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9 Vital Reasons to Disconnect from Technology a Little More Often.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. For the record, I am an electronic musician for a living. My entire income is based on the daily use of cutting edge audio/video technology, as well as the ability to connect to a worldwide audience via the internet in order to share my work (Don’t think that I don’t see the irony in all of this). However, the fundamental reason why I use this technology, is to connect with people emotionally via music, and maybe even more importantly, people themselves on a more personal basis.

9 December 2017 Articles  Summer Channel Read more

10 Extreme Changes That Have Improved My Life, Immeasurably.

Looking back at the last 43 years of my life, I realize that I’ve employed a lot of self-destructive habits in the past which I now distance myself from. Admittedly, I haven’t always been the man I am today. I often reflect on how lucky I am to have survived a barrage of near debilitating life experiences and events over the years (like child abuse & abandonment, drug addiction, etc.) which, thankfully, taught me a lot about the person I don’t want to be.

30 November 2017 Articles  Summer Channel Read more

Learning To Trust Your Instincts

Some people call it intuition. Others call it instinct, or even a “gut” feeling. But no matter what you label it as, everyone one of us has experienced the sensation of “knowing” things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how.

13 July 2016 Articles Read more

20 “Rules” To Help You Live A Better Life

I wrote these “rules” a few years ago, which were inspired by many of my life experiences, failures, successes, and simple things that got me through my days. I hope they inspire you all as well.

1 July 2016 Articles Read more

Why Mastering Your Craft Is More Important Than Ever

In today’s crowded and largely underwhelming music industry, it seems like sidestepping the crucial, and often, time consuming steps towards true and enduring proficiency has become the norm. In the quest for overnight success, fledgeling DJs and musicians seem to have forgotten (or never really knew to begin with) what music is truly about. This is why it’s more important than ever to become really good at what you do.

15 December 2015 Articles Read more

The Analog vs. Digital Debate

Over the years, I have repeatedly found myself falling into one of the most passionate and annoying conversational traps known in the audio world… the argument over what is better –  analog or digital?

Being a reasonably optimistic kind of creature, I will make the broad assumption that most people in our little audio world have been dragged into this battle at one time or another, frustratingly challenged to take a stance in online threads or in late-night drunken personal discussions that have poorly attempted to intelligently address this question.

Unfortunately, it is the “intelligent” part of this discussion that has been so lacking, typically replaced with nothing more than hot lava spewing from the mouths of the most loyal adherents to whatever given “side” has won their hearts – or more likely just the side best describing their own studio space.

Since I am a bit of a hardware geek, I have always fallen on the “side” of analog when encountering this debate. I have always done so out of a sense of honor to my chosen passion, but in a way, it hasn’t always been the most honest. Part of me just enjoys stoking the fires behind ideas to see what comes falling out… and that makes me either a saint or an ass… depending on how much affinity you have for my position.

The problem here is that the entire debate is a bunch of bullshit, and has been for a long time. Why, you might ask? Because it has typically been built on the wrong argument.

There are endless articles and discussions that extoll the power, beauty, and warmth of analog in all its various flavors. Whether it be about analog synths, processing, summing, mixing, or WHATEVER other thing that makes analog amazing… it is all mostly true.

There are endless articles and discussions that extoll the power, beauty, and clarity of modern digital studio. The stunning power of well designed software synths, and the fact that a studio can fit into little more than a laptop… it is pretty damn amazing… and mostly worthy of all the accolades.

In all of that, for some reason, we keep asking what is better without ever defining what better actually means.

It is fact that some of the most breathtaking music the world has ever heard was derived from the use of lots of expensive analog gear, but it would be dishonest to ignore that there have been breathtaking albums created and written solely in the digital domain. At this point, that is a fact.

 “The problem here is that the entire debate is a bunch of bullshit, and always has been. Why, you might ask? Because it has always been built on the wrong argument.”

With the understanding that better is a really loose term, I will suggest that the truth behind this debate goes a little deeper and more personal than is typically given credit. Better for me is not necessarily going to be better for you… and that is really the issue. The thing that everyone seems to ignore is that the analog vs. digital debate is less about the sound as it is about the journey you take to get the sound.

Since I am admittedly a bit of a hardware junkie, I will describe what I mean from my vantage point.

Watching the digital world explode the way it has since my first days of recording to 4-track tape recorders has been mind blowing, to say the least. I still remember my first steps into Pro Tools, and the inevitable dive into endless plug-ins doing things that I could have never imagined doing with the crappy old hardware I used to own.

Over the years, the power and complexity of the digital age has rendered hardware almost a waste of time. In an age where you can load a brilliant AAX or UA plugin emulation of vintage hardware, it seems crazy for most to contemplate the sheer cost, weight, and practicality of the vintage originals. Whether you are thinking about classic pre’s or compressors… analog synths or drum machines… all of which are prone to the challenges of old age and service requirements… it seems, and possibly is, kind of a crazy direction to go.

That said, I have always loved buying old synths, and more recently have added things like classic pre’s, compressors, and more traditional guitar gear to the mix.  All said, I am happier with my studio than I have ever been. All of this crap is WAY better to me. My sound is better, my style is better, and I have tons more fun doing it.

Whenever I talk about this with my exclusively digital friends, the discussion inevitably moves to discussions about whether the emulated plugins sound as good as the originals. I think they absolutely do not, and while I think there might be a bit of jealousy wrapped into the discussions (hell, hardware is definitely more lusty than software), there is a fundamental point being made for emulation that is hard to argue against.

Regardless of whether the originals sound better in a comparison to an emulation, does that always add up to an obvious difference in a mix? Can I claim to pick out originals in a recording vs emulations? Would any of the subtle differences ever make or break a recording… or impact the power of the music in any measurable way? In most cases, probably not.

There are certain analog instruments or effects that I can pick out from time to time in a recording because their character is so defined… but about 99% of the time, I likely couldn’t tell the difference in the final product. Not enough to place a big bet on.

Then what is the allure with analog hardware? If the above is true, why do I think there is a good argument supporting its supremacy (for me)? It goes back to my earlier point, that the importance lies on the journey you take to get to your sound.

I have to say it, for me, using nothing but plugins is the most sterile way to accomplish the goal. The endless noodling around on screen, the sterility that a controller brings as the only interface to vastly different synths, and most importantly… the perfection, I hate it.

In digital, everything sounds perfect and the same, every time… and it annoys the hell out of me. For example, a minimoog emulation sounds like one possible variant of a minimoog every – single – time. The same with most every emulation. It is as if the flow and organic nature of life is endlessly frozen in time to one specific moment that we are stuck with forever. I own a lot of analog synths, including many years with a real minimoog… and the plugins are garbage in comparison. I feel the same way about just about all emulations, they have no soul and are generally uninteresting to me.

Now it would be fair to point out that I sound like I am contradicting myself… that I said it is hard to tell the difference in a recording…etc… and that is all still true. This is the crux of the issue.

When I write what I write, part of what inspires me is all the rough spots in analog equipment. I get excited by having to keep shaky oscillators in tune. I get excited by overdriving processors that would fall apart if treated that way as a plugin. I hate all the beautiful guitar cab emulations in their perfection because there is nothing better than mic’ing a cabinet up unconventionally and finding that beautiful sweet-spot you would never have hit in software. To me, the chaos is part of the paint I am using to make the picture, and digital kills so many levels of that… for me.

 “… cause you can use all the hardware (or software) in the world, and if your lasting contribution is being a self-righteous prick who writes shitty music, who really cares?”

To me, the sum of all of this chaos is what makes analog instruments and recording a more breathing and emotional experience in comparison the sterility of working only in digital. The movement of the sound, the work of the process, the different feel of every surface and knob I interact with. It is all part of a beautiful symphony that I am connected to… and it is hugely important. I will stand by this till the day I die.

Still, this isn’t about whether analog or digital technology is “better”. This is far more about the process that comes from using the gear… and how it happens to resonate with me.

Even with all the variations and differences I can hear if I compare a plugin to an original, once frozen in time, it can become much harder to tell. The impact for me is on the front end, not as much in the final recording… which is why the question regarding what is “better” is so personal.

Clearly, there are endless masses of amazing modern artists that have grown up creating their music completely “in the box”. They have an emotional connection to it that would only be distracted by dealing with a bunch of old hardware. They make music that is every bit as compelling, and it sounds every bit as brilliant. It just isn’t how I like to do it.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what the tool is anymore. They are all brilliant in their own way, but will still be overshadowed by the true brilliance that comes from their use in the right hands. The key is finding the tools that help you develop the best workflow to get to that magic we are all chasing as artists. Spending your time on that is far more useful than bitching about whether analog or digital is better… cause you can use all the hardware (or software) in the world, and if your lasting contribution is being a self-righteous prick who writes shitty music, who really cares?

(Written by prophei)

1 November 2015 Articles Read more

14 Ways To Get Better Mixdowns

Do you struggle with mixdowns? If so, you’re not alone. Many producers and audio engineers, fledgling and seasoned alike, do as well. Of course, mixing music “the right way” is relative, and people have varying opinions on what they think sounds good. But there are a few basic rules that most great mixes adhere to, regardless of what style or genre they originate from.

Many times, the majority of mix problems people encounter are directly correlated to their mixing environment, but there are a few additional tricks that I’ll be discussing here, later on, that will help take your mixes to the next level.

So let’s get started!

  1. Buy a good pair of studio monitors. If you can’t hear music the right way, then you’re always gonna be shooting in the dark. Period. A flat frequency response is a must. Quality monitors have come down in price over the years. If you can afford one, get a matching subwoofer. Headphones are great if you want to hear the minute stereo characteristics of your song, but they’re not something you should mix in 100% of the time.
  2. Set your studio up in the best configuration possible, according to the space you have available. Putting a pair of studio monitors in the corner of your room isn’t gonna cut it. If you want achieve world class mixes, you have to set your room up correctly, or else you’ll constantly be running into phasing/imaging issues.
  3. Buy or build proper acoustic panels for your studio. Fabric, egg crates, or foam won’t help you. If you wanna tackle your sound problems, you have to go the extra mile. Nothing has improved my mixes more than building a professional set of wall and ceiling panels. It’s not as expensive as you might think. For about $600 and a bit of elbow grease, you can get your studio sounding better than you’ve ever heard it before.
  4. Listen to a ton of music so that you can compare it against your own mixes. I used to avoid this like the plague. Mostly because I was disappointed with how my music sounded, compared to tracks I held in high regard. This was a huge mistake. Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to A/B every 5 minutes or so, during both the creation and the mixdown process. It’s become second nature at this point, and it’s paid off in spades.
  5. Make sure to constantly mono your mixes. One of the hallmarks of a good mixdown is when the majority of it’s sonic energy “floats” smack dab in the middle of your speakers, like a ghost. If you mono your mix, and most of the sound disappears, that means you’re running into phasing issues. I have a box that my studio monitors connect to (The Big Knob – made by Mackie). It controls the volume of my speakers, but it also has a little button that monos the mix. If you don’t own a device like this, then use a plugin within your DAW on the Master channel (at the end of the plugin chain). Try monoing the tracks you A/B with too. This will give you a better sense of how other people record their music.
  6. Don’t mix loudly. Mixing loudly will not only fatigue your ears, but you’ll be fooling yourself into thinking that your mix rocks. The nominal volume to monitor music at is about the same level you’d watch TV. Once in awhile, you can turn your mix up louder to see how it sounds, but keep it at a normal level for the majority of the time. Also, make sure to take frequent breaks to reset your ears. Nothing ruins a mix faster than tired ears.
  7. Listen to your mixes on as many sound systems as possible. The “car test” is always the defining factor for whether or not I’ve nailed a mix. The reason the car is such a de facto standard for so many people, is that it’s a common denominator. If your music sounds good on the smallest (or worst) system available, then it’s probably a decent mix. Earbuds are a good test too. It’s what most people listen to music on these days.
  8. Start with good source material. We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t polish a turd.” Well, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. If you don’t start with professional grade source material, then there’s not a whole lot that mixing is gonna do for you in the end. It’s always better to start with big sounds that you can subtract from, rather than having thin sounds you try to bulk up later on.
  9. Don’t always reach for a limiter when you want to achieve loudness. One of the biggest mistakes fledgling producers make, is using a limiter on everything to make their tracks louder. I assure you, nothing makes your mix sound more lifeless and/or fatiguing. Sure it might be loud, but so is a jack hammer (and we all know how pleasant that is to listen to.) Learn to use compressors, overdrive and tape saturators correctly. They’ll help with volume and add character to your source material to boot.
  10. Learn to use sidechain compression. Having a problem getting your drums to pop through your mix? Try sidechaining some of the music tracks with your drums. This will create the illusion that all of your sounds are popping through. You can do this with a lot of different material. Can’t get the vocal to cut through the guitars? Try sidechaining the guitars with the vocal. Don’t overuse it though, because it’s not a fix-all solution.
  11. Filter your audio tracks. Having trouble getting your bass to sound tight? Try going through all your audio tracks and using a high pass filter to get rid of any low frequencies that might be competing for head room. You’d be surprised at how much low end rumble there is on tracks you’d never expect would have it. Don’t filter too much low end out though, or you’ll cut into the meat of your sounds. My general rule of thumb is any frequency below 40 hz can be cut completely. Everything above that, you’ll have to experiment with.
  12. Mono everything in your mix below 160 hz. Bass doesn’t work very well in stereo. In order to get tighter mixes, you’ll want to make sure that the lower frequencies of your track are coming straight out of the middle of your speakers. I use Izotope Ozone Imager or Brainworx BX Control to do this. Give either of these a try on your Master channel and see how it instantly changes your mixes for the better.
  13. Group your tracks. Putting your tracks into groups is a must. Not only from an organizational standpoint, but also as a way to control a group of sounds all at once. Sometimes a little bit of compression on a drum group sounds better than trying to compress all your drums separately. Try playing around with this to see if it’ll work for you.
  14. Learn different methods for stereo widening. Once you have the bulk of your song in the middle of the speakers, you’ll want to go back and make some of your sounds a little wider. A lot of people go for stereo widening plugins as a default solution, but this can create unwanted phasing issues. Try panning to start with (auto-panners are great), as well as reverbs or delays that create a wider stereo image. Remember to keep monoing your mix so that you don’t lose any energy. This is a very delicate process, and it takes time to master. Don’t overdo it.

A great book that helped me tremendously with my mixes is “Mixing With Your Mind” by Mike Stav. I can’t recommend this enough.

You can also check out Music Studio Setup and Acoustics as well as Audio Recording Techniques on

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” – Pablo Picasso

(Written by J. Scott G.)

14 Ways To Get Better Mixdowns

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

13 September 2015 Articles Read more

Why Schmoozing Is A Waste Of Time

Whether it was with a boss, a friend, or a potential business connection, we’ve all gone out of of our way to blather about our work—past successes, current projects, future goals—in the hopes of feeling important or making a connection that may prove valuable down the line. If you haven’t, then you’ve at least been on the receiving end of it.

But schmoozing is an epic waste of everyone’s time. Here’s why:

First, announcing your plans to others satisfies your self identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work required to complete the task. A study by W. Mahler concluded that people who talk about their intentions, are less likely to make them happen in real life.

Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been guilty of this in the past (and, sometimes, the present—especially when it comes to going to the gym).

Second, if you have time to schmooze, then you’re probably not spending enough time doing what you should be doing.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a very successful artist a few years back. He told me that he rarely ever went out, because he was constantly in the studio making music. The rest of us, myself included, were going out to clubs on a regular basis to schmooze in an attempt to stay relevant in the public eye. In retrospect, I realize that he had spent the bulk of his time doing what really mattered, which was mastering his craft.

You see, he knew something back then that I didn’t — that If you become the best at what you do, you don’t have to schmooze. People will flock to you.

“… if you have time to schmooze, then you’re probably not spending enough time doing what you should be doing.”

Schmoozers are especially protuberant on social networking sites. We’ve all been the victim of digital schmoozers, the people who don’t have anything special or unique to offer, but still desperately seek as many “likes” as possible on Facebook in order to create a false sense of significance.

Unfortunately, Facebook likes don’t amount to much these days. Not only is Facebook making posts increasingly more difficult to see, but likes can be bought by anyone with a little cash to spare.

Here’s a suggestion: How about spending less time on the Internet trying to accumulate likes, and more time doing things IN REAL LIFE that make you likeable?

Now, don’t confuse schmoozing and networking, because they aren’t the same thing. In my experience (especially in the entertainment business), the schmoozer makes small talk and weaves a symphony of lofty ideas that never come to fruition. The networker, on the other hand, is looking to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, and usually follows up down the road with a finished product.

The schmoozer is usually looking to get something from you. The networker is hoping to give you something of substance in return. There’s a huge disparity between the two. Which one would you wanna work with?

This dog-and-pony show is a lot like the world of dating. When we meet someone new, we put our best face forward and talk about the “amazing” things we’re doing, while trying to hide our imperfections and shortcomings. This never works out because in the end, it comes down to this simple fact:

“How about spending less time on the Internet trying to accumulate likes, and more time doing things IN REAL LIFE that make you likeable?

If you want to attract quality people, you must bring something palatable to the table in order to make it equally worth their while.

If you’re a person of action and your work is top notch, you’ll command the respect of your peers and they’ll take you more seriously, especially if you’re willing to forge symbiotic relationships with them. Until then, keep the chatter to a minimum and your nose to the grindstone. You’ll be glad you did—and so will everyone else.

(Written by J. Scott G.)

Why Schmoozing Is An Epic Waste Of Time

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

20 August 2015 Articles Read more

17 Ways to Survive and Thrive as an Artist Today

Surviving as an artist in the modern age is tricky. Trust me, I know, I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years with varying degrees of success.

But with a little bit of strategy and discipline, you can survive—and even thrive—as an artist and creator these days. I’m going to show you how.

When I was touring the world as a musician more than a decade ago, making money wasn’t an issue. The music industry had coin to spare, and fans were buying our CDs and coming to our shows in droves. Not only that, the TV, film, and video game industries were paying top dollar to license our music.

Today, things have changed quite a bit. Because we live in a world dominated by “profit margins” and “bottom lines,” money isn’t being thrown around anymore like it used to be. Internet piracy and streaming services like Pandora have created an enormous financial void for the majority of recording artists, who once depended on sustainable royalty checks to make ends meet. To make matters worse, a declining world economy has thinned the wallets of the fans who doactually want to support their favorite artists.

Because of all these frustratingly prohibitive factors, the middle class of creators has taken a serious hit.

The term, “artist” is notorious for provoking skepticism and prejudice among a broad spectrum of people. Artists are often looked down upon by “productive members of society” as lazy, unmotivated, or poor. Perhaps this is because artists sometimes focus on the creative aspect of things to the detriment of good, solid business practices.

And the truth is, without a solid foundation, artists may never get past living hand to mouth.

What must we do to survive? How can we make it work when there are so many odds stacked against us?

  1. First and foremost—and I can’t stress this enough—be unique.Nothing makes you less valuable than being a copycat. Sure, you might make a few bucks here and there by replicating what other people do, but when the trend changes, you’ll be back to square one.
  2. Stand for something. There’s a quote that I love: Don’t worry about being successful; become meaningful and the success will follow. When you create meaningful art, people will want to be a part of that.
  3. Find time to center yourself once a day before you get started. I’ve found that meditation is extremely helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Nothing is more difficult to overcome than a troubled mind.
  4. Keep practicing. The more time you invest in your art, the better you’ll become. Virtuosos aren’t made in a day (or even a year).
  5. Without coming off as desperate or aggravated, constantly express the importance for art to others, and the need for them to support it. Without art, life would be dull and mundane—and without support, artists struggle to do what they do best.
  6. Cultivate a fan base and make yourself accessible to them. Let them know who you are and what you’re about. Document your processes so that you can create empathy and loyalty among them. Invest time in them. Be sincere. There’s no room for a “rockstar” attitude.
  7. Create tiers of affordability for your work. You might want to sell that $5,000 painting, but make a few smaller ones that your other fans can afford, too. The little stuff adds up.
  8. Build a professional and comprehensive online presence. Nothing says “I’m not a pro,” like a chintzy website. If you can’t afford a custom website, there are myriad WordPress templates that you can purchase for very little that cater to a broad spectrum of needs.
  9. Put your portfolio on websites that cater to what you do. For example, musicians have sites like Soundcloud and bandcamp. Visual artists have deviantart. There are tons of them out there. Figure out which ones work best for you, and then make your work available. How is anyone going to know about you otherwise?
  10. Work on a variety of projects that relate to what you do in one way or another. For example, I teach on make music for film and TV, create sample packs, produce other bands, and so on. Don’t limit yourself to one avenue of income. Be flexible. The experience and connections from all those things will come in handy later on.
  11. Budget your time. There are only so many hours in a day, and beyond burning yourself out creatively, it’s important to spend an equal amount of time on all aspects of your life as well as your career. Balance is key.
  12. Create a strategy that will form the basis of your business. Invest time in researching proven methods that have worked for others like you. Remember, you’re not the first person to do what you’re doing. Someone else has already laid a lot of groundwork, so learn from their mistakes and triumphs. Reach out to them, if possible.
  13. Network with people and local businesses. Figure out who you can create mutually beneficial relationships with. Social media isn’t enough. You’ve got to get out there and make real connections. A good solid network is the key to success. If you’re not a people person, read this. It changed my life.
  14. Use crowd-sourced funding to fuel big projects once you have a fan base, or find a benefactor. Create tangible incentives for your fans to invest in you. Ask them what they want. If you make it exciting and worthwhile, your fans will support you.
  15. Create a budget using Mint or QuickBooks—and stick to it.
  16. Never stop learning new things. Invest time in learning things that relate to what you do but are outside of your expertise. For example, I’m a musician, but I’ve learned Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, web design, and so on, so that I can call on those skills as needed. They will always come in handy. Remember, knowledge is power.
  17. Lastly, be patient. Building a flourishing career around your art takes a long time, and you’ve gotta be willing to stay the course—so don’t give up!

In closing, I just want to show you a picture of a poster that I have hanging on my wall called “The Road To Success.” I look at this once a day, and nothing I’ve ever found has so elegantly illustrated all the ideas I’ve just shared with you. Good luck!

(Written by J. Scott G.)

17 Ways to Survive and Thrive as an Artist Today

As creators and curators of forward-thinking sonic weaponry, surrounding ourselves with virtuosity on a daily basis is a must. Truthfully though, we find it even more thrilling to surround ourselves with phenomenal people — brilliant, courageous, funny, driven, compassionate and enlightened minds who are here to make the world a better place and evolve humankind forward.

Also, we sincerely believe that a great (read: pǝʇsᴉʍʇ) sense of humor is paramount to life here on earth. You’ll often find us pulling ridonkulous stunts & practical jokes just to get a laugh. After all, anyone who takes themselves too seriously is missing out on what’s *truly* important.

So, if this sounds like you, then welcome.

P.S. – If you like what we do here, share us with your friends, and/or join the street team! We put a *lot* of work into bringing you our best, so show us your appreciation by being a part of our community!

Turn it up!

11 August 2015 Articles Read more

12 Reasons Why You’re Not A Musician

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Libra Rising Music. We do, however, support our artists, and believe that they should have a platform to express themselves. – Editor

*Warning* Due to the average IQ of humanity, a good portion of this article is based on broad generalizations, but that doesn’t mean my opinions are rigid, immovable objects.  Have some openness and a sense of humor before reading this, please. Thank you.

I have spent nearly forty years (countless hours a week) honing my musical skills. I’ve studied jazz, opera, rock and numerous other genres. I’ve learned a number of different instruments. I’ve produced myself and other artists. I’ve mastered the ever changing landscape of music technology, music theory and songwriting. I’ve composed chamber music and studied orchestral arrangement. I’ve read tens of thousands of articles or more. So, if you’re mad after reading this, I suggest you take off your “musician” hat, stop worrying about how elitist this article comes across, and identify yourself as a non-musician with a dream.

If you’re still reading, here are 12 reasons why you’re not a musician.

  1. Garageband – I admit, it’s fun. I’ve used it a couple times to sketch tracks on my iPad. Be honest though, it never really enables you to create anything usable. Your song isn’t finished if it’s started and ended in Garageband. Unless — and I stress — you’ve never used it for anything other than a simple recorder. If you’re using it to record folk songs with a guitar and a vocal, I take all of this back. Otherwise, put down hiphop_cool_80bpm.aif for a second and think about making your own beats for a change.
  2. You “play” guitar – Ok, so you watched four YouTube videos on beginners guitar and subsequently learned to play a G, C, D and E minor chord. You know a few chords. Congratulations, you can cover Taylor Swift’s entire catalog now. But you’re still not a musician. By popularizing this low bar, you are helping to reduce the overall quality of contemporary, popular music. Would you give throwing knives to a beginner and let them use you as a target? Probably not. Is your beginner “musicianship” nearly as dangerous? No, but to me, indirectly, it’s actually much more damaging to society than any amateur knife thrower could ever be.
  3. You’re getting mad right now reading this – Are you defensive at this point? Who is this guy to say who is and isn’t a musician? I’m a guy with a degree and over three decades of formal training.  So, yeah, I’m an authority. If me questioning your reckless appropriation of the label of “musician” offends you, then you are not an expert. Let’s be reasonable, you’re a hobbyist.
  4. You make “EDM” – Ok, this is obviously a joke wrapped in an insult, wrapped in a gross generalization (some of my best friends make EDM).  But it’s a pretty easy one to make. If you talk to a majority of successful electronic music producers, they’ll tell you this themselves (I’ve seen Moby talk about it). A lot of music made by the EDM crowd is sample driven. A lot of it is programmed and arpeggiated with synthesizers. Also, and this may shock some of you, many of the DJ Magazine Top 100 DON’T ACTUALLY PRODUCE THEIR OWN MUSIC. Look up “EDM ghost producer” and you’ll learn quickly, that most of that world is a sham.
  5. You like to play chopsticks – Look, asshole, if you come to my house and play that mania-inducing theme on MY piano, not only are you a reprehensible human being, you clearly know nothing better to play. How do I know this? It’s what I used to do when I was 4. Then I learned Bach and realized how cruel that song is to anyone within earshot.
  6. You’re playing “Stairway” at Guitar Center – When I was a kid, music stores actually had signs that warned customers not to play that song. When that dumb ass “Tears in Heaven” song came out, one store I frequented had to upgrade the sign to read: “No songs about Heaven, period.”  If you commit this act willingly, you have no respect for music, musicians, musical instrument dealers and most importantly, no respect for the greatest hard rock band ever. Don’t ruin a song that radio already ruined forty years ago.
  7. You have a cover song on YouTube – This one is a little tricky. Obviously plenty of superbly talented musicians have covers on YouTube. But if YOU have one, that doesn’t make you a musician. It makes you an egocentric, modern-day karaoke nut with iMovie
  8. You’re a DJ – You’re definitely not a musician. And, even if you actually were a DISC JOCKEY, spinning vinyl does not qualify you. Turntablism may, but you’re not a turntablist. Admit it. You play other people’s music. Or even worse, you steal other peoples mixes and claim them as your own. Stop. Calling. Yourself. Anything. More. Than. A. Jukebox.
  9. You don’t know music theory – If I can’t talk to you about music, you’re not a musician. For instance, I like how Gershwin employed diminished 7 chords in a lot of his songs. What do you think? Yep. That’s what I thought. Anyone “in the know” in opera knows that Pavarotti didn’t read music. He couldn’t. In my eyes, he wasn’t a musician. He wasn’t even the best of the three tenors (See Placido Domingo). Knowing what makes your performances effective is as important as knowing how it’s supposed to sound, technically. Understanding counterpoint, harmony, chord structure, etc will give you the context and the edge to understanding a piece of music thoroughly, much like the composer intended. How do I know they intended it? Read the sheet music. Oh, that’s right, you can’t.
  10. You have a song on Soundcloud – You’re gonna need to do more than upload a “song” on your “music” page.  That “song” better be objectively cohesive and subjectively moving. I don’t care if it moves me to ecstasy or makes me hate the world. If it’s technically good, I’ll call it music. If it’s just you wanking on your Squier guitar and singing non sequiturs over an Apple drum loop… fail.
  11. Your new band has a show on Tuesday at midnight – Come back to me when it’s your fiftieth Tuesday night show in your 5th band.  Nothing makes you a musician more than experience. You have to intern for years before you’re considered a doctor. Shit, some sushi masters spend ten plus years as apprentices before they even consider opening their own restaurant (watch the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi).
  12. You’re still reading this – To be honest, if you’re still reading this, you’re on your way to becoming an actual musician. You have endured my flogging. You have fought with these premises in your head and, hopefully, have come to the end with truly emotional conclusions. You may even want to turn this angst and curiosity into a song or an interpretive piano improvisation. Go do it.  I believe in you.

(Written by DeMammos)


21 October 2014 Articles Read more

An Open Letter To EDM

Dear EDM,

We need to talk.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, the growing disparity in our relationship since we first got together twenty years ago. Honestly, I’ve been feeling this way for some time, and so I finally decided to say something.

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, it was pure, unadulterated bliss. I’ll never forget our first rendezvous in the seediest corners of the city. You were simply divine. I couldn’t get enough of you.

Sure, you weren’t as well off back then as you are now, but we both know that I never fell in love with you for your money. I loved you for your style, your feral sense of adventure and your unsullied passion. Now it seems like all you care about is your image, your bottle service and your bottom line.

I admit, I was seduced by the glamour of it all when you first started becoming popular. The beautiful people, the adoring crowds, the plush VIP areas, the designer drugs — it all seemed so important at the time.

The problem is though, that lately, you’ve become predictable. And lazy. And shallow.

I can’t specifically pinpoint when my devotion to you began to fade, but I know it started waning when you started sacrificing your creative integrity for record sales, chart positions and Facebook likes.

Maybe it was when you decided to let DJ Magazine dictate who was important and who wasn’t…. or perhaps it was when you sold out to corporations who ran everything we all worked so hard to build, into the ground.

I tried to tell you so many times over the years. I even waited around for you to change, hoping you’d get it. But you just wouldn’t listen. You were too busy being “the shit, bro.” Maybe we all were. Maybe I was just to high to care. I take some responsibility for this too, you know.

I guess I finally realized what was important again, and now here we are. Maybe I just grew up. Maybe I just got sick of feeling cracked out all the time… Who knows.

I’ll always love you, but I can’t be with you anymore. At least not the way we used to be. Maybe one day you’ll realize that evolving the art forward is infinitely more valuable and enduring than your unrelenting gluttony for money and affirmation. I certainly hope so, because those things are truly fleeting. Trust me, I know.

Until then.


Generation X


27 October 2013 Articles Read more