I was cleaning my netbook earlier. It was making these weird noises as if it was choking, and on taking it apart I found the fan was full of dust and muck. So I cleaned it and then looked at it. Really looked at it. And I went off on a reverie.
Pretty much all I do, all I think and all I create is contained on the hard drive in the picture above. And it suddenly struck me as how remarkable that was, and how fast it’s happened. How incredibly fast.
Take music. When I first got into music there was tape. To record anything of worth you HAD to rent a recording studio, and the equipment therein cost a small fortune – literally. Tracks were laid down on damn great reels of expensive two inch tape and mastered onto reels of quarter inch tape … and there was tape hiss. Oh, if you had another small fortune you could remove most of it, but never all. Hiss was part and parcel of recording, then.
Computers took a while to infiltrate. But the incredible thing was that the programs you used were elegant and tiny. They had to be because RAM was finite, and again, cost an arm and a leg.
Now, any idiot with a laptop can record an album. Without tape hiss. Without tape. Now programs are huge and bloated because elegant code doesn’t matter anymore – RAM is cheap.
Then: longhand delivered for someone to type out. Edit it with red pen and re-type. Rinse and repeat. To become a writer you really had to want to write!
Now: open up program of choice and off you go. A gazillion websites inflate ‘writers’ egos. Some even make it. NaNoWriMo (I’ll say no more).
Then: actual film stock. Twenty four or thirty six shots on a roll. Develop and print in a darkroom.
Now: digital. Snap as many as you want because you’re bound to find one good, usable shot. If not, photoshop it. Bing bang boom, done and dusted. Deliver the ‘product’ by email. No more messengers on motorbikes.
Then: actual film and cameras and crews, etc.
Now: digital cameras and storage. Make a documentary during lunch; a feature film over the weekend. Edit at home (oh, and write the music too, if you fancy it).
Those bits and bobs stuck to the motherboard behind the hard drive in the photo above are enablers. Art is no longer precious or special. Art is everymans and everyman is an artist.
This blog wouldn’t be here without my baby netbook. Neither would my music be available all over the world, or Midnight Dude, the book I wrote a story for and typeset.
I wouldn’t know the wonderful (albeit virtual) people and friends I’ve met on-line, and I wouldn’t have websites to visit and loiter away my life on….
It was at this point my reverie ended. I looked at the cat as I put the back cover on and fumbled with its screws. Percy’s real. He’s not an avatar. Neither is he a trainable toy that follows me around the house meowling until, in a fit of pique, I remove the batteries.
I look out of the window. The garden fence I fixed this morning is still standing. Its real, not virtual. As am I, for my sins. But with the rate of change; with the rate of human invention, for how long? How long will it be until I’m just a virtual plaything? How long before the real and the virtual blur so much it becomes impossible to tell the difference?
Without a shadow of a doubt computers have changed our lives; my life. But is it really for the better, or should the Luddites rise again before it is too late?
I never met him, but he changed my world profoundly.
I remember watching the 1984 ad for the macintosh at the Odeon Leicester Square – I can’t remember the film I went to see, but the advert was stunning.
Later I spent a small fortune on an LCII, bought a G4 when they first came out, and I still have an old G5 at the heart of my studio. I’d like to update, but sadly can’t afford to.
Apple changed the face of music and video production, which, for me, is the key to why I feel so sorry Steve has gone. But more importantly: Tim Berners-Lee designed and ran the first true iteration of the WWW (at CERN) on a NExT computer and NExT was Steve Jobs – as NExT was a lot of the interior of the new generation Macs (OSX) once Jobs rejoined Apple.
“We didn’t get it.” He spoke down the phone, his tone as light as possible considering he wanted to scream.
“Oh. Well, there it is then,” the reply as upbeat as he’d known it would be, the pain held in check. Both trying to kid the other that the news wasn’t as crushing as it was. The longer the wait the more convinced they were they’d got it – and the wait had been interminable.
“They’ll be others, and it was good practice you know.”
“Yes, but … fuck! I’ll have to send the Porche back.”
“See you tomorrow.”
So what have I learned from not getting a job? Firstly: not to talk about anything before it happens, and secondly: not to be downhearted. Damn me I was – for a short while – but there’s no point.
We sent in two versions, we should have concentrated on one. We were very tired when it came to mix and that was a MAJOR mistake. We did pay attention to the brief, but obviously we made errors. So, for your delectation and delight, here is the brief, followed by what they said and the two verions we submitted.
HUGE NY Ad Agency needs a SINGER/SONGWRITER SONG for a national NUTRITION/HEALTH BRAND’s TV COMMERCIAL. It’s estimated that this gig will pay $15-$25,000 up front, but the back will bring in more dollars–LOTS of national airplay coming down the pike. This is going to be a little complicated so read VERY carefully!
The TV spot features a male/female DUET singing about taking your nutrition to the next level. It’s starts with a guy, playing guitar. 3 seconds into the spot, he’s joined by a young woman who sings along with him and plays tambourine. She becomes a one-woman band as she begins to ALSO play a kick drum and a keyboard–added in that order, and introduced one at a time (in your arrangement).
All this needs to take place in 30 SECONDS, while they sing the lyrics below! The good news is that this is a DEMO, and the agency folks know the lyrics they’ve been handed by their client are on the fat side. Your job is to keep the CRITICAL parts of the lyric in tact, while cutting SOME fat to bring this song in at exactly 30 seconds. You can trim a “yeah, yeah, yeah” down to just one “yeah,” etc., but you MUST keep “Anthem” and “Go Nutrients” and as much of the original concept as possible and MOST of the lyric in tact. Quoting the Head Creative guy at the agency: “Write a great SONG with as much of the client’s lyrics as possible.” Easy, breezy, nothing to it, and bring it all home in 30 seconds!
Musically, this SONG needs to be UPTEMPO, HIP and FUN, and in a Jason Mraz or Bruno Mars-like style of putting (vocal) doubles or triplets on top of half notes. That could give it a cool, fun, funky feel while helping you get most of the lyrics nailed in 30 seconds. Melodically, your song needs to sound like a HIT with a KILLER HOOK–it needs to be infectious, memorable and singable.
This product will likely generate a series of TV spots, so nailing THIS one COULD get you to the front of the line for others. If your DEMO is chosen to be presented to the agency and client, you’ll need to be able to make minor changes (if needed) on Monday, July 4th so the final version can be presented on Tuesday morning. If you’re not fully available Sunday (dinner time) through Monday (dinner time), please DO NOT submit for this listing! Welcome to the intensely fast-paced, whacky world of music for advertising!
You take a multivitamin every day
But you want to add a little something (hey hey hey)
So you reach for new Go Nutrients from Anthem
Can I get a funky beat on the bass drum
Take Omega 3 to help your heart
Helps your eyes and brain too…so state of the art
Probiotic for when your system feels out of whack.
Immunity? No problemo! And support that digestive tract. (Uh-huh.)
Fruit & Veggie has antioxidants galore!
Will make you glow for the one you adore. (Grrrrr)
Get on up, throw your hands in the air.
Take your nutrition next level, Start a love affair!! (Yeah yeah yeah.)
Broadcast Quality is needed, even though they may ultimately use NY session singers for the vocals. You must own or control 100% of the Master and Composition rights. If you are chosen, the AD AGENCY will contact you DIRECTLY. The agency is not sure at this time if this will be a Work for Hire deal or exactly what form the deal structure will ultimately take. Bottom line, it will certainly be in line with whatever the Industry Standard would be in a situation like this. This is a HUGE agency, and they’re not in the habit of risking their reputation by cheating musicians–it’s not like they’re a record label – LOL!! Please submit one to three songs online or per CD, include lyrics. All submissions will be screened on a YES/NO BASIS. NO CRITIQUES FROM TAXI. Submissions must be received no later than SATURDAY, JULY 2nd, 2011 at 6:00 pm (PDT).
Doesn’t sound enough like the referenced artists to get forwarded, and the vocals are a little on the not locked together very well side. We KNOW this had challenging lyrics, to say the least. Thanks for working so hard on this!
Similar problems as the other track had. Also, at times, the vocals sound like several people and not a duet. Sorry to be so picky, but the ad agency will be hearing stuff from a handful of NY’s top ad music people and we can only submit stuff that’s competitive with them.
What I think!
Pragmatically, they’re not wrong. I don’t even think they’re broadcast quality – though they were supposed to be demos: ideas to be polished.
As ideas they’re okay though they’re rough and need work. Also, they don’t reflect the singers, we were given as suggestions, enough.
Both mick and I have written for commercials before. Obviously, we need to dust off our muses.
I came back through the door after going to the shops, this morning, to find a parcel. Inside was something I wasn’t expecting until next month: a proof copy of my book!
Dare I say W00T! 🙂
Holding a real, physical, glossy paperback book of your own work is … mindbogglingly fantastic! The feeling is almost sexual in its intensity. The trouble is I don’t have anyone to go and and get drunk with. Mick thinks it’s ‘great,’ looked at it, flicked through it, and then went to the studio. Brigitte grinned, said it ‘looks really nice’ and then made lunch. And the cats weren’t that overjoyed, either.
But I have this persistent warm glow inside, which quite makes up for the lack of champagne and highbrow critique. And, after all, it is only a proof – speaking of which: sods law I immediately found a major mistake (misteak). What it is I shan’t say – you’ll have gnaw at your nails and guess.
THE PRICE OF BREATHING:
So … what have I learnt? Well, you have to take the downs with the ups and learn from them both. Devastating though the rejection was – and the length of time waiting had a lot to do with that – it’s not the end of the world. It’s a lesson and we’ll learn from it (‘scuse me – that sounds so trite I think I need a bucket). It’s a bummer we’re not going to get $25,000 plus royalites (bangs head against the wall) but that’s life … and the very next day I get a proof of my book. See? The universe takes away and then provides. Sort of – ish.
There’s the core of a new religion in here, somewhere. Hmm. I have a book jacket of many colours. Maybe a coat would be nice, too. And a new musical. 😉
It’s now the 5th of July, and thank heavens for that. Yesterday, I hovered around the computer all day waiting for an email, or for some weency indication of how our two, 30 second, commercials were received (see post below).
All day: nada, nothing, zip, ziltch, bollocks all. Lord on a pogo stick was I getting freaked out. The job stated:If you’re not fully available Sunday (dinner time) through Monday (dinner time), please DO NOT submit for this listing!
The job came from an agency in California, which is 8 hours behind the U.K.. So having worked out that dinner would be around 8pm there – ergo 4am next day, here, I’ve been worrying ever since. Not to mention being so tired I was almost a zombie.
Then Brigitte, who has been stalwart at preventing me doing anything silly, said “It’s the 4th, you know, Independence day. It’s a public holiday in the U.S.. They won’t be at work.”
Ooooh, the sleep was nice. But now I’m out of out of whack with my normal snoozing pattern and still don’t know anything. Mick, bless his cotton socks, is always optimistic. Me, I guess I’ll wait just a little longer (read tonight) before I start eating people. 😉
Mick & I are in the studio recording a 30 second commercial for a New York ad agency. If it gets accepted then ‘Rio, oh mio oh mio!’ If it doesn’t then … c’est la vie. Neither of us have worked on commercials in years, and it’s good practice.
We’re recording two versions (should be three) and they have to be in by midnight.
We’ll hear, one way or the other, by Monday morning. Wish us luck! 🙂
I’m now listening to Underwood & Flinch, another podcasted novel from the most worthy and excellent Mike Bennett. As I write it’s posted to episode 32. U&F is split into two parts, and I’ve just finished part one (21 episodes). Mmm.
It’s basically a vampire tale, though I won’t tell you what goes on except that it’s very well written, very well performed (Bennett’s accents are extremely good), entertaining, peachy, and deserves hearing. So do!
I like podcasts. Some are entertaining, some are interesting, and some are both. Considering I’m a musician, a writer, and have worked in media I came to podcasting very late – but that’s neither here nor there.
A lot of podcasts later – and I’m not talking about the magazine programme format that a lot of them use, but real storytelling – and Mur has released a new one. I haven’t heard it yet, either. But I’m convinced, absolutely convinced it’ll be good. 🙂
I’d offer the trailer, but sadly, unless I pay a load of wonga I don’t have, I can’t stream audio or video. C’est la vie. However, click HERE and listen to Marco and the Reg Granny at Podiobook.com Or try Mur Lafferty’s own site: The Murverse.
And let me know what you think. Happy listening! 🙂
I’ve just finished listening to a Mike Bennett podcast entitled ‘One Among The Sleepless’ which I came across at Podiobooks.com. Why I haven’t used the graphic for that is simple. Because using the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ graphic shows you he has several pieces you can listen to. Weird, huh. That’s my mind at work.
Mike Bennett’s mind is even more convoluted and, dare I say, weird and devious.
“One Among The Sleepless‘ is a full length novel set in the peaceful English seaside town of Brighton. It involves a tramp, friendship, lust, drugs, murder and ‘The One’. Mike reads/performs it in 33 episodes and it’s thoroughly and undoubtedly brilliant. ‘Hall Of Mirrors‘ is a collection of Mike’s short stories that are pretty wicked and brilliant too. Both are complete, and he also has more to offer as well. If you haven’t yet heard of ‘Underwood and Flinch‘ I’m sure you will.
Let me wail on about something that is far, far better than sliced bread. Something that has entertained me almost endlessly since I discovered it a mere six months ago. Podiobooks.
Podiobooks is a phenomenal website that started out around the same time as wots-his-name came up with Facebook. It’s a site where authors read their works and release them in episodic form. For free. Yes, entirely for free! That’s not to say that you can’t bung them money. You can (via PayPal) and should.
And yes! There is a lot of extremely good stuff there. From authors like Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty, I G Hulme, John Lenahan, Mike Bennett, Nathan Lowell, Philippa Ballentine, P G Holyfield and J C Hutchins.
Podcasting’s been around for a while, but to be able to listen to great authors read their own work; well, it’s kind of special.
It’s a new paradigm. Rather than writing a book and struggling to find an agent or a publisher you write the book, podcast it, get an audience and then the publisher approches you. Neat!
Scott Sigler did it with Contagious; John Lenahan has done it with Shadowmagic and its sequel, and I’m sure many others have, too.