Free 11 Years Strong
December 5, 2022
you remember when I was an avid social media user? I was once on
MySpace (and AOL before that) but it was in the late 2000s that some of
you might remember seeing me as a regular on Facebook. In September of
2011, I deleted my Facebook account. By the end of the year, I was
completely done with social media.
quit social media for two reasons: privacy and health.
media services gather enormous volumes of data about their users. They
know everything about you:
what you say, what your interests are, who your friends are, who you
communicate with, where you go, what businesses you frequent, etc. The
more you use it, the more they learn about you. They then compile,
store, and sell that information.
data collection is intentionally unobtrusive. Even though it's roughly
the equivalent of being followed everywhere by a complete stranger who
stands over your shoulder and documents everything about your life,
it's actually a silent, invisible process running in the background.
The only indicator a social media service is gathering any data about
care about their privacy, but most only care to an extent. For them,
the thrill of using social media outweighs any privacy
concerns, so they turn a blind eye to the data collection and storage.
My guess is that 99.99% of social media users have never read a privacy
people use social media as a tool, but oftentimes it's the user that
becomes the tool. Before I quit Facebook, I realized that most of the
time I spent on it was wasted. Did I really need to learn that someone
I haven't seen for five years had surgery on his foot? No. Did I really
need to know what my neighbor had for lunch an hour ago? No. Likewise,
I was certian none of these people needed or wanted to know the details
of my life. Facebook was a fun way to pass time, but from a practical
point of view, I realized it was not enriching my life.
I quit, I lost contact with a lot of friends, but all I lost was the
arbitrary contact. I didn't lose any of the necessary contact. My
family and friends still reached me just fine in person, over the
phone, and through email. I took the time I had freed up and used it to
benefit my life offline.
media is convenient way to keep up with family and friends, but for
people with personality disorders, it can become an addiction. Studies
have shown that likes and comments trigger a dopamine rush, which makes
social media especially addictive to people with lowered self-esteem.
Do you know someone who posts a lot of selfies? It doesn't take a
psychologist to figure out what's going on.
with narcissistic personality disorder combined with low self-esteem
make social media a necessary crutch in their lives. They
are so afraid of being judged that they avoid people in real life and
a fabricated, exalted version of themselves online. In real life they
may have a track record of being egocentric, intolerant, and
unempathetic, but on social media they can portray themselves as
caring, loving, and compassionate. They do this to generate positive
feedback, even if it's from complete strangers, because positive
feedback is the only kind they are emotionally able to handle.
If I ever do return to social media, it will need to be paid service —
I would rather pay for privacy with my money than pay for a free
service with my privacy. Until then, I'm perfectly happy using my
website to convey everything I want to share. This
news page gets a lot of hits every day. I find that a surprising
considering the world today is dominated by social media, but maybe
it's because I'm a musician still delivering information the old
fashioned way — instead of cramming your
news feed full of filler, I'm selectively creating content for you to
come read whenever it's convenient for you.
long as that works for you, it will work for me, too.
Instrument Libraries Overpriced? I Say Whine Not
November 21, 2022
Note: This is an
industry-specific topic that may not appeal to the
now and then, in a music forum somewhere on the internet, you'll find a
whining: "Why does Developer ABC
charge $500 for their virtual instrument library when Developer XYZ
sells their library of the same instrument for $250? If any developer
charges more than $250, they're obviously greedy. If ABC wants my
business, they'll have to cut their price in half."
complaints all scream the same thing: "I
have very little experience as a VI composer, absolutely no experience
in business, and I'm completely clueless about economics... but I'm
going to tell everyone in this industry things should be done anyway."
you'll please indulge me, here's my response to all the like-minded
all products are created equal. If I wanted to create, say, a
ensemble library, there are unlimited ways I could go about it. I could
create it from free samples found on the internet. I could also hire an
orchestra, rent a movie scoring stage, hire a team of
recording engineers and scripters, record ten times as many samples as
other libraries for ultra-deep sampling, etc. The first option would
cost me nothing, whereas the second option would cost me hundreds of
thousands of dollars. If you're not experienced enough to hear,
appreciate, and understand the time, money, and effort that went into
that second library, you have no business telling me that my retail
price for that library is too high.
$500 library exists for a reason — the basic economics of supply and
demand. If one
string ensemble library offers two dynamic layers and the other library
offers four or five, you may not hear or care about the difference, but
a discerning composer
will, and they'll be willing to pay the higher cost to cover the
expense of creating such a library. How can you possibly suggest a
library is overpriced if it is actively and successfully selling at
not a virtual instrument industry expert. You've never sat on the board
of a large
developer. You've never researched, financed, developed, marketed, and
sold a virtual instrument library. Your only experience with
virtual instrument libraries is that of a consumer. So, while your
complaints about retail prices might make you a hero among some of your
cash-strapped, inexperienced peers, if you're going to set foot in a
forum full of
industry experts and start suggesting they're overpricing their
products, don't expect the same hero's welcome. You're just
going to be passed off as a troll.
personal belief is that these complaints are borne from a
sense of entitlement. All young, budding bedroom music composers wish
have the same tools as professional composers, but few can afford them.
This is normal. We all start out as poor musicians, and it can take us
even decades, to work up to the level of being able to afford higher
priced tools of our trade. That's how the world works. But entitled
kids today want the high-priced
tools NOW. Instead of learning from the tools they
have available to them, they'd rather waste their time making spiteful
comments about the tools they wish they had.
started out in the recording business as a young person working a
wage job. A lot of my equipment was borrowed. As the years went by, I
took out loans and invested in better equipment. Through the years
since, I worked hard and have become able to purchase the tools I need
to do what I
want to do. It clearly wasn't an overnight process.
If you cannot afford the virtual
instruments you want today, stop whining about how expensive they are
and focus your time and energy on developing your skills with what you
already have. The experience you'll gain learning how to make cheaper
libraries sound their best will benefit you much more than you realize.
My first productions forced me to find ways of squeezing realism out of
the basic libraries I could afford at that time. The money I made from
those productions, along with the skills I developed using those
libraries, were then invested into the more comprehensive, more
expensive libraries I use today.
nothing wrong with having and sharing an opinion about the price of a
particular product, but the quickest way to making a complete jackass
of yourself is to claim you know what's best for an entire industry
when you have absolutely no experience in that industry to support your
CDs Couldn't Escape USPS Hell
November 2, 2022
[Note: I'm going to keep the names of the people and places out of this
article so that they don't come up in search engines, but they're
probably not too difficult to figure out.]
the end of September, a polka artist asked me to ship a box of "Escape
to Polka Paradise" CDs to the hotel where she was staying in Minot,
North Dakota. She needed them by 5pm, October 1, because that's when
her bus was departing for Georgia on the next leg of her tour. I
promptly shipped off a box of 92 CDs.
before her bus left the hotel, she called the front desk one last time
and inquired about the package. The gentleman at the desk said no
packages had arrived for her, so she left Minot without the CDs. As she
was leaving North Dakota, she contacted me to tell me the CDs never
got home later that night and checked the tracking number on the
package of CDs. The number confirmed the package arrived at her hotel
that morning. I called the hotel and the same gentleman reiterated the
CD package never arrived, but when I told him it DID arrive, he
immediately found it and apologized. I asked him to send it back to me,
which he said he'd take care of right away.
October 12, after still not having received the CDs, I contacted the
hotel to find out what the status was but couldn't get a hold of the
gentleman who was to have mailed them back to me. Over the next week, I
tried to get a hold of him, but was unsuccessful. On October 18, I
escalated the issue to the hotel manager. The manager found the box of
CDs still sitting there. She apologized and said she'd have their
regional manager take care of sending back the CDs right away.
tried for a week to get a tracking number from the hotel, but they
never returned my calls. Finally on October 21, the hotel manager
called to say the CDs were shipped back using "Return to Sender". The
original tracking number worked on the return, so I was able to watch
the progress of the return — and what a ride those CDs took!
October 18, the package was processed for return shipping. It arrived
in Milwaukee on October 25. But then then the post office sent it to
Minot, ND again and brought it back to Milwaukee, finally delivering it
on November 2... postage due!
box look like it had been through a war. When I opened it up, the
contents were a disaster. Of the 92 CDs I sent, over three dozen were
missing. Of the remaining CDs, over two dozen were too damaged to sell.
The CDs were loose in the box. Almost all of the air bubble padding was
I pack wholesale CDs for shipping, ask any retailer and they'll tell
you I pack them extremely well. I have a huge supply of bubble wrap,
air pillows, and foam peanuts, and I use them liberally. For USPS to
destroy a box of my CDs, they'd have to exercise some excessively
negligent handling. It looks as though the box was tossed from such a
great height that the CDs literally burst through the bottom of the
box. I think postal workers probably then picked up what CDs they could
salvage, tossed them into the box as-is, and swept of the rest of the
broken jewel cases, scratched CDs, and packing material into a garbage
to say, I'm not thrilled. Everyone but me screwed up, and so far it's
all come out of my pocket. That doesn't sit too well with me. I'm going
to seek full shipping reimbursement from the hotel, and I'll be going
after the post office for the destroyed and missing merchandise. If you
are wondering whether or not I insured the package, I did not. There
was no risk of porch piracy, and I pack CDs well enough to survive the
roughest ground or air travel. I did not, however, ship these CDs with
the expectation they'd be dropped from a three-story building, or that
they'd get hauled to North Dakota twice and back to Wisconsin twice.
of you who know me best know that I am not a pushover when it comes to
customer service. I've
spent many years on both sides of the customer service counter. I know
how to handle and solve problems like these, so as a customer, I expect
to be treated as fairly and properly as I would treat a customer in my
be posting updates on this debacle in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!
of November 22, I have not heard back from the president of the company
that owns the hotel. I'll allow a little more time for the letter to
make its way through proper channels, but if I do not receive a
response within 30 days, I will then take the opportunity to make
public the names of the hotel, management personnel involved, and the
company president who ignored my claim, and use various review
platforms to share my experience.
October 16, 2022
belong to several internet discussion forums related to music
production, and if there's one question that keeps coming up in every
forum, it's "What's the best...?" What's the best microphone for...
the best preamp for... what's the best virtual instrument library
the best audio cable for... what's the best reverb plugin for... etc.
nickel for every question posted that starts with "What's the best," I
could retire from music.
a perfectly good reason why these questions are so common.
going to school to become a doctor, lawyer, or architect, music
production is something most people get into as a hobby with no formal
training. Without any idea of what it takes to be a music producer or
engineer, they buy a few pieces of gear to get started and learn as
they go along. While there's nothing wrong with that, people who start
this way don't know what they don't know, so they tend to put far more
importance on gear than knowledge. They
often latch onto the common
misconception that when it comes to music hardware and
is a definitive best this and
a best that, and if they
what these best tools are and
they'll sound like a pro.
they jump on the internet and ask questions like, "What's the best mic
vocals?" or "What's the best string ensemble library for film
composing?" hoping to be
graced by the industry's elusive keys to success. But then reality
sets in when a hundred people respond with a hundred different answers.
fact that every answer is different has a very profound meaning — there
are no bests. There are only choices, and in order to choose wisely,
one needs knowledge. It's a
humbling revelation for young producers and engineers. The
stars in their eyes start to dim as they realize no particular piece of
software or hardware on
earth is going to put them ahead of the curve.
the retail music industry preys on these inexperienced, wide-eyed music
advertise that if you want to give your music a professional edge, their product is the shortcut. And
it doesn't help that the internet is flooded with self-proclaimed
"experts" who puff up their chests and parrot what they read in those
cold, hard truth is that $200,000 worth of gear in the hands of an
inexperienced music creator won't hold a candle to what an experienced
creator can do with $2,000 worth of gear.
I work with artists who record remotely in their own studios, I'm not
nearly as concerned about the gear they use as I am about whether or
not they know how to use that gear. If they have an
space, know how to place mics, and know how to set input and output
levels, then the fact that they're using a $350 mic instead of a $3,500
mic is largely inconsequential.
you're new to music production, don't let the hyped product
advertising and internet forum cork sniffers steer you into investing
over and beyond your needs. Whether it's a microphone or software
plugin, focus on learning how to get the best sound possible with what
have. At some point your hearing may become refined to where a gear
upgrade is warranted, but don't upgrade your gear because others
say it will make you sound better — wait until you have gained
the knowledge to understand how
and why it will.
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