Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why Pokémon is a Game Changer and How We Can Use This for Music, Art and Environmental Sustainability.

With all the hype over Pokémon Go launching from Niantic and Nintendo, augmented reality games might be here to stay.

There have been several attempts at delivering augmented reality mobile gaming like with Ghostbusters. However, Pokémon Go seemed to capture two important cultural keys.

Childhood Memories

The first is the connection to childhood memories. Pokémon are imaginary cartoon animals that you can train to battle other Pokémon. It is a modern version of what traditionally has been the Japanese pastime of catching insects. Originally from 1995, Pokémon was accessible via Gameboy and card games. This puts millennials right in the point of origin for the target market. Those that were of game playing age back then are now 30 -40 years old and have expendable income on smartphones and other technology. The game puts you in the first person, which is what other versions of this game lacked.

Culturally Significant Landmarks

It also uses geofencing technology to augment gameplay. Right now,  Niantic uses a propriety database of culturally significant landmarks as "PokéStops" where you can collect more "PokéBalls" (traps to catch Pokémon). In my home town which is an old mill city, most cultural landmarks such as bell towers and even Fenway Park are PokéStops. You can see people of all ages gathering around these areas to catch more Pokémon. If your business happens to be a Pokéstop, you have probably seen an increase of sales. Expect Niantic to receive sponsorships in the near future from major retailers to be listed as a Pokéstop.


Geofencing is where we can leverage music and arts. Geofencing is nothing new to apps or to art. In fact, two composers used geofencing to create a piece of music that centered around the Washington DC area. However, what happens if the music changes as we move closer or further away from an area? What happens if the speed at which we move changes the music? How do we program for this? How do we produce for this? Can a Pokéstop also educate?

These are important questions that Pokémon Go is creating. Even with the game in Beta, it didn't create as much of a cultural revolution like it did two weeks ago. People are outside and moving about, altering every perception of video gamers being a solitary hermit micro-society. Nintendo made a brilliant marketing move in the end. It knew it could not compete with traditional game consoles, so it brought the gamer away from the console.

What now?

If this trend keeps on going through the summer, prediction: expect to see more advertisements on the platform as well as high paying sponsors. We should also see service get smoother from Niantic which is having a very hard time handling increased server load. 

Prediction: The login credentials are currently through Google and Niantic's own portal. Expect to see a Facebook login key shortly. 

Long Term Change and Sustainability?

Prediction: We should also see a backlash from telecom companies on the amount of data this app is using. Similar to when Netflix went live with HD streaming, customers are going to push hard against data caps. If the telecom industry is smart, they will figure out a way to mitigate data overages for those customers willing to pay more. If the trend goes beyond 6 months, we can expect to see even more infrastructure installed in low coverage areas, because cultural significant landmark are in these areas. 

We should also see improvements in mobile device technology. Right now, Pokémon Go is an absolute drain on battery life. If people are using this app with less access to wall outlets to recharge, Solar might be the answer. Prediction: Solar Cell mobile phone covers would allow for battery recharging without a wall outlet. Imagine people 

Friday, July 1, 2016

MSR in NYC closing July 1 2016; Why are all the big studio's are going out of business?

A few weeks ago, the NYC recording studio MSR announced it would cease operations as of July 1 2016.This comes on the heels of Avitar Studios (formerly The Power Station) announcing it was up for sale.Why are all the NYC recording studios going out of business? What has happened to the need for big budget studios?

Change in Economics

I believe the answer is in the question. The idea of big budget recording is no longer economically viable. Artists are losing support from the production companies as artists are choosing alternatives to publication(CD Baby, Distrokid, etc). Who needs a big publishing house when you can self-publish and avoid the royalty and publishing fees? This is not a new phenomenon as the book industry is currently going through this same dilemma: Independent and self-publishing is undermining big publishing.

No More Editorial Process

What we are losing is the big publishing editorial process. As record labels are downsizing, so is their acquisition and editorial staff. No longer willing to take chances on failure, record labels are mostly going for established artists and thus not needing an entire department of editors. Without editors, executives are again not taking chances on new artists. New artists are now turning to the self-publishing route and thus undermining the entire business model.
What are we left with? A plethora of music to choose from, but no vetting process. This means that you have to hunt for new music or music in a genera (or sub genera, or sub sub genera) you like.

Computing Cost vs Performance

With good equipment being inexpensive in today's market, highly trained audio engineers who graduate from universities and technical schools are producing music without the big budget studio. The paradigm of graduating high school and interning at a studio no longer works in today's market. Most studios want interns who are already college trained, thus reducing the learning curve and getting a more productive employee quicker.
The new millennial employee is also extremely computer literate, which makes the paradigm of analog recording almost obsolete. Why record analog when the computing power of non-linear editing is not only cheaper (no costs for tape), but highly cost effective in terms of staff time. If you don't need 80 hours per song to do basics and fix mistakes and only need 20 hours with digital recording, big studios are losing out on 60 additional billable hours.

So Now What?

The paradigm has changed. The old way of analog and big studio recording was too rigid and inflexible. We are now an industry of individual production. We see this with new artists emerging out of the EDM genera who produce their own music and are more successful than established bands working in the old label paradigm. What we can see however is that there is still a need for experienced mixers and mastering engineers. With the resurgence of vinyl record sales, the back end of the production process is still thriving.

The need for good sounding mix rooms is still driving most new construction but the purpose is more for mixing and mastering, not for recording. This might not be a bad thing, but recording studios need to adapt to the changing market, or find themselves facing extinction in the production market. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Press Release- Antelope Audio Announces Partnership with BAE Audio, as Company Prepares Imminent Release of Authentic, Vintage Product Emulations

Santa Monica and North Hollywood, Calif.,
May 18, 2016 — Clocking, conversion and Effects technology expert Antelope Audio has announced a partnership with BAE Audio wherein the two companies will collaborate on delivering authentic digital emulations of some of the most classic vintage recording gear. The digital emulations, which utilize Antelope's proprietary FPGA engine, will enable users of Antelope's Orion Studio, Zen Tour and Goliath to access faithful recreations of the originals— without ever having to reach for a piece of outboard gear or software plug-in.

The first emulation to be introduced is the BAE Audio 1073 EQ, a classic preamplifier/EQ known for its authentic transformers and authentic, premium grade components based on original specifications. The EQ from the BAE 1073 will become available this week at no additional charge for owners of Antelope's new Thunderbolt interfaces. Over the coming days and weeks, Antelope Audio will be announcing several more digital emulations, including BAE's entire range of EQs and compressors, which the company says will have a revolutionary impact on the traditional plug-in market.

"We believe that BAE Audio has created the very best modern version of the vintage 1073," commented Marcel James, Director of U.S. Sales for Antelope Audio. "Therefore BAE was the obvious choice for us to partner with on this and other upcoming products based on their established pedigree. The company's reputation precedes itself, as evidenced by the mountains of BAE gear routinely being used in top studios and on many hit records — oftentimes right alongside the original 1073’s. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship."

Antelope’s emulations, which are unique on the market and utilize a proprietary FPGA engine, enable real-time effects processing before a signal even reaches the DAW component. This allows users to access authentic digital emulations of the most classic hardware in real time without buffering. This technique, which Antelope's research team has been developing for years and which is present in all of Antelope's new interfaces, uses it’s hardware FPGA circuit to recreate the characteristics of vintage analog circuits, maintaining the true feel and response of real hardware.  Antelope’s FPGA is an actual digital hardware processor, avoiding the need for buffered plugins which add undesired latency and often artifacts to the sound.  

Mark Loughman, President of BAE Audio, commented on the new partnership: "We’ve been approached by many companies on doing digital emulations in the past, and have always been hesitant on the 'company fit'. When Antelope approached though, it was different — we use their converters in house for demos and testing, and are intimately aware of the quality and innovation in their products. We knew Antelope would be able to capture the essence of the original BAE 1073 better than anyone else on the market and we are very pleased at the result."

For more information on Antelope's new interfaces featuring BAE Audio emulations and the company's parallel processing technology, please visit

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why we are losing all the great musicians

Prince, Bowie, Lemmy, Nick Menza, John Berry, Phife Dawg, Keith Emerson.

Looking at the and the sites, the list of stars we lost in the last 8-12 is impressive. However, as our music heroes of our childhood age, we shouldn't be surprised that we are starting to lose them in some numbers. Let us take a look at some of the likely reasons for this.

  • The 1960-1980's were prolific times in music and culture. Because of this, those celebrities dying now were 20-40 at the time. This puts the celebrities at approx 70 years old right now.

  • Statistically, as of 2015, the average USA life expectancy is 76 for men and 81 for women. If we look at the two lists for celebrity deaths, we can see an average age of about 68 years old. This means, that we are at the start of the celebrity bell curve. We statistically should start to see more celebrity deaths in the coming 5 years or so. 

  • Those that are about 70 years old as of 2016 are known as Baby Boomers. " More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952, and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964 when the boom finally tapered off. By then, there were 76.4 million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population." (

  • Baby boomers were the original "YOLO" (You Only Live Once) generation for which you were split into two groups: you were either fighting for social justice and equity, or part of the hippie movement. Growing up under the threat of nuclear destruction by the cold war, baby boomers tended to live life to the fullest. This includes the rock stars born on in this generation. A demanding life of hard drugs, partying and long tour travel is starting to catch up with baby boomer celebrities. We statistically see this.
So, statistically, this is not good news for the musical legends in this age range. We will lose more as time goes on, and possibly more frequently. However, the great thing about recorded music is that an artist's emotional memory will carry on through their work. We will always have their music to fall back on a connect to our own trials and tribulations. This is all part of the circle of life.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Minimalism in Production

On May 3rd of 2016, I had the opportunity to go to a special screening of a documentary called "Minimalism" which was based on the blogs, essays, and books of Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.

They catalog personal accounts of becoming a minimalist by discussing their high paying corporate jobs and subsequent jarring life event which forced them to rethink their initial path; which inevitably led them to a more intentional lifestyle. Their story is compelling and life altering. It has forced me to rethink how much "stuff" I have and how to downsize in order to focus on more important things. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend starting with their blog and podcast at the same time. This combination paints the best picture of their lifestyle.

This got me thinking about minimalism in music production, specifically, those of us with home studios. How much "STUFF" do you have? Here was my simple list

13 guitars
4 keyboards
5 computers
30 XLR cables
50 misc cables
30 TRS/TS cables (various lengths)
400 CD's
100 books
30 Stomp Boxes
100 random assorted cables

If you are an audiophile like me, then you might have something very similar, including microphones and outboard gear. But in reality, how much of it do we need? The problem is, we hold value to things that might not have value at all. For example, out of my 13 guitars, only 1 held a value over $350. What was I holding on to?

I realized that my work space and my home space were stifling my creativity. Here was literally my thought on May 2nd, 2016: "I really should do some work on that intro song on my album, but my desk is a mess and I really don't feel like cleaning it. I just want to write. Oh well, I will just play some Fallout 4 instead".

On May 10th, I did something radical; I packed up most of my accessories and gear. I then only took out 2 of each thing, or as many as I would possibly

Q: Each guitar/mic/didgeridoo has their own timbre.

A: I did an experiment with this. I chose one guitar, an Ibanez RG series. As I plugged it in and recorded some pure tones from it, I challenged myself to try to mimic the pure tones out of my other 12 guitars using just this one guitar. The result: I was able to. What did this teach me?

That my ears were the most important commodity I had, not the guitar. If I was able to replicate most of the sounds using a combination of EQ, multi-band compression, and different distortion plug-ins, then, in reality, I didn't need 12 other cheap guitars.

Q: But I paid $500 for that thing!

A: If you have ever tried to sell something on eBay, you know that the actual market value vs the retail is very skewed. I paid $550 for an Epiphone Les Paul Thru Body Sun Burst guitar back in 2001. The guitar was immaculate and sounded just like a Les Paul. However, on the market, used, this was only worth about $150-200. I attached a value to it that was not reasonable. When we buy something from Guitar Center or any retail shop, it is steeply marked up. Once you walk out the store with it or let the money back guarantee expire, the item automatically loses most of its value. I really had to look at my stuff as sunk money costs.

Q: But I might need that for a future album!

A: Minimalism teaches the 90/90 rule. If you have used the item in the past 90 days, or will use it in the next 90 days, then keep it. If not, donate it or sell it. I was holding about 110 cables I havn't used since recording a full drum kit in my old studio almost 10 years ago now. The most cabling I use is to my guitar amp and my Korg Kronos now. I did hold onto enought to connect everything at once, and then 1 spare. I only have 20 cables total now.

Q: Who would want this specialized equipment?

A: Schools. Most schools teach production, but don't have the budget to buy new equipment. If you donate the equipment to a school, then they can give you a receipt for a tax deduction. That tax dedution can be worth as much as reselling your equipment retail.
If you want cash in hand, eBay or Pawn Shop. Or donate the equipment to a donation center or thrift store. JUST GET A RECEIPT OF DONATION!

The Results

After about a month of cleaning up, I have noticed a significant amount of clutter gone. I have done this to other parts of the apartment and my girfriend is loving the change. The best way to describe the feeling is "freedom". Without the clutter and the extra stuff, we have been both creative with our free time. It is amazing to think that random objects could take away from creativity, but the truth is, visual clutter dosn't alow for creative flow because it takes your attention away from your creative idea. Now, don't get me wrong, I still have shorts, shoes, and t-shirts. I still have mic cables, microphones and a few guitars still, but I got rid of the excess and the things that didn't bring value into my life. The results were more creativity and produtivity... and more time to build better friendships relationships.