Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
February 24, 2008

Interstitial is the new warehouse...

by Chris Randall

My vote for quote of the century (so far; the century is only 8% over, so there's hope yet): "Did you know you can rent a generator for $52 and set up and play ANYWHERE until the cops come?"

That, in any of itself, is a very good point. Check it. Personally, I find any band that decides to saddle itself with the "experimental/powerpop" tag to be tedious in the extreme, and No Age is no exception to that, not my cup of tea at all, but I'm not qualified to say whether they're good or not. I do admire their pluck, though; a frightful pain in the arse to haul all that gear down and set it up when you know you're gonna get harassed at the very least, probably get a ticket, and maybe spend the night in county booking.

I will say that the "anything for art" ideal has taken a beating in this day and age; it's nice to see the kids getting outside for a change.

February 22, 2008

Oddities of The Modern Age...

by Chris Randall

I'm working on the cover art for the upcoming Micronaut album today, and it got me thinking about how incredibly strange this business has become in the last three years. I mean, here I am, making a 300dpi front image for an album that will never exist on this temporal plane in a manufactured form. I was waiting for a render to complete in 3DS Max, and I was like "why the hell am I doing this at print resolution instead of screen resolution?"

I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense to do it at print rez, in case I, like, go on tour and, like, wanna sell CDs or something wacky like that. Then at least I have it and don't have to do it over. But it just gave me a fit of the giggles. Why do albums even have cover art any more, when there's no cover? The image is simply a picture you get with your iTunes download that you can look at and say "hey, this is the image that goes with these songs." It is definitely an odd situation.

I am reminded of the River Run Project from Underworld, where each "song" (which was actually a single MP3 of four to five songs interleaved) came with a folder jam-packed with images. I'm still to this day not clear as to what the images were for, exactly, but they were kind of cool.

But I digress. My hypothetical question for the day is thus: how does one deal with the traditional accompaniments to an album, cover art and liner notes, in this day and age? My solution for Callisto is to put the liner notes on the appropriate page in the Positron store, and the "cover art" will be available in the store, and will come down with your iTunes purchase should you go that route. But this isn't the only way, or remotely the best way. Thoughts?

February 21, 2008

A Couple Thoughts On Feature Requests...

by Chris Randall

There's this thread over on KvR which got kinda silly yesterday. We have (or "had," rather) one customer who is ("was") somewhat incensed that we didn't add a particular feature to Ricochet, and despite the fact that I promptly refunded him, decided to air that grief on KvR. That's fine, of course, as it's what KvR is for, essentially. But my defense of Audio Damage and our policies maybe got a little more spirited than he expected. What can I say? I type faster than I think.

In any event, it got me pondering the nature of this business a bit last night. I was thinking that Audio Damage is in kind of an odd place, as while we're sort of largish, as far as the non-big-company plugin sources go, we're still small enough that the company has a very personal face. Or to put it another way, we have the sales and product line of a bigger company (like Ohm or PSP or whatever) but we generally act like the guys that make a lot of freeware plugs, inasmuch as you can talk directly to the person that makes the damn things.

(Does that make any sense? I didn't think so.)

But on to the larger point, which is regarding feature requests. As I stated in the KvR thread, we take feature requests seriously, but we don't usually add anything to a plugin unless a lot of people ask for it. There is a lot of reasoning behind this, but the simple fact is that changing the available parameters in any given plugin is a big deal. Some features that are requested (such as adding a control to the LPF in Dubstation) will actually change how the plugin sounds, and this is a Bad Thing, generally, as it will affect how a mix sounds if the plugin is used in that mix.

But the root of the issue is, I think, thus: you can write the guy that just put up a free VST and announced it on KvR, and say "hey, I tried your plugin and Knob A should control Parameter B in This Fashion" and he'll probably make that change for you if it seems logical to him. (I'd use a more gender-neutral terminology if plugin development wasn't such a sausage fest, but I'm not aware of any female plugin developers at this time.) So, since you can do that, you might assume that anyone that is easily available (e.g. us) will do the same thing, and be nonplussed when that turns out to not be the case.

We have a group of people we rely on, including at least one person from every demographic we're aware of in this industry, from the well-reasoned hobbyist on up to professionals that regularly chart in their genres, other plugin developers, and first-call engineers. This group of people get the plugins as soon as they enter beta (and in some cases they get early screenshots) and their opinions on features are regularly implemented long before the plugin ever sees the light of day. Using this method, we're fairly confident that when each plugin is released, it has a feature set that is appropriate to its abilities, and the controls that are present and the ranges under which they operate are as useful as we can make them.

Of course, this won't change anything if the customer has severe ADD or whatever (as was the case in this particular instance, I think), but I hope that it sheds a little light on how we do things.

February 20, 2008

If you were ever curious, the difference between "cool" and "fool" is...

by Chris Randall

Maaaaan, I dunno about Antares any more. When they put out that Kantos plug, I was like "okaaay... you guys need to stop running the UIs through committee." I mean, nice idea and all, but damn.

They just released Voice Thing (pictured above) and even gave it its own website. Truthfully, it has never occurred to me to give our products individual websites. I would like to think that's because the idea is silly, but who knows? But let's talk about the UI for this one for a minute.

While I'm certainly the first person that's gonna appreciate cartoon graphics in a plug-in (in fact, I think I'm the first UI designer to actually use cel shading, to the best of my knowledge), I draw the line, you know? I suppose you need to try everything out, but this one makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I don't even really care what it does. I just want to run fast in the other direction.

February 19, 2008

Oh, Happy Day (open thread)...

by Chris Randall

Today is the day we assemble all the digits for the tax man for our various companies, and get all that shit sorted out. Today is also the day that TVT Records filed for bankruptcy. I can't decide which I'm happier about. I mean, I feel bad for 45 people losing their jobs, but frankly, about 40 of them were pricks, and I know good and god-damn well the boss was.

In any event, this is a Business Of Music open thread. Have any music business questions you need answered? Good news? Bad news? A burning desire to start a publishing company for your new Grindhouse project? Let it out. We're all friends here.


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