[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep3: Capital City DJ Olympics Postmortem

Ok, so that happened!

First, I want to say thanks for sticking with me as I blog about my entry into the Capital City DJ Olympics. This will be the last post on that topic. Returning readers may remember that 2 weeks ago I was freaking out about entering the DJ competition, and was scouring the internet for tutorials. Then, by last week, I had pretty much set up my Live Template for DJing, in preparation for my first DJ performance on 10/23/2011.


It went well, I think. I – along with the other DJs in the competition – owe some thanks to the guys at Boxcar Management for putting on a great event. Lots of people came out, and it was a great time.

Live footage of my set:

(SPOILER: the camera never turns away from the goofy looking DJ guy)

… and a recreation of the set on Mixcloud:

(I forgot to record the set at the event itself, but based on what I remembered about the set and the live footage I could recreate the set pretty well.)

Anyways, yeah. As promised, here’s this week’s tutorial, on warping tracks in a way that will make your DJ life more convenient:

See you next week! Leave some comments if you have any questions!

[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep2: My DJ setup

Welcome back! Clint, aka DJvsComputer, of Bachelor Machines here.

For those of you who are following along, we are in week 2 of the saga entitled “Clint Learns To Be a Laptop DJ OR ELSE” due to my impulsive and possibly insane entry into a local DJing competition despite my lack of any DJing experience.

As you may remember, last week I was frantically watching and rewatching DJ tutorials from Abletonlife.com. UPDATE: At this point I feel like I am ready to perform, the internet saved the day again! YAY CLOUD

I wanted to discuss my DJ setup a bit. I’m using a PC laptop and an Akai APC40 controller… I’ve taken on a lot of the points that Ryan from Abletonlife recommended, and I’ve also gone and created my own custom DJ FX rack for this performance. Check out the video below (18 min) to see how it all works:

One of the things I was particularly interested in was which of the two library tracks was the “good one” that I ended up using when things were rocking. The answer is: the one that groups tracks by type is the one I use exclusively. If I were recreating this set I wouldn’t even bother with sorting them by key. In my opinion, the best way to sort them would be by type and THEN by key.

On that topic, one of the things that was recommended in the Abletonlife tutorials was to assign these kind of goofy 1A, 2B signifiers for musical keys to the tracks instead of just saying what key they are in. Two points about that:

  • It is most DEFINITELY a useful thing to put clips’ keys into their clip names. It’s a huge help in making a great sounding mix.
  • I think that if I used a crutch like that 1a, 2b thing to relate keys together, my music theory professor would burst through the wall of my studio like Kool Aid Man, revoke my degree, and possibly end my life.

Music theory is fun, guys! It’s not that hard to understand what keys work well together.

Another thing that AbletonLife discusses which I took issue with was this notion of putting in a warp marker every 4 bars. That, friends, is crazy talk. I’ll go into more detail next week about how I warp tracks for DJing – I found a useful tip that will help you if you’re a DJ.

EDIT (10/27/2011): I reread this and I think I come off like I think you need to learn a ton of music theory to be a good DJ. I definitely don’t think that’s required. All I’m trying to say is, I think exploring a bit about the relationships between keys will help make more cohesive mixes and will be fun at the same time.

[Tutorial Thursday] Learn to Live Vol 3 Ep1: Wherein I become a laptop DJ

Hi folks! This is Clint again, of Bachelor Machines.

Unlike previous Tutorial Thursdays, this week’s featured videos will not be of my own creation. I’m going to let the Internet tag in on this one because I am currently busy warping tracks, practicing sets, and having a nervous breakdown by turns.

About a month ago, my good friend DJ Rachael P talked me into submitting a demo for entry into a local event here in Lansing, MI, USA called the Capital City DJ Olympics, about which I made two assumptions:

  1. I would probably not get in, and if I *did* get in that meant that most of the people that were in it were at around my skill level.
  2. Since this thing is on Sunday nights, no one was going to be there.

Both of these assumptions turned out to be false. This is a HUGE event for Lansing. And the DJs are legit. Scarily legit:

DJ Lee JMore expert DJ

The guy on the left there is DJ Lee J, aka the house DJ for the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers. o_O

So here’s a thing: I’ve never DJ’d in a club in my life. My entire DJ life up to this point consists of one (1) work event wherein I played some background music while people ate dinner.

Here’s a picture of me going into cardiac arrest at the Capital City DJ Olympics:
Clint has heart attack.

So yeah. I’m not the teacher this week. This week, I have been watching stuff and learning things, specifically these DJ tutorials brought to us by Abletonlife.com:

How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 1: Setting Up Ableton And Preparing The Songs from Ryan on Vimeo.

How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 2: Working With Clips, Setting Up Effects, Blending Songs from Ryan on Vimeo.

Dear Ryan at abletonlife.com:
You are rad.

Next week might be more of the same kind of thing, we’ll see. I gotta get back to practicing if this whole “underdog success story” scenario I am hoping for is going to work out.


Tutorial Thursday: Obtaining Rights To Release a Cover Song Online

This week I’m sort of piggyback on Vasko’s excellent Going Straight series, which discusses the ins and outs of trying to do your electronic music in an honest and ethical way. (Full disclosure: Bachelor Machines uses 100% paid for gear at the moment, but like most [ed: all?] electronic artists, I didn’t start out that way either.) This week on Tutorial Thursday I’m going to talk about how to go legit on a different front: I’m going to talk about getting permission to release a cover version of someone else’s song.

Before we get in too deep, let’s talk about the four different kinds of permissions or “rights” that come into play when using another artist’s work. This will get really complicated for a moment and then it will get beautifully simple, so please be patient, I will wake you up when I get to the good part.

Also: the legalities discussed in this article refer to musical activities inside the United States. I don’t know how this works in other countries, hopefully Fwonkers from other countries will contribute to the comments thread.

  1. The first one you usually hear about is the right to use another person’s recording in your recording, i.e. sampling. This is called Master Use rights. Acquiring Master Use rights for a song allows you to use that song’s sounds in your song. If you don’t acquire those rights for the song, you don’t legally have permission and you’re technically liable for damages if you sample the record. That’s irrespective of how much money you make using the sample, by the way. The Master Use rights are held by the person that owns that master recording; typically, this will be the record label.

    Getting Master Use rights for a recording can be a convoluted and expensive process.
    But we’re not here to talk about sampling. =)

  2. The second one you usually hear about is Performing Rights. These are the rights that radio stations pay for, to artists and publishers when they play the song in public. Technically, bars and other venues pay for these rights as well. These are typically paid to the artist and publisher via their Performance Rights Organization (ASCAP and BMI in the USA). The radio station will have an ongoing reporting relationship with the PROs and the artist gets paid as a percentage of whatever the station is paying to the PRO.
  3. Third up, we’ve got Synchronization Rights, which are paid for by TV stations and motion picture studios for syncing the music to picture and then broadcasting it, either via television or via physical media. (In the US, due to a tragic legal decision back in the 40s, public performances of theatrical works garner no royalties for any musician, oddly enough.) These can be very, very lucrative for artists if they can get their tunes onto a TV show. Like Performing Rights, Sync Rights are typically administered via a PRO (so, if you think your music is going to be on TV, you should join a PRO right away.)
  4. Lastly – and this is the one that we’re talking about today – we’ve got Mechanical Rights. Gaining these rights grants you the permission to press a recording of a song to a new thing – the thing could be a digital download, or it could be a CD, or it could be sheet music, or whatever. If I wanted to sell a CD with your recording of your song on it, I would need to get both Master Use rights (for permission to use your recording) and Mechanical rights (for permission to make a CD using a song that you wrote). Mechanical rights are paid to the songwriter and the publisher of the song.

Ok, that was the long, boring part! Here’s where it gets interesting again.

In order to record a cover and do whatever you want with it, you have to acquire the song’s Mechanical Rights to do so. If you’re like me, you’ve probably thought “well, I would like to do that but jeez, I’d have to call some label’s lawyer and I’d have to pay some huge amount of money and, dang. That sounds like a lot of work. How about I DON’T? That sounds like the best plan.” And I think a lot of digital artists think the same way.

But now I’ve got a problem. I’m almost done with a new track and I think it’s pretty awesome, I’m excited about it. But, the song is a cover. Sooooo, I was thinking about Vasko’s articles again and I wondered just how difficult and how expensive a process this would be, if I wanted to make this song available to stream on Soundcloud and/or let people buy it on Bandcamp…

It takes about ten minutes and it costs a penny* per listen.

Watch the video to see how it works:

As mentioned in the video, the Harry Fox Agency is the organization that handles mechanical licenses for most music sold within the United States. They’ve created an online “shopping cart”-style interface called Songfile which makes it just stupidly easy and painless to authorize yourself to provide a limited number (< 10,000) of streams and/or digital downloads (< 2,500) of other artists' songs online at extremely reasonable prices. If you find yourself needing more than 2,500 downloads or 10,000 streams for a cover version of a song that you did, please let me know, so I can start asking you for advice.

Bachelor Machines

*Harry Fox Agency takes a $15 per transaction fee to set up the deal, which is still practically free when you consider that you used to have to hire a lawyer to get this stuff accomplished.

Learn To Live Vol 2: There’s More Than One Way To Rack

It’s Tutorial Thursday here on fwonk.com. Once again, I’m going to talk a bit about Ableton Live; specifically, this week’s set of tutorials is about Racks.

Ableton added the Rack concept in Live version 6, and then added the Drum Rack feature in version 7. They are, in my opinion, one of Live’s most powerful features. In the videos below I’m going to explore the basic usage of each of the three Rack types:

Drum Racks:

FX Racks: (with a quick discussion of the difference between serial processing and parallel processing):

and finally, Instrument Racks (wherein I discuss how to construct a big polysynth sound using only simplers and simple sawtooth waves):

There’s a lot more to discuss regarding Racks, so I will definitely come back to this topic in the upcoming weeks.

Other topics in the queue for Tutorial Thursday:
-the 100% legal way to get permission to post a cover version of a song online
-film scoring in Ableton Live (with some discussion of the music concepts used in developing a film score)

Let us know what you think!
Clint (Bachelor Machines)

P.S. What else would you like to know about?

Learn to Live Vol 1: Simplify Your Live

This is the first in a series of Ableton Live tutorials that Fwonk* will be providing for free, here on the blog. I intend to make this a weekly* feature, so if you have any Live topics you’d like to learn about, post about it in the comments, either here or on Youtube!

Clint (Bachelor Machines)

*no promises on what day of the week we’re talking about.

This week, I’m going to start out with a pair of tutorials that might help aid you in organizing your sessions.

First, this tutorial shows how to create a default session template…

… and this tutorial discusses why it might be a good idea to throw out the idea of even having a default session template:

Coming soon:
-a three-part tutorial discussing Racks within Live
-a series of tutorials discussing scoring for film and video within Live (with some additional discussions regarding general film scoring techniques)

Let us know what you think!