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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Clyde Stubblefield - The Funky Drummer

I like to post a lot of funk pieces here because there's not as much of it around these days despite the huge influence the genre had on music. If you have any interest in funk, you'll love this. It's a clinic with Clyde Stubblefield, one of the originators of funk and a mainstay with James Brown's band for many years.

In this video you'll see first hand how to play the "Funky Drummer" beat as well as hear how some of those great JB songs were written.


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, January 2, 2013

Steinway Takes Down The "For Sale" Sign

Steinway & Sons image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
I'm not sure how many of you knew that the Steinway Musical Instruments company, maker of the famed Steinway pianos, horns (Conn, Selmer and LeBlanc) and Ludwig drums, was up for sale for the last 17 months. The company, like many others in the industry, had problems maintaining their margins and sales during the downturn in the economy and its shares had plunged 10% in the last year.

The good news is that after looking at the various offers to purchase the company, the board of directors decided that no offer provided any better value than carrying on as they have been. What the company probably will do is sell its Steinway Hall building, with it's main 2000 seat auditorium, on Manhattan's 57th street.

This is another example of a company in a small industry going public, then having a difficult time playing by Wall Street rules. The musical instrument business is contracting, and regardless how many companies you roll up (which isn't a good idea anyway in this business), it will never meet those kinds of expectations.

What investment bankers don't seem to realize is that the music business is basically one of creative entrepreneurs that play by their own rules. As a result, the business is unlike any other and doesn't fit well into the world of MBA's.

I'm personally pretty happy that the company won't be sold to another hedge fund, but I don't know that it's any better off that it was anyway.


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, January 1, 2013

The Lost Stevie Ray Vaughan Interview

Here's a great "lost" video interview with the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn from 1984 that I don't believe has ever been broadcast. This was obviously after his drinking and drugging days and he's very clear and present. In fact, he talks candidly about his nervous breakdown and his rehab. The interviewer isn't that great, but Stevie is awesome.


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 31, 2012

Predictions From Last Year

Tablet Audio from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog Last year at this time I made 7 predictions about things that would happen in 2012. Let's take a look at how I did. My current comments in italics.

1. Tablets take off for music production. For such a relatively new class of products, tablets like the iPad have quickly become a must-have device. While we've had some great music software available for it in 2011 (Garageband is insanely good for only $5), 2012 brings us the serious I/O and accessories needed to take advantage of it's portability. Hit this one on the head. Tablets took off in a big way with both some serious I/O and software entering the market late in the year. 

2. Plugins hit the wall. Yes, plugins sound great these days but that's the problem. Where do you go from here? When all the great analog hardware is successfully digitally duplicated by multiple companies (and even surpassed in some cases), it's harder and harder to come up with something new. Add to that the fact that the market is saturated, and you'll see some software companies falling on hard times in 2012. While there seems to be some plugin fatigue due to a lot of duplication (just how many compressors, flangers, chorus and delays can you make?), plugins still haven't hit the wall. This prediction may have been a year too early.

3. Pro Tools weathers the storm. While it may seem like this is the time when the Pro Tools hold on the audio industry is finally broken, let's not get too hasty. It's still the standard of the music and post business, and the pros (especially the big facilities) can't afford to make any changes now even if they wanted to (and they don't). If the pros use Pro Tools, than those aspiring to be pros must use it as well. We very well may see a new contender to the throne in 2012, but don't expect any big industry changes. Pro Tools does indeed look more vulnerable than ever, but there's been little erosion of their user base in 2012. I suspect that what will happen is that something new will sneak up on us in a way that before you know, everyone will be using it without much fanfare (Reaper perhaps?), but that's not happening as of yet. Scored on this one.

4. Studios make a comeback. Finally gear owners everywhere are beginning to realize that just owning the gear isn't the key to great sounding music (although it can be if you know how to use it, so keep buying those books, please) and the benefits of recording in a real studio. Look for the trend to continue in 2012 with even some new facilities coming online. Most of the larger studios are relatively busy, but they're not turning away business either. While it seemed like there was a major comeback underway there for a minute or two, it hasn't materialized as I thought it would. A miss.

5. SSD's are everywhere. I predicted this last year, but it was a bit premature. In 2012 you'll see the beginning of the end of the spinning mechanical hard drive and the inclusion of solid state memory in just about every newly designed piece of music gear. Add to that the fact that hard drives have actually gone up in price thanks to the recent floods in Thailand while SSDs (solid state drives) have continued to fall, and you'll find that you might have bought your last ever mechanical hard drive. Missed on this one too. SSDs may be the way of the future, but even the hard drive shortage didn't bring down the prices enough for everyone to forget about spinning magnetic drives.

6. Apple gets into the television business. This isn't directly about music production, but it does apply in a round about way. It's been rumored for a while that Apple will be introducing their own branded television soon, and that seems inevitable at this point. The bigger rumor is the fact that the user interface is every bit as groundbreaking as just about every other Apple hardware or software product. As a result, the digital living room will finally come pass in 2012. Virtually every other product that the company has released has affected music production, from their desktops to the Macbook Pro to the iPod to the iPhone (have you heard some of the music recorded on it?) and iPad. I predict that elements of the user interface of the iTelevision (or whatever it's called) will find it's way into the gear that we use to produce music, making things simpler and easier in the process. And this will happen in 2012. I think I missed this by a hair. The Apple TV was reportedly scheduled to make its debut late in the year but was pulled back to work on some interface and licensing issues. The rumors now are that we'll see it at MacWorld in late January. How will that affect the audio business? We'll still have to see.

7. EDM breaks out in a big way. Electronic Dance Music is the biggest trend that the mainstream music world still doesn't know about, but not for long. 2012 will be the year that it finally breaks out. Here's another one that I hit on the head. EDM definitely broke out big time in 2012.

Okay, so I only hit 3 out of 7, but that doesn't mean that the other 4 won't come to pass. In fact, you may see them all as a mainstay by the end of 2013. Have a happy new year everyone!

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 30, 2012

10 Of The Biggest Stories For 2013

2013 image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
I don't normally cross-post between my Music 3.0 music industry blog and Big Picture production blog, but the topics below apply to both. As 2012 draws to a close, now is the time to take a look at what might be ahead in 2013. Here are 10 story lines to look out for in the year ahead, in no particular order of importance. In some cases we can clearly see what might happen, while in others it's still an open question.

1. A new trend in music. In case you haven't noticed, we in living in the middle of two musical trends with EDM going mainstream and the folk-roots movement led by Mumford and Sons breaking big. Is 2013 going to be more of the same as both trends peak, or will there be something completely new that captures our attention?

2. Streaming music takes over. 2012 was a year for pushing the streaming music ball up the hill and so many people were converted. When Apple announces their plans for streaming in 2013, the ball will begin rolling down the other side of the mountain and downloads will join the ranks of the CD - still in use, but no longer the music distribution mainstay.

3. Guitar Center's decline. The king of the music equipment retailers is in trouble, with falling sales and reportedly a huge balloon payment due. Don't be surprised if you see some changes in the marketplace, with a smaller more nimble GC facing some real competition. All in all, good for the business.

4. The Big 3 provide a boost to DIY. With the Universal Music takeover of EMI now complete, we've moved to a 3 major label world. Although you still need a major to become an international superstar, will this be the year that mold is broken and we see a true DIY breakout?

5. Hi-res music comes to the forefront. Bandwidth and storage are now cheap, and in a world where we're streaming hi-res video with monetary impunity, why should we still be listening to the lowly MP3? With Apple now moving to hi-res with their Mastered for iTunes program, Neil Young's Pono (if it gets off the ground), and sites like HD Tracks, is it possible that the mass market can finally move beyond CD quality?

6. Avid's decline. Talk about a sinking ship, Avid's stock has fallen like a rock (although it's been up a little in recent days), many of their best people have jumped ship, and Pro Tools looks vulnerable for the first time in years. It will still take a lot to get the entrenched pro market to change, but the upcoming NAMM show may hold a few surprises.

7. The tablet takes control. There's no doubt that the tablet computer has taken the world by storm even to the extent that PC sales are way down. While 2012 saw a few new serious audio creation programs come to the platform, will 2013 be the year where we cross the threshold into doing serious projects on it?

8. Diminished trade show importance. With the Internet, we no longer have to go to a trade show to see what's new. With so many of the industry trade shows faltering to the point where some of the biggest manufacturers don't attend, look to see the trend continue toward irrelevance.

9. The increased importance of the Cloud. So much of our every day world now takes place in the cloud that it's almost become transparent to us. Will music creation and storage switch completely to the cloud in order to increase security and eliminate leaks? Will more online collaboration make studios even less relevant than they currently are?

10. Can the album be saved? We now live in a singles world again, and although the album hasn't totally fallen by the wayside, it's becoming less and less important all the time. Every year a new electronic form of the album enters the marketplace, but none have yet to catch on. Will 2013 be the year that a new format wins our hearts and our pocketbooks?

There are many more than these 10 issues, but I thought that these were particularly interesting to watch for, at least in the beginning of the year. As always, it will be fun to look back at this time next year to see how each story developed.

Have a very happy New Year, and may you find it profitable and fulfilling. And once again, thanks for reading!


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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