the audio products that I spotted tomorrow in Part 2.
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 the music business.


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