Up Peel Monument

View of Peel Monument
View of Peel Monument

Hello, it’s been a long time since I posted a new missive on this blog! All of you who subscribe via feed readers etc must be shocked to see me posting again. Well, what have I been doing over the last few months? It seems like not a lot! Actually, I’ve been trying to keep fairly fit and healthy, doing a lot of walking – mainly taking Paul up to Peel Monument (see the photo – it’s near Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester). It’s an old folly on top of a hill, 1100 feet above sea level, and a very steep climb. I’ve also been taking the dog for a walk, about 2.5 miles, three or four times a week in the evenings. It feels like I’ve lost some weight around my middle, so it’s doing something!

I’ve also been trying to get some new tunes written, but severely lacking some inspiration. I’ve got some ideas in my head, proper ideas, rather than just fiddling with loops from a cover disc. I’ve been using a vst host called Minihost, which loads a vst plugin and lets you use your computer keyboard to place the vst instrument. It’s got a built in chord maker, arpeggiator, and sequencer, which is great for fiddling around with. My 5 y.o. also likes playing with it – saying he’s playing Kraftwerk’s Man Machine, and the Dr Who theme tune! Expect some new tunes soon…from him, not me! Only kidding….

The Rude Mechanicals remix I did for NZ band Pitch Black is still around on the web and on the band’s remix CD, Rhythm, Sound and Movement. The remix is also going to be used to promote a big music and arts festival in New Zealand, called Splore. More news to follow soon. I’m also going to meet Paddy and Mike from Pitch Black at the end of October when they play their only UK gig in London. I’m also supposed to be getting the stems to remix a track by International Observer.

Other stuff….been doing a lot of Moodle stuff at work – very busy these days. I’ve also made a website for Paul’s dad and his painting and decorating business, D and S Decorators.  Oh, and I’m now on Facebook, and Twitter, so follow me on there if you’re on there….

A “proper” release at last

It’s taken me long enough (how long have I been making music?), but I’m finally getting an “official” release – as in, on a proper label, legit, and I’ll getting a % of sales, licensing, etc. I’ve done a remix of a track called “Rude Mechanicals” by a New Zealand band called Pitch Black (dub/electronica/IDM stuff), which is being released on their label at the end of October on all the main music download sites round the world (iTunes, Beatport, Amazon.com, etc.) It’s part of a remix singles release along with versions by some well-know remixers and DJs from Australia and NZ. I know people do remixes all the time, but this is an official one – I got all the parts from the band’s management, they and the band approved it, and it’s being properly mastered this week. Took me a long time to get it sorted into something that sounded ok and did loads of different takes on it, but finally finished it last week, 2 days before the deadline!

I know it’s not quite all my own work, but I’m chuffed to bits. Not really bothered about the money (what’s 50% of 99p per sale?), but it means a lot of exposure and maybe some more work as a remixer!

I’ve mentioned the Pitch Black remix earlier in my blog…..

Zen and the art of Myspace pimping

Neil Cocker's big chill photo

image: Big chill night view by Neil Cocker (copyright 2005) (link to Neil Cocker’s Flickr page)

I tried it once. That was all it took to put me off it forever. Everyone else was doing it, so why should I miss out? That was what I thought at the time. The whole world except me was joining in and I was the only one not doing it. I finally plucked up the courage to have ago……

I’m talking about “Pimping” my Myspace. The art of changing your profile page to make it look funky, smart, catchy, and anything else you can think of.  Back to my first time…..

…….Well, that was painless, wasn’t it? Let someone else take control and do everything for me. Never again! Not ever! Never will I do that again. What a horrible experience. It looked like something my three year old would do in Photoshop or the like. I copied the code from one of the many thousands of so-called “Myspace editors”, looked at my profile page, and then tried to decipher where my bio had gone, how people could add me, and why all my friends had vanished! Had I done it wrong, I thought. Well, the code hadn’t changed, so it must be like that. Don’t forget that nice floating advert, that pointed everyone in the direction of possible smiley/trojan hell.

I must say, I’ve yet to come across a Myspace profile that has been tastefully decorated or that’s not a navigation nightmare. Instead of “Add to friends”, it’s always “Be my fwend” or something just as wacky. Backgrounds that don’t scroll and are repeated across the page are worse – you end up not being able to see what people have taken ages to write.  I’m sure I know a few things about webpage design – I may not have made the most interesting websites – and most people know when something looks right,  so why are people allowed to to have a free rein over of pimping their space? Myspace should start introducing some guidelines about what you can and can’t do. Don’t forget, too, that Myspacers who have loads of images, videos, banners, and all the other clutter, are just slowing down the page load time. We all know that a lot of users give up afer a few seconds if a page doesn’t load for ages.

I’m quite sure it’s a lot of fun pimping your myspace. It’s not for me, though. I hate it. I’ll never do it again.

If you’re a Myspace pimper and disagree with what I’ve written, leave a comment and show me your myspace page. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but in the meantime, I’ll stick with a plain, boring, profile.

Thanks to Neil Cocker from the Big Chill Forum for use of  photo.

Music Licensing

Someone on the Big Chill forum that I occasionally visit wanted some advice about getting his music marketed through a music library and wondered if he had to sign up with MCPS and pay £100 for the privelege. As you may have read on here, I’ve recently signed a non-exclusive agreement with a major UK library, and haven’t had to register with MCPS, so something doesn’t add up if this chap has been told otherwise.

As far as I’m aware, the agreement I signed sorts out pre-clearance for my tracks that the library is offering to film, tv, companies etc. In other words, if a few tv production companies hear of one my tracks on the music library’s website and want to use it, there’s no need to wait ages for them to send me an individual agreement for each programme, for me to check them, sign them and send them back, etc, before anyone can use them.

From what I understand, the music library registers my track with MCPS (they get listed as the publisher), the production company requests a licence from MCPS website giving the catalogue number of my track, and the production company pays MCPS for the licence. MCPS (eventually) sends the licence fee (minus their admin fee) to the music library, which then pays me (minus their take – usually 50%).

If anyone else is looking for advice on signing up with a music licence in the UK, have a look here at the MCPS production music guide, which even shows you the official rate card for different types of production (anything from about £20 to £000s). The music library should be registered with MCPS – if they’re in the UK and not on this list, it’s probably not worth dealing with them.

If anyone from the USA or other countries is reading this and knows something about it in other countries, please let me know.