2016 Digital Music Distributors

So if you are on a major label: a) you almost certainly won't be reading this blog and b) you probably have all of your music distribution taken care of by the label that you are signed with. Most indie labels also take care of your distribution, be it physical CD's, vinyl and tapes, or much more commonly, online distributors such as iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music and the like. If you are a completely independent artist, then you will likely be taking you music's distribution into your own hands. While it is fairly easy to sell your music through websites such as bandcamp directly, that only enables your existing die-hard fans to purchase your music... basically the people who already follow you and would buy a CD at a show. There are enormous benefits to getting your music on the "mainstream consumption channels" for both the convenience of your existing fans and for the exposure of people who have never heard of you before. Here's the problem: while labels (both major and indie) have the negotiating power to get your music listed and the popular music services, an individual almost certainly doesn't (unless maybe you are already a renowned household name, with a legal and management team). So how do you get you music carried by services such as iTunes and Spotify? Enter the Music Aggregator. 

Music Aggregators provide as a middleman between indipendant artists and popular distribution channels. There provide varying levels or service, from simply getting your music listed and tagged correctly, to helping you collect all of your royalties, and aiding with licensing and promotion. Several of them, such as CD baby, even have options for printing physical media and merchandise ("merch"). Aside from offering very different levels of service, they also have a myriad of payment plans, that may, or may not work for you - the artist. Some have yearly fees, while others take a percentage of your earnings... Navigating which service is right for you can be tricky. Luckily Ari's Take has done the leg work for us. If this is of any interest to you, I highly recommend reading his article before deciding on which distro service may be right for you. 

Ari's Take Article

Noteworthy Television Scores!

It all starting with HBO...

Some have said that we are entering into a new golden age of television. HBO seemed to be the first to release a string of edgy unrestricted dramas, followed suit by Netflix and the like. Now it seems as though every major network has set their sights on producing big-budget TV shows designed to be binged and to blow our socks off.

... and with great TV comes great scores.

The production on many of the decades best shows is deserving of near-cinematic status, especially when paired with a thought-provoking and powerful soundtrack. It is quite refreshing to see so much effort put into an epic score at the television level. I first took notice of this trend after stumbling upon a YouTube video of Jeff Beal explaining the compositional elements of the brilliant title theme for Netflix's House of Cards. This prompted me to seek out any bonus content, behind the scenes footage, or commentary on any of the other TV scores that I hold to that level. Below are some of the videos that I found fascinating and inspiring:

Jeff Beal discusses House of Cards Theme. I find the "riptide" bass line particularly compelling and effective in capturing the mood of the show. Also, the theme pairs perfectly with the time-lapse shots of D.C.

Jeff Russo interviewed on the Fargo Score. This is one of my favourite shows, and quite possibly my favourite TV score to date! The second season also features some great 70's (inspired) music including a cover of Man of Constant Sorrow by Portland band Blitzen Trapper.

Although I couldn't find any backstory to Mac Quayle's score for Mr. Robot, I figured I would still include a sample clip along with this article. This music is dark, moody and steeped with anxiety and paranoia - perfect for a show that depicts the external and internal struggles of a bipolar hacker! Also to its credit is the use of subtractive synthesizer sequences and effects. 

Those were some of my favourite picks...

Honourable mentions include music from the period dramas Halt and Catch Fire, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad Men. I have also heard great things about Netflix's Stranger Things soundtrack, though I have not yet watched the show, so I am in no position to comment on it.

After inspecting some of the best music on television, I hope that this has sparked some intrigue and a greater appreciation for the importance for a good theme and score, and how it can elevate a television production when done well. Hopefully, we can recognize some of the most effective aspects of these compositions and utilize them in our on productions. No matter! The bar for TV music has been raised, and I, for one, am a fan!

 

Please leave a comment below if you would like to share your favourite score that I may have missed!

Our new website has launched!

I am very pleased to share that our new website has now gone live! Although I will miss the quirky, fidgety demeanor of our old website, it was definitely time to bring our internet portal into the modern era (it wasn't quite 1990's bad, but it did look like it had been cobbled together with tape and chewing gum).

But I am writing this, in part, as a tribute to the old website. At the time, I was very proud of it. My coding knowledge is minimal, but somehow, I managed to assemble a page using Photoshop and Dreamweaver that looked pretty okay on most browsers, complete with image sliders, favicons, and the works! The feature that I am most proud of with the old website was the Randomized slogans on the landing page. In my effort to avoid the conformism, cheese-factor, and yes, Charlie Brown's dreaded Commercialism, I opted feature randomized joke slogans under my main graphic, rather than a meaningful tagline about myself, my business, or the services I was providing (well, that, and I couldn't think of one at the time.) I used a "quote of the day" code toolbox and replaced all of quotes with slogans, most of which were ripped from mid-century Mad Men-era advertisements. "Trim the fat with Peanut Recording", "Easy to use... easy to own... that's Peanut Recording!", "Peanut Recording. Savour the Flavour." to give a few examples... Some worked, most didn't, but they all were funny. Well, to me, anyways. I imagine that most people who visited pondered how these tacky tag lines had any relevance to a recording studio, but I liked to fantasize that the occasional viewer identified my childish ploy for what it was, and spent ten minutes of their time refreshing their browser in an attempt to trudge through all of them. And if they did do that, I sincerely hope they completely the task with at least mild amusement, and the pride of a job well done, before going about the rest of their day. Realistically, most people, if they took any notice at all, just thought that I was a pretty weird dude... and hey - I'm in no position to argue those allegations! R.I.P. www.peanutrecording.com 2012-2016.

If you’re tired of dry burnt tobacco, try the smooth taste of Peanut Recording.

So the new site... ahem... Well, I am genuinely excited to have a new digital frontier for my recording enterprise. Aside from the visual facelift, I am pleased that I will be able to easily edit and update content. It is also a great feeling to say goodbye to all of that garbage legacy code, and never have to think about uploading via File Transfer Protocols ever again.  This means that the website should be more up-to-date and relevant for everyone. 

In addition, this new site enables me to host a blog and podcast. I was my intention to start a recording podcast for quite a while now, and I figured that it is about time that I actually pick myself up of my arse and do it! Since the superb Home Recording Show has become more-or-less dormant (fortunately, it seems, because of the success of the host's careers), I felt that it was important for me to do my part in helping the home recording community in any way that I could. I have always loved the podcast format, as it is very intimate and informative, like talk radio, and can really take your mind off of an unpleasant task or commute. I sincerely hope that both the podcast and the blog fall into this roll for my audience, when they come into their own, and may impart useful information for those of us just starting out. Truthfully, the blog may also serve as an outlet for all of my harboured neuroticism, such as this rambling editorial, but I will make a honest effort to mix that with some practical content. Side-note: I really respect Sean Costello, of ValhallaDSP. Not only is he the genius who makes some of the best reverb plugins on the market, but his website also contains a manifesto! Hopefully, we can have him on the podcast in the future!

*Deep breath* "Yes!" I reply. "I still DO have more to say... I'm going to keep going!"

I have chosen Squarespace as site's builder/host. Even though it is pricier than some of the other options, such as building a wordpress site, and using an inexpensive shared hosting service, it also covers podcast hosting (unlimited space/bandwidth). That is a huge selling point for me, as it seemed that once podcast hosting was factored in, Squarespace was the cheaper and easier option. 

When I begun the rebuild, I decided to go with a fairly modern, minimalist design, inspired by the websites such as Apple, airbnb, Uber, and Iceland's Greenhouse studios, of which I routinely used as a reference. When I updated from Mavericks to Yosemite on my Mac, I took quite a fancy to the new flat graphic design of the OS and Safari... once I got used to it, that is. Their styling really suits the modern age, and seemed like an appropriate detour from their former skeuomorphism. I noticed that google followed suit with their logo shortly afterwards. 

For those of you who don't know me well, I have become a bit of a podcast nut, and Roman Mar's show "99% Invisible" (highly recommend) has really turned me onto all things design... and more importantly, good design... which it turns out isn't just architecture and civil engineering projects. Ironically, I was cleaning out my garage the other day in preparations for a yard sale, and I decided to try anew podcast. Without any real idea of what it would be about, I cued up the first episode of The Minimalists podcast. Their show aims to educate listeners on the ins and outs of the minimalist lifestyle, which is the idea of simplifying your life in any way possible, by removing all of the arbitrary stuff that you don't really use or need, which should, in turn, reduce stress and anxiety. This seemed suiting for the task at hand. I carried this with me the last couple of weeks, and I am hoping that some of that sentiment and intention manifests itself in my web design as well, and might serve as a metaphor for living a tidier life and business practices... both of which might take quite a bit more time to actually achieve. And yes, I realize that the drivel in this blog post is a ways of from fitting the "less-is-more" bill, but at least it is contained in the blog, and will be interspersed with useful, relevant content (and is better than lorum ipsum for web design purposes). For now, this is a start.