Tag Archives: producer

MC Subcon – “If I Never Make It” [VIDEO]

Badass new video by Denver hiphop MC Subcon with “If I Never Make It”. Steppin’ it up with the production brings a clean sound that fits perfectly with the Subcon flow. Get a look at this video along with another video he just released called “Escape”.

YELLE – “Safari Disco Club” [MUSIC]

This French musician/producer trio, Yelle, has had some pretty great success with their creative club sound. Here is a look at the most recent single to be on their newest album set to release in March of this year.



Lyrical genius on this track by ATMOSPHERE. This week in 2005 the released an album entitled “Headshots Se7en”. Check it out more here and enjoy this killer flow.

Music Production 101: How to Listen to Music

First of all, if you want to be a good musician, you have to be able to think like a good producer.

A producer sets the vision for the song, almost like the director of a movie. They are literally trying to produce the best possible sound they can, and they do that using several different skills.

Continue reading

Interview with V.I. – Musician’s Institute in Hollywood Student

So give us some background, where are you originally from?

Well my name’s Vic (V.I.). I’ve been rapping n making music for about two years. I’m just starting to get serious with music, n I’m trying to take things to a new level! I’m originally from northern California, bout n hour north of San Francisco. Couple months ago I moved to L.A. to become closer to the music scene.

You are currently attending the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, Correct?

Yea, I’ve been in the Recording Engineer program for about half a year trying to increase my knowledge!

Tell us why you decided to attend the Musicians Institute.

I basically just wanted to learn more about the craft I was passionate about. I figured that if I went to a school that specialized in recording music I would have a better chance one for getting noticed n two being close to the industry.

It just seemed like a win-win to me.

What do you expect to gain as an independent artist by attending the Musicians Institute?

I’ve already acquired so much information that I had no idea about prior to going to MI. I mean my ears have adapted to be able to recognize center frequencies, microphone tones, room ambience, n so much more. What I really expect to gain are new contacts who already have a foot in the door in the industry. Maybe with some luck I’ll get my foot in the door as well.

Tell us about some of your experiences at school and how they have motivated you to become a better artist.

First and foremost would have to be my teachers; they motivate me n push me when I need it. Just being around people that have produced platinum and gold records is motivation. Being able to record live artists, get in major studios n track my own material is such a major opportunity that never would have been possible if I weren’t in the environment I’m in.

Do you think your choice to go to a music school is going to give you a better advantage in the music industry and if so, why do you think that is?

I think in the long run my decision will b very beneficial. In talking with numerous people in the business, it’s all about working your way through the system. Now having had real professional studio training, I think I have a definite advantage over the average working artist. It’s about knowing gear and having proper studio etiquette that sets MI student apart from the average musician.

So my decision has, and will continue to be, beneficial.

Now that you have attended the Musician’s Institute for a little while, is music school something you would suggest to fellow indie artists and producers and why?

I would definitely suggest that any serious artist consider education in the music industry. Whether it be at MI, Full Sail, LA Recording School, or anywhere else for that matter, it is just so beneficial to have proper professional instruction in certain aspects of the trade. The amount of exposure you get from one of these types of schools is unprecedented. You will learn so much about gear, recording techniques n little things we as amateur artists wouldn’t even consider; not going to an institute or getting assistance almost seems foolish. So I would most definitely suggest a reputable school to a fellow artist. It’s well worth the investment

Do you find yourself more focused on your career in the music industry than you did prior to attending music school and if so, why do you think that is?

That question has a two part answer. Being where I am n being around the people that im surrounded by is exhilarating n inspirational. For that reason my level of focus is somewhere it’s never been before. But also having tons of information thrown at you is a bit of a focus killer, if u know what I mean. The balance between knowledge and creativity seems to clash when I work. Before, I would create music so freely. Now when I create something I take into consideration levels, panning, Eq, correct compression, mic placement, plosives, the list goes on. And although these are good things to keep in mind, I find that sometimes it can ruin work flow.

Tell us about some of your favorite teachers and how they affect your creativity and development as an artist.

I’ve had several of favorite teachers… Ted Greenburg, Mark Nonisa, Jim Morgan, and Dave Hewitt just to name a few. They’ve all helped me and inspired me in different ways. But they all have the same central focus which is to help their students. They give me insight when I ask them to listen to a mix, they offer suggestions to help the creativity, n they all genuinely care about the outcome of my projects. Their support and encouragement have helped me exponentially in becoming a better artist.

Do you have any new projects you are currently working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I definitely have projects you should keep an eye out for…

I’m currently working on an album with an artist from back home called “The Archive” n I’m always busy with the mixtape I’m involved with from Two $cholars $hort. Also everyweek or so I update my facebook n myspace profile with new music…. So keep your ears open!

We want to thank you for taking the time out to speak with us today and for your support of MWL and Beat-Play.

Thank You,


Interviewed by: Jimmy Iles – Director of Operations Beat-Play, LLC

Extra Note from MWL: If you’re thinking about a music school but don’t want to move to California, or Florida, or Tennessee, don’t forget to check out the awesome online music programs out there, like Berklee and Full Sail’s programs.

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The REAL Difference between Rap and Hip Hop

Whenever I go to a music store or website, I always see Hip hop and Rap in the same section, and many times the terms are used interchangeably.

When you bring up this subject to people, there are many different responses. Most of the time people equate Hip hop to being the older of the two, as the real foundation for the genre.  People also say that Hip hop has more of a Jazzy, upbeat feel. Rap, according to most people, is anything made after 1994. Most of what came before is considered Old School Hip Hop.

Some people say Hip hop is Dead. “Rapper” Nas claimed this a while back. I disagree..and I also don’t consider Nas a “Rapper,” though he is commonly referred to as one.

I’m an independent artist myself. I actually happen to be a lyricist that mostly writes hip hop lyrics, but I also do some electronic music and R&B. I would never classify myself as a rapper though, simply because of the bad associations that the word has. I’m talking about the subject matter that is in the songs I classify as rap.

The REAL difference between the two categories is lyrical content. Rap, I classify, as being a genre that focuses on particular concepts over and over again. The subject matter never really changes very much. It is almost like Rap is a mass produced form of music, and the artistic dynamic to the music is often lost.

However Hip hop on the other hand, which is still very much alive (overshadowed, but alive), has a greater value to the listener. It offers poetic and often insightful lyrics that give you a second reason to want to listen again. Take a look at one of my favorite Hip hop lyricists, Emmanuel Jackson in the video below. He’s unknown right now, but look out for him in the next couple years. Hip hop will be making a huge comeback. His style is also the closest to my own that I have ever seen and I have tremendous respect for his art.

I hope this post cleared this issue up for a lot of people. Rap is a mainstream pop genre that goes through fads faster than an elementary school, and Hip Hop is a fundamentally pure art form who’s roots are so deep that it will never really die. In fact, I think Rap may be in danger pretty soon, especially with people like Emmanuel Jackson emerging, who happens to feel the exact same way as me on the subject. The REAL difference is all about the REAL.


It’s been a while since I wrote this so I felt I’d update it. Plus there was a good comment today from cola that brings up a good point:

“sorry, after reading this i still don’t feel educated about what hip hop is vs. rap. it sounds subjective. if you think it’s good, it’s hip hop. if you think it’s commercial and shallow, it’s rap. i need a meatier and more objective answer. thanks, though.”

That’s just the thing about hip hop though. It’s about the lyrical content.

Hip Hop is all about heart. Heart is the essence of Hip Hop. Listen to the name..Hip Hop..it sounds like a heart beat. Then listen to the name rap..it sounds like….crap.

But this is where the subjectiveness is really made apparent. Somebody might be spitting about some nickel bags and some spinners, and some people might not feel it because they can’t relate. Then it’s not Hip Hop to that person. To other people, that same verse might strike them differently, paint a different picture for them, and so to them it might be Hip Hop. It’s really about making a connection from one person’s heart to another person’s. That’s Hip Hop, and if that’s the MC’s aim, usually the music will reflect that as well.

Take this song for example. This is my good friend Dot the One, with The World is not Enough, off his new mixtape Aviators and Bombers. The whole concept for the mixtape is emphasizing how people are so concerned with the shallower things in life, like a pair of sunglasses. To someone who doesn’t know that this is Dot’s intent, it might sound like he’s glorifying this stuff to the extreme, and that might be whack to some people, but if you know what he’s really trying to do, which is inherent in his flow if you listen carefully, then you feel it, and to me it’s pure Hip Hop.

I like to equate it to visual art. Some guy that just throws a bunch of paint splatters on a canvas, with no real technique, and calls it art might actually end up touching some people, and to them, that is art. But I feel like it all comes down to the motive of the “artist.” Are they just trying to make as much money as they can while putting in the least amount of effort possible, or is there actually a deeper method to their madness. I think that’s the definitions of trash and art, respectively.

Unless you really know what the person’s motives are, you may come out with a different definition, which is where the subjectivity of art comes in, since usually people don’t know the motives of an artist when they encounter a work. Art is intrinsically subjective because it has to be a personal thing to be considered art..it has to touch someone..not everyone, but someone. But, on the more objective side, there is, in actuality, 1 true motive behind the work, and that’s where subjectivity doesn’t really matter anymore. It either is, or it isn’t, worthy of the title of Art, based on real motive.

I think that Hip Hop is a similar title to that of Art. To me, and many other people who put a lot of time and effort into their rhymes, if the motives are to touch people in a particular way, for the purpose of communicating something somewhat important, or meaningful, from one person to another person, that’s worthy of the title of Hip Hop. If they’re just rapping about some hypocritical garbage to get attention and to get money, it can’t be hip hop..that’s rap. I would almost consider Tyler the Creator in this category, because he just says shit to create a reaction..but then again he puts a lot of effort into creating those visuals in your head, and I don’t really know him or his motives behind his work so I couldn’t really tell you for sure, only what I think about it, and that’ll be different for each person.

I find though, like almost everything in life, that’s it’s not always just black and white, but instead it’s more of a spectrum, with a million different possible points of variation in between. Hip Hop, and Rap are the two complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but in the end, if it gets through, for some people, the spectrum can seem to bend and even come full circle, and definitions can change..subjectivity = art.

I’m sticking to my belief that Hip Hop is all about heart, because that’s how it’s made me feel, and if it doesn’t have that, it’s not Hip Hop as far as I’m concerned. A lot of respected and proven hip hoppers agree with me. Notice how the title of the song is Phony Rappers, and Qtip makes a reference to the real as MC’s, not rappers. He obviously thinks there’s a difference too. I’m of course partial to Hip Hop..some people are partial to Rap, and that’s great. Then again, it also depends a lot on mood too. Once again, the real difference between Rap and Hip Hop has to be about the real – real motives, real feeling, real love, real hate, real heart, whatever the flavor. That’s the difference.

“Cause once you add the hip to the hop kid, it equals out to love”

– Phife Dawg

Written by: Dante Carmelo Cullari (aka ILL principe) Founder and CEO Beat-Play, LLC

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Weathervane and the Missing Puzzle Pieces

weathervane logo

I recently had a phone conversation with Brian McTear, the Founder and Director of a brand new non-profit called Weathervane Music (http://weathervanemusic.org/projects).

I had heard about them from a friend, and after looking at their website, I was very intrigued, so I decided to contact them. When on the call, Brian and I talked mostly about my business model, Beat-Play, (http://musicwithoutlabels.com) and about some other alternative industry models. After my discussion with Brian, I was still a little curious about his non-profit model. I knew that it has amazing potential, but I needed to know more. I sent Brian an email with some questions…These are his answers:

What is the Weathervane Music Organization? What is the overall Goal of the project?

Weathervane Music is a small nonprofit organization determined to support and promote independent music in our society, and in doing so to bring about career changing opportunity for the sophisticated artists that participate in our programs.

Weathervane hopes also to have an influential role in the emerging new models for the music industry. We’ve pinpointed several details in the traditional industry model that are still essential to future models, but that are less and less supportable in the for-profit industry. These include artist selection, project funding, and artists advocacy (roles once reserved for record labels exclusively in the past). Weathervane’s programs revolve around these details, but since we prioritize the artists’ potential career success, we realize that the content we create must be easily licensable in the for-profit sector while insuring that the artists who make the music retain the majority of the financial benefit from revenues generated by the recordings.

Our first major project is a series of audio and video recordings produced for the web called The Weathervane Music Project Series. The series features a limited number of select artists each year. Weathervane provides recording studio time for the artists, for now to record a single song with a producer and staff. The session is also recorded in high definition video, with a focus on the artists and their vision for the music, while highlighting the technical and creative processes in the studio.

We launched the Project Series in June of 2009, on our website, http://weathervanemusic.org/projects.

Can you tell me what experience you bring to the project?

I’ve been a record producer and engineer for the past 15 years. I work out of Miner Street Recordings, my recording studio in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia where I’ve recorded somewhere in the realm of one hundred records in that time.

Who came up with the idea and where did the name come from?

I came up with the idea for Weathervane back in 2002 with my friend Matt Pond (of the band Matt Pond PA). A year later began developing the idea with my high school friend Bill Robertson.

Why did you see a need for a model like Weathervane?

Over the years I’ve been building a great recording studio, while nurturing my own career as a musician and producer. By the mid 2000’s it just wasn’t adding up. I had more and more critically acclaimed albums under my belt, but artists just weren’t selling records. Obviously we know peer to peer was depleting record sales, but I had a sense, even back then, that the industry wouldn’t last much longer, at least the industry that all of my aspiring artist friends were working so hard for.

It was clear that labels were going to pay less and less money for artists to record, and that soon, there’d be no incentive to support unknown artists. It seemed the only way we as a society would have great new independent music would be if society itself could support unknown artists. Nonprofit seemed the way to go. Of course I had a LOT to learn, because it’s not simple…nothing is.

How many people are currently involved in Weathervane’s operations?

There’s five of us: Myself, and Bill, and then we have a grant writer, a PR/Marketing manager and a web designer.

How old is Weathervane?

The idea goes back to 2002, but Weathervane launched last year in 2009.

What are some struggles Weathervane has had to face in trying to be successful in its goals?

Money. Plain and simple. They say you have to spend money to make money. Well, you have to spend a hell of a lot more money to make money in a nonprofit model.

What are some successes Weathervane has had?

We’re young. I think the Project Series has been a success so far. At the very least it’s a great start, but we have a long way to go. We’ve also been successful in assembling a great board and have had encouraging interest and support from other organizations and corporate sponsors.

How is Weathervane able to support itself while giving such a tremendous value to the artists for free? Who are your biggest contributors?

The project series was funded by a small group of founding financial donors and corporate sponsor who provided recording gear to the sessions. The actual money we’ve raised so far has come from about ten people, but that couldn’t begin to cover the expense of the amazing audio and video technical crew, and professions who donated their time and services.For future Project Series, we’re working on building a membership program that would allow fans of the series and of the organization in general to support the costs (similar to the way Public Radio and TV is supported). We’ll continue to apply for grants from nonprofit and government arts programs, and we’ll continue to grow our corporate sponsorship relationships.

How does an artist get chosen by Weathervane?

The Project Series is a curated program, meaning that each year there are a limited number of available artist slots, and one person, ie. the curator, selects those artists. I functioned as the curator in our first year. Next year, and each year from here forward, a selection committee within Weathervane will select a new curator. That person will have the strongest effect on the shape and feel of the Project Series.

How does Weathervane go about marketing and promoting the artists they select, once they have been professionally recorded and produced?

That’s what we’re working on, and we’ll probably continue to work on forever. Right now we use the free open sources of the web. We are working to collect data about our audience that we can maintain and take with us in the future (this is often referred to as “data portability”, and it’s a concept that anyone building a community with the internet needs to be aware of). For now we are building an email list. Additionally we’re continually building a fanbase through Facebook, twitter, etc.

We’ve had early success with public radio in Philadelphia, particularly WXPN, which is listener supported radio from the University of Pennsylvania. We’ll continue to reach out to public radio as well as traditional print press as well.

What are the plans for the future of Weathervane? Do you wish to expand into other cities eventually?

I guess what people need to understand is that Weathervane features artists from potentially all corners of the earth. Though it takes place in Philadelphia, and though part of our mission is to shine light on the Philadelphia independent music community and its production resources, but it is not exclusive to Philadelphia artists. Our first artist, Sunset, came to Philadelphia from Austin Texas.

What is your view of the future of the music industry? Where do you see it going?

I am not sure how the industry itself will work, but I am sure that successful artists will derive income from a portfolio of revenue sources as opposed to a single source (ie. “record sales” as it once was in the past). Artists will be much more likely to be independent of large organizations, and will maintain their revenue portfolio almost the same way a stock portfolio works in a mutual fund. Long story short: artists will have to be MUCH smarter than they had to be in the past.

I have a strong belief in the efficacy of our model as one of many possible models for bringing music to society and opportunity to artists. There will always be for-profit industry, and we’re not trying to bring down the system. We’re really trying to strengthen it.

My Analysis:

Weathervane Music is a GREAT example of the love, respect, and courage that people have towards music in general. That someone could not want to see the day that independent artists are extinct, so much that they developed a model where society could, through this shared love and respect for music, support all of its growth and development in the most direct and basic ways, is a testament to the spirit of music itself and the impact it has had on nearly every single person on the planet. We must believe in this. I hope to see this model in some shape or form, expand throughout the world.

However, this model does have some hurdles to jump over in order for it to be successful. One of the big ones Brian talked about above was promotion. That seems to be a big toss up no matter who you ask…Unless you ask me. I like to tackle things from a bit of a broader perspective.

For me, the Independent Music Industry is missing 6 Crucial Pieces of the Puzzle in order for it to be successful as a whole, on all levels:

Piece # 1: Cheap, Effective, Wide-Spread, Easily Accessible, Fun & Customizable Promotion

Piece # 2: Multi-Platform, Multi-Revenue-Stream Distribution

Piece # 3: Easy, Independent, Wide-Spread and Cheap Concert Booking

Piece # 4: A Solution to the Piracy/Music Sharing Issue

Piece # 5: An Alternative Investment Source for Independent Artists to get their Music Professionally Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered

Piece # 6: ONE solid artist/fan interface where fans can stay in touch and updated with their favorite artists. (Myspace not so stable?, Facebook not so Music?)

If we don’t get ALL of these pieces in place, and soon, we will fail. However I don’t think failure is in our future. I’ve actually designed my model around these missing pieces, and it turns out that Beat-Play itself can put into place at least 4, but 5 if necessary, out of the 6 pieces. The only one which Beat-Play can not itself put into place, is number 5. But it turns out that Weathervane Music’s model fits this need fairly suitably. The only thing that could be better would be a non profit that provides free studio recording time and production for ALL independent artists, any time and anywhere, but something tells me that is a long way off. For now, Weathervane music is a great alternative.

The One Suggestion for Weathervane that I would make, as fellow Industry Model Creator, would be to spread slowly to other cities, and eventually have each city’s headquarters be focused on the artists in that city. I think lot of people and cities could really use that. This way there would be more artists selected over a greater area and also more funding resources. The organizations impact could increase greatly. But for now, while just in Philly, it does make sense to branch out and allow for artists to come from all over to take part.

Thanks to Brian McTear for this interview and discussion opportunity.

To Donate to Weathervane go to: http://weathervanemusic.org/

To Check out their Artists & Videos go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/WVmusicOrg

Written by: Dante Cullari – Founder & President, Beat-Play LLC

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