What’s my social net worth?

As I discussed in my most recent post, it’s 2016 and we’re wheeling and dealing on the internet. Our audio services aren’t being listed in the white pages anymore, however word of mouth is still a helpful tool in the music industry, e.g. someone hearing an album you’ve engineered, mixed, mastered, produced and asking “Wow, who did this?” Attaining work initially is another beast that needs to be tackled. I also discussed last week the important if differentiating your personal and professional self, however the more popular you become,e the lines between this become blurred as fans of your work want to follow your every day life. Social media can be stereotyped as ironically anti-social, or it can be harnessed as a great tool to be connect and advertise your work, skills and CV.

As an aspiring mix engineer with little to no online following, the readings this week made some good points about firstly building an online following and secondly, retaining them. Contrary to my points above about differentiating your personal and work self, the readings stated that online followers would rather follow a ‘person’ than a seemingly heartless, self promoting robot, which speaks volumes to retaining a following. More often than I care to admit, I follow musicians or engineers that I admire, only to unfollow them because they haven’t updated their socials in a week, or that any posts they have made are promoting a product I already knew about with no new information. I’ve recently changed my personal Instagram page to @ravenshall, to match the name I’ve come up with for myself: Raven’s Hall Recordings. The readings also discussed choosing an alias, e.g. Raven’s Hall or representing myself on my social. This is a tough one – I feel a heavy metal audience would be more attracted to an alias, however, as discussed last week I also don’t want to limit my own market. However, Instagram account @Anthropologie posted a “puppy… received 7,640 likes and a picture of their personal shoppers posing at a company luncheon event received 3,457” (Hemley, 2013). This is evidence that followers are retained or gained from posts other than the norm on your site. What will my ‘puppy’ be?
LinkedIn is traditionally aimed at a more corporate crowd, which at first glance isn’t for me. However, I’m currently paying the bills with a corporate job, and receive LinkedIn requests almost daily for an account I don’t use. Sure there are other employees like me who have interests outside of work, who play in bands, know someone who plays in a band, or want to start a band. I’d happily assist musicians of any level produce a recording – it’s all experience to me. LinkedIn is becoming increasingly popular, so I should get my profile up to scratch asap, as potential employers, customers and clients are turned to LinkedIn ‘when it comes to hiring or headhunting new talent.’ (Redstart Publications, 2016).
I also joined the Avid Forum two weeks ago with the intention (note: still pending) of posting in the forums, answering questions and asking question in the hope that other users would see links to my socials on my Avid profile. Jason Falls states that forums are “old school social media — are still one of, if not the most popular place to ask and answer questions” (Falls, 2016). I’m also an avid (heh heh) fan of British producer Andy Sneap, who has a Facebook fan group and online forum, and I have a similar intention of posting and being a part of his forum to shepherd a more heavy metal market towards my socials. Having a clear and concise signature for your forum profile allows “more people to connect with you,” and gives “full disclosure should you talk about your brand in forum conversations” (Falls, 2016)
In conclusion, I’m really going to focus on my social networks over the next few weeks and try to gain some followers. Once I can get some work or projects to be a part of, hopefully word of mouth and my results will speak for itself. I might retain the Raven’s Hall alias, but ensure that my posts are from a person who enjoys audio and all it’s intricacies, because I think that is easier for followers to relate to than shameless self promotion… but I’m not closed to that idea either.
Publications, R. (2016). The Advantages And Benefits Of Creating A LinkedIn Profile – RedStarResume. RedStarResume. Retrieved 29 March 2016, from http://www.redstarresume.com/the-advantages-and-benefits-of-creating-a-linkedin-profile/
Hemley, D. (2013). 26 Tips for Using Instagram for Business : Social Media Examiner. Socialmediaexaminer.com. Retrieved 29 March 2016, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/instagram-for-business-tips/
Falls, J. (2012). Why Forums May Be the Most Powerful Social Media Channel for Brands. Entrepreneur. Retrieved 29 March 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223493

Kumbaya, my lord, Lucifer

In 2016, we’re exposed to more beliefs, lifestyles and opinions than ever before. The internet has helped connect people with similar or identical beliefs and show them that they’re not alone in how they feel, or what they believe. Not only can people connect, but information regarding different ideologies is readily available for someone feeling confused or simply for a reader’s interest. While the week’s reading focused more closely on gaming, television and film, we still encounter different beliefs in audio and music. It’s safe to say that all music is written to convey or capture an emotion – whether lyrics are involved at all or not. Music (like paintings) can be left to the listener to decide how it makes them feel, and whether they like it or not. However, lyrics can more acutely state a message and regardless of our own beliefs, an audio engineer working with an artists with a strong message can become tangled in an ideology. On top of this, artists with a bad reputation can leave an imprint on a producer or engineer, regardless of the engineer’s work ethic. Being self employed, we can be constantly on the clock, regardless of where (e.g. online or in person) we’re seen.
This leads me first to religion. Traditional and stereotypically, heavy metal is associated with the Devil. The stereotype exists for a reason, because it isn’t without some truth and musicians who follow a Satanic or Luciferian belief system.
Because of this stereotype, many heavy metal (and punk, for this example) are subject to stereotypes as well as missed opportunities because of assumptions about their lifestyles (and not just by dedicated Christians). On the contrary, music defined as ‘Christian’ is equally shunned because it’s assumed to be sing-songs and renditions of Kumbaya. The readings this week discussed reinforcing negative stereotypes and, as an engineer aspiring to work primarily with heavy metal bands (e.g. not necessarily satanic), it’s important for me to shed the cliche because heavy metal and rock bands exists that also define themselves as Christian (again, more than an acoustic guitar and a campfire). In the most selfish sense of it – I would be limiting my own workload and potential clientele if I adhered to a negative stereotype. In an ideal world, my work would shine through regardless of the bands I work with, but the world isn’t ideal. On the other hand, if my beliefs are A) upfront enough to be contended and B) controversial enough to be controversial, I’m doing something wrong. Firstly, it’s important that we can continue to work professionally on projects with bands that ‘pay the bills’, but that these kind of projects don’t detract from the quality of our work because of our own beliefs and opinions. Secondly, the work we’ve done for bands that don’t adhere to our next clients’ beliefs should hold no meaning for my work, because I should present my way in a matter so professional that it’s never an issue. It’s important that we ensure our clients’ beliefs and messages aren’t tangled with our own, and that’s our responsibility.
As professional practitioners and (maybe) freelance audio engineers in 2016, we may get a lot of our business via clients seeing/hearing and contacting us via the internet. Because it’s so crucial to have an up to date and busy social network, we can run into our issues. The lines between our personal life and our professional online persona become blurred, sometimes before we realise it. Applications like Instagram and websites like Facebook can easily show a more personal side of ourselves – whether good or bad. The readings this week recommended that when involving a marginalised group, to include many examples to avoid stereotyping and representing a wider breadth of people. In audio, we can do the opposite, and assume that a wide breadth of people are reading our posts and seeing our pictures – so don’t say anything that would offend someone. posts showing a darker side to our heroes, or vice versa, showing prospective clients a side of us we didn’t want them to see. In early 2016, Phil Anselmo of Pantera was recorded doing a salute and yelling “White Power” into a crowd at a concert held for slain Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrel Abbot (Note: the attached video may offend some viewers) and palmed it off as an extension of a joke he shared backstage.
The last three-four years has seen controversy over Kanye West’s Twitter account because he speaks his mind in a way that might be okay for an average user, but his online persona has eclipsed his professional and personal.
In conclusion, gender, race, beliefs and religion affect audio engineering too. We’ve seen our own idols (not always engineers) fall when the lines between personal and professional life become blurred, and it’s important to keep our market as open as possible, as extreme beliefs can limit the people who want to work with us.
Watain – Malfeitor Live @ Metropol, Hultsfred 2015. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 28 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhb6DvBaX6Y
Pantera Vocalist Phil Anselmo Seen Doing “White Power” Salute | Rock Feed. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 28 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhmLtkWd5AA

Room With An Interview

The creative industry I’ve chosen doesn’t always work like more conventional industries. I won’t necessarily apply for a job, interview and climb a ladder at a company until I retire with a healthy super fund, savings and a nest egg for my children. I’ll have my own clients, my own personal and financial goals and targets to reach, and a wider understanding of my own business as whole rather than a pay check every fortnight and accumulating sick leave. I’ll have to understand A) my own expectations, but also my limits, and similarly for my clients. I may have employees, and to be fair, my clients may view me as an employee. While I’ll be my own boss, I won’t always enjoy the work I do, or the people I work with; but at least it will be short term.

While the audio industry doesn’t usually award work around interviews  where an employer is interviewing a potential employee to become employedI will still face interviews. My clients will be interviewing me to further understand if I’m the right person to record their vision, while I’m interviewing them to decide if their project is something I can give my 100%, but also how it will contribute to my own business’s growth and reputation. On the other hand – if the clients tick neither of those boxes, I’ll be interviewing to gauge how willing I am to work with an artist depending how badly I need the money. Therefore, we need to talk to clients that have contacted us and A) sell ourselves, show what we can bring to the table & communicate our product and B) understand the clients’ vision + expectations. Once these questions have been answered we can decide if the job is right for us. Our clients need a product that we can provide, while we need work that our clients will pay us for to obtain that product. While this seems simple enough – a lot of work goes int the process and we have to be prepared to meet and exceed expectations, compromise and create. We need to understand how much input our clients want from us as ‘producers’ rather than just engineers, and how much extra work we may have to do to make up for clients without experience in the studio.

This leads us to A) knowing what our potential client or employer wants and B) know what questions they’re really asking when they ask about tennis ball fuzz. Smith (2016) discusses an interview questions used by Google to ascertain how potential employees handle questions they can’t answer, by asking “How many cows are in Canada?” In class, I asked my potential employee ‘Do you expect to work an 8 hour day in this industry?’ I intended to follow up with, ‘If not, how will you manage your family and social life commitments?’ This was primarily to ascertain the interview’s expectations and workload in this industry and but equally importantly to understand how they work ensure that under pressure, they will continue to keep a happy home and social life. To me, this is important because unhappy or workaholic employees will either resign from projects or work themselves into a state that leaves them unable to continue to work.
The readings this week listed a series of questions tailored specifically for different disciplines in the creative industry; because the work we’re doing, executive decisions we need to make and responsibilities we hold don’t always fit in more conventional interviews. The questions are more tailored towards problem solving, intuitiveness and confidence in our own work. It also questions our ability to remain organised with al the extra jobs we do as creative professionals; such as accounting and maintaining our equipment on top of the day-to-day. These question aren’t being asked to ensure our tube mics are running and our preamps are free from hiss – our interview is trying to understand if we’ve been organised enough to do all the little things that need to be done when you’re self-employed, which apply to short term projects swell. One good test would be hand a potential engineer something like this:
This could gauge whether A) they know what it is and B) if they’re organised enough to have used one in the past.
Kellie Shadle (“Interview Questions for Creative Professionals: How to Answer the Usual Suspects”, 2016) discusses a few questions (and again the questions aren’t the point) commonly used by hiring creative medias to “… uncover whether or not you’re staying busy and working on projects to improve your craft.” while also trying to understand your long term prospects by your “… willingness to stay sharp.”. More closely related to a band is the interview trying to “determine if your design aesthetic will complement (or clash with) the company’s branding.”
Developing a rough session plan early on can assist in understanding what we expect from clients, team members and other engineers. We can understand what jobs need to done, and what qualities each person doing their assigned job will require, including yourself. We can understand what to expect from the session as part of the session plan. How much experience does the group have? What equipment does the group have? Do I have the gear to make the sound they want?
In conclusion, we’ll never escape interviews. But rather than conventionally interviewing to secure a job, we use interviews to ascertain whether a job is right for us, and vice versa. We still need to same information as a more conventional interview, however we gather information to assist us in achieving a common goal, which isn’t always the case in less… cool industries.
API VP312 Recall Sheet. (2016). Retrieved 27 March 2016, from http://img.oftechandlearning.com/2016/01/CAPI-VP312-Recall-Sheet.pdf
Interview Questions for Creative Professionals: How to Answer the Usual Suspects. (2016). Robert Half. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from https://www.roberthalf.com/creativegroup/blog/interview-questions-for-creative-professionals-how-to-answer-the-usual-suspects
Smith, J. (2016). “How many cows are in Canada?” – In Photos: 25 Oddball Interview QuestionsForbes. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45edmkk/how-many-cows-are-in-canada/#8d37ee32ebc3

Does this lawsuit me?

Can anything really be created from scratch? How do we discern influence and plagiarism? Does a sound belong to the engineer, artist or piece of equipment?
We’re all influenced somehow by something, while being surrounded by influences and peers, while also disliking another’s work and working against what we dislike is shaping our own work. Arguably, I’ve created a recording through my equipment, on my property (studio), so in the absence of a contract, who owns the files & recordings? The band owns the ‘music’, but do I own the recordings that were created when the band played their music while knowingly being captured by my microphones? The ‘first owner of copyright’ is the person who payed for the recording/s. Who owns a recording that I do in a studio? Am I a band’s employee? So if a band doesn’t pay? What if I’m working for free, and I’m actively seeking clients?
I’ve begun to ask where we draw the line between influence and plagiarism. It’s difficult to draw the line because it could be argued that an artists with a song that sounds similar (or in these examples, identical) hadn’t heard the original songs they’d plagiarised. The chorus (starts at 0:44) of Boston’s 1976 single ‘More Than A Feeling’ features a guitar riff similar enough to the anethemic Australian song Hunters and Collectors (H&Cs) ‘Holy Grail’ that the songs could be confused with each other. However, H&Cs released the album ‘Cut’ almost 20 years later in March 1993 with no plagiarism repercussions.
While on the subject of Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’, the intro sounds very similar to the intro Elton John’s ‘Screw You’, which was released a mere 3 years prior to Boston’s track.
It’s difficult to decipher between influence, plagiarism and sampling as all are grey areas. Arguably, music has standards which are used often, particularly in western music. Is 12 bar blues common because the writer and owner of the music is long dead? Westerner music uses a lot of the same chord structures, because they pleasing to the ear. If N.W.A. had played the guitar lick in 100 Miles and Runnin’, would there be a lawsuit? Arguably they could have recorded it at the original tempo and still slowed and manipulated the audio to fit the song. Where do we draw the line between plagiarism and adhering to conventional music ‘rules’?
While the chords in the songs discussed above are more easily recognisable and therefore easier to claim as one’s work, who owns copyright for products like EzyDrummer or Steven Slate Drums? Toontrack and Steven Slate worked to create the samples, you’ve (hopefully) paid for the product – so when you layer an EzyDrummer snare under a real snare – is Andy Sneap entitled to anything
Who owns copyright when using my own drum samples? If I take a snare sample and use it on another record, is the original drummer/band entitled to any royalties or ownership? Arguably they’d never know, which leads to Techno Brega ‘business’ models. Techno Brega is a style of music that’s risen to popularity in Northern Brazil, based on samples and remixes. Techno Brega artists create and distribute their music by remixing songs in their homes and home studios, and getting their songs played at dance clubs and events in the hope that they’re music will be recognised and requested and they will gain popularity. Many of the artists accept they will never make money (or only once they have a massive global following) and focusing on spreading their music. While the scene is big in Brazil, the artists and labels of artists being sampled aren’t always aware their music is being used. To be fair, the music is played at big events where many people enjoy it, so why is this any different to having those songs on an album? Where do we draw the line between a band ‘covering’ a song in a live setting and being paid to play, and having a cover of the same song on an album that they lose money on because piracy is so easy? Why is Girl Talk’s music only an issue when he sells it on an album? Why aren’t his live shows an issue, legally? He has a following, might be turning a profit by playing shows using the same records and samples as on his album. How liable are any engineers or producers that he works with?
By that note, where does ’sampling’ end and fair use via parody or commentary begin? Grey areas like these are what lead artists to lawsuits (except of course those  plagiarising on purpose) because regardless of no intention to sample or plagiarise, the original artists has a case. While I understand, respect and appreciate the thoughts behind the Pirate Bay (e.g. a rebellion against civil organisation of file sharing and copyright laws), artists (notably films and music) are being caught in the cross-fire and can’t make a living + privacy laws after TPB is caught out. Less money for record labels also leads to a tightening of piracy laws so the artists can get paid, as well as artists scrambling for funds and being motivated to take samplers or other artists to court.
In conclusion, copyright is something that will affect me, my clients, their record labels, my clients’ fans (and also people who dislike my clients’ music) and I should endeavour to answer ask the above questions I’m asking. While many areas are grey, I should ensure my work is black and white, as lawsuits aren’t something I’ve accounted for in my budget after the first week’s readings.
Hunters & Collectors – Holy Grail. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQI5fdVCvlU
Boston- More than A Feeling. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSR6ZzjDZ94
Elton John – Screw You (Yellow Brick Road 20 of 21). (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYbTqAmVB88
Metal Machine EZX : Making Of (Expansion for EZdrummer). (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StiwUfPn36s