Thursday, June 30, 2005

some words about the second release

I think I did a pretty good job on "Building the Wheel Called Electricity". The first CD was more, surprising "wow, this is turning out pretty nicely!". This one is more, "I like this, and some of it I like very much".

The CD title is from a dream I had, during the morning of one of the warmer days in the early spring 2005 (there were a couple of unusually warm days). There was this... landing craft type thing that I was riding in, and it was coming to shore readying for the landing. The front ramp was swinging down, splash, and there were two guys in front of me, not in uniforms or anything, just jeans, dark t-shirts, with sort of roughly carved unfinished wooden rifles, old fashioned M1 Garand style. I did not see their faces, but they were very excited and happy. The front of the landing craft came down, into the water-- they ran ashore, splashing-- it was lake water, and there was some kind of event going on, onshore, like they were running to a picnic: the whole thing was some kind of drill, it seems. As they splashed ashore, they yelled, gung ho style, also kind of giddy: "We are Building the Wheel Called Electricity!!".

This was just before I woke up in the morning, their mood was so infections that I was grinning, and the odd phrase just stuck with me as the dream dissipated, just like the smile from the fading Cheshire cat.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

First five duped, ready to send off to CDBaby...

The first five copies that will go as the initial fulfillment to CDBaby are now prepared. I went to FedEx/Kinkos to print out the first five covers. This was expensive, so my cost per disc for these first 5 including printed covers, jewel cases and media is about $6.40 per disc. Therefore, if I sell any of these initial five at the price I plan to charge, I will not make anything. But this was less a concern for this disc, now that I see how the digital distribution works: these discs are the seed crop for the legions of MP3s that can be endlessly cloned. If I need to restock, then I will arrange for a mass duplication via Discmakers at which point my cost per item will be very, very low. But I have sold more of the last release via digital distribution than via 'hard copy' (the numbers are semi-private, and also a semi-mystery, because the digital distributors reports are few and far between, but so far it's more: I'm sure it's possible to find out somehow how many I've sold, via soundscan, but that's something to explore another also,time).

I got an Epson Stylus Photo R200 printer. It provides a way to print directly onto printable CD or DVD media, so I printed disc art directly onto my CDs, and they look good.

Some other stuff: here is a write up of a gig I played locally (mid page, scroll down) with a picture. The editor of this local online newspaper was very kind to include this, it's a good article and generally positive.

Also, I will be playing Jammin' Java again, next month, July 18.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Second disc, first steps

I've registered the second disc, titled "Building The Wheel Called Electricity" with CDBaby. It's got 14 tracks, the first had 12. I will be selling it for a price where even when you add shipping, it still works out to be less than a typical brick and mortar store purchase, but it will be more than the $8.88 that MP3tunes charges for the MP3 version.

Another thing I need to do is "promo CD pre-release lowcost" singles. I will take a limited number of these to open mics, charge a nominal fee or if the mood strikes me as giveaways.

Also, last open mic I played got a very nice response, even though some technical difficulties occurred. I think that people don't mind so much, but I feel I need to get better at getting onto the stage and setting up quickly and getting the first track off cleanly.

Monday, June 20, 2005

this week's update

As stated earlier, I'm not much of a blogger, but for you, dear reader, I think I should commit to at least weekly updates. Some good things have happened recently:

Played an outdoor gig this weekend, yesteday 6/20, at a local park about 45 minutes west of Washington DC. It was sparsely attended, which was kind of a drag, but it went well, the sound system was very strong, brought huge kick (the technical term is "booty bass") and so I went with my material that leveraged that. Did some weirder stuff, and played some minimal guitar riffs along with tunes that previously had no guitar, which was kind of a daring experiment because I haven't even picked up my guitar in over a month, but it went ok.

Another thing I did that was generally unusual was to run a submix from on stage. This was partly because I wanted to have more control, and partly because I wanted to insert some effects. Yeh, it's not so 'pro' but I'm kind of a control freak when it comes to the sound. So I went into a PV8 mixer and out into 2 DI boxes, where the guitar and computer output were mixed in the PV8. I had a separate vocal mic, going into the main board, which I barely used for singing and which I kind of wish I had, the fact is that the slot was set for an hour, I had plenty of instrumental material and was having fun playing the guitar, and I didn't really feel like singing as well because of the sparse attendance (I'm pretty much a shy sad sack). Next time, I will, now that I've got my setup down better and have a good comfort level with the sound system and engineer.

It's a very pleasant little park, mostly just a nice expanse of flat green with a few benches around the edges. This was on Father's Day, also, and what did make me really happy was to see my kids and other kids playing in the field. I called out "Hi" from the stage to my two little ones. After the show my son ran up to tell me "good job" and give me a high five, and when I said goodnight to my daughter that night I asked her how she liked the music, and she whispered with the most wistful smile "Daddy, you said 'hi' to me."

can't say more than that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

updates, info, so far...

My laptop config is the same. Currently using Live 4.1.4. I've also added Plogue Bidule and FLStudio 5. The amount of things I can do with just this combination is staggering.

Scores of free VSTs downloaded from, some donationware that I've donated for because I use it a fair amount. Smartelectronix is one group I use a lot, Krakli another.

I've also gotten into Synthedit, and messed around a little, creating some very trivial effects VSTs-- still fun, though.

Purchased VSTs/other include: Voxengo Soniformer and Voxengo Elephant, for mastering. Silverspike's Tapeit, for recording to .wav on the fly. Loopbe1 from, virtual midi cable, very convenient.

The levels on the new disc are much more "commercial". I've got a lot of tracks, 75 minutes of music, which definitely will not play on some players, so I'll have to note that. So far, doing a better on MP3 downloads than physical CD sales. As a privately held corporation, all of my sales figures, are, of course, not public information-- and they really aren't even known to me, because the online MP3 vendors report sales at different intervals: seems to be quarterly, but maybe not.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I hold in my hand an envelope...

it contains two CDRs which in turn contain the data comprising the templated artwork for my next CD. The whole thing is very anticlimactic, it's not like the artwork is all that great but it's kind of cool, too... so now I have to decide what I'm going to do and set up my order.

My target release date was largely self-defined, and not tied to anything but a guess at when I could be done. There is a little frustration in missing that target, but also someone did me a great favor in working on this and that's very nice. So the cost of missing the date was offset by the near-zero cost of getting the artwork set up.

Monday, June 06, 2005

VST effects, fun (?) with synthedit...

So I've been wanting to be able to do my own VST modules, and downloaded Synthedit. This is something new to me, it's been around a while, and there are other similar things, some of which actually create VSTs and some which are ways to assemble new software effects and instruments from a kit of parts (Max/DSP, Plogue Bidule, Synthmaker, Reaktor) in ways that allow them to interact with VSTs or VST hosts.

I started messing around with this for the first time, and about 5 hours later I've put together a few simple things and one that is actually kind of neat: which I call XYZ Affair for no reason other than it's got a joystick type control and a slider that can change the "plane of sonic assortments" in which the XY joystick type control operates.

So now I have the possibility of building my own plugins, writing more music, finally getting the next CD done (need to get art on a disc in the mail from the west coast, which I will turn around a ship back to the west coast :) ) some gigs-- free, but it's a matter of getting out there, and it is mostly fun even though there is a bit of determination and applied stress.

So lots of things at once.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Utenzil Online at the Washington Post

This is neat-- the Washington Post provides an area for local musicians to upload MP3s. here's Utenzil's page there.

The identity of Deep Throat revealed, and free music downloads-- you simply cannot get much better than that.

AND... Great News, Ableton Live version 5 is announced... with an assortment of features that sound like they are right on target. Yeh! -- another update, as of this writing, it looks like their site is down, probably hit hard with traffic: this is an eagerly awaited announcement for Live users.