The Naked Note.

Jack Nicholson || Songwriter / Producer / Drummer

If you’re into how your music might be perceived, then this video is a must watch.

Prolific mastering engineer Ian Shepherd has made a YouTube video demonstrating how perceived loudness can really affect the overall opinion of your track. One of my songs, “Obvious”, has been used to demonstrate. And the results are good!

This could be the best ten minutes you’ve spent all year.

Check out the full blog post here:

Creative Ideas for Your Mix Bus

Here’s the latest in my series of tutorials for Tuts+, this one focuses on the delicate handling of mix bus processing. If you’ve got any comments or suggestions for future tutorials, do get in touch.

Here’s an extract:

Processing your mix bus can be risky business! Here we take a look at the various elements of a typical pre-mastering chain and how you can creatively experiment with them to make your track stand out.—cms-19842

I sometimes worry that serious music can only be served by serious talk, or worse, that people who like serious music can only have serious reasons for doing so. The truth is that you will probably meet just as many shallow people at a National show as you will at a Miley Cyrus show, the difference being that people at the National show are more likely to think they’re important, while people at a Miley Cyrus show are more likely to think they’re having fun.

Mike Powell talks about what we mean when we talk about pop music with his Pitch piece "It’s Not What You Like But How You Like It". (via pitchfork)

Adding Realism to Sampled Drums

This is the second in my current stream of articles and tutorials for Tuts+, which looks at basic tools and techniques to create realism with programmed drum parts.

If you have any suggestions for future tutorials, just get in touch and I’ll do my best. I’m planning on focusing on songwriting in the coming months.

Here’s a quick taster:

Most of us aren’t drummers. So, for fear of dealing with one—or the expense of hiring one!—many of us turn to virtual instruments, such as BFD, as a happy and cost effective alternative. Virtual instruments can offer real drums recorded in real studios but it can be all too easy to get a stiff or wooden performance purely by “clicking” a beat into your DAW. Here are four simple tricks to help you turn your MIDI programmed drums into realistic sounding ones!—cms-20334

Jack Nicholson

—Monday Evening

Over the coming weeks I’m going to publish short one-minute compositions to this blog. The aim is to write something from scratch and get it uploaded within an hour. The pieces might not necessarily be complicated but that’s the point.

Thanks to Galina for the amazing artwork for this series of ideas.

Tonight is Monday evening, so here is “Monday Evening”.

How to Creatively Use Multiple Reverbs in One Mix

Over the coming months I’m going to be writing a series of music production and songwriting tutorials over at the excellent Tuts+ site (previously known as Audiotuts).

If you have any suggestions or tutorials you want to read, just get in touch and I’ll do my best to write one!

Meanwhile, here’s an extract from the first tutorial:

Effectively using reverb within a mix can take your track the next level. With over-the-top reverb falling quickly out of fashion, here are some points to consider when using multiple reverbs within a modern mix.—cms-19841

I recently completed music for the new Steven Stanley Photography promo video. Check out the video above! If you have a project and need a soundtrack I’d love to hear from you.

Good to be back

Good to be back

Writing day (at Tileyard Studios)

Writing day (at Tileyard Studios)

Danny Elfman’s Nightmare Before Christmas with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Danny Elfman on vocals (at First Direct Arena, Leeds)

Friday 30 August 2013. A little bit amazing.

3 piece! I could get used to this

3 piece! I could get used to this

I’m trying to make a mix tape (on Spotify, of course) of 90’s classics for a friend who is going on holiday. I’m finding it amazingly good fun but also surprisingly therapeutic. I’m also discovering that some songs still sound great (see above!) but some of the productions have really aged (ahem, The Corrs).

But it’s making me wonder, where has the art of making a mix tape disappeared to?

I was better at doing this when I was 9!

I’m not that old but even I still remember taping the top 40, trying not to get the DJ in either side of the track, passing the tape to mates, tying to get a balance of songs before the actual cassette ran out… there was a real skill to hone!

After a lot of dragging and dropping, I believe the real art in getting a great mix tape relies on the listener:

a) not knowing what comes next, and

b) not being able to skip ahead.

So, I’ve decided to burn this 5 disc/101 song mammoth to CD and will leave strict instructions for them not to skip the tracks. I’m optimistic!

Has anyone else out there got their own tips for a great mix tape?

(Source: Spotify)

Coffee & lyrics day

Coffee & lyrics day

I’m getting a little bored with the reports that Spotify (and similar streaming services) are killing industry income. Many an artist seem to be checking their royalty statements in horror, perplexed how streaming can yield so little money. “1000 plays and I’ve netted $1?!”

We need to realise this - streams are not the same as purchases. They are plays. Which means comparing them is completely pointless.

Streaming pays out per play. And yes, this does means an initial cash flow headache. However with streaming there is the real possibility of making more money in the long term as a song is played over longer periods of time. And importantly, when the streaming model scales up, naturally the pay per stream will increase too.

Take a minute to think of it the other way around. Say an iTunes payout for one of your tracks nets you $0.50. Consider it a “pre-payment” for future plays (as an equiv. to streams). Let’s say an average consumer will play a download 40 times. That works out $0.0125 per play, which is much more comparable to a current Spotify payout. Plus - and this is the important part - once you’ve played the song over 40 times, everything else is additional income. (iTunes is telling me I’ve played “Comfortably Numb” over 200 times). Imagine what this could do over a number of years for a popular track when the model scales…

Streaming payouts will always be small. However, if you write and record a track with longevity it has the potential to pay out for years to come. I’m not saying it’s perfect but that’s something neither iTunes or your CD collection can do.