Sorry, Majors: “Indie” Artists, Labels Clean Up Again at Grammys

Taylor Swift may have been invading your TV this year. But did you know she was an indie artist? Photo (CC-BY-ND) Wendy aka freshfruit. The one thing you probably aren’t thinking while watching the Grammys is “wow, look at this amazing showcase for independent music.” (Last night, I expect you were thinking something more along the lines of, “I was supposed to get 3D glasses for this? Augh! I’m dizzy! Switch it off!”) But keep score, and independent artists and labels are a huge part of the Grammy Award-winning roster. And with indies invading even the most mainstream of music …

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Truly Last-Minute Gift: Osmos, the CDM Game of the Year, for Mac and Windows

For a truly unique and very much last-minute gift for anyone you know, look to CDM’s favorite game of year, the gorgeous, blood pressure-lowering title for Windows and – at long last – Mac. I may personally identify a little too much with the abstract protagonist of this game, as my holiday activities could well be described as floating around the universe, sucking particles into my gravity well as I grow in size. But whether or not I feel literally like an expanding bubble of matter, one of my favorite experiences this year was entering this ingenious physics-based game. It …

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Blip Festival Handmade Music Opener, and the Sega Mega Drive Meets MIDI + Launchpad

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We get to enjoy the sounds and sights made by chips, independent games, and Novation Launchpad-controlled Sega Mega Drives. Blip Fest hits NYC this week in a celebration of vintage and lo-fi chips and the wonderful, blippy music they produce. To get things started right on Wednesday night, we have a special edition of Handmade Music, the DIY music party/science fair/noisy racket series, in a special location — the opening of Babycastles, a new, permanent home for independent games. (Think “indie arcade,” an idea I hope spreads worldwide.) If you’re in the …

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Brainpipe Interview: Creators of Trippy Indie Game Talk Interactive Sound

Funny, I’m usually able to “acheive” that most days. Ummm… art imitates life? Brainpipe is a psychedellic journey down the neural pathways, a long, strange trip into the minds of an unusual band of independent game designers. And while some games demand muscular graphics cards or brilliant flat panels, this is one that requires playing with headphones. The immersive sense of the descent down this brain’s pathway is entirely dependent on its sound. While even big development houses often license sound engines, the band of hard-core designers at Digital Eel also rolled their own interactive audio code to make the …

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Super Cute: Indie Rock Coloring Book

Super Cute Thursday (unplanned) continues, with an adorable indie rock coloring book. It’s hardly the first. STS9 and recently the lovely Riceboy Sleeps limited edition by Sigur Ros’ Jonsi and Alex came with coloring books. Perhaps inspired by musicians entering parenthood, it’s all the rage. If you can’t be pressured to select just one band for your (or your kids’) coloring pleasure, here’s The Indie Rock Coloring Book, a project of the Yellow Bird Project, which gives to artists’ charities. You get to not only color but solve mazes and connect-the-dots. Hey, with music increasingly intangible in the digital age …

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Osmos Game Available, with Brilliant Electronic Score

Osmos Trailer from hemisphere games on Vimeo. Osmos is a glorious glimpse of the fusion of electronic sound and game design many of us anticipate. It is built around a (challenging!) physics-based gameplay style – in the same vein as float-around-the-world games like flOw (and long before that, Asteroids) with procedural design and a perfect, liquid electronic soundtrack. Osmos became available DRM-free yesterday on Valve’s terrific Steam service for US$10 (on sale for a little less this week), and you can buy worldwide from the developer on Direct2Drive. (The developer has temporarily suspended direct sales from their site. Updated: the …

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Signs of Change, Ingenuity in Music Distribution

Photo (CC) Clonny. Details on Flickr. With the weakened world economy, content in general faces plenty of gloom and doom. Advertising models are severely weakened. But, oddly, in the world of music, there are some positive signs that the shift to decentralized, online distribution might actually be going well — and maybe economic pressures are simply ensuring the parties involved find some way to make the adjustment. And music distribution is becoming wonderfully weird and diverse – maybe far more so than in recording’s so-called golden age, an era in the past dominated by racial division, predatory labels, and a …

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Game Music Making: Kongregate Collabs to Connect Music Makers with Indie Games

Speaking of games, you can expect game production to start to attract the attention of musicians and web publishers. Whereas a few short years ago, targeting musicians might mean dangling rock club gigs or album sales, now a lot of those same music makers want to break into gaming, too. Kongregate is a bit like public access, only on steroids and for games. The idea is this: get indie game makers in one place contributing games, then get lots of people playing those games, then support the system with ad revenue shared with the game makers. The model has grown …

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REAPER v3: From MIDI to Automation to Guitar Hero Control, the Alt DAW Improves

Welcome to the alt-DAW scene. Last week, not only did Renoise continue its rebirth of the forgotten “tracker” genre of music making software with ReWire support, but we saw a big new version of REAPER, the beloved lightweight audio production tool from the original creator of Winamp. What makes an “alt DAW”, or “indie” production software? To me, it’s: small development teams of a few people tightly-integrated communities directly involved in feature requests trusting users instead of adding significant DRM, returning to the traditional “shareware” business model of old affordable pricing That’s not to take away from some of the …

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