So like I mentioned before, I will be recording original songs for a new album.
Here is a preview of one of the songs I tried out on the crowd at Ye Olde Orchard Jam yesterday! And if any musicians are reading this, this pub is a great place to play. The host, Mike Hand, was very cheerful! Young crowd, nice location, and friendly people. And unlike most open mics in Montreal, there were no comedians! So I will be going there more often. : )
Only recently, I have been really empowered in the world of music. I am a million miles closer to bringing the melodies in my head to the world. Wow. Now I am closer to writing out the album of my dreams.
2012 has been about learning.
Jan – June
I improved my ability to “play by ear”. I learned 100 traditional tunes from just listening. I used a software to slow down recorded songs, and that made a world of difference! The great thing about traditional Celtic songs is that they are all in the same key, so that also helped.
July – Dec
I learned how to write scores on a software. Paper was tedious, especially for me, since my handwriting is like intricate scribbling. And sometimes I wanted to change the arrangement, and it took a long time to re-write some parts. So I got this transcribing software, Sibelius, that radically really changed my life. Actually, I would say that learning Sibelius is probably one of the most significant events in my life. With just a few clicks I can arrange songs in different time signatures, in different keys and different harmony parts. In fact they have a plugin that will write the harmonies for you in anyway you want. There are many crazy out of this world plugins. I experimented with so many music ideas. I can export them all as midi or pdf. It’s crazy man.
I learned new music production software. Reason. Logic Pro. Native Instruments. And some Ableton. I used Reason before, but I think Logic Pro will be the one I’ll stick with. ProTools can’t do nearly all the cool things Logic Pro can. I wish I knew about Logic Pro earlier!
I also did the weekly private lessons, workshops, video tutorials, books, concerts, & of course listening to endless amounts of CD’s.
Thanks to the musicians who give their knowledge freely on the internet. Thanks to years of studying theory. Thanks to this software called Sibelius. Thanks to this Mac book pro. Thanks to my bf who convinced me to buy the Mac book pro. The possibilities are infinite.
I recorded a few songs this year, but in 2013, I will focus more on creating audio with what I learned. I already transcribed 10 new original songs for my debut album. Watch out 2013.
Updated Nov 15. It turns out that people actually do read the blog and there were some disagreements. I wrote this rather hastily, so I made some clarifications.
My day time gig is in the Website Optimization world. So when a friend of mine in the music industry asked me to look at his website, I fixed it up and he was ranking high on Google for really cool keywords. But then, for whatever reason, he decided suddenly to go with Bandzoogle (which uses cold fusion!!!). I went to his website again and was aghast! So many problems! He is barely on Google anymore! He does rank for his own name (anyone else would be if their name is in the URL), but he no longer ranks for other competitive non-branded keywords like he did before. Google changes their algorithm, but so many features on this web service prevents my friend from being Google compliant.
I will give it to them, Bandzoogle is great for musicians who are not tech savvy and want to quickly put together a pretty website in a few hours. They made it so there is as little worrying and thinking involved. You can get your domain, hosting, template, mailing list and anything else concerning web in one place.They even have a live chat assistance available. This service costs $20/month in total. That’s $240/year. But is that something indie musicians can afford? If you go to regular domain & hosting companies, you can get a website live for around $80/year. So the price difference is $160. That’s 16 CD’s, that’s 16 beers, that’s a night stay at a hotel and nice breakfast.
The price isn’t my main concern though. It’s the principle. It makes me cringe when people are spending more than they don’t have to. I just don’t think its cool to be spending on bz websites that are not compliant with modern web guidelines (as set out by W3C & Google). So many people subscribe to bz while there is a free, geniusly programmed, SEO optimized, intuitive CMS available called WordPress. I will get to that in a bit. But first, here are some areas that bz could improve on:
Title Tags – This is actually customizable, however, you can’t even see the title tags when visiting different pages within the website! The URL remains the same! Check out the example on this website. Click on ‘music’, ‘contact’, the URL, and title tag remains the same! However, if you open the link in a new tab or new window, you get a different URL with its different title tag.
Meta Description – Not customizable. You only have the option of adding one meta description and it will be copied throughout the entire website. These duplicate descriptions do not help search engines distinguish the pages on your website! What Google ends up having to do is using the excerpts of your on page text as the description. So that one meta description you wrote was pointless. You won’t be able to write your own call-to-action that would convince users to click on your listing!
Meta Keywords – Same story as the meta description. But this isn’t a big deal because Google has mentioned themselves that they don’t look at meta keywords.
H1 tags – Not available.
Alt attributes – No.
Frames – So many of these horrifying old fashioned frames! So many sites in one page, how will the poor robot be able to properly crawl the site? Frames are only good for keeping the music player consistently playing when visiting different pages, but its not worth it! These frames will disappear when you disable the music player. Why sacrifice the music player for SEO? The music player doesn’t have to run throughout the whole web visit. Christina Aguilera‘s music player stops when loading new pages.
No room for Google Analytics – You can’t customize the programming, but you can add programming. I added the GA code, but I couldn’t chose to do it before the header tag. Thus, it was not tracking properly. They have their own traffic reporting that uses GA api, but it’s not as in depth as GA. So even if I install GA successfully, I will have two tracking code per page.
URL management not so cool – Their home page adds a “/fr_home.cfm” when it should end clean at just “.com”. It’s important to keep URLs, especially the home page clean. The URL remains static when visiting different pages in the website, so how can users share a specific page?
Bz websites are not mobile friendly. With the crazy increase in mobile internet usage within the last 5 years, its imperative for all websites to be mobile compliant. Many people I know barely use the computer for their internet needs.
bz is a perfect fit for you if you are a musician that
isn’t so computer literate,
wants a quick and easy ‘business card’ website,
money isn’t an objective.
You may want to consider the alternatives to bz if
you are good with computers,
you blog frequently, (you want to make sure your blog posts are optimized so people will find them through search, a lot of new visitors can come to your website this way),
you need a lot of customization,
you need your pages to rank for competitive keywords like ‘hire cover band in New York’
These alternatives to bandzoogle, are free to use, but require a bit of extra work. They are also compliant with standard website practices as outlined by Google, W3C, Bing, etc.
WordPress. Start with wordpress.com, but if you want to take it further, use wordpress.org and buy your hosting and domain elsewhere (what I do). It’s hard at first, but it’s the best idea for the long term. It’s cheap and really easy afterwards. Learn about the difference here. Or just email me, I can set it up for you at a cheaper price. I set up this website with wordpress!
Tumblr. This is really popular and grown over the recent years. I don’t use it so I can’t say much about it other than everyone uses it and its SEO friendly.
My "other" practice station as set up in my significant other's home!
I wasn’t able to spend time with my significant other since I work full time and I am also preparing a few new recordings. Balancing work and relationships (and dreams) is so tough! But my dear Seb was so understanding of that and found a work around! He simply said he would set up an area of his house to be exactly like my work area at my home! And that he did!
“I need a place to set up my laptop. I also need to connect my laptop to good quality speakers”
“I also need a mirror so I can make sure I am bowing straight with my violin.”
“I have that. Done”
“Oh and I need a midi keyboard within arms reach,”
Then he even set up a microphone, provided a tuner, etc! Not to mention that he has already installed the top of the line music programs in my computer, especially one for all my scoring needs.
So now we can hang out on weekends, work on our personal projects (he is a programmer) and watch the odd YouTube videos in between and eat good food (shrimp yo! I contribute with the cooking and some ingredients). We both have our space.
I mention this story because I want to show one way of being supportive of your partner. Relationships don’t need to bog you down. You don’t need to be a consumerist. There’s more to life than mall-movies-restaurants-bla-bla-bla kinda relationships!
I’ve spoken about asbestos in the past, but now is the time to really turn our attention to it because the industry has been revitalized by a $58 million dollar loan given by the Quebec government. Asbestos is used as a cheap insulator in walls but has recently been discovered to cause repiratory problems, like cancer. It’s illegal in Canada, but not in third world countries, like India where it is exported.
Many activists, including David Suzuki, have spoken out about this, so I decided to write a song! I included the fact that the town of Asbestos, QC actually celebrated at the news that the mine was re-opening. Also, when the owner of the mine was interviewed on Radio Canada by Jean-Sébastien Bernatchez, he said that everything causes cancer, even the sun.
For the lyrics of the song, I decided not to use any stylistic devices, like rhyming, metaphors, alliteration. Just put the problem out there in as simple terms as possible just to make sure that everyone gets the message. Because if everyone got the message, we wouldn’t be having this problem.