Pirate Bay – File Sharing Verdict

skull_and_crossbonesThe Pirate Bay’s trial in Sweden has resulted in their four founders being found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison each, on top of some horrific fines. While we understand that artists are being damaged by file-sharing, it’s certainly in the interest of consumers to obtain music through p2p channels, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

So who is actually at fault here? The Pirate Bay arose in response to a demand from music and media consumers that wasn’t being met by other retailers and content providers, and they were arguably only providing a roadmap for their users to find files that others had put up on the web. Their site was a tool capable of helping people make copies of files, like Microsoft’s Media Player is capable of allowing people to burn copied CD’s of other people’s music, or indeed music that they’ve copied from the internet. It’s not Bill Gate’s fault that millions of people have used Microsoft’s software to burn those CD’s, and it’s arguable that the Pirate Bay’s owners and operators are only providing a tool in the same way.

Whatever the morality of file sharing – it’s here to stay. The Bay have vowed to put up servers in countries all round the world, so that the site cannot be taken down as the result of a judgement in a single territory, and sites like mininova are not only taking down all the contested content, but also paying healthy lumps of tax to their native governments, making them much more respectable in the eyes of the law. What needs to happen is for a method to be designed that brings revenue back to the artists or other content originators from torrents or other file sharing methods, so that consumers can have their cake, and artists can eat it too. My suggestion? Sanctioned releases from labels or artists that are monitored by legit sites (like mininova) and funded by a combination of ISP’s taxing bandwidth, and the torrent tracking site’s advertising.

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.

Universal Music Group and Google Partner for Vevo


The rumours are true and Universal Music Group and Google have announced their joint venture, Vevo – a video site offering UMG’s music videos, with advertising revenues shared between the two.

The full press release is below for you to digest, and naturally we’ll have more analysis next week.


VEVO – UMG’s Premium Music Service Powered By YouTube To Launch In Coming Months

NEW YORK, NY and SAN BRUNO, CA, April 9, 2009 – Doug Morris, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company and Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc., today announced that UMG and YouTube, a Google subsidiary, are working together to launch VEVO, a music and video entertainment service that will feature UMG’s premium video content.

In addition to VEVO, YouTube has renewed and extended its successful partnership with UMG that allows users to continue creating and watching user-generated videos containing UMG sound recordings and Universal Music Publishing Group’s compositions on YouTube through various territories around the world. The two companies will also share advertising revenue on YouTube and VEVO.

Launching later this year, VEVO will be a premium online music video hub built for consumers, advertisers and content owners that will blend UMG’s broad catalog of top artists and content with YouTube’s leading edge video technology and user community. YouTube will provide the technology infrastructure that will power VEVO and host UMG’s extensive library of professionally-created music videos on the new site. On YouTube, this content will be exclusively available through VEVO.com and a new VEVO channel through a special VEVO branded embedded player.

“VEVO will bring the most compelling premium music video content and services to the world’s single largest online video audience,” stated Mr. Morris. “We believe that at launch, VEVO will already have more traffic than any other music video site in the United States and in the world. And this traffic represents the most sought after demographic for advertisers, especially as advertising dollars continue their shift from old media to new. VEVO will be uniquely positioned to monetize this opportunity and a host of others as we grow it to become “the” destination for premium music video content online. For music lovers who want the best in music videos, the VEVO experience will be second to none. At the same time, VEVO will expand the premium video marketplace, generate new revenue streams for content creators, and provide brand advertisers an unprecedented opportunity to get in front of a highly engaged audience. We couldn’t be more excited about the huge potential we see in the VEVO service.”

“Technology has allowed fans to discover music in endless ways while creating new business opportunities for artists and labels alike,” said Mr. Schmidt. “At Google, we are committed to promoting greater innovation and choice and are thrilled to be working with UMG in what will surely be an exciting new service for consumers, advertisers, content creators and the music industry at large.”
At launch, people will be able to access UMG’s entire catalog of premium music video content, including professionally-created and full-length videos on VEVO, as well as artist-generated content and user-generated content hosted on YouTube. VEVO will also serve as a syndication platform, expanding the reach of the VEVO brand. This innovative platform is aimed at providing consumers the very best in digital music content while further extending UMG’s lead in the direct-to-consumer market.

Presently, UMG’s YouTube video channel has more than 3.5 billion views, making the UMG channel the most watched on YouTube.

Garageband – Music Discovery and hosting

garagebandGarageband is a really interesting peer-review and music discovery site. Artists submit music to be hosted onsite, which is then sent to 20 other artists, who review it. If they like the song then it tends to rise up the GarageBand chart and get more plays, reviews and ratings. Reviewing songs earns you entry into competitions that the site runs for various prizes, giving a continual incentive to help out other producers and artists with advice and peer review, and provides the opportunity to get free stuff and good press for your music.

Acid Planet – Music Producer Forum

acidplanetSony’s Acid Planet is a website primarily intended for users of their Acid software. There’s a thriving community of electronic music producers there, with contests and song battles, track downloads from site users and Sony’s featured artists, a forum and music software downloads. If you are using Acid, (the software kind) or you’re an electro, dance or other solo producer then there’s a load of help here for you, and yet another forum for you to shout about yourself and promote your music. Of course if you happen to mention that we’re doing your digital distribution for you, then that would be lovely!

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!

iTunes Releases Variable Pricing Model

The anticipation is now over, as music fans everywhere can now pay more for their favorite tracks on the iTunes Store. On Tuesday morning the iTunes store switched over to a variable pricing scheme with price points now at $1.29, 99 cents and 69 cents. This pricing model is aimed at increase the price of the most popular tracks on the iTunes store while at the same time decreasing the tracks that arent so popular.

Unsurprisingly, a number of top-ranked songs are now saddled with $1.29 tags.  That includes the top-three most-downloaded songs, specifically “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, and “Right Round” by Flo Rida.  But a large number of popular tracks are retaining their 99-cent stickers, at least upon initial inspection.

Berklee College – Free Lessons

We’re going to start blogging a little more about stuff off our own site that will be useful to you guys, the contributing artists. First up is this series of online lessons from the Berklee College of Music. There are a load of tutorials on different aspects of production, using different software like ProTools, Ableton, Reason, pointers on recording specific instruments and so forth. It’s all a little basic, as they want you to sign up to study at their nice expensive college, but it’s a good place to pick up some tips if you’re starting out with a new bit of kit.