The studio computer has been messing with me

Remember when I said I would blog about what’s going well and what is not?

Well this time it hasn’t gone very well! The studio computer decided to just die! The PSU short circuited! (Really, with sparks and all!)

Well fortunately I had backups (of coarse) and the ssd is still working!

Right now I am waiting for a new PSU (it was under garantee). The whole computer is under garantee but it will take ages before I can get all the RMA requests so let’s just hope the new PSU will solve everything and the system isn’t dead completely.

Still I am wondering… In the last few years I’ve seen lots of dead PSU (and they were not cheap PSUs). Am I just unlucky? Also one thing that drives me insane is how windows seems to struggle so much with audio drivers. Like if it was meant to work with 1 stereo in and 1 stereo out.

With my focusrite saffire 6 USB windows will sometime freeze or the bitrate of the outputs will go crazy. On top of that, my Lenovo laptop (which is good) sometimes does blue screens when connected to the focusrite (isn’t that awesome for live performances?). Also windows sometimes do “clicks” when playing music in cubase. Sometimes the buffers (samples size) are not capable of following everything. There will be a delay of some sort and the music will “click”. I’ve read on multiple forums about similar issues and how a mac handles this better (but is also much more expensive).

I personally worked as a developer with a mac for nearly 2 years and loved it. I have no preference when it comes to compare mac to windows. Even if the price of a mac is “stupid” (well I guess it is the unibody design that makes it so expensive) I get to like the idea that only apple can make mac computers. I am not saying microsoft should do that but when it comes to pro users (musician, film makers, any live presentation of some sort, etc) I think it is something to consider because the software does not need to support a lot of different configurations (so it is safer in some ways).

That said, I am considering a mac now. So many bugs and failures on windows PCs on my side. Just for the “safe feeling” when live on stage I sometimes feel like it would be a good 2000$ but I have not made any decision right now.

Don’t spam your music

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I often receive a Facebook message or an email from someone I just don’t know that looks like this:

Check out this track!

Or

NEW TRCK BY PrOdUcEr XYZ NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE!!

Or the classic fake

Hey I love your beats! Please listen to mine and comment!

Or worst, I get tagged in a picture of a release and I simply don’t know what’s going on.

Do these people really think this kind of “marketing” works!?

Why it isn’t good marketing

First of all this is simply not marketing. This is just spam. You can’t just throw out your links around and hope to get good feedback. It’s simple, people don’t want to be forced to listen to your music. Legit ads on facebook annoy people so it is quite a safe bet to say that your ad in a private message will be “über” annoying.

What will happen

The best that can happen is they will ignore you. What could also happen is they will give you bad feedback. The worst that could happen is they will check your name or email, block you, report you for spam and all that.

What can you do

Music is hard to market. I know that because right now even I struggle with marketing decisions. But there is one simple tip that I can tell you that is really important to never forget. You are an artist, you have a reputation.

Yes, you have a reputation. You are an artist. You are a product. You have an image that you want to sell. That said, be clean. Don’t spam. Instead, contact some people on the scene in your town or contacts labels or contact YouTube channels that promote new music (etc.). Contact people who are waiting for you to contact them. Build yourself a clean reputation. Sooner or later people will get to know you.

This method might take a long time compared to the spam method to reach a lot of people. But keep in mind that you want to stay clean and that it will pay off. Always stay positive. People will buy your music if they like it AND if they like you as an artist, as a person.

Also, I tend to say, artists that go viral from nowhere will disappear just as fast as they got there. Do you want this? Or do you want to be a well established artist with strong roots?

How do you become a full time producer

I am a full time producer. Why? Because I realised recently that all I want to do is to produce music and I will work hard until I get to live from it.

Becoming a full time producer is the best thing I did yet. It is sure a lot of stress (and I mean a lot) because there is a clock ticking now. I need to move forward and I need to make money to pay the bills.

But how do you become a full time producer? You need to think about it, you can’t do it randomly.

In this article I want to share my experience on this. I am still on an adventure into the unknown at the moment but here’s how I prepared for it.

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Simple Plan’s logo (I just think it was appropriate here!)

You need a plan

You can’t do it without a plan. Whatever you do be sure to have a plan. Plans will vary between people. There’s no “holy-grail” of a plan. Maybe mine will not work either but at least I have one and I believe into it.

My plan

Before becoming a full time producer:

  1. Before becoming a full time producer, get some money. Work a lot (I did for two years), get the money and don’t spend it. This will be your budget as a musician for the next year or two.
  2. Buy a whiteboard (or anything to write on). This will help you A LOT to stay organised. You can write patterns of drums and notes. You can write a to-do list, etc.

First 3 months:

  1. Produce a few tracks (I have a new project now called AXIMETRIK with a completely different genre so we needed some new material)
  2. Work on the show. Make a set-list. Make the intro/outro. Be original (we play live with a guitar and some keyboards instead of doing a DJ set)
  3. Practice, practice, practice, practice… (free time = practice time too)
  4. Make new connections/contacts. Talk to as many people as you can. Book yourself some shows.
  5. Remix/cover artists you like (in my case, MUSE)
  6. The stress and the pressure is actually where I get my energy. I need to be out of my comfort zone.
  7. Have a blog! It will help you to stay focus :)

After 3 months:

  1. More practices…
  2. More connections/booking/talk with labels
  3. Prepare plans for doing an album
  4. Do collaborations
  5. Again and again, talk to people. (I know I repeat myself a lot. I believe having good connections is key.)

Let’s review my plan

It is a pretty straight forward plan but there are some key elements.

First, we want to be original on stage. We want to be different from the majority. Here in Quebec City you don’t see a lot of live shows (with live instruments) in the EDM scene. So as musicians we think it is the way to go! Also it will help to “show off” that our music isn’t “monotone” as most of the electronic music we hear nowadays.

Second, contacts (or connections). I think it is the most important thing. Sometimes I think it is even more important than talent itself! (Sadly)

A few years ago I used to be doing radio shows at Laval University’s CHYZ FM Radio Station (The show was called Psy-Fi). We did interviews with most DJs of the Quebec scene. I actually got to know pretty much everyone by doing so and today I am so glad to know these people because it will be much easier to get booked.

The comfort zone

When you have a stable job like I did there is something blocking you from reaching your dreams and that is the comfort zone. You have a good pay and you go out with friends pretty much every week. You think it is very risky to quit your job for music (and it is). But still you are quite sad because you think you are screwing everything up by doing nothing (at least that’s how I felt at the time).

You need to get outside of the comfort zone. Being in the comfort zone will slow your career down. When you get out of it (contacting people or leaving your job) you get in an uncomfortable zone where you get this adrenaline and the power to push forward. I never worked so much since I left my job (of coarse now I can do it 24/7 but in the past I wouldn’t work so much on my music even when I had the time to).

Marketing

Marketing is probably the hardest part. Add to this that one of the most popular site is now “broken”. Yes I am talking about Facebook here. Facebook used to be really good for small companies and producers. Now, even if you have multiple followers, you actually need to pay to make sure everyone sees your posts (And it is actually worst, see the video). In the past, everyone was seeing your posts and you were paying only to make more people see it (like it is on YouTube right now). If you don’t pay, only few people will see your posts and if they don’t interact with it (which is the case most of the time even if they actually like your post) then the rest of your fans will never see the post.

So my advice is to not put too much money into Facebook. Instead, work with YouTube, Soundcloud and Twitter.

I will write a complete article on marketing soon.

In the meantime I encourage you to watch this video about marketing featuring Mike King from BerkleeMusic.

Now let’s get back to work!

Synesthesia

I have synesthesia.

Synesthesia (or synaesthesia) is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.

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Picture from MUSE - The 2nd Law

1 out of 2000 people experience synesthesia in a way or another. Many people actually don’t know they have synesthesia. It took me a while to understand I was experiencing music differently from “most people”.

How I experience synesthesia

In my case, I can see and feel the music I am listening to. Also, when writing and producing, I am actually kind of a painter and a sculptor. I think of the colours I want to see and where I want these to be in space (space as the environment, the whole track is the environment). These things also move and I want them to move the way I want them to. So that said, the type of sound, the EQs, the compression, the panning, etc — all those things will influence this and I don’t do this randomly.

To me, a very sharp sound (lead guitar, lead synth, crashes) are yellow. They are like the sun, they shine. A more “bassy” sound or a more mellow sound (filtered bass or drone) will be blue, like the ocean. See the difference? The yellow ones got to move fast in space and they are aggressive. They are the energy of the track. The blue ones have to float around like water.

That said, when I listen to others music, I don’t “experience colours” in a random way. For example, most of the old Infected Mushroom music sounds purple to me. Because most of the old Infected Mushroom tracks have those bass leads with a bit of low pass filtering to them. Even the lead synthesizers are filtered or sine wave based. Also sometimes effects like reverb can help to add colour (massively shades of blue for me). Also the kicks are mostly clean and they are sine wave based with a good pitch effect to it. When there is distortion on any instrument it is mostly filtered (again). The result is that everything is not too harsh.

When and how I knew I had synesthesia

I always listened to music this way from what I can remember. Music has always been very important in my life. One day I was on the road with my father and we were listening to Infected Mushroom. (Yes I converted my father to the magic of electronic music!). I told him (in French of coarse but here’s a translation): "Isn’t it funny how every single track of the older Infected Mushroom sounds purple in some ways and the more recent ones are more yellow?" And of coarse my father was like: “What the heck are you talking about!?” Unfortunately I can’t remember the whole discussion that followed but at that moment I understood I had something going on. Even if I was laughing with my father in the car about this I was a bit afraid. I though there was something very wrong. Add to this the fact that back then (early high school years) I was a bit socially awkward. I didn’t have many friends.

It took me a few years before I found myself reading an article about synesthesia. Then I made the connection. I was experiencing exactly what the article was stating. (Unfortunately I couldn’t find back this article)

The good and the bad

Synesthesia is awesome. You get to listen to music and experience it in unique ways. You can really feel it. You are one with the music. Every song is special. Most people love music because of the lyrics, you love the music because of the painting and the shape of it. You love every kind of music (at least I do). I have a crush on rock music when it comes to modern music especially because they tend to incorporate more melodies (and melodies are very important) than electronic music. Electronic music tend to be monotone (mostly the mainstream). This is sad since it should be the perfect type of music to make people experience new things. Still many artists are good at this, take for example Aleksander VinterBut from what I heard most artists are copying others and making monotone music. This is one of the many reasons why I am producing electronic music. There are so much possibilities. I just need to add the good melodies that I personally think it is missing (but that is just my opinion).

Unfortunately there are things that are quite sad with synesthesia. First, most people think you are weird. Most people will never understand what you mean when you explain how you feel about a song or a track. You are also very picky on the music you listen to. You also become very harsh when you critic music. You get to believe if you don’t experience something it means it isn’t good music (Which is not something that I am proud of). So I tend to not critic some of the music my friends like because I fear they would think I am just a hater with no reasons.

Second, you might be a perfectionist like me. I can work hours only on EQs or even on the different rhythms of the instruments.To me a track is never completely done nor perfect. It is like the opposite of Aleksander Vinter who wants to finish everything. He has to complete everything because of his savant syndrome but he also experiences synesthesia. My music is never completed. I have to force myself to stop at some point. At one point I was working on a tribute to Infected Mushroom and after 5 years I wasn’t done with it. To this day I never finished it.

But on the other hand my music partner Francis in AXIMETRIK once said that after the music is written and most of it is produced he has to actually leave me alone in the studio for a day because some of the magic only appears then. It is really one part of our process at producing music. We need those very complex drum rhythms or synths. It is part of our sound.

Conclusion

If you have some kind of synesthesia I hope you also have a passion because anything you will do will be some kind of art. You have the soul of an artist. There are many ways to be an artist in my opinion and experiencing synesthesia is sure one. Music or not, I think it is a great gift and can be also seen as part of your many talents. You just need to learn how to live with it.

This article was mostly about the music/sound/sight form of synesthesia but I encourage you to look around for the other types of synesthesia (related to touch, tasting, etc) because it is truly something fascinating.

Why did I put on hold my career as a developer

When I got my first job as a developer I was the happiest man on earth. It was an adventure. It was all new at the time. I could bring some work at home. Developing was so much fun. I was even working on the bus!

I was working with Ruby on Rails. A language that I learned to love (and hate). I was working with GIT. I was working with all the fancy things a developer can dream (yes even that grey, metallic, fruity laptop!). Everything was perfect!

Working as a developer takes a lot of time, especially when you like it and especially when you dream of a great career. Doing so, I did put aside my career as a musician. For a year and a half I wasn’t really into music. I did produce, a lot, but that was it. No marketing, no more radio broadcast, no live show, no hope. But I wasn’t bothering, because I was happy and I thought it was part of the process of becoming an adult.

Then I realised something. I wasn’t made to work like a monkey on a project given to me by a manager. In this particular company it got to the point that I couldn’t really design anything. You know that feel, when you have a great idea or you identify things in the system that you consider as a big problem but nobody listens to you? That was what I was living. And those problems I spotted, they became worst and we had to fix them when it was critical. But maybe I was just not a fit any more. I am the type of guy who wants to satisfy his current customers and then, only then, look around for more customers. These guys, they would get customers and then forgot about most of them and look around for new customers.

Well now it is easy to say that I was quite depressed at the time. I actually had a big depression. I realised I couldn’t work for others. I am the type of guy who takes any project that he likes at hearth. I am passionate at everything I do. I realised I needed to work on my own stuff.

Why am I not trying out for my own start-up? 

Yes, I could do that. I actually want to do that in the future but not right now. You see, there’s a part of me who loves computer sciences and there’s a part of me who is an artist and who simply loves music. I just love music too much. I study every song that I like. Why I like them. What type of chord progression is it. In what key is it. How the mix is done. I can work a full day on the same 5 seconds or on the same segment of a track when I am producing. And frankly, I see the music business as any other business. You have a product. You have a brand. You need to prove your product has some kind of value. You have to do some marketing. You need to know your customers. It is hard as hell, just like having a start up. If you want the truth, I made about $10 since I did stop working as a developer and I must have spent like around $1000 into music (and I am not done yet and if you add to that number the actual value of the studio it becomes crazy). And add to that the cost of marketing. On the long term, ads on social networks are not cheap and many times, a site like Facebook brings you fake “fans”.

I do have plans for founding a start up but I think I can do that later. One factor in the music industry is youth and I am currently in my early twenties.

It is hard work, I don’t make any money right now but at least I feel like on an adventure and I am loving every second of it!

I have not been so happy in a while!

So this is why I did put on hold my career as a developer.

If you want to know more or are interested in music production you can follow me.

Introduction

Hi there,

my name is Samuel Dallaire Thibault and I am from Quebec City, Canada.

I have been into music for what seems like forever. Pretty much all my memories include music in one way or another. Today I am part of the electronic music duo AXIMETRIK.

Me and my good friend Francis Pelletier launched AXIMETRIK back in 2013. Before then I was producing music alone.

I have a degree in Computer Sciences and I worked as a developer in a very good start-up for about two years.

Back in December 2013 I did take quite a big decision and this decision was to put my career as a developer on hold and pursue my dreams as a musician. You see, after two years on the market as a developer I realised how present music was in my life and even if it seems unreasonable to put an hold on my career I personally think it was the best decision I ever made.

Of coarse working for two years enabled me to put a lot of money in my bank account. I had a very good pay, especially as a junior. I couldn’t really have done that without this money. But now I have enough money to work on my dream. By the way, I have to point out how lucky I am to have a girlfriend who supports me!

This blog will be about me, working on my projects as a musician. It will be about my wins and my fails. I will also write about knowledge that I acquired while doing promotion, marketing and live shows. From time to time I will also blog about music production and share my skills as a producer.

If you are interested please follow me and if you would like to learn more about my music please visit www.aximetrik.com (there are links to youtube, facebook, twitter, etc.)

Before I finish this introduction I want to point out that this blog isn’t about promoting my music. That said, I will not post direct links to new releases. We produce about 2 tracks per month so you won’t be spammed with these. If you want to know about the releases, please go on our site and follow us on the social networks.

Also, as I am from Quebec City, English is my second language. It is a language that I love a lot but I may make some errors at times and I apologize for that.

Thank you very much and I hope you will have some good reading here,
Aximetrik-Sam