Thursday, December 27, 2007

Piano Gets Shredded


Today's shameless YouTube post: a piano gets shredded. Really.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Time Running Out

For some reason, the music player on my site is not working (I think my rss feed is a mess - anyone know where I can create an rss feed or xml file?) so in lieu of that, here's a direct link to one of the latest additions to my music library.

"Time Running Out" is a dramatic cue, most at home in a tense sequence. I jokingly call this my "24" cue....

Friday, November 30, 2007

Timothy Allan - Ride

I like Timothy Allan's music.

He's put together a new collection of his work in a deal with New York label Kult Records. The album can be previewed (Flash interface) and purchased online as well.

One of the elements of Timothy's productions that always manages to keep my ear interested is his use of drum loops as textures. Some music in this genre can become very rhythm dominant, which can cause a kind of fatigue, especially with repetitive loops. IMHO, Allan's really an artist when it comes to blending all this together into an especially listenable collection of music.

I interviewed Timothy a couple of years ago (podcast here) and it's cool to see him continuing to produce and evolve his art.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

RSS is for Y-O-U

RSS is Real Simple Syndication. Practically every website that deals with volumes of content, user-generated or otherwise, will simultaneously present an RSS "feed" of that site's content for various readers. Firefox has an RSS manager built-in, and many people (self included) have become smitten with Google Reader. I personally subscribe to about 500 feeds.

If you're not regularly using an RSS reader, or using RSS on your website, you should be, and here are a few thoughts on why:

  • Email is all but useless as a notification system, and most people do not view email conversations as "threads" (sans GMail users). SPAM blockers will often flag the HTML-laden notifications that accompany a lot of mailing lists these days, and in many cases, users simply miss the notifies while scanning their inboxes. RSS allows people to subscribe to your content, increasing the probability of them actually absorbing your product (writing, music, video, etc) because with RSS, they're actually asking for your content, versus filtering it from their inbox.
  • Removing notifications from your email system makes your email inherently more useful as you'll spend less time filtering (and missing) messages,
  • A "subscription" puts the consumer in a different mindset with respect to your content - subscribers actually *want* what you're producing - an inherently more satisfying engagement than the begging that accompanies most email.
  • As an RSS user, you get the benefit of engaging content on your own terms, grouped and filtered and organized in a manner most befitting it's usefulness. Some power-users (Robert Scoble) scan thousands of feeds daily.
  • RSS can make for a much "quieter" web experience. RSS feeds are typically (although, this too is changing) without banner-ads that flash, detract, and annoy. They also tend to come without all the sidebars/top bars/bottom bars full of distracting links found on native sites. Less of a chance a user will get lost because a web designer went to art school.....
These are a few of the reasons I believe RSS readers are becoming the de-facto interface to the Web. If you've ever felt overwhelmed when visiting a website (NYTimes, for instance), it's time to give your RSS reader a serious try.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

David Garibaldi Paints Carlos Santana


Sacramento artist David Garibaldi gave a rare show the other evening at the Warriors and Mavericks NBA game, in which he surprised the audience by completing a portrait of Santana while Carlos himself watched.

David writes about the experience on his blog.

Years ago I attended a Garibaldi show at which he painted a portrait of Jimi Hendrix:
Almost done...

And to think this time he got to meet one of his portrait subjects in person......to cool, David. Too cool. :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Three Five

I turn 35 today.

Wow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crap In The Box

What good is a blog if you can't use it to bludgeon some soulless novelty food corporation for an (most likely) accidental defiance of their own code of standards?

But sweet jeebus - this thing looks like something out of an episode of CSI:

Jack In The Box Sucks Jack In The Box Sucks (1)
Jack In The Box Sucks (6) Jack In The Box Sucks (3)

I've taken the rare step of actually calling the 800 number on their receipts, wading through their electronic swamp of a survey system (but hey, I might win $10,000! UH HUH!) and filling out an online form. I'm actually curious to see how a major foodcorp handles this kind of failing in their sales operations - is it as simple as a "sorry bout that, here's a couple of coupons", or is Jack keepin' my $6.34?

Monday, October 22, 2007

U2: The Making of "With or Without You"



A two minute snippet of U2's The Edge talking about the guitar parts and composition of one of the band's defining songs.

Roxanne Shante: Royalty Reality



Definitely worth a few minutes. Great story.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wedding Videography and Copyright Law


A month ago or so, I set out to get some definitive answers about copyright law as it would apply to wedding videographers; people who record weddings and provide an edited DVD product to the bride and groom. I have friends and acquaintances in this business, and have found wildly divergent perspectives on copyright, and what defines legal usage of copyrighted material within the confines of wedding video productions.

Using an informal polling method of calling my friends and asking them questions, I heard a few common themes, but everyone differed on the details. On a couple of occasions, I've contacted the (very, very helpful) Beverly Hills Bar Association, publishers of The Musicians Business and Legal Guide and run the various theories past them. I've tried to distill the questions to rather broad categories. As with most things legal, the devil's in the details. IANAL, and this post is not meant to constitute legal advice. If you've still got questions, call the Beverly Hills Bar yourself (they have 1/2 hr free consults) to discuss your particular details.

Q: As a wedding video producer, do I have any exposure to potential copyright claims?

A: It depends on your business model.

Generally speaking, weddings are private events; they are not open to the public. Because they're private, infringement claims are generally dismissed. When a person purchases a compact disc recording, they're (usually) granted a license that reads: "Licensed for private, non commercial use." or a similar language. That's the license that allows someone to use a Tim McGraw song during their wedding.

If your business model involves simply recording the event, editing, and delivering a shiny disc product to the bride and groom, a videographer is covered the bride and groom's license. That is to say, you are specifically licensed to use that material in any your clients see fit, providing it remains private and non-commercial.

Q: I was paid to produce the video - doesn't that make it "commercial?"

A: No. Your recording and subsequent editing of the private event does not constitute a "derivative work", nor is your being paid in any way related to the copyrighted material. That you have been hired by the licensee simply means you're "for hire" and generally indemnified against a copyright claim. This legal structure varies between states, so make sure to TALK TO YOUR ATTORNEY TO MAKE SURE THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS.

Q: Doesn't "Fair Use" cover me in these situations?

A: No - "Fair Use" does not apply. Fair Use is a special class of exemptions from infringement claims. As you're already licensed to use the music via the purchase of the CD or "for hire" status, "Fair Use" is not required.

Q: Under what circumstances would I have to obtain licensing?

A: Imagine you're product includes a short piece highlighting the bride and groom's first meeting - a kind of retrospective. You decide to include television clips ("When Dick and Jane first met 6 years ago, THIS is what was on TV...") or other copyrighted material IN ADDITION to what was recorded during the private ceremony, they you'll certainly need a license, as you're essentially reselling those clips.

Another scenario would be if you intended the wedding video to be released publicly - resold in stores (who'd buy it!?!?) or broadcast on a public network. In those cases, a videographer would absolutely have to obtain coverage (most likely via an agency like Harry Fox).

One probable scenario is having a portion of your wedding video featured on television, ala America's Funniest Home Videos (or Bridezilla and it's ilk). In a case like that, the broadcast company (ABC) would usually go about obtaining the license (if they don't already have blanket coverage). Even in that scenario, however, the burden of license does not fall on the videographer.

I hope you've found this post helpful and informative. Questions/corrections can be submitted in the comments.

Photo by Daquella Manera.

Magnatune is a great source of music

Just a quick laudatory post for Magnatune.com, who's Ambient/Electronica channel has kept my studio shrouded in chill while I've been working on a couple of side projects.

Magnatune is great because you can listen FREE, and if something really catches your ear, you can purchase the tracks or album in a couple clicks.

Very much a top notch service - I'm happy to recommend it to anyone looking for new music of very high caliber.

Try their Pop channel, too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Embedding a Flash-based media player

I've been searching for some kind of easy-to-implement Content Management System for my music catalog. Being a bit of a geek, I've tried to put a few things together in the past: a simple SQL database (more complex than it first seems), a PHP-based catalog system (freeware is never very flexible), and none of them really worked very well.

My latest idea is to simply use an embedded Flash player with a list of URL's to play. Scouring Google, I found Jeroen Wijering's player available under a Creative Commons license. It was a cinch to download, and install on my server (simply copy the files over with WinSCP). Jeroen has a handy config utility that allowed me to customize a few options in the player, and simply paste his code into mine.

There was only one "trick" to getting it all together: generating the XML file that his player uses to create a playlist. I tried a few products, but ended up using a trial version of Tristana Writer. Tristana's product was interesting because it would scan an existing web page, and create an XML file based on it's structure. I had some minimal editing to do after it's scan, but within ten minutes, had uploaded an XML file of my music catalog, and the player was working.

Photo by Flickr's blinked.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Yamaha Tenori-on



An amazingly fun looking interface called the Tenori-on has been made commercially available by instrument manufacturer Yamaha. I'd hoped to see something like Reactable or the Audiopad commercially available by now for this kind of loop-based composition, or at least that could musically interpolate your programming to fit musical structures (Hello, Yamaha "styles?")....now *that *would be something.

Via Metafilter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Popular Pop

Overheard on a conference call:

Client: ...and musically, we want something that really.....y'know.....pops.

Creative Director: Pops? As in pop music?

Client: Yeah.

Creative Director: What kind of pop?

Client: ....................................(sound of breathing)......

Creative Director: As in, what genre of pop music?

Client: .......................(sound of squeaky chair).......

Creative Director: Umm, do you know what I'm getting at?

Client: No.....well, we're just looking for popular music......y'know, what people are listening to....

Creative Director: Well, people listen to lots of music - there's no one style that's the most popular......

Client: ....... well, I'll leave that up to you. Whatever people are listening to.....whatever style they're into....or however you want to phrase it......or look at it....I mean.....if lots of people are listening to it, it's popular, right? I mean that's the definition. I don't know why I'm explaining this...anyway, we just want something that's a popular style....and....really.....POPS...y'know....so people can identify with it.....kind of I guess what I'd call...ummm...."popular pop."

-------

You can't make this stuff up, people.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Video: footage from Minnesota's floods



Some really amazing footage from Minnesota's recent storms. Lots of gorgeous lightening and thunder. It's also fun to play along with and practice those B-roll scoring skills... ;)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Compact Disc!


Happy Birthday, Compact Disc. You are now 25 years old, which translated to tech-years and divided by dog-years, means you're about 150.

It's ok, it's been a great ride. I pronounced you dead almost ten years ago, but somehow the world kept creating billions of your cousins and selling them to anyone that would buy.

You were barely 15 years old when medium range digital recording systems bulged beyond your capacity to carry data. Lately, your little (well, bigger in some senses) brother, the DVD, has become the de-facto shiny medium for digital storage. But even your brother's stress is showing - we seem to enjoy movies and music more when they're not attached to shiny things. We like our media on tiny thumbdrives, which now easily carry as much data as your DVD brethren.

Your story is a good one, and I think that's all you can really ask for in this life: A good story to be told about you when you're gone. And make no mistake, Compact Disc - you're good as gone.

Happy Birthday, and thank you for the memories.

Photo by dnldwk.

The Tony Windle Project - Altosyndrum


A set of photos from Tony Windle's show in Placerville a couple of weeks ago. Tony is joined by Scott Reams and percussionist Mambo Hernandez.

Tommy Dorsey's "Brazil" in film and TV


NY Magazine has an excellent analysis of various film usages of the main theme of Tommy Dorsey's "Brazil." The most widely known version is most likely Michael Kamen's adaptation used in Terry Gilliam's film of the same name.

IMHO, music producers in general (and especially film composers) should be aware of Kamen and his body of work. "Brazil" is certainly a film that will be referenced often in conversations between directors and composers.

via The Big Picture.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Josh Woodward's got a new CD

Among my emails today was a note from Josh Woodward (his music is behind my DIY "Bubba Bowls" video) that he's released another CD. What caught my attention is his "name your own price" philosophy of selling shiny discs. This may or may not backfire, but it will give him VERY high-quality consumer feedback, and probably gain a few mentions in the blogosphere. Additionally, if you're a film or media producer of some kind and you're in the market for *excellent*, CreativeCommons-licensed American folk music, Josh is your man.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fionn Regan - Be good or be gone

Fionn Regan's video for his single "Be Good or Be Gone" is worth a few minutes of your time. For some reason, Universal has disabled embedding, so I can't show it to you here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Not "The Guy"

Ms. Nancy's day out. Sometimes the hat doesn't fit.

It happens all the time in the creative arts; you take on a project with the best of intentions, contracts are signed, handshakes and smiles are exchanged. Somewhere down the line, things aren't working out - the "vision" changes, or the executive staff changes, or you just don't get your work done on time. Finally, the realization creeps in that indeed, you're not "The Guy" for this job.

The hat doesn't fit.

Restaffing, in ANY business, is a terrible process, and an occasionally traumatic one at that. Psychologists will invoke Kubler-Ross to describe the various states of mind people generally endure during these kinds of transitions; the span from denial to acceptance.

For professionals in the creative arts, it's in our best interest to get to the "acceptance" stage sooner than later. Failing to do so can stress the personal relationships upon which commercial endeavors are built. As I've stated before: it's about relationships.

And in the interests of preserving those relationships, sometimes the best thing you can do is acknowledge you're not "The Guy", the hat doesn't fit, and graciously move forward. Because, truth be told, few things make you look more foolish than a hat that doesn't fit.

Photo by Zooomr's ljosberinn.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Songfight to Song Fame

One of my favorite places for uncovering emerging talent is Songfight. Many a musical gem has been mined there (even I had an entry.....once....), and one of my continuing favorites, Melvin (aka Michael Wickware) has met with some success after a number of his songs have been signed to a film project headed by huckster Tom Green.

So from all three of us here at Jeremiah Jacobs Ltd, we wish Mr. Wickware a huge congratulations on finally making an inroad to the professional music business. I think it's long overdue.

Photo by jsompinm.

Monday, July 16, 2007

DIY Cooking: Bubba Bowls



A short vid I made showing how I create "Bubba Bowls", an easy (and yummy) comfort-food dish. These are kind of like KFC's Famous Bowls, except I don't use brown gravy.

Thank you to Josh Woodward for having his (excellent) music available via Creative Commons for endeavors such as this one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Feature request: Online photo search

Seems like a no-brainer, but I'm amazed that nobody's implemented it yet (to my knowledge.) When I'm searching for a photo, I'd like to be able to filter by frame - i.e., I'd like to be able to search photos shot only in portrait, or landscape, or maybe even search by X-to-Y ratio (16:9, etc). The reason I think this is useful is sometimes I've got a space to fill that's already determined by layout, and it would be nice to only preview photos that already meet the physical layout requirements.

Flickr's busy censoring, so I bet Zooomr's got time to try this ;)

Thank you for listening.

Length matters.

Photo by Flickr's Focus On Me Via BoingBoing comes an interesting intellectual paper on copyright (warning: PDF), specifically examining the length of time a copyright owner's monopoly on his/her work will last. Currently, the U.S. system (the predominant model throughout the world) allows a work to be monopolized by the rights-holder for the duration of the owner's life PLUS 75 years (thank you, Sonny Bono).

Researcher Rufus Pollack has come to a different conclusion, however, suggesting the optimal term for copyright monopoly is fourteen (14) years. From his abstract:
The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. This paper contributes several new results on this issue divided into two parts. In the first, a parsimonious theoretical model is used to prove several novel propositions about the optimal level of protection. Specifically, we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright falls as the costs of production go down (for example as a result of digitization) and that (b) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time. The second part of the paper focuses on the specific case of copyright term. Using a simple model we characterise optimal term as a function of a few key parameters. We estimate this function using a combination of new and existing data on recordings and books and find an optimal term of around fourteen years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing copyright terms are too long.

While interesting (and probably correct, for that matter), this will be completely ignored by the traditional media systems who've come to depend on infinite copyright to enrich their shareholders and ceaselessly litigate against small-time infringers. The good news is, there's already an alternative in place (more or less) that gives a wider berth to legitimate uses of cultural ephemera: Creative Commons.

I have seen the future, and it is Creative Commons
.

Because....length, matters. :)

Photo by FocusOnMe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

(Re)Evolution of "Rain"

"Rain" as performed (originally) by SWV. Live. Often imitated. Really often. Now revolves underneath Chingy's (award winning) hit "Pulling me back." Here's how to play the chords.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ubuntu! At last, Ubuntu!


Summary: Ubuntu rocks.

I was inspired by this video to download a version called Feisty Fawn, and after finally picking up some new computer parts at the local crack den (aka "Fry's"), set out to my first Linux desktop install.

It's really as easy as it looks, provided you have a basic understanding of how computer components relate to each other (i.e., know the difference between RAM, hard disk, CPU, etc). The install took about ten minutes (slow CDR drive), and about another 5 minutes of updates (there were 72 updates when the self-updater checked on the first boot.) Basically, if you've got a bootable hardware configuration, you can have Ubuntu up and running in about 20 minutes.

By "up and running", you're good to go for 95% of the things most people use computers for: media management (photos, music, videos), word processing, web browsing, basic gaming (cards, crosswords, math games), etc. If you're the kind of user that does most of your computing online (blogging, email, banking, etc) through a web browser, Ubuntu runs like a limber lynx- on a $300 computer!- and I'll bet most users won't know the difference.

Web Video: A Feature Request

YouTube. UStream. Metacafe. Current. Love 'em all.

Here's a humble feature request: I'd like to be able to bookmark not just the video, but a specific point (or series) in the video's timeline. Currently, web users have to link to the video, and notate the link with "forward to 10:23" or something similar. Someone watching the video has to let the thing cache all the way up to that point to watch.

Being able to link directly to points in a video's timeline would make for a handy feature, methinks.

Can you think of any other features that would be handy for web-based video providers? Leave 'em in the comments.

We all scream for UStream!



Last month I toyed around with UStream.tv as a solution to videoconferencing. I've been long seeking a solution that will allow me to conference with multiple people and multiple mediums (read: video and audio.) Ideally, I'd like to be able to switch between a cam and a screen capture, ala Camtasia, and broadcast in stereo audio (FM quality at LEAST). The idea being that I can work remotely with producers; they can listen to cue's-in-progress and give notes while I'm in the production process. My current workflow involves "flattening" mixes to files (usually an MP3 or Windows Media), emailing said file, then waiting for notes on that before continuing. Short circuiting that process a bit would be....nice.

I'd toyed around with UStream, but it's limitation was that it (understandably) wants to use a voice-quality, mono source. While this is probably good for the bulk of Ustream broadcasts, it would be nice to at least have the option (paid even!) to broadcast in higher-quality.

But I digress..... I tried out Ustream again today, this time using my mic to pick up whatever was in the room. I'm not sure exactly what about me is compelling enough to want to watch me noodle around in my studio, but it can't be any more boring than watching Chris Pirillo surf the internet.....

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cultural Effluvia

Message on the Money (1) | Message on the Money (2)

Apparently, it is a federal crime to deface U.S. Currency, but don't let that dissuade you from using it as a billboard to forward your personal/political agenda....

This is a five-dollar bill I got as change a few days ago. The "message" reads:
"DO NOT SPEND THIS AT A MEXICAN BUSINESS SEND THE DIRTY CRIMINALS BACK"
Awesome.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Bad News for The Business

Fresh on the heels of today's blistering Rolling Stone article forecasting the (well deserved) demise of the major record labels, DiscoverFinancial brings the cheery news that consumers, in the face of higher energy prices, prefer to cut discretionary spending (read: entertainment = music) before they'll change their driving habits. From the article:

According to the new survey conducted as part of the Discover® Spending Confidence Monitorsm, 80 percent of Americans find their car very important in their everyday lives. This may explain why car owners are ready to sacrifice non-essential items in their lives rather than their cars if gas prices increase $1.

Cutbacks Would Most Likely Affect Vacations, Entertainment Spending, Major Purchases

According to the survey:

  • 70 percent of car owners said they will cut back on entertainment spending if gas prices were to increase a dollar,
  • 66 percent said they will change their vacation plans, and
  • 64 percent said they will postpone a major purchase
Seventy percent.

So here's today's takeaway meditation for commercial creatives: what do we do to attract people to our shows and products in spite of the rising cost for them to do so?

Photo by Matt Heap.

Free Advice



This user sent me a friend invite on YouTube a month ago or so, and I finally watched it tonight. This is some really good (free) consulting and basics to think about for musician websites (and for that matter, just about any digital media producer.) Thank you, Michelle, for sending.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dearth Postage

Buried in the studio right now, getting a couple of projects wrapped, and getting a few more things added to my own catalog.

In lieu of a really insightful or well thought blog post, here's a few interesting videos of unique music interfaces I've found on YouTube. If you know of more, leave a comment.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

R E S P E C T

Detroit Free Press: 40 Years of Respect.

A handful of short videos and slideshows on the history of Aretha Franklin's "Respect."

Required viewing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Long way down.

Amazing photo by SF Emporer.

Got me thinking about the litany of emotional states an artist experiences before we share a new creation. From this perspective, we seem to be stepping into the unknown, seeing only a mortal plunge beneath us, yet still faithful we can find a footing, or better yet: soar.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Of the things I've learned....

Photo by carf.

It's about relationships.

From one perspective, it's about an individual's relationship with "the business" at large. All of us have to construct some kind of basic premise about the industry so we can begin to negotiate a course that doesn't overwhelm and suffocate us. "The Business" is in many ways, a behemoth.

When I was younger (and in many ways, naive), "The Business" looked suspiciously like a series of (seemingly irrational) annointings. It seemed as if a gilded hand would descend from the Brass Ether, bestowing one with the blessings of cultural relevance. Of course, this was the perspective of someone clearly on the outside of the system trying to make sense of it.

And it made no sense. So you can imagine my frustration as I was continually unsuccessful at seeking and receiving this sought-after call to Valhalla.

Perhaps you can imagine how tiring it must be to have a person like that around - someone who's (naive) relationship with The Business has them constantly seeking approval (and by proxy, endorsement). Another person's insecurities can become a burdensome drain on your energy. It can fray your personal relationships.

The Business is relationships.

At a personal level, it's about who knows you, and within that amazingly tiny circle, those who trust you. At a macro level, it's your relationship with the business at large that will greatly influence your relationships with individuals within The Business.

Back to my story: I had to recognize that my initial (and naive) perception of The Business was wrong- it's not a "gilded hands annointing people with cultural worth" scenario. I then had to change my relationship with The Business at large. The truth is, it's the personal relationships that come first, and most importantly, the referrals that come with those relationships.

Because it's who you know, who knows you, and who trusts you.

It's about relationships.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

EMU 0404 USB dropout

See my update below.

I'm having an issue on one of my DAW systems with "dropout", an issue where my audio device will momentarily glitch. I've observed my Emu 0404 USB dropping S/PDIF sync with my Yamaha M08, and I think it's related in some way. The sync cable between the keyboard and the Emu seems solid, and it doesn't seem cyclical enough to correspond with some system event (ala USB device sniffing), but it's getting downright annoying. Happens in all audio applications, so it's not a buffer/config issue related to a single app.

I've already resolved one issue related to power (FSM blesses TrippLite, ramen!), but continue to have these occasional hiccups.

Any thoughts or theories are welcome in comments.

UPDATE: 06/10/08: One year later, I can tell you what the problem is: I have an AC power problem in my studio. Apparently, several of the wall outlets are wired on the same circuit as light and ceiling fan switches throughout the adjoining apartments. When one of my neighbors turns on their bathroom fan, the resulting A/C line noise causes a momentary burp on the EMU 0404 unit, causing dropout.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Testing....testing

Still testing out the Blogger interface. I'd really like to find a way to import my old MovableType blog to Blogger.....are you listening, Google?