Plato’s 808

(This is not a review of the TR-8 there’s plenty of those go Bing/Google it if that’s what you want.)
The TR-8, that is Roland’s latest drum machine and probably one of their best in recent memory. I love mine and have been playing with it almost every day. OK well not every day but a lot. (Still not as much as I think I should be but that’s fodder for another post). The title of this post though hearkens back to your old Philosophy class and Plato’s “Forms”   (quick abstract from Wikipedia “asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality”)

In plain English, it means that if you hold a cube in your hand it’s not a “real” cube,  it is merely a representation of the “True” cube which exists in a perfect higher reality.   So Mr. Philosophy 101, what the fuck does that have to do with a cool Drum machine? Well it’s all about comments and reviews of the machine where a lot of folks Pooh-pooh the sound saying things like OMG Digital bad, analog good, It’s close but not the real thing hurr hurr. Man what a bunch of whiney babies. All these choads (Usually it seems, the same types that buy “oxygen free” speaker cables.) laughing puppets want an Honest to God analog 808 Drum machine and conveniently forget about the limitations of the original (yo 16 steps is all you got). Then they go on and on and on about “the Sound” and how ACB still doesn’t capture the nuance.  This may or may not be true, I did not own the 808, I had 606 but I played with quite a few back in the day, so I have more than a passing familiarity.  But I don’t think it really matters, in light that if you ever pick up an music tech magazine you will never find a drum sound  regardless where it came from that has not been layered, compressed and processed to the point where it doesn’t matter if it’s the real thing (that almost no- one has or a sample).  Now consider that due to the nature of analog components no two  808’s sound the same, and more than a few folks have heavily modded their to get more bass, decay etc. So now it’s gotten to point that the 808 has been elevated to the realm of Plato’s forms. There is an ideal 808 out there, but YOU  can never have it.  But I’ll tell you what, the TR-8 more than fills the bill , and for 499 retail I’m sure it will become  a new classic.

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Giorgio Moroder and edm

OK this guy practically invented edm (small letters intentional).  His dance tunes will probably be around, sampled and remixed long after people have forgotten what a Deadmause is. Not a knock on DM, just a fact of the velocity of culture. (I just made that up, I think) He’s had the luxury of time and pre-internet society to help cement his legendary status while the internet and “Velocity of Culture” serve to create and forget today’s stars in the blink of a news/fashion cycle. (edm is here to stay EDM -not so much methinks)

Update

Still here and Still Kicking, it’s been a quiet summer on the musical front, I got some new toys (Roland I love you) and have been learning them and seeing how to incorporate them in the my new set. And when will you be able to hear this new set? Well, it looks like there may be an opportunity to play during Art Basel week, details are still up in the air but I’m totally looking forward to it. In the mean time you can hear some of what I’ve been working on my Soundcloud page, SubTr8s Essence is what you want to look for.
See you soon!

Here’s some gear Pron, I’ve actually redone my “Studio” yet again, still looking for the “flow”

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Getting Ready for WMC 2014 Gigs

First off I have to say if you missed my Gig on the 21st, but want to see me live again – I will be back at the Chesterfield for the Sunday Cypher WMC Closing Party on Mar 30 Time TBA, so watch my posts on Twitter Etc.
Also shout outs to my Miami’s Vice City Rollers  who beat the Molly’s Marauders 166-137 Last Sat down at “The Roll Cage” in South Miami

It has been a great, if busy week here in the 3-0-5. Winter Music Conference started last Friday and I helped start the festivities at the WMC 2014 Invasion Miami Media Kickoff Party at the Chesterfield Hotel on Collins. SoBe was hopping on Friday, as the first of “Many Parties” fired up and gets everyone lathered up for EDM PLUR Madness that is the ULTRA music Festival Coming up this Weekend (Mar 29).

I had fantastic Set that was book-ended by my buddy Kenichi OHME wailing on the Korg Electribe before I came on and Activated some Retinas and Ears with my Videos and sounds, inclusing a new tune that Made on that Microsoft Surface Remix I won in in Microsofts Video Contest last year.  Then WEHO performed some of her songs as well as that great local EDM Duo of CHRON who did short but Bone-shakin set. Plenty of other acts came on later Like the Nubian Goddess Annish-kah! but I was well into my drinks by that time (Thanks Chris- for the drink Hook-up) and then some Joe’s Stone Crabs with my sweetie.

Blurry Selfi with OHME and CHRON

This week has been a whirlwind of Activity for me as I fashioned a new 4 Mirror Laser Projector and rebuilt / Iterated on the design for my mobile VJ Projector Setup. The new design is More minimalist in some respects and much more portable (yay handles). The new laser projector should be able to to my favorite “Time Vortex” Effect as well as the regular Spirograph style stuff. Oh did I mention I have another 30 minutes of music and Video to mix for the Sunday gig? Man I’m going to need a long nap after this.   VJ Projections at the Chesterfield4 mirror Laser

New Gear, New Sounds, New electronica

Some new electronica in progress,  Nice to start getting back into things. I’ve been kinda down and while that is fuel for some musicians, it’s not for me.  BTW this is a new setup- I am always reinvigorated by redesign of my workspace. Heck I don’t even like calling it a workspace or workflow because it’s about fun right? Still I wonder how many other musicians like to rearrange their creative spaces periodically? At anyrate I have better access to some of my older gear like the Casio VZ-10M the Kawai XD-5 and my trusty old Korg M3R.   Propellerhead’s lastest  version of Reason allows control of External midi Gear so I’m looking to see what mischief I can do there. Yes, I know I have always had the capability in Ableton, but I really like Reason’s layout and it fits right in with the design aesthetic (Rack-mount skeuomorphism and all that )WP_001319

But I love new toys, Who Doesn’t?   (Muzik 4 machines I’m looking squarely at you)

New gear is always a plus so I’m having some fun with a recently acquired M-Audio Venom and Korg Kaossilator. The Venom is very cool sounding synth that I think has been somewhat of an ugly duckling for M-Audio err Avid Umm InMusic whoever they are now .  It’s too bad because it has a lot of promise, good sound and flexible audio  implementation. Having the low latency Audio interface streamlines my setup in some ways, though as a controller it is merely OK (a better way to change programs let alone drum clips would have been awesome as would a phrase looper Oh well that’s what Ableton and Reason are for lol. With some of its feature you would almost think its’ a live performance synth but as it tunrs out changing between Drum patterns its glitchy- and not in a good way.  Still it has a lot to offer and can be had for cheap.  I may do a mini review of it though it seems to be covered fairly well on the Youtubes.

Speaking of the YouTubes here a little snippet of what I’ve got in my head now. Next time I’ll improve the audio

Driven Music Conference 2013 Florida – Are These Shows Worth It?

Driven Florida Music Conference May 16-19th 2013

On Friday May 17th I went to the Driven Florida music Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Ft Lauderdale. I had the good fortune to be accompanied by local Rapper Kid Berg who was also interested in this more “industry” focused conference.  Kid Berg is a cool cat who I think exemplifies to comfort millenials (Morel like Gen Z because he is very young millenial) have with new media. He is business-savvy, yet unassuming.   When I was talking to the PR guys and some of the artists they were fronting, Kid Berg was merrily texting  away.  But he wasn’t just some kid texting LOLs. When we were finished talking and walking away, he’d casually mention that that so and so is not that impressive because he only has x amount of traffic and followers and a low search ranking while artist Y is not fooling around and has a good online presence and looks like he’s got a grip etc.

Nobody is going to pull the wool over him- Solid B.S Detector.

Anyways as Far as Driven goes  it was OK,  I wish I could have stayed for Saturday and some of the early morning cocktail access to some of the panelists. It was laid back, informal and pretty open. But as a conference I could say that it had a few problems, that are kinda minor and I will get them out of the way quickly.
Sparse Attendance – From an attendee perspective this is not a bad thing as you have more time to interact with the panelists,  and in some ways forced you to be a little more social with other attendees, but it still  had the feeling of “What do we do now?” – that said I picked up a few cards from some interesting people. However from an event sponsor PoV it is not so good- but this is the 2nd or 3rd year here for them so this may have been an improvement.  Also I was only there for the Friday Sessions and Saturday could have been Monster.

Few “booths”-   too bad, would have liked to see reps from gear /Software makers like Ableton and  Korg  showing of some toys (I want to play with some Volcas)  but it was for the most part SAE school and internet marketing (Website promotions)  companies. I understand that this was a business and not a tech show but I think there is room for some of that.
Meager swag   – Not even a USB keychain with some dopey pix or showcase artist demos (That’s what the Internet is for I guess) 😦 Oh well, I can’t complain about the price for the two day conference and live showcases as it  was very reasonable.
Note: I could have paid to put discs and stuff in the bag to pimp my shit but I didn’t. so If your Swag-Bag wasn’t pimp enough for you either, go ahead blame me for not putting one of my discs in there (but you had the same opportunity amirite?!) wtfits

Ok so my complaints are pretty minor and to be fair there was a great legal panel that was scheduled earlier in the day but was moved up to the morning slot which was fine by me. The  Chase Entertainment lawyer (Greg Bloom) was a cool guy and straight shooter it seemed. While the major focus of the panel was on the 360 deal, along the way I learned a few things about copyrights , transfer of ownership, where everybody is on the royalty food chain and who collects what at the end of the day. I also got to meet the guys from “Approaching Nirvana” , another “Cinematic Electronica” band based in Miami. As it turns out there may be more to the Miami “Electronica” scene then the gate keepers at Ultra music and the local clubs would lead you to believe. They talked about marketing and the DIY -perspective and made themselves available after the panel session was over.  For anyone looking to get into the business this panel alone was worth the admission price.

tl;dr “360” deals are here to stay. Nobody is just going to give you money so you can go be an artist- they want ROI from all the ways your work can be monetized. Good thing for you is that  you get to negotiate with labels on bigger variety of items, from merch to live shows, streaming rights, synch rights etc, and you can negotiate different rates on each part so you can give a little on one thing put potentially do quite well on another, for example the percentage between streaming revenue and concert tour revenue. Also If you decide to go label hunting, having all these different revenue streams under your control will make you look more together and appealing as a business investment (Because that is what your are to them, never forget that).  FYI if all this talk about “Product” and “Monetization” bugs the “Artist of the peoples”  in you perhaps you should consider another line of work. If becoming some kind of “commercial success” (and I will define this as “Getting paid some amount of money to do what you love” ) important to  you then you kinda have to think in these terms, failure to do so will most likely leave you unhappy.

Bottom line; little plastic discs are tanking and the major record industry has collapsed into 3 or four major labels. As such,  labels look to maximize the artist’s total revenue stream. What does that entail? Well before, the record company basically paid for the record production and derived royalty payments from sale of that. Other revenue streams were not counted. Publishers actually made a shit-ton of money. (See this Primer from Tunecore). <—That primer or something like that should have been handout at this session,  Bloom and company reinforced the concepts there.
However, artists  have a wide variety or revenue streams open to us depending on the use of our Intellectual Property. (E.G. Don’t think of your music as just songs or video think of the broader use your work.) The goal here is to get yourself in a position to leverage the strengths of all of your work be it ringtones or commercial soundtrack.
Now let me stop for sec here and change gears for minute. Part of the focus on this event is to get a picture of how the industry looks today. This includes what it takes, the “things you need to know” about the industry. So there was a some focus on the traditional record deal with a label. But I would be doing the conference a disservice if I didn’t say that there was huge representation of the DIY side. This was not Big label Rah Rah. This was definitely letting artists know that with the digital age and social media.  Artists have more avenues for expression and connecting with their audiences in different ways than ever in the history of man.
But…
Everyone is out to make a buck and frankly some artists will need resources to help with the parts that they don’t know, (I’m still not sure what Moozar really brings to the table). It’s like the insides of a major label threw up on to the internet and each dept can now help you with monetizing all your revenue streams…. for a small fee.  That’s  where all your internet marketing companies I mentioned earlier come in.  From Soundcloud Wannabe’s to All in One Promotion shops, you could spend a ton of money trying to pimp your work and if your not careful lose it, in Nickel and dime fashion in all this freedom. Many of the services are good but they will sell to anyone who can pay. There are also free services too, use the hell out of them if it makes sense and drop it if it doesn’t.

The Take Away

So what does that mean? In practical terms it means, use the free tools that are out there to find and know your market/audience before your start paying someone to spam what your THINK might be your audience.  Some of the best promotional tools are free- Youtube and Google analytics. Facebook accounts are good for a presence but for music promotion it is a veritable wasteland (or so they pointed out at the conference).  Soundcloud is a good place but it still has that kinda musician-to-musician vibe. YouTube however is king, get a good following there and you will have a solid lead.  However, you should think of these places as  a place where you would link your content to from your site, because those “free services” could disappear and all your work, leads and info gone in the wink of a press release, (Think Google RSS and Buzz).

Website’s ? What? People still have those?

Speaking of Driving traffic to your site, all the panelists agreed that owning your own site is super important to maintain control over your online brand or presence.  It’s where you collect emails and increasingly cell phone numbers and twitter feeds as email is for old people apparently. The importance of the Website may be a little diminished as a communication tool but it’s still seen as a requirement to show that your are “serious” More importantly it is the destination to which you can drive all traffic to from whatever the “Flavor of the Month” Social media site there is.  This is where you can keep and or direct access to your core content. If /when your social media picks become non relevant (6degrees, Friendster, Old MySpace where art thou?) where will your fans go? Do you want to put all your eggs (and contacts and marketing data) in one basket controlled by someone else who at the end of the day doesn’t give a shit about you and your data?

So All in all the Friday at Driven was good, there was the Big Panel at the end talking about Concepts,tours, and marketing which was also good but it was very wide and not too deep. I would have like to have stayed longer but we had a tight schedule to keep.  Lot’s of idea juice was picked up and made a few contacts.  Let’s hope they come back next year.

Solid State Disks and your Music Software

A question was recently asked on the Ableton  Forums concerning whether or not a Solid State Disk Drive (a hard disk with no moving parts) provides some real advantages over your typical spinnng metal platter based drive, beyond just fast load times of your samples into memory.  It is not wrong to assume that there is the speed benefit to loading samples into RAM from your drive but it goes beyond that, it  goes to the heart of modern operating system performance.

(Below is highly abstracted to illustrate the issue, as not everyone is a computer anyalyst and this is a subject that is SOOO easy to geek out on )

 Given the lack of physical RAM to Disk space (relatively speaking) modern computers have used something called “virtual memory”. This is where the operating systems get to take some space on the Hard disk and “pretends” that is is RAM memory. The operating system then figures out what you are doing (memory wise) and whatever you are doing at the moment it allocates more “real” chip based RAM. Whatever you aren’t actively working on it pushes off to slower Virtual memory in a process called Paging, Then when you need that application or service, it pulls it from the disk and into RAM. Its is during this transition that program slowdowns, pauses or audio stuttering can occur. Add to this the creation of “temporary” work files and caching that Ableton (or many other music software) and you have a hard disk that is working quite hard to (even @ 7200 or 10,000 RPM) to give you a smooth experience.

Traditionally you solved this by throwing RAM at the problem. Some folks go even going further by creating  paging or “swap” file partitions, putting the paging file on a dedicated separate physical drive, or even altering cluster sizes when you partitioned /formatted the Drive so you have more effecient use of space. All this in an effort increase mechanical efficiency to prevent the paging file from being fragmented/overused thereby decreasing the amount of movement the R/W heads have to do.   Microsoft even added “Ready Boost” to Vista and Win7 so you can use SD or Compact flash cards for Caching operations since they can have good read speeds. (Ahem..I once experimented w a Disk array using USB sticks and USB hub)

Well now, you can just spend a ton of money and get a solid state drive and forget about all that nonsense. No moving parts, incredible transer rates, no worries about vibration, no partitioning hassles, disk fragmentation is a relative non issue.  Now to be sure SSD’s comes with their own pecadillos but for our purposes price is the biggest obstacle.
Should you get one? Thats up to your wallet really. Do you need one? Probably not. Will you immediately benefit/ notice a diffrence if you buy a good one? Most likely  Hell yes!  Its one of those things thats once you actually try it the difference is quite obvious (Night/Day on Windows systems I can’t speak for Macs but I’m sure the experince is comparable). The good news is that if you can wait 3-6 months, you’ll undoubtedly save money as the prices will drop on the 120’s (as the 200+GB come out). But if you have an extra 3-400, (tax refunds, bonus, robbing a 7-11 what-eva), the SSD is not a bad investment. Compared to what some artists spend on new synths, mikes, compressors, or Controllers its chump change. 

SSD’s are the future of local data storage, even now Hewlett Packard  is looking to produce drives and other technologies from “Memristors” .  So don’t worry at some point and SSD will be part of your setup and you’ll be wondering you dodn’t make the switch sooner. (Conveniently forgetting todays price tag LOL).

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