Spotify is now on my computer

I got one of the coveted Spotify accounts and I have to say that this will spread like wildfire in America. Just the idea of having something first drives our consumerist minds and there will be “gabillions” of people flocking to this service which is free for 6 months. I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those drug dealer scenarios for music junkies, “just a taste” for now kind of things and then later the shakes for it will kick in once all the bells and whistles come rolling out.
If this is the answer to combating piracy or better yet offering a more consistent, safer, and quality alternative I am all for it and am going to follow its development closely.
Out of the box I like it. As a music junkie I love the idea that I can reach out and grab the Jimi Hendris catalog at a whim. Sure I pretty much own the Jimi Hendrix catalog but still it’s nice. Though the Beatles and AC/DC are absent which I find interesting and wonder when that will change.
(I gotta respect AC/DC’s complete ignore on downloads for no other reason than it is always interesting to see someone go so completely against the grain. I think they are probably smart but I am not sure why. Holding out does seem to drive your product harder. I will write my thoughts on this issue after some more study and reflection.)
But it is convenient and pretty awesome, when you want to listen to some music, and know that 15 million songs are just sitting there at your disposal. It is like you have been given access to this endless music library with the minder simply saying “just turn off the lights and lock up when you are done.”
This is probably going to get interesting.

Elam McKnight

All You Need is Songs

Still reading All You Need is Ears by Sir George Martin. If you do not know who he is I am sorry…
Just kidding
He produced much of the Beatles work and is considered the “5th Beatle.”
Great book by the way.
What keeps popping up is the material.
In today’s world the Beatles would never have happened. This of course does not diminish the greatness of their work, but arguably, they were a phenomenon we will never see or hear again. Many complex systems came into play in making them become “the monolithic rock group” all others will be balanced against.
In today’s clutter they would most likely be diminished in comparison to
the clamor they caused in their own time. Again this does not diminish the Beatles talent at all.
That is what keeps popping up.
Are they the greatest group ever? The answer to that involves subjectivity.
Are they greatness personified in their musical work? Heck yes.
George Martin notes, in the flurry of activity that began surrounding him and the Beatles that with their success, that he thought “this cannot possibly continue.” He alludes to him first questioning the group’s ability to keep the great materially coming with the pace of their success. They never failed to produce. He noticed that they only got better, more focused, more creative, and more developed as songwriters and craftsmen. Had they not been up to this task we would be talking about the Beatles in the same breath as the Dave Clark Five.
(Side note I love the Dave Clark Five)
Here is the lesson. While focusing on your youtube video,facebook, twitter, and all the other accounts and apps you are using remember that they are merely functions to spread the message. They are the messenger.
The vinyl album was the messenger in its day and if, within its tooled grooves, it did not contain something worth listening to it was discarded or traded in today for value points at the hipster indie stores.
By all means do not kill the messenger. Just remember to give it something good to carry and deliver.

Visions of an Old, Nerd Man

I listen to music on many different and subjective levels which is often key to employing various ideas and devices when I go into the studio to work on my own or someone else’s future masterpiece. One thing I enjoy immensely is listening to the oldies station, the real old stuff from 40 -50 years back. Yes I know, I am old but I compensate for it by being a nerd. So you might ask “what is the world does this have to do with me old, nerd man?” and here is the uptake on that. You can learn so much from the classic era of recording, I would say from the early 50’s to about 1975, before they got too flashy with the technology.

A person might immediately say “I don’t want to sound old I want a fresh modern sound.” I get that but what you should be going for is a universally great sound, regardless of the time. Yeah and also I know that you don’t care about “old grandpa music” but let me point out that they were playing these songs on the radio when I was a lad and they are still playing them, that should tell you something, great music is timeless. And you are not always necessarily listening for it because you like it, you are studying it to see what they do that sticks out as great.

What many of the mid 20th century studios lacked in equipment they more than made up for with experimentation, mic placement, and just raw, pure talent, which is the beginning of any serious recording endeavor. Or, if you really take the time, listen to some classic albums or recordings, then research the setting they were made in, you can get a great idea of the conditions and contributions which spurred these jewels into creation. Sometimes it was a little talent invested with a huge amount of work that produced a hit and just the opposite, huge talent and quick, hardly more than one or two takes that produced not only a hit but whole albums at times.

I will use examples which, if you ignore or do not take the time to listen, then it is your loss. Basically anything from the Beatles can teach you a great deal, from their first album, which was recorded, I believe, in one, long twelve hour session, to their last works which had grown sonically and thematically from their early efforts. If I had to pick one, and this is by no means my favorite or one I think is the best example but Revolver would be a prime candidate. It is first a supremely well written album, succinctly deft is how I would describe the musicianship and vocals, and the whole thing just sits so well in your ears. This is just one example.

Anything by Stax and Motown are also good places to start as you are getting hundreds of ideas to add to your creative palette as a musician, producer or both. It also is important to note that the equipment used on Stax early recordings, which are great, was nothing short of archaic and limited even for its time. Again the overall sound can be attributed to proper microphone placement and as always super good talent hit on all cylinders. Same in regard to Motown.

Classic music is classic for a reason. Great albums are called that for a reason. They all contain elements which have to be present. If you are a musician who writes and records their own songs the lesson is great songs make great music. If you are a recording musician with limited gear remember that talent can overcome any gear, a groove captured on the most basic setup can cook many years after it was made, but never has even a million dollars of equipment made something great out of something mediocre.