Archive for January, 2013

Working With Gobbler

By now you’ve probably heard about Gobbler. If you routinely share digital audio files and sequences with collaborators and/or need a secure place to park back ups of your work and you haven’t investigated Gobbler, I’d suggest you head up to their website (www.gobbler.com) and study the videos the company has posted.

It’s easy to think of Gobbler as yousendit.com for musicians, but that comparison suggests that it simply handles audio file, and doesn’t do justice to the platform. Gobbler has some build ins that help us out in ways that are unique to our workflow. For example, we’ve all had the experience of recording audio files thinking they’re safely nestled within a designated audio folder only to find out that some of them have been scattered around our hard drive array. Gobbler scans your system and develops a catalogue of all your audio files, making it easy for you to see if any file reorganization needs to take place. Its full feature set is explained in the tutorials, so I won’t rehash Gobbler’s functionality here. I’m simply going to share my first experience as a user with you.

Last week pianist Christopher Johnson and I went into LBrown Recording (www.lbrownrecording.com) to record “A Brief Discourse On The Blues,” and “Soft As a Kiss (Emily’s Song).” Louis Brown has an 1881 nine-foot Steinway D Centennial Edition, and it is a beauty. The recording set up was simple: a pair of left and right close microphones, another flanking pair, and a third pair, used to capture a rough mix. Louis established a Gobbler account the day of our session; for safety reasons we recorded simultaneously to his system’s internal drive, to Gobbler (we hoped!) and an external drive. After the session we confirmed that all the material had made its way safely up to the cloud, but to save time while he learned the Gobbler process Lewis burned a CD of the session files for me to bring back to my studio.

I loaded the stereo mix files into an empty Cubase 5 sequence using the default tempo of 120 bpm as a reference point, then created an edit decision list for both tracks. If, for example, an insert of bars 9-11 needed to applied to the base track, I made note of the bar in the Cubase sequence where it could be found. Ed Goldfarb mixes a lot of my material. Ed’s a Pro Tools user, so I asked him to load up a blank sequence in his DAW set to a tempo of 120 bpm.

Then Gobbler was brought into play. I opened up the Send Files component of the Gobbler interface, typed in Ed’s e mail address (he’s also a user), dragged the six audio files into the appropriate box, and hit send. That’s it! I repeated the process to check Gobbler’s claim that initial transfer takes more time than subsequent ones because the app first executes a full scan of your hard drives and that takes longer than the following update process. It’s true; the first send took a couple of minutes, the second went by in an instant. Shortly thereafter the six tracks showed up on Ed’s virtual doorstep.

The size of the project (approximately 1.5 Gigabytes) is small by audio industry standards, but far too large for online transfer services, and transferring with Gobbler is simpler than using an FTP site. This project didn’t involve two people editing sequences and sharing updates. I’ll try that at another time.

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Bob Malone

Back in the day young rockers of the male variety dreamed about landing a major label deal, signing with a squinty eyed manager, and spending the rest of their lives counting royalty checks and female fans. Some of those dreams come true today! Major labels still exist, of course, but the careers of most artists are now built out of talent and self promotion, mixed liberally.

Case study: Bob Malone. Malone grew up in rural New Jersey, graduated from the Berklee College of Music and hit the road. A powerful singer with a penchant for the kind of raucous, two fisted, New Orleans style piano playing that’s characteristic of Dr. John, one of his early influences, Malone found himself with a fan base and a willingness to tour. Today, his career combines working with his own band and recording and traveling responsibilities as a member of John Fogerty’s group. I caught up with Bob by telephone from his home in Studio City, California.

MIX: How did you get into the business?

Bob Malone: “I grew up in Jefferson Township, New Jersey. After high school I went to Berklee, and began playing professionally when I was about 18. I moved to LA in 1990, spent some time in New York and New Orleans, and eventually settled back here in Los Angeles. I play about 100 dates a year. The rest of the time I’m in LA. The studio scene here is certainly not as heavy as it was 20 years ago-before I was a part of it-but there is a fair amount of session work.

MIX: You seem to have a well thought out vertical marketing plan. Your Facebook page is populated with fans, your Nimbit store is beautiful, and you use Reverb Nation. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into social media?

Malone: “Before social media there was the internet without social media. Prior to that I sent out postcards to people on my mailing list; they’d sign up at my shows, during meet and greet sessions.

“I joined Facebook three years ago, maybe a little bit before that. I had been on Myspace. The secret to using social media is to understand that these platforms keep changing. For example, Facebook has tightened their flow of information. They want you to pay them to get the word out, and they make sure you get tons of views when you do. But I’m on the fence about that strategy, because a lot of the hits you get are from people who aren’t in your audience and never will be, so what’s the point? They’ve structured things so that the people who do follow you don’t always get to see your posts.”

MIX: Do you mean that if you’re not paying to advertise on Facebook they block people from seeing your posts who in the past would have had access to them?

Malone: “That’s right.”

MIX: I’m impressed with Nimbit. Their basic templates are very good. There are other online stores as well, though. How did you happen to choose them?

Malone: “I went to school with Phil Antoniades, the founder of Nimbit-he’s a drummer. I’m there because of him. Nimbit’s cool, it’s a nice platform for sales, and I collect fans from them.

“The key to marketing yourself successfully in this business is to use all of the tools that are out there. I’m on iTunes, Amazon, and I have a distribution deal with the Burnside Distribution Company, so my CD’s can be found in stores as well.”

MIX: “What are you currently working on?”

Malone: “I’m about half way through my new record. I’m also playing with John Fogerty, and have been for about two years. He’s got a new album that will be coming out shortly as well.”

(Bob Malone invites you to visit him at his website, www.bobmalone.com, or find him on Facebook)

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The Power In Digital Performer

Folks tasked with writing manuals for digital audio workstations have a tough job. On the one hand, the copy they generate has to be digestible for the prosumer market, which includes newbies who know little about recording midi and audio-and many who can barely play an instrument. Seasoned pros are another target market; many of them like to learn on the fly, consulting documentation only when they run into a roadblock. Composing inclusive user manuals that cover all of a DAW’s features while still being accessible to the neophyte…like I said, a tough gig.

A number of third party companies have stepped in, offering video tutorials and “how to” books meant to co-exist with manuals. In general, these materials are less concerned with covering every square inch of an application’s potential; rather, they give a relatively breezy walk through a DAW’s main features.

Hal Leonard (www.halleonardbooks.com) tapped long time Mark Of The Unicorn guru, David E. Roberts to pen “The Power in Digital Performer.” Magic Dave is a logical choice-stumping him on any aspect of Digital Performer is a tough task!

In a large print, easy to read, reasonably priced opus (U.S. $16.99) Dave walks the user through all of DP’s main features, and more, without drowning the reader in each and every aspect of the program. Installation, recording, working with tempo maps, it’s all covered, and with a flowing style that’s based on the understanding that everyone who owns DP will be able to pull out the app’s manual to dive more deeply into a specific area.

High power users may not need this kind of gentle massage, but first time DAW owners as well as some who have shifted over to DP from another software application, will find Dave’s relaxed approach quite appealing and instructive.

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Happy Synthyntyne’s Day!

“ASK EDDIE” is both the name of a column and a blog and yet, you may have noticed there aren’t always questions. At first I wondered if perhaps the column was misnamed, but after some thought I can reconcile the disparity with this caveat: the title has been abbreviated for clarity. The full title is, “Ask Eddie if he can fix this gizmo that few people have any experience with and is more likely to be a restoration than a repair and for which there is little to no documentation…”

That said, please know that you are always welcome to submit questions.

Happy February!

Truth be told, my February column on the SERGE modular synthesizer wrapped just before the holidaze, but it didn’t end up in the January edition, which I thought traditionally was the NAMM issue. On the plus side, collecting 3 1/2 perspectives on the Serge was insightful.

With the holidaze out of the way, I had a fresh new set of troubleshooting ideas to attack the intermittent sequencer problems we’d been having.

So, check out the history and admire my photographic skills. I plan to have some sound and images once the Serge is fully up and running.

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Telephone Rehearsals

In two weeks, Christopher Johnson (http://www.christopherjohnsonpianist.com) and I are heading into Louis Brown’s studio on Ninth Avenue. Chris is a great pianist; at home with the flashy show stoppers (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1), he’s also quite comfortable with more intimate pieces. His take on Gershwin is excellent-check out the audio files on his site when you have some time.

About a decade ago Chris was the featured artist on an album of my chamber music, “Many Streams, One River.” This time around he’ll be recording two solo piano works, “A Brief Dispatch On The Blues,” and “Soft As A Kiss (Emily’s Song).”

Johnson lives in Manhattan, and it only takes me about an hour to drive into town from my central New Jersey home. But our rehearsals have taken place over the telephone, and I’ve noticed a distinct advantage to working in this decidely low fi manner. Hearing Chris apply his fluid technique to my music in person is kind of like enjoying a perfect martini, or two. Why concentrate on the flaws of the writing? Sure, the bass line at letter C is somewhat lame, but who cares… it all sounds great!

We’ve all been through this. Back in the day, didn’t you listen to play backs on the Big Reds most of the time? Eventually you realized that your work had to stand up on the tiny Aurotone speakers that every professional studio owned, and you became a better producer. Sure, I could hear through the experience of listening to Chris play live, and detect the weaknesses in my writing, but I’ve really enjoyed working over the phone. Chris is in Montana right now visiting his girl friend, about 35 miles south of the Canadian border.

Time to hear how those changes at letter C sound!

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