Category Archives: Music Production

The Struggles of Being an Experimental Freelance Musician

 

That’s me a couple days ago when I was thinking about all the struggles of being a freelance experimental musician (I know, boo hoo, right?) haha. Anyway, this post isn’t for you to feel sorry for me, but rather to reach out to those of you that are in a similar boat as me.

I’ve been making music since I was 10 years old, and started producing my own music when I was 20 when I got my first cassette 4 track recorder back in the 90s. Since then I’ve created my own record label called Anthill Recordings and self-produced over 20 albums. As far as sales, some have done okay, some have had literally no attention at all, but absolutely none of them have done extremely well. At this point it doesn’t bother me that much, but there was a time when it did.

When you pour your heart and soul into something you think is unique, passionate, and extremely well done, and others do not respond to it at all, it can be a disheartening experience. At the same time when you observe others seemingly churning out the same old thoughtless dribble and getting praised for it, can be even more maddening. The problem is with our society is it rewards conformity and punishes uniqueness. This is something we all learned well in grade school. All of the most popular kids were doing whatever was cool. Football, cheerleaders, jocks, whatever music is on TV or the radio they liked, they wore all the same name brand clothes. They’re all good little sheep.

So it really should come as no surprise to me when I craft something as unique as my album Turn of The Scroct that has a measly 4 bandcamp supporters, while vaporwave artists are simply re-releasing slowed down previously released pop music and are getting thousands of downloads. Here we are again, people just following what other people are doing. There’s literally hundreds of thousands of releases like this, none of which have any originality whatsoever. Contrary to what I just wrote, I don’t hate vaporwave, and have dabbled in it myself, but took it as inspiration. I didn’t merely copy what everyone else was already doing and slap some statues in front of a Windows 95 screenshot and call it a day.

I spent time making my music, thought about it, tried to make it different, tried to make it unique. I took time to perfect my playing, as a drummer, and with all the other instruments I put on my recordings. Am I rewarded with sales? No. No I’m not. To me it’s not desirable to fit neatly into a specific genre of music. This is a huge problem with today’s music and marketing. If it doesn’t neatly adhere to a specific hashtag, nobody cares about it. Because hashtags seem to define people’s identities these days.

However, I am rewarded with my own love of creation. When I listen back to what I made, I think about how good it felt to finally be able to play the drum part I struggled with, how I was able to achieve such a strong sounding mix, how I was able to press a vinyl record after playing every single instrument on it, recording it, mixing it, mastering the vinyl, all by myself. And the few that have reached out to me thanking me for my efforts have done so in a very heartfelt manor. One listener even called me on the phone after I released my album “In The Park” and wanted to personally thank me for making it. This was really nice.

But again, this isn’t why I do it. I do it because I love the process of creation. Making something that I am proud of, that my own thoughts, ideas, focus and energy went into. Knowing it came out exactly the way I wanted it, and maybe one day people will find it and enjoy it as much as I do. But even if they don’t I don’t care. In a way, I’m glad I’ve freed myself from needing other’s approval of my music. Now I create for me. But what I do wish I was getting more of is….. money.

Yes that’s right, I said money. I work hard and I would like to be rewarded financially for my work. I don’t care if people are calling me a genius, or if my music becomes the next trendy thing, I want money, lots of it. So over time I’ve found little ways to make a bit… not lots, but I keep trying to learn new ways to make more. Some of which are making gear reviews on YouTube with my music, creating exclusive content for music licensing, as well as offering my mixing and mastering services to others. Do I make as much money as the amount of work I do? No, not at this point, but I’m going to keep trying. To me this is the ultimate struggle, but I will never give up.

-Justin

Why you don’t need a new computer for producing music

One of the questions I get pretty often from people is, “what kind of computer should I get to start producing music?” My answer is, what kind of computer do you have? Use that. Or, look for one in the trash, or basically any computer you have lying around can be used to produce music.

I have several computers, but one computer I still have is a 2004 Apple iBook G4. I still use this computer often, and it is quite capable for making music. People seem to forget that making music on computers has actually been around for quite some time. Back in 2003 I was using a Pentium III windows XP computer running Cubase SE and had no issues producing music on this system. It was quite common to use PCs with only 512mb ram, or even 256mb!

For my iBook, I’m running Lubuntu on it at the moment. This allows me to run a recent version of Ardour, Seq24, Ecasound, and others. It’s a lot of fun to use and this computer was extremely well built.


So basically what I am trying to say is there’s no reason to go out and buy a new computer (if you already have one). Use what you have! The most important thing is to educate yourself on the art of electronic production!


Make Amiga Mods In Your Browser With Bassoontracker!

There’s still a huge tracking scene out there today, and in case you didn’t believe it, Stef has made this amazing Music Tracker written in javascript that runs in nothing but a web browser! This is more than just a gimmicky chrome extension, Bassoontracker is actually a really nice music tracker with tons of amazing features!

If you’re a fan of music trackers like Protracker, Milkytracker, Fasttracker II, you will love Bassoontracker! Check it out here https://www.stef.be/bassoontracker/

it’s a web-based open source music tracker that is better than most you can download. It comes with tons of samples and integrates with dropbox, local storage, and even the Mod Archive!

 

A Look Inside The Mellotron Vintage Analog Synth

I just saw this today and really loved being able to see the inside of this incredible synth! I have always loved the sound of a Mellotron and used the samples of them extensively on my recordings, but have never had a real one at my fingers.It is really fascinating to see the inner workings of this machine!

FREE MELLOTRON PLUGIN!

How To Record USB Audio And Video At The Same Time On Android

If you’re a YouTube musician, or just a videographer, this is an excellent technique for recording hi quality audio simultaneously as video on your android smart phone. I am running MIUI (, which is actually Android 7 on my Xiaomi Redmi 5a. On the video below I ran directly out of my mixer into my Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface. 

So how do you get it to work? Well first you’ll need a micro USB to female USB adapter like the one below.

Then finally you’ll need the app, Open Camera.

Once you have open camera installed, go into the video settings and select “use external microphone if available”. Now before you attempt recording there’s still one more thing you need to change or the videos will most likely not record. Go into Android’s app permission settings and under Microphone, find the Google App and turn off it’s access to your microphone. For some reason this interferes the recording (probably due to google spying on you all the time) haha.

Once that’s all configured, you should be able to plug in any USB audio interface or microphone and record video with great sounding audio!