Happy Holidaze®

(Image Credit: Yours Truly. Fish Ornaments by Doug Rhodehammel.)

Well hello there everyone! Like (my) normal, it’s been a while… Hope you and yours are doing splendidly.

It’s December 22nd as I write this, and wanted to give an (cue Hans Zimmer-influenced theme song) ‘End of the Year Report’ with all things APITE. There are some changes in the works for 2023, a few planned upgrades, and some recommendations and semi-witty jocular banter wedged throughout. Let’s get started.

I don’t predict my posting here will be any more frequent in the coming year (this is my shocked face) EduCorp® is still chuffing along like always and since moving slightly higher up the Food Chain I’ve been informed of a lot of changes happening over the next several years – and starting in January. We’re busy enough as it is, but this means carving out time to put some random gobbledegook here will probably amount to what it is now – few and far between. As always I try to put what’s here in the ‘Priority’ column of usefulness with lesser pithiness spilling out to the Social Medias. More on that shortly.

Starting in early 2023 the Web Address for A Poke In The Ear will change back to what it originally was: pokeintheear.wordpress.com. I’m still keeping my Domain Registration (and the email that comes with it), but since I’m paying for that as well as WP to ‘administer’ said URL I’m knocking it down to basics. It’s been a conscious effort to cut back on Subscriptions this past year, and I have much more to do in 2023… Since I post infrequently here it just makes sense to make things a little easier on the company purse strings. Unfortunately, I also think that means ads will return. Sorry ‘bout that…

Qubes and I both dumped The Twit Machine immediately after Phony Stark’s Midlife Crisis Acquisition of it. Apparently, many others did too and you can go here for all the shenanigans and goings-on on a near-daily basis. I totally understand if want to stay there (fight the good fight if/when you can), but I really didn’t like the state of things before he turned it into an absolute shit tornado, and I’m not going to give him one bent penny to post there so we have found new homes in The Fediverse. You can find APITE at @apite@sonomu.club and go hit Michael’s site to find where his addy’s are (because I think he’s got quite a few now and I’m not really sure which one is which…) You can still find me lurking about (read: Snarkposting) on Tumblr as well, and the communities at both places are just so much nicer of an experience to my eyes/ears/mental health. Never put all of your eggs in one basket as the saying goes…

On the APITE Techfront, The New Shiny-Shiny is done and dusted. And sadly, I never made it through all of the titles I nicked for it… Double-Secret Bonus Points to those of you who saw right through my secret nefarious plan with those. Since I’ve been using both Edsel and Josephine as Daily Drivers (although Spawn the Youngest has mostly commandeered Edsel for gaming stuffs), everything is still right as rain with both machines, and The Mothership will keep iterating more and better versions of Apple Silicon processors and the al-oo-min-ee-um husks they reside in. They will be as fabulous as I have gushed about many times here before, so just take the plunge if you’re in the Ecosystem – ’nuff said. I will likely be buying a newer device in 2023, so I’ll let you know if there are any snags/juicy details.

Although I’ll get to some things I found over this year to share in a bit, I did some saving up as well and took advantage of quite a few sales over the past month and half. I want to shift focus back into talking more about tips, tricks, and techniques in 2023 here at APITE, but as I say towards the end here, remember that I’m not a reviewer – just the Advice Lady. 😀

With the ‘Administrative’ nonsense out of the way, let’s chat about the Musical Musings I discovered over the last year.

I didn’t buy a single Eurorack gizmo. I don’t have a big system (It’s like a three-row 84HP rack) but I honestly didn’t really do anything with it in 2022 and the bulk of it is currently sitting in the Storage Closet. The promise of Eurorack being ‘more creative’ and ‘explorative’ is just hand-waving dreamland – I’ve gotten so much more done with software over 2022, and it’s just quicker and more usable (as in recallable, savable, integratable) to my way of working. There are really usable Software Modular setups from Softube, Cherry Audio, and the venerable VCV Rack that let you explore on the cheap(er) and easily integrate with the DAW or Sequencer you currently use without all the extra cables, cases, interfaces, and the ilk. I’m still convinced that computers and software are the absolute best way to make music – on a budget or not. The power is there, and again no one will tell the difference on a recording. Oh, and don’t get me started on the ‘DAWless’ business, as I still believe it’s just contrivance created by manufacturers to pander to YouTubers so they can sell you on more crap you’ll never use and will sell on to the next sucker at a discount while you ogle the latest (um) Shiny-Shiny. Check this out if you want to find the free/cheap way to the ‘latest’ sounds offered by the Hardware Pushers.

I bought three bits of actual hardware this year – one of which might be on the ‘DAWless Playlists’ (but it’s not used that way, and I will defend my purchase):

First up was a SoundForce SFC-5, which is a dedicated USB Controller for a specific device/Plugin – in my case the Prophet 5/Pro-1. U-he’s Repro-series software is the best ‘older’ Sequential Circuits emulations I’ve found out there, and not having to ‘mouse around’ with its controls has been an absolute dream for sound design and tweaking. They are not that expensive, built like proverbial tanks, and SoundForce have many different models for your favorite software toy. If you have a ‘go to’  Virtual Instrument that they make a controller for I can’t recommend one enough. If you use a Mix (Fader) Controller for your DAW you know what I’m talking about in the convenience afforded here.

Second, I picked up a dedicated Headphone Amplifier. Here at APITE Headquarters I create and mix pretty much on headphones due to space concerns. I bought a cheapo amp on scAmazon a few years back to see what all the fuss was about and it was noisier than any audio interface I could dig out – it was even noisier than the built-in headphone jack of the oldest computer I had lurking in the back of the closet! So I figured I’d have to save up and spend a lot of $$$ for a decent one after hopefully being able to test it out first. I’ve been digging through Amir’s site over the past year and a half I noticed his reviews on these devices were getting better – and the products coming out were making substantial improvements with significant lower pricetags. So I found one of these on sale and the difference between my headphone amp on my interface versus this one connected to my interface’s outputs is positively stunning. Huge uptick in clarity and detail, and the soundstage (overall left-right balance) is like taking a blanket off my ears. I’m still a bit wary of the reliability here over time (so far no issues though) but it was a lot better than shelling out over a grand for one with just anecdotal evidence for how well it really improved performance. I can honestly say Believe the Hype here. If you work mostly on cans like many of us do, find a well-reviewed one over at ASR that’s on sale and grab it – your mixes will thank you.

Lastly, I picked up a Behringer 2600 on a Pre-Holiday sale for silly cheap. Last year I grabbed one of their Pro-1’s on another Holidaze® sale and I’ll be damned if that thing doesn’t sound like the real ones (and I’ve owned 3 of them over the last 35 years – I know what they sound like…) The last ARP 2600 I had is currently residing in what’s left of Joe River’s Synth Museum, so I decided to take a chance on Uli’s version for this low of a price. Like the Pro-1, they’ve done a really good job here and I really like the smaller, rack-mountable chassis and sensible upgrades (like a dedicated LFO). It pairs well with the Eurorack modules I don’t use (see pic below for a small cadre of modules I do use with it) and 5-pin as well as USB MIDI makes interfacing simple. It’s a very fun, very powerful synth capable of instant gratification as well as more complex tones if you break out the patch cables. I always wonder about the quality of Behringer gear (the Interwebz® are full of crazy stories talking about this), but I own a few pieces and they always just seem to do their purpose for me – but again I keep them in the Studio, not out on the road… Current prices (as of this writing) are a bit high IMO, but if you can find one at around the $500 price point it’s worth it for a device Vince Clarke goes to for ‘crazy noises’. I will second that notion.

BloopBeepBeep

(A recent incarnation of my ‘Analog Station’. The Behringer 2600 processing a shortwave radio as a sound source and is being sequenced by the Korg SQ-1 on the top shelf. The MPC One is mostly a sampling/recording device for the 2600, with the Arturia MicroFreak typically just a MIDI Controller for the MPC.)

Finally, with sales still going on over the Season I wanted to talk about three Software goodies I’ve grown rather fond of over 2022 – maybe still time to save if you want one..

1) Unfiltered Audio’s LO-FI-AF. These days I have enough ‘traditional’ sound modifiers like EQ, compressors, delays and reverbs (although I’ll add another here below), but I <heart> Unfiltered Audio for the sheer whackadoodle factor. If you want grit, grime, dirt, lo-fi, grunge, or whatever the buzzword du jour is for these things, these kids have it and in certified metric fucktons. I have at least a few instances of LO-FI-AF in every Session and quite a few of their other goodies too. Plugin Alliance is the best (cheapest) place to buy them, but they also just dropped AUV3’s for iOS if you want them from the App Store.

2) Pulsar Audio’s 1178. The last thing you probably need is another 1176 clone, but this thing has become my 2nd fave ‘Color Compressor’ (Eventide’s Omnipressor is absolutely my fave character audio squeezer) and brings a lot to the party: Sidechaining, EQ, Saturation, and oh-so-useful displays (that can happily be disabled) – it’s just a stupid-usable, great sounding FET comp with a soulful tone. A bit pricy unless you really want/need it, but can be found on sale at their website every so often. Demo available, obvs.

3) FLUX Audio Analyzer. I’ve been searching for a usable multi-pane LU/True Peak/Spectral analyzer forever… I have (and use constantly) a gaggle of single-purpose metering Plugins like Voxengo’s SPAN and Correlometer for Frequency and Phase checking, TBProAudio’s mvMeter and dpMeter for gain-staging and LU/TP measurements, and Mastering the Mix’s EXPOSE for quick drag and drop Loudness evaluations. FLUX Audio’s Analyzer puts a lot of these into a single pane which makes it easy to take a ‘quick glance’ at what’s happening with a Session. The bonus is that it works as a Standalone window (connected to a DAW Plugin) so it can be easily moved to a second display or even an iPad (see pic below) to keep your working environment just that little bit tidier. FLUX’s Flagship Analyzer is subscription-only (yuck), but the ‘Session’ version has most of the capability of its bigger sibling at a (much more) affordable price. Like everything else here, try the Demo first and keep an eye out for sales when you’re ready to buy.

FluxAnalyser

(FLUX Audio’s Session Analyzer on my iPad and (Yet Another) Behringer X-Touch Mix Controller to the left of my ”Main Workstation. To the right you can see a smidge of my MIDI Keyboard Controller (bottom) and even less of the SoundForce SFC-5 (top).

Again, these are far from reviews. I’m just popping these in to tell you some cool things I found maybe you didn’t know about. Always use what you have until it doesn’t work for you anymore!

And with that said let me wish all of you a peaceful and joyous Holiday Season (spelled correctly – shocker!) and a productive and creativity-packed 2023!

Until next time…

 

TNSS: It’s Your Funeral

Banner Picture from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jambalaya_1969_Jazz_Funeral_2.jpg

Yargh. Ran into this over coffee this morning…

If you’ve lighted over here from over there I welcome you to APITE. I posted the comment on Gearnews before writing this (and besides it’s about time for a new TNSS anyway, right?) so I’m expanding my diatribe from there along with a few updates.

(UPDATE – I posted my comment on Gearnews over 4 hours ago and I just checked – it’s not there. Will erase this update when (and if) it is but you can still read the post in the meantime.)

(UPDATE 2 – It’s 24 hours later and there are new posts there but my comment is still absent. Perhaps it’s my mistake, but pretty positive I hit the submit comment button. Perhaps I’ve struck a nerve?)

Let’s start with (as usual around here) it’s been a while since a TNSS post, because I really haven’t had any issues to report on since the last one. It’s that simple. I’ve had a few snags with various Plugins (and a particularly nasty one from Surreal Machines) – but those were fixed within days and are Plugin issues that we have all had regardless of Platform or Operating System or Processor Type. Bugs happen. Bugs get fixed.

Reaper is out of Beta (Universal App) and still working beautifully. Logic Pro is chugging along swimmingly. Ableton Live? Yep – no issues. Avid is always late to every party, and I don’t really care for Pro Tools (reasons below) so maybe that’s what people are harping on here. But if you are a PT user you have been dealing with this for decades now and it should be no surprise at all so you have nothing to complain about. Maybe Cubase is still a mess (I had endless problems with it on Intel machines – the iOS version is surprisingly rock-solid however).

The only Plugins I’m having issues with are the d16 Group ‘Classic Boxes Collection’ which they acknowledged over a year ago would need major updates, and I’ve found workarounds for those in the meantime if I need those types of sounds. I do believe I’ve talked about this before.

Another reason for my slowness around here is aligned to everything about the linked article at the top – I’m only going to post when I think it’s relevant or useful to the conversation. 

And that’s why I’m posting this and why I commented on that article. Go ahead – read it if you haven’t already. I’ll wait…

Notice anything unusual? Were you able to glean any references to the issues noted? I couldn’t! And this is the problem I have with the post – it’s word jambalaya with no references, links, or real usefulness. It’s typical of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) School of Modern Reporting (not even going to refer to this as Journalism) and MUST GET EYES ON PAGE Webposting. It’s not marked as opinion, it’s not tagged as anything other than just another article.

And it stinks.

I check a lot of Music Pages over java in the morning: KVR, Sonicstate, Matrixsynth, SynthAnatomy, MacOS Audio, and even Gearnews, just to name a few. I used to like Synthtopia years back (not linking it), but I had had enough of their wretched moderation of the Commentariat (not to mention the wretched Commentariat in general) and the propensity for doing the same nonsensical posts like this one above. Bookmark delete – never checked again.

I understand some people do this for a living. You need audience engagement. You need to pay the bills. But at what cost are you making that happen? I’ve seen this kind of ‘reporting’ popping up a lot in the Music Trades as of late (or maybe I’m just now noticing it), but it makes my ‘Betteridge’s Law’ hackles go up and then it just makes me angry because I. Did. Not. Come. To. Your. Site. For. This. Assault. On. Intelligence. I came here for actual information.

If I see it once then I let it slide because maybe it was a slow news day for you. If I see it there again I am never going back to your site because you have accepted this as normal.

APITE is my baby. It’s my opinions and my experiences and I know that yours may be completely different! It’s not perfect and it’s not something I think anyone would want to read on a daily basis, but I do the best I can to present the most accurate info I find. If I mess up I will correct it. All I want to do is present what I encounter so that it might help someone else along the way. That shared knowledge is what makes us all greater in the long run, and is the true intent of ‘The Power of the Interwebz’.

And I want to keep that going. We should all strive to keep that going no matter the genre or interest. Just give us the truth and don’t be afraid to say when you’ve gotten something wrong. Drop these basic tenets and you’ve lost me as a reader. Betting I’m not alone here either…

So Gearnews, I plead with you – keep reporting on the new and cool in the Music Sphere. Show me the ‘Leaks’ that are intriguing, but I know (and you allude) are likely BS. Do in-depth reviews of tools and toys. But please stop doing these inane posts unless you are committed to doing the deep dive into why.

Because there’s just too much crap out there already.

My opinion of Apple’s M-series (Apple Silicon) hardware still stands: it’s the future of the Platform and just run rings around Intel’s processors as of this writing. They are solid computers with absolute minimal issues for all of the Musicware (and software in general) I have installed on both Edsel (Mac mini) and Josephine (MacBook Air). I also test a lot of Beta software, and have yet to see an issue from any of those I’ve tested other than bugs within those programs. My two M1’s are not ‘locked down’ either – I check for updates at least once a week, so they are running current software. As I’ve said many times before, do your research well and  always check on a machine that isn’t Mission Critical for your work.

/end Rant.

Let me leave you with a some goodness before I go. If you haven’t caught it already, both Audio Damage and ToneBoosters have set some of their ‘legacy’ Plugins free (click the links above for the downloads). AD is Mac-only, but ToneBoosters are cross-platform. For the TB Plugins, click the link above and scroll down to the bottom to the ‘Where can I find older (legacy v3) plugins?’ Text is and click that to access the downloaders. About 70% of the Audio Damage stuff will still run on Apple Silicon mostly Rosetta2) but all of the Tone Boosters Plugins work fine as of MacOS 12.2.1. Nice trend happening here.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about building a ‘Retrotech’ music computer and might make it a companion to the TNSS series (I’ve even got a silly name for it obvs.). As much as I’d love to go back in time to the heady days of MacOS 8 or 9 and the joys of Opcode’s StudioVision Pro (man, I miss that program), I think it’s going to be more cost-effective to go with something from the last decade or so (mostly for Plugins). For now it’s just a thought, but I like the idea and am actively looking for the hardware. Let me know if it’s something you might be interested in or if I’m just getting Hipsterish in my old age. 🙂

Until next time…

What I Did Over My ‘Summer Vacation’

(This Episode’s Banner Photo “Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot” by davidyuweb is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0, and can he found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/55514420@N00/4446734924)

So it’s not really Summer yet, but in The Sunburn State® it certainly feels like it. Hopefully your corner of the world is a tad cooler.

I decided to put a ‘Secret Experiment’ into effect over my April Break. 

This idea has been in the back of my head for a while – get some ideas out of my head, record them, and then post them online to a public-facing music site with no publicity, fanfare, or anyone else knowing about this. The plan is to see whether or not any of these can find some kind of audience and if they can, how long it might take – if ever.

My aim here is to fill up the ‘free’ amount of space allotted with the ’non-paying’ tier and then stop. After that I might do this again with another musical iteration if I feel it’s gaining any traction (or if I’m still full of weirdness I need to get out….) The idea is to see if they can get some kind of attention naturally – by pure discovery – so when I decide to ‘spill the beans’ on all of it is unknown as of this point. I will do on update on this in the future though just to let you know how things are progressing, if at all.

Yes, I understand that I have ‘beans all over the floor’ at this point by putting this here, but you don’t know all of the details – and I’m not divulging anything that will help you out just yet. There’s an ocean of music out there, so finding my droplets is going to be very difficult and incredibly time-consuming. I used the ‘Login with Apple’ service to keep things more anonymous, and although there are tiny giveaways planted here and there on the actual page, it should not trackback to me directly. Good luck if you feel like pursuing this, and with that said remember that I’m not asking anyone even try. This is an experiment in listenership, not in hacking. 🙂

These ideas are far, far off the beaten track. I like a good melody, so there is always going to be that element in whatever I do, but all of these tracks are pure childish playtime – tinkering with toys I haven’t played with (or played with enough) mixed with the usual oddities and sounds I have always loved. I don’t even know if anyone would consider this listenable except myself, so let’s find out. 🙂

In the meantime, some of the takeaways on the sorry state of affairs of Online Music Self-Publishing as I see it, with a actual high spot or two as the capper:

Within 30 seconds of creating my account (with nothing actually uploaded yet) I had my first follower – pr0n spam. Five minutes later I had my first offer for guaranteed followers (for a price, obvs.) Both were expedited to the Trash Bin and reported as Spam. I would like to again point out that nothing had actually been uploaded to the site at this point – just the account created. Insanity.

I checked the next day to see if magically anyone had found it. I actually got a like from someone who also wanted me to know they could guarantee followers in exchange for my cash. Several more of these popped up about every other day for the first week, so the Bots are omnipresent to fulfill their creators need of being a Middleman in return for doing absolutely nothing. Ignore them all, even if you are being serious about doing this.

Surprisingly after a few days I got an actual play by someone halfway across the globe, so there is life out there and a brave few are still actively searching for something new. This is welcoming news, but the big questions are will they come back? Will they spread the word? All delicious unknowns…

Over the next few weeks I uploaded a few more tracks (five total as of this writing) and three have received four total ‘likes’ (one of them has even gotten two!) but other than the one lone seeker, the rest are Repost Accounts and Botniks. 

So I’m in early days here (letting this run through at least the remainder of the year), but in the flooded backyard of ‘DIY Publicity’ it feels like some pushing of the brand is still a necessity for engagement, although I’m not sure what I would do that isn’t already being beaten to death out there already. I would be interested to hear Michael’s thoughts about this, although I’m sure there’s a bunch already on his Blog I’ve forgotten about. 

There is just so much available out there with everyone scrambling for the brass ring of notoriety that it almost seems futile to try anything – hence this experiment. Yeah, maybe with ‘poppier’ tracks I might have more success, but there’s a lot of that out there too waiting to be unearthed – and it’s really tough to find the rubies in the dust.

Again, I’ll do an update at some point on this. In the meantime, keep doing what you do best and just get it out there for others to find. That might be the best solution to an overcrowded market.

Until next time…

If You’re Not Angry, You’re Not Paying Attention…

Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation

– ‘Ball Of Confusion’ by The Temptations

Hello everyone, we’re still alive here in APITEland – hope all of you are staying safe too.

I haven’t posted in a while for a couple of reasons:

1) I wanted the interview with Evan to keep ‘top billing’ for a while.

2) Since posting the above a lot has been going on in the world that I didn’t want to detract from.

But I need to get something out, so will keep it short.

There’s a lot of justifiable anger out there right now. From Black Lives Matter, to the fiasco that is the United States’ handling of the Covid-19 crisis, to Millions of Unemployed, to the whole (quoting literal) Ball Of Confusion we’ve been living in for decades continually bubbling up to the surface from every direction as of late. 

Trying to make the best out of our collective nightmare I’ve been catching up on reading during my off-time from EduCorp®. I just finished Angrynomics by Eric Lonergan and Mark Blyth, and I highly recommend that you put this on your reading shortlist.

It’s timely, short, engaging, and enlightening, putting into perspective a lot about what is going on with the ‘Average Jane and Joe’ right now. Eric and Mark delineate the differences between Tribal Anger and Public Anger (Echo Chamber vs. Moral Outrage, if you will), and how to tell which is which out there in our firehose of media inundation – and if you are being manipulated by confusing the two by the unscrupulous. Although the book deals with the (as derived from the title) Economic side of things, it really shows that decades of economic inequality is the root of evil for these problems and countless more besides. 

Unlike many other books I’ve dug into lately it doesn’t just say ‘well, that’s why people are pissed off and good luck doing anything about it.’ Lonergan and Blyth present in their final dialog three real-world solutions to our blinding financial inequity that could level the playing field for everyone. They even play by the ‘current rules’ with them – as you would expect a Hedge Fund Manager and an Economist (Lonergan and Blyth respectively) to do. Even if it just gets people talking about these ideas as a launchpad, it’s a welcome change to see them added here. 

You can buy the book from the usual Interwebz® suspects in physical or digital if you must. Buy from Bookshop.org if you want to support your local business. If your local library has it, request it and get it sdelivered if possible. If they support Libby (or other online lenders) you can find it there. But do check it out. It might make you a bit more angry once you finish, but that anger will be tempered towards the ‘Public Good’ rather than ‘Business As Usual’. Because a society is only as free as the least free person in it, and only as wealthy as the poorest soul.

Stay safe, wear a face mask if you go out, and help out however you can out there. Until next time…

Just a Thought…

I’ve been watching a lot of the YT’ers I follow waking up to the fact that The Sky is Falling (see last post) and setting up (or heavily promoting) Patreon accounts to avert the ‘crisis’…

So how long before Patreon becomes the latest problem and not the solution?

Just something to think about.

Keep YouTube Weird

My dear friend and former studio/label partner Michael Donaldson has a better (and much shorter) version of this tirade over at his 8-Sided Blog. You can find it here.

I have two Tube of Yous accounts. One I created to put up odd Logic Pro tricks and tips as I found them. Since I’ve pretty much switched to Reaper on my desk- and laptops and moved to all flavors of audio and sequencing madness on iOS I don’t put much there anymore. (Although I really should upload what I’m doing now…) My second account is for what I watch and subscribe to. I watch a lot of YouTube. I absolutely love it.

Yeah, there’s a whole lotta hot garbage to be found there, and YouTube’s algorithm does everything it can to point you to it to make $$$$. But even having to dodge that insanity I’m convinced that for the masses it’s the best way to find new things and to learn things too. It’s even become one of the places everyone goes for music and music videos.

And about every few months I hear someone complaining about YouTube on YouTube. I usually unsubscribe or stop watching them after that…

But before I get deeper into why, let’s refresh ourselves about what YouTube is first.

YT is owned by Google. It’s one of its subsidiaries.

Google amasses a lot of information, and makes applications, software, and even hardware to leverage that info. But at its heart it’s in the business of selling ads and providing said information to advertisers so they can better target you for what they want to sell to you.

Always remember this. You can’t make billions of dollars a Quarter and employ thousands of people by giving everything away for free.

So how does YouTube make the money it needs to spend on infrastructure, storage (videos eat up a lot of drive space), and paying its contributors? By constantly going to Mom (Google) and asking for an allowance? Well, sometimes. But the goal is to teach independence. And much like children, you hope they’ll not only be able to snag on their own, but can also contribute to the family coffers in the future as well.

So Mother Google has them deliver ads. Lots and lots of ads. Or if you prefer, you can pony up for YouTube Red (or Premium, or whatever they’re calling it this week) and give them $120 a year or so to get rid of said advertisements for you.

But they also gather a lot of information about what you watch, how long you watch it for, what you comment, your scrolling through lists, and even where your cursor is hovering. All of this info is sucked into Mommy Dearest’s machinery for analytics and the advertisers who pay the bills. (that’s part of that contribution thing mentioned above…)

Got it? Excellent. 🙂

So all of this BS about ‘Oh noes! YouTube is manipulating their algorithm again and we’re all in big trouble!’ Is missing the point. If a socially unacceptable video goes viral and the public at large reacts negatively (advertisers can do this too), YT in a panic of losing revenue (and favorability with Mom) also reacts (or overreacts) and fiddles with their settings to ‘fix’ the problem because no feasible quantity of man and/or machine can realistically check hundreds of hours of video uploaded every single minute to their platform. YouTube is not alone here – this happens in every other industry when something goes wrong in the age of Social Media. How many times have you seen Twiddler® or Farcebook® explode because of an advertisement or a CEO’s political ramblings and now everyone is asked to boycott said product or service? Money talks and the big kids on the playground don’t want to lose their speech.

Makes sense, yes? 

So what is this (latest) ‘Creator Adpocalypse’ all about?

Simply put, Putting all of your eggs in one basket. And let’s be honest here – it actually putting your eggs in someone else’s basket hoping that they will pay you forever and in ever-increasing amounts as long as you continue to provide eggs into said basket.

In other words, the people complaining the most are the ones who’ve boldly decided to make YouTube videos their career.

Everything has a lifespan. People are born, do stuff, and slip off the mortal coil. Everything created has a finite amount of time as well.

Not everyone who writes a hit song can expect their career to last forever. Nor can anyone making television shows, movies, hairstyles, furniture, wallpaper, or fidget spinners. Tastes change, times change, and the public is almost always chasing the new and shiny.  

Enjoy the run while it lasts, but you’d better have (or find) a contingency plan in case it’s shorter that you think. Brian May of Queen got his freakin’ PhD in Astrophysics for cryin’ out loud…

I’m not trying to be flippant here, nor am I trying to say you can’t be a success at what you want to do. But if you want to play in someone else’s Egg Basket, you’re going to have to play by their rules. If this is your choice you can’t suddenly cry that the sky is falling (see what I did there?) when those rules change.

YouTube is a Private service. They make the rules for their service. They can change these rules any time they want to. You don’t have to use their service if you don’t like their rules.

And that is what is happening here with this latest ‘Apocalypse’. YT moved the cheese again, and those who have made it their sole (or major) source of income now have to make changes or perish. You’ll hear about it when it happens again in the future too. In fact, you’ll hear about this many times until the shouts finally fall upon deaf ears…

Why? Let’s think about this:

So you had an idea for a YT Channel and due to your content, delivery, or even dumb luck it’s become a booming success and you’re suddenly making money. A pretty surprising amount of money… Fabulous! You’ve beaten the system!

For now.

But what are you going to have to do to keep both your fans and the parent company (um, that would be YouTube and its Advertising Patrons) happy?

Do you continue to make great content like what your current following enjoys and consider the windfalls a bonus for doing something you love?

Or do you get stars in your eyes, think you can do no wrong, and start playing to the machine to get more subscribers, more likes, more notification and ultimately capitulate to the powers that be and test and modify and change Thumbnails and Titles and Descriptions and Zinger Comments and Polls and…oh just stop already!

You know the right answer here.

And trust me that we, your viewers can see right through it. This is why I personally unsub after hearing a ‘Creator’ complain about this, because I know they’ve lost the plot.

I’m betting I’m not alone here either.

If we want content created by committee and filtered through focus groups and sanitized for our protection then there are still lots and lots of networks that produce them and run them (with commercial sponsorship as well) on a nightly or weekly basis. Maybe you should take your ideas there if this is really want you want to do. You could also make your own Network using the power of The Interwebz® and keep all that control to yourself if it’s good enough.

The Tube of Yous is television by and for weirdos like you and me. If you want to learn Underwater Basket Weaving, there is someone who will teach you how to do it. If you want to find funny videos of cats or pranks or cats doing pranks or pranks on cats there are bajillions. If you want to see what life is like outside of your little bubble of the planet or how to learn the language of those people you just found outside your bubble there’s that too. Yes, you’ll have to sort through some dumpster fires to find the good stuff you want to watch, but you’ll be amazed at what’s there if you take some time to look. 

And they’re doing it because they love to. Not because they want to be an ‘Influencer’ or ‘YT Superstar’ or a Network Executive – they just want to share. They don’t care about revenue or rankings or optimization. This is not a job for them, this is a hobby with a community of like-minded weirdos. This is fun

So Keep YouTube Weird please. If you outgrow it there are better places to put your wares. We’ll still come watch if your content speaks to us…

-Until next time…

The Theatre of the Mind

Happy Post-Thanksgiving everyone! Hope yours was deliciously food-comatastic and every conversation was thought-provoking and positive. 🙂

Every Thanksgiving I have to watch ‘Turkeys Away’ from the classic TV show WKRP In Cincinnati. Much like the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon has become, it’s a holiday classic before the traditional holiday classics, and something to put a lot of giggles into your day while waiting for the graze-fest to begin.

After I watched the episode (and man is it still a laugh riot after almost 40 years) I did a bit of a deep-dive into some WKRP history and trivia and in the process found something very cool: http://wkrp-relived.blogspot.com. Roy Penney goes episode-by-episode of the Complete Box Set DVD’s, does a quick rundown for the uninitiated, and adds some analysis and twinkly-eyed nostalgia for those in the know. This is another reason why the Interwebz® are worth rooting around every so often to find the gems in the ever-growing pile of dirt.

Anyway, as I was looking up his account of the Turkeys Away episode, I found this statement:

“The second important aspect is that the magic of this episode mirrors the magic of radio itself: it’s all about the theatre of the mind. Radio is a medium that paints pictures with words. We see it performed in spectacular fashion on three separate occasions, kicking off the second half of the show.”

Wow. Never thought of this before, and as an Old Time Radio nerd I really should have. In that sentence he encapsulated why I have loved this show after all these years, and have always considered it one of the best television programs both written and performed. So I popped in one of my AirPods, cued up Turkeys Away, and just listened to it as I would any other OTR show, and it totally works as an audiocast.

Yeah, there are a few sight gags that get lost in translation, but to hear a show that was designed for a purely visual medium work comedically as audio alone is a testament to the producers, writers, and the actors. I can’t tell you if that was the idea the writers had initially, but if it was then it’s sheer genius. Even if it wasn’t intentional, it’s still an impressive feat and just fills my mind with ideas on how I can implement this into what I do in Audioland. And of course, now I have to see how well some of the other episodes (and possibly any other series’ as well) work as ‘radioplays’. Like I don’t have enough to do already… 🙂

Regardless, it just fortifies the concept of ‘The Theatre of the Mind’ and why I am so compelled towards creating and manipulating music and sound. Not only because of the camaraderie and creativity, but because it’s such a perfect way to impact the most powerful resource we have as emotional beings – our imaginations. Being able to turn physical auditory vibrations into feelings of deep sadness, resounding joy, or unseen landscapes full of awe and wonder is a positively magical thing. Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy so eloquently put this into words some 150 years ago:

”We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,

Upon whom the pale moon gleams;

Yet we are the movers and shakers,

Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties

We build up the world’s great cities,

And out of a fabulous story

We fashion an empire’s glory:

One man with a dream, at pleasure,

Shall go forth and conquer a crown;

And three with a new song’s measure

Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying

In the buried past of the earth,

Built Nineveh with our sighing,

And Babel itself with our mirth;

And o’erthrew them with prophesying

To the old of the new world’s worth;

For each age is a dream that is dying,

Or one that is coming to birth.”

Our world here in music and sound is a powerful force, so how are you going to affect people with your Theatre of the Mind today?