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Bedroom Producer’s Blog – Essential Sources

BPB

This blog is exactly what it says on the tin: a blog entirely geared toward producers tweaking away in their bedrooms.  There’s plenty of sources for free stuff, but most of them are hit-or-miss in terms of quality.  You’re not likely to find any buggy, poorly designed, or otherwise useless freeware at BPB.  Everything they’ve ever led me to has been extremely use-able and a lot of my current go-to synths, effects, and samplesets are finds from BPB.  Be sure to check out their ‘best of’ lists.

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/

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Workhorse (and Firehorse)

Todd Bowes of Providence, RI’s Downcity Armory, is a crazy person.  That’s why he decided to release two EPs at once.  Workhorse was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Machinae Soundscapes (except where noted), and is proof that a record recorded in various bedrooms in New England absolutely can tear your head off.  You don’t need a room full of expensive synths, a good old Korg Triton (Todd’s perennial weapon of choice) will do the trick, provided you know what to ask from it.

Enjoy:

And when you’re done with that, be sure to listen to the other half of this experiment, produced by the very talented Chris Brown (of The Difference Engine and Vary Lumar) at Nilbog East, and mastered by Machinae Soundscapes.

Stockholm Syndrome

The Idea Channel strikes again.  There are one or two directly related to music and/or art, but every last one of them is worth watching.

As artists, I think our biggest hurdle is saturation.  We work to write good songs, we work on the mix, we work on the artwork, we work on the marketing, and still have trouble getting attention.  Even the small amounts of exposure we manage don’t seem to make much of a dent.  You gave your great black metal album to a friend who loves black metal . . . and it just seemed to bounce off.  What happened?

Listeners are, simply, used to a certain amount of saturation when it comes to the music they choose.  That’s not an insult or attack, just something I’ve found to be true, even for myself.  As immune to this kind of influence as I imagine myself to be, who are my favorite artists and how did I hear about them?  An honest account reveals several artists who’ve received a lot of airplay on the radio, on television, and in movies.  I’d like to think that this was simply a case of exposure to something that I would have liked anyway.  But would 14-year-old me be really have been ready to commit to Nine Inch Nails if they’d not had a music video in regular rotation on MTV?  Or played somewhat regularly on my local rock music station?  Or used in a popular videogame or two?

Even as an ‘alternative band’  they enjoyed an enormous amount of support.  Not as popular as the music other people my age were listening to, but still a very safe choice.  All those areas of saturation told me, consciously or subconsciously, that someone had my back.  That there was no way I could be completely alone in my choices.  That somewhere, someone agreed with me.  Sure, outlets now include blogs and Spotify and Pandora and MTV isn’t really a thing anymore, but the principle is the same.

How can we, the self-releaser, the small-timer, help our potential fans become actual fans without the kind of saturation discussed in the video?  Is there any path from starting band to self-sustaining act that does not include this process?

What have your experiences been as an artist or auxiliary personnel (mixer, masterer, engineer)?  Comments would be most welcome!

PS: I hope I’m not coming across as a cynic here.  But I think that it’s very important to take a hard look at the real hurdles independent musicians face.  Far better to acknowledge these obstacles than to attribute everything to an oversimplified ‘not good enough’ and quit.

Which is Better?

I needed a few more long-run mic cables for a session the other day, so I dropped by my local large chain music store.  I poked around the cable section, but only found upper end cables that would run me $60 a piece or more.  A salesperson spots me and asks if I need any help.

Me: “Say, do you have anything 50 feet long that’s less expensive?  Maybe a store brand or something?”

Salesperson: “For longer lengths you don’t want to buy lower end cables.  For shorter lengths they are ok, but the cheaper, longer length cables are especially susceptible to degradation.”

Aside from the always irritating suggestion that I don’t want what I just asked for, the salesperson makes a pretty good case.*  What’s an audio engineer on a budget to do?

Whether we’re starting your own shop or just maintaining a hobby, we’re consistently faced with how to spend our modest gear budget.  Do we buy the cheap stuff (the low-end 50′ cable) or buy the higher-end stuff but with less features (a better cable that’s 20′)?

The problem is matter of perspective.  Go ahead and pick the cable that will give you the least amount of degradation . . . just be sure your definition of ‘degradation’ is large enough.

The cheap 50′ cable will introduce a little noise or smear the frequency response.  I’d call that degradation.  A 25′ cable at the same price will introduce less noise, less smear, but it also won’t reach all the way to my bedroom, where it needs to be to get a decent amount of isolation . . . which can cause a lot of problems during mixing and post processing.  I’d call that degradation, too.

Its easy to let the promise of perfection lure you away from the perfectly usable and economical  solution or workaround you were headed for.  Don’t let it.

*Assuming they are right about longer runs of cheaper cable degrading a signal, which they are . . . sort of.  A post on this in the near future.