this (for me) has got to be the number one, top of the list, first and foremost, craziest, stupidest, and by FAR most annoying interactive audio issue in the wild and whacky world of ringtones. right now, there are *at*least* fifty (50!) different ringtone formats being sold to consumers on over 500 different models of cell phone. how did this happen? why did this happen? more important, why did this happen … again!?
sherman, set the way-back machine to 1992 … one of the first projects i did after getting into the bizarro industry of multimedia audio was creating soundtracks for After Dark screen savers. [remember After Dark screen savers? oh, those flying toasters!] since screen savers that make noise have got to be the very definition of an annoying audio product (particularly to the poor bastard sitting in the next cube), maybe it’s not surprising that i’m the guy who produced lo-rez MIDI renditions of “ride of the valkyries”, “the little mermaid”, “the simpsons theme”, “star trek the next generation”, and many others, for a variety of screen saver collections.
my first foray into the field was an 8-voice version of “the sorcerer’s apprentice” by dukas for a disney [mickey and the broomsticks] fantasia module — not as easy as it sounds, since the piece is all about the orchestration, and the score uses something like 40-voice polyphony … BUT in those days, there were still customers with computers that would choke on even eight voices, so i had to do 4-voice versions as well … BUT there were also PCs that had no audio capabilities whatsoever, except for a beeptone generator — and so i had to do ONE voice versions of these humongous orchestral pieces too …
seems kinda silly now, but does this ring a bell with anybody working in the mobile space? flash cut: seven years later — the first ringtone (MP3) i ever created (for sprint PCS) was a “time and frequency” map (basically, this frequency for that long) that played beethoven’s “fur elise” … and later, it was 4-voice, then 8-voice, and finally 16-voice General MIDI renditions (MP3) of familiar songs. currently, even MIDI ringtones are considered obsolete, superceded by MP3 and WAV master tones (MP3) - and of course, this is exactly what happened on the PC platform as well … show me a PC game that doesn’t use digital audio streams these days, and i’ll show you a game that isn’t selling very well!
The 2nd Annual Podcast & Portable Media Expo brings together influential podcasters, media, corporate executives and device makers to cover business, marketing and legal issues for audio and video podcasts and portable media.
Podcasters, marketers, and vendors from 39 states and 22 countries are already registered to attend the event Sept. 29-30.
I recently interviewed Podcast & Portable Media Expo (PME) founder Tim Bourquin about the Expo and podcasting.
Given my history working with established artists, I’m often asked by my clients to seek their participation in various endeavors involving either new technologies or new forms of distribution (or both). However working with artists is in itself an art — and requires a certain delicacy, diplomacy, and an understanding of how they think & operate (which often as not is pretty far afield from how the typical businessperson thinks).
When approaching top artists, I’ve found it very useful to go in with a notion of “gives and gets”; that is, what you want to get from them or out of working with them, and more importantly what’s in it for them (benefits). These guys are fending off requests daily, and they will need to be sufficiently intrigued or incented for your proposition to rise above the clutter and otherwise be made a priority they want to act on. Also establishing trust and rapport is crucial; lots of artists have been burned so they tend to be more cautious when initially approached (especially if there’s no involvement from a trusted third party).
With the “gives”, be sure to clearly outline the benefits to the artist in working with you (ex. how they’ll reach a broader audience than they otherwise might, how they’ll be part of a national campaign that will drive traffic back to their web site, that you’ll promote something of importance to them, etc.). Also, don’t overlook the importance of incremental revenues (what’s the value of the deal in dollars & cents), and also whether you’re offering them stock to incent them to say act as a spokesperson for the company or do some PSAs or what have you. They’ll be listening for the compensation so spell it out.
With the “gets”, it’s most helpful to be specific about what exactly you seek from them (product, services), identify the opportunity, lay out what you’re expecting them to do vs. what you will do, and give deadlines. Be careful to avoid making assumptions! Spell everything out to avoid misunderstandings.
If you follow these tips, and put yourself in their shoes (putting your attention on what’s most important to them), you’ll improve your chances of convincing artists to collaborate with you.
For almost a century, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s Principles of Orchestration
has shown composers the secrets of arranging music for orchestral instruments.
Thanks to Garritan’s new Flash-based
version, you can now see and hear the examples play back for free.
About a year ago, composer Greg Moore recommended I check out the work sound
designer Gary Garritan was doing, including his online tutorials and breakthrough
orchestral synthesizer, Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO). The result was our
Garritan: A Personal Orchestra for Everyone,” in which Garritan explained,
“Our goal was to make digital orchestration affordable, accessible, and useful
to every musician—an orchestra on every desktop.”
I subsequently bought a copy of GPO and put it to use right away on the Distributing
the Future theme.
Talking with Garritan in person at trade shows, I’ve been impressed with his
commitment to music education. But I was amazed at the scope of his latest project,
online version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous Principles of Orchestration.
It pairs the lessons of this public-domain text with nearly 300 animated versions
of the musical notation, recorded with GPO. This is a shining example of the
educational potential of MIDI and the value of Fair Use and copyright limitation.
Every bit of research I’ve seen shows that iTunes is the number one podcatcher. My own shows generate about 80% of their audience via the iTunes Music Store.
Unfortunately, there is often some lag time between when I upload a new show to Libsyn and when that show appears in the iTunes Music Store podcast list.
There is a fix for this. You can manually ping iTunes and let them know your show has been updated. Here’s how to do it.
I’ve examined this issue at length and think the answer is that you need to have some of the same traits it takes to be a successful radio broadcaster. Here is my list, in no particular order:
Given your involvement in digital media, you’ve no doubt heard of The Long Tail http://www.thelongtail.com. This is the notion, made famous by former Wired editor Chris Anderson, that suggests that people value highly cherished entertainment content that’s important to them but that they can’t find anywhere but online because it’s viewed by the major content owners as too obscure to sell at retail (theory being that the audience isn’t big enough).
The Long Tail effect features prominently in where we are moving with digital entertainment. Television distribution will be tightly niched as the ability to customize and personalize content comes to the fore. Even an audience of one should be able to retrieve content of his/her choosing assuming it has been digitized given the myriad distribution channels we now have at our disposal. Every industry, hobby or topic that can sustain a market will have a place in the digital entertainment network. Social networking will allow individuals to very accurately find what other people with the same interests are viewing. Lawn bowlers can see what other lawn bowling fans enjoyed by simply viewing the top 10 most watched shows by lawn bowlers. You get the idea. This is a gold mine of untapped revenue opportunity both for big media content companies who own rich, deep niche content archives — AND for DIY consumers alike who simply want to become a more active part of the global community and get their content out there.
Talk about happy coincidences: About the time my analog desk phone died last
month, Skype made computer-to-telephone calling free.
(Computer-to-computer Skype calls have always been free.) Because I’d bought
the old phone specifically to work with a telephone tap, I started looking into
ways to record Skype-based interviews. I found an easy and inexpensive solution
called Ecamm Call
My old interviewing setup used an analog phone, a handset
tap, and a flash-RAM
recorder. Setting levels was tricky, and the resulting file was monophonic,
making it tough to edit sections where the interviewee and I spoke simultaneosuly.
Lightroom can process files from hundreds of digital cameras. This is a real plus for photographers who enjoy using older models as well as the latest and greatest. For example, I just posted an article on Raw Photography with Older Cameras where I waxed happily about how I still enjoy shooting with my black Canon PowerShot G2. It supports both Jpeg and Raw formats, and Lightroom can process its Raw files with ease.
If you have an older camera that you still enjoy shooting with, take a look at the Lightroom Supported File Formats page on the Adobe labs site. Chances are good you’ll find an old favorite on the list. State of the art software meets vintage hardware… what fun!
digital photography, software
In Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, and the media and volk seemed obsessed by the “Bus Uncle” incident. The Wikipedia entry is pretty good on it. A phone video of a probably drunken exchange on a bus was downloaded onto YouTube, a video file sharing site very popular in Asia, and had over 2 million hits, and found its way into rap songs, parodies, ads and so on. The talk of the town.
Is this the role of conventional mass media from now on, as an aggregator and supplier of Web clips?
Other recent notable items on YouTube include Henry Rollin’s agitprop A Love Letter to Anne Coulter, the popular Evolution of Dance, and my favourite easy mark’s BrokeBack to the Future, Australia’s Brokeback Mountain - Christian Edition and my favorite mumbling Brokeback Mountain 2: Mission Impossible.
Electronic music fans will be rewarded by a search for Kraftwerk. Especially glad to relive the astonishemnt of their 1981 tour and the hilarious pre-Autobahn Rueckzuck
More than a thousand years ago when I worked as a DJ at an album-oriented-rock (AOR) station, we relied on up-timers to keep us on track with our show clock and to monitor airtime. As a podcaster, I’ve been craving just such a tool. You can buy an expensive up-timer from a company like Broadcast Supply Worldwide. But if you’re lucky enough to have a Mac, you can get a software version for free.
A very talented man named Paul Figgiani has created this gem and is offering it as a free download on his website at http://podcastrigs.com/.
It’s a 60-minute up-timer. It’s simple, easy to use and effective. Paul is also offering a free audio player you can download and use to audition any audio file.
I always get excited when I find ways to marry the good stuff we used at “real” radio stations with podcasting. Check out these new tools and see if they help you. They really worked well for me.
For more information on podcasting, visit my site podcastingtricks.com.
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hello, peter drescher here, i am currently sound designer at danger, inc., makers of the hiptop wireless internet device (aka the T-Mobile Sidekick), and o’reilly has been kind (and brave) enough to let me speak my mind (unedited! holy crap, batman!!) on interactive audio technologies, with an emphasis on the mobile space … oh, this should be interesting!
while i hope at least to be entertaining and informative, be warned: i have no intention of being “fair” or “balanced”. these are my opinions, based on my experience, and from my point of view as former road dog bluesman piano player turned multimedia audio guy. i’m just gonna call it like i see it, and if you agree or disagree — excellent! my job here is done …
the stated purpose of this blog is to get people thinking and talking about interactive audio issues, and will take the form of, well, rants, about things that annoy the living crap outa me - like “do there really have to be 50 different ringtone formats!?” and “can you explain to me again why i can’t loop an MP3 file!?” … i tell ya, there’s lots of things about this industry that drive me absolutely crazy, so there will be plenty of topics to talk about, including Lessons Learned (aka “if you get old enough, you become cool again”) and just what exactly IS a MAWG!?
so, how did i get to be the “annoying audio” guy, anyway? believe me, this was not something i planned on, it just sorta happened. it all started when i was invited to speak at the 2004 Project Bar-B-Q conference in San Antonio, Texas. i asked the fatman what i should talk about, and he basically said “be outrageous! be provocative! change people’s perception of reality!” … uh, ok, sure, i can do that!
Visionary architect Buckminster Fuller reportedly liked to jumpstart his creativity by grabbing the magazine at the top right corner of the newsstand rack, no matter what the subject was. I’m trying the same experiment this week by attending O’Reilly’s decidedly non-musical Where 2.0 Conference.
Where 2.0 is all about digital map-making. The stars here are the creators of Google Earth (amazing new version released yesterday), Microsoft Virtual Earth, and dozens of start-up companies that build wild new ways to interact with geographic data. Even though all of the presentations have been silent, they’ve got me thinking about the future of music software.
Microsoft demoed a Web app that lets you drive through photographic rendition of San Francisco.
I’m getting ready to head out on a road trip for a three day weekend coming up later this week. I’ll be driving up to the Mendocino area — wild, unspoiled, and unimaginably beautiful. Even just three days away does wonders for the creative spirit. You may wonder, what does this have to do with digital media per se? Everything, in a word. We often operate like hamsters on a treadmill, checking things off a never-ending To Do list, day after day after day. This type of behavior kills the creative spirit so vital to any of us working in this space (or frankly in any business). Taking time off — even just an extra day now and then — restores balance, opens us up to new possibilities, and re-engages our creativity. Have you ever noticed this for yourself? Why do so few of us do this (I know the usual reasons)? What would our productivity and creativity look like if we created a brief getaway for ourselves even once a quarter to re-charge and re-engage? As the self-proclaimed president of Overachievers Anonymous, I’m ready to start a movement towards four-day work weeks. Anyone with me??
I just downloaded Adobe Lightroom Public Beta 3 and have been playing with some of its new features. This is a substantial upgrade from Beta 2, including a new module: Web.
That’s where I started experimenting. The Web templates are quite attractive. You have 3 presets — HTML gallery, Exif metadata, and Flash gallery. You have two options for exporting: Save to your hard drive or upload to your web server. You can enter your FTP settings directly in Lightroom saving you a couple steps.
The Develop module also received some attention. You now have a set of tools above the filmstrip for Loupe View, Before View, Before/After, Crop Overlay, Hand Tool, and White Balance selector. In Beta 2, we just had the last three of those tools down there. You now get RGB value readouts too.
Overall, there are many UI refinements, and the performance was smooth… for the most part. I did crash the application once while working in the Web module. I’ll continue to explore Beta 3 in future posts. For now, I recommend you download it and give this latest version of Lightroom a spin.
Oh, and still no word on the Windows version yet. For now, the beta is only Mac.
I have seen a few posts on some of the podcasting forums that prove some people confuse audio v. data compression. Maybe this short post will help you learn the difference.
We compress podcasts so that they can be easily downloaded over the Internet. That means we apply Data compression. Data compression involves running our recorded data through an additional encoding process, then decoding it on playback. If you’ve heard the term MP3, that is a form of compressed audio file that is coded and decoded (That’s where the term CODEC comes from) for transfer and playback.
Audio compression on the other hand (something you might use an outboard device to accomplish or something you can do with software) has nothing to do with the Internet or file size. Audio compression refers to the sound’s dynamic range. It is used to improve the way your recording sounds, not how fast it downloads.
For more information on podcasting, visit my site podcastingtricks.com.
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Wow, nail my hat to the ceiling! I’d never heard of the ANS synthesizer before. Its a 50’s synth from Russia with 800 oscillators controlled by marks on a sheet of glass! I’m a fan of non-Moog music synthesis: any fan of Dr Who (BBC Radiophonic Workshop) would be, and I’ve released an emulation of the Mixturtrautonium, but the ANS has a really unique distinctive sound.
I just heard a fascinating podcast interview with Michael Chorost, who had a computer implanted in his skull to regain his hearing. Chorost went completely deaf shortly after he completed his Ph.D. in English, and he speaks eloquently about the experience of losing an organic sense and gaining an electronic facsimile. Bionic hearing, it seems, is impressionistic.
I was so intrigued by the descriptions in the interview that I zoomed over to Chorost’s site, where I read the first chapter of his book, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. The frequent footnotes made it a tad academic, but reflections like these made it very personal:
Those chips would send signals down a wire going to my cochlea through a tunnel drilled through an inch and a half of bone. In a sense, the [implantation] process would be a reconstruction of my entire body. To be sure, I would still be nearsighted, still brown-haired, still delighted by chocolate and allergic to sesame seeds. But the sense of hearing immerses you in the world like no other. To see is to observe, but to hear is to be enveloped.
As a musician, I can’t imagine what I’d do if I lost my hearing. And yet, my father was just fitted for hearing aids, so who knows how much time any of us has left? I’ll be checking out Chorost’s book, and encourage you to check out the podcast.
The interviewer, incidentally, is Andrew Keen, who is amassing quite a collection of voices on the slippery relationship between technology and culture. His discussion with Tim O’Reilly brought out some surprising ideas, and I still wonder what I should have said differently in my interview.
Last week I reported pictures surfacing of the $100 laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project. eWeek.com recently reported the first working model made by PC Manufacturer Quanta.
It’s hard to imagine owning just one microphone. Different mics have different uses. Some are best at recording music, some are best for studio work, and others are the best choice for field recording. But if I had to limit myself to one affordable mic for any task, it would be the AKG C1000.
My review of this mic is based on its value for podcasters. But you can assume it would work in many applications.
I use the C1000 for field recording interviews, what we call “actualities” in the radio business. For that kind of work, you want something with a balanced sound and something that’s rugged. The C1000 doesn’t disappoint on either level.
Its natural sound is even and flat with a slight tendency to emphasize the mid and upper frequencies. There is a presence boost adapter to add 5db of frequency peak if you need or want it.
For more information on podcasting, visit my site podcastingtricks.com.
Want to show off your music and graphics skills? Check out CME’s
UF Design contest.
CME is a new manufacturer with some innovative music-technology ideas. We covered
its Mobiltone U-Key keyboard (based on a cell-phone synth chip) in our 2006
NAMM Show report. The UF-series keyboard controllers are more upscale, with
metal casings and cool features like motorized faders. If you come up with the
best new “skin” for a UF, you’ll win a CME VX7, which sports both the motorized
faders and a USB audio interface. Other prizes include the Mobiltone, mixers,
and audio interfaces.
Entries are due by July 31, 2006.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more bizarre — listen to this.
If you can believe it, an increasing number of mobile users are mistakenly hearing their ringtone, even when there is no incoming call. “This audio illusion - called phantom phone rings or, more whimsically, ringxiety or fauxcellarm - has emerged recently as an internet discussion topic and has become a new reason for people to either bemoan the techno-saturation of modern life or question their sanity,” explains Brenda Goodman of the New York Times.
Ringtones have always sparked controversy; people continue to use them to brand and differentiate themselves, but nevertheless they remain increasingly annoying in public gatherings. The ringtone sector is a growing multi-billion dollar industry. Many of the most common ringtones you hear are rap or hip-hop which unfortunately is a genre that still irritates a large percentage of the population. Annoying as they may be to some, hip-hop ringtone sales are still an important indicator of the popularity of a given track (and are a key metric for artists and labels alike). Still, the presence of phantom rings is something new, and indicates just how prevalent the ringtone is in today’s society.
Even if you don’t DJ, knowing the tempo of your music collection opens creative
doors. For example, slide shows come alive when you synchronize the slide durations
to the tempo of the background music. (See my tempo
sync tutorial.) And playlists seem to flow better when you group songs by
I’d been eyeballing the BPM field in iTunes for a while, but never got around
to calculating the song tempos and filling them in. Then I found a nifty Mac
freebie called iTunes-BPM.
This companion program presents a tiny window with a big button. You simply
start playing a song and tap the button in time with the music. After your tapping
speed settles down, the window’s BPM reading will turn blue. A graphic on the
button and two tiny lights change at the detected tempo so you can confirm your
guess. Click “Set” and the BPM reading will be embedded in the song’s ID tag.
I found I could improve my accuracy by tapping the index finger of my non-mouse
hand on eighth- or 16th-notes.
I created the following AppleScript and saved it in iTunes’ Scripts folder
so I could launch the program from iTunes itself:
tell application "iTunes-BPM"
tell application "iTunes"
Unfortunately, iTunes-BPM doesn’t work on the Windows version of iTunes, but
I did find some tap-tempo
freebies for Winamp.
Marcelino Martins has also compiled a handy list of BPM
detection software for both platforms. I’ve long been a fan of the offerings
from MixMeister. Its
Analyzer (Win) detects the tempos of all songs in a list. The free utility
is a spinoff of MixMeister’s advanced programs that also create intelligent
crossfades, turning a plain bucket of songs into a smooth DJ mix you can burn
I distinctly remember waiting for my band’s turn to play in a Rome recording studio in 1990 or so. Suddenly, from the studio lounge area a hip-hop beat started, followed by a voice that sounded like Darth Vader. “What is that you’re playing?” I asked the guy who sat on the couch, banging away on the mini-keys and singing in the smallest microphone I had ever seen: “Oh, it’s this Casio keyboard I just bought. It’s pretty cool…”
That was the then-brand-new Casio RAP-1 Rapman, “the world’s 1st rap keyboard”. I was immediately hooked, but for some reason didn’t buy it at the time. I recently had the chance to get one, and I haven’t stopped playing with it yet.
There’s a scene in the movie Crumb, about the retro-iconoclast cartoonist & musician R Crumb, in which he sketches out his belief that everything went to hell when wires were strung across the American landscape*. I’m with him. Wires are ugly, and furthermore they have a lot in common with chains.
That’s why wireless technology feels not just convenient, but liberating. Frontier Design is extending that liberation to musicians and sound designers, with a new wireless protocol that has low enough latency for some audio applications. They started with the Tranzport, an interactive remote control for audio software, including Pro Tools, Reason and iTunes. I’ll be reviewing it in an upcoming article.
Now they’ve partnered with M-Audio on what looks like an at least equally great idea: wireless MIDI keyboards. I haven’t had a chance to try the MidAir 25 or MidAir 37 yet, but I can certainly give a rave to the idea. Here’s a blurb from M-Audio:
If you are a podcaster, you should consider posting show notes that accompany each episode. Show notes are simply a written description of the show’s content.
There are lots of reasons to create show notes. One of the best reasons is that it gives you text that search engines can see. While it’s currently not possible to rely on good audio search, text search via engines like Google can bring you lots of traffic.
Another reason to post show notes is that it helps your audience know what to expect. Just like the TV newscasters tease the weather forecast, you can use your show notes to tease what’s coming up in your show.
Show notes also help your audience keep track of your podcasts. They give you a chance to promote your sponsors. They help you promote your show. They help listeners find phone numbers, email addresses and URLs mentioned in your show.