Archive for music

Microsoft Surface Demo (CES 2008)

Posted in Randomness with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Where the hell have I been the past year and a half?! Microsoft Surface?? Wow, I feel very stupid and out of the loop, this thing is so cool! A touch screen table computer. Sweet. Here’s a video demo of some of its uses:

The capabilities of this thing are really just insanely awesome, I really like the wine demo towards the end of the video.

I can’t wait for the future to get here. God I’m such a geek, somebody save me PLEEASE. 🙂



Simple Marketing Tips for Indie Musicians

Posted in Music Industry, Newbies with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by Chris Bracco


I just read an article that reminded me of some really basic marketing principles that may seem pretty obvious, but can definitely be forgotten over time. And they shouldn’t be! These fundamentals are extremely important, especially to indie musicians. If you are one of these musicians out there trying to do it on your own, selling albums out of your car’s trunk (props to Johnny Cash) or going door-to-door like some kind of perverted Girl Scout, then you need to be aware of these!!!

Basic assumptions as to why somebody would pay for your indie music, merch, etc:

1) They desire or absolutely need what your selling
2) They believe your product/service is exclusive in some way, or very difficult to find
3) They think there is a time constraint, and if they do not purchase your product soon they might miss the opportunity.

And far more important than the tips above: GET PEOPLE TO COME TO YOU, DO NOT FORCE THE PRODUCT ON THEM!

How many of you have ever bought a CD from some random guy running up to you on the street yelling “Yo man! I got these CDs you want one?!” I don’t know, but personally I’d tell him to scram.

People like people, so be an authentic artist by creating quality music and offering your fans something FIRST. Eventually, if what you are providing your fans is something of quality, you will see them coming back for more.


Why Radio & The Music Industries Suck Today (video)

Posted in Music Industry, Randomness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Just ran into this video over at, and it is really just fantastic. What Frank Zappa says in the beginning is so articulate & conducive to my own thoughts, I really don’t think I could have said it better myself.



Fastest Guitar Player in the World (2008)

Posted in Randomness with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2009 by Chris Bracco

This is really just one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. No words, just wow. I wonder if anybody’s been able to beat him since then!

World Record Guitar Speed 2008Watch more funny videos here


2009 Penn State Festivals….suck. WHY!?

Posted in Penn State Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by Chris Bracco

Penn State’s spring semester brings all sorts of musical events to the students and residents of State College. There are festivals, arena concerts, theater performances and bar acts to be enjoyed by all. I don’t really pay much attention to the concerts held at our Bryce Jordan Center (aka the BJ Center) because for the most part they are boring pop garbage acts — Akon, Rihanna, New Kids on the Block!?!?!? and the like. I also am not a very artsy, theater type so classical/orchestral performances don’t really tickle my fancy. And bar acts are usually cover bands around here so I take that for what it is, I guess. They’re usually fun after about 12 beers or a couple monkeyballs — a gigantic pitcher of liquor sold at some bars here for like…5 bucks. Quantity, not quality, my friends. 🙂

Anyway, each year I look forward to finding out what acts our main music festivals have to offer. Festivals are awesome, mainly because their free to students, but also because they provide an atmosphere that I am very attracted to.

The two main festivals here at Penn State are Movin’ On and Wallypalooza. Wallypalooza is new this year (it will take place on Thursday, 4/23/09).

Ok, now prepare yourself for some ranting.

Movin’ On (around since 1974) has boasted some great acts in the past, including Gym Class Heroes, Jewel, Bowling for Soup, Talib Kweli, Reel Big Fish, Ben Folds Five, Run-DMC, Wilco and Sonic Youth. Sounds pretty legit, right? Now here are some of the more recent acts (2006-09) — The Spill Canvas, Phantom Planet (The O.C. theme songwriters), Say Anything, Authority Zero……..WHAT HAPPENED! Why has this festival transformed into a power-pop orgy?

First of all, these bands are well past their prime because the popularity of emo/pop-rock music has been declining in the past few years. Lets face it, its the end of the decade and the genre is getting boring. It is proven by the huge decline in attendance at Movin’ On over the last few years. The concert is FREE. FREE!!! And people still don’t want to come out….the “large acts” over the past few years were only able to draw 50-200 of Penn State’s 60k+ faculty and students….how sad is that?

Me and my roommate had actually planned on volunteering to help run the backstage operations at Movin’ On this year, but once the lineup was released to us we immediately changed our minds. I didn’t even go to the festival as a spectator, even though it was one of the few instances that there was actually nice weather! The lineup was such a turn off for me and my roommate. I had walked past the HUB Lawn a few times that day to check it out, and the music blaring was very disappointing. I went and played some backyard football instead.

Wallypalooza, a new festival being held for the first time ever (4/23) doesn’t show much promise either. There is going to be DJ Super Nova there…yes, a DJ at a college music festival. WHAT?! It’s not a fucking nightclub or spring break resort you morons!! Oh, and in case you still care by this point, their headline act: ASHER ROTH.

Asher Roth

Up until two days ago when his album dropped, the public had heard one song from this guy. ONE SONG! “I Love College.” This song teaches absolutely nothing that can’t be learned in the first 30 seconds of a keg party. I mean come on! He is the quintessential opposite of the kind of performer that should be headlining a college festival. Shallow, mindless drivel that is unable to provoke any sort of coherent thought or emotion. The only think a song like this can spark in an individual is the desire to try a kegstand. Just hang out with some drunken frat brothers for twenty minutes and you’ll have the same desires.

Penn State has injected nearly $130,000 dollars into both Movin’ On & Wallypalooza this year. 10k alone was given to Asher Roth just to get him to come play at Wallypalooza. This money, combined with the reputations of Movin’ On’s past acts had the potential to attract some great talent to both festivals this year. It was so disappointing to see this happen.

In my opinion, colleges & student organizations should always be focused on creating learning experiences for its students. Now granted that student organizations put these festivals together, universities have Boards of Trustees that approve these clubs to be affiliated with the university in the first place. So the university clearly sees some educational & experiential value these clubs can bring to the student body. But what is there to learn, experience or develop from these shallow, inartistic power pop bands? I mean, they may very well provide some great entertainment, but there are plenty of acts out there that can entertain and provide a developmental/artistic experience as well.

I hope someone will step up in the future and put together some great festivals for next year because I would really love to see some genuinely talented musical acts visit Happy Valley before I graduate. Can somebody just do me a solid here?

We’ll see.


Simple Audio Mixing Tips Part 3

Posted in Mixing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by Chris Bracco

This is the 3rd and final installment of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips!” Here are 5 more intriguing tips to try out while mixing your audio! Check ’em out:

1) Turn up the monitors pretty loud, then leave the room and shut the door and listen to the mix from outside of the room. Doing this can sometimes reveal weird things in the mix that you may not have heard from directly in front of the speakers. It can also help with making sure the track levels are well balanced. I know this may not make much sense but try it out! It really does work, some professionals use this trick and swear by it!

2) A good rule is to stay away from the last 4 to 5 dB of a plug-in’s red zone. This is important to absolutely make sure your tracks are not clipping. Clipping is bad. Very bad. Don’t let it happen or the monsters in your closet will eat you.

3) If you are recording a singer/rapper on a LDC mic and you’re getting too much sibilance and popping even when using a pop screen, try adjusting the mic (hanging inverted) so that the capsule is lined up with the bridge of the singer’s nose. This tip gets the singer/rapper to sing upwards, opening their windpipe. This helps dampen those evil Ess’s and Shh’s that us engineers hate so much. Have the vocalist step forward or backward from the mic (depending on the sound you desire), and voila. Essless vox.

4) Vocal Compression Tip: Start conservatively by going to the hottest (loudest) part of the track and setting the compression plug-in parameters so you’re not getting more than 3 dB of gain reduction. Begin by adjusting the ratio at 2:1 or 3:1, then try using an automatic attack and release if available, or if you’re hearing the compressor grab and/or release too soon, aka “pumping,” go manual and set your attack to about 40 ms and your release to 300 to 400 ms to keep the compressor smooth on the attack and release. Lower your threshold until you achieve the desired gain reduction. Compression made simple.

5) Beginner Vocal EQ Tip: I like to start by setting up a 6-band EQ on my track (I like Waves REQ, but thats just me). You can add openness, presence and intelligibility by creating a high shelf anywhere from 5- up to 12 kHz. If more presence is needed, try adding a peak EQ in the 3 to 6kHz range, or taking away 1 kHz or adding a little bit of 2 kHz (the main frequency range where the voice resides). Boosting a bit of 200 to 350 Hz will add warmth and fullness, but too much will make your track muddy. These techniques differ from singer to singer and depend on gender. Once you are confident, train your ear by first listening to the vocal solo’ed while you add EQ and then listen to it within the mix.

And that concludes this 3 part series of “Simple Audio Mixing Tips!” Keep an eye out for some more monthly tips and tricks in other aspects of the recording process!

One love,


Digital Downloads — Penn State Gets It!

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Chris Bracco

As I strolled ignorantly to my theater class this afternoon, completely forgetting that it had been canceled, I decided to pick up a copy of PSU’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian. And I am SO glad I did, because I came across a very refreshing article.

Digital Downloads: City Lights, other music stores wary of future

To be honest, usually most of the articles that come out of our newspaper aren’t the highest caliber. But the author of this article really surprised me with her knowledge of the music industry! It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me because until today I had yet to meet someone at PSU with as much interest in the music industry as me. If you get me rambling about the music industry up here in Happy Valley, I usually get incessant nodding or eyes rolling from listeners — frankly, it seems like they would rather do a kegstand. Not that there’s anything wrong with kegstands… 🙂 Oh, college.

Anyway, here’s what I took away from the article (with occasional comments by me). Hopefully it is useful to you guys as well:

Digital Downloads
In the first article, author Alexandra Fletcher points out that the impact of digital downloading has finally struck good ol’ Happy Valley (aka Penn State University for those of you who had no idea what that meant 3 seconds ago).

The only local brick-and-mortar music store in the downtown area, City Lights, is predicting it will go out of business by next year due to the rising popularity of digital downloads.

Knowledge Drop:


There were 428.4 million albums sold nationwide in 2008, down from 500.5 million in 2007, according to Nielson Sound Scan. As for digital music, 844.2 million tracks sold in 2007, and in 2008 that increased to almost 1.1 billion…meanwhile, 65.8 percent of the 428.4 million albums sold in 2008, were purchased digitally, according to Nielson Sound Scan.


I’m sure most people reading this are already aware of these trends. Clearly the value of an album has diminished. DRASTICALLY. Why, you ask?

Alexandra goes on to quote local Roustabout! concert series promoter Jesse Ruegg, who believes that album value has decreased due to the recording industry’s business strategies throughout the 80’s and 90’s:


The art form of the album was abused as the industry ‘padded out’ an artist. The industry produced albums of 12 to 15 songs with mediocre songwriting, forcing consumers to pay ’18 bucks to find a few good tracks,’ Ruegg said.


An upside to consumers purchasing/stealing music via digital downloading is the leveling of the playing field. Indie artists & labels can distribute their music & merchandise through the same digital mediums the pro’s use!

Chenjerai Kumanyika, a Penn State grad student in entertainment & media studies, and former member of hip-hop group The Spooks, had some very insightful things to say about this:


This isn’t the first time the entertainment industry has had to change mediums. This is a time when listeners have more freedom to discern what’s good rather than have the music industry tell them what’s good…this is a time that has the potential to empower artists. Artists should try to use that power, and fans should recognize this as a time to choose.


I concur, Chenjerai. I concur.

Anybody remember the transformation from sheet music to vinyl records? Well, if you’re reading blogs then you are probably a bit too young. But you get the point. Change has occurred before, the industries have endured, who’s to say we cannot endure again?