50p Microphones

Rode ics 50p

For the month of August only Rode are offering a generous range of microphones for 50p ($1). Thier offer includes the Rode M1 live dynamic mic, the M2 vocal condenser mic and the M3 half inch condenser mic to name a few, when you spend on another qualifying microphone. Weather your a seasoned professional looking for a bargain on kit that you can trust or an amatuer thats just looking to begin a bedroom music hobby take advantage of Rodes August offer.

Rode mics, especially the M1 (an its younger brothers the M2 and M3), are famous for being rugged and built like battle tanks. With solid housing cases with Rodes, what seems to be standard issue, skock absorbers and the extended garantee that comes with it people are prepared to convert from the SM58. But these things are not news to anyone, the internet is full of Rode loving microphoners. RouteNote are just amazed and awed that they are being sold for just 50P this month. If you only buy one thing online this month make sure its an investment on the Rode.

Indaba: Online Music Collaboration Tool

indabaIn the last few days we came across a new online music collaboration tool which might be fun for some of our artists. Indaba enables online collaborative music creation and with the release of its new online console that means  from the recording  basic tracks to the the final mix. For prices ranging from free to $25 per month, musicians can meet and record privately or open their mixes to the wider Indaba community creating unique and spontaneous overdubs and remixes .

Johnny Legend, Yo-Yo Ma, The Roots and Derek Trucks are among the better known artists that have held open mix contests on the site.  But there are also hundreds of musicians and mix masters of all styles ready to add to any creation. Watch the demo video for more:

VST Drum Plugins

When it comes to sequencing drum tracks, there are a whole load of different plugins available, for free or otherwise. The first one we’re going to look at is a little home-grown number called MyDrumSet from Norwegian site Blue Noise. It’s a .vst plugin made from recordings of the producer’s Ludwig kit, with separate mic outputs from each drum, as well as a couple of overheads. No strange or fantastic sounds here, but a solid basic drumkit that you can drop in to your tracks.

If you’re unwilling to get your wallet out but you’re looking for something a little less basic, there are loads and loads of other free plugins listed over at the AudioMastermind database. It might take a little sifting, but you’re not going to spend any money.

Working on something with a more live feel? Fully sequenced drums not giving you the juice you need, or just unhappy with the sound you’re able to record? You can replace the drum tracks you’ve got with sounds from this plugin – Drumagog which uses the existing drum hits as triggers for the sounds in it’s databank (which contains 4 gig worth of samples), retaining the rhythm and feel of anything you’ve recorded but replacing the sound.

Next up is the number 2 application on the market, Toontrack’s Superior Drummer – this is the second version of their DFH Superior software, and they’ve made significant improvements to the graphic user interface, and the detailed control you have over your mix. Sound-On-Sound has this to say about it:

It’s difficult not to be impressed by what SD 2.0 has to offer. Toontrack have managed to strike a sensible balance between very detailed control of your drum mix and an interface that is relatively easy to use. And as the samples themselves sound excellent, the only limits to your creativity are your programming ability and your host computer — unless you have a reasonably well-endowed one.

Unfortunately there’s not a demo version for you to try out, and this product does have a pretty hefty price tag on it unless you’re of a piratical bent, which we certainly can’t condone.

If you’re considering spending $400 on a new plugin synth then you should also take a look at FXpansion’s BFD2. This is the Ferrari of plugins, offering you a vast battery of sounds, principally recorded at Hampstead’s phenomenal looking AIR studios, it’s also got a load of dedicated EQ’s filters and other gubbins built in. It’s getting massively good reviews all over, and there are some sample tracks mixed using the plugin on their product listing page that demonstrate what it can do.

Record Production – Advice and Resources for Music Producers

recordproducerRecordProduction.com is a site built for and by producers. There’s a punt-load of video interviews with famous and well respected music producers, plus video and photo tours of their studios. If you want to know how your producing idol went about getting a particular sound, or worked on a particular song, or just to sneak a look at what bits of kit they’ve got in their studio, it’s worth browsing the videos to see if they’re there. There are loads of links to production job finding sites, tips and reviews on equipmen, plus good places to buy it. There’s also a forum where jobs and kit are posted and a load of other like-minded people to kick your music production ideas around with, and ask about music distribution, marketing, tech stuff etc. Go watch some videos and recommend us around!

Mobile Phone Broadcasting

If you’re in a band that’s just starting out, you know all about sending last minute text reminders to your friends, relling them to turn up to your gig. If you’ve had some success then you know the power of information and marketing, and if you’ve read our self-promotion guide you’ve hopefully got a list of your fan’s contact details that you’re building as time goes by; names, emails, mobile numbers… Good for you!

broadtexterlogoNow here’s a little tool to help you make use of that laboriously collected contact list: if you live in the States, that is. www.broadtexter.com allows you to send text messages to whole lists of contacts at once, so no more scrolling through adding everyone in your phone to the send list, and it also allows them to send messages and pictures back to your broadtexter page for other fans to look at. You can schedule text alerts in advance, and select only people in a certain region or group to recieve them. What’s more, it ties in with your social network profiles (facebook, myspace, bebo, xanga etc.). A pretty powerful tool for getting in touch with your fanbase and promoting your music, gigs and merchandise. Of course, we’d love it to work for you, so we can make you more money by distributing your music and making loads of sales!

YouTube Baulks at PRS Rates

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In what may prove a revolutionary move, YouTube is refusing to pay the increased licensing fee that the MCPS/PRS alliance has demanded for the right to stream music videos for signed artists in the UK.

Music licensing can be a knotty problem; while most of the copyrights necessary to permit streaming for tracks belong to the record labels that have direct agreements with YouTube, there are other authorship rights that artists and songwriters can retain, or assign to be protected by the MCPS/PRS, which will attempt to collect revenues on their behalf whenever a song is played.

The previous licence that YouTube had negotiated with the PRS has expired, and the asking price for a new one is larger by many multiples. On top of this, the PRS has declined to specify what rights and what songs are actually covered by the agreement they’re offering to sell YT. In effect the PRS is demanding to be paid for a mystery box, which may or may not contain anything that YouTube actually needs.

The PRS have a different take on this, of course. They claim to be outraged on behalf of both artists and consumers that Google/YouTube have taken the drastic step of shutting down official access to music videos in the UK.  Personally I find this quite unbelievable, since all they would need to do to permit the consumers to see these videos is set out exactly what rights they’re selling, and agree a reasonable price, rather than pulling a number out of the air, for an undisclosed package of rights and expecting it to be paid without question.

As we ponder all this, let’s think back to Jan 2008, when the MCPS/PRS forced Pandora, an online radio site that is nothing to do with Microsoft, to shut down UK operation. Pandora said they couldn’t operate sustainably if they had to pay the fees demanded of them. Do these sound like instances of the PRS looking after the rights of consumers and the artists they represent, or is it more like the stifling of new technologies and ways of consuming music, and why can’t the PRS specify what they’re actually bringing to the table in a deal this important?

What is sure is that while the content that’s being wrangled over is unavailable through more legitimate channels, the consumers will be looking elsewhere for their entertainment, to sites like the Pirate Bay to direct them to torrents that generate zero revenue for the artists concerned.

A lot of people are losing revenue and losing their jobs as the whole geography of the music industry, and the entertainment industry at large is gripped in the seismic change the internet is facilitating, and you can’t blame groups like the PRS and the big labels for trying to retain control. This said, perhaps stifling new channels like YouTube and Pandora is cutting off their nose to spite their face, and they would be better off supporting innovation, and creating new ways to generate revenue and help people enjoy the great music that their artists are creating.youtubelogo

Adam Clarke vs. Starshine – Be With You

A club tune in the classic mode, this track features heavily sampled beats and housey vocals. There’s a marked difference in feel between the two versions available, the club mix featuring (as you might expect) a much heavier beat and less focus on the vocals. If you’ve ever been to an Ibiza beach party you might like this…

http://www.routenote.com/files/audio/images/997_cover_front.jpg<–Buy it on iTunes

SproutBuilder: Epic widget guide post

On the RouteNote tools page you’ll find a magical little thing we built for the People’s String Foundation, called a widget. This is essentially a self contained little webpage that can be stuck into other web pages by putting in a little bit of html code linking back to the site where you made it.

This widget was made in the Sprout Greenhouse – a drag and drop flash widget creation web application. You want one of your ownsome, you say? Well OK… Below is a list of things you’ll need to collect together on your computer before heading over to http://sproutbuilder.com and clicking the ‘GET STARTED’ button.

  • A google documents account
  • Mp3’s of the best 3 tracks you’ve got up on iTunes
  • Cover art for those 3 tracks
  • Your favourite photos of your band or yourself performing
  • Any good videos of your act – you could upload these to youtube first if you like (use tubemogul!)
  • A band website or myspace page

Got all that? Excellent.

Click the get started button. Now click the start building now button. No, I don’t know why they have two of them either…

Pick the blank slate from the templates that the greenhouse page offers you. Name your project, probably just your band name will do. Put a brief, keyword loaded description of what you’re building in the appropriate box. Try and think of words that will accurately describe your band and the content you’ll be putting in this widget so that search engines can find you.

Set the size of your widget – the PSF one on the RouteNote tools page is 400×400 pixels, which is plenty of room to play with, and will fit on a myspace page without squashing everything else up. That said, play around with the size, and go with what feels right.

Got a blank slate to start on? Begin by making four more blank pages with the ‘New’ link on the toolbar at the bottom. The 5 pages you end up with will be:

1) start page

2) music player page

3) photo slideshow

4) mailing list form

5) video page

Name them as such by clicking the titles under the little page icons at the bottom of the page. Now click the assets tab at the top of the page and import all of your photos, videos, tracks and album art into the project. You’ll do this by either uploading from your computer or providing a url if you’ve already uploaded your photos to youtube or flickr etc.

Once your pictures are in place, put a picture as the background on each page apart from the photo slideshow page.

Select the music player page. From the media section of the component menu on the left, drag in a jukebox. You’ll be prompted to add in music – open up the assets tab at the top and drag in the tracks you uploaded earlier. Once the tracks are in place you can shift the player around the page and change it’s size so that it fits in with your photo background.

Now drop in some text from the tools panel on the left. Put in the word ‘back’, or ‘home’, or whatever you think is appropriate (change the font and colour if you want), and while the text is still selected, open the Links and Tracking section of the Properties panel on the right, and make the text link back to the start page (which you should have called ‘start page’ if you were paying attention.

Now move to the photo slideshow page you made, and from the General section of the components panel on the left, drag in a slideshow. Add your photos to this as you did with the tracks to the jukebox, pulling them in from the assets tab. Add another text link back to the startpage and link it up in the properties panel.

Now for the mailing list. Drag in a google form from the services section of the components panel. It’ll come up with a box of instructions. Read them, then save your widget (this means setting up your account with sprout, but the site leads you through it) and keep the sproutbuilder page open. In a new tab or window go to your google documents account and in the new menu, select a new form. You’ll want at least four questions: add them into the form with the button at the top left.

Your minimum four question fields should be:

1) Name

2) eMail address

3) Postcode

4) Mobile number

The first three should be compulsory, but leave mobile phone as an optional field. Make questions compulsory by ticking the box at the bottom of each question’s section that says ‘Make this a required field’.

You can of course add in more questions to the form, but remember that you’ve got limited space in the little widget you’re building, and people don’t want to fill in their life history when all they need is to be added to your mailing list.

Once you’ve finished your form to your satisfaction, save it. You’ll notice at the bottom of the page there’s a line of text reading something like:

You can view the published form here:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=p4xTeWuspKmFczQpC3EeHVQ

Copy the text of the http:// address onto your clipboard (ctrl + c) and go back to your sprout widget. In the properties panel you’ll notice a new section titled ‘Google Forms’. Paste the http:// address into the ‘Form URL’ field (ctrl + v). The form should update itself with your questions. Resize it and jiggle it about until you’re happy with it. Once this widget is live, you’ll find that anyone filling in the form will cause a new entry to appear in the spreadsheet attached to the google form you created. Find this in your google documents account later on, and cherish it. It will make a mailing list for you, bringing in results from wherever you embed the widget, without you having to do any data entry. Joy! Put in a link back to the home page, link it up in the links and tracking section as before.

Now for the video page. A blank background probably works best for this page. Just drag in a video from the assets panel and size and jiggle it till you’re happy. If you’ve got more than one video, you can make more pages the same as this one, but don’t try and squeeze too many onto one page, they’ll be too small to see. You could just put a text link to your YouTube profile on the page, putting the URL (web address) from the youtube page in the links and tracking panel. Stick in a link back to the homepage of your widget.

Now for the homepage. You should have your four content pages set up, so now you need to put links to them on the title page. Put in some text and make it pretty within the context of your background picture. Size each text box up correctly, so they don’t overlap. You can even put buttons in from the general tab of the components menu if you’re feeling slinky, it’ll just depend on your aesthetic judgement what object you use to link. Probably better to be clear than obscure and super-clever though… Once you’ve got your link objects (the text boxes) set up, select the appropriate link for each in the links and tracking section. You’ll find a little drop down menu with the pages you’ve made listed on it. Make sure you choose the right one.

Now click preview. Check all the links take you to the right places on and off the widget. Check the video plays ok, and the tracks are in the right place. If you run into any problems at this point, hopefully you’re familiar enough with the interface by now to fix them. If all is ok you can publish the widget. Hit the publish button at the top right. Once the publish menu pops up you’ll have a list of website icons on the right. Click the one you want to put the widget on, and follow the instructions. Congratulations! You’ve maked a lovely widget!

You can now dish out the code to anyone who’ll post this online for you. The more copies of it there are out there, the more eyes will see it, and the more people will sign up to your mailing list.

Good luck…

Retail Site Promotion

The front page of a music retail site is usually plastered with recommendations or featured bands. They are being promoted because the site thinks it can make money by selling them. You want to be one of those bands that gets the support of a big retailer, don’t you? Good. So, you need to offer the site something special to make them pay attention to you. If you’re just a small fish, then you need to prove to them how all that’s preventing you from becoming big time is a lack of promotion, and that if they help you, they’ll reap extra rewards.

Primarily you need to have a package that’s commercially viable. Retailers won’t bother putting you up on their front-page pedestal if they don’t think they’re maximising the potential that space has to offer. Sorry, but there it is. Commercially viable doesn’t mean you have to sell out and go pop, quite the opposite, it means you have to have something unique and attractive about your music, your image or both, that will make people take notice and want a piece of you. Figure out what this is. Think about the image that you’re presenting of yourself and play to that.

Capitalise upon your strengths, match them up to the audience of the retailer that you’re approaching and give them a ready made package. Get together tracks, pictures, press releases, merchandise, everything you can muster, and give the retailer a bundle that they can just plug in to. It’s a big effort, but a big payoff if you can beat the crowd of artists who want that slot.

Social Networks

Starting with the obvious: Myspace. It’s an ugly, cumbersome brute of a website, very nearly swamped in photos of obnoxious people taken at arms length while they pout or flex, but it’s still the first port of call when people are searching for bands online. Sorry, I wish you could avoid it, but you can’t really afford to…

You don’t need to monkey around with your page too much. Keep your best tracks online and your gigs up to date, and you’re about done: the neater the changes you make to the page the better. Highly patterned or coloured backgrounds only make a page harder to read, and the point of having the information on your page up there is so people can read it… Don’t be afraid of a little modification though, just make sure it doesn’t obscure your page, and fits in with the image you’re presenting.

Make sure you’ve got links up to wherever you’re selling your music (we’ve got an iTunes linkmaker on our tools page) and merchandise (see the guide on being a paypal seller).

There is a swarm of other music social network sites out on the web, and you should probably have some presence on each of them. I wouldn’t recommend slavishly maintaining each of 20 profiles though – set up something simple on each one you feel like using, directing readers to your main profile on whatever-it-is.com and keep them updated using artistdata.com’s profile syndication service. It’s a bit like TubeMogul, but for gig dates and blog posts, put updates on artistdata and they’re forwarded to each of your accounts, once you’ve got it set up right.

It’s still worth checking in to all your accounts and making sure they’re all working properly, sifting through the inboxes. Just do it once a month and you’ll be fine.

Concentrating on one channel or site means people will know where to come to find your properly updated material, you won’t lose the opportunity to get fans from minority sites, search engines will have an easier time finding you, and you won’t bash your brains out keeping a hundred half-arsed profiles running.

A good shortcut when you’re trying to build a fanbase on social networking sites is to get your fans and peers to promote you. Offer other bands you like a mail-swap; write to your fans about them and ask them to write to theirs about you. If you write the mailout for them you’re more than likely to get a yes to the swap. You can also try the same with anyone in your fanbase who’s got a million friends – offer them a CD or a t-shirt if they mail their friends about you. It seems mercenary, and it is, but it will get your name out there, with a personal recommendation…