Category Archives: Tech

Interview with Beat-Play CEO – Dante Cullari

Beat-Play just announced their official public Beta launch. We’re here today with Beat-Play’s founder and CEO, Dante Cullari, to tell us some more about the company.

Dante, what is the goal of Beat-Play?

Beat-Play’s aim is to provide an optimized digital infrastructure to the music industry as a whole. We want our tools to encompass a full spectrum of opportunities for artists and fans to create, promote, distribute, monetize, organize and listen to music. We understand that there is no one perfect solution that will work for everybody, so our goal is really to provide a number of options for each of the different components of the music industry I just mentioned. All of this is now made significantly easier with digital, online and social technologies, and we feel that centralizing these solutions by defragmenting music into one rich community will also be beneficial for everyone. We want to help create the foundation for a long lasting, sustainable and prosperous world music industry online, as we move forward into the future.

What does Beat-Play offer artists and fans right now?

Our first and current product addresses promotion and distribution for artists (or discovery and sharing for fans), organization and playback. Right now, Beat-Play is a streaming player that promotes music to fans with something we call Bump, which is a search based on tags, or keywords that the user enters. Listeners can use Moods, Locations, Artist Names, Genres, Activities or really almost anything, to describe the music that they want to hear. Beat-Play then creates a custom playlist for the listener consisting of both music and videos (via Souncloud, Youtube and Beat-Play itself) based on matches to the user’s tags. These playlists are updated in real time as music is continually added to the service and tagged. Fans can then save the music that they find and like into playlists, and share these playlists with their friends through Facebook.

While the current product currently offers limited functionality, our next product will focus on adding in new options, as well as improving current ones.

What are you working on for the future?

Our next product will address several issues. We’re working on mobile to improve access. The next product will also be socially integrated which again will aid in promotion and distribution, or sharing and discovery, and we hope to also include some more options for user customization. We want to make organizing and managing your listening experience better, with more custom presets, which again, will help in discovery and also fan retention.

The next big step for us then is really artist monetization. As mentioned before, we realize that one option will not be sufficient for every artist, so we’re planning on introducing things like music and merch stores, ticketing and show booking, commercial music license stores or auctions, and even advertising opportunities.

Advertising is actually something I want to briefly touch on – To quote the Facebook movie, “Advertising isn’t cool.”  In the movie that’s really all they needed to say about it before just turning their backs on it. I feel that this is an attitude that most companies have towards advertising, but nobody really wants to be the one to challenge it. On Beat-Play, we’ve come up with a way around this.

First of all, artists on Beat-Play will own their own ad space, and they can leverage their statistics on Beat-Play and on Facebook to negotiate better rates with sponsors. As far as the ads themselves, you wont see annoying and interruptive commercials, or huge flashy banners. Our ads will instead be designed to actually add to the listener’s experience by offering pieces of bonus content relevant to the artist or the music itself. It could be a music video, a cool app, or even a video game. If it’s Skrillex, maybe it’s a Dj app. If it’s Slightly Stoopid, maybe it’s a surfing game you can play while listening to the music. Also, the listeners won’t be distracted by these ads. On the player itself we’ll use something that we call postage stamp ads, because they’re just about the size of a postage stamp. If the user doesn’t want to engage with the ads, they don’t have to, and they won’t be interrupted by them. For the people who do choose to engage with the ads, they’ll get some additional content that they couldn’t have gotten otherwise, creating incentive to actually share ad content. This provides a great revenue stream to the artists, allows the fans to continue to listen to their favorite music for free potentially, and also provides some great cred for the sponsors involved. Everybody really wins, and this even has some great potential to curb piracy for artists. These are the kinds of solutions that we’re looking forward to making available to the music industry in the near future, using digital technologies to make it happen.

How can people help?

Get on board now. It’s only going to get better, and for artists especially, it’s a good idea to start gaining their fan-base here so they can get their statistics up. Even if they’re not on Beat-Play though, building Facebook statistics will still help them out, and Beat-Play could still help promote an artist if their music is on Soundcloud, Youtube or Jamendo right now. So not being on Beat-Play doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t still benefit from it, but it’s a good idea to get on there now as we’ll really be able to offer the fans a better experience with their music on Beat-Play if they do. It’s completely free, so there’s nothing lost by trying it, and for fans right now we really offer some great discovery and organization options, along with unlimited, uninterrupted free streaming. Mobile is obviously something we’re really excited about pushing out next.

As we continue to grow, we will really need help from the artists and fans to support and build this community. We need artists to upload their music and tell their friends and their fans. We also need artists to work together in helping to support and promote each other by tagging fellow artists in their own songs. Most of all though, we need artists and fans to really take ownership of this community, and take advantage of the free options we’re putting out there. This really does need to be a team effort, and I think we have the strength and the ability as indie artists to build something huge, so that we can have the kind of impact that we need in order to benefit all of the incredibly talented independent artists out there that are struggling right now, and also to impact the fans that are missing out on a lot of great music because of it. We’ve had a great response from artists so far, and we’re confident that these solutions will bring some big changes to the way the music industry operates in the coming years.

You can go to right now to sign up, and you’ll be asked to login with your Facebook account. We don’t auto-post to anybody’s walls, or publish any user information, not even on the Beat-Play player itself right now, so your account will still be completely secure.

If you have issues or suggestions, please contact us! We are still in beta so we understand there’s a lot of room for us to grow, but we’re working really hard with our small team to keep up with the demand for more features. The player is best used with Firefox right now also. Again, we really appreciate the support of the independent music community that we’re getting, from both artists and fans, and we’re extremely excited to get to the next level!

Dante, thank you so much for the interview.

Absolutely, Thank you!

To get you started, here are some awesome playlists courtesy of the Beat-Play team – over 6 hours of great tunes:

Beat-Play Launch Mixtape (dubstep, house, indie, hip hop, r&b, electro, other)


Mellow Music Mix (Reggae, Indie, Dub)



Kendrick Lamar Mix (Hip hop)



Interview by: Kian Bardikalaie

Digital Native Tongues

For whatever reason, I equate a lot of my experiences as a Beat-Play company member to several verses and hooks in my favorite songs.  I was born in ’77.  So, that sweet spot has EVERYTHING to do with A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Jungle Brothers, Freestyle music, Gang Starr, Rakim, Big Pun, Biggie, and all of the other greats.  If you’re feeling me on this already, then read on.  If you’re a bit hesitant, then I invite you to step in; and understand why these pioneers have laid the foundation for elevated thinking and prosperous language skills.

And it goes a little something like this….

Lyrics from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Steve Biko”

Q-Tip simply rips it with:

I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
Is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
Because opinions are like voices
We all have a different kind
So just clean out all of your ears
These are my views and you will find that
We revolutionize over the kick and the snare
The ghetto vocalist is on a state-wide tear
Soon to be the continent and then the freakin globe
Theres room for it all as we mingle at the ball
We welcome competion cuz it doesnt make one lazy or worn
We gotta work hard, you know the damn card
Try to be the fattest is the level that we strive
Try to be the fattest also to stay alive

This is the feeling and the passion that is communicated in every single one of our meetings.  Whether we’re tawkin’ about our Creative Designs, our Integrated Marketing plans, our Social Media tactics, our Web Development, or whatever.  We’re very fortunate to have a really strong support network.  This is a team of entrepreneurs and innovators.  There’s a magical chemistry that we’re brewing.

I remember when I first heard Tip spit this verse, I always knew that he would forever be a voice that leads a generation.  This verse kills in more ways than one.  4 highly essential things happen in one key exchange.  First, Phife’s dish to Q-Tip is classic:

Tip educate ‘em, my rhymes are strictly taboo

Fill ‘em with some fantasies and I’ll look out like Tattoo

Then DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad just completely destroys it with the phattest jabs; he stabbed that record.    Then, Tip’s lyrics ignite the beast in just about anyone that takes their shit serious.  Peep the talented tempo and the BPM’s.  Fuckin’ Genius!  Finally, the Delivery is just pure HIP HOP.  That’s what’s up, and that’s what we’re all about.

*{pick it up @ 2:45}

 By: David Botero | Harrisburg | @DavewithMWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Perfect Monitoring [MUSIC HELP]

Think of your studio monitors as a window through which to view your mix. If that window is dirty or the glass warped, then your view becomes distorted. So In audio terms, working in an inaccurate monitoring environment means that every decision you make, be it balance, equalization or panning, is based on a distorted perception of your mix. The result will be mixes that will sound great in your studio, but don’t translate well to other systems. In this tip we’re going to explore the key factors involved and see what you can do to make the best of your monitoring situation.
Although The Yamaha HS80M monitors (above) aren’t ruler-flat they perform pretty well without any major peaks and troughs and a good bass extension. However the Yamaha MSP3’s (below) are somewhat less accurate with a more significant rippling across the mid & top end. The bass / lower-mid is somewhat recessed and the very low end rolls off early with a pronounced bass port ‘bump’
Room Acoustics:
Room acoustics play a significant part in shaping the sound that arrives at your ears. In addition to the direct sound from the monitors there will inevitably be some reflected sound bounced off walls, ceilings and any other surfaces in your studio. Because these arrive slightly delayed (having travelled further) they will cause phase cancellations / additions, affecting the tonal balance of the sound you hear. In the worst cases (think small box rooms with shiny wooden floors) the reflections may be almost as loud as the direct sound creating a very confused sound (like listening to your mix through a reverb plugin).
All rooms (and objects) will also have a what is called a resonant frequency, the frequency at which they will start to ring, a bit like a tuning fork. If your room exhibits an obvious ring then, again this can affect the accuracy of your monitoring. In the same way as you can identify frequencies to cut when EQing, set up a narrow EQ boost, turn up your speakers and sweep the EQ up and down, you’ll probably hear that certain frequencies jump out.
Full room treatments can run into tens of thousands of pounds, but there are plenty of solutions that you can implement on the cheap: Move your speakers away from walls to prevent any early reflections – particularly out of corners which will cause a noticeable bass boost. In an ideal world the distance between your speakers the nearest surface would be at least twice the distance between you and the speakers. If you have a shiny wood floor then a rug will make a noticeable difference with the added benefit of being cosy under foot and try to break up any other flat surfaces with furniture (a sofa or bookcase along the back wall is a good option).
With the home studio revolution the cost of actual acoustic treatment has hit the floor so for just over £100 Universal Acoustics offer a kit that includes 20 acoustic tiles and 2 bass traps. With tiles placed directly above, beside and behind the listening position a kit like this is a very cost-effective way to get a decent sounding room up to scratch.
If you’re going to get serious about treatment then it’s worth spending some time working out the flaws of your room and the designing a solution to suit that need, using a variety of tiles and traps to absorb and diffuse different frequencies.
Speaker Quality:
Perhaps the most obvious variable at play is speaker quality. In general the flatter the frequency response the better, as any significant peaks or troughs will result in the opposite peak / trough in the tonal balance of your mix – bright monitors will create dull-sounding mixes and visa-versa. You also want to use monitors with a decent bass extension, particularly if dance music is your thing, as the bass-end is always a tricky area to judge. A bass driver around 8 inches is usually provides sufficient reach, but you might want to complement smaller systems with a matching sub.
If a manufacturer doesn’t supply a frequency plot as part of their technical specs then that’s usually a bad sign, but specs should only ever be a guide, the real proof is in the listening.
You can have the flattest sounding monitors in the world but if you don’t position them and yourself correctly you won’t be receiving the full benefit. The ideal listener position is commonly refereed to as the ‘sweet spot’. If you imagine a triangle with speakers at two of the corners and you at the third, the distance from you to each speaker should be the same as the distance between the two speakers (probably around a metre for most home/project studios). The speakers should also be angled inwards to focus the sound directly at each ear with the treble driver at roughly ear height. Just as with microphones, the off-axis frequency response of speakers (i.e. outside the sweet spot) is often a lot more uneven.
It might sound obvious but you also want to avoid any obstacles, such as computer monitors or mixer meter bridges sitting between you and the speakers (an all too common sight even in commercial facilities). And you should lay out the rest of your kit so that during any critical listening you will be sitting in the sweet spot. As more and more production work becomes computer-focused the traditional setup of mixer between the two speakers and computer to one side is an increasingly imperfect solution.
Finally, you want  to make sure that your speakers are decoupled from the surface they sit on to avoid them vibrating in sympathy with your speakers and colouring the sound. Genelec’s 8000 series monitors feature an integrated decoupling and positioning system (called Iso-Pod)  that both minimizes vibrations and allows for precise angling of each monitor. But separate foam-based decoupling products are also available from companies such as Auralex that sit under your monitors and acoustically isolate them from the surface below. Beside the beneficial acoustic properties these will also help protect any other studio equipment on the same surface from potentially damaging low frequency vibrations.
Volume and Listening Behaviour:
Research by Fletcher and Munson in the 1930s demonstrated that the human ear’s frequency sensitivity varies with volume. These Fletcher-Munson Curves, as they have become known, show that at low volume we are most sensitive to the mid range and that as volume increases our hearing starts to flatten out. But monitor too loud and you run the risk of creating tracks that will sound bass-light in a typical listening situation. And of course there is also the issue of damage to hearing.
83db SPL has established itself as a good balance between a flat listening experience and safe listening level and in a future production tip we’ll run through how to calibrate your setup. An important part is working with at a fixed monitoring level and avoiding the temptation to gradually turn up the volume over the course of a session. So find a comfortable listening level and keep it there, only turning up when you need to hear the detail in a particular mix element.
Go forth and monitor accurately!
By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC




Despite a Reference Guide that stretches beyond 1,000 pages, as well as a handful of additional guides and manuals, there is so much you can do with Pro Tools LE that it can be overwhelming to approach the documentation directly. (Though, to Avid’s credit, the guides are easy to navigate.) For those who just won’t RTFM but want to get things done now, this article offers five techniques that every Pro Tools LE user should know, but which are often overlooked.
One of the things that sets Pro Tools apart from the competition is its elegant routing system, yet it’s the simplest application of the sends and buses that often intimidate 
Pro Tools users. I’ll explain a couple of ways the pros use them to get the most creative mileage, with a fun technique at the end for fans of old-school, tape-speed effects.
Throughout the article, I’ll offer keyboard shortcuts whenever possible. Command/Control indicates that on the Mac you use Command, while on the PC you use Control as part of the key sequence.
Unlike in an analog mixer, the insert section in Pro Tools is post-fader. This means that even though you may have effects plug-ins on your track while you record, you’re not recording—or printing, as we say—those effects to disk. That’s a good thing when all you want to do is give singers some reverb around their voices. On the other hand, if you want to keep that awesome sound you’re getting from your amp-modeling plug-in, you’ll need to use an aux track to host the plug-in and then route its output, using a bus, to an audio track to capture the processed signal.
Begin by creating an aux track that will serve as your main audio input (Track > New, or Command/Control+Shift+N). If you’re playing guitar, a mono track will do, but if your input is stereo, create a stereo aux track. The aux track serves as the effects conduit that will feed other tracks. So if you’re recording a lead guitar part, this is the track in which you will load your favorite amp-modeling plug-in.
Notice that the aux track doesn’t have a Record Enable button like audio tracks do. You need to create a destination, so hit Command/Control+Shift+N to open the track dialog box again and create the number of destinations tracks you want. (Typically, I’ll create the aux and audio tracks at the same time, but for the sake of clarity, I’m doing them separately here.)
To feed audio to your destination track, use a bus in the I/O section rather than one in the Sends area because you don’t want to hear the unprocessed track while you play. (If you were to use a send in the aux track, and kept its output tile set to Out 1-2, you’d hear both parts—processed and unprocessed—at the outputs, which gets annoying when you’re playing.) Therefore, select an unused bus for your aux track’s output—let’s say bus 7 for now—and then select the same bus number as your input for your destination track. Hit the Record Enable button to see if you’re getting signal when you play (see Fig. 1).

FIG. 1: The aux track (left) hosts my plug-in and routes it to the middle track. The right track records the unprocessed signal, which I’ve noted in the comments field at the bottom.
Remember that your input gain setting should be set at the interface. In the case of an electric guitar, plug into the DI input, push the DI button to set the initial gain level, and then set the input trim control on the interface itself so that your signal is not overloading.
In the Mixer window, the amount of signal you send to your destination track will be determined by the aux track’s fader level. To get the best signal-to-noise ratio and use the most bits possible, make sure your input signal is hovering in the 75-percent range of the aux input’s meter—mostly in the yellow zone and rarely (if ever) hitting the red.
At this point, you should be able to hear your processed guitar from your destination track. You can set the fader level of the destination track to whatever is comfortable because it doesn’t affect the signal while you record—it’s for monitoring only. Set it to a listening level that inspires your playing. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t go to 11.)
While you’re tracking that killer guitar tone from your modeling plug-in, it’s also a good idea to record an unprocessed version of your part just in case you want an alternative tone later on. To get that, create a new audio track with the same input that is going to your aux track, hit Record Enable, lower the fader to zero (so you don’t hear the dry guitar part), and hit Record.
A good habit to get into is naming the tracks (by double-clicking on the name tile) in a way that will make it easy during mixdown to see what’s there. And be sure to add notes in the Comments section (View > Mix Window View > Comments) below each track when you record multiple tracks in this way. Comments provide a good way to remember a patch setting, show a collaborator what you did to get that sound, or tell the mixer how to treat the track. Figure 1 shows my annotations for this particular set of tracks.
A common practice in the studio is to create the perfect vocal or instrumental track from several alternate takes by cutting and pasting the best sections together. This is called 
comping (short for compositing). You can set up 
Pro Tools so that it repeats the section and automatically records and names take after take. This process is called loop recording.
Pro Tools will automatically create a new playlist on the same track for each alternate take. Think of each alternate take, or playlist, as a virtual track below the main playlist (the top track that plays back). Although you could manually create a new playlist and then record each take individually, using the loop-record function lets you stay in the groove by not interrupting your creative flow. (It also works best if you’ve chosen beginning and end points for the loop that aren’t too distracting.)
A bit of setup is required to make this process run smoothly. Begin by going to the Record section of the Operation page under Preferences (Setup > Preferences > Operation). Check the box next to Automatically Create New Playlists When Loop Recording, and then click the OK button.
If you want to see all of the alternate-take playlists automatically fan out below your main playlist when you stop recording, change the Track View tile from Waveform to Playlists (see Fig. 2).

FIG. 2: Select Playlists in the Track View tile to see all of the alternate playlist lanes when you’re done loop recording.
You can also set an amount of pre-roll time before you begin loop recording, so select something that makes sense musically to get you into the section. However, you will only hear the pre-roll material once before you begin loop recording. If you want to give yourself a bit of pre- and post-roll on either side of the part you’re tracking, select loop points that give you the extra beats or bars before and after the section.
To set Pro Tools into Loop Record mode, select Loop Record from the Options menu (or simply right-click on the Record button in the Transport window until the circular arrow appears on it). Also be sure that you’ve selected Link Timeline and Edit Selection in the Options menu.
In the Edit window, use the Selector tool to click and drag over the area in the audio track where you want to record. If the beginning or end of the area needs to be adjusted, hold down Shift and drag near either side until the edges of the selection are in the correct place.
Record Enable your track, and then hit the Record button followed by Play to begin recording (Command/Control+Spacebar). If you’ve set a pre-roll amount, Pro Tools will begin playing the session, but it won’t actually start recording until the cursor enters the selected region (loop zone). But once recording begins, it will loop the selection until you hit the spacebar to stop the session.
Now it’s time to create your composite track. To do this, you’ll want to see all of the alternate takes you recorded. If you set the Track View tile to Playlists before loop recording, you’ll already see each take in its own playlist lane once you stop loop recording. If you only see one playlist, select the region you just recorded and right-click to get the popup menu. Then select Matches > Expand Alternates to New Playlists to view all of the playlist lanes.
Let’s say you have eight takes of a solo, each with its own playlist. Choose the best parts of each alternate take and automatically paste them to the top position (the main playlist). To listen to an alternate playlist lane, use its Solo button. Then select the portion you want to move to the top, right-click on the region, and then select Copy Selection to Main Playlist (Edit > Copy Selection To > Main Playlist). The shortcut is Option/Control+V to paste the selected region into the main playlist (see Fig. 3).

FIG. 3: The main playlist contains my comped guitar solo, built from the playlists below. I added a crossfade between the first two regions to smooth out the transition.
The most efficient way to create a comp is to begin with the take that includes the most material that you’ll keep, and then paste the corrective sections from the other takes into it. If the better of the takes isn’t the main playlist, select the current main playlist, right-click to get the menu, and under Matches pick the take you want to be on top (see Fig. 4).

FIG. 4: Move an alternate playlist into the main position by right-clicking and selecting it under Matches.
Once you’ve created your perfect take, you can hide the playlist lanes by right-clicking on one of the name tiles for a playlist and selecting Filter Lanes > Hide All Lanes. To create a single audio file of the comped regions, select the entire solo and choose Consolidate under the Edit menu (or use Option/Control+Shift+3).
The Bounce to Disk feature is the primary way that beginner and intermediate Pro Tools users create and export a mix. However, when you bounce a mix, you are locked out of making changes to your session as it plays back in real time. In addition, many experienced 
Pro Tools users say that the audio results aren’t as high as what you’d get when you do a 
layback—in essence, re-record you entire mix as a stereo track back into Pro Tools. Once you’ve done that, you can drag the resulting stereo file out of the Audio Files folder as a pair of mono left-and-right files, or export it as a 
stereo interleaved file using the Export Regions as Files command. Remember, the file you layback will be at the same resolution as your session: You cannot create a 16-bit, 44.1kHz file from a 24-bit, 96kHz session using this method. If you need to do that, use Bounce to Disk.
You can also use a layback to create submixes and stems—any situation where you want to create a mono or stereo file from a number of tracks—either because you’ve got more tracks or voices than you can play back or because a client has asked for them. In this example, I will focus on creating a final mix from a simple multitrack session that includes audio and instrument (virtual instruments controlled by MIDI) tracks.
Although doing a layback is simple, a couple of conditions have to be met. First, you have to make sure you haven’t exceeded the number of voices you can work with in your Pro Tools session. (This is not a problem in this example session, with seven audio and three aux tracks.) Second, under the Options pulldown menu, select Link Timeline and Edit Selection and de-select Loop Record and Loop Playback.
Next, create a stereo audio track that will be the destination and name it something useful. (I’ve called it Layback in this example.) To easily locate it in the Mix and Edit windows, I’ve also dragged it to the right of the Master Fader in the Mix window. (It’ll also appear below the Master Fader track in the 
Edit window.)
Leave the layback track’s output set at Out 1-2, but change the input to an unused pair of buses. (I’ve selected Bus 9-10.) Next, change the output for every track you want to include in the layback to match the bus tracks used as the input for the layback track (see Fig. 5).

FIG. 5: I’ve routed all of the track outputs to Bus 9-10 and matched the input for the destination track.
Click the Record Enable button on the layback destination track, hit Return to start at the beginning of the session (or select the amount of the song you want to record in the Edit window), and then hit Play. You should see the meters moving in the destination track and the Master Fader.
Before you begin recording, play the track through once to make sure that none of the sections in your mix cause the meters in the layback track to go into the red. If they do, figure out which tracks are the culprit and adjust the fader levels to correct the problem. Then hit Record and Play (Command/Control+Spacebar) to initiate recording and create your mix. When it’s done, hit Save.
At this point, you may be wondering how to use insert effects on the master bus—reverb, compression, limiting—and have them print onto your layback files. To do that, you’ll use a similar technique that you used in the previous section of this article: You add an aux track with the effects before the layback destination track (see Fig. 6).

FIG. 6: You can print effects during a layback by using an aux track before the destination track.
Create a stereo aux track, assign the input to an unused stereo bus, and then assign the outputs of the playback tracks to the same bus. Next, assign the aux output tile to another unused stereo bus and match it to the input of the layback track. Finally, assign the insert effects you want to use on the aux track, Record Enable the layback track, and you’re ready to record with effects. Again, play the track once through before you record to make sure that the effects are not causing any overs or changing the music in a negative way.
As a reward for getting this far, let’s finish with something fun: half-speed record mode. Yes, it works just like it does with a tape deck: As you record, the session plays back at half-speed while your instrument sounds at the correct pitch. When you’re done recording, play the session back at regular speed, and the part you just recorded will sound twice as fast and an octave higher, just like it did when Les Paul and Frank Zappa used this technique to fill out their orchestrations.
The technique in Pro Tools is simple. Prepare your audio track to record as you normally would, and then put it in Record Enable mode. As you simultaneously hit the Record and Play buttons in the Transport window, hold down Shift (or use Command/Control+Shift+Spacebar), and the session will begin recording at half speed.
If you want to play your session back at half-time for transcription or lick-learning, Shift+Spacebar does the trick. Although you can’t record the slowed-down session using the layback technique discussed earlier, the RTAS/AudioSuite plug-in Flashback ($199, or $19.90 for 31 days) from Synaptricity ( can do it. Because Flashback records in the background as you work, it will capture half-speed playback faithfully, as well as anything you do with the Scrubber tool. The plug-in opens up a new world of sound-design possibilities in Pro Tools, and I highly recommend it.

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC


3 Great Microphones For Recording Vocals – Under $300 [TECH]

I’ve put together a small list of mics that can get you started with recording vocals at home. These are some great, versatile microphones for anyone who is looking to record vocal tracks on their personal recording setup.

Shure SM27

Hands down this is just a great mic to own. It sounds awesome on whispery, intimate vocal lines as well as other instruments. Pick one up for recording vocals and you’ll find yourself micing guitar and drums with it as well.

Get it from Amazon: Shure SM-27

Blue Bluebird Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser

This is truly a great mic and it’s a steal for the price. It’s actually shocking that a microphone of this quality can be purchased for under $300. The Bluebird is built with a Class-A discrete amplifier circuit and the clarity can be heard in recordings. If you’re looking for a mic that will add a bit of character without sacrificing clarity to your vocal recordings, this is it.

Get it from Amazon: Blue Microphones Bluebird Cardioid Condenser Mic

Studio Projects C1

Studio Projects microphones are severely underrated. They get the job done and can compete with mics that are twice the price. The C1 sounds great and doesn’t have an over-hyped high end like many other microphones in this price range.

Get it from Amazon: Studio Projects C1

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Promote Your Content On A Custom Facebook HTML Page [MUSIC HELP]

Having a page on Facebook today has become a very important source for independent artists to connect with the majority of their fans on the internet. With only a few musician based apps on Facebook, such as Reverbnation’s “Band Page” and Root Music’s “BandPages” App, it’s hard to project your content in the creative and original manner you wish to. The Static HTML application for Facebook is the only legitimate way to achieve that overall customization you need to stand out.

To get started you must first download the Static HTML App to your Facebook Page. Once you’ve downloaded go to the NEW tab titled “Welcome” on the left side-bar of your page. This is the edit page where the code can be input. You will also notice a second text field located below the initial one. This allows you to place similar content via code for Fans only, forcing non-fans to “Like” your page in order to view your exclusive content.

Static HTML Edit Screen

Static HTML Edit Screen

Here at Music Without Labels we have been searching for a few coding options to help bring a number of different content types to the Facebook Landing Page for all viewers to experience, current and new. The Static HTML application allows you to use a number of different codes such as CSS, Javascript, and of course HTML, giving you all the possibilities available with most custom websites. This walk-through will show you the steps taken along with the code used to obtain the page you currently see below. We hope this article will give you the insight you need to go off and customize your own page.

Music Without Labels Static HTML Page

Music Without Labels Static HTML Page

Taking a look at the image header located at the top of our Music Without Labels Facebook page titled “The Beat-Play Experiment”, you will notice it is linked to our blog at Here is the code for this linked header image.

Static HTML Source Code [HEADER]To personalize this code with your own image simply upload your image to a preferred online network (Facebook will work great for this), then replace the link in RED with your specified URL. To change the hyperlink in the image swap the GREEN text with your own link. The BLUEtext represents the title of your image which appears in the meta data.

Now all you have right now is a header image. I know, nothing really too big, yet. Looking at the main show located below the header image, you’ll notice a background image (with curtains), a soundcloud player in the middle, and 3 image links (social media buttons). Once again I’m going to begin by giving you the overall code we used then guide you through some of the steps to customize everything yourself.

Static HTML Source Code [BODY]In order to harness the remote background image we used a table which you can see starts the code. This leaves the GREEN text that follows to be the image URL and the dimensions. (NOTE: Facebook pages have a maximum width of 520 pixels.) Proceeding the background part of the code comes the content within the table, which displays on top of the background image. The BLUE text code represents the centered soundcloud player you see on the MWL Facebook Photo above. You can embed all sorts of online content from a number of different services including Youtube, Vimeo, Mixcloud, Soundcloud, and more. Simply copy the embed code from the media you want to post and paste it directly where the BLUEtext is in the code.

Just like the header link image at the top of the page, we used a similar code and added 3 linked images, in RED, within the table. To choose a specified area on the page we used ‘absolute positioning’ which allows you to alter the pixels to a specified location. (This takes a bit of saving and checking your work, so be patient.) The first URL in the code presented in YELLOW refers to the linked URL. Following this URL are the parameters for image positioning and size from TOP, LEFT, WIDTH, to HEIGHT. The second URL in YELLOW refers to the specified image URL (Must upload image to online server to obtain URL).

With so many different variables in this layout there are multiple areas for customization. Creating personalized images and using the codes to strategically position links and images will open a whole new wave of promotion throughout your Facebook Page. Now you are able to deliver content to your Facebook fans in your own way. So we encourage you to get out there and test this code for yourself and don’t be afraid to try different content types and layouts. Please comment with any of your own examples and be sure to contact me with any questions concerning the process. Also, to ensure that your new HTML page is the ‘Default Landing Tab’ go to your “Edit Page” and select “Manage Permissions” on the left then select the new tab in the specified drop-down field.

Written By: Mark G. Valente | Online Marketing Director | @MarkwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

The Orphan, The Poet – “Invincible” [VIDEO]

Narrative: A man searches for a lost love.

Performance: The band plays in a brown room.

Song: Big, sweeping, blah.

Why You Should Watch It:  The earth tone/dirt/mud color scheme and song blend together into a muddy swirl of “meh” for me.  Blame the genre, I don’t love the Saosin post-hardcore stuff – though the production here’s pristine.  What I really want to feature with this video is the band’s performance.  Conceptually it’s nothing special, but visually it’s such a change of pace from the usual high energy, quick cutting, handheld feel that usually accompanies smaller bands’ performances.

Here, by staging the band in seats to start, the director builds a tension that releases when the lead singer springs to his feet at 2:07.  When the rest of the band follows at 3:41, we can see how tight they are as a unit.  The camera points it out; lingering in long, slow dolly shots.  These guys play with energy, with passion and with precision.

Good on them.  So many bands with flashy videos don’t even bother to get that right.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Behind The Board : Mick Cronin [Interview]

Q01 Who are you, What do you do & where are you based?

Mick Cronin. Producer, engineer, drummer. Transmission Studios, Drumlish, Ireland.

Q02 What album,track,gig or producer inspired you to end up behind a mixing board?

I was always intrigued at how sounds were made, Strawberry Fields was a real big one for me as a child.

Q03 Where did you study your trade?

I’m basically self taught. I have picked up some great tips and tricks from some of the people I have worked with. The likes of Phil Vinall, Karl Odlum and Richard Formby taught Me alot. I was never one of those musicians who left or started playing computer games as soon as they had finished their parts, I always stuck around and asked questions.

Q04 What advice do you have for any budding engineers out there?

Just do it, record on anything you have from a 4 track to an mbox. The more you do the more you learn.

Q05 What people in the biz do you look up to or aspire to be like?

There are plenty. Ger McDonnall who my band The Aftermath is a great inspiration at the mo. His jobs are so varied from classical things with The Priests to The Manic Street Preachers new stuff. His approach to sound is always get the best out of the song.

Q06 Analog or Digital? Tape or DAW? Outboard or Plugin?

I don’t think it matters anymore. The most important thing in any recording is performance.

Q07 What 3 pieces of gear could you not live without?

At the minute my new focasrite isa 828 pres. The old SE R1 Ribbon mics and a 57.

Q08 What do you think is the best mixed record of all time?

I think the first side of Van Morrison’s Moondance is absolute sonic perfection but most of that is down to the songs/performance.

Q09 What do you do on your downtime from Studio/Live?

At the moment not a lot but I do like  exploring exotic city’s.

Q10 If you werent an enginneer, what would you be doing instead?

I have no idea, I’d probably be on the building site.

Q11 What was your 1st professional album,mix/master job?

Hard to say as I worked on a lot of bits and pieces of albums but from start to finish tracking and mixing would be “Crimson’s Untamed Underground Unwell

Q12 What is some of the recent works you’ve been part of?

A lot going on new album by Matt McManamon from the Dead 60s. Really enjoying work with Shayne Thomas Byrne. Duncan Patterson album tracking just finished and I’m also due to do some recording the actor Patrick Bergin in a few weeks.

you can keep up to date with Mick on Facebook

By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

The Wonder Years – “Melrose Diner” [VIDEO]

Narrative: Backyard wrestler The Lone Wolf must defeat the The Evil Kraag to get his title and his girl back.

Performance: The band plays in the ring.  Singer Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell performs from the audience and in closeup.

Song: Top shelf pop-punk from one of the best bands in the scene.  If you haven’t heard The Upsides, buy it here immediately.  No one’s more relatable, honest or hardworking and the songs are instant classics.

Why You Should Watch It:   The band is amazing and the effort is noteworthy – it’s a great example of applying a record’s themes (never giving up, victory through persistence) to a video concept and having some fun with it.  The video’s just a little too scattered to be a classic.

“Melrose Diner” seems to want to make up for its lack of flash by overloading it with content. The video starts as a wrestling promo, then briefly takes on the feel of a movie trailer before going into the song and Lone Wolf’s battles.  The action is frantic, but moves so fast it’s hard to follow until the final fight.  The video’s flat, unlit look is spiced up with filters throughout, and it works with the back to basics energy of the song but isn’t a highlight.  So why the recommendation?  It’s a perfect example of what friends can do with some perseverance and camaraderie – just like the album itself.  Everyone involved is clearly having the time of their lives, and that goes a long way.

Also, you’ll want to know these guys before they blow up.  They’re readying a new release, “Suburbia, I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing,” that’s shaping to be as much or more of a touchstone than “The Upsides.”  Check out one of the new tracks below:

“Local Man Ruins Everything”

Honest, hooky punk, an album named after a Ginsburg poem, and a Simpson’s reference as a track name?  Sold.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Hollerado – “Americanarama” [VIDEO]

Number two: this time, a video from our neighbors to the north.

Narrative: Oh, my God!  Are they all trapped in boxes?

Performance: Jittery, jerky, all in one ridiculous take.

Song: Awesome.  Buy and bump the album here, or from your online retailer of choice.  “Juliette” is one of my favorite tracks from last year.

Canada, you’ve made up for Simple Plan.

Why You Should Watch It: OK Go aren’t the only band experimenting with awesome viral videos.  While it’s easy to shoot your friends being stupid on a Handicam, slap your song under it, and call it “viral,” you gotta give people something they’ve never seen before if you want your virus to actually infect anyone.  It’s gotta be something people watch and immediately watch again to figure out how it was done, then pass along out of amazement.  While the concept here isn’t as pure as a lot of OK Go’s work, you gotta figure Hollerado’s resources were a little more limited.  The strongest moments definitely come towards the end as perspective is played with, but the video starts strong and never really lets up.  The only real fault with the video is that it suffers from what any video with a “one take” concept suffers from: very little energy.  For as spastic and complex as all the movement within the frame is, it just a “motion picture” in the most literal sense of the phrase (something Kanye recently experimented with as well, though he had some stupid name for it).  Still, this is a case of pure substance over style, proving you don’t need a lot of money to make something awesome, just a lot of practice.

**Last minute update** Click the picture at the top of the article to visit the band’s website and see their NEW video for “Got to Lose.”  It’s another choreographed wonder – slicker and sexier, too!

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |