Creating Production Music? Try Korg on the Nintendo 3DS

Production music is being created in the most unexpected of places, thanks to new mobile technology being made possible by Korg and Nintendo. By turning the 3DS portable gaming system into a virtual music studio, Korg is making music production easier, more accessible, and more portable than ever.

KORGM01D - Production Music Workstation

Korg’s M01D is a downloadable production studio for the 3DS that packs in tons of music programming features into on tiny handheld system.  Based on the KORG M1, the world’s first widely known music workstation, the M01D boasts a massive 24 voice-polyphony, over 300 sounds and a complete sequencer.  Song data and MIDI data can be saved to an SD card, making the mini studio great as a musical sketchpad. Everything can be saved and exported to Logic, Protools, and more for serious music production. Additionally, Nintendo’s 3DS Wi-Fi makes it possible to share song data with other musicians and friends, making the M01D an incredible collaborative tool.

Will Free Production Music Benefit Composers?

Got an email today highlighting the launch of yet another free production music service that allows professional productions, namely big name TV studios and production companies, to license production music for free in exchange for filing cue sheets. Seems to be just another way for producers and studios to tell musicians “the check is in the mail.” Sure, I’ll file a cue sheet, tell me where to sign!

The lure of making thousands and thousands on residual checks must be huge for composers and musicians, but the reality is that they might see a few pennies if they’re lucky. A very small handful of composers make most of the money (like in any industry) from residuals. Giving away their music for free (or in this case, in exchange for an empty promise) isn’t going to help them any, ether. Facts are that few production companies these days even know what a cue sheet is, let alone know how to file one. So are these sites just empty promises for a few website owners to make a couple of publishing dollars from your music through a PR gimmick? Honestly, I’m yet to benefit monetarily from anything I ever gave away.

The bigger issue, in my opinion is how this applies to the on-going free vs paid content debate. The web 2.0 world wants you to think that free stuff equals big business. The model is make money from your content through advertising and other non-related deals by generating buzz and traffic around the stuff you give away for free. Give your production music away, they say, and in return get more exposure and land a big contract. Give your band’s music away, and get more fans so that someone important will notice. Meanwhile you starve and struggle, and the payoff at the end, if any, is minimal for most. Better luck playing the lottery.

What if musicians just actually licensed their music, for a fee. An easy, one time fee. Want to use my production music track in a tv show? Pay me up front and then go do what you do. There’s a novel idea. A musician getting compensated fairly for the product they produce, at the time it’s brought to market. A musician feeding his or her family because of their work, and not scraping together pennies from complicated contracts and residual royalty agreements set up to benefit a few guys in suits.

Residual contracts, publishing contracts, royalties, and free content are for lawyers, not musicians. Stop living off of scraps, convincing yourself that you’re eating filet mignon, and make a fair honest living from the product you create.

Starting a Home Studio

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of discussions online about where to start when it comes to creatingproduction music on your own. These days, it’s much easier and quite affordable to set up your own home studio. Here I’ll discuss a few basic concepts you’ll need to consider if you’re going to put together your own studio. Let’s start with the first requirement:

Space – You’re going to need a dedicated space to record and mix your projects, and whether it’s your garage, den, or bedroom it will need to be sufficiently large enough to set up your equipment and instruments. Consider how you are going to work with your space. Do you have the room and resources to establish a control room and studio proper? You’ll also need to experiment with your space to see how it responds acoustically and consider treatments such as diffusers, panels, and bass traps. Work with what you’ve got.

Computer – Assuming you’re not an analog purist, you’ll need a decent machine to work with if you want to set up a home studio. You’ll need a computer with good processor speed, extra RAM, and plenty of hard drive space. Most DAWs can be very resource intensive when you’re mixing and recording, so you’ll need something that can handle the workload. I won’t get into the PC vs Mac debate, but there are some DAW programs that are platform specific so you’ll need to figure out what works best for you. Along with the computer, you’ll need to acquire some kind of interface to work with your hardware. There are many affordable options on the marketplace, such as USB pre-amps and other similar products. Again, you’ll need to see what works best for you.

Microphones – Microphones are arguably the most important element in the process of recording. They can also be the most expensive. While it is easy to go overboard and spend a fortune on a microphone collection, there is a wide selection of affordable microphones available on the market. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to pick up a few mics with multiple applications. Invest in a pair of large diaphragm condensers and several dynamic mics to cover the basics. As you go on, you can always flesh out your collection with unique microphones.

Monitors – You’ll need an accurate set of studio monitors if you plan on producing quality recordings. There are many brands and sizes, so again you need to look at what you can afford and what will work best in your studio. When you obtain a nice set of speakers, it is important to properly mount them and place them in an acoustically desirable location.

Accessories – On top of all the other equipment, you’ll need many accessories to run a decent studio. You’re going to need mic stands, cables, cables, and more cables. Don’t skimp on cables.