THE MUSICIAN ’S RESO URCE
JUNE ‘15 FREE
INTERVIEWS MIKE + RUTHY CHASTITY BELT SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN
5 TIPS FOR SIGNING INDUSTRY CONTRACTS NEW WAYS TO LICENSE INDIE MUSIC 4 MUSIC APPS YOU CAN HACK
“I could edit a song forever, but I don’t want to beat the life out of it. It often comes out right the first time.”
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Xtra Mile Recordings
The Mike + Ruthy Band
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
by Dani Cotter
by Jaclyn Wing
by Casandra Armour
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 6
by Jen Emmert
by Meghan Alfano
4. Letter From the Editor
34. New Ways To License Indie Music with Loudr
6. Vinyl of the Month
36. Networking Tips for Musicians
9. Live Reviews
37. 5 Tips Before You Sign That Contract
10. SXSW 2015 Portraits
38. Gear Reviews
11. Scene Spotlight: Austin, TX
47. My Favorite Axe: The Darkness
32. 4 Music Business Apps You Can Hack
48. Flashback: 1976 Boss CE-1 Chorus Pedal PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Howdy, y’all! This month Performer mourns the loss of Tony Bonito, 72, of Springfield. Now, for many of you, that name might not mean much. But for me, that name means a lot. You see, Tony ran a music store in Springfield when I was growing up called Music Men, which is where I bought my first two guitars and had music lessons from the age of 12 to 18. It was a loud, busy and cramped hub for musical activity in Western Massachusetts, and was one of the last true independent music retailers of note in my hometown. But that doesn’t really say much about Tony, does it? To me, his true gift was inspiring both young and old for decades to pursue their musical dreams. Now, that might have meant spending hours practicing and rehearsing in the tiny, smoky back rooms of Music Men, but I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything in the world. It’s where I got my passion for music, and it’s also where I picked
up my first copy of Performer in the mid-’90s. Tony also had a big heart; he let my brother, who has Down syndrome, bang on the drums at top volume during my lessons. He also had a habit of looking the other way every now and again if my family couldn’t afford the lesson fee that particular week. Somehow I always saw a checkmark in the box under ‘paid’ the next time I was in the store, perusing the new guitar arrivals... Music Men, and stores like it all around the country, played an important part in the musical landscape of America for decades. In addition to mourning the loss of Tony, I’m sad for the future generations of kids who might miss out on expressing themselves through art because these very places have become a dying breed. -Benjamin Ricci, editor
Volume 25, Issue 6 PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143 CONTACT
Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER
William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com EDITOR
Benjamin Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN & ART DIRECTION
Bob Dobalina email@example.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Benjamin Ricci, Casandra Armour, Chris Devine, Chris M Junior, Dan Hawkins, Dani Cotter, Eric Palmquist, Jaclyn Wing, Jen Emmert, Jeremy Borum, Lucy Fernandes, Mark Cowles, Matt Villmer, Meghan Alfano, Michael St. James CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Chris M Junior, Shawn Brackbill, Rick Carroll, Angel Ceballos, Eric Gerard, Calvin Todd, Shay Rainey, Ben Morse, Scarlet Page
P.S. – for those of you keeping score, baby #2 is going to be a girl :) Pretty soon I will be outnumbered 3:1 in my own home. Please send care packages and survival kits c/o the magazine to our post office box. And wish me luck. And a baby turtle. Yeah, wish me a baby turtle, too. I’ve always wanted one of those…
Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”
MUSIC SUBMISSIONS We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to email@example.com.No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews PO BOX 348 Somerville, MA 02143
4 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will... ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
William House Phone: 617-627-9919 email@example.com © 2015 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE. Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
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This time around, The Cheebacabra has enlisted the help of some of his closest friends and artists to remix, rework, and recut some of the tracks from his last few albums. The results are simply fantastic, but we’ll get to that in a second. The first thing you’ll notice about Retouched is the packaging - lavishly housed in a sturdy LP sleeve are two custom marbled color vinyl records (ours were green), along with a print of the cover painting and a fold-out poster. It’s these sorts of details that keep vinyl alive, and partly why we chose this album as our pick for vinyl of the month. The other reason, obviously, is that the music is so intensively infectious that if your ass ain’t shaking, have someone check your pulse. Our favorite tracks include outtakes from the last Cheeba LP (Pass The Information) as well as remixed tracks from Funkscribe and DJ Duct. In all, Retouched is a 26-track wonderland of synths, dope beats, hypnotic grooves and pinpoint production. Highly recommended for anyone with even a remote interest in electronic music, funk, dance, soul, synthesizers or just plain ol’ baby-making music.
Follow on Twitter: @cheebacabra
The Cheebacabra Retouched Seattle, WA (Self-released)
“Infectious grooves: recut, remixed, reworked…” 6 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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Zebras In Public The Drinkery - Cincinnati, OH April 25, 2015
ne of the city’s most exciting up-andcoming bands, Zebras In Public, recently headlined a knock-out show at The Drinkery in Over-The-Rhine, Cincinnati. A strong nominee in the Metal/ Hard Rock category at January’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (where they performed live), their stellar set at that event expanded an already enthusiastic fan base. So, with people having already witnessed this diverse five man rock and soul juggernaut first hand, the anticipation surrounding their appearance at the Drinkery was palpable, and they delivered big time. Opening up with the ripping song “Bombs” from their sophomore release Paradise Leg, they immediately
hunkered down as front man Zebediah Williams worked the crowd with the style and bravado of an experienced showman. The group’s five members draw their backgrounds from a variety of individual influences: spanning rock, metal, and pop to soul - and even some other eclectic genres in between. Regardless of those influences, they definitely possess their own inimitable sound. The band’s guitar work is masterful, the drumming and punchy rhythm section rock solid, and the vocal harmonies strong and evocative. By the time the Zebras finished, pretty much everyone was wrung out from the energy they expended and shared with those witnessing their performance.
This band didn’t have one clunker in their repertoire either - from the breezy “Sunrise,” to the more reflective ballad “Let It Go” sprinkled with the social commentary of “John Doe,” and topped off by their most infectious number, “Propaganda.” The predominant message expressed in ZIP’s music was the positive one of selfaffirmation (as in the “it’s okay to be yourself” refrain of “Propaganda”) and acceptance of one another as individuals, and that’s a pretty timely take away. This band was a standout, and could be poised for bigger things very soon.
Follow on Twitter: @ZebrasinPublic PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 9
A downside to SXSW, says Bee Caves guitarist Sam Kearney (second from right), is “shows are often set up in less-than-ideal places” that have suspect sound systems. Fortunately, Bee Caves showcased at the spacious Parish Club. “It’s one of the best-sounding rooms in town,” Kearney says. The atmospheric Austin group plans to launch its first tour later this year.
Singer Bas Prins (second from left) of the Netherlands-based Taymir came to SXSW fully aware it was “the biggest showcase festival in the universe.” Looking to stir up U.S. label interest for its debut album, Phosphene, the 1960s-rock-inspired group also “captured a lot of hearts,” adds guitarist Mikkie B. Wessels (second from right).
“I felt like more folks paid attention to us than in previous years,” says singer-guitarist Jim Barrett (second from left) of Mississippi’s Young Buffalo. His advice for SXSW 2016 rookies: Drink water, get sleep and accept gig offerings wisely: “four to seven good ones” maximum. Young Buffalo’s House dropped in March; the band’s tour with Little Hurricane begins this month.
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“It’s not easy being a horn player in guitar heaven,” jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton says. An Austin resident since 2007, Lofton has carved his niche around town, playing regular restaurant gigs on Thursdays and Sundays, plus occasionally presenting a 1950s Miles Davis tribute show at various locations. Lofton is wrapping up his new album, Jericho, due out later this year.
Although his ardent, tuneful rock band came of age in Red River Street clubs during a different era, “I have no nostalgia for the old times,” says singer and guitarist James Stevens (second from left). He’s excited about the venues on Austin’s east side, which is also where you’ll find EAR, Stevens’ recording studio. The latest Moonlight Towers album is Heartbeat Overdrive.
Austin’s scene is vibrant, and downtown is always intense, says guitarist Errol Siegel (far left) of the R&B/soul band Roxy Roca. “If you look hard enough,” he adds, “you’ll find something great every night. That’s true for pretty much every genre.” Look for Roxy Roca on tour supporting Ain’t Nothin’ Fancy, which dropped in February.
austin, tx PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 11
pictured: XMR artist Frank Turner photo by Ben Morse
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Dani Cotter of Xtra Mile Recordings Gives Performer a Peek Behind The Curtain
Behind The Scenes at one of the UKâ€™s Coolest Indie Labels
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 13
SPOTLIGHT INTRO/TEAM & BACKGROUND We are Xtra Mile Recordings - an independent record label based in London, releasing records all over the world. We’re a team of three full-time members working with a larger network of awesome folks all over the world. Charlie Caplowe – Founder and big boss man of Xtra Mile Dani Cotter (me!) – PR & Marketing Anthea – Production & D2C The fourth member of our team and honorary XMR-er is Bradley Kulisic, who is our label manager at Kartel Music Group and who handles all our distribution and label services for UK and the world (excluding North America). For USA, we work with the good people at INgrooves, and in Canada it’s the fine folks at Fontana North. We also have a team of freelancers who look after our social media, our website and all our artwork and design needs. Charlie started the label in 2003, working on it just part-time to release the debut albums by Reuben and Million Dead (Frank Turner’s previous band). We had been working with these great British bands for press but got frustrated that they were being over-looked by record labels; so instead of endlessly waiting for someone else to sign them, Charlie set up Xtra Mile and did it himself. Over the past twelve years the label has grown 14 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
and grown and now we’re dedicated to it full-time. Our roster ranges from artists who’ve achieved mainstream success to acts just starting out, covering the genres of rock, punk, folk, indie and hardcore from the UK and North America. We’re home to: Frank Turner, Mongol Horde, Against Me!, To Kill A King, Skinny Lister, Cheap Girls, Beans On Toast, Will Varley, PJ Bond, Northcote, Jamie Lenman, Billy the Kid, Rob Lynch, Mineral and many, many more. NEW SIGNINGS/A&R/SUBMISSIONS New music comes to us in a variety of ways. We get the traditional demos in the post or via email. We are recommended to bands by other industry people who we’ve met or worked with over the years. Sometimes our bands will come to us and ask us to check out an act that they’ve stumbled across. In fact, our roster is a great source of A&R since they are out there playing venues all over the world and coming across new music all the time. So much so that we did a label compilation album Xtra Mile High Club Vol: 5 Signed Vs. Unsigned, featuring a track from each of our signed acts followed by one track from their favourite unsigned act. The result was a brilliant mix of new and emerging music, and from that we met PJ Bond, whose album we’re about to release. We try to listen to all submissions where possible. When new music is sent to us, from wherever they’ve come in by, they get added to a spreadsheet and then we will all sit around and have a listen.
Charlie heads up the A&R-ing of the company and as well as submissions coming to us, he is also out and about meeting new managers, agents, etc. and always looking for new acts to join the XMR stable. When deciding on whether to sign an act or not, we’ll have a proper listen and do our research on them, looking at their online presence and proactivity, touring history, the team around them and any press/radio activity they may have had. If we love the music and there’s a plot to be developed, the only other criteria is if they fit within the XMR family. Whilst a lot of our roster is musically very different, there is a common thread that links them all together. Charlie often talks about being able to join the dots between all our acts – where each of them complements and supports their fellow label-mates. A lot of them know each other, have toured together, released split singles together and appeared on each other’s albums. We love the community/family vibe of like-minded artists sharing a passion for music and who are team players. ONCE SIGNED… The initial conversations between label and act are done by Charlie, who puts together a deal that’s agreeable for both parties. The broad expectations and nature of the release will emerge from these initial talks and then once signed, we as a team will sit down and work out the best structure for the campaign at large. We will meet the
SPOTLIGHT manager and/or deal directly with the band/artist and discuss the campaign in further detail – discussing formats, PR targets, single choices, touring activity, marketing ideas, etc. It is then over to Brad and Charlie to nail the budget, Anthea to collate all the parts – artwork and audio etc., and me to get together all the necessary assets we need like press shots, videos, bios, singles, etc. STRUCTURING A CAMPAIGN Each campaign will be very different. For some acts, we’ll start working with them from a very early stage so will need to organise studio time and producers for them to record their album (eg: To Kill A King). For others, they’ll just turn up with a finished, mastered album together with complete artwork and a tour in place and all we need to do is get it made and get it out there (eg: Beans On Toast). Despite which starting point we’re at, the first thing to sort out is the release date. Typically we’ll decide on a release date and then work backwards from there, factoring in the lead times for production and how many singles we’ll release ahead of the album. Once that is set in stone, we can then work out deadlines for artwork and audio, which allows us enough time to get the CDs and/or vinyl made and enough promotion time to set the album up at press, radio and online. Anthea is in charge of production. She will work closely with the artist/manager and our
artwork guy to produce print-ready files ready to send off to the manufacturers, as well as stickers, download codes and merch for you all to purchase. The audio will then be uploaded so our distributors can deliver to digital retailers, including us! All tracks will also need to be registered with PPL [a British performance rights organization and licensing company] and the BPI [British Phonographic Industry], which she also does. Simultaneously, I will begin the process of structuring the finer details of the campaign, working towards announcing the album release, music videos, singles, etc. and working on a marketing plan. We sometimes work with out-ofhouse press and radio teams, so I will liaise with them to ensure they have everything they need and promotion is planned out and structured to get maximum exposure for the band and album around release date and tour. Working closely with Brad and Charlie, we will devise a marketing plan that includes digital advertising on media sites, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Depending on the act, we will look at more traditional advertising opportunities such as street marketing, posters and print ads; it all depends on the act, the release, the plot and the budget. Although we all have our own individual areas of work, we are all across every aspect of a campaign, working closely together to ensure we
all meet deadlines and make the most of every opportunity to promote it. Once a week (or once every two weeks) we will have a huge label-planning meeting, which can last for a few hours. We will go over each project in turn – discuss ideas, detail progress, share any concerns, listen to new music and plan much further ahead to look at our release schedule for the next 6/8/10 months. As we release albums all over the world, we have to coordinate everything with our teams in other territories. We have a press team in Germany (one of our biggest territories) on a retainer and press, radio and marketing teams in North America. In addition to this, there are people in place in Australia and across other countries in Europe and Asia. This means lots of conference calls – at the end of our day if talking to West Coast America or first thing in the morning if Australia – which can be a challenge to sort, but a necessity for a global set-up. For more info, please visit www.xtramilerecordings.com
Follow on Twitter: @Xtra_Mile PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 15
How to Manage The Work/Family Balancing Act While Touring & Recording
THE MIKE + RUTHY BAND
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SPOTLIGHT PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 17
elcome to the family. When I spoke with Mike and Ruthy, it felt like I was taking a trip down memory lane, chatting with good friends and family about musical memories and new endeavors. Speaking with people who are so passionate about their craft gives me hope that true musicianship is alive and well. The folk genre has a certain allure to it and The Mike and Ruthy Band brings a certain something special. The husband/wife duo are unique yet wildly familiar and comforting; they write about what they know, yet are inclusive with their listeners all while lending a bed of music. Mike and Ruthy have built a troubadour life inclusive of family. Ruthy grew up in a family where both parents were musicians, so it was a natural progression for her to pursue a career as a musician and natural to keep playing and
share that space [Summer Hoot] with Pete and the audience, whether we were singing kids songs or an iconic one, was a very special thing.” Mike followed up by saying, “Having Pete, our children, our band, along with other musicians on one stage getting to share that very classic quintessential Pete Seeger experience was a high watermark - a real ‘moment.’” Starting its third year in August, the magic of the Hoot is a real thing. Their new LP, Bright As You Can, on Humble Abode Music/Thirty Tigers, has strong folk roots with a high level of robustness and features a full band lineup; Mike Merenda (vocals, guitar, banjo), Ruthy Ungar (vocals, fiddle), Jacob Silver (bass), Charlie Rose (pedal steel) and Konrad Meissner (drums). This album is the perfect balance of clean-cut folk and infectious blues. Their lyrics and instru-
“Vulnerability makes listeners feel something more strongly.” bringing her family along for the ride. “To me, it’s not a big deal! It’s a challenge, but a challenge we enjoy. When we travel, if we have a day off, we do fun special family things; our flextime on tour is spent with family.” They are off and running pretty much 24/7, often “booking a show with one hand and tying a shoe with another.” Having kids is a challenge regardless of who you are and what lifestyle you have chosen. “It’s true no matter who or where you are-we’ve found that it is no harder touring than being at home.” Their children like the adventure that is touring and feeling the rhythm of the road, a unique experience that only a handful of us get to experience. “We are always together and we relish that.” Senses of togetherness and community, themes prominent in their personal and professional lives, have influenced their efforts to share folk music with their community at home. In 2013, Mike and Ruthy embarked on an endeavor, blissfully unaware that it would become one of Mike’s fondest musical memories. Their brainchild was to create an inclusive festival, Summer Hoot, which caters provides entertainment for all ages and a chance to meet new people and make new friends. “We are very interested in sharing our experiences with festivals and traveling,” says Ruthy. The first Summer Hoot in 2013 was also one of Pete Seeger’s last performances before he passed away; Mike and Ruthy played with Seeger for roughly 15 years. Ruthy says that “getting to 18 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
mental tones are so deeply personal; they are a solid example of how music enhances storytelling. Ruthy advises to “stay out of the way and let the song happen. Sometimes I don’t know what I want to say; once a song feels like it’s true,
suddenly you have something - it’s organic.” Music says as much as the lyrics do. The groove of the song is telling of everything and it is the most positive energy that you can put out there. Ruthy says, “Vulnerability makes listeners feel something more strongly. Lyrics are able to make songs really personal. Folk music is so good at that because you have a change to hear the words.” In terms of their songs and lyrics, they write about what they know, yet every song on the album feels like its being sung for you. For Bright As You Can, Mike proudly asserts that, “We sat there from beginning to end; we sat there and wrote it all. Close to three thousand words!” Music informed the words and before they knew it, they had something tangible. But it’s important to note that not everything happens overnight. Mike explains that “Chasin’ Gold” took almost eight years to finish and that “the song really came to life when we shifted it into the minor key.” It goes to show that a song doesn’t have to be written in one sitting. Mike noted that adding a (personal) story element to a song makes it seem that much more real, relatable and listenable. Ruthy notes, “It is a [truly] revealing song. Mike says certain things about himself that holds people’s attention in a whole new way.” When I first listened to Bright As You Can, I was immediately struck by the fact that it sounds and feels like I am experiencing the band live. Perhaps that’s because Bright As You
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“Stay out of the way and let the song happen.”
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Through conversing about life’s plan for us, it came to light Mike feels that maybe you don’t end up where you thought you would, but you’d end up in a pretty good place. You can only set an intention for a journey, then you must let it unfold. Ruthy’s words have also stuck with me: “If you are at peace with the journey, then you have already won.”
Follow on Twitter: @mikeandruthy
Can was recorded live, used all first takes and no overdubs. Recording live sessions makes for a more authentic product. Mike comments on the process, “We’re all in this one room, there is a positive collaborative energy, and everyone is giving in their best.” Ruthy chimes in: “We use the same mentality as playing a live show” and that is certainly evident and consistent throughout the new record. Mike and Ruthy seem like old souls who are wise beyond their years, and their music is a reflecting pool. Mike and I seem to have the same major outlook on life in common: something comes out of every experience. Mike advises, “Any time you leave the house, have an instrument in your hand. Any time you have an intention of making music, something will happen.” A piece of advice for musicians and non-musicians alike: maybe you’re not there yet but remember that you are in it for the journey.
MIKE + RUTHY BAND BRIGHT AS YOU CAN STANDOUT TRACK: “BRIGHT AS YOU CAN”
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SPOTLIGHT 20 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Making The Most of Seattle’s DIY Community & Leading Rock’s Feminist Charge
CHASTITY BELT L
ike a prettily manicured hand wrapped tight after a brawl, Seattle’s Chastity Belt flexes a gauzy and bruised, unapologetically girly riot grrrl glee. Their March release Time To Go Home is an intoxicating blend of fuzzy noise pop, with a spectrum that shimmers in shades of The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and especially Kathleen Hanna, of course, languishing in her electroclash era with Le Tigre. The women have the tremendous dexterity, from raging against rampant misogyny and mansplaining in “Drone” to making mischief and prodding the pearl clutchers with “Cool Slut.” Like a rainstorm that slows into less and less soft, heavy droplets, “On the Floor” has a restlessness that is raw, drenching. It tapers into a disquieting and gorgeous guitar trance. Chastity Belt has said that they realized they “didn’t have to play party songs” anymore after their first album No Regerts. Still seeking fun but also facing life’s fundamental realities, their follow-up work is a next logical step after that carte blanche to party and fuck, a reflection of the quintessential quarter-life crisis. Lead singer Julia Shapiro says that she listened to a lot of Elliott Smith growing up. It emanates through her most gnawing, ennuisoaked vocals, and simple introspective lyrics. The band also factors rock icons Fleetwood Mac and UK indie band Electrelane among their influences. “I grew up playing violin, and both Lydia and Julia started playing guitar in
middle school,” bassist Annie Truscott explains about the band’s foundation. “When I remembered I got a bass for my 16th birthday that I hardly touched, it made sense for me to play bass. Gretchen got the leftovers: drums. “Chastity Belt was a name before it was a band,” she reminisces. “On more than one occasion, Lydia [Lund, guitar] and Julia attended college parties, broke some bottles (to later pick
practice space” to emerge in seventy-two hours having finished the soon-to-be sellout debut No Regerts in 2013. “We spent twice as long recording Time To Go Home,” Annie explains. “Six days is not long by most standards, but it felt significantly longer than the three days it took to record No Regerts. I personally feel like I connect more strongly to the songs on TTGH—they are a reflection
“While I wouldn’t necessarily label our music as strictly feminist, the fact that we are all feminists does shine through our music.” them up), and chanted ‘Chastity Belt.’ At the end of our sophomore year of college (spring 2010), Gretchen and I teamed up with Julia and Lydia to write Chastity Belt’s first hit song ‘Surrender,’ which we premiered at the frat-hosted Beta Fest’s Battle of the Bands. We won, by the way.” The foursome credits Seattle’s encouraging DIY community with coaxing them into “a cramped
of post-college ‘real life’ experiences that hit harder than the party songs that make up half of No Regerts. That isn’t to say I don’t relate to songs like ‘Pussy Weed Beer’ (because I do) but I do find that our songs on TTGH, while retaining a hint of sarcasm that litters No Regerts, have a more serious tone and sound that reflects the direction we are naturally progressing toward. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 21
“There’s more to our music than our gender.”
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“Our songwriting process mainly goes like this: Julia comes up with a chord progression, shows it to the rest of us, we jam on it, then we find a part we like and BAM—we wrote a song,” she goes on. “We are definitely supportive of each other throughout the songwriting process and encourage exploring individual parts until it feels right (and sounds good).” The quartet was itching to work with British post-punk band Wire’s guitarist Matthew Simms after opening a few tour dates for his band two years ago. Logistics didn’t let the ladies fly across the pond for recording, but they did get Time To Go Home mixed by Simms at the Record Room, in Kent, England. “He did an incredible job and it felt so good to work with someone who not only had seen us live so many times but also knew our personality as a band. I honestly couldn’t be happier with how the mixes turned out,” Annie enthuses. Time To Go Home was then mastered at The Lodge in New York City by Sarah Register, whose dizzying discography of solo and assistant engineering spans over a decade and
ranges from works like Lou Reed’s The Island Of The Misfit Toys to The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow. “After we recorded TTGH,” she continues, “we decided that we wanted a woman’s final touch on the album. Matthew recommended Sarah Register to master the record and we are so stoked she did.” An all-female group with a strident stance on women’s issues obviously faces being labeled the dreaded, if not deluded, f-word: feminists. “While I wouldn’t necessarily label our music as strictly feminist, the fact that we are all feminists does shine through our music,” Annie explains about the band’s buzzword status. “Rather than writing songs with a specific agenda in mind, our music and lyrics are inspired by experiences. Our experiences are authentic. If we have an experience that reflects a political issue, great, we might write about it.” Chastity Belt modestly admonishes the hype about their feminist worldview, stressing, “There’s more to our music than our gender.” But they are universally applauded by reviewers for their status quo challenging lyrics and
anti-misogyny anthems, and Annie says that tends to be the response from to audience, too. “In general, the reaction to our sex-posi, antimansplaining has been extremely positive. The music industryhas always been and still is dude-heavy, but I do sense a shift happening and hopefully our sex-posi tunes hit a chord with teen gals and ladies everywhere. Maybe our male listeners will learn a thing or two, as well.” The band is thrilled to be on the roster for Hardly Art, a division of Seattle’s legendary Sub Pop label, and digs the offerings from their lineup, too. “We are lucky enough have played shows AND be friends with so many of our label mates. I don’t like picking favorites but I will say that I played S (Jenn Ghetto) ‘Cool Choices’ on repeat throughout this past winter. Tacocat is great. Colleen Green is great. Both La Luz and Shannon and the Clams are, as well. I feel so stoked to be on a label with such awesome and different but all equally inspiring musicians.” They also confess to being “obsessed with” comedian Chelsea Peretti: “Her podcasts make long drives on tour more than bearable—she’s just like another gal pal in the car who loves to laugh and be a silly billy.” Game of Thrones is another pop culture indulgence Chastity Belt enjoys, but if you’re hoping to hear the band on a soundtrack, they’ve got their fingers crossed to get featured on the bawdy Broad City, naturally.
Follow on Twitter: @CHAST1TYBELT
CHASTITY BELT TIME TO GO HOME STANDOUT TRACK: “JOKE”
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Unraveling Emotions: A Detailed Detour Through the Creative Process with
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ORRES PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 25
he beauty of music derives not just from the relatability factor and multifaceted, demonstrative sensations it bestows upon person to person, but also the surprisingly sweet dissimilitude exerted and consequent discoveries made. Mackenzie Scott, known to listeners as TORRES, is a prime example of this quintessentially divergent depth; with voraciously authoritative vocals, it’s vividly apparent that Scott is in utter control of her aesthetic. However, there’s a softer and more buoyant layer of her that’s just as enchanting and thought provoking. Performer had the chance to catch up with her and learn more about the makings of her latest album, Sprinter, creative endeavors outside of music, and her equally distinct sweet tooth. You were enriched with music at a young age and encouraged by your parents, but at what point did you know that you really wanted to pursue music seriously? I was a junior in high school when I visited Belmont University in Nashville. I was interested in their songwriting program, and after I went to the campus I fell in love with [it], as well as the idea of being in school for something I loved. I think that’s when I made the decision
exactly did these feelings and themes surface in your writing and album, and how were you able to control working with them without allowing them to take over you? I wrestled (and continue to wrestle) with the existential dread. It doesn’t really ease up with time. I do find, though, that I’m at my best, creatively speaking, when I’m most consumed. It just means I have a lot to write. You reference poet John Donne in your song “Son, You Are No Island.” How did he become an influence to you and this latest material? I also read that you “wanted something clearly stemmed from [your] Southern conservative roots, but that sounded futuristic and space-y at the same time.” Can you elaborate on this? To be honest, I haven’t read THAT much Donne. I’d read his ‘No Man is an Island’ piece and fell in love with it. Beyond that, he didn’t have much of an influence on the album. It became clear during the writing process that [the album] would have some of its lyrics roots in the American South. Texas, Georgia,
“I find I’m at my best, creatively speaking, when I’m most consumed. It just means I have a lot to write.” that I wanted to commit to making a career in this industry happen. It’s hard to say exactly how I’ve evolved...college did to me what it does to most people: it broke me, but it was one of the best things I could’ve done. Sprinter explores darkness, alienation and ultimately questioning oneself. How 26 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Tennessee. I then became obsessed with the idea of creating a sonic atmosphere that sounded more like Outer Space, something unfamiliar and Other. I didn’t want the music to sound derivative of any particular culture or region. I believe it all worked together as a singular album because of my voice.
What was the recording process like for this album? It was fun and relaxed. You wouldn’t know it, but anytime we weren’t recording, we were joking and laughing. It was so nice to be away from everything familiar and focus on the project. We didn’t even have Wi-Fi in the studio, so there weren’t any distractions (other than the cakes we ate every day). What recent challenges have you faced as a musician, and how have you or how are you working to overcome them? My challenges as a musician at this point are almost exclusively financial. Everyone’s struggling, though. I really can’t complain, and I don’t want to complain. I love my job and my quality of life. You’ve said that you enjoy the chaos of the city. What is it about it that you like, and how, if applicable, does it influence your music? It keeps me out of my head and allows me to externalize my thoughts more frequently than when I was living in Nashville. There’s so much to do and there are so many people to watch. Observing other people’s lives daily on such an intimate level is one of the best things about the city. It causes me to empathize and wonder about their stories. I love when everyone seems grumpy and then some small funny thing takes place, causing everyone in the line at the post office to laugh at once. A few months ago I saw a mother on the subway put some ChapStick on her sleeping son’s lips and it brought me to tears. There are moments of unexpected kindness literally every day, and I get to see it and experience it myself. All of it makes its way into the music, because it changes me as a person and affects what’s happening in my brain. Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music? Is there an ideal environment when and where you get your best work done? I like to write short stories and poems, and I love to cook and bake. I read constantly to carve new thought pathways into my brain. A new book always does the trick if I’m feeling stunted. I also find that depression keeps me from feeling creative sometimes, so I’ll bake a pie or cook a great dinner to lift my spirits. It’s a serotonin trigger for me. I think it’s because baking stimulates all of my senses at once. As well as being a quick and satisfying way
SPOTLIGHT to accomplish something constructive when I’m feeling down on myself.
For me, it’s getting to tour the world and meeting and working with artists I respect.
When I was writing this album, I was waking up every day and cooking myself breakfast. I’d give myself an hour or two to drink my coffee and read a book or catch up on an episode of True Detective or something. Then I’d write all day until 5 or 6 pm, like a day job. It wasn’t easy to do every day and I became frequently discouraged and frustrated with myself, but it was good for me to have the self-imposed schedule. I needed to do it; eventually it felt unnatural.
What do you think is your role in the music industry, and what do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t already? I just hope I get to keep making records and playing shows. I’d be thrilled to make it to Japan to play someday. Is there anything you’d like to add or want others to be aware of? Turns out I’m addicted to sugar.
How do you know when a song is complete? It’s more a matter of deciding that you’re going to put your pen down and cease to make changes. I could edit a song forever if I wanted to, but I really don’t want to beat the life out of it that way. It often comes out right the first time. How do you define success?
TORRES SPRINTER STANDOUT TRACK: “SPRINTER” Follow on Twitter: @torreslovesyou PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 27
SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN Injects Raw Energy Into New LP By Letting Go Of Studio Perfectionism
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t has been ten years since the initial release of their widely acclaimed debut Broom - so there is no doubt the music of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has gone through quite a bit of change and progression throughout their career. The band has captured a variety of stylings, from soft acoustic folk ballads to catchy indie-pop tracks over the years - all while managing to create an overall sound that is undeniably their own. However, where they shine the most and seem to gain the most applause from critics and bloggers alike is in their energetic live performances. Which is why their fifth studio album, The High Country, may be their best work yet. “One of our friends told me that before she goes to our shows, she wants to get pumped up by listening to our music,” says Phil Dickey (guitars/drums/vocals), “but the studio albums are never on the same level.”
From start to finish, however, The High Country is a raw, high-energy record sure to fix any SSLYBY fan’s craving for the feeling of attending their live performances. After spending a month demoing and practicing, the trio of Dickey, Will Knauer (guitar/vocals) and Tom Hembree (bass) recorded the album at Seattle’s legendary Hall of Justice with the help of Beau Sorenson (Superchunk, Garbage). “It’s more in the direction of Let it Sway but there’s a lot more energy and it’s a lot more aggressive overall,” says Knauer. Opening track “Line on You” is a highoctane track filled with fuzzy upbeat guitar riffs, followed by the fast tempo of “Step Brother City,” the first single off the album. Even the slower ballads, like “Madeline,” have their own sort of raw beauty.
The band attributes a large part of this sound to Sorenson, who previously worked with the band on Let it Sway in 2010. “It was really great because there was never that moment of trying to get to know each other, so we could just get to work immediately,” explained Knauer. “He helped us to be very efficient and gave us some extra power that we don’t normally have.” “I think sometimes when we’re selfrecording, even if it’s a lo-fi recording, we tend to aim for perfection and keep doing things over, and one of Beau’s big things is trusting the recording process,” added Dickey. Case in point - during a late night recording session, Dickey blew out his voice after screaming the lyrics to “Trevor Forever” - but Beau insisted on continuing to record.
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“We decided to put ‘Trevor’ on first because it was late, and I thought it would be fun to scream,” Dickey says. “I think I was kind of already losing my voice at that point, and Beau thought my voice sounded kind of cool broken up like that so he put ‘Madeline’ on. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t really sing right now’ and I was trying to discourage him from recording that song, but we ended up keeping it - it actually sounded pretty cool,” he adds.
its course, the meaning behind the name has inadvertently evolved as well. “We came up with the name right about the time Boris Yeltsin was resigning from office and we were hearing his name all over the radio. I think people kind of thought of it and him as a joke,” Dickey explains. “Then he died in 2007 and people thought it was a little spooky that we were named after a dead president. And now I’ve seen some things online saying that our band name is so much more appropriate now with everything going on with Putin, so even its meaning has sort of changed and progressed.”
“When The Beatles recorded ‘Twist and Shout,’ the story is that they had been recording all day and John’s voice had blown out but he was like, “I have one more song in me.’ So he just started screaming the song - I was kind of going for that but you know, not as good,” Dickey jokes. “I had never screamed before on an album - basically, I had no idea what I was doing but it all kind of worked out.”
For a band that is constantly evolving and changing, one thing remains the same - they will always make sure to keep producing music their fans will love.
He also said the renowned recording space itself helped to add a bit of a rougher edge to the album.
State Department Cultural Ambassadors in 2012.
“We also did the vocals to a cover of ‘Negative Creep’ by Nirvana that night. It was 3 or 4 in the morning and that’s the same studio where Nirvana recorded the album, so I let myself be affected by the sort
After members of the Boris Yeltsin Foundation did a quick Google Search and discovered the band, they approached SSLYBY to visit Russia as part of an attempt to amend the former president’s name. The
On working with producer Beau Sorenson: “He helped us to be very efficient and gave us some extra power that we don’t normally have.” of spookiness and history of that place to see how it resonated with me.” Aside from the energy of the recording studio, the band says they draw most of their songwriting inspiration from things that go on in everyday life. “A lot of stuff came from books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve watched or experiences that left a strong impact on me,” says Knauer. “I found myself constantly thinking about something I had seen or felt - those are the things that end up getting expressed through music whether you want them to or not because your brain is still trying to figure them out.” One interesting experience that still resonates with the band - being named U.S. 30 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
“I think it’s just always going through a new level of change that we may not plan or expect,” says Knauer. The High Country is out June 2 on Polyvinyl Records.
Follow on Twitter: @SSLYBY
band spent their time headlining the Old New Rock Festival, one of Russia’s biggest music events, and even visited a high school where they played an acoustic set, ate lunch with companions of Boris Yeltsin, had their lyrics translated in Russian by the students, and later did a Q&A and tour of the school. “And after the students went away, Boris Yeltsin’s friends gave us a ton of vodka,” laughs Dickey. “The whole thing was kind of a weird dream - those were a few of the craziest days of our lives.” The name “Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin” is one that is clearly memorable, and has gotten them attention from the Boris Yeltsin camp and by those who are simply amused by it. But, much like the band’s music has progressed over time, as history takes
SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN THE HIGH COUNTRY STANDOUT TRACK: “STEP BROTHER CITY”
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Four Ho WITH MUSIC to your public posts, the latest dates, maybe polls on setlists, new lyrics, or requests for radio and street team support. #2 Cash.me (http://cash.me) With the Cash.me app (and also online) you can send and receive money instantly between two people for free. It works by having bank accounts associated by direct deposit, but it is very easy to setup. There are some limits, $1,000/month, but you can be verified, or go with Cash Pro (which only charges 1.5% per transaction), and bypass that fairly quickly. Using your cashtag (mine is $stjames), which you create on the Cash. me site, you can get paid upfront, on your own dedicated webpage, even without the app.
f you are online at all, it’s hard to miss the breathlessness with which every new app is promoted. “It’s the Uber of Fitbit, with a Facebook play.” One after another, they are launched, and almost as quickly, fade, especially in the music space (hello Twitter #Music!). But some apps catch fire, and become part of people’s daily lives, for who knows how long, but a part of it nonetheless. It’s important that those of us in the music business understand what our fans are doing with their time, and where. Sure, apps like Bandsintown and Shazam (both covered and praised in these pages before) are incredible for music lovers; but not all of your fans spend 24 hrs a day in music, like you do. So, it’s important to harness apps that your fans use, and harness them to supercharge your music career. #1 Slack: (http://www.slack.com) Slack is a workgroup-messaging platform. Here’s how it can work for you. Using Slack Lite (free), you can share notices and messages quickly with all members of your group. Think of your band as your business workgroup: manager, band members, booking 32 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
agent, roadies, PR, social, etc. Now, you can send messages, share contracts, stage plots, booking notifications, and more, all with just your team, without gumming up your email. It’s light, easy and mobile. Now, go bigger. Invite your fans to your team on Slack on the #general channel - they will have access
For instance, I charge $50 for any music business question, or $100 for a 1hr. licensing consult. You go here: http://cash.me/$stjames , enter your email and question in the “Optional note: For” box, and I email you back a detailed answer. It’s simple. The web side is great, but the app is
Hot Apps ICBIZ HACKS well. While the licensing issues get worked out, you will want to use this as much as you can with only your songs. Do not Periscope covers. #4 Meerkat (http://meerkatapp.co) The biggest advantage of Meerkat is that it has left Twitter and will be fully supported in Facebook. Meaning you can record, then post the stream itself on Facebook (which is killing it on video views). (Meerkat will have the ability to save streams by the time you read this.) You already know that some of your fans are heavier on Twitter or Facebook, so use Meerkat in the same way as Periscope to capture all of your fanbase: live Q&A, casting new songs, notes from tour, songwriting session, and on and on.
amazing. I’m sure you already see how it can be used for the merch table. Just signup for Cash.me with your Band’s LLC, and tie it to that bank account. A solo artist can take instant payments for a gig, ask for tips, or sell merch. If you teach voice or instrumental lessons, you can collect from your students, instantly, even before the session starts. Not to mention how well this works inside a band. How often does the drummer need you to buy his Taco Bell because he doesn’t have cash but he will “get you back?” Well, no more. Now he can pay you back before he gets hot sauce all over the backseat.
for your next rehearsal, watch your fans (and strangers) interact. Of course, an artist/band Q&A is always a good way to connect. Take it further by promoting your show and offering a live look-in while you’re in the green room backstage. Periscope the latest song you are pushing and then save it for playback later. This will help you with titling and SEO, as
Have fun, and make music. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
#3 Periscope (http://www.periscope.me) Periscope is a live streaming app that also can save backup streams. Periscope is owned and supported by Twitter, so your followers graph is easily accessed. You can also promote an upcoming stream easily on Twitter, making your chances of more live viewers greater. So, what should you do on it? Well, definitely do a “what’s in my fridge?” stream. (Inside joke, you’ll see.) The magic of these apps is the ability to see something live, anywhere in the world. Plan a Periscope PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 33
Cover Yo (and Cover Song An Interview with Chris Crawford, CEO/Founder of Loudr
t’s long been widely known that recording cover songs is a great way to get a new band or artist known. Even after multi-platinum success, Whitney Houston will forever be remembered for “I Will Always Love You,” which was a cover. Quick primer: A cover song is an artist’s version of a previously fixed recording which has also been commercially available for purchase. It is not a mash-up, it does not use any of the original sound recording, and it cannot deviate too widely from the original arrangement (adding an extra verse, etc.). Until recently, the main way to license a cover, which is compulsory (meaning you do not need permission), was to go through Harry Fox Agency (HFA). Whether through a publisher partnership or Songfile, it’s a relatively simple process and the pricing is fair.
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In the mid-2000s, a young a cappella fan was working at iTunes and searches were only bringing up a few standbys (Take 6 and Rockapella, etc.) The young man knew a slew of college a cappella groups which had done recordings (usually covers), but they were nowhere to be found. Why? There weren’t companies catering to the process of mechanical licensing for these groups. So, he started A Cappella Records with simplified licensing in order to get a direct deal with iTunes. And through building that technology and platform, what we now know as “Loudr” was born. That dude was Chris Crawford, CEO and founder of Loudr. I spoke with him about the company’s partnership with CD Baby and the importance of legal licensing. PM: How do you describe Loudr? Is it a licensing company, a distribution platform?
CC: I describe it as a rights company. We’re developing the technology to make clearance and administration of rights more accessible for everyone. There is a lot of frustration about how challenging it is to release something legally. Whether it is an artist or a distributor, or a digital service that must pay mechanicals to publishers, we are trying to solve that problem in a simple way. PM: What does it cost to use Loudr? CC: Simply, it’s $15 per license/song, plus the estimated cost of the roya lties. So, an artist comes to our site, fills in some information about where the song will be available, the estimated number of downloads, physica l copies and streams if you’re on a platform that doesn’t pay publishers direct. (Ed. note - you do not need to pay for streams, as most major streamers like Spotify already pay the mechanical.)
PM: Do you collect an admin fee or any other further fees? CC: No. It’s straightforward. Once an artist sells over their estimates amount they can come back and purchase another license at a 50% discount. PM: What’s the major difference between Harry Fox/Songfile and Loudr? CC: We attempt to research and clear any song you request. HFA only licenses its own database, which is vast. But for those really hard ones, and especially other independent artists, we clear it. PM: As a licensor, I know how hard that is. How often is it impossible to clear a song? CC: It’s very rare that we can’t clear it. We pride ourselves on that. There have only been a few that we couldn’t clear in our history. One example: we got a request for a cover of music that featured in a video game. The problem is,
the property wasn’t released separately. And then, the official soundtrack was only released in Japan. That one still burns me. PM: How do you pay out publishers? CC: Publisher preference is a threshold of ours. Some pubs prefer monthly, and other quarterly with minimums. We see what we do as a service, so we pay the way they prefer to be paid. PM: Any interest in getting into syncs? CC: Sync licensing is complicated. It is the most negotiated right for publishers. We’re building our business around statutory licensing. Mechanicals are compulsory, meaning there is no negotiation and the rates are set. That’s where we think we can make a difference. PM: Tell me why it was important to integrate with CD Baby; aren’t you in distribution competition? CC: For Loudr, our combined licensing and
Your Ass ngs) with Loudr
distribution offering is great for people without a distributor, but we found that to be a smaller market. Our focus is on making it simple and affordable for every artist to use Loudr to obtain easy mechanical licensing. So, it made sense to join forces with a larger distribution company, like CD Baby (350,000 members), that focuses heavily on distribution. PM: What’s next for Loudr? CC: We have a lot of surprises coming this year. We are laser-focused on making this platform available to as many musicians as possible, that’s all I can say now. Go license your first cover at http://Loudr.fm ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development. PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 35
3 Tips For Composers To Boost Your Networking Skills
he methods of finding work are constantly changing, and the type of music that sells is changing even faster. No matter how long your music career lasts, the difficulty of finding work will persist throughout for all but a lucky few. If you want a career as a composer, you need to be prepared to spend considerable energy finding work, and you’ll have to do most of it guerrilla style. Build A Network That Endorses You If the director of a film, television show, or video game needs a composer and doesn’t have the right one, they will almost certainly begin their search by asking their colleagues for recommendations. It’s very rare that people will begin by cold-calling agents or putting up advertisements. People seek personal recommendations because their options are vast. There are tens of thousands of composers to choose from, the process of starting a composer search from scratch is daunting, and nobody has the time for it. For directors, asking friends and colleagues for recommendations does two things. First, it reduces their options from infinite to finite numbers that they can probably count on their fingers. Second, their colleagues act as a trusted filter and they can be confident that the short list is a good one. When somebody can simply ask around, follow up on some recommendations, and get exactly the right composer for the job, then that is the approach they will take every time. That moment of personal recommendation is gold to a composer. If you can be the name on the top of somebody’s mind, the website they happen to remember first, or the inspired genius that somebody raves about, you will be head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the job, but it opens a door for you in the most flattering of ways. The moment in which your friend recommended you is the moment in which your art is monetized, or at least gains the potential for it. The Networking That WORKS Those recommendations will never come if you actively try to sell yourself all the time, nor will they come from “networking” in the common sense of self promotion and handshaking for the sake of furthering your own needs. Using your relationships for active marketing strains them and diminishes them. It doesn’t matter if somebody has your contact information and knows your work. What matters is that they like and respect you, and that they know of your abilities. The
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best way to monetize the relationships you have is to consciously not try to monetize them at all, because genuine relationships are, without fail, the most reliable conduit to work opportunities. The kind of networking that works most reliably is drawing connections for other people, not for yourself. If you know one person who has a need and another person who can fill that need, connect them with each other purely for the sake of helping two of your friends. When you are the voice giving the personal recommendation, you are strengthening your relationships with those individuals, building your community, and forming new bonds that hold it together. Your contribution to the success of others will not be forgotten. The absolute best way to propel your career forward is by pouring yourself generously into your community. Genuine Community Composers careers grow organically. The growth may be fast or slow, but it is never random. New growth and opportunity springs out of what is already there. If the music stands on its own and speaks well for itself, and if the composer does the same, then opportunities and relationships grow
naturally. Over time, a career increases in size and substance. At some point a snowball effect begins and it can begin to roll on its own, picking up size and speed without too much effort. The key to the growth and the snowball effect is that the core has to be strong, because it can’t hold together otherwise. The key to finding work as a composer is unquestionably the relationships you have with people. You cannot take them for granted, nor can you draw on them in a way that makes the giveand-take unbalanced. The relationships that will lead to the most long-term successes are loyal ones based on mutual respect, generosity, common interests, and shared passions. When you build a real community around yourself and pour yourself into it, you will find yourself in fertile soil where your career can grow freely and with support. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeremy Borum is the author of Guerrilla Film Scoring: Practical Tips from Hollywood Composers, which is also a 90 minute documentary. Learn more at www. GuerrillaFilmScoring.com and buy his book on Amazon at http://bit.ly/GuerrillaAmzn.
ou’ve finally made it. A record label recognized your talent and offered you what seems like the deal of a lifetime. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you actually understand what you’re signing so your dreams of fame and fortune don’t turn into a nightmare. Here are five tips every artist should consider before signing their first recording contract. Watch Out for Contracts with an Initial Term Lasting More Than One Year Typically, the initial length of a recording contract is one year. This one year term is generally followed by several option periods, where the record label is free to renew your contract for additional time periods if they like the work you’re producing. By limiting the length of your contract to one year, not including option periods, you prevent a record label from effectively controlling your life and creative work for an unreasonable amount of time. You never know where your career will take you, and it’s important to keep your options open. I’ve seen unscrupulous record labels use five and even ten year terms, locking their artists into long term contracts that destroy their artists’ creative lives and financial futures. Before signing that contract, make sure the record label isn’t locking you into a lengthy contract with no escape. Get a Release Commitment Without a release commitment from the record label, you’ll have no guarantees that the label will actually do the work to get your album produced, packaged, and distributed to the public for sale. A typical release commitment is a promise from the record label that they will release at least one album during your initial contract term. If you record the necessary tracks for a record and the label fails to release the record, you should then be allowed to walk away from the contract.
In addition, you should think about negotiating a minimum marketing spend as a part of your release commitment. This gives the record label some “skin in the game” when producing your album, forcing them to actually spend money to market your creativity, making your hard work pay off. Make Sure Your Royalty Rate is Reasonable Although royalty rates differ wildly based upon an artist’s notoriety and past success, there is a general ballpark number for royalty rates that every artist should know. For new artists with little-to-no notoriety, a royalty rate of five to ten percent is typical. Up and coming artists generally see between ten and fourteen percent royalty rates, while seasoned professionals can bring in as much as eighteen percent in royalties. Don’t let a record label convince you that a one or two percent royalty rate is the industry standard. Some record labels prey upon unsuspecting artists by offering relatively large upfront signing bonuses, giving their artists an initial feeling of success. But in return, the contract gives the artist a paltry royalty rate, ensuring that the label—not the artist—will reap all the long-term rewards of artistic success. But Watch Out for Hidden Royalty Deductions Even if your royalty rate is reasonable, keep your eyes peeled for hidden royalty deductions. Before paying you even one cent in royalties, the record label is typically allowed to recoup much of its expenses through so-called “deductions.” Standard deductions include recording costs, video production costs, the cost of creating CD and DVD packaging, and other similar costs. But some record labels sneak in abhorrent and enormous royalty deductions that all-but guarantee you’ll never receive a royalty check. Watch out for deductions based upon the record
Five Tips Every Recording Artist Must Know Before Signing Their First Record Deal label’s general costs of doing business, like the deduction of record label owners’ salaries and benefits. You should also keep your eyes peeled for deductions that give the label a blank check, like unlimited deductions for travel, hotel stays, car rental, meals and entertainment, and other costs that a devious record label could use to rack up a lavish tab at your expense. Make Sure You Can Audit the Record Label on Royalty Payments Artist often ask me how they can ensure the record label is being honest with them about the total number of albums or tracks sold. Without honest communication and detailed record keeping, the relationship between artist and label can quickly turn contentious. An audit provision is the best way to prevent this type of communication breakdown before it happens. The typical audit provision gives the artist the ability to hire a third party auditor to go through the record label’s books and records, to make sure they are paying the artist what he or she is entitled to under the contract. Typically, the artist must pay for this type of audit. However, many audit clauses require that the record label pay for the audit if a large discrepancy is found. Before signing a record deal, it’s always a good idea to hire qualified legal counsel to review the record label’s proposed contract. But with the above tips in mind, you can now at least look at the contract and know whether the label is trying to squeeze every last penny out of your artistic abilities while hanging you out to dry. ABOUT THE AUTHOR MATT VILLMER is an entertainment attorney in Charlotte, NC. He recently relocated from NYC where he practiced entertainment and business law. For more information, visit www. sodomalaw.com.
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 37
AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M70x Headphones - $299
he problem with headphones is finding a set that can work for the studio as well as personal use. Audio-Technica has added the ATH-M70x to their prestigious lineup of headphones, and they’re ready to handle anything that can be thrown at them. The design is sleek and modern, and has a strong, robust feel. With a closed back, over the ear design, a comfortable and adjustable fit should be no problem for even the largest head sizes. With plenty of isolation, blocking out unwanted outside noise, one ear monitoring can still be achieved with the ear cup’s 90-degree range. Perfect for DJ-ing or checking a mix in the studio. Internally, they have 45mm drivers with Neodymium magnets, which are super powerful, and super light. The driver’s voice coils are copper clad aluminum wire. It might not mean much on paper, but these features really
give these headphones some punch and clarity. The frequency response is 5Hz through 40Khz, meaning they can cover plenty of lows, and still maintain clarity in the high end without getting brittle. Overall the sound is great; it’s hard to believe they are non-powered, non noise-cancelling headphones. The outside world can be easily masked out with a set of these. The light weight and the fact they’re musically balanced means no ear fatigue, or wearer’s fatigue even after long mixing sessions. Also worth noting is that they come in a nice carrying case, with three different detachable cables. With a street price of $299, this set can do double duty - as subway or street cans, blocking out the sounds of the city, as well as the go-to set of headphones for mixing and tracking, with no compromises. Chris Devine
› Type: Closed-back dynamic
› Driver Diameter: 45mm; Magnet: Neodymium › Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire) › Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz › Maximum Input Power: 2,000 mW at 1kHz › Sensitivity: 97dB; Impedance: 35 ohms › Weight: 9.9 oz, without cable and connector 38 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Sound great, well built, comfortable.
AUDIO-TECHNICA ATW-1312 System 10 PRO Digital Wireless System - $779
Great range, simple to use, quality sound.
The body pack transmitter works with instruments, lapel or headphone microphones with ease, and the wireless microphone can handle pretty much anything thrown at it. Each transmitter can sync up easily to either channel. They do require batteries, and can last for about 7 hours, before needing to swap them out for fresh ones. Sound wise, the quality is excellent, with no interference from any outside sources. Even hard-core cable fanatics should be won over. It’s a digital system, giving plenty of clarity, but doesn’t have any feeling of disconnection or latency. With a street price under $800, it’s not out of the price range of a band needing 2 wireless systems. A venue needing a wireless system with f lexible positioning would also benefit from this, as well. The system is also expandable, with the ability to link 10 other receivers together. The fact that it’s easy to use, expandable, and can be adapted across either belt packs or microphones makes this a system worth checking out. Chris Devine
› 24-bit/48kHz digital wireless system
ireless systems have come a long way, from professional levels in complexity, and price, to something that any band could have. So how can one improve a wireless system? AudioTechnica has taken things to a new level with their System 10 Pro rigs. The package includes body pack transmitter, as well as a wireless microphone. A two-channel receiver unit has the usual XLR outputs, and includes the rack mounting hardware. Each channel has 2 adjustable antennas; so far it’s par for the course in wireless standards. The big game changer is the two receiver modules can be detached from the receiver as remotes, and be placed for optimum sound quality. Simply connect the remote unit to the receiver via an Ethernet cable. Range wise, from transmitter to receivers is just over 300 feet. There’s no longer a need for a direct line of sight between the receiver at the mixing board area, and the transmitter. Two plastic sleeves that can hold the remotes are included, giving mounting options such as on a wall, ceiling or at any other location of convenience.
› Removable receivers for remote placement up to 300’ › Daisy chain up to 5 chassis › Use up to 10 channels simultaneously › Automatic frequency scanning PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 39
GEORGE L’S 20-Foot Pre-Made Guitar Cable - $58
t’s not uncommon to see a player with a really expensive instrument, and a super high-end amplifier. It’s also not uncommon to see all that cool gear connected with junky cables. George L’s have been making high-end cables for decades and are worth the investment for any player. We were lucky enough to get a prepackaged, 20-foot .225 instrument cable. The cable ends are the George L’s signature solderless jacks, held in place with a small set screw. A vinyl stress jacket keeps the ends from getting kinked and strengthens the ends at the same time. The cable jacket is smooth and nontacky. If the standard black isn’t your thing, it’s also available in red, purple, blue and orange. Length wise, they are available in 10, 15 and
40 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
20-foot versions for longer runs, but with their solderless connections, it can be cut down to shorter lengths, if necessary. Sound wise, it’s fantastic - plenty of clarity, and no noise even on a longer cable. George L’s have pretty much worked out the kinks on cable systems, and having a pre-packaged version is a great idea (as opposed to trying to cut cable to length and fashion your own). At $58, it’s not cheap, but good tone never is, and it can handle heavy use on stage. There are other cables out there, with all sorts of claims like titanium cables shielded by Unobtanium, made in a hermetically sealed chamber. But there’s a reason George L’s make a simple cable, because once it’s done right, why mess with it? Chris Devine
Great sound, good construction.
ZIVIX JamStik Smart Guitar for iOS - $259
Good learning tool.
Limited sounds from app, tracking is lacking (with the app), no Android support.
chords and scales, and can also give names to whatever weird chord voicing that can be played. While only five frets are limited, there is also a transpose function, allow tuning variations, to cover the guitar’s normal ranges and alternate tunings. Playing it isn’t that hard, while connected to a computer and tracking via a USB cable, it works great - for some players (shredders, I’m looking at you) there might be some slight latency and tracking issues, but if your name is Yngwie, it should be fine. However, using it to connect to an iOS device via Wi-Fi can cause a bit of latency and drag that makes the app more of a learning tool than a performance/recording application in this setting. For someone looking for an inexpensive guitar-ish controller, this can fit the bill very well. Even with the slight latency using it with the iOS app, it can be a fun learning/teaching tool. Chris Devine
› Turn your iPad, iPhone or Mac in to a real musical instrument
IDI and guitars don’t often mix well; Jamstick has a way of blending the essentials of synth and guitar, in a small, mobile package. Design wise, it looks like an ’80s headless Steinberger guitar had a baby with a ukulele. The strings are real guitar strings, and the 5-fret neck is comfortable. It’s quite minimalist, with just a 5-button interface and power switch. A USB connection charges the unit’s lithium ion battery, and also provides connection for the unit to be used as a MIDI controller. There is free app for iOS devices that connect the JamStik to an iPad/iPhone via Wi-Fi. The app can control things like assigning the buttons, tunings, string sensitivity and response. The banks of sounds in the app are limited, but can cover stringed instruments as piano, harp, banjo, sitar, drum and synth sounds. With the “open play” function, the JamStik is a great learning tool, displaying
› Learn to Play Guitar with the Bundled JamTutor app › Real Strings, Real Frets, Real Picking › No tuning required › Connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 41
PETERSON TUNERS StroboClip - $58 & Stomp Classic Pedal Tuner - $199
StroboClip Believe it or not, tuners used to be real luxury items, and there really was only one brand that the professionals stood by: Peterson. The StorobClip brings the features of their original models in a small package. It’s a combination of stainless steel and plastic and feels strong, with plenty of pivot points for easy viewing, regardless of the headstock. Powered by a small coin cell watch-type battery, its orange LCD display is plenty bright, even out in the sun. It also has several modes, optimized for a variety of stringed instruments; guitar, bass, dobro, lap steel, ukulele, mandolin, violin, sitar, lute, oud. It can even cover brass and woodwind instruments as well as bagpipes. For guitarists it can also work with the Buzz Feiten tuning system, as well as in capo mode. For guitarists or even multi-instrumentalists who use a lot of alternate tunings and or a capo, a convenient clip-on tuner is a must. The StroboClip can fill any portable electronic tuning needs. Stomp Classic Pedal Tuner The Stomp Classic is more of a traditional 42 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
stomp box pedal tuner, but it’s actually a bit more than that. It’s a beefy, well-constructed unit, with a large and easy to read display. The bottom has four lugs that can be used as fastening points to a pedalboard. With input and output jacks by Switchcraft, it’s well designed. A unique feature is this can also act as a DI box, via the XLR connection on the back side. There is a USB port in the output side, as well as a 9v power connection. The footswitch is true bypass, eliminating any tone suck. Two other modes are selectable, one of which a monitor mode, where the tuner and XLR DI signal are active, but can be muted for silent tuning. The other mode is active DI configuration, a mutable DI, that when engaged, mutes the DI, and engages the tuner. The DI also has a ground lift selector as well as 0, 10 and 20dB options. The USB connection is there for customizing any presets, making it a digital tuner that really is easy to adjust, and not just plug and play. The only downside is its size, as it’s slightly larger than many tuners on the market, but considering it also houses a pretty robust DI, its well worth the $200 street price. Chris Devine
Stomp Classic Pedal Tuner
Covers plenty of instruments, and almost any guitar configuration.
DI function, true bypass, plenty of tuning modes.
Slightly large size
PUC Wireless MIDI Interface for iOS - $99 Simple, easy to use. CONS
Only works with iOS.
Just power the unit up and connect it to a MIDI device, like a keyboard or drum machine, and it can connect to your Mac or iOS Device wirelessly via the included free app. No adjustments or any settings. It retails at about $99, and it might seem hard to justify at first. But considering some MIDI devices don’t have a way to connect to an iOS device without any special cable, this can fill that need, wirelessly, and can connect to your desktop machine, as well. Chris Devine
› Wirelessly connect MIDI gear to your iPad, iPhone or Mac
IDI is the language that was established to allow digital music instruments talk to each other. Getting this digital signal into the world of wireless and mobile devices has been tricky, but the PUC solves this problem. The name pretty much describes it, a black puck-like unit, with an on/off button, a MIDI connection, and a USB port (to use instead of powering it by 2 AA batteries) A Wi-Fi display lights up to indicate if it’s working. Pretty simple.
› Access and connect to 100s of great Midi Apps › Low Latency System as fast or faster than wire › Includes the PUC Connector App › 1 MIDI port, MIDI cable, batteries and hands-free creativity PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 43
SHURE PSM 300 Personal Wireless Monitoring System - $699
ot all that long ago, earbud-based wireless monitoring systems were the type of thing only multi-platinum artists could afford. Shure (again) brings the professional to an affordable level, with their new PSM 300 system. The belt pack is Shure’s P3RA, which is about the size of an iPod. Running on 2 AA batteries that have a 5-hour life on standard alkaline versions, there is an optional (not included) rechargeable battery and charging unit, as well as a multi-bay version that can handle eight transmitters. It feels robust with a simple control setup: a volume knob and two arrows to scroll through settings on the LCD display. Settings such as a 2-band EQ, stereo balance, as well as mixing two independent music sources are easily accessible. One such application would be a guitarist wanting more vocals in a mix, while a bass player may want more guitar, for example. The 1/2 rack transmitter comes with a rack mount kit, which can be configured for one or two transmitters. It’s a simple layout: input level, a sync button, LCD display, grouping, channel and a power button. The rear panel has a power connection, mono/stereo selector switch, 1/4 connections for loop outputs (linking another transmitter), two 1/4” audio inputs and an antenna. The range of the system is about 300 feet, plenty for most stages, even in arenas. Setup is easy; plug everything in the appropriate locations, press the sync button, and it’s pretty much good to go. There is plenty of clarity and volume, even in loud situations. And the earbuds that are included are super comfortable. Thankfully, they connect like a regular set of earbuds, with a 1/8” stereo end. This allows the user to use ones that may be a better fit for their ears. It’s not hard to think that this would be perfect for a singer, but a great application would be for a drummer, especially one who relies on musical cues that might get missed through the wash of cymbals. The only downside might be getting a sound guy to take the
time to integrate this into his system at the local club, but that could be said of a lot of road gear. For performers who are just getting into the world of larger, more modern stages, this system is definitely worth looking in to. Chris Devine
Easy to use, expandable. CONS
Might be overkill for a bar band.
› Wireless coverage that extends up to 300 feet › Use MixMode or stereo mode to create a personal two-channel mix
› Easy-to-adjust volume and mix controls › Scan function quickly finds an open frequency › Over 90dB of dynamic range for precise, low-noise audio › Up to 6 hours continuous use › Slim, lightweight bodypack › Includes SE112 sound isolating earphones › Rack hardware kit included 44 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Durable, simple. CONS
WALRUS AUDIO Aetos Power Supply - $169
edalboards have come a long way; in the past two or three simple stompboxes would do just fine. Now the average boards are almost as complicated as the multi-effects rack systems from the 1980s. A decent pedalboard needs a decent power supply. Walrus Audio has brought their “A” game with their Aetos Power supply. It’s quite simple, a standard IEC power connection and a standard 120V outlet on one side. On the front: (6) 9V-100mA connection points followed by (2) 9V-250mA connections. The included cables are a 5’ power cord, 8 standard power cables and 2 special cables meant for the 250mA connections. It’s all housed in a durable case that should survive anything thrown at it. Why the different outputs? Well, most standard single function pedals work fine at 100mA, but certain pedals such as the Line 6 modelers, and the Boss twin pedals have
higher power requirements. The two 250mA outputs are there for just that reason. So what makes this worth its $169 price tag? The power outputs are completely isolated from each other, which eliminates any “cross talk” between the pedals, such as ground hum and other extraneous noise. Pedals that use higher current also suffer from this, especially when underpowered. Load up a pedalboard using a “wall wart” converter, and a daisy chain power cable, and it’s a world of noise. With a properly grounded and isolated power supply, it’s super clean and noise free, which is the case here with the Aetos. This can easily clean up any pedalboard’s power requirements as well as the signal strength throughout. Even if only using half of the power connections, for a small amount of pedals, it’s worth getting one of these. Chris Devine PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 45
MUSIC NOMAD Cradle Cube String Instrument Neck Support - $19.99
o many neat and simple ideas fall under the “why didn’t I think of that?” category. Music Nomad’s Cradle Cube is a great example of this. It’s about the size of a pint glass, with an angular design. Each side could be used to support an instrument’s neck during any repair or re-stringing work, giving five varying heights and angles. The blue rubber material is soft, and is safe for all finishes (so you Gibson owners don’t need to worry about weird chemical reactions with nitro). It’s a proper tool, for a doing a job properly. And we think just about every serious player and guitar tech should own one. Keeping the neck supported in a stable manner, regardless of instrument, is vitally important to your instrument’s safety. For a repair shop, it’s a no brainer. Heck, with a street price of about $20, it’s worth it even for a hobbyist. It’ll make string changes or any repairs a lot easier. A bonus on the design - f lip it upside down, and it can store tools, such as screwdrivers, wire clippers, etc. Overall a great idea, one that’s simple and works as advertised. Chris Devine 46 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Neat design, works as advertised, rubber is safe for all finishes. CONS
MY FAVORITE AXE
Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at email@example.com
HAWKINS of the Darkness
Summer 2015 sees the return of multi-award winning UK supergroup that is The Darkness. The band’s fourth album Last of Our Kind - due out June 2nd - is bursting with exhilarating riffs, magnificent melodies and very high voices – as you would expect of these rock mega-gods. MAKE & MODEL
2000 Les Paul Standard WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
It’s Medieval Times and it’s my horse. WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
Aggressive, weighty, barky and fat. CUSTOM MODS
TonePros bridge, refret by Jonathan Law, strap locks. YOU’VE MADE…
…loads of money from using this guitar. OTHER NOTES
It’s a pretty standard Standard but importantly it’s not chambered like the new ones and has the highest output pickups available. You can beat this guitar to death and it still serves you well. CAN BE HEARD ON
Pretty much every song The Darkness ever recorded.
Follow on Twitter: @TheDarkness
PERFORMER MAGAZINE JUNE 2015 47
1976 Boss CE-1 Chorus Pedal The World’s First Commercial Chorus Pedal 48 JUNE 2015 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
BACKGROUND Not only was the CE-1 was the first Boss fx pedal, it was also the first commercial chorus pedal built. It was based on the circuit from their Roland Jazz Chorus amplifier. It is known as the mother of all chorus pedals, and has two features, the first being the chorus and the second true pitch shifting vibrato. HOW IT WAS USED This box has been used on countless records. Andy Summers of The Police and Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter of The Doobie Brothers quickly helped to make the CE-1 a classic for guitar players, while Herbie Hancock made it cool for keyboard players. Chorus brings a spatial effect to sounds, making them feel deeper and wider. The vibrato makes the sound feel as though it’s rotating around the listener. Like the famous Brownface Fenders, this vibrato bends the pitch to help enhance the effect. INTERESTING FEATURES The Boss is known for its stereo features (mono in/mono or stereo out) and its incredibly warm,
rich tone. A sound can be given a gentle chorus or vibrato, or deeply affected extreme tones. Another aspect that separates this from many later pedals is how organically the unit affects the sound. It doesn’t sound like something was added on top of the sound, but rather completely integrated like a fine Béchamel sauce. MODERN EQUIVALENT Universal Audio makes a nice plugin version of the pedal, which is how I first found out about it. LESSONS LEARNED This is the chorus that all other choruses are measured up to. There is a reason we all had to read Shakespeare, right? ABOUT THE AUTHOR Eric Palmquist is the owner and Principal Engineer of Palmquist Studios (at Infrasonic Sound). His discography reads as a “Who’s Who” of indie rock, and he is always eager to work with new bands as both a producer and engineer. Find more info at www. infrasonicsound.com.
600 Watts of
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Available At These Preferred Retailers
2/19/15 2:41 PM
Hey Marseilles. Nectar Lounge. Seattle, WA. 09.17.2014
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Free yourself from the confines of FOH. With the DL32R, you get 32-channels of powerful digital mixing that’s completely controlled wirelessly — MIX FREE.
Freedom from FOH – mix from anywhere!
Hardware: Flexible, professional I/O in an incredibly compact 3U rackmount design
Wireless: From mic pre gain to control over multi-track recording and playback
DSP: Powerful processing on all inputs and outputs that replaces racks of outboard gear
Recording/Playback: Complete wireless control over multi-track direct-to-drive recording and playback
Master Fader: Intuitive wireless control over everything, proven at more than 2 million live mixes
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. ©2014 LOUD Technologies Inc. All rights reserved. Wireless router and iPad required for operation (not included).
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