Selling and Promoting Music: When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It?

I believe it’s possible to be a responsible business, and to be a responsible consumer. When you’re the business lecturing your consumers on what they should be doing, well, that can produce an awkward situation. Let’s leave it at saying that a certain blog post stating obvious things has resulted in what can best be described as a kerfuffle, and, since you’ve heard it all before, it’s probably not worth repeating. Better than lecturing music lovers, then, is finding out better ways to reach them. I know plenty of artists and even people whose day job is running a label …

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On Record Store Day, Music in Physical Places – In a Forest, Even?

If you’re heading out into the wilderness to find a record store, why not actually head out into the wilderness – the one with trees – and find music there? Today, a you’ve no doubt heard, is Record Store Day. The official site is a useful resource, today and around the year. Today brings a number of special physical releases, favoring vinyl but also including CDs. A mobile app download will help you locate record stores in your city, both in the US and other countries around the world. All of this does raise some deeper issues. Record stores can …

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Useful Music Tools, Built with Max 6, Released on the Mac App Store: Downloads, Developer Info

Make it with Max, sell it here. Photo: CDM. (and yes, this is now the desktop, not the mobile, App Store!) If you’re a Mac user, we’ve got some cheap and free tools for you. And if you’re a Max patcher, you may be surprised with how they were built: they were all exported from Max 6. This week, we welcome a guest writer developer Dan Nigrin. Amidst some new controversy about Apple and app distribution, here Dan looks at how Apple’s marketplace can indeed be useful to developers using Max 6, the popular graphical patching tool. (Incidentally, the libpd …

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A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …

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Gibson Buys Stanton, Gets Speaker and DJ Business, Calls Itself “Lifestyle Brand”

Ce n’est pas un phonographe. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Roadside Guitars. Gibson Guitar has announced in a press release they’re acquiring the Stanton Group, which includes, aside from the well-known Stanton DJ brand, KRK monitoring products and Cerwin-Vega loudspeakers. It’d be easy to see this as a guitar company buying a DJ company, but it’s more than that. KRK and Cerwin-Vega are speaker/monitoring brands. Stanton and Cerwin-Vega each have footholds in the larger consumer arena, not just the pro world, a detail Gibson is quick to emphasize. And Gibson themselves have quietly, steadily grown beyond just guitars. The new “Gibson Pro Audio” …

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Good Listening, Good Taste: Selection of Ghostly Sonic Output, Inspiration for Getting Things Made

More than just a label, Ghostly is establishing itself as a hub of design, as in the new poster series by Swiss artist Sonnenzimmer, available from their online store. With artists likewise drawing heavily from visual inspiration, the connection between sight, sound, and taste is an evocative one. Photo courtesy Ghostly International. You can expect to see ongoing appearances by Ghostly International, the 12-year-old label with roots in Detroit that has since established firm outposts in California and New York, in these pages. (Pixels?) The reason is simple: Ghostly is a grand experiment in how to retain relevance as a …

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In Wake of London Fire, Organizers Answers Questions About Supporting Indie Labels

London’s Rough Trade Records shop is an anchor for the independent music scene in the UK. And they have an online presence, too — a good way to support your favorite label in the wake up what for many smaller outlets could be a devastating loss. Photo (CC-BY) Radio Saig√≥n. The first rule of giving is that you need to make sure that the entity to which you’re giving is actually asking for support. In the wake of a devastating fire started during London’s rioting that wiped out a Sony warehouse, indie labels are indeed asking for such support, says …

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Topspin vs Bandcamp vs Both: One User’s Thoughts on DIY Web Music Platforms

With direct-from-the-artist sales catching on and some superb tools, the question for the independent artist or label is, which tool is worth your time? We’ve seen plenty of discussion revolving around Topspin Media and Bandcamp. Bandcamp earned interest early with a dead-simple DIY digital store for artists; Topspin has become widely available more recently, but had as an early draw merch stores and free download email capture as major features, among many others. Artist Tricil sung the praises of Topspin in April. Since then, I did my own LP release on Bandcamp, about which I hope to share experiences soon. …

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A Glimpse of the Soundplane Controller, Innovative Tactile Multi-Touch, in the Lab; Call to Action

Alder Soundplane prototype with blanks of reclaimed redwood and Doug Fir. Photo by Randy Jones; used by permission. On tablets, on displays, multi-touch control these days is calibrated largely as a software interface – more Starship Enterprise panel than violin. As such, it works well for production tools and exploring compositional ideas. But it falls far short of being an instrument: even on the much-hyped iPad, touch timing and sensitivity is too imprecise, and the absence of tactile feedback and real, kinetic resistance makes you feel like an operator rather than a musician. Several projects in experimental instrument research seek …

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Madrona’s Randy Jones on Aalto Soft Synth, Designing a New Instrument, Small Makers

Patching together unique sounds on the classic Buchla 100 was an impetus for a new software instrument by Randy Jones – just released for Windows. Photo (CC-BY) guiltyx/roll_initiative. Software can easily enough emulate, down to each knob and patch cord, a vintage synthesizer. But can a genuinely new software synth incorporate the ideas about instrument design beloved in a classic synth like the Buchla modular? How do you balance open-ended sound design with the sorts of limitations that give an instrument personality, limitations that inspire? And could all of this be meaningful even for someone first discovering synthesis, who may …

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