Is remixing the new X-Factor?

toy piano

Or Is remixing becoming the new X-Factor? Whatever you want to say about them, tv shows like the X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, etc., are becoming the major way for kids to become pop stars. The temptation to audition for one of those shows is often too much for the budding singer, girl band, boy band, or guitarist, and when they finally reach the live shows, there’s the chance to get free publicitiy, exposure, critique of their style and ability. Even if they don’t make it all the way to the final, there’s always the chance of being signed by a record company, however well they can sing.

So, why do I think that remixing is becoming the new X-Factor? Well, compare the two: someone advertises a talent contest where you don’t need any industry form or prior performance experience. You just need your instrument (voice or digital audio workstation – Ableton Live, anyone?); the material to perform with, either a song or some audio stems; and you need some time to get your performance right, but not necessarily to a high level. There are so many talent shows out there – X-Factor contests run by pubs and bars, holiday hotels, local tv and radio stations, probably a new one every day somewhere in the world. There are so many remix contests out there too. There are even websites dedicated to advertising the latest contests. Somewhere in the world, someone will enter all of these contests, but usually budding remixers, who see it as a quick way to get signed by a record label, will enter one or two a month, hoping that this will be their big chance.

But, like the X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, the really talented, dedicated, hardworking remixers will miss out, only to be beaten by the “popular vote”, in terms of the ones with the highest number of plays or likes will be shortlisted. Talent probably does come into it if they’re in a contest that is looking for particular techniques and it’s about ability rather than what sounds good to some people. However, like in the real world of becoming a popstar, it’s the approaching people in the industry and showing them what you can do, that gets you the opportunities. Ok, so some people who win remix contests may be famous and find a way in to the music business, but more often than not it’s the talent that is wanted and that’s what gets you the gig.

So, two things from all that. First of all, anyone can make a remix. It may not be good, but it may be what someone is looking for. Even my 8 year old can make a remix in Ableton Live. Secondly, I still enter remix contests, despite having done “official” remixes for some bands I know, and appearing on compilations etc. Why, because there’s a very tiny part of me that still sees them as a way to get famous, despite that fact that I always ridicule shows like the X-Factor! My latest remix below, is one I did in about 6 hours for the Ableton 24 hour remix contest “Beat the Clock”. I downloaded the parts for the track, most of which you could only open in Ableton Live and you had to make the remix with the same program. Having only used Live for a few days before, I probably proved my theory that anyone can make a remix, so here’s the result:

Contest Page:

Beat the Clock – Ableton Remix by Tim Blackburn/mistrust

Listen in Soundcloud:

By the way, if you’re a Soundcloud user, and like the track, please favourite it,and share it, thereby making me win the popular vote! If Pudsey the dog can do it, so can I!

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Zen and the art of music licensing

Since I licensed my tracks out to O’Neill Europe for the Deep Blue Open dvd, I’ve had a lot of people asking for some advice on how to get their music into film, tv etc. Obviously, I’m no expert, and I had a few people give me some pointers before I signed up with O’Neill, but here are some tips from me from what I’ve learned so far (but don’t blame me if this method doesn’t work!!!)

I was approached by a licensing company for them to use my tracks on an O’Neill surfing dvd and got some info from them about how to get my stuff into more films, etc and was advised to get a showreel together to prove to film makers and post-production people that my music fits in with the sort of thing they’re looking for. One of the best ways to do that is to offer some of your tracks for low/no fee to build up a portfolio. Have a look at some of these for more info:

http://www.mandy.com

It’s a site for film jobs – go to the Production Jobs section and check look through all the locations, eg Europe, then the Post-Production links. There’s both paid and lo/no income jobs.

http://www.ukscreen.com

There’s a forum on the site which lists people looking for music for films, mainly lo/no fee

http://www.labelsound.com

They’ll make all your tracks available for film and tv licensing (for a small fee).

http://niceup.com/misc/internet_music_licensing

An excellent article about how to get into the film music industry.

Google for things like music licensing companies, “indie movies”, “music wanted” stuff like that. Check out indie movie forums – there’s always indie film makers looking for cheap music and it gets you some footage for your showreel. Contact your local college or uni if they have a film or media school. Have a look on the unsigned band web forum – http://www.unsignedbandweb.com/forum-37.html for people advertising for music. There’s always ads on there. There’s a film makers forum on Myspace.com, too.

Music licensing can be a bit of a closed shop to unsigned artists if film producers have got a massive music budget. They get the best composers and pay a fortune to people like Sony and BMG for tracks. If the budget isn’t so big they want unsigned people like me and you. Usually for lo/no fee. Oh, and it looks good on your music CV if you’ve got film credits, whatever they are.

It’s definitely worth going down the lo/no fee route, just to get known. I’ll pm you with a list of some of the other sites I’ve been on for info. Make sure, though, that you get a proper contract. Well – 2 in fact – a Master Use and a Synchronisation contract.

BTW when you’re dealing with these sort of people – licensing, post-production, etc., be prepared for a very long wait. The company I dealt with over the dvd was actually liaising with about 5 or 6 other companies, so I was the last to know anything. If the bloke said there’s potential, try your music out on the sites I mentioned. Oh, and tell people you’re a film composer, and say so on your website.

You never know – you might get your music used and get paid a lot of money for it.

This article first appeared on my Blogger pages in November 2005. Since the, I’ve learned a lot more….
I’ve now discovered music libraries and production music….more information about how to get into this is at the MCPS website, where you can get a list of the 80 or so libraries in the UK.

I’ve had quite a few more opportunities………….

– Deep Blue Open has been on TV around world and now on O’Neill TV. Clips of this are doing well on Youtube. Click here to have a look….

– Tracks on another O’Neill DVD and surfer biography film

– Requests from various indie/student film makers for use of my music – I was confident enough to say “no” because the deals weren’t right. If I hadn’t done the O’Neill thing, I wouldn’t know about my rights, etc.

– Tracks put forward by licensing company for use in Hollyoaks (UK TV show)

– Signed non-exclusive deal with major UK music library for licensing my tracks to TV, film, advertisements etc. The tracks are now registered with MCPS-PRS.

– Requests from other music libraries to work with them.

Oh, and I’ve actually made some money from all this.

Check out some of my film music at my musicfreedom site.

Disclaimer: the opinions and advice given are just that: opinion. They do not constitute a contract between you and the companies mentioned, nor are they intended as adverts for those listed. Don’t sue me if you don’t get signed!

Attention surfer dudes

I got an email yesterday saying that O’Neill, the surfing, skiing, and snowboarding company, have launched O’Neill TV, featuring all their promo films, profiles, and all sorts of other video footage. I thought it would actually be proper tv station on Sky or the Extreme Channel, but it turned out it’s just a glorified Flash player on their website. I’m not dismissing it though. It looks great, and there are loads of videos on there, especially for all you surf, ski, and snowboard types out there. Plus, it’s got me on there. Actually, it’s got my music on a couple of videos up there.

Three tracks – Croydon Library, Never Alone remix, and Hello – are on the Deep Blue Open 2005 event video, and two – Croydon Library and Never Alone – are on the video profile of Trent Munro (world-famous surfer dude).  I signed a non-exclusive deal with O’Neill Europe a couple of years ago, thinking that I’d just get a couple of DVDs from it, but I’m still getting exposure from it. I guess this O’Neill TV thing is getting a lot of hits, so more exposure for me.

You can play the two clips here:

Trent Munro Profile

Deep Blue Open 2005

Both of these clips show how well my music fit with a variety of visuals. Any film makers out there who need music for their latest project, please get in touch!!!!

All the world’s an MP3 stage

I’ve been thinking about the number of music hosting sites and MP3 directories that I have my music on. Most of them are free-to-download places where people can just have my tracks for nothing. I started off in late 2004 by choosing just one site – Electromancer.com, which is now no more, just because I lacked confidence about my music and it seemed like a good place to start when I’d never even considered putting my music out to the public. In fact, even though Electromancer closed down last year, a lot of the artists are still active on the forums of another site, Nervejam, and are still as friendly and supportive as ever.

I got a bit more confident after getting some great reviews, thinking that more people might give me a listen, so I followed links and recommendations about other hosting sites, signed up to 2 or 3, and waited for the plays to roll in. Then I started chasing more sites and more plays, until I had tracks on about 1o or 15 sites. I’ve now lost track (and usernames/passwords) of most of those sites, and still get the occasional email from them, saying someone has posted a comment. A quick check on google as to which sites I’m on offers up 94 links for “mistrust music site” and 30 for “never alone mistrust” (my first track from 2004).

I still see the same old faces on all these hosting sites,

Continue reading All the world’s an MP3 stage