Music Industry Exploitation of Artists

Record Label Overcompensation

The advent of the internet boom brought about some fascinating opportunities. Conversely, it also brought multiple challenges to the music industry and the unexpected nature of the internet is is one of the contributing factors as to why record sales are going down have been plummeting since the new millennium. More and more people are choosing to stream music instead of buying it mechanically, and that’s why Youtube and Spotify are growing exponentially while physical record sales are becoming phased out by convenience factors.

Furthermore, despite the governmental crackdown on pirating, it still remains a huge issue to music industry incentives. The ability to execute free file sharing without any real consequences causes a huge riff where people are obtaining music for virtually no cost. These attributes cause record labels to take desperate measures to compensate for the faltering music industry and obtain revenue from several other outputs. Likewise, aspiring musicians also rely on record sales to make a living, so not having enough sales can be very hard for them financially.

Record labels are contributing to the problem

360 deals are contracts that help the record label acquire a percentage of the earnings from all activities of that band or musician, that transcends the confines of traditional contractual agreements.  Record labels can get huge cuts of money from musicians that hold concerts, sell merchandise, synchronization deals that they receive an endorsement and so on. Many record labels chose this option when they sign newcomers to the industry rewarding them with some sort of social currency to reward through fan exposure and potential opportunities.

Since new artists are often in a position of less leverage with record executives, they have to succumb to these rules and contemporary standards. This results in a lot of empty promises and potential resentment in regards to the artist’s perception of the contractual agreement and possible exploitation of creative value. Likewise, some artists feel as though the record labels do not deserve the amount of money they are asking for and did not put in the same commitment they did to succeed. Large sums of financial assets are lost to labels and there is a sense of control over innovative content as well. The music industry’s language is money and they prop up new artists with enormous capital – In a sense, they are a necessary evil in getting your foot in the door through exposure and success. Self-publishing is in the same right very effective ,but comes at a cost of differentiating your music through the oversaturated market with limited finances. Check out the next article to look into how to self promote.

Artists can fight back against 360 deals through self-publishing – Here is how to do it.

 

Sampling: A Brief History

Over the past few decades, sampling has become an intrinsic form of production across the spectrum of many genres. The idea of reusing specific portions of existing recordings is a boundless tool for music producers. At first, sampling went off the radar and would often be unnoticed by the original owners through musicians recycling instrumentals and copying songs. Now there is a litigious business primarily focused on sampling controversies.

One of the first instances of sampling through musical compositions was in the 1940s. Pierre Chaeffer used a tape recorder to create music using a variety of multifaceted recordings. The recordings included natural sounds, human voices and instrumentation through the channeling of sampled frequencies. That discovery led to a genre of music named “concrete” that evolved over the next 2 decades through constant tinkering and revisionism. One thing to note is that during the 60s the Mellotron was invented, and that’s when sampling took off (This is something the Beatles used religiously). The sampled tapes were designed to embellish the current rhythms and melodies at that time!

It was in the 70s and 80s when sampling became very popular in hip-hop. The hip-hop DJs started to use vinyl manipulation and mixing in order to acquire samples. At that time, the most popular style was the breakbeat, a rhythm designed to break the song in sequential sections. This provided the instrumentals that hip hop MCs would rap over in front of crowds or during recording sections.

During the 80s a lot of companies like Roland and Akai started to create affordable digital samplers and this became common practice for hip hop producers. Initially, songs were easily cleared for sampling rights as the hip hop scene was an underground endeavor. As the 90s started, sampling became a primary component of hip-hop and widely utilized. In fact, a lot of producers like RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock started to implement these practices into their music. As the hip hop genre grew in popularity, so did the law suits as the original owners of these copyrights weren’t being compensated for the money generated. Check out the article on clearing a sample to avoid the potential consequences and gain some peace of mind over the convoluted litigious aspects of sampling.

How to Clear A Sample

Being Smart About Sampling

Some hip hop producers will fatefully utilize sampling at one point or another when establishing a track list of songs. There are lots of samples available nowadays through the accumulation of records and audio samples online. Sometimes it can be unclear in terms of what samples have authorization for fair use or not. Business conscious producers wait until their project is complete before they start dealing with the legal aspects of clearing samples.

Normally, you will be under the radar to sample freely if you sell less than 10000 copies of that song or album as the court system goes after the big wigs raking in money. However, if your song becomes a hit, chances are that the use of that particular sample will get noticed and exposed to the owners. Consequently, it’s important to get samples cleared sooner rather than later to avoid potential litigious problems in the future.

How Can You Start Clearing Samples?

The first thing you want to do is to obtain permissions from two sources. Not only do you need approval from the publisher/owner, but you also need consent from the sole proprietors of the master recording. But how can you find these two?

Good news: The copyright owner is generally easy to find. If you have the song title, you will just have to search sites like BMI, ASCAP or similar royalty websites to find the proprietor. Here you can retrieve the contact information for that artist, and you can get in touch with them as well! You may also find the Harry Fox Agency useful here as they broker these services to get expedite the process.

Finding the master recording holder is often a matter of soft research. He/she will be associated with the record label most of the time. In case the record label isn’t the master recording owner, the publisher and copyright owner should take their place as a next step of inquiry.

What About Costs?

As you can imagine, costs will vary depending on the artist popularity, song’s prestige and other factors. But you should negotiate to get the best deal because not every song is created equal. Sometimes using samples can be very expensive and that’s why many producers risk the potential consequences of getting caught by not clearing samples beforehand. Nevertheless, it is advised to clear these samples, otherwise you can end up with lawsuits that can cost you a lot more in the long run.

Ideally, you want to work with a clearance consultant or an entertainment attorney to get the paper work notarized. They should be able to offer you the professional guidance needed to go over each and every aspect of the agreement.

Keep in mind that using a captivating sample can make help an artist’s career grow. However, it can also come with massive irrevocable costs to both finances and personal reputation if done incorrectly. In summation, pursuing a sample comes down to the returns one can reap vs. the value expected from the sample itself. Clear the legalities before sampling – it will grant you peace of mind and possible legal trouble in the long run.

 

RECORDING/MIXING IN AN APARTMENT

There are always going to be two issues when recording in a shared space: You bothering the neighbors or the neighbors bothering you. Luckily, there are some tips to reduce the incidences of noise complaints in your recording studio. This post is assuming that you have done the standardized studio acoustic treatment with bass traps and foam.

  1. Time - This would be the first aspect that musicians should consider when figuring out a diplomatic solution to both recording and mixing. Try to get most recordings out of the way in the 11am-6pm timeframe and maybe a little bit later on weekends.
  2. Volume & Headphones - Get your mixes as close to how you would like them to sound with studio reference style headphones. I have AKG 702’s - I try to get my mixes on point with these headphones and then finish the mixes on my studio monitors at a later point in time. Obviously reducing volume can be your best asset when mixing with short peak intervals to check bass levels.
  3. Guitar Recording - There is always the option to record direct input (DI) into your audio interface. This would be the quietest solution to a problem. Another option could be sound proofing a closet or utilizing an isolation box with heavy duty absorption. If the sound is coming into the room - Use a dynamic microphone hooked up to the amp pointed away from the sound source and towards the amplifier.
  4. Sealing Apartment - This is a great way to keep sound out with acoustic vinyl to fill any tight spots that could be leaking in/out on top of your already treated room. Here is an example: http://www.nextacoustics.com/nextblock-mass-loaded-vinyl/. Seal vents and air ducts in a temporary fashion where the soundproofing materials can be placed on/off and make sure to not turn on heat/air conditioning when covered.
  5. Portable acoustics - These are perfect because an musician can create their own vocal booth using these for sound isolation. These can be moved around all over the apartment - Remember to have some sort of panel to place over top of the portable booth like a 2’ by 2’ panel. http://www.auralex.com/product/promax/
  6. Ask for a floor plan - This would give a better idea of where everyone is in relation to your recording space including neighbors above or below for the apartment complex.
  7. Isolation Pads - These will reduce the amount of rumble that the source creates from direct contact of the ground, desk, or walls.  http://www.auralex.com/product/mopad-mopad-xl/
  8. Practice and Rehearsal - This will minimize the amount of time needed for recording and set up sessions into blocks. Preparation is key to a great recording session and the less time you take, the less chance of any problems arising.
  9. Listen - It is important to find where the problems lie to act accordingly. Windows can be a big problem with letting sound in the apartment to interfere with recording. Additionally, Doors and air ducts can hold significant issues to potential mixes. Try to listen to where you can hear your neighbors - Odds are there is some reciprocation factors.
  10. Acoustic curtains - Some people don’t believe acoustic curtains hold any value in a recording studio but I have found them to be effective for windows and doors. Hang these up to get a broader spread of acoustical treatment in your room.
  11. Recording drums - Instead of bringing a huge drum set to the apartment, utilize an electronic drumset or a sampler like an MPC60 or Maschine drum pad.
  12. Volume Test Room - Have friend stand outside of door while recording or mixing. Have them give you an assessment of the room volume. Also, do another test of floors above and below you.

I hope these tips helped! I strongly believe if one uses common sense and a courtesy to their neighbors in a pleasant manner - There shouldn’t be any issues recording in this setting.

Moving Home - The Millenial's Trap

Moving Home Kills Ambition for Millenials

*Note: Obviously it is not ideal for young adults to move back home except under extreme circumstances, this might be a viable option. I would urge everyone to focus on what is being sacrificed when moving back home with family.

Listen to 1:30-2:20 – This is the story of Sylvester Stallone in relation to the construction of Rocky. Stallone had to chase his dream creating this film without falling into the temptation of finding a regular job or taking the easy route.

Video Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywuse55qU2A

After I was done with my Master’s degree - I decided to move home to save money and pay off student loans. At first, I was seeing my paychecks grow exponentially and was able to afford more towards different ventures I was involved with. However, this did come at an unfortunate expense. Like most people, I got into the rut and it put me into a comfort zone where I lost all ambition based on the gaining revenue from the things that I loved. I got a considerable amount of work done but it felt like every day was the same with no excitement: I would wake up, spend most of my days reading and watching Youtube videos – Informing myself but never taking significant action. I was not pushing myself into working harder and there were no external pressures forcing me to either. When people put themselves into a situation where they have a vast amount of responsibilities such as paying bills and living independently by throwing themselves into a situation it forces them to be innovative. I think that this style of living builds resourcefulness, character and a good work ethic that can be applied to multiple forms of life. Millienials need outside real-world pressure in order to work harder and light some fire under their asses. Sometimes this will be in the form of downgrading their jobs to get started and moving up the ladder towards different opportunities. Moving out forced me to start my own company even though it took a little longer than planned - The lessons I learned from being on my own with no loans and just my hard earned cash made me a more independent entrepreneur. I would even urge to take no outside help from family or friends – Provide 100% for yourself ,so that it fortifies a sense of urgency to get moving on goals and accomplishments. I remember thinking that I was saving so much money but it was at the expense of negating other opportunities that presented themselves. Do you want to be the person who wakes up years later in their parent’s basement to save money or do you want to go out experience the world?

Acoustic Foam VS. Walls

The first question that needs to be asked when applying any sort of foam acoustic soundproofing materials to your studio walls is whether your living space is permanent or temporary. I would ALWAYS assume temporary as an insurance purpose

There are two solutions to putting up acoustical treatment in terms of foam for sound absorption.

  1. Direct application to the wall
  2. Nailed into the wall

I would almost always recommend using T-Pins for hanging up foam such as Auralex because what could be a permanent house can be sold at some point. This will save a lot of headache because I have made the mistake of using spray adhesive to hang up foam and it ended up ruining my walls while tearing up some of the panels.

Renters will definitely want to use T-Pins for Foam application. This will be dependent n the walls - wood and concrete spaces will need to have a cork board to hang up with nails in order to hang up foam.

What you will need:

  1. T-pins (Very cheap)
  2. A small hammer
  3. Pliers (Optional to prevent bending of T-pins)

The T-pins are so small that do not make holes when pulled out of the foam.

You can also sharpie the outside of the T-pins that match the foam ,so that it is not visible. Here are some pictures:

HOW NOT TO RUIN WALLS IF RENTING. I was trying to find the best ways in order to hang up foam on my walls while renting an apartment. The saying goes that you should learn from other’s mistakes in order to lead your own. I found a really good method of utilizing pins to hang up the foam on walls - Make sure you measure out how thick the piece of foam is and find a color similar to the tip - you can also tuck them underneath each other if that works better. You don’t want the pins to show for ascetic purposes. Here are some videos of what I am talking about in the execution of these. I contacted the Auralex company before and they recommended (of course) their own products first - I got the sticky EZ tab which were way overpriced and I did a trial rub with their spray. I did it on cardboard and watched youtube videos to see how it would react with my walls by cutting off a small piece - It ruined the back of the foam while tearing it off. I would definitely take the foam approach to putting these up. Hard to push these in with fingers you will need a hammer. Hold in the center of T-Pin so it does not bend and hit gently.

For ascetic purposes you don’t want them curving in - I put silly putty that is black on the out edges if it did that and I colored the T-pins in black sharpie cover up the ends. It’s important as well to level them out- You can Eyeball it or get a leveler with tape. Pin it near the edges but not too close to the edge ,so the foam does not curve in. Ceiling foam application may sag down so you will have to try a couple of times to get it correct.

*Featured* How to Beta-Test Your Business Ideas on Fiverr

Fiverr provides a low risk environment in order to figure out what clients TRULY want and test BIG ideas. It was the best way for me to do this at a low cost and really work out the kinks of services I envisioned for a personal company. Fiverr is unique in a way because potential buyers take more chances rather than committing to a popular freelance site honing in on one particular service provider all the way through – This provides an informal setting to freelancing that is both affordable and flexible for buyers. From my experience, I obtained industry experience to display professional knowledge of the music business to instill certainty in potential clients and collaborators I work with. I didn’t want to be a pseudo-seller with a lot of promise and no execution - I sought to take on mentorship experience from top record labels in the music industry as an intern. I didn’t care that I wasn’t paid because the value I received was insurmountable and the fundamental visions were in solidarity with my own.

Testing Services through Fiverr

  • Scope Valuable Services: The hardest part of becoming an effective seller is trying to figure out what to sell that people would legitimately purchase in the first place. Sellers can look at Fiver member ratings and see what is popular getting a sense of what buyers envision as value. This is great because it furthers your niche in scheming a plan that has an authentic spin to it. Remember: You don’t have to be the most popular person but you can be the right person at the right time that can get the job done!
  • Fiverr Traffic and Exposure: Fiverr works like a start-up company where there are opportunities everywhere for sellers to display their talents to the world. FIverr is ranked very highly in terms of traffic globally in the top 350 most visited sites in the world as of the New Year 2017. In other words, if your services are on Fiverr people will with without a doubt be able find them. Now there is a Fiverr Community network across the world building real-life connections with other sellers and buyers.
  • Linked Social Media: Sellers have the ability to connect with social media and pre-existing networks of people integrating them into the almighty Fiverr municipal. This builds honesty, integrity and trust between Fiverr as a business and its sellers without a micromanaging atmosphere that sellers really do appreciate. Fiverr has to protect their interests while remaining diplomatic and sellers have to protect theirs – Faith between both factions is the most important element in an E-Commerce environment where customers have superiority reign. Fiverr is the perfect platform for this symbiosis.
  • Credibility: Sellers can use Fiverr testimonials to build credibility within their network and business. Since Fiverr is centered on a rating system to ensure quality, why not use the positive reviews to acquire credibility? It’s the reality and your sales skills will go through the roof in terms of interpersonal relations, customer service and being able to work with clients on a deeper level.
  • Confidence: Fiverr builds confidence in yourself that the product or service that is created has market value based on positive reception and accolades. It is difficult becoming established as a seller early on, but once you get a couple sales under your belt – the necessary feedback will come. If not, ask for it – However, be weary that asking could opt in the writing of a negative review by shaking the lion’s tail. If you would like to avoid this ask the people who already gave you reviews how you could improve and what they liked.
  • Negative Reviews: Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Negative views can ground you as a seller and come unexpectedly. How you react determines the public perception of the company, so respond positively publicly while mitigating a solution privately. Remember that some unrated reviews can be negative as well but they didn’t take the time or spared you in writing a bad review. I remember my first bad review – I was really disappointed as I spent 4 hours meeting the demands of a customer only to get a bad review. Now that I see it from their perspective I should have asked more questions and inquired to fully understand their objectives.
  • Anticipating Problems Before They Arise: We all have intuition for a reason and sometimes have the ability to sense when something is off. You have the ability to decline work with someone if they inquire your inbox. Anticipation will come with experience but if something seems off or questionable – I would trust your gut especially in terms of the high maintenance/low paying buyers or the non-collaborative ones that overwork buyers without remorse. Fiverr will help in cultivating skills to anticipate potential problems with buyers before submitting and can gauge your customer service skills through active listening. Remember that asking questions about orders shows clients that you care about their vision and want to produce the best possible experience for them.
  • Collaboration: Form a team and commend sellers on their awesome work. There are plenty of music reviewers and hip-hop artists that I messaged personally to ask them questions. Surprisingly, a majority of the time they are more than willing to help or work on a project together. Sellers can find other people with similar visions and aspirations – You don’t have to be some rogue seller grinding out on your own all the time. I personally have linked up with amazing sellers to execute great services and deliveries. For example, on the ghostwriting gig I offer - my writing skills are far superior to my singing skills. I have an amazing artist I met through Fiverr that does some of the deliveries when she has time for choruses/hooks. I go to buyer requests with my ghostwriting gig and find people who need hooks performed. If you want to do big things you are going to need a team of motivated individuals.
  • Sellers Can Dictate The Market Too: Fiverr is usually best for digital services or products - Sending items of tangible quality would be harder to find vested interest (or so we thought??). Don’t let the market discourage you from trying new approaches out – Maybe a seller creates a system of innovation that is not working NOW but will in the subsequent future. I believe that the Fiverr community can make this a platform for all services and it’s only a matter of time – TIMING is everything.
  • Pricing/Quoting Experience: One of the most difficult aspects to overcome is charging people for something you love to do. A seller can test different types of pricing in the Fiverr market and see how it matches up. Once you get over the hump of contemplating pricing on your inherent value – You need to realize that it is normal to feel that way and stand firmly behind your quote knowing that you are the perfect person for the job. Make sure that you scale this to the real world prices, which may fluctuate in your side business quite a bit. I set the Fiverr standard in terms of ghostwriting rap verses at 25$ because I was one of the first sellers with that service. I was categorically nervous about it but I knew that I was delivering a great service I was passionate about and not overreaching. Don’t back down and construct a low price threshold that you won’t accept in terms of negotiating. Starting off you will have to go lower price to build trust and credibility. After some testimonials and positive reviews you will morph into the ideal seller – As a bonus, provide a portfolio of work to display and show how your service is distinctive.
  • Keeping Fiverr: This is important in order to continue testing new and innovative ideas that come along with your entrepreneurial ventures. Fiverr is still growing/evolving and it will only be seen as an asset to a side business for the invaluable merits of feedback and potential money. On Fiverr, sellers can generate a great income while constructing a symbiotic relationship with their brand that is unmatched on any other site.

@CarsonCLee

* “A special shout out to Beth Wiesendanger and Hannah Curran for the amazing opportunity. Fiverr is looking to put Detroit, MI on the map in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. This is something I am extremely passionate about and am really appreciative that they want to bring pride and investment back into the forgotten American Motor City!”*

BUILDING A MUSIC ARSENAL

My Favorite Rap Producer - RZA's Words of Wisdom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isvLoaUSxJk

Creation is an art form that does not entail validation – You can start constructing today in tune with what you consider an awesome invention. Don’t start off with the intention of selling ; Begin with the purpose of creating something of value like a great song or writing. Once you have a ton of constructions under your belt then you will have enthusiasts who are willing to purchase your materials. Musicians should begin by completing songs, so that there are backups in the arsenal for people to purchase or even for yourself to utilize for personal projects. This should be heavily deliberated because sometimes we have a connection to each creation on a deep level that we identify with. The important part is to keep creating every day ,so that you can prioritize which songs are for sale vs. which ones are keepers. In the beginning, it will be strange charging for something that you love and consider a hobby – Most creative professionals over come this when the need is resounding. Don’t lose sense of your worth through pricing but gain confidence in the ability to believe in how much your creativity costs. As you gain endorsements and credibility this will naturally progress in a positive manner. There is a defining moment where musicians and artists have hundreds upon thousands of concepts that they tinker with on a consistent basis. Some of them may never be used or sold but they are for cultivating a style or craft of utter competence and skill - You never know maybe you will use one of these components later on a related track. It’s hard to narrow down which songs to pick for an EP/LP when you have thousands of songs. It is wise to know which ones are for sale and which ones have potential for a personal album or project. You can have throwaway songs as well but just be able to somehow get a royalty deal if picked. If you sell it to them at a high cost a possible low royalty deal may be negotiated - Vice Versa. Maybe the buyer wants 100% of the rights to the song and NDA so they take credit – Most times it will work out this way in the hip-hop scene. It is best to not sign anything as a seller in the event that the song blows up and becomes popular. The buyer must protect interests by signing documents for 100% commercial rights. This is the reality of a cutthroat music business and we will talk later about how to monetize beats and make money selling them.

Side Hustles: Flexible Work > Better Pay

The biggest false claim of entrepreneurs is to quit your job and start a business of your own. The reality is that many of us do not have the funds to walk out from their work without going under. The goal is to find FLEXIBLE work, so that it does not interfere with the execution of your new business. The key is to remain mobile while bringing in a sustainable income to adapt to the needs of your new venture. The reason for this is to create an environment with no supervision where you can get objectives done in a timely fashion. I worked for a corporation and always had to watch my back even when I was done with the tasks for that day – I had to stay until the dreaded 5pm. Each day every minute counts – Even that 30 minutes back and forth on the commute to work matters in realm of success. Flexibility is freedom an entrepreneur and applying to find a decent wage to sustain your living situation. It also gives you piece of mind in a way that you can work while making money at your part time job. The stress of the everyday office life and politics is what makes us tired not always the work itself – Mold the job around your life, not the other way around.

There are plenty of websites to find remote jobs per your skill set:

Flexjobs, We Work Remotely, Working Nomad, Remote.co, JobSpresso, Upwork etc. Remote platforms are everywhere.

The mission is to get a part time job that gives you the most money per hour while working the least amount of hours in a given week. You might be thinking “DUH” if we can all do that then we would. The thing is that you CAN and many companies will pay you top dollar for your services. I would say there is one job that most of us can do and that is teach English online (Or whatever language you speak). It’s something that we all have extensive knowledge on because we have been speaking/writing/communicating our whole lives as native speakers. Who would be more qualified to teach English than an English speaker? Companies overseas pay TOP DOLLAR for these services and I will help you prepare to get a job: $15-25 an hour.

Two Short Reads About Innovation

TRAVEL TO ENHANCE YOUR CREATIVE MIND

There is an uncanny correlation between travel and creativity that can tap into your inner-most innovative mindset. Traveling pushes you out of your comfort zone and teaches one how to be resourceful in complex situations. There are embedded subtleties in travel that we cognitively digest subconsciously that can influence creativity as well. Most people are confined to their own realities with a limited amount of experience – Travel gives you confidence in your inner voice to make decisions, take action, and challenges the status quo of limitations involuntarily set by your mind. Travel puts a reset on your mind that has been susceptible to the endless repetition of every day life. Only new experiences can influence your current state and traveling to unfamiliar territories heightens stimuli responses. Finding appreciation in other countries that you are visiting and not just the attributes that attract most travelers is essential in certifying an edge of creativity. For example, I really liked the way Israelis conducted business in Tel Aviv with a no B.S. straightforward attitude - I try to implement that with my own business. Going to different countries makes one get out of their own way and put this huge world in perspective by knowing what you do not know by questioning older beliefs. Traveling gives you a sense of trust in yourself and the ability to improvise through conflicts. The change of scenery is perfect for those stuck in a creative rut – Actors such as Woody Allen made travel (in his case walking into different rooms in his apartment) as a necessity to generating new content. Traveling gives you an overall open-mindedness and curiosity to the novel aspects of life that are often overlooked. If you are an artistic person – Count on traveling to get you to the next stage of development.

Interesting Article and Research: http://goodnature.nathab.com/want-to-improve-your-health-and-increase-your-creativity-travel-more/

RESOURCEFULNESS AND CREATIVITY

Most artists wait to have everything in line to be able to create. Making with what you have is an inherent skill set that tests a person’s ambition to overcome obstacles to push towards a desired result. 

Resourcefulness builds character and puts you in a better position to bring about value when the chips are in place - it will seem effortless. Maybe without the necessary equipment an artist or musician will have to work twice as hard than individuals who possess necessary equipment but a true innovator does not get discouraged by this setback and will maintain enthusiasm for the project. They will reach the destination of their vision that is set in their minds and go about any means of securing it. Resourcefulness teaches one how to be innovate by using different combinations of scarce items and be more open to alternative approaches because they are forced to. Sometimes too many choices can be a negative thing. With less options - One has less distractions and makes sound decisions without being distracted by abundance. Resourcefulness shows people how to look into aspects deeper than one would generally overlook focusing on the intricacies embedded in the conditions and composites. In Short, resourcefulness trains the mind to become more resilient in the face of excuses :

"If there is a will there is a way" 

No Distractions

Disruptions can be the sole difference from being successful and being unsuccessful. Unfortunately, lack of concentration and discipline is one of the greatest pitfalls for aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are some tips to help minimize distractions:

  1. Self Control - This application will block websites that can veer your attention away from a task. Aren’t sure which websites are messing up your concentration?"RescueTime gives you a detailed report of your daily computer activity, showing you which applications and websites receive the bulk of your computer time.”
  2. Put phone on airplane mode and put another room. Airplane mode will deflect any notifications via the web from being sent to your phone. Placing your phone in a different room eliminates the habit of reaching out and grabbing an arm length distanced phone. Out of site; out of mind.
  3. Clear desk or Workspace - Loose papers and other things can lead to distractions. Get rid of them and only have entities that are a necessity to your objectives. If you need multiple items – focus on one task at a time and the objects pertinent to the activity (swap out when finished).
  4. Compartmentalize - This is the concept of not working where you relax (vice versa). Designate a spot where you work every day – Don’t turn your entire apartment or house into a workplace
  5. Timer - This is a count down clock for the task at hand – designated time for a particular duty. You might be jouncing for your phone or social media notifications but a timer says, “Look we are going to dedicate this much time to complete the project, capiche?” Problem solved.
  6. Go Rouge - Write by hand and record thoughts with a tape recorder. This could be a final effort alternative for those who are completely distracted by technology.

*We all have our weak days and must overcome the temptation to procrastinate or become sidetracked with irrelevant things. Attention and concentration can be built stronger over time – Utilize technology to avoid distraction instead of inducing it!

Soundproofing: Get Started

Soundproofing your room can be mighty expensive for aspiring sound engineers and music professionals. I remember being specifically weary about the failure of placing soundproofing materials in the correct spots for maximum effectiveness due to lack of experience, engineering knowledge and simply being unsure about how to combat the plethora of acoustic problems in my mixing room. 

I came across the Auralex Free Room Analysis - http://www.auralex.com/praf/. You can submit a detailed sketch of your mixing room/studio on graph paper for those who do not know how to process outlines on architectural software programs for detailed analyses. Auralex’s engineering professionals will then review the sketch submission and show you how to soundproof your room absolutely FREE using their products. If you decide not to use Auralex - At least you have an idea of where to set up bass traps, acoustic panels, density curtains etc. There are plenty of options on the internet that can provide the same function for sound absorption ,but I highly recommend Auralex for their industry standard acoustic foam. Receive a second opinion from a sound engineer as well - I really believe that Sweetwater Sound has pristine customer service, engineering knowledge and goes the extra mile to make sure you are taken care of with plenty of different acoustic options. 

Roxul Wool is a great alternative for those on a budget who like the DIY approach to setting up a studio. 

Make sure the Noise Reduction Coefficient and Sound Absorption Average is close to 1.00 or higher for maximum frequency deadening. 

NRC - The Noise Reduction Coefficient (commonly abbreviated NRC) is a scalar representation of the amount of sound energy absorbed upon striking a particular surface. An NRC of 0 indicates perfect reflection; an NRC of 1 indicates perfect absorption.

SAA- The SAA value is the average of the sound absorption coefficients at twelve 1/3 octave frequencies ranging from 200 to 2500 hertz. 

This analysis will help you get the ball rolling for people who are uncertain where to start in terms of providing acoustical treatment to their studios - http://www.auralex.com/praf/

Please let me know your thoughts or any ideas to gain a better understanding of your room to gain the best possible result in acoustic treatment for your studio!

The Traveling Musician: 12 Items

This article is beneficial for musicians to enhance their creative output while traveling. I was overseas in the Middle East for a year and had to utilize minimalist music equipment in order to upkeep my music production and ghostwriting services. Taking a minimalist approach to constructiing music FORCES you to be resourceful with the materials you have. Being resourceful is one of the key components to set yourself apart from competition because it eliminates excuses, limiting beliefs about “substandard” equipment and gives you an opportunity to try different approaches. Here is my list of equipment and techniques for traveling musicians:

  1. Mobile Music Applications – This was huge when I traveled on trains, buses and public transportation. I needed to consistently come up with concepts to challenge my craft and enhance its veracity. Some IOS applications include: Garageband, Traktor DJ, DM1 etc. There are plenty of applications that you can search on the web to make your decision on which one suits your needs as a producer and most are touch screen sensitive. I generally utilized mobile devices for concepts but with the advent of application innovative technology you are able to produce full-fledged songs without the aid of an external DAW. Sounds, projects and loops can be easily exported on to your computer in WAV/AIFF files or imported into the DAW itself for further tweaking. It’s also a cost effective way to music production and there are plenty of free applications.
  2. Laptop - I have a Macbook Pro, a 1TB hard drive and a 5 TB external hard drive. Always back up your music to the cloud or an external hard drive in case your HD becomes damaged or your computer is stolen. Never have your external in the same bag as your computer in case of theft. You want to have a lot of RAM for processing power when using multiple plug-ins and VSTs for maximum functionality and to keep inefficiency to a minimum.
  3. Recording Interface - Purchase an audio interface with great analogue to digital conversion and preferably something small. I use theApogee Duet with a 192 Khz sample rate and 24 bit depth for maximum quality. The Apogee Duet also has 2 inputs and 4 outputs that can be linked to an IOS device if needed. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a good 2nd choice for those on a budget and has a great sound for a fraction of the price. You can record direct input with the interface rather than hauling around an amplifier and there are great plug-ins to add distortion and FX like Guitar Rig, Waves GTR 3 and IK Multimedia.
  4. TRS Cables and XLR Balanced Cables -  These will be important for plugging in microphones, guitars, synthesizers and other outboard pieces of music equipment. I recommend anything made by Mogami. Mogami’s products are durable, have fast conductors, superior metal components and a wide frequency spread. Double up in cables just in case – they take a hell of a beating when recording.
  5. Reference Headphones -  I bought AKG 702’s and I absolutely love them. They are affordable and have a very flat sound. Sennheiser makes the top open-can headphones HD 800 (Best) and 600. This will be different than mixing in a regular treated room ,so make sure you are cross referencing with speakers to be safe. *The ¼ TRS tip will be used to plug into your audio interface. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting this. Optional: You can buy a HS5 Yamaha speaker and listen in mono if need be for sound quality.
  6. Drum Pad/ MIDI Keyboard Hybrid- These are useful for full-fledged music production and can really replace a lot of outboard equipment when used with VSTs and production software that links up with your MIDI keyboards through USB or FireWire cables. -  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MPKmini2
  7. Audio Plug-Ins, DAWs and Virtual Instruments – These will be your bread and butter in terms of music production. Virtual instruments can be triggered by the MIDI devices for overall music creation. I tend to use Native Instruments as my go to for VSTs – they have a wide variety of different programs useful for production (Check out the whole package with their Komplete Series). Sounds can be altered in the DAW for structure, recording, production, mixing/mastering etc. I tend to focus on Pro Tools and Logic Pro as a reliable DAW. Enhancements and engineering are done through audio plug-ins often times resembling a piece of real life analogue equipment. My favorite plug-in companies are Waves, Sound Toys and Universal Audio that emulate real pieces of gear in the analogue world.
  8. Microphone, Portable Vocal Booth and Mic Stand – Collapsible. Most microphone stands are collapsible and don’t take up much room in a suitcase other than a rod you can put on the bottom of your luggage underneath. A condenser microphone is essential for recording vocals and any sort of tangible instrument. The best bang for your buck will be the SM7 Shure- Michael Jackson used this microphone for Thriller. This is industry standard and many great records were recorded with Shure equipment. The portable vocal booth functionality is to provide ample acoustics when recording and deaden sound minimizing reflections that could interfere with the recording process.
  9. Borrowing and/or Purchasing Equipment @ Destination – Ideally some equipment is not permissible to haul around everywhere you go. I bought a great used guitar at a discount price in Dubai (Around $100 US) and sold it before I left. It was a Stella Harmony guitar that Kurt Cobain used on Nirvana’s Nevermind album. There is always the option to rent out equipment as well at studios for music equipment and recording. Safety Note: Try to get most recording out of the way before departure. Focus on recording instruments that you can not bring with you on the trip and would be hard to find elsewhere when traveling. Don’t expect all the equipment to be at your disposal when you get to your destination.
  10. Internet Services - You can always find people to mix for you as well on freelance sites and/or other reputable sites from professionals - Make sure they are credible and have them provide previous work. Purchasing singers, ghostwriters, songwriters etc. can be found just a click away on websites such as elance.com, Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com etc. Here are some services I offer on Fiverr.com. Mixing and mastering services can be outsourced to recording studios but may be pricey.
  11. Original Packaging/Protective Cases to protect equipment from damage during traveling. I used to always throw my packaging away after I purchased a product until I started traveling. The Styrofoam and dimensions of the original packaging go a long way when transporting different pieces of equipment – Anything from protecting your buttons, knobs, screens etc. these are useful and free. I always put my most significant and fragile items in my carry - on.
  12. Multiple Universal Adapter Plugs – This is imperative if you are going to different countries with multiple wattage restrictions. You don’t want to blow out your assets and start from scratch or put yourself in a financial situation. Don’t worry as these are relatively cheap. Buy power chords with compound outlets.

Important: Two pieces of equipment you do not want to skimp on when traveling to get the best out of your recordings are Studio Headphones and a High Quality Audio Interface. The interface to produce a great analogue to digital conversion and studio headphones for accurate mixing/mastering. Always insure your equipment before departure for any mishaps that might take place overseas.

These are the pieces of equipment and tips that worked for me creating a seamless amount of music throughout my travels. If there are any techniques or pieces of advice you would like to give – Please reply in the comment section below. I would love to hear about keeping your music vision alive while traveling!

NORMAL BREEDS THE MORTAL

This website was made in order to adhere to the innovative world we live in today and its unprecedented creativity. I primarily focus on music because that's my passion but I also incorporate lifestyle design methods based around new ways of thinking and authenticity. I have a certain nostalgia of what I consider to be great music and possess a strong belief in finding the best possible sound. This blog will show you ways to increase your creativity and contribute to distinct aspects of your life- it will also be a genuine source of self development tools to aid you in your creative journey. I want to stress the idea of resourcefulness and working with what you have to create the minimum viable product to get you started and proceed to make tweaks along the way. In other words, the "getting started now" concept is the hardest and most important part of trying to live a life of your design. I really wanted to communicate my passion to a huge audience and felt that blogging is the best way of doing this.  I see each blog as an island dispersing flares into the atmosphere trying to grab people's attention for a variety of reasons. However, sometimes people take more value than they give - I expect my readers to be cognizant of that and I hold my subscribers to the utmost respect and integrity.

The Story: My name is Carson Lee (Nickname: C.Lee has stuck with me since I was 9) I went to the University of Michigan and gained quite a bit of experience overseas in places like Dubai, Israel and Jordan. I have been blessed with two great opportunities working for Wu Tang’s label Wu Music Group as well as interning for Incubus’ Steve Rennie at Renman Music & Business. I recently got back from the Middle East and I wanted to make the move to change my life completely. I decided to open up a music production company out of college and had some amazing memories shooting promo videos (with the help of my business partner David Sowell) for top-tier rap artists, building a home studio from scratch and interacting with some of the top people in the music business. I hope to gain Italian citizenship this year De Jure Sanguine to trace back my family roots after they fatefully fled from Mussolini's rule.

Which Path? I was basically going down two different paths in life and I decided I could either find a job or create one: I chose the latter. I was initially pursuing international security and then I decided I really wanted to follow my true passions because I felt stuck in someone else's life. It drove me crazy that I was going to school for things that I didn’t even believe in and it drained me dry of the natural motivation I possessed, so here I am to tell you that it <b>WAS</b> worth it to go through the trials and tribulations because I then made the decision to trust my inner voice. Everyone has a calling and sometimes it may take a couple of big events for it to truly grab your attention. When the sorrow of not doing something surpasses the pain of doing something - you can be motivated to change significantly. Some people still think that I am crazy but I knew that if I passed up this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life and if entrepreneurship didn't work for me, I could always go to the corporate world with the skills I gained on the journey (or still need to learn).

E-Mails: I will be sending out emails regularly and am in the process of rewarding my subscribers with free material. I am certain this will be of value to you and/or your organization. I want to utilize authentic content and try to stay away from the traditional ways of thinking on here.

My Word: I believe that blogging is the best way to disseminate useful information on an effective level as long as it brings value to my readers. I will commit to writing two pieces a week of quality content that won’t spin your head around regarding a host of complex ideas or uninteresting material. From my experience, writing has a therapeutic function in the world and was a great tool for me while I was dealing with a host of hardships throughout my life. Even if you absolutely hate a piece of writing or a book -  I can guarantee that there is at least one piece of useful information to take away. Reading is like compound interest that grows your knowledge base the more you partake in the activity.

Replies: Commenting is a great way for me to give you constructive feedback that is not so convoluted in an email format for people whose inboxes are already full of excess junk.  I will be participating as I see fit in the comments and welcome constructive feedback/ discussion.

As the blog progresses there will be an archive of valuable content that users will be able to swift through as references for their own creative journeys. It gives users a way to navigate effectively in our technologically distracted world.  My goal is to have a ton of material for people to pick and choose content best related to their needs as they see fit.

Tell Your Own Story: I hope to inspire others to write their own blogs because I believe that everyone has a voice that should be heard (Well, some can be annoying). I will follow you and be supportive of your endeavors just contact me! I opened up my Wordpress account for free with a domain name and I can help you get started if need be. I will send notifications of new postings to read whenever you would like and I hope to accommodate to your busy schedules, so that you are able to capture the value of each post. It’s as simple as that.

Vito's House: I am supportive of a discussion as long as all parties are respectful. I even like the direct approach of communication - it shows a source of honesty that we often resent in our passive aggressive society. If you want to use your real name that's cool OR if you want to create a username that is fine too. This community should be like the Corleone family - In other words, don't be the Fredo of my blog.