Music In The Modern Age

'Sensitive artist' poseSlowly but surely, the pieces of a full-length Walkingbirds record is coming together. I have eight songs set aside, working on them when I can.

The Internet is a marvelous help. One song really needs to be in 6/8 time, but the drum program I use only does variations on 4/4. Hey look, there’s an upgrade available that not only handles 6/8 but odd time signatures as well. I pay ten bucks for an upgrade. The whole transaction, from firing up the browser to install, takes about ten minutes.

I can’t afford to hire a designer, so I’m doing all the graphic design myself. There’s a royalty-free photo on that would be perfect for the CD label. I’m already a registered user, so I download it and have a mock-up in Photoshop done in twenty minutes. Even though I’m not required to, I send a note to the photographer with a GIF of the label, thanking him and promising him a free copy and full credit in the CD notes. He’s estatic. Did I mention he lives in Italy?

The drum track sounds a little too electronic. I need better drum samples. Typing “drum samples” into Google leads me directly to, which is as far as I can tell, a bunch of guys who record live drummers, encode the recordings into WAV files, burn them to CD and sell them on the Internet. I preview a few samples, and order a CD of 2000 samples for 30 bucks. I still need samples to work with while I’m waiting for the CD to arrive, so I hit, which leads me to a few nice snare samples I can use right away.

Mixonic does short-run CD pressings. Usually, you can’t get a run under 1000 pieces (which means that you usually end up with boxes of unsold CDs under the bed for years to come), but Mixonic will gladly press only a handful. I upload my label, using their online CD designer tool to add text. I have yet to send them a master CD, but I could just upload CD-quality MP3s to my account as well, which allows me to alter the sequence of the songs. I save the CD design in my account, pending the completion of the record.

Mixonic also offers order fulfillment, and provides each user with a “selling page” which is basically a shopping cart for buying records directly from the manufacturer. They dupe just enough to fill each order, so there’s no inventory to manage. CDBaby and Amazon will carry my record too, if I send them a few copies.

I have an idea to make an enhanced CD, with a Flash or Quicktime startup page that points to lyrics and bonus tracks and stuff. How can I do this? Google turns up dozens of tutorials on creating multisession CDs. I drop a note to Mixonic; can they do enhanced CDs? I get a response from a live customer support person: sure we can, cool idea, just mail in the master and mark it as a hybrid disk.

And in the meantime, I need to work on these songs. The Web can help me with that too. Here’s a rhyming dictionary (here’s another). There are online songwriting communities. Tons of newsgroups. Fake book directories. Here’s a huge guitar chord dictionary.

All these tools at my fingertips. Wish I had this ten years ago. Gotta wonder, though, how long it will all last.

Hopefully long enough to get my record done.

3 thoughts on “Music In The Modern Age”

  1. Being a singer myself, you are living my dream by doing it all yourself using the resources provided by the net. And judging by the sounds of the songs, doing a great job at it! Keep it up.

  2. Great post.

    FYI, the findsounds HREF is correct, but it’s typed “findssounds.”

    I’m reading from work, but I’ll be sure to follow some of your links at home; and check out the rest of your site.

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