All Posts in artists

May 25, 2011 - No Comments!

Is Theft Worth Focusing On?

Theft has risen dramatically since the invention of the internet. It has always been present before then, but with the online channels it's much easier to get a hold of someones design, art, music or writing and recreate it as your own. Plagiarism and 'Remixing' have also been heavy hitters in the online world, often causing debates over 'fair use' and similar copyright issues.

So with the constant shuffle back and forth, and the millions that piracy/plagiarism is apparently taking away from the artist, how can you make the most of it if it were to happen to you?

A while back when I was designing t-shirts a friend of mine alerted me to a shop overseas that had copied one of my designs and reprinted it with slight modifications. Because of the way I view the world, my first thought was "Great! My design was good enough that someone stole it!". Of course, this thought pattern wasn't born overnight - it was something I focused on for years after realising that stealing was here to stay - especially in the design industry.

If someone steals, plagiarises, remixes your work or uses your name to get known (the 'coat-tails' scenario) how can you make the most of it? After all, it surely couldn't be good for you - could it?

Skrillex (signed to Deadmau5's label) posted this on Facebook recently. While he makes very valid and honest points about the illegal and unethical activity - is it really necessary to bring attention to it? After reading this, and the majority of negative, annoyed and 'You're a sellout' comments underneath, did he just disrespect his fans for spreading his name (even by illegal means)?

Here is an example of the mental work through that most people go through when something of theirs meets the same fate:

  1. Artist is alerted to illegal merch sales

  2. Artist contacts sellers via email explaining they should stop the illegal activity

  3. Artist gets heavy hitters involved (lawyers, accountants etc) to see if they have a leg to stand on

  4. Calculations are made about the loss by this illegal activity

  5. Public scrutiny is pushed forth towards the companies/individuals working illegally

  6. Artist strengthens copyright of brand, shares less and hides more

  7. Illegal operations close down, prompting more to open

  8. Rinse and repeat

Now this list is just an example, but I don't suspect it to be far from the truth. While I believe 1 and 2 are important, unless the illegal activities are severely impacting sales (e.g. Napster vs Record Companies) then I don't believe it is worth going further - no matter how big the fight. The bigger the fight, the more attention, and we all know how the record companies have fared since their win with the demise of Napster. Would you invest in a traditional record company now?

Here is an example of how I handle situations like this now:

  1. Artist is alerted to illegal merch sales

  2. Artist contacts sellers via email explaining they should stop the illegal activity

  3. Artist realises that name recognition from illegal activities is helping build the brand awareness

  4. Artist realises that Brand awareness pays more in the long run vs focusing attention on stopping companies steal

  5. Artist focuses attention back into art to move forward and build off the new attention

  6. Artist writes a blog post saying he doesn't like people stealing, but accepts that it is going to happen

  7. Artist moves on and gets back to creation

Now I know a lot of people may see this and think "But you're just letting them get away with it!". In a way, yes I am. If you constantly focus on something negative your direction will pull you that way. It's the same thinking as trying to smile while being really angry (try it!). It's really hard to be creative and spontaneous if you are directing your attention on watching your back and being paranoid about everything you put out.

The quickest way to kill creativity is not to be.

Just to clarify, I don't condone illegal activities, but they're here to stay. Artists the world over need to keep focused on going forward and creating the works that got them noticed in the first place instead of fighting ongoing battles that often hurt them more than the initial theft.

Have you ever had anyone steal your work?

August 29, 2010 - 4 comments

10 Inspirational Tips For Music Producers

In general, inspiration can come in many forms, most often when we least expect it.

You may already have a bunch of tips that help you find inspiration when producing, so I hope you can add these to the mix and get back on track. After reading these tips, you may also like my other post: How To Start Producing Music.

1. Loosen The Grip On Your Mind

If you occasionally beat yourself up for not coming up with something the way it sounded in your head, you're not alone. The way we hear things in our mind and the way we interpret that thought into our music are nearly always going to be different. This IS a good thing. Allow your inspiration to come through your music in a way you weren't expecting. It keeps it interesting, fresh and can spark a lot more inspiration.

2. Start Before You Think

Often referred to as "on the fly", being spontaneous can sometimes kick-start your imagination in a big way. Dropping in a random loop, off beat percussion or quick melody and building a track around that regularly leads to something worth saving. Sometimes, getting stuck with a particular sound, VST or genre can quickly demotivate you in making another track.

3. Remix

Remixes (and bootleg remixes) are great ways for producers to gain some attention. They are also great for breaking free from the 'freak out' that can come from seeing a blank canvas. By challenging yourself to remix you will inevitably fuel your inspiration and at the same time learn how other producers construct their songs.

4. Humour Yourself

Got Cheese? Humour is a great way to break up an uninspiring production. Open a new project, lay down some random samples and add some humour either in the form of funny recorded vocals or cheesy sounding synths. Sure it may not be a track you ever show anyone else, but it might just be the kick* you need to jump into the next project with a clear mind. *Pun intended

5. Lay It Out

Some producers may struggle with melodies, while others may struggle with the layout of a track. Whatever your hurdle, laying out a track from another artist you admire may just help you overcome that obstacle. While I don't recommend copying another artists work, I do recommend gaining inspiration from the way in which they have crafted their sounds, started their breakdowns, changed the riffs and fleshed out their layers; Which may help you get past those technical issues that can block creativity.

6. Enjoy Your Production Space

Most artists will tend to have one main space to which their productions are born. Allow this space to be a place that inspires you and invites you back each time. Some will find the addition of the Internet to this workspace to be a freeing move which can help break up studio time comfortably, especially in the track rendering down-time.  Other additions may be open window lighting, controlled darkness, sound-wall padding, plants, supporting chair and (monitored) alcoholic beverages.

7. Don't Do Anything

How often have you forced yourself to create something even when you haven't been in the mood? Producing is a very complex process and can occasionally be slowed to a halt with forced creativity. If you don't feel like making any music, then don't. While there are moments when you may need to push on through regardless of mood due to project time constraints (#Tip 2), creating a track when your mind isn't there can often do more harm then good; Leaving you frustrated and annoyed which can alter your positive perception of your production space and musical abilities.

8. Time Constraints Are Good

If you have managed to gain a project with time constraints, think of yourself as a lucky one. Many producers ( usually including yourself at an early point in your career) would love to have the opportunity to be asked by labels and other producers to create original and remix productions for them. Essentially, it's the next step up from producing tracks and sending them to labels in the hope that they listen to them, let alone sign them. If the time constraints are really eating at you, it might be best to go back to Tip #1 or #2 or contact the label/producer and coming to an alternative arrangement.

9. Allow Yourself The Freedom To Change

Most people do a variety of different projects at any one time in their lives. The same goes for producers, who often pick up the 'cousin' craft of DJing. Participating in another activity that occupies your mind for long periods of time can often alter how you produce; Sometimes making it harder to create new tracks. This situation is perfectly normal and may just mean that you are putting inspiration into your other activity and it may take a little while to get back into the mind space needed for new productions. To counter act this situation, you may just need to play out Tip #2 or even #7 until you decide which path should take precedence.

10. Listen, Watch and Attend

Listening to new music, Watching music videos and Attending gigs, concerts and festivals should be a must for every producer. Opening your mind to 'research' via the Internet, or in the physical world will impact directly on your productions. As humans, we often emulate what we hear and see, and as most productions fit to a certain style based on genre (Kick, Snare, Perc, Instrument, FX) the visual and aural learning can only benefit your mind and concepts. Add to that the rapid rise of the digital producer taking his productions to a LIVE show purposely blurring the lines from bedroom producer to live act.

Hopefully you will find these tips useful for your own productions as I have. If you have any questions:

Listen to my music here: https://soundcloud.com/subpixel

 

August 25, 2010 - No Comments!

Is Producing The New DJ’ing?

The music industry has gone through many changes over the years but nothing seems to have hit it harder than the arrival of the Internet. The Internet appears to have completely changed the game to the point where the big labels/corporations are still struggling to find their feet. Previously, DJ's who were lucky enough to buy the first release of an LP were usually the only ones to have it in their area, thus propelling their star further for having the freshest tracks.

But these days, anyone with an Internet connection can access the latest music, sometimes even before it has been officially released worldwide. This situation has been changing the general appeal of the DJ for some time to the point where producers seem to have been overtaking the lime-lite. From where I sit I continually see producers getting more attention through the Internet in terms of events, opportunities and even fans.

Some producers have set the world alight in such a short time with their incredible productions, leaving the actual art of DJ'ing to second place. One producer in particular (love him or loathe him) is Deadmau5. His productions are state of the art; colossal beasts that have generated a massive fan-base in a ridiculously short amount of time. With the aid of the Internet (and portals such as Ustream, Youtube and Beatport), Deadmau5 has been able to craft a career focusing on his skills as a producer first, before any DJ'ing actually took place.

And he's not alone. There are a ton of other artists gaining increasing attention for their productions and overtaking spots usually reserved for extremely skillful DJ's. In some cases (and it seems to be growing by the day), the Producers are able to sell out shows much quicker without the actual proof that they can DJ and/or even have a live act presence. But that doesn't stop the hordes of fans wanting to get a glimpse of an artist that inspires/moves and fuels them with their creations that other DJ's often can't match.

The shift is happening right now. And to stay on board with current demands (and eager/impatient downloaders) veteran and fresh DJ's alike may have to start considering the addition of 'producer' to their title or they may find themselves lost in the sea of creators.

Agree or Disagree? Drop your thoughts to my Twitter or Facebook page.

- Diesel Laws