Windows Vista problems

Thanks to Dave for highlighting this issue. He had some problems with Windows Vista in-built unzip program. Ah, thank goodness they don’t produce Vista any more – goodbye and good riddance!

Hi Kenny,

Thank you for responding so fast.

I was able to load all the songs with my MAC, no problem.

I agree about the VISTA, it can be testy.

All is well.

Thank you,

Dave

Hi Dave

Yes, even Microsoft themselves now accept that they made a bit of a mistake with Vista. It’s a very slow, resource hungry, cumbersome operating system, and it just doesn’t play well with other software at all.

The new Windows 7 is a much better system – it has all the bells and whistles that they introduced in to Vista but is stable and faster like XP.

Just like you, I bought a laptop with Vista too (albeit a few years ago) and within a few weeks of using it I got so frustrated with Vista I wiped it and put XP on it.

Incredibly, we had a local computer retailer in our area who was advertising Vista PC’s and laptops for sale but with an option to “downgrade” to XP.

That kinda says it all about how good Vista was when PC sellers were offering a DOWNGRADE to encourage customers to buy!

Using backing tracks with powered/active speakers

Thanks to Todd for this question about using backing tracks from an mp3 player directly in to powered or active speakers…

Hi,
First, I love your website! I was wondering if I can plug my ipod into 2 powered speakers with some sort of thing that splits the ipod output into 2 outputs and plug those into the speakers without a mixer.
Thanks, Todd

Hi Todd

Yes, you’re local music store or electronics store should be able to supply you with the correct cables to do this.

If they don’t have the correct cables in stock, local music shops usually have a repair department with an in-house engineer who will be able to make them up for you.

One end of the cable where the iPod connects will have a single stereo 6.5mm mini jack which outputs the left and right channels together, then the cable will split in to two (left and right) so that you can send the signal to each speaker.

A word of warning if you’re going to do this though. You will have little or no control over the eq of the music (i.e. you won’t be able to tweak the treble and bass etc to fine tune your sound) and so will be sort of stuck with the standard sound your speakers give with no way to adjust anything except the volume. Some mp3 players have eq facilities in them but in my experience the internal eq of mp3 players is usually very limited and nowhere near as good as is necessary to fine tune a live mix in an on stage environment.

A far better way to connect an iPod to 2 powered speakers would be to purchase a mixer and plug the iPod in to the mixer THEN connect the outputs of the mixer to your two powered speakers.

That way you will have complete control over every aspect of the sound.

I had a similar question a while ago from someone who was using one powered speaker for his iPod and I posted my answer on our blog so it may be worth having a read through that too:

http://blog.mp3backingtrax.com/articles/ipod-with-a-powered-speaker/

How drummers use click tracks

We produced a load of backing tracks for a customer, Luke, who works in a band with a drummer. We put all the music on the right channel and a click track on the left channel.  They used a headphone amp to boost the click track to the drummers headphones and Luke asked a question about how drummers should use click tracks…

Thanks Kenny tracks sound great. got one of those headphone amps you suggested. just wondering if the drummer is supposed to hear just the click or the click & the file?
cheers, luke.

Hi Luke

Aha, you’ve just hit on a question which has been very much in debate in the music industry for a while now…!

Historically, backing tracks have always been created in the exact same way as the tracks we produced for you. The drummer would hear the click track on its own piped through a pair of one-sided headphones (the click track plays in one of the drummers ears while his other ear is free to listen to the rest of the band, helping to keep things tight and together).

To this day, this is still by far the most popular way of working because it allows the drummer to hear the click track AND hear what the rest of the band are playing (in fact there’s no real need for a special pair of one-sided headphones – a normal pair of headphones will do and the drummer just moves one side to the back of his head to expose the ear he wants to use to hear the band playing).

However in recent times I’ve come across bands who work a little differently. I know some drummers who like to hear the entire recorded drum part in their headphones (perhaps by constantly hearing the full drum part with the fills and drum breaks every time they perform the song it keeps them from straying too far from how the drum part should be played, I don’t know).

Other drummers I know like to hear the bass drum and snare from the drum part rather than a click track in their headphones because the click track grates on their ears too much.

And….I also know of another drummer who just hates headphones altogether so likes to play along with the track as he hears it from the PA – in other words, he plays drums on top of an already fully recorded drum part. I personally can’t see how that could sound right at all on stage with the audience effectively hearing two drum parts – one recorded drum part and one live drum part both being played together. Surely there must be timing issues (a live drummer can never be exactly in time with each snare hit, hihat beat or cymbal crash etc)? However he assures me that’s how his band play, it sounds great, and he’s happy (I’m still not convinced)!

So, in conclusion, it looks like it’s purely personal thing for drummers. The best way of working is whichever way that suits that individual drummer and the band.

Sorry for confusing the issue, but it seems nowadays there are as many ways of working with click tracks as there are drummers…!

Legalities of posting songs on Youtube

Thanks to Colin for asking about the minefield which is legalities of posting songs on Youtube…

Hey Kenny!

I’m sorry if u’re not a night owl like myself.

Question for u.

Alonging with using ur backingtracks for demo and gigs, can I also place a video on youtube, with ur track w/o any legal troubles?

Hi Colin

You can’t place the backing track itself on Youtube – that would encourage piracy and infringe our copyright.

If we allowed that to happen, people would simply go to Youtube, record the audio from your Youtube video, and they would then have a free backing track rather than buying the track from us.

But if you were SINGING the song along to the backing track and you put that on Youtube, that would be fine.

No-one would then be able to go to Youtube and pirate the backing track because your vocals would be on it so it would be useless to them as a backing track.

However even though we would allow you to make a recording of you singing along to our backing track and post it on Youtube, you would still have to get permission from the songwriter too.

So, if for example, you wanted to post a video of you singing a song which was written by Michael Buble, you would have to get permission from Michael Buble’s publishing company before you could post the video on Youtube.

Yes, we produce custom medleys!

Becky asked if we could produce some custom medleys for her…

Hi,

I’m interested in having a medley track made for my cabaret.

All the songs I perform are broadway/ musical theatre themed.

Ideally I’d like mainly upbeat numbers from the well known shows in a female key. i.e. any dream will do, master of the house, something from mamma mia and we will rock you.

Any ideas you have would be apriciated, thanks,

Becky

Hi Becky

Yes, we can produce that medley for you, without lead vocals and without backing vocals.

There’s no hard and fast rules for creating medleys, you can basically have any songs you want in your medley and have them in any order you want.

However it’s usually a good idea to have the order of the songs in the medley such that slower songs are sung earlier in the medley and the faster songs later in the medley.

This is so that your medley “builds up” in feel as it goes along.

Of course this isn’t an exact science by any means, so it doesn’t have to be like that. Sometimes halfway through a medley you may particularly want to bring the “feel” of the whole medley down by putting in a slower tempo song to give it a dramatic effect.

Regarding pricing, we charge £20 GBPounds per hour for custom backing track work so if, for example, there was 10 hours required to record a medley the cost would be £200 GBPounds.

However that’s just a ball-park figure. It may actually cost less than that if there’s less work involved in producing it or it could cost more – we’d really have to hear the songs first and know how much of each song you want in the medley before we could give you an exact price.

If you are interested in having a medley of songs produced, email me copies of the originals (in mp3 format) and also let me know how much of each song you’d like in the medley (e.g. the intro, verse 1 and chorus of each song or whatever) and I’ll listen to them and then get back to you with a definite quote for producing the full medley.