Saturday, November 29, 2008
Get 'Dj Rap' on iTunes [link below] copy and paste the link
[also on beatport]
[also on trackitdown]
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Center for Public Environmental Oversight [www.cpeo.org]
NRDC - The Natural Resources Defense Council [www.nrdcorg ]
The NRDC is a nonprofit environmental organization with more than 550,000 members nationwide and a staff of scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Their mission is to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.
Global Green USA [www.globalgreen.org]
Global Green's programs focus on eliminating weapons of mass destruction; fighting climate change; promoting green building and renewable energy; and ensuring access to clean water for all of humanity.
Tree People [ www.treepeople.org]
IFAW - International Fund for Animal Welfare [ www.ifaw.org]
Reef Check [ www.reefcheck.org]
The Student Conservation Association [ www.thesca.org]
SCA is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school volunteers who annually commit nearly 2 million combined hours of service to national parks, forests, refuges and urban green spaces throughout all 50 states. Poised to celebrate its 50th Anniversary, SCA's active, hands-on approach to conservation has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders, inspire lifelong stewardship, and save our planet.
Childrens Environmental Health Network [ http://www.cehn.org]
protects children from environmental hazards
The Environmental Justice Foundation [http://www.ejfoundation.org/index.html]
empowers people all over the world to protect their own environment.
The Surfrider Foundation [http://www.surfrider.org]
is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.
Monday, October 13, 2008
What is music publishing?
Hi guys this is a subject people go to school for, it is that huge. I am still learning everyday what this means. It is vital you learn as much as you can in order to protect yourself. This is where the writer really makes his/her dough, money, pension, etc. One hit song can keep you snug for years literally. But if you don't copyright your music, register it to these companies, you're lost in an uncounted sea of possible dollars. Some people say that these companies have bad accounting, go and line and you will read horror stories for sure, however most people I know including myself earn quite well from them, in the end it's better to have someone collect for you than not. You could look at this this way, if you do not play the lottery you have no chance of winning do you?
My advice is always hold on to your publishing, set up a company (inc) so you and your assets are safe, register all domain names of your company and make them legal. It is costly!!! (I know) and tough. The best option for the starving artiste is to register to Bmi/Ascap in the U.SA
and MCPS/ PRS in the U.K.
This is a handy site http://www.mpaonline.org.uk/ I have taken some pieces from here so you don't have to go anywhere, relax, sit back and study the shit out of it. I hope this helps you some, it is a tiny amount of info, compared to what there is to learn, however, as this is a basic overview. as always, investigate further my budding fellow musicians.
What does a publisher do?
The business of music publishing is basically concerned with developing, protecting and valuing music.
The business is diverse and demands a variety of skills. These range from the ability to spot writing talent and original music that is likely to appeal to an audience, to ensuring that all uses of music are properly licensed and paid for. Music publishers play a vital role in the development of new music and in taking care of the business side, allowing composers and songwriters to concentrate on their creative work.
The role of a music publisher involves:
Finding new and talented songwriters and composers and encouraging and supporting them as they develop their skills, whether through helping with their living expenses, providing them with the facilities they need to produce music or offering advice and guidance in writing for particular markets;
Securing commissions for new works and helping to coordinate work flow;
Registering the works of songwriters and composers with all appropriate collecting societies and agencies, such as MCPS and PRS;
Producing performance materials (score and parts) and demonstration recordings;
Producing and licensing the production of printed music;
Preparing promotional materials, including sampler CDs, study scores, etc;
Promoting composers and songwriters to performers, broadcasters, record companies and others who use music on a commercial basis;
Licensing the use of music;
Monitoring and tracking the use of the music they own and ensuring that proper payment is made for all licensed uses;
Making royalty payments to songwriters and composers in respect of the usage of their music;
Taking appropriate action against anyone using music without the necessary licence;
The business of music publishing is dependent upon there being a strong copyright framework in place. The control of copyright enables a publisher to recover the investment made in songwriters and composers and to ensure that they are rewarded for their creative work. Without copyright there would be no financial incentive for music publishers to invest in composers and musical works. This would be to the detriment of composers who depend upon publishers to manage the business of exploiting musical works and administering royalty payments.
The relationship between a music publisher and a songwriter/composer is supported by a publishing contract setting out the rights and obligations of each to the other. Under these contracts songwriters and composers assign the copyright in their music to the music publisher in return for a commitment to promote, exploit and protect that music. The publisher agrees to pay the songwriter/composer a percentage of any income earned from such exploitation as royalties.
What is copyright?
Copyright enables composers and authors to be paid for their work. Copyright is the means by which those who make and own creative works (e.g. music and literature) can control who makes use of their work and the circumstances in which it is used, to ensure that the integrity and value of the work is respected.
Copyright legislation has evolved over the last 500 years to provide a balance between the interests of those who invest skills and intellectual effort, time and money in the creation of works on the one hand and those who want to use and enjoy those works on the other.
The current UK copyright legislation is to be found principally in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Can I sample somone else's music?
Similarly, if you want to sample a recording of a song or piece of music which was made or released within the last 50 years then the recording will still be in copyright and can only be sampled with permission from the copyright owner of the recording (usually the record company) or their agent, PPL, and from the performer(s) in addition to the copyright owner of the music and of the words.
The sample used will infringe copyright in the music and/or the sound recording, as the case may be, if it is a ‘substantial part’ of the original and is used without the necessary permissions. The sample is considered ‘substantial’ by reference to its quality rather than its length. If it is recognisable, however short, as coming from the original piece of music or recording then it should be regarded as being substantial and the necessary permissions should be sought. If you are in any doubt, apply for permission.
How can I find the copyright owner for permission to use a piece of music?
To use any piece of music that is in copyright, you must first get permission. The type of permission required depends on how you wish to use the music.
For permission to photocopy printed music, the MPA can help to direct you to the copyright owner. You should provide as much information about the music as possible, including the title, composer, any arranger or editor and the date of publication or copyright line (usually inside the front cover or at the bottom of the first page of the music), together with the name of any publisher that you have for the work.
For permission to arrange music the MPA can help to direct you to the copyright owner. You should provide as much information about the music as possible, including the title, composer, any arranger or editor and the date of publication or copyright line (usually inside the front cover or at the bottom of the first page of the music), together with the name of any publisher that you have for the work.
For permission to use music in films or commercials you should contact the copyright owner. The MPA can help to direct you to the copyright owner.
For permission to record music you should contact MCPS.
For permission to perform music live you should contact PRS.
For permission to broadcast music or include it in a cable programme service you should contact PPL and MCPS-PRS Alliance.
For permission to perform a musical, opera or ballet you should contact the publisher directly. Again the MPA can help to direct you to the correct publisher.
For permission to play a recording of music in any public place you should contact PRS and PPL.
For any other usage not mentioned above you should contact the copyright owner directly. The MPA can help, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
What should I do if I believe that someone may be infringing copyright?
If you are concerned about illegal photocopying of music contact the MPA immediately.
If you are concerned about any other illegal use of music, film or software, contact the Copyright Advice & Anti-Piracy Hotline: 0845 603 4567
© Music Publishers Association - Contact Us - MPA legal notices
Hope this helps, luv n bass, DJ RAP
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Saturday, September 27, 2008
As we come to the end of the basics in becoming a Dj, music, production etc... The rest will be up to you. I could go on forever about what I have learned but then you would be left with very few surprises and how boring would that be? Today I want to talk about legacy, what you do is what you leave behind. I mean what do you want to be remembered for musically? This means you have to think about the genre of music you choose that best represents you and your expression. I am an odd case when it comes to this, most people do one thing and stick to it, if you're a drum and bass producer, then that's what you are, same goes for house breaks etc. Back in the day it was unheard of to do what I did, step outside the box, in fact run from that damn box and laugh at it. I did the unthinkable, shock horror gasp and made a "pop" record.
"Learning Curve" was a very successful record though I never viewed it as "pop". To me it was an experiment fusing all genres, all emotions into a deeply electronic adventure. I had always wanted to write songs and that is what I am at heart, a songwriter, playing the piano from an early age, I always incorporated melodies into all my productions, that is what made me stand out I guess you could say from the get go. However, I was so drawn to the technical aspect of production that when drum and bass first appeared on the scene I was instantly hooked being the geek I am. So, as you may know, tracks like " Spiritual Aura" though drum and bass had these lush strings and a strong sense of emotion in it, very different to what was out there. I disliked the ugly harsh side of drum and bass but that does not mean I didn't like my drum and bass BADD ASS TOUGH like the heroes Dillinja, Pendulum, RonnieSize, Groovrerider produced.
Still, I liked to keep things fresh and moving, so though drum and bass got very modern, it also got so technical that I felt the emotion was missing somewhat. So I went in a different direction, and the rest is history. You probably know I leapfrog through genres, I like the flexibility of producing whatever I want, though no doubt this has caused more confusion and certainly made it hard for me. The problem is I get bored and I have always been that way. The only way to survive this head fuck is to do what I do, multitask your music. How has this hurt me and how has it benefited me is the question, and this is what I want you to understand when choosing this path.
As I watch some of my fellow artistes who have stuck to one thing become successful and really cracking it, I often question whether I fucked up. I really do, had I stuck to house which was what I first played (that's right, I was around before the birth of drum and bass) I would be so fucking huge!!!! or would I? Did I do well because I chose drum and bass? point is, you'll never know. I certainly would be richer, that's for sure.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.
It's time we woke up to the fact that we are in very real danger of a totalitarian world.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Today we are going to talk about the taboo subject of illegal downloading (click on that and read about the consequences) and how it effects artistes... and it does! So if you're one of those thieving assholes that lives on Kazaa etc. that thinks I am an asshole for writing this, you could look at it this way: You pay for food, clothes and just about everything else, yet I don't know anyone who can live without music, we all have it, we are the iPod gods, the click generation, so it still amazes me that people expect to pay nothing for this.
Or you should read up on the consequences because the Recording Industry Association of
Option three for this kind of person is not to read this blog. I write it for people who hope to make a living pursuing their dream of making music and Dj'ing, just like I am. I will say that it is our choice to life this life, to follow this dream, I could choose to do anything but I personally feel that there is nothing else I could be happy doing except for this and acting. But it is really hard and you would be foolish to think this is an easy job.
Now it's a different story. Times are tough, police are tough, laws are rough. We do not live in a world that is free, the 80's were our 60's. well, for me anyway.
So how does this all effect you?.
You need hit records to become a well known DJ that people will want to see perform. That means spending as much time as possible in the studio, that means there is no time to do this while you have a job, unless you don't need sleep and I know many that pull this off but it's hard to be consistent when holding down a day job and music is your night job. So many like me opt to commit to this full time, as we have talked about in my earlier blogs, it's not only about the music, you have to promote yourself, get out there, handle all those myspace, facebook sites etc. so, it is hard and unrealistic to expect to do all this at night, although I am more creative at night all the business maintenance happens in the day....( running my labels etc).
Now I have another point of view, I don't mind giving it away like I do on my mailing list every month (I give a track to any who sign up) if this means people come to the shows so maybe that will be the way forward. I certainly hope it all means something because I for one love what I do and all you can hope for is a life spent doing what you love, managing to get by with out the worry of how. This is why many still opt for a record deal, at least they are prepared to offer the financial support needed to keep you on the road which is expensive.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Hi and I hope you are all well, great responses from these blogs, glad I can be of service...
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
So now you have a basic grasp on production, DJ skills, how to present yourself, blah blah, what next? Should you get a manager? An agent? How do you climb that ever elusive ladder to success? All I can tell you is my own experience, which doesn't necessarily make me right. You have to follow your own path and listen to your gut, because it's nearly always spot on.
One thing all mangers are great at is taking 15 to 20 percent of ALL your income. So, you have to decide if what that person generates for you financially makes that worth while. Bear in mind you will pay that as well as 10 to 15 percent to your agent. Back in the day when I had my record deal with Sony I also had a business manager who took 5 percent, they are vital for keeping the books straight when you're on tour, paying all your bills when your not around, they are a godsend. I'll recommend London & Company who rep all from SLASH, COURTNEY LOVE and tons of the top electronic acts, too many too mention. In the end I ended up making very little profit because I paid so much out, however had I known then what I know now, things would be very different. Hence the reason I write this bog: to help you guys.
Basically you give away 40 percent, then are also taxed at 40 percent, you do the math. On paper, you're loaded but in reality you're not. My solution was to manage myself in the end. I have spent 20 years in this business and if I don't know how it works by now then I'm fucked and dumb. So I learned, I asked questions from those around me who knew, god bless my publicist for all her endless help: LAINE COPICOTTO @ Aurelia Group. I listened and I hired the best people I could afford and built my own team. A great label manager (Leigh, I love ya) from URBANTORQUE RECORDS, and my partner in the studio TYLER REVATA, and me working my ass off is all I need for now. It's a full time job but I love it, and I take enormous pride and joy in what I do.
Remember, no one is going to care as much as you will about your career. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to finally be the one driving my "car" so to speak, after all, I am the fuel, the engine the whole damn thing is me, so why trust it to other people? ALWAYS stay in control, watch over your books (look what happened to STING, he was stung for 8 million by his accountant who stole the lot!) ask questions, find out what they are doing for you and don't just wait for them to do it, that's hard work for most people and most people are fucking lazy. I make my career happen, so don't sit on your ass waiting for your career to come find you, create opportunities, then implement them into your team. Call me paranoid, but I learned all this the hard hard way man.
Now I am not always the easiest person to work with, but, I work really hard and I only become difficult when people don't to their fair share. Constantly fucking up simple shit like "should I pick up money at this show or not?" It's not rocket science!!!!!! My biggest hope for you is to find an agent that cares about and likes you and your music, and is hungry to prove him/herself. When someone is batting for you, you'll be surprised how many shows you will get. Don't think that the biggest agent is the best, better to be a big fish in a little pond than a minnow swimming with the great whites (yes I simply love sharks!). I found that the big agents look after the big djs and all the other acts don't get the attention needed, it's ridiculous to sign to an agent who reps 100 acts, how on earth can they find the time to make things happen for little ol'e you? Think about it. They say they will when you first meet them, but try to get them on the phone when things are tough, it's not cute at all.
Still, you will need an agent with connections and some leverage so it's a tough decision you'll have to make yourself. I could go on and on re this subject, but I don't want to sound too bitter, before signing to BULLITT I had almost lost hope and thought I would simply rep myself, I truly felt that all agents were parasites, but the truth is a great agent is worth their weight in gold, and we need them as much as they need us, within one month of being with BULLIT, I was so busy I couldn't believe it, after being told no one was interested it is now the mantra my team all say when we accomplish anything... "but no one is interested" we all have a good giggle at that!
And that was a mouthful. Wishing you all a good couple weeks, till next time,
Love and Bass, DJ RAP
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Monday, July 28, 2008
Ever heard that saying "where there's a hit there's a writ?"
It's true. So when I say to you "get your paperwork in order" I do not jest. I have lost thousands and thousands in potential revenue because I didn't know how to do this. Granted in 1988 record deals were signed on the front hood of banged up motors (honestly!). At least in the "GOOD 'OLE RAVE DAYS" we were all so new and naive and happy that someone actually wanted to put our music out that we would have sold our siblings for the chance...lol (sorry bro, just kidding)
Point is, I rarely had paperwork, it was never offered, and when it was I was so broke I couldn't afford a lawyer. So I ended up screwed over without lube. Not pleasant. I always tell my artistes to get their contracts looked at. I recently had an artiste who didn't do this and wanted to give his music to someone else though the track was signed to me. Any other label would have said "tough luck" and really there is little he could do about it. The track wasn't so great and because of his attitude I decided to drop him from the label so we all ended up with what we needed. However he now has no record deal so a contract can also prevent you from losing your deal. Because he didn't bother to research, he lost out in many ways. By the way, if you do need a lawyer, make sure its an entertainment lawyer... a personal injury lawyer or your brother's-cousin-the-public-defender is not gonna know the ins and outs to accurately represent you.
When I was signed to Sony my contract also proved invaluable when I got dropped. Hey, happens to the best of us man, I'm telling you. Look at all the greats, Madonna, The Beatles, Lenny Kravitz, The Rolling Stones, Sting, to name a few, and they would tell you the same. Very few of us sign a record deal, have it go perfectly, and live a long happy life in the studio. I wish it worked that way but with the industry in such a state of flux right now. Look at the labels: EMI, Sony, Epic, RCA, Interscope; so many labels, they were gods, but where will they be in five years? Could we be looking at a mass extinction just like the dinosaurs? And if you're signed to them, will you go down too? Your contract will ensure you are protected financially, should the shit hit the fan. No one wants to buy music when you can steal it for free. Sad but true. Until there is a fair solution I don't see a happy ending for the big labels.... but on the brighter side, that's good news for us, the indie pioneers.
When working with vocalists or writing songs with one or more partners, you also need to protect yourself. Whenever I collaborate there is always a signed piece of paper by both parties splitting the song 50/50 if there were two writers, 33/33/33 for three, and so on. Back in the day we used to mail the track to ourselves and leave it unopened, this was proof of the creation of that track. Old school, but it'll probably stand up in court. There is a great article in this month's Sound On Sound on this matter so read up because you don't know how many hits you have in you, and you never know when someone will cover one of your songs, could be when you're old and gray. How nice to make cash years down the line because you were smart enough to get the legal jargon done today.
As my mum always says...regret can't feed you when your hungry. Ok, I made that up but you get my drift...till the next time.
luv and bass, DJRAP
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Monday, July 14, 2008
I really hope that the info I have shared with you has helped if even a little, it's kinda hard to talk about how to actually DJ as this is a personal thing and different for everybody. A very long time ago (1986) I heard a Jamaican DJ called Marvelous Marvin. This was before I even began my career. What blew me away with this guy was the fact that he was creating art as I watched him blend 2 records effortlessly together creating in fact, a remix before my eyes. Not only that, but all his mixes were in tune with each other! I even remember the tracks; the Soul 2 Soul acapella mixed in Din Da Da. It was simply beautiful.
To this day I never seen another DJ do that...EVER. I made a promise to myself that my mixes would be beautiful... (well I would certainly try) and that is why I simply spend hours and hours putting my sets together. The main reason being that, it really helps to know your tunes, where the breaks occur, where the track goes etc......... for the DJ's like myself who can play 6 hour sets, this is important as there is alot of music to get through and you want your set to flow, to use a cliche, as a journey. This is a different case in drum and bass however, mainly because we play for only one hour and your mission should you choose to accept it, is to destroy the dance floor.
Another reason to practice is because I spend endless hours editing other peoples music. I do this so I have something that is special, that is mine alone. It could also be that I need a simpler ending to a track and the person who made it was not a DJ, so they put a bass line in it all the way to the end... thus making it tricky for me to get the next track mixed in tune.... again this is a personal thing, some DJ's that I know use eq's to fade bottom end out... again, it is up to you, but I like my tracks to start with beats and end only with beats, this makes my job much easier, so it makes sense for me to spend the time doing this to all my music so I never have to worry about anything not flowing or coming in out of tune.
Of course, I am at a point now where the majority of what I play is from my labels and my own production, but practice makes perfect in my case too. Try to stay away from a formatted set list. You are always better when you use your heart and eyes to tell you what track to drop next; the crowd will tell you, you'll just feel it. Sometimes its cool to have your music arranged in a specific way (in your box/bag whatever... personally I love UDG). For example, prog house in one set, minimal in one set and so forth. I arrange my bag according to time; beginning of show, middle, peak time and end. As I said, it's all up to you.
Friday, July 4, 2008
We have talked alot about the tecnichal aspect of music, how to present yourself, and how to produce... One thing very few people talk about is the actual business and how it can one minute elavate you till you're floating on cloud nine, then drop you, and crush your soul till you wanna die. Dramatic? Maybe... Still it has been all these things and more for me. It always helps me when I read about other artistes going through the same thing, somehow giving me the strength to go on when things are bad, it shows we are not alone. The truth is, apart from acting, you have chosen the hardest profession in the world where you'll live the life of a starving artiste. The slot is filled for DJ superstars. To join the ranks you'll need to produce 20 hits in a row and sell more tickets than Paul Van Dyk... yes i'm DJ RAP but if you think its all rosy for me, you couldn't be more wrong.
This blog is about mental toughness. I believe that victory is for believers and for those who believe long enough. The question will always be how long can we hold out before we win, before we starve, before we have to get a day job at McDonalds or Burger King, or even better Fry's!!!!
Yep, I make light, however, what else can I do as this is all I have done my whole life?
So, lesson one is have a backup plan. When you learn to produce this will be a valuable skill and you will always find work in the editing/production world of music and film as well as any studio be it RecordPlant, Conway, or the like... When times are tough, and they will be, you'll be glad you have that skill, believe me.
There isn't a day that goes by where I don't question my sanity for choosing this path, as it's so damn stressful. I have given everything up for this and yet, my dream eludes me and remains only half answered... though many think fulfilled. The struggle to make a great living doing what you love is truly only for the hardcore, that's what make the great great. Look at Oprah, Mohammed Ali, Ghandi, the Dali Lama, the father on the street, our mothers and grandmothers. All people who taught us life is hard but also can be glorius.
I will let you know when I get there. lol..........
luv and bass DJ RAP
as always, head over to my website and sign up on the mailing list to receive free tracks in your email every month!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Click through the links below to buy all the latest releases on Propa/Impropa Talent
Impropa Talent Releases:
Somewhere Somehow/Two By Two
Don't Hold Back (I Want You)/Silver Sunrise
Good To Be Alive (Paul Anthony Remix)
Liquorice Latex/Ooh Daddy
Cascade (Joey Modus Remix)/Tryna Woo
Lost In Shanghai/Sub Killer
Do What I Say/Two Of You
Propa Talent Releases:
Hindu Boogie EP
Falling Through EP
It's Been A Long Time/Rolla Master
Stream/Time Will Tell
Greedy Thug/Sneak Theives
The Gold Bug/Stinger
Hi there, hope you're all feeling groovy.
Well we have talked about the basics of making music: the arrangement, choosing the right sounds, the equipment (although I am biased to pioneer when it comes to DJ' ing) the mix, studio setup etc... maybe it helped you, maybe it didn't. There are a thousand magazines and websites and places to go to get more info. For example Electronic Musician, Sound On Sound, EQ, Mix Magazine, are greats among a number of publications. Or if you want just want a good laugh I love "geekologie" (nothing to do with music but great for geeks). As far as websites I like: futureproducers.com is a great community for upcoming and crackin producers, acapellas4u if you need vocals to practice with/remix (don't forget you need to obtain a license if your thinking of releasing/selling anything with these vocals), or freesound.org is a great website for license free samples.
So, what's next? well once you feel your music is ready there are a few options available to you, but, before you put yourself "out there" for the world to see and hear lets talk about presentation. I can't tell you enough how sad it is the amount of music that goes unlistened to that I receive simply because it comes with a "smiley face" and no contact info. What are we, five? Presentation is everything and if it's done right, you will be taken seriously.
Make sure you print a label on your CD with all the relevant contact info. Pictures of yourself on the CD are a bad idea (I'm not kidding, I get those too) unless of course you look like Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Ryan Reynolds... ok you get the picture! A note (preferably typed on a letterhead) with a BRIEF explanation of who you are (this is why a small bio is a good idea) and why you think this label is right for your music. That's right, you have to think about where you feel your music fits... no good sending drum and bass to a house label like Subliminal or Impropa Talent, when you know it needs to go to Propa Talent! lol... Don't spend all your time gushing how great you think the label/DJ is, be professional at all times, after all, we are all the same, no one is god here and we are not saving lives, so polite and directly to the point is the way to go.
Lastly if you get no response, do follow up as many DJ's/labels need a gentle "prod" mainly because they are busy. I always try to give feedback whether I like the track or not, some don't bother and I am sorry as I think it would really help out the newblood. If you get no love at all, don't keep at them. Why would you want to be on a label that doesn't give a shit anyway?
Hope some of you find this useful, it certainly helped me. And yes, I have sent a "smiley" cd out when I was a young raver myself, so I can say whatever I damn well like! lol.
luv and bass DJ RAP
-by the way, all the people on my mailing list get free tracks on the first of every month as well as goodies in their inboxes. so head over to my website [djrap.com] and sign up today.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Well hello there friends, it's a lovely day in the neighborhood and I'm happy to see all the great feedback we've been getting from the blog. I'm glad you're diggin it! Rather than drone on about more mixing mojo and blah blah blah... I thought we'd talk a bit about arrangement today.
While you might not think that arrangement is a big deal, I'll tell you its a well known fact that many Dj's wont play your record if the arrangement sucks. Plenty of DJ's, myself included, will spend hours editing their sets to flow together like butta. But thats another story. Getting your tracks to peak and breathe is going to take a bit of schooling and a lot of listening.
You're probably gonna kill me here but again... the first step to getting arrangement right is.... anyone, anyone... Bueller... Bueller... listen to your favs. The importance to listening to your favorite producers in any genre of music is huge. Simply because there is a formula and it works.
When it comes to electronica, gigantic intros are a pain in the ass to mix, as well as not putting beats at the end of the track, meaning more time in the studio editing so that the sets flow. I mean come on will it kill you to put 4 bars of beats at the end? or fade the sounds out so it ends up just being beats. Sounds like im nagging, but you have no idea how many dj's bitch about this, myself included.
Once you've spent time and you understand the formula, a great way to cheat with this is to import the track into your sequencer and simply copy the arrangement. I personally dont do this but it might help you in the beginning. One of the great things about having experience DJing is knowing how the crowd will react. This is something the bedroom producer never gets to see. For example I know that no matter what people say, big drops go down well. You only have to listen to productions by Paul van Dyk, BT, Tiesto, Deep Dish and Dubfire to know that i speak the truth. Same goes for every genre of electronic music, it simply sells records. However it's important nowadays to stay away from the old fashioned crashes and 'ravey' breakdowns. Deadmou5 is a perfect example of how to do a perfect modern breakdown. It doesn't have to be cheesy, it just needs to be powerful. Of course there are some producers who do not want this kind of impact in their music as it would not suit the productions they are making. So it really is a judgement call on your part dependant on the production style you're going for.
That's really about all i can say concerning arrangement for right now, but keep it here for more in a couple weeks. And as always, head over to the djrap website and sign up to the mailing list to get free music every month.
luv and bass, DJ RAP
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I mentioned kicks last time, and making them really break through your mix. Kicks are what make your fans move to the groove so its no small task selecting a kick sound and processing it properly. Firstly, choosing the sound. There are tons of libraries full of kicks and one-hits and samples out there and while some are better than others you can generally shape a great kick out of a mediocre sample with a little massaging. Again, it's important here to listen to your idols. Different types of kicks work for different styles of dance music. Electro goes great with a real knocky heady kick, trance is great over a pulsing urgent kick, and progressive minimal house [my latest affair] can really take off with a deep crisp kick that slices through the mix. Say we're just looking for your classic four-on-the-floor propa house kick. This sound should be stated and clean while carrying enough weight to support the rest of your mix. So it's okay to end up changing your kick halfway through producing the track if you find that once you start threading layers through your tune, the kick's gone pear-shaped. I do it all the time.
Whoo... enough on the ideology on the god that is the kick drum! [lets get technical]
Once you've chosen your sound, you want to identify what needs to happen to the kick to get it throbbing. When starting out producing your own music, it's always a good idea to find a track that has the sound you're going for and put it into your sequencer right up against your track. Called reference mixing. Can't stress how invaluable reference mixing is. The two basic tools you're most likely going to use on your kick is a Compressor and an EQ. I EQ first, then compress, so let's talk about Q'ing.
If you're using a real sampled bassdrum, like from a drum set, I almost always notch out 300 Hz by at least 5 db. Real kick drums just have a 'boxiness' to them in that range that tends to kill a mix. The best way to find out which frequencies are helping your sound and which ones are ugly is to boost one band of your EQ about 6-9 db and sweep through the frequencies top to bottom, noting the areas that are warm and sweet and which areas are harsh or unnecessary. And any time you're changing a sound, keep in mind, add with eq to CHANGE a sound and cut with eq to IMPROVE a sound. [says Confucius]. And as always, this is all just means to an end, so if you find that cutting 600 Hz but 24 db gets you the sound you want then by all means cut 600 Hz by 24 db. If it sounds good, it is good. BEWARE though, if youre using cheap computer speakers, it might sound like you need to boost the low end of the kick by 15 db or more until you hear the bass... if you play this at a club it could blow the subs, which makes for very unhappy promoters and even madder club owners. Thats where reference mixes can save your life.
COMPRESSION! oooh, compression. This can be a love hate kind of relationship. Keep in mind that kick samples might already be compressed to your liking which is great and might mean you dont have to get into this at all. But if you're a perfectionist like me you'll usually do the compressing yourself. Now compression is going to give your kick the width and the balls you'll need to knock over a dance floor and there are different theories on the best way to accomplish this. Lets just start with setting your compressor.
General rule of thumb, load up a compressor and turn the attack to the highest/longest setting and the release to the lowest/shortest. Now here's where there are different schools of thought. I like to squash the shit out of it at this point to make it very clear where the attack and release should be. so I'll set the threshold pretty low and the ratio high, somewhere around 6:1. Now bring your attack down/shorter slowly until you hear the kick lose its vigor and turn it back just a bit. And with the release, move that longer and longer until you hear it pump from one beat to the next. You want the next kick to fire right when the release from your first kick is finished. This will give you that classic pumping house kick that's o so tasty. Lastly re-adjust your threshold and ratio to settings that please you, and compliment the mix. There are now set rules here so go ahead and fly by your ears here.
And Im going to leave you with that because I've just reached 'reserve battery power' on my laptop and I'm nowhere near my power supply. But I hope you can use some of this knowledge to shape your kicks like the pros and really kill the crowds.
LUV AND BASS, DJ RAP
-- As always, don't forget to sign up on my mailing list for free tracks in your inbox on the first of every month. Sign Up Here.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The first thing you should do is spend time listening to as many producers and DJs as you can and decide which direction you'd like to go in. Pay close attention to the arrangement as there is a formula to this. It really pays off spending time listening to music and learning from your heroes because it can take months to even years to really find your niche.
Because I use Logic [and Logic kicks ass], I'll be talking about how I use it to make music. This doesn't mean of course that you can't use one of the many other daws out there. There are plenty of other great platforms, some of which I have mentioned previously [ableton live, fruity loops, acid pro, reason, nuendo, cubase...] that are great for music production as well.
This is really up to your personal taste but starting with great sounds is key. Whether you're making them from scratch or sampling you'll want to make sure the sounds are clean, undistorted, and suit the mood you intend to create. I think less is more. One of the easy traps to fall into is using 46,000 sounds in one track because you keep finding things that you like and you get too attached to sounds to let them go. I try to keep my arrangements minimal, sometimes with as few as 10 tracks for the whole song. This gives each sound an opportunity to stake its claim on the sonic space it occupies while also pushing me to make sure that my sounds are hands-down-kick-ass every time.
For beginners, a great way to start sketching is to set a 4 bar loop in your sequencer, and run through preset sounds whether they be apple loops, fruity loops, synth presets, etc. Just getting into the groove of hearing what types of sounds compliment each other is an invaluable tool. In fact i know producers who make a great living never touching a computer, mix desk, or synth, but rather just knowing exactly the type of sound that will take a track to the next level.
Once you've got an idea for the sonic experience you want to shower your listeners with and have identified the sounds that rustle your feathers, you're ready to start laying down a groove.
I'll get into the specifics in a couple weeks when we'll discuss how to make a kick throb and what will make your synths take flight.
In the meantime head over to my website and sign up on the mailing list to get your free track I'll be sending out on the first of May.
I've also just bombed my MySpace player with fresh tracks so head over to myspace.com/therealdjrap or my website djrap.com to have a taste.
luv and bass, DJ RAP
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
What can I say about Miami this year? as a veteran,( Ive been going for over 10 years) I've seen alot of changes, people seemed to be wise to it it now, for example, it;s so damn expensive that people really plan their 3 to four days,( hotels cost from 200 to 800 per night) it used to be that everyone went for a week and we all moved like a crazed herd from one party to the nest, totally united. now we are all fragmented, no more long waits to get in, no more attitude from the bouncers. we trust brands now, not the DJ, we believe those promoters that throw quality not quantity. everyone thinks this business is easy, but ask those who lost money if they think that's the case now. Is this good or a bad thing? well we shall see....for me it was good, I knew where to go and when to be there, I knew who I wanted to see and ignored the rest.I got so much business done that for once it actually helped my label and career...meetings at 9am on the beach can't be a bad thing except for the fact I was in bed after my sets most nights. I know, I know, lame. still, I played 5 shows that were wicked and the early bird certainly catches the worm....
Best party? JUICY..... and can I say how fucking cool ROBBIE RIVERA is? I'm so happy to see him and his team doing so well, they worked hard for it.
I met up with my artistes sanchez and the shockers and joey modus and we all performed together at EUPHORIA which was awesome..... I love those guys,after the show wearing wigs and having a blast we went to OPIUM GARDENS where we hung out some more with PAUL VAN DYK. who is also the most incredibly cool, nice cat, I wanna say thanks to all at his camp for being so very hospitable.... now, earlier, at the IDMA awards I had won an award for BEST DRUM AND BASS ALBUM, 'BRAVE NEW WORLD" this was collaboration of myself and KENNY KEN and HYPE, RANDALL, G SQAUD , DJ SS, and many more....we made this eons ago, so it was really nice to finally get recognized....( and I got to wear a dress which shocked many).....especially my publicist LAINE. Now this woman is a force to be reckoned with, and boy, does she get the job done. We have been through alot together and sometimes it was tough, but she always does everything out of real love and passion for this scene and is a fierce supporter of electronica. So, THANKS YOU LAINE!!!!
I could go on for hours about the good times but I can't really print it, no doubt you all have stories far superior to mine anyway.......whether it's a good thing or a bad thing is measured by the memories you will take home with you, whether it's an award, a new boyfriend or a hangover or just a plain grand old time....see you next year!!!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Something to consider, again, is that all the pieces of gear I'm listing here are not necessarily what you have to use, it's just what I use. There are plenty of other alternatives that may fit your budget, platform, or personality better. That said...
Part 2: Production Equipment
DAW: The centerpiece of any music production setup is a DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] which is what you will record into, edit with, and mix and master your music on. [If you're way ahead of this, stay with me, I just want to get everyone on board]
I primarily use Logic Pro 8 by Apple, but that doesn't mean I don't get my hands into Albeton Live on a regular basis either... It really depends on what exactly I'm doing in the studio. If I'm starting from scratch and I just need to get an idea down on disk quickly I'll use Ableton. I'll also use it if I want to do some experimenting with time stretching or pitch shifting as Ableton was born to do that stuff. Logic, however, is a massive program that allows me to do everything from recording vocals to sequencing beats to mastering my final mixes, and its gotten really cheap in the last few years too, you just need a mac to run it. Speaking of which...
Computer: This really should have been up there before daws but in my book its gotta be a mac. I'm sorry but there's just no comparison to working on a mac. They're designed for this stuff. I've got a G5 [one of the last great PPCs!] sitting in my studio now. I swear they should induct one into the rock and roll hall of fame for all the work they've done in the industry! ha! I have had countless little fights with buddies of mine re this issue and believe me.......I went "SPARTA" when it comes to this...... mac, mac, mac.
Monitors: As I mentioned in my last post I'm using a pair of NS10's alongside some KRK VXT8's that I got recently. I think it's a very good idea to have 2 sets of monitor speakers so you can listen to your music through different sounding systems, this will give you a better perspective on how your music is really sounding and give your ears a chance to refresh if you're getting burned out listening to the same 4 bars over and over and over again.
Controllers: While you can program each note individually in the midi hyper editors I hugely prefer to bang out parts with my fingers on a midi controller. This is just a keyboard that sends notes through your computer to your daw so you can record and play virtual software synths. I use m-audio's keysation 49. It's simple straightforward and plug and play. I've also got a Yamaha Motif that is always standing by should I want any of the sounds out of that, and I've also got it hooked up so I can use the weighted keys to play piano parts.
Audio Interface: Your audio interface is what you'll plug your monitor speakers into and record acoustic instruments through. Right now I'm using an m-audio Firewire 410. Great little portable box with tons of inputs and outputs, the analog/digital conversion quality is fantastic on these as well.
Mic: For a Mic I'll plug an m-audio Sputnik direct into my 410. [man you know I'm sponsored by them but they rock.... truly.!] That sputnik man, great mic. Great mic.
So that's the basis of my production setup, tune in a couple of weeks for the next installment.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
NEWS: (lots of info make sure you scroll all the way down)
It's that time of year again. DJs, Artists, Industry and bikini clad fans alike descend on the white sands of South Beach Miami for a week long session of electronic music, panels and parties.
We've been busy social butterflies preparing to bring you the best of the best at WMC 2008. Below is the Aurelia itinerary for all of our client events and artist appearances.
On the Music tip prepare for a triple hit from Juicy maven Robbie Rivera. Robbie will be the featured cover mount CD for DJ Mag this WMC. Issues will be placed on all Virgin Airlines backseat pockets from UK to Miami, as well as Official WMC messenger bags and in selected hotels. But that is not all. Robbie has also compiled and mixed 'Twilight', the 11th volume in the Armani Exchange music series. And finally what fans have been waiting for: 'Back to Zero', the first single from Robbie Rivera's upcoming artist album 'Star Quality', is now available on Beatport.com and will be featured on A|X 'Twilight'. 'Star Quality' will be release in late May on Juicy Music. Catch Robbie at Juicy Beach, Ultra Fest & Amnesia After-hours this WMC.
Global Underground adds the hotness of Chicago Electro house kitty Felix da Housecat to their arsenal of DJs to die for. Felix da Housecat GU 34 Milan will be promo'd at WMC and hits stores stateside early May. Look out for Afterhours 5, Sasha's Involver2, Nick Warren and Rouge Audio coming up as well in 2008.
DJ Rap will be launching 2 endeavors at WMC. Her labels Impropa Talent UK & Propa Talent UK. The world's number 1 female DJ has now added label boss to her resume. Propa/Impropa will be coming out swinging with artists Sanchez & the Shockers, Joey Modus and Mark Campbell. Also doing her part for the environment check out Rap at the National Wildlife Federation Benefit Tuesday @ White Room in Miami as well as at the A|X store and Juicy Beach.
And last but certainly not least Electronic Icon, Paul van Dyk is in full demand for WMC08. Shattering records with 8 IDMA Nominations! The most nominations for any single Electronic artist in IDMA history. Paul will speaking on the distinguished Grammy Panel @ WMC Weds at 3:30pm as well as appearing as the Keynote Speaker for the opening of Remix Hotel Thursday at 3pm. Want less talk more music? PvD in an unprecedented move will be switching it up from DJ to Full live Band. Check out Paul's DJ set at Space which will air live on Sirius Area 33 on Friday March 28th. And for the finale of WMC, Paul van Dyk live will headline the closing slot of Ultra Music Festival 10.
For more information on any of the events click on the artwork. Press requesting Media access to any of these events or One on One interviews please email email@example.com no later that Monday March 24th. See you in Miami!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
So, some of you may or may not know that I have a wonderful Pomeranian called " REBEL" he has been my constant companion for 2 and a half years now and been through the fire with me. I am happy to report that at 1pm today his sister"KYMA" pronounced KEEMA arrived... cigars were shared and champagne opened and wee wee pads were bought. As I write this blog with this angel asleep on my lap, totally trusting that I will love and protect her, REBEL asleep next to her, I think how the simple things are the best. being at home is the best surrounded by the things you love and loved by the people surrounding you. it's " GOOD TO BE ALIVE".
Thursday, March 13, 2008
For those of you who know me, I always have plenty to say. For those of you who don't you'll probably be sick of me soon, so I'll talk about something interesting rather than the boring blog shit you see all over the place. The idea came to me because I've started teaching this very thing at Hollywood Arts. [hollywood-arts.org] I was first told about this organization by my mate, BT. It's wonderful helping out the new blood and seeing how they light up when they scratch the decks.