Sunday, 29 July 2012

Steam sale and music piracy

Summer is upon us and gamers all over the interwebs have been buzzing with the excitement of heavily discounted games for the PC.

If you aren’t familiar with the Steam sale, Steam a desktop client that allows the purchase and downloads of a large variety of gaming titles. They have a bi-yearly sale where games can be discounted by as much as 75%. 

What’s this got to do with the music industry you say? Well music piracy is on rise as per usual and if the music and film industry can learn anything it that they can make an even the most hardcore of pirates legal customers.

I appreciate we have the ITunes store, but there isn’t much choice for alternative. Personally Apple doesn’t do it for me and I have no interest in their services or products. That and I don’t particularly care for their marked up prices. I think if you want to shift pirates to legal downloader’s give them the means to acquire a mass of cheap music or film in an easy method.

Most might be happy with 99p a download but personally that’s not good enough. I feel that is over priced,  I will only pay full price if I support the artist or if I truly liked a product and had the intention to pay full price later on at a more convenient time. If you want to encourage people to purchase media you have to give it to them cheaper than that.

I bought 2 games from the Steam sale and it only came to a fiver; if this price was applied to CD's/digital downloads I would probably pay for it. Personally, Apple doesn’t cater to my tastes musically so I wouldn’t bother with its featured albums but that’s a different story.

All over Reddit gamers are rejoicing at the discounts and how much they've bought compared to pirating. These members are actually happy to pay as long as it is an easy viable option to gather and own media.

Another thing the ITunes store doesn’t give you the right to have. You don’t own your music you are pretty much licensing it from them. If you die and wanted to pass your digital music collection on, Apple wouldn’t allow it because you never did own your music.

While the wheels of change are slowly grinding, the music and movie industry better catch on to give the people cheaper, more readily available 'disposable' media. Learn to adapt and survive, because your old business models are no longer profitable.

If you have given up music because of the pirates have you thought about your role in the music industry?

Edit 1 14/8/12
After reading a recent update to the Steam UA (user agreement) it does not let you own the game they actually licence it to you similarly to what Apple and Itunes do. So when you shuffle this mortal coil you will legally not be allowed to pass those games on to your family as you would with your other property such as CD's DVD's etc. Still regardless, with that one flaw it is a much better system than failing models like the retail business of HMV which in recent days have lost £16 million pounds.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Top 5 things you need before recording

When you have a chance to lay some tracks down in a studio its important to focus and remember to why you are there and to make the most of it.

When I record I have 5 things I make sure I have that help me focus, to perform to the best of my ability and to make the most of the daylight. I only have about 12 hours to record over the weekend, the following will get me set up plough through and Rock N Roll with no distractions (except maybe #4)

1) Big breakfast
What better way to start the day with a kick-arse breakfast. Personally a massive sandwich/roll with as much in it as possible. My personal favourite is Bacon, sausage or chicken, cheese, onion, tomato, gherkins, bit of garlic and of course mustard. Washing that down some cool lemonade.
This meal will set you up for a good few hours. While you may feel bloated now but it will give you an extra hour or 2 before you need to refuel at lunch.

2) Coffee
Following your meal you should have a nice medium to strong coffee cooling on the table. Caffeine being a stimulant and all round proven measure to increase focus, concentration stamina and ability.
Nothing like a boost to get the mind rolling, and to stop you slumping during your takes.
Below is a video from CPG Greys
"Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever"
as of recently I am convinced. Have a couple of these over the day, by all means have a energy drink if you prefer but they don't have the same satisfaction as a coffee in my opinion.


3) Space
You are now prepared to do your thing, you get in the studio but find it hard to do your one take of a life time. You find you can't concentrate and looking around, the studio has a load of toot cluttering the surfaces. Like rubbish, dust and unused equipment for example. While this tip is a bit 'zen like' and 'hippy dippy' before I record I clear my surrounding surfaces so that nothing is in eye sight. The only things that are taking up room is my guitar amp,  pedal board, paper notepad, interface and nothing else.

My cables are all woven and around and hidden behind furniture. Ok a pain in the arse if you want to change the set up but none the less this gives me peace of mind and no nagging feeling like "I must tidy up later" alternatively its what the Chinese call Qi or Chi to you and I, where energy, life force and inspiration can flow around you with no resistance ... Like I said, a little hippy dippy if you're into that. But it works.


4) Khazi, aka the office or throne room.
After all your coffee and food you will want to make sure the Khazi is a few steps away. obviously you cant help this all the time, it is where it is and not much you can do about that. But if  by chance you're building a studio then for gods sake but the toilet next to the control room for a better time for all.

5) Time
lastly you need to set aside time, using my recent recording as experience. I completed it in two weeks and had another listen whilst mixing on the third weekend and realised I wasn't happy with the quality of the guitar. I didn't ignore it and say "that will do", it had to be re recorded. Point being always put aside extra time whether to try something new, record some more or experiment. You can never have enough time in a studio. Use every second expanding your knowledge, gathering inspiration and most importantly your sound. Ask questions and get involved.


Bonus tip # 6

6) Warm up
Nothing makes the process smoother than being well warmed up for your performance. Put a half hour TV show on and just hit those strings. Get the blood flowing to your hands, stretch, play, warm and yes moisturise those hands. I will provide some exercises in the future.

That's my list, what are the 5 things you need to get to it and record? Do let me know below. Who knows I could add a new step for myself.

Now you're ready to record have you seen why intonation is important?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Ideal Bass Rig of 2012

If I had a unlimited budget to buy any gear I want, this is the set up I would choose right now. The gear listed below I believe can tackle any gig I would have to play. The amp and cab are designed to play anything and deliver the necessary tones for the genre, thats the main reason I love the SVT combo
Alfie Williams Bass Rig
Bass GTR > SansAmp > TU-2 > MXR Octave > Tech 21 Chorus >
  Ampeg SVT 4


First hand experience using these recording on a session or two. Absolutely love the warmth of this head. Ridiculously punchy and has all the lows. All the best use them so cant go wrong with a SVT.

ATK 305 with SVT 4 and 8x10 Ampeg Cab

Heritage SVT-810E
Nothing compliments a SVT head better than a SVT cab! Again first hand experience using these and the sound couldn't be better. It handle anything you throw at it, whether that be Punk-rock, Metal or even Jazz! The ultimate bass tone.

To compliment the amp I have chosen 3 main effects I use when it comes to bass. I don't over do it but its nice to have any of these 3 effects at one time.

If you want to know more about bass cabs I must highly reccomend having a look at the go to guide for bass amplifier guide

Sansamp PSA 1
While the SVT gives a beautiful growl, the PSA gives you that little bit more control over your OD/distortion settings. In my ideal set up this would be crucial.

Standard tuning device that works best in dark stage conditions and built like a tank to boot.

MXR octave
Compared to the BOSS OC3 that I currently use, the MXR Octave has a little more range when it comes to tracking and sounds that little bit better. While a digital sounding octave can be a personal taste I don't like it all the time, hence the MXR choice! 

Tech 21 Bass Boost Chorus
I can't think of anything better than that 80's sounding chorus. Big, fat and shimmering. Compared to the Digitech Multi Chorus the Tech 21 has ultimate control over those shimmering tones and I want it BAD.

OD, Octave and a chorus, what more could you want in a bass sound? This has it all! 

There is a fantastic bass effects pedal guide that explains all you need to know about the differences between all those pretty pedals.

DR HI beams 45 - 120 (5 string) Or the 4 string pack DR DDM 45 – 10. If you wanted to know more about strings and why these hi-beams rock I've written a guide explaining which bass strings you should choose when creating your rig.

Lakland 4401 for the studio or live performance
Lakland 4401

Ibanez ATK 305 for live performance. 
ATK 305

Of course if we are going to talk about ideal basses, well thats a different conversation altogether! Speaking of which, if you like the basses mentioned have a look at the different types of bass you can get to go with your rig.
Whats your ideal rig? Which parts of mine do you like or dislike? Leave comments below as I really want to know.

Now you have the best Bass rig of 2012 have you seen how I like to record with my Top 5 things you need before recording?