Goodnight, Metal Friend

I love falling asleep to music, and for the past year or so I’ve been using the Headspace app for that very purpose.

When listening to radio (like NTS), I never know what might come on at 3am. And with playlists, songs stop and start, so there’s never a consistent volume.

And while I love the Headspace offerings, they’re very robotic. As someone who works in music, I really like to know who’s making the music. I feel like music needs some humanity to it.

My initial thoguth was to create my own music. I have Abelton Live, a bass, and a MIDI keyboard – how hard can it be? Well, it’s hard. And I want some music to fall asleep to sooner rather than later.

That meant finding music made by humans, and arranged as a “mix.” I’ve been watching a bunch of DJ sets on YouTube recently, and I’m sort of intrigued.

So, I knew I was going to need some DJ software for this project. The first program I downloaded is the one I’ve been using; Serato DJ Lite. It’s free, and does the big important thing I need: fade into and out of separate tracks in real time.

So then I hit Bandcamp for some suitable tracks. I searched by tags and mostly dug through ambient drone, sorted by recent arrivals. I found about 6-10 tracks, paid for and downloaded each one, and threw them into Serato.

Learning how and when to fade out of tracks, and into others – IN REAL TIME – is exciting. Even though the music is quiet and peaceful, the process keeps me on my toes. By the time I settled on my playlist, and practiced a few times, I had a 25-ish minute “set” ready to go.

To record my mix, I used Rouge Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, capturing the audio from Serato, and recording it as an MP3 file in real time.

Again, you have to pay attention during this entire process, because if you mess up the transition between songs five and six, you gotta scrap it and do it again.

I uploaded to Mixcloud, because they’re artist friendly; “We also make sure that the artists, songwriters and rightsholders played in the shows receive their fair royalties.” I have a three month trial, and after that’s up it’s $15/mo, which seems fair.

I did my final mix after a day of work. Being that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic right now, this was the mental break I needed on a Monday night.

It’s not perfect, but it’s done. Hopefully I make nine more of these, and the tenth will be better than my first. Hope you like it.

Abelton Live is Now 30% Off

Abelton Live 10 is 30% off until May, and…

The Live 10 trial period has been temporarily increased to 90 days, giving you more time to play with all the features of Ableton Live Suite. Active trials will automatically be extended. And anyone who has used the trial before can now use it again.

I’ve been playing with Abelton Live since December 2017 or so. It’s a challenge getting away from the GarageBand way of recording, but it’s been rewarding. Started off with the trial version (version nine!), and upgraded to Lite, which was about $80. I’m not recording an album or anything, but it’s been fun to mess around and make some music again.

Check it out.

Marc Rebillet is a new Fave

One of the best things about keeping a blog is coming back to shit you wrote five years ago, or five days ago. Reading posts from a few weeks ago, at the start of the Corona virus outbreak, has already been eye opening, so I want to keep this going, and that of course needs to include music and videos like this. Each is a capsule into my mindset and vibe from that moment.

A few months ago I saw a weird video of a guy in a hotel room yelling about fashion (below), and didn’t think much of it.

Then my friend Natalie posted a video or two on Instagram and then it was like, woah, okay, I get it now. This one (below) really hit home with me, and I’ve since started streaming his super long live-streams and getting stoked not just on his humor, but his good vibes and out of this world musical skills.

It’s spontaneous, and energetic, and you know what? Sometimes some of his stuff doesn’t work for me, but that’s 1000% okay because Marc Ribellet is a new favorite of mine in 2020.

Very Noise

What? How? Is this even real?

Really enjoyed IGORRR’s 2017 album ‘Savage Sinusoid,’ but haven’t been keeping up, but really stoked I stumbled upon this clip. This song is from a new album, ‘Spirituality and Distortion,’ due out in March.

It’s video likes this that push me forward. With all the ills of this world, the strife and turmoil and impending supernova of Betelgeuse (maybe?), music is as important as ever. Getting a bunch of people into a practice space, or sending MP3 files back and forth over the internet to make music like… this?

Yes, why not?

Streaming Problems

Sorry / not sorry for pulling a majority of recent content from my social media feed:

For the streaming apologists out there, when a music industry heavyweight like (Jimmy) Iovine says the problem with streaming is that they’re ALREADY PAYING TOO MUCH for music — maybe it’s time to admit there’s a fundamental and systemic problem with the model.

Sean Cannon

Music licensing fees ain’t gonna get cheaper, and exec salaries are just going to keep going up, so yeah… not sure how this premium buffet of all you can consume music for $10/mo is going to continue.

Re: my “sorry / not sorry” from above – my pal Sean posted that Tweet on the 7th, and it’s already lost in a sea of a jillion more tweets, pics, and videos. I’m bummed that so many thoughts and good ideas and great stuff gets lost in the ether, so posts like this are just one way I try to hold onto them.

Music Legacy

Maybe it’s because of my emotional reaction to the new Star Wars (I loved it), or the quiet time with work right now, but thinking about making music as intensified. And I think part of it has to do with… legacy.

Part of “my story” is both my parents were gigging musicians when I was growing up. They both played in bands, my grandparents played music, my uncles (my one uncle was in a band that self-released a record in the early 80s).

So thinking about my mom’s passing in 2017, and how the world will never hear her sing again. Oh, how I wish I had recordings of her. My dad is still playing, mostly jazz guitar, into this 70s. He’s got thousands of original compositions, though none of them are recorded.

It’s like I’ve pushed down that part of me, like I’m “just” a computer guy now, who also runs a bit. And while the energy required to also work on music is slim, I know it’s bubbling up. Something I can’t keep running from.

Making Music Podcasts

My dude Sean Cannon laying it down, talking about music podcasts:

Four years ago, I started telling music industry friends and acquaintances that they should create high-end podcasts built around their artists/albums/labels. At the time, I got two main responses: “So you’re saying we should get our bands on Maron? Do you know him? Can you get us on there?” or “Oh yeah, (insert musician here) is really funny. I’ll have them talk to their buddies.”

I worked with Sean on my music blog from 2005-2008, where he was bascially my right hand man, and helped me really build and expand.

Then when I started Noise Creep at AOL Music, I was able to hire him as my deputy editor, which was both awesome and crazy at the same time (20+ posts a day was nuts).

But Sean went onto to work big time in radio and won a freaking Peabody award. He recently made the the Striped podcast, which is all about the White Stripes.

The thing is, there is so much more to be done with music using the medium of podcasting. Super glad Sean is one of the people leading the charge.

The Rise of Bandcamp

Hard to believe that Bandcamp has only been around since 2008. That’s when I launched Noisecreep for AOL Music.

In this episode of All Songs Considered, CEO and co-founder Ethan Diamond says that when an artist succeeds on Bandcamp, Bandcamp succeeds. That philosophy has driven the company since 2008, with over $425 million paid directly to musicians and record labels. 

The 2010s: The Rise Of Bandcamp on NPR

If you haven’t seen, I help run a project called Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, and was interviewed by Bandcamp.