Oct 01
INDIE MUSIC by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Oct 1, 2010

In the days before the digital age, producing a record album takes a lot of time and money. In the early part of the millennium, you would be needing P300,000 to bankroll an album. And that amount does not include the promotional budget.

That’s the reason why recording companies cried foul when pirated CD came to light. But it’s not just the pirated CD. With the arrival of the mp3, an audio file can be uploaded and downloaded to a website and, lately, can also be sent via email.

Authorities tried to control the free trading of music in the internet but it failed miserably. Even after suspending www.napster.com, the pioneer in undergound music trading, others in the trade made a strong defense that sharing free music is for the good of music lovers. In fact, there’s a website with the name www.4shared.com.

Like the proverbial coin, the digital technology has a downside and an upside. It is so difficult to protect one’s ownership of music in spite of the presence of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) protection because, with digital files, copying is easy.

On the brighter side, musical people has the digital facility to make things easier for them. Digital recording uses computer. Particularly with the creation of the accompaniment (composers call it arrangement), softwares are now being used for this purpose.

It is easy to create, to calibrate and to enhance a musical arrangement. Where the equivalent is a full set of orchestra, one can imagine the time, effort and money involved in creating a full accompaniment. Add to that the rehearsal time needed to perfect the music, one single song to record would entail a big expense.

The advantage of digital music is the so-called midi (Musical Instrument Device Interface). The name actually means connecting a musical instrument to the computer so that the output could be saved as a digital file.

But our concern with MIDI is the simulation where, instead of creating a digital file with the use of the musical instrument, the software creates a digital file by itself. The MIDI software can mimic the desired musical instrument.

Using a panel to chart the planned musical score, it is like painting with the keyboard. After choosing the instrument, the musician can lay down the tune in the scale provided on the screen. The tempo and other settings are also available on the panel.

The musician creates the musical arrangement one instrument at a time. There are MIDI softwares that allows up to 64 instruments in one arrangement. After the arrangement is done, it can be saved as a MIDI file.

The MIDI file can only be played in the computer. But to put more luster in the tone like the reverb or the equalizer functions, the MIDI file is converted into a wave (.wav) file which can be burned into a cd and eventually be played in a cd player.

For the audio technician of today, they build a studio with computers but with real amplifiers (of legitimate sound systems). That means the computer is connected to the big sound system. This is what’s used in recording.

With a good microphone, of course, the recording is done like the ordinary studio recording where the singer can record one song continuously or line by line (to correct mistakes in previous recording).

A recorded song is a mixture of vocals and accompaniments which undergoes a mixing process for the proper decibel or volume. The output is a wave file that can be saved in a cd. This wav file can also be converted into mp3 file for portability.

Upon completion of the album, the producer can choose on the promotional strategy. For the mainstream, he might be needing half a million pesos. But since we are talking of Indie music, the producer would be content in internet promotion.

An actual example of an Indie music is the mini-album of Ambito with 6 songs:
1. SIKAT by AMBITO featuring J.C. Sacramento
2. SUPERGIRL by J.C. Sacramento featuring AMBITO
3. NEVER LET YOU GO by AMBITO featuring Fly Rocket Fly
5. I’M A FLIP by AMBITO featuring J.C. Sacramento & L.A. Cruz

Ambito uses the email to spread the word where a cut in mp3 format is normally attached – requests can be emailed to flips_of_fame@yahoo.com. He also joins internet forums where he can post his promotional material.

But do not be mistaken because Indie music, like Ambito’s songs, are played on FM radio stations too. Although the payola for DJs have been denied time and again, album promoters swear that the most expensive part of music production is in putting your song on the turntables of the DJ.

For the direct marketing of the Indie music in the internet, the e-bay standard is used. The buyer should have a paypal account or any other payment scheme acceptable in the internet. The seller should have the goods delivered upon down payment.

Again, in comparison with the usual production of mainstream music, Indie music is cheaper especially if one has a high-end computer that is capable of creating MIDI arrangement, i.e. provided the user has the know-how.

And with the low cost of blank CDs, it is like pirating your own music because you can just copy the finished product by burning the album into a blank CD.

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com

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