2020 got off to a start of injuries.
Over the holidays I had a bizarre fall coming home from skiing. The driveway is a little sloped and I took a slightly wrong step, one leg shot out and I landed on top of my other leg. As I was going down I was thinking, please don’t break, please don’t break. Funny what we can process in the span of a split second. I could feel my bones in my lower leg start to twist. Then it was over. Maybe another millimeter and I might be in a cast right now. Instead I had a major sprain in my ankle and knee.
6 weeks later and I’m still having moments of noticing tender movements of my ankle. Thus it’s not 100% healed yet, but getting close.
Musically I’ve been working on finishing a multitude of projects for artists I’m producing to music I’m doing for me.
First thing that got finished was a single for a female artist out of Utah. That was a long time coming. Happy to have it done and when the artist finally gives me a release date, I’ll make note of it here.
Another project I’ve been working on is MūSE PC, a songwriter’s collective where I’m helping other songwriters to improve their songwriting chops. One fun project we’ve started is a group writing / recording project for a single song based on lyrics that everyone involved will get credit for.
I have multiple singles that have various states of finish. By that I mean I have a spreadsheet of things that each song needs to have completed before I can schedule a date to release it. I have 2 that are completely in the can and done. However I’m looking to have at least 6 done and in the can before I start my release schedule. Lots of them need music videos. Which is where I need to work more on brainstorming ideas for them. Some still need lyric videos, and while I had been working on a lot of them I’ve hit a wall on one where my idea might be a tad more complicated than its execution is realistic. Thus I need to reassess if I should change it out. In the mean time you can get down with this fantastic song.
I finally got asked to submit a composer’s reel for an upcoming film project. First time I’ve ever been asked to do so. So I had to spend some time hunting down all the projects I’ve done music for to be edited together into a cohesive unit for the project. While doing this task, I started to realize how many projects I’ve done and never got the final product sent to me. I guess I’m usually so busy moving on to the next thing that it was weird to go back and look at what I’ve done in the past.
Now that I’ve got some of these things done, I can get back to finishing the steps for these singles. Though I’m guessing that right now it won’t be until May before I start getting more music videos finished.
We’ve made it thru 2019 and we’re still here. That’s a great thing, all things considered. First off – Happy New Year. I hope you had a fantastic trip thru your holiday festivities. As for me, I had a great time hanging with family for the Christmas thru New Years holidays.
What does a musician do over the holidays? For this time of year I would normally be skiing most mornings (for exercise sake), though this past holiday season that didn’t happen. The reason? Your friendly neighborhood musician nearly broke his leg walking in his driveway. I was coming home from skiing where I was about to enter the house when I slipped and fell. In the short span of the fall I was thinking to myself as I was going down, ow, this hurts. Oh shit, I can feel my bones in my lower leg starting to twist. Please don’t snap, please don’t snap. Fuck that hurt as I was picking myself up.
Somehow my right leg folded under me and twisted sideways. The end result? A really gnarly sprain for my ankle, which was in a ski boot at the time and my knee. Almost two weeks later, lots of icing plus a couple of days in a device my sister had and my ankle is almost back to normal. I did attempt to get out for some runs last week as I was already walking without a limp, but that proved to be a short-lived 2 runs before I opted to nix that. At that time my leg was feeling unstable and the pressure on my ankle still hurt. Tomorrow I will find out if my ankle and leg feel better as I plan on attempting to ski again. Fingers crossed that my leg won’t feel unstable.
Another thing I tend to do at the end of the year is make sure all projects from the year are properly backed up. This year was no exception. No exception with a twist. This time around I ended up consolidating CD and DVD backups to much larger Blu Ray discs. The process actually took a few days of organizing to get completely finished, but now I feel so much better with less overall discs in the library of data – I think I reduced about 300 discs to about 110. Not a bad reduction.
The song I was working on for an artist that I was producing has been finished! The long road of a song called Divine Intervention has come to a production end. She has approved the mix and master. She’ll be picking up her finished project likely this week and releasing it to the world in 2020.
Music Of Moi
I’m mid production on several songs. Right now, today, as of this post being penned, I’m starting the mix of a track that I wrote some time ago but started tracking a full-on production version back in December. That’s the NOW of this post.
Mid production of two lyric videos. I believe I will get them both finished later this week. On the business side of it I’m still working on distribution with VEVO. I’ve run afoul of my previous distributor due to their requirement to control collecting royalties for ContentID. The problem is I have a deal with YouTube for publishing and that means I’m not willing to give a middleman money I’m collecting directly. Thus my music videos and lyric videos are stacking up awaiting release until I have a direct deal with VEVO in place.
There’s quite a few things on the horizon. The policy I’m sticking to right now is, only discuss that which I’m finishing or have just finished. This means that in 2020 I will be increasing my output of posts here. I’m guessing my posts will start happening weekly. I already know that there will be multiple updates for January – but without letting the cat out of the bag right now.
Have a fantastic day, awesome week and enjoy life.
The big music story this week was Billie Eilish being interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel show. During said show she was asked about Van Halen. To which she responded with knowing who they are. For some reason this set some people off who got really upset about it. It’s as if she’s a Bad “Girl” (yes, a pun on the title of her most popular hit).
I’m kinda confused as to why a 17 year old girl would be required to know who the fuck Van Halen is. One reason I don’t understand why people are upset has to do with the fact that Van Halen hasn’t been relevant for at least 15 years. Thus what 2 year old would have any clue what was popular in music at that point in life.
I would put it out there that there are a lot of people who are huge Van Halen fans that don’t know who the fuck Billie Eilish is, or even who maybe the New York Dolls. Just because she’s a famous musician now, doesn’t mean she has to know who every single artist is that came before her. That’s an unreasonable request.
The great thing is Wolfgang came to her defense. Which is ironic since he’s Eddie’s kid and often times now plays bass for the band. Yes, Van Halen had a big career for a good long time – but that time has pretty much past. Music has changed, some people move with it, some don’t.
Billie is definitely doing things a bit different and that’s what’s likely driving her popularity. She and her bother have hit the zeitgeist and that’s something many musicians attempt to have happen in their career and it’s rare at best. I certainly hope she is able to stay relevant for at least 4 album releases or more. The hard part about that is that the industry is bigger and there’s more artists doing so many things now that it may not be likely.
I think it would be really interesting to hear her now tackle a cover of a Van Halen song. I doubt she’d do it though. Stranger things have happened.
As you might be able to tell, I don’t care if she doesn’t know who Van Halen is. Though, I’m a little bummed she has no idea who I am 😎.
It’s been a bizarre Thanksgiving holiday. Bizarre may be too strong a word. Reality is it was mellow.
What made it weird is that I ran into an issue in the studio on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That translated into a technical issue regarding file backups. As a musician who takes work a tad to serious some times, I have a tendency of making a lot of backups of files. This started after I had a hard drive meltdown a bunch of years ago while I was attempting to make backups of 20 songs worth of material. I lost it all. No means of recovery. There was something that shattered the head of the hard drive and it destroyed the platters.
That changed my life from a computing and studio standpoint. I started making backups of projects to a 2nd hard drive after every recording session. Then once a project was finished, I would also make two optical backups to CDs at first, then to DVDs. Now I’m doing all backups to Blu Rays. The main reason why is because Blu Rays hold 50gb of data. Though I’m thinking my next batch I’ll grab 100gb Blu Rays.
Getting back to what happened right before Thanksgiving 2019… I had a need to get out a project. For all of this I’m running an optical data library that keeps track of all the files I have and on which disc. This allows me to call up a disc, check it out of the unit, put it into the computer, transfer files, then put the disc back. Its really handy. However, the unit is getting old and I’m thinking the power supply is going bad so sometimes one or more of the units don’t respond well (whole other tech story going on there).
Thus, I made a decision that its time to upgrade a bunch of old DVDs/CDs from those formats to sit on Blu Ray. This takes time. Lots of time. So for several days I’ve been pulling data of old backups, reorganizing the data and burning it back onto Blu Ray. As I’m writing this, I’m about 90% done. Organization of files is key. Especially if I have a client that wants something changed, I have to be able to recall old sessions. Or maybe I want a remix of one of my tracks or maybe I need to chart a part from one of my songs. The process of doing such things becomes real easy if I have a simple method of recall for the data. Which I do, and now I’m improving it.
Whenever I burn an optical disc I always burn a 2nd one. Why have one when you have a 2nd? That’s my motto. Mainly for the reason that if one gets scratched, I have a backup of that. I also attempt to make a hard drive backup as well, but with this much data it gets to be a bit much.
If you’re not one to backup data, and I’ve met many who don’t – I find I have no sympathy when people lose data. I realize it isn’t fun to lose data, but if you don’t take time to actually back it up, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Anyway, until a better means of backup comes along from Blu Rays, I’m now at least up with the times of getting my data on to a new format for the time being. Mind you, I am seriously considering microSD as some companies are now selling 512gb microSD for $6. The issue becomes, how do I keep track of it what’s on said microSD when there’s no clear method to making it easy. But the format is getting cheap. If you have a great easy way to keep track of what’s on a microSD hit me up as I’d like to know how to keep track of them as an additional means of backup.
I should be done with this mess tonight. Which means getting back to making more lyric videos and finishing more singles in the near future.
Today I got around to working on a lyric video where a few days ago I decided I would try it one more time. The main reason why had more to do with not being entirely happy with the first attempt.
The last several weeks have been highly productive with a lot of output. Not only for music, but for videos related to my music as well. I’ve been working diligently on making lyric videos for a whole lot of my songs. Generally it’s been taking about 3 to 4 hours for very song to get 2 lyric videos per. One song in particular is called Supernova (expect it’s release sometime in 2020, that’s the current plan). I had done a lyric video for it, but the video I had in the background was poorly shot – me handheld of footage from a 4th of July fireworks show.
In looking back at it, I felt it just seemed to lo-fi. Didn’t fit the title well enough and in a sense, lazy. I thought fireworks would work, but the quality of the video in low light from a phone, meh.
Now that I’m starting to dig further into the capabilities of Motion, I’m figuring out ways to really make things pop, or sometimes taking an easier route. Today however was a day of really making something pop. I managed to create a really cool outer space animation that looks super stellar (pun intended). This took a good deal of time, but the end result is something that is constantly evolving over the course of the song and it’s interesting to look at.
I still have to get the words in, but I’ve found a cooler font, a nicer look, and animation that makes more sense. Thus all the way around, I’m happier with the result so far. I believe I will get the lyrics in and done tomorrow.
Musically, I’ve got another song that I’ve been working on with Chris Hellstrom. It’s turning out really great too. Fun lyrics. Fun concept. Tongue in cheeky type of song. One that has more than one hook and one hook in particular that I imagine might become a catch phrase. Two reasons on that, one, the melody is easy to remember. Two, the words will catch people by surprise and they’re words that a vast majority of people say – but may not have said them in this order or sung this way. But once heard, you can’t forget it.
I did get the mix and master of another single done a couple of days ago. It’s on the list of videos that needs to now get done.
Additionally I’ve been asking fans of sports teams like the Washington Nationals (congrats to them for winning the World Series this year) if they would send me video footage they’ve shot for lyric videos. HINT HINT. If you’re reading this and your a fan of a sports team – I ask you to reach out with video footage you have rights to, if you would.
This same thought about lyric videos for teams has led to another idea for me. But I’ll keep that under wraps for the time being. Though you’ll likely see the reason pop up on my website in the not too distant future.
It’s been an odd day. I woke to a feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, which isn’t common for me at all. Likely it stemmed from lack of sleep and a developing issue of an eyelid with irritation. The one thing that brightened my morning was a random tweet by Lisa Loeb. She appreciated my tweet about Ed Cherney passing yesterday (Tuesday). I wrote a tweet to her in appreciation and she responded. That little gesture from her was super sweet.
Mind you, she doesn’t follow me on twitter. It’s highly likely she doesn’t remember me auditioning to play guitar for her on a tour. She also probably doesn’t remember when we bumped into each at NAMM talking to a mutual friend. Either way, she’s a lovely person and it brightened my day.
I felt like a task master getting rolling. Chris Hellstrom and I got our second podcast/broadcast recording in the can today. Compared to the first episode last week, this episode went substantially smoother. I pretty much had the outputs of the audio and video within an hour of finishing the recording. Compared to the 8 hours it took last week. that’s a huge savings in time. Massive creative time cut.
My goal for next weeks episode is to have everything output and ready for releasing within 30 minutes of getting all files. But that might be a little optimistic, as it does take time for Final Cut to export the video. Then for me to upload it to YouTube. And we’re only doing episodes in 1080. Imagine if it were 2k or 4k. It’d probably take a bit longer.
As I was waiting for Final Cut to export the video and Logic to export the audio for the podcast, I worked on yet another lyric video output for the vertical lyric video version for Hero Unexpected.
Once all those outputs were done, I shifted gears back to checking the mix for another single. A song that I co-wrote with Manda Mosher. I made a couple of minor tweaks to my mix and deemed it done. Thanks to some new mixing templates, I was able to output multiple mixes at the same time. Passed it over to mastering and got a master back shortly thereafter.
I sent a copy of the song to Manda and another friend Jesse Stern who played bass on the recording. Both of them enjoyed the mix and the song. I’m looking forward to getting the song into the release schedule for next year. We’ll see when. I’m also looking forward to hearing Manda do an Americana version in her style. I think she’d do a killer rendition of it too.
No, I’m not using something like LANDR for mastering, I think that it’s a joke and I don’t believe in it – and no I wouldn’t recommend using it. But I am working with a mastering setup that can do a fairly quick turnaround with a great sound.
When I look back at the work output for this day, a podcast, a podcast video (both of which are an hour long), a lyric video, and a song single. It feels like a pretty damn productive after a late start for a day where I didn’t want to get out of bed. That seems pretty impressive as I’m looking back on the day. And I’d like to thank Lisa for the kind words and response that helped set the day on a good path.
I’m holed up in the studio quite a bit lately. A lot of it is putting time into things that should enhance the music I’m creating. Most specifically with video. But there’s a learning curve.
You may not know that I originally graduated with a degree in film production. However, I never really went into the film production world after school. No, I went to more school and decided to go into music. Ouch.
The good thing about the film background is that it gave me a working knowledge on how to deal with aspects of film/video production. Though now, like music, film is constantly changing with tech. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean there can be learning curves. Since I’m wanting to get a lot done with past releases of music to marry them with video ideas, it’s given me an incentive to get Final Cut and Motion in order to put these things together.
I’m starting to get a stockpile of lyric videos. But I had originally been having issues with the size of the output screens from Motion. Despite setting them for 1920 x 1080 output, they were coming out at 2880 x 1080. It was driving me nuts! I got on the phone with an Apple Motion customer care rep and they started walking me thru certain things. We eventually found out it was the pixel aspect ratio that was throwing things off. But the silly thing is, it’s off from the get go based on Apple’s Motion templates!! Now that I’ve figured that out, I’ve made my own templates and lyric videos will get done faster.
I promise to drip out the lyric videos as soon as I get VEVO to me control of my VEVO Channel (long story there where it’s controlled by a 3rd party company right now). Once I get that control back in my hands, I will have a lot of official videos to put out.
TLDR (a this point this is about another project, not musically related to my artist career);
Beyond the videos for my music, I’ve decided to create a podcast with a good friend of mine, Chris Hellstrom. The concept is to talk about recording and production from a musician standpoint and express it from a producing and engineering perspective. We’ve been discussing the idea for a month or two and as of yesterday we recorded our first episode. The plan is to get about 4 in the can and then launch it as a weekly thing. Maybe run about 13 episodes to a season. Or if we really get rolling then continue on weekly as long as possible.
Instead of just doing an audio podcast, which would be the easiest thing to do, I mentioned that we should combine it with video of us talking. Much like how Stern, or Rogan do their shows. Though Stern is primarily radio first, it is fun to watch them. I didn’t really realize the complexity it would add to the podcast show. That being typed, we dove in and did it anyway.
First thing I realized is, we recorded the audio portion at 48k/24bit. Which is my 2nd favorite audio rate after 96k/24bit. However, video tends to record at 48k. Or at least most broadcast video is output with a 48k/16bit soundtrack. I opted to use a GoPro for this first episode. Massive mistake!!!
As much as GoPro makes it easy to get video at 1920 x 1080, the audio quality and the actual 1920 x 1080 video quality both leave a lot to be desired. Mostly because the video is slightly fuzzy at full size, which it shouldn’t be. Then the audio is actually recorded at 32k. Like who the fuck at GoPro decided that was a wise choice?!? To make matters worse it only records files to about 15 minute lengths. Which means it requires a shit ton of work to make it work well in Final Cut to sync with studio audio done at 48k.
Step one: use QuickTime 7 pro, which won’t run after Mojave, to export the file to the right video format and upsample the audio to 48k. There’s a few hours of time wasted. This prompted me to say it’s time to use the iPhone with the Filmic app. This will allow me to use a better camera, with the right FPS and the right audio sample rate. Plus it can do 1920 x 1080 without issue and won’t segment a file in to 15 minute bits. Thus it can go from start to finish. Which will be nice.
While those files were getting converted to workable Final Cut files, I spent time learning how to do some fancy text splash videos for our opening and closing spots to the video portion of the podcast. Then I took it a step further and made an animated logo as well. This took about 4 hours of time, that had I’d been a full time video & motion graphics guy, may have only taken an hour.
The good thing is, they’re now made and all I need to do going forward is plant them in the video outputs. So no more hours of time creating them, they’re done. I expect episode two will take about 1/10th the time it took for this first episode. I look forward to that time reduction.
Once we’re ready to launch, I’ll announce the website here. Plus I’m pretty sure it will be available at all the normal podcast outlets, plus video on the website and youtube.
Been a hot minute since I have made a post. For the past several months, who am I kidding – this past summer, I’ve been holed up doing a lot of different things music related. Initially I had a plan to be releasing singles on a set schedule and then a monkey wrench came my way. A good monkey wrench mind you.
I was asked to prepare a list of 8 things before I start releasing songs again. That’s 8 things per song as currently not doing albums any more. Most of that stuff I had already been doing, but there were a few things that I had not been doing. It lit a fire up under my ass to actually get the rest of the list done on anything new that I plan on releasing. But my workhorse self decided I needed to do this for several of my past singles as well. These are important things that were getting left out.
Fortunately another friend stepped up to offer a trade of services. One of those services were on my list of 8 things I was missing. How awesome is that?!? I’m getting to trade something I need for something that I can do. That is the idea of music videos. Thus we’ve shot two music videos so far for previous releases. They’re done, in the can, ready to go. I’m waiting on VEVO to give my label control of my VEVO channel so they can start releasing them. They sure seem to take their sweet time responding to anything. Rest assured that as soon as VEVO grants us control to my VEVO channel, there will be new videos coming once they stop leaving us out of control of my channel.
Another aspect I had been missing, lyric videos. I’m in process of creating several lyric videos as well as saying, I’ve got several done in the can, ready to go. Again, waiting on VEVO. Those video are feeling left out, but hopefully not much longer.
There’s another avenue I’ve been traveling where I’m producing other artists. Sometimes it goes really well, other times it’s a process of explanation during recording. I’m a stickler. I can’t let things slide when it comes sonic quality and I strive to make it as awesome as possible to listen to. For some artists it’s easy and they can perform. For others, it’s difficult being under a microscope and coached to get that tingly hair raising vibe from them. That’s the gold standard, does it perk my ears up or make the hairs on my arm stand up? If so, we’ve nailed it. I don’t want other people to get left out of feeling those hairs stand up.
Additionally, I’ve been working really hard on another project in my current home town. One that is meant to lift up the entire music community. To improve their songwriting, their performance chops and hopefully allow them to demand and earn more when they do perform. I was able to get a space from the city strictly for this endeavor. As of a couple of days ago and several months after initial approval then an out of the blue disapproval and back to re-approval, that space is ours to use. Songwriting events start to commence this coming Wednesday and people are excited. Which is just plain awesome. We don’t plan on leaving anyone out.
Beyond this, sometimes you get caught up in other people’s bullshit. Which also happened this week. I was subpoenaed out of the blue for a lawsuit happening between two people I don’t even know. One is an artist. The other is a producer. The short of it is (for this post anyway, I do plan on a much longer post about all this as it is a good lesson for budding artists and producers alike), said artist sued said producer for breach of contract and won. Said artist then solicited bids for production from other local area producers to find the most expensive one to use as an example in suing for damages. That one happened to be me. Now I’m dragged into their mess, I really wish they left me out of it. As I wrote, I will be writing a much longer post about this in the coming days as it does make for a real good lesson.
Finally, getting left out. It’s not a state secret that I’m an award winning songwriter and I’m not a slouch as a performer either. But I do pick my shows and my means of playing live carefully as I don’t like to lose money doing it. There is a festival going on right now in my home town where I’m getting questioned by friends, fans, and even representatives as far away as Nashville and Los Angeles as to why I am not on the bill. I know the main reason, but I’m not keen on sharing it. But it’s hard to not feel a little bit bitter about it when it is put on by local people and as an artist you are the one full time musician that has won awards and lives there full time but not invited to play with a large amount of other award winning songwriters from out of town. Fortunately I have friends who have sought to get me on the bill to no avail. And more fortunately one of the main peeps did grant me an access pass to at least attend the events I wish to attend with the words “We’ll work on getting you on the bill next year.”
Oh, I’ve also been making some behind the scenes additions to my website. One of them is the addition of player buttons from multiple streaming services. Now I’ve added Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube and Amazon to the main page. I’m still behind on adding them to all the previous releases, but I’m getting there. I’ve also been working on playlisting landing pages. Where a person can click a button and immediately playlist one of my songs on Spotify. The process works you can see the page for A Perfect Man as of right now. I have them for other songs. I’m almost to a point to be making them all public. Once I have the done I will start making it happen for Deezer and Apple Music as well as I believe those two services also allow us to do it via an API. They will come with time. So right now Deezer and Apple Music (as well as other services that don’t allow it) are getting left out.
That is all for right now.
Working on not going radio silent again.
It’s a rainy Memorial Day
In a way that’s a bit fitting for the real reason behind Memorial Day. Generally most Americans are out partying BBQing and generally enjoying a day off. Then there are those Americans who are spending time visiting the resting sites of loved ones who have given their life in service of their country.
That’s the intent behind a song written by Greg Watton and myself. A song called Forgotten Warriors. Greg is a military vet who is fortunately still alive and walking the earth. He wanted to write a song in honor of those who have given their lives and/or given their bodies and have been forgotten. I was all in on being a part of it.
We released it last Veteran’s Day.
Today we released an updated remix of the song to help beef up elements of the song and make it hit a little harder and deeper than the original mix.
Hats off and heads down while we honor those Forgotten Warriors. May you have a reflective and amazing Memorial Day.
Maybe You’re The Problem: Once Upon A Time…
There was a pop princess that was loved throughout the land. She came up thru the ranks and wowed people in one genre then shifted to another genre. All the while, she was growing up in front of everyone’s eyes – to a height of 5’10”. Being so public her dating life became fodder for chatting around the water cooler and for the gossip tabloids. She’d bounce from guy to guy, cavorting and having fun. Much as one would do as a teenager in anywheresville the universe.
Yet, the songs this troubadour was creating dealt with how every guy had done her wrong. That she was a victim of the male counterpart at any given point in her story. Making them out to be “the bad guy” was the m.o.
At one point in this tumultuous time of her dating life a comedian suggested that a male songwriter ought to write a song from the perspective of a former boyfriend who had been dumped by the songstress. What he went thru. How he felt about it. And then… His response.
That’s where I stepped in. I wrote just such a song called Maybe You’re The Problem. Recorded a demo of it and made a makeshift music video to go along with it. All in good fun. Posted it to YouTube where a PR friend caught wind of it and posted the link to the video. All of a sudden it went viral! Racking up 10s of thousands of views in a matter of hours.
Comments started pouring in. Lots of hate filled comments defending the songstress. Others were a bit more jovial, getting the joke and the fact that its only a song and meant to be on the humorous side.
The song remained in its little silo for a few months getting more views and more comments. Then one day, POOF! It was gone. The video had been yanked from the video site claiming violations of the end user agreement. Or rather violations that were a bit more vague. Honestly, I’m still not clear as to exactly why it got deleted.
Shortly thereafter a lovely woman wanted to be my manager and suggested that I rerecord the song and pull the reference to the songstress out. I thought, why the hell not. I can do that. No big deal. This manager really loved the song, just not the reference. Voilá the song now exists in the world without the reference to the imaginary songstress. It’s dressed up in new sonic beauty and ready to be shared in the world.
Which is why you’ve spent time reading this far. Be my royal fan and press play: