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Archive for the ‘Music Technology’ Category

Why we’re using Bandcamp

Posted on: August 23rd, 2013 by jim No Comments

Bandcamp is a microsite storefront used by a lot of independent musicians to sell their music. They offer downloads in almost any format you can think of in a clean shopping cart, embeddable player widgets, and recently, the launch of new social engagement mechanisms has clearly shown how fervent the Bandcamp community is — a lot of folks say that it’s the place where true music consumers go to engage with the music. And over the past few months, we’ve been migrating our catalog over there.

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The integration of GLM and Bandcamp comes because we feel those user-facing mechanisms help present our artists’ music in the way we want to. But also, our catalog has been growing — we’re doing more releases than ever before, and that’s all because of your continued support, especially our Subscriber community. Because we’re adding more and more titles, our server load continues to grow, and as we add more data, the site can slow down a bit. So moving our music from our server to theirs should help keep our site quick to your click — just an added bonus really.

We started our Bandcamp run with Dave’s album Be Still last year, then Time Travel, then we launched new music by Matt Ulery, Linda Oh, and Donny McCaslin on dedicated artist stores that we manage.

This past week, we did the big upload—the three comprehensive Download-Only titles by Dave’s first Quintet, Keystone, and Brass Ecstasy. We’re happy to say, these titles are now available not only in MP3 and FLAC, but also AIF, WAV, OGG, and lots more. Clear some space on your hard drive, and get downloading!

We still have album pages up and running at our site store, and that won’t change. We’ll present further information on each release alongside links to each Bandcamp album page, and keep our sorting mechanisms in place for you to use to sift through the ever-expanding catalog. More titles will be appearing on our artist Bandcamp pages through the end of the year, even a new Dave Douglas album we’ve been keeping hush-hush for awhile now. Check back soon.


Music Morphing

Posted on: February 27th, 2013 by Dave Douglas No Comments

Looking forward to Cheltenham Festival in May. Aside from playing a set with the Quintet plus vocalist Heather Masse, I’ll be part of a panel with Dave Stapleton and others called “Setting Up Your Own Record Label”. I’m sure I will learn a lot, and it will be a great opportunity to talk about Greenleaf Music. I had that opportunity as part of panels at two major conferences in New York in the past months.

The thing about both events that stood out to me the most was that everyone I met, young musicians, presenters, panelists, was fired up — excited to be there, excited to take part in the conversation and in the larger world of music. And for the right reasons — it seemed to me that the enthusiasm was around creating music and facilitating music. So while yes there was schmoozing, it always felt genuine and urgently personal.

At the APAP World Music Pre-Conference, I took part in a set of case studies focused on world music and technology. Led by Dmitri Vietze and Ryan Dawes of Rock Paper Scissors, there were fascinating responses from Natalia Linares of Conrazón, composer and string player Ljova, and Mark Roberts of Evergreene Music and Stars & Letters.

Technology in all sorts of music is an exploding sector. I wonder if things always felt this way. It was the highest “new-app-per-paragraph” quotient discussion I’ve ever heard. And it truly gave the lie to the idea that the music industry is dying. The music industry is morphing.

At CMA I was invited by Mid Atlantic Arts to speak about the Jazz.NEXT program Using Technology to Build a Healthy, Sustainable Jazz Environment. This is the one Greenleaf Music took part in thanks to them and The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. It’s the project that allowed us to put a lot of what you see here into place. It’s also allowed for the creation of an open source WordPress template that we’ve made available to other artists. Linda Oh also came by to talk about how she’s using it at her site.

If you are reading this, let me thank you again for following us and being part of this DIY story. We’re still growing, but real listeners are the people who populate it and make it expand.

Lots more music coming this year both live and memorex. Inspired by everyone I met at these gabfests. Thanks.


Why Spotify is the best, and the worst.

Posted on: May 3rd, 2012 by jim 4 Comments

Spotify raises some serious issues for artists and independent labels these days. Jim Tuerk, who works with us here at Greenleaf Music, has done a lot of thinking (and a lot of listening) around Spotify and other music services. He wrote some of his thoughts down recently and I believe Greenleaf followers will find them interesting and thought-provoking. Enjoy. —Dave Douglas

I’ve been streaming music on Spotify like it’s going out of style these past few months. The free version was just alright, but as with many in the digital music generation, I hate ads. And as you might guess, I have a pretty expansive iTunes library, so it wasn’t a priority to get in deeper with a paid account——paid accounts remove ads and allow you streaming capabilities on your phone. When I did take the plunge into the paid application, it was mostly so I could stay current with new releases in the indie rock world——something I doze off on sometimes only to be met with, “You haven’t heard _____?!” from one of my friends. And I have to say I am pretty hooked now.

A friend of mine recently equated Spotify to giving pirates the key to the booty, meaning that there really isn’t any reason to pirate a song or record if you can stream it for free online. And I’ve found that to be true. Sometimes, I just want to hear the record before I buy it whether that means scouring YouTube for tracks, or searching out other methods of downloading. What inevitably happens is one of two things: 1) I like the record, and buy the vinyl or digital, or 2) I don’t like it, and delete it from my memory (and my computer if it’s there). With Spotify, I rarely have to search illegal avenues and now have a list a mile long of records I have discovered and now need to buy. And that list grows exponentially due to the social piece of Spotify——which in my mind is the nail-head they hit spot on.

Example: A friend sends me a track on Spotify messenger by a band called White Denim. I dig it, check out their catalog further, fall into fan-dom, see a show, buy all the vinyl they have on the merch table, and go home happy to have supported the band directly with an empty wallet and an arm full of music.

But are there more people like me out there? I assume there are, but in far less numbers than the people who simply pay their $10 and stream all they want without a second thought to buy a CD/LP/download or see a show. For me, there’s something about not owning a piece of music I like that rubs me the wrong way. Call me old-school. Maybe it’s because I’m a musician and want to feel I’ve supported folks like me. But more simply, I think it’s that I can’t quite go all-in on consumption without ownership.

One of my favorite singers, David Lowery, is a smart dude. He wrote this expansive article on the current music business model vs. the old model a couple weeks ago. It’s a helluva read. He writes: “’The consumer wants music to be free!’ [the Digerati] shout as they pound their tiny fists on their Skovby tables. The consumer also wants cars to be free. And beer. Especially beer. But any market involves a buyer and a seller. A consumer and a producer.” And furthermore, that some equate, “the unauthorized use of other people’s property (artist’s songs) with freedom,” but “…when it comes to their intellectual property, software patents for instance, these same companies fight tooth and nail.”

(Note: There is so much more to quote from over there. You should read the full article.)

Spotify hasn’t been forthcoming with their payment structure as of yet (Digital Music News is a good resource for that). While their model allows for a company to join up or pull their content, the “freedom” for consumers at the expense of artist revenues is why a lot of labels are pulling their catalogs from there (one of my favorite labels, Drag City, being one of them). But labels can lose a lot by not servicing Spotify——specifically the aforementioned social aspects of the software. It’s a great tool for artists to get their music out there to the people like me, but none of that matters if people use Spotify as a one-stop for all their music consumption. It really only works for artists if those engaged fans are somehow converted into paying consumers——meaning they don’t just pay Spotify, but rather support the artist directly. Think about the example above: I bought their albums, went to a show, and still listen to them on Spotify. But if I were just listening to them over and over again on Spotify without buying, who’s winning besides me and Spotify?

If you’re here reading this post you probably have checked out some of Greenleaf’s music and gone farther than a cursory Spotify relationship. For us at GLM, pulling our music from Spotify isn’t something we want to do. One alternative we’ve created is the Subscription with streaming and downloadable music not available at Spotify (or iTunes or Amazon or anywhere else). We definitely hope you’ll want to hear this music and join up at one of these plans. For us it’s about having a mechanism in place that helps convert those who find music on Spotify or elsewhere into a more direct relationship with our artists. We’re working with Spotify as just another tool to generate interest in the music, whether it’s live shows, CDs, streams, sheet music, or any creative output coming from artists we believe in.

My larger point in all this is that we all need to be thoughtful about how our consumption patterns affect those who are making the content we’re consuming. Paying your $10 to an aggregator like Spotify every month doesn’t get you off the hook. Get out there and see a show, buy an album or even just a song if you like it. Don’t just sit there thinking, “Man, Spotify rules! I never have to pay for an album again!” because you’ll be left one day without a WiFi connection and a deafening silence that could have been cured for a couple extra bucks——money that will help keep your favorite band alive and kicking one more year.


The Greenleaf Cloud Player

Posted on: August 3rd, 2011 by jim No Comments

We’ve been hard at work on a new way for our community to access our catalog of music. It’s all done, and we’re adopting the buzz term of the year for this delivery system: the Greenleaf Cloud Player.

The Cloud Player includes all our frontline catalog, over 20 live sets, and the whole slew of unreleased Subscriber Series tracks. We’ve included a few playlists that group together some of our catalog. More coming soon.

Active Subscribers can access the music at greenleafmusic.com/cloudplayer after logging in.

Non-subscribers can use the player as well, though access is restricted to the Featured Tracks playlist which includes 27 tracks each from a different Greenleaf title.

All Subscriptions levels come with access to the full player. Please consider supporting our efforts.


Record Making With Duke Ellington

Posted on: May 3rd, 2011 by Jim Tuerk 1 Comment

sampling the harpsichord

Posted on: April 14th, 2011 by admin No Comments

Image of the Harpsichord Mechanism

Often the music left on the cutting room floor can become the seeds for future projects.  A lot of time was spent searching for exotic sounds while in the process of making Community Immunity. Over the course of several months I recorded and sampled vintage electronic instruments, toy pianos, water sounds, ambiances and extended techniques, and developed a unique palette of rare instrumentation.  Even though most of these sounds did not end up on the final recording, it was not time wasted.  Going through a sound-exploration process has equipped me with the tools and resources to add fresh, acoustic sonic signatures to future recordings.  It is very rewarding to hear a unique timbre on a record, especially if it’s created by the composer and adopted as part of the band’s sound.

Click Here to listen to the scratch edits of the title track, Community Immunity as played on the harpsichord.  The harpsichord is a very diverse instrument; many have multiple keyboards and “manuals” which drastically and emphatically morph its sound.  At the link above, two versions are shown each with different timbres.  I definitely will be remembering this sound for the future…


musings on nancarrow

Posted on: February 27th, 2011 by Curtis Macdonald 1 Comment

Authored by Curtis Macdonald:

Conlon Nancarrow among his Piano Rolls

After a long hiatus, I’ve delved into more of Conlon Nancarrow‘s work for player piano.  Inspired by an excerpt from Study No. 33, I’ve programmed a drum set improvisation to its rhythm.  Consider this track a long awaited sequel to this one which prompted Nancarrow expert Kyle Gann to post about it here.  The drum sounds are from my personal collection and seem to compliment the rawness of Nancarrow’s piano quite nicely.  Click Here to listen to the audio.

Here’s how I did it –

Each drum sound is a sample controlled by a MIDI note, which I synced to the piano’s audio.  I placed each sound on the timeline manually and by ear to ensure accurate placement without the reference of grids or quantization.  Working with MIDI in this way can be a very tedious process, but I believe it is in the same spirit as Nancarrow’s work where he meticulously punched small holes one-by-one onto a hardcopy piano roll.  In concept, I find the process quite similar to collage-art or the building of a mosaic.

Working in an environment absent of notation reminds me as a composer to seek out new ways to organize rhythm and frequency, and as an instrumentalist to pursue ways in which to broaden and ultimately strengthen my performance capabilities.

“Since our appreciation has been limited, for the most part, to the simplest rhythms, and since it is difficult to play accurately more complex ones, it is necessary to form rhythmic scales of the simplest possible ratios… we employ the simplest overtone ratios which can be found to approximate each interval… It would be interesting… to hear such rhythms cut on a player piano roll.”
-Conlon Nancarrow

In many ways Nancarrow was a pioneer of MIDI composition decades before computers and software became widely available to composers.  His music demands a complexity that far exceeded the abilities of the musicians of his time, which in turn has inspired new performance practices and compositional methods for subsequent generations.  Today, ensembles like Calefax have set to the task of adapting his music for live performance.

Related links:

For further study of Conlon’s player-piano études:
Electronic Realizations of Conlon Nancarrow’s Study No. 37 for Player Piano

“You claim that I write monstrosities which only the composer can play. What if they were meant only for the composer?”
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji


The Beatles On iTunes

Posted on: November 16th, 2010 by jim 1 Comment

I was looking around the Apple site for a refurbished iMac yesterday and found the iTunes announcement page. I was curious as to the “Big News.” But this morning, I’m a little let down.

First, I’m a huge Beatles fan. I think most of us are to varying degrees anyway, even if we refuse to acknowledge it. But a relaunch of their catalog isn’t much in the way of “Big News.” It’s like those 30 times a year when I receive an email about yet another Bitches Brew reissue (not to mention the Miles Davis signature headphones, or Mingus-themed underwear). I get excited for a second, then realize I already have all that music.
Beatles On iTunes
But maybe this will turn a new generation onto the Beatles. Here’s hoping anyway. Say what you want about the Beatles beginnings, but from Rubber Soul on, they pretty much made flawless albums. And the pop market today would be hard-pressed to find any artist making albums with such depth, not to mention singles. Yes, yes, the Beatles are great, and hearing it so much might make it mean less and less. But it’s the truth.

I’ve seen some comments on blogs like, “What’s the big deal? No one even listens to those old guys anymore.” Obviously you’ve never heard Revolver, buddy. So for that kid, I hope the iTunes launch teaches him a thing or two. For me, I’ll drop the needle on Abbey Road this morning, and hold out for the chance to hear the unissued Carnival of Light noise pieces from 1967 that Paul refuses to release.

So Apple, what’s next?


Pro Tools 9 to launch

Posted on: November 11th, 2010 by jim No Comments

I have Pro Tools. But truth be told, I’ve never dropped down the dough for the 002-3 needed to run the software. I even sold my mBox a couple years ago. Since, I’ve just relied on the generosity of my many friends who own nice recording rigs to get my work done.

I’ve always said that if Pro Tools ever came out with a software that didn’t need the expensive piece of hardware, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Well, Avid is launching Pro Tools 9 tomorrow which does just that. Of all the new features, it’s really just the benefit of using no hardware–or any hardware you choose–that’s really cool. For me anyway.

As I started frothing at the mouth thinking about how much editing I could do in the comfort of my own home without dropping a lot of money on a rig, a friend convinced me to wait a minute before ordering in hopes some further deals will follow. Here’s hoping.

Anyone who grabs this new software, your comments are very welcome.


Geoff Countryman and the Mojo.

Posted on: November 1st, 2010 by Dave Douglas No Comments

If you’ve seen the live performances of Spark of Being recently, you’ve heard Geoff Countryman with the band, tweaking his new instrument, the Mojo. He’s agreed to post about the idea and the instrument in this space. Welcome and thanks, Geoff.


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