All Posts in digital

May 20, 2011 - No Comments!

Pros and Cons Of Digital Business Cards

For as long as I have been networking, I have used traditional business cards. Sexy, custom designed rectangles that fit inside any wallet. But as my venture into the digital world began to flourish, so too did the thirst for streamlining and digitising every part of my world.

Unfortunately, business cards have been left out of the loop for years. Many have tried to create sharable online versions and failed, but now companies like Cardcloud are working* on changing that.

How it works: When you meet someone at an event, pop out your mobile and open the iPhone App (or the website for Android etc). Then simply enter their email address and click send. They will now receive an HTML email (in the shape of a business card) and downloadable VCF with all your links and contact information. *I should point out that Cardcloud's app is Beta and you cannot create/modify a card via the app just yet - for now, you have to use the website.

Example of a card received via email (all links and icons are click-able)

Now this isn't just a plug for Cardcloud (however I do think what they are working on is superb), it's about the concept of the digital business card. While I do think digital business cards have a place (definitely in the future), they are merely strong additions to the business card world - not killers of the physical version.

As with all digital versions of a physical product, there are pros and cons. Here's a simple run through of them to which you can draw your own conclusions.

PROS

  • Often, you will be the only one in the room using them (Unique & Memorable)
  • Get someones email address and send them your card straight away (avoiding the need to collect business cards)
  • Change your details in a second for free (instead of ordering new business cards each time)
  • They're FREE
  • Click-able links
  • Accessible by checking email from anywhere (vs one physical card left at home)
  • Forward-able
  • Recipients don't need to have the app installed
  • Cardcloud saves geo-location for where you met the person
  • Cardcloud saves a list of who you sent your cards to
  • Save a tree

CONS

  • You have to open an app and get an email address (Slower speed than handing over a piece of paper)
  • If you can't access the net, you can't access your cards
  • Design-wise it's not as sexy as a custom card (future feature to be implemented)
  • You are stuck with their layout
  • They contain images (which are automatically blocked in most clients - looks a bit messy)
  • The big Get Cardcloud button underneath is very distracting*
  • You have to make your card online instead of in-app (future feature)
  • If you spell an email address wrong, they won't get your card
  • Some people may freak out
  • Constant education for people who don't know about it**

*Distracting as it may be, sending a business card and introducing them to a new tech product at the same time is a win for making a memorable impression. **That education is often worth it once they receive the card and start using the service themselves.

Overall, Cardcloud has a long way to go to supporting the majority and wiping out most of the cons. But early on, I am already finding great benefits of using such a service. The day after I sent a few from a networking event, I had many emails thanking me for the meet up, a few new followers via my Twitter and Facebook profiles and some even visited my website and read my latest posts - which is a much quicker response than I have ever had via traditional business cards.

I recommend you try them out for yourself and you like the service please let me know! You can also let them know via @getcardcloud.

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