June 15, 2014

I Downloaded This Amazing Free Plug-in, And You Won't Believe What Happens Next...

by Chris Randall

I'm experimenting with clickbait-style post titles. Other audio blogs appear to be testing the waters with this information abortion, so I figure "hey, why not join the crowd?" How am I doing?

Anyhow, this is just a general info-dump of goings-on in my little corner of the world.

1. Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Eventide freebie, UltraChannel. I actually wouldn't normally bring it up here at all, as even though the Eventide guys are BFFs of ours and make stupifyingly good plug-ins (and even better hardware), their plugs are iLok only. However, as a result of a UI contract I'm currently doing, I had to install and tame an iLok. (And, god forbid, PT11.) Since I have one now, I was all "fuck it" and furthermore "whatevs." And got myself an UltraChannel. (And all the other Eventide native plugs while I was at it.) I'll say this much: UltraChannel is almost worth sucking it up for iLok. A fantastic, creative channel plug that is light on the CPU, yet extremely capable. If you have an iLok, or are thinking about buying one of those little buttplugs, here's where you get the Ultrachannel; use coupon code 0F736710. It'll be like $249 or something in a month or two, so if you're gonna do it, do it now.

2. Just in case you think I might have changed my mind or am in any way endorsing it, fuck PACE and fuck iLok.

3. I'm pleased to report that my schedule, which was a bit hairy there for a while, is returning, slowly and surely, to its normal lazy, meandering ways, which means I'll be able to finish off the Audio Damage DRM Removal Event, and also bring the next Audio Damage plug-in to the finish line while Adam flails about in his Code Hole whipping Sequencer 1 in to shape. It was a little ridiculous there for a while, but I've cleared a majority of the nonsense now, and am back to being my usual self.

4. And finally, a question: what constitutes an "album" these days? Throughout my (first) career, I was all 10 SONGS OR BUST but the idea of a complete record seems to be slipping through the cracks in favor of a burst mode kind of release system. I tried this out a couple years ago, by pooping out 4 of what our oldsters call "EPs" in a row, and it was somehow... uh... unsatisfying? Even without physical media, there's just something about a cohesive chunk of music that is more visceral, at least to the maker. So my general takeaway: it is far easier to come up with 5 cohesive songs than 10, and the consumer seems to be indifferent. My forthcoming release that I'm just finishing up now is 10 tracks, but I'm left with the lingering impression that I should strip it to a pair of 5-track releases. Thoughts?


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Jun.24.2014 @ 11:28 AM
@boobs: "maybe we'll get lucky and gibson will buy Pace/ilok for no reason other than to put it on the shelf next to studio vision (rip)."....

+10000 good sir. STILL pissed about that. What a great solution. I am totally with boobs on this one.

Jul.01.2014 @ 7:21 AM
Well, this is still live, so my $.02.

PACE once, probably about 5 or 6 years ago, completely wrecked my dedicated, non-internet connected music PC. (when one could still justify, rationalize a computer with a pile of software that wasn't connected to the 'net.) Up until that point I had studiously avoided any dongle, iLok software; it was one of the factors in choosing Sonar as my host. Back then it was mostly informed by KvR horror stories and BoingBoing-esque software-is-freedom idealism. But even as I moved on from both KvR and BB, the horror stories kept coming, and I liked supporting independent developers; all my favorite software was reasonably priced with copy-protection I could morally live with (as CR says, it's partially the trust thing).

But then I bought a clearance item softsynth at Mega-Lo Guitar Mart for like 20 bucks, and it informed me that it was going to install the software-keyed PACE driver and did I want to continue? In for a penny... On the very next reboot, all my other drivers were wiped. Any USB MIDI drivers, and more importantly my Lynx soundcard. Just hosed. Took me hours to untangle.

So, yeah, I would totally have checked out that Eventide plug. But, as others have said, there are enough developers that have copy-protection I can live with that I don't really feel the loss. It's kind of a bummer every once in a while, and there's definitely some software I haven't bought because of iLok/PACE. But it's probably also saved me money in the end, so there's that.

Jul.01.2014 @ 7:53 AM
As for album vs ep vs single. As I, too, came of musical age in the 70s, 80s I still think of music releasing in terms of albums.

No one here seems to be advocating it, but the "just release singles no one buys albums" strategy that social media "gurus" are always suggesting -- "stay engaged with your listeners, more content!" -- is an absurd way to buy music by bands you like. I don't mind downloading an occasional single, but it's unlikely I'm going to hunt down scattered releases if you can't be bothered to collected them all. When a performer gets on stage, they play a set: a bunch of songs sequenced in a way to engage a crowd. Though it's different on several fronts, the same principle is at play with music releases.

Also, yeah, the bloat that happened when album-era artists moved to digital was mostly unfortunate. Suddenly, every half-baked studio noodling session was a bonus cut or shoved between 2 better songs, as if to fill every bit (pun!) of digital space. If nothing else, the vinyl revival has roped albums back down to a lean, mean generally solid 9-10 songs. And let's face it, most double albums could be cut down to 1 platter and a bonus ep.

For digital release, I actually like the ep a lot. It's a great way to check out a new act. For bands I already like, the economy of 5-6 tightly focused songs feels like a good way to engage with a release from start to finish, without having to bail when one or another thing distracts you.

From a production standpoint, my one "official" release was an ep, as will my second most likely. But this is more a function of economy than anything. Since I have to pay to have it mastered (and it was soooo worth the cost), it's much easier to pay for 5-6 songs than 9-10. Last January I took advantage of Mike Hillier's pay-what-you-can mixing or mastering deal to have some tracks mixed. Now I want to be able to pay someone to mix every release I do; the improvement is remarkable. So, as long I'm financing my own releases, an ep is much more manageable. (I probably won't be able to spring for the mixing, but get a professional to master seems like a good investment.)

Creatively, most people don't have a good novel in them every few years, but they can write several works of short fiction that can be arranged into an satisfying collection.

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