Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
November 26, 2015

Octave Is...

by Chris Randall

Listen to the album "009909" by Chris Randall.

For those of you that don't follow me on Twitter, I let it drop the other day that me and the missus and our long-time web collaborator Mark Beeson made a thing.

From the embed above, it should be readily apparent what it does. And long-time readers will know exactly why we made it, so I don't need to go in to any lengthy explanation about that. Suffice it to say that we've been working on it for about a while now, and Octave is now open for business. We're addressing user wishes as they come in, so its purview is adjusting (and rather rapidly, it must be said) to the use cases that we, as professional musicians, need.

Happy to field any questions/comments here. One further thing: in conversation about the service with someone that didn't fully understand the point, I quipped the following: "Soundcloud is for musicians with fans; Octave is for musicians with clients."

November 1, 2015

Six Networking Tips For The Music Business...

by Chris Randall

As many of you know, I teach a class on entrepreneurship in the music industry. We recently did a little block on networking, and I put up my axioms for interaction in the music business. It was intimated that others might like to read it / rip it to shreds / dismiss it with a hand wave, so I decided to put it up here.

Some context: business courses that talk about networking go through the usual Zig Zigler bullshit. That doesn't apply to our business; most people chose this business because it's cool, not so they could finally afford that Donald Trump tie set. As a result, networking in the music business isn't like networking at an insurance actuary convention. Sure, there are parts of the business (mostly on the tech and manufacturing side) that are more or less indistinguishable from normal business, so these tidbits of info are meant to apply to the music side of things (bands / labels / live show / that sort of thing) and not the tech side of things (manufacturing / distribution / retail).


This is the cardinal rule. "Gherming", if you're not familiar with the term, is the act of being a slobbering fanboi to a celebrity. If you find yourself in the position of talking to someone that can make things happen in your career, you don't need to tell them that you're a big fan. You don't need to give them a litany of their own achievements. Successful artists and businesspeople are much happier when they just assume that you already know their bona-fides. You don't need to tell them about everything they've done and what it meant to you. If you do, they immediately put you in the category of "fan," and successful artists have a way of dealing with fans that is very different than how they deal with people that they do business with. You don't want to be in this category, because it will heavily inform all future interactions, and not to your benefit. Assume that they know what they've done, and let them assume that you're familiar with it, but not to a creepy stalker degree.


Almost any networking resources tells you to have business cards and have them ready. This is nonsense. Business cards only matter to business people, and in this context they're kind of weak and smell of desperation. Networking in the music business is an exercise in finesse, and the business card is a blunt instrument that carries with it a burden of societal standards that people that work in the music side of the music business are actively avoiding. In short, unless you are you're on the music tech side of things, and working a booth at a convention, there's no context in which a business card will be useful, and it actually may hurt the interaction. A successful musician or label owner doesn't need to carry a business card, because everyone knows who they are, at least contextually, and they'll just put yours in their pocket and it'll get washed in to a little doughy blob of pulp. Think of other ways to exchange credentials. See also: tour laminates. People that aren't important on tours have to wear laminates. People that are important generally don't. When you're the roadie, you have to wear a laminate. When you're the lead singer of the headlining act, you don't.


Any industry event or service that advertises itself as something where networking can occur is the last place networking will occur. The reason for this is simple: the entirety of the attendees will be people that need to network. To shine a clearer light on it: I am someone that can make things occur, to a certain extent, and at a lower tier than a real "industry player." I would never attend one of these events, and I sure as hell know that anyone that is more powerful than me in the industry (which is almost the entire industry) wouldn't, either. So everyone that is at a mixer is less capable than I am of "making things happen." And I am only barely capable. That should tell you everything you need to know. If you're kicking ass, in the places where ass-kicking can occur, people that need ass-kickers, or can help ass-kickers get to the next level of ass-kicking, will see you and ensure that your ass-kicking is rewarded. Paying to attend a cocktail party, where no ass-kicking can occur, is a waste of money.


One of the more annoying facets of modern conversation is that it tends to be something of a competition. You want to speak to someone as an equal, but when you're talking to someone that is a posteriori more successful than you, this is essentially impossible, and the human brain offers up all sorts of annoying tics to deal with this. Don't try to compete with someone that can help you. Listen to what they're saying, and respond to questions. Don't interview them, or tell them about "this one time at band camp" unless they ask. Nobody gives a shit about how your band opened for Creed this one time, or how you found yourself in a men's room peeing within FIVE FEET!!! of Martin Gore. Keep it to yourself.


This is somewhat tender. Don't big-up yourself, or lie about your capabilities, but on the other hand, never say "no," unless you're physically incapable of saying "yes." As the old saw goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." If you become known as someone who can get things done, then people will want to network with you, and you won't have to work as hard for opportunities. If a situation presents itself that is outside your comfort zone, do it anyhow. Make it happen. People admire a failed attempt way more than they admire hesitation and uncertainty. If you don't put yourself in positions where you have the opportunity to excel in the face of difficulty, well, those situations don't happen accidentally.


This one is simple: with notable exceptions, people that are successful in the music industry tend to have good self-control. This business is intrinsically tied to vice, and most vices are readily available, so the ability to actively avoid your vice of choice is valuable. If you know you're a sloppy or mean drunk, don't drink where business can occur. If you like drugs, don't put yourself in situations where drugs are available. Nobody cares what you do on your own time, but if your capabilities during a show or in a business situation are hindered because of your vices, this will greatly affect potential outcomes, and not in your favor. I will add a caveat to that: true "genius" artists generally get a pass for bad behavior, because the value of their art to society outweighs the damage they do to that society. But if you were one of those (and they're fucking thin on the ground) you wouldn't be sitting here learning how to network.


I open the floor to you, AI readers. Now that you see how I'm damaging the youth of today, thoughts? Additions? Subtractions?

October 31, 2015

The State Of Things...

by Chris Randall

You can tell it's fall in Arizona when the leaves turn beautiful shades of red and orange, and there's a crispness in the air... Just kidding. The only way I know is that my seatbelt buckle doesn't give me 2nd degree burns when I get in my Jeep. But fall and winter traditionally means we start releasing the stuff we've been working on all year at Audio Damage, and this fall is no exception. (In point of fact, it is exceptional!)

First out the chute is pictured above, ADM12 Neuron. It is an all-in-one drum voice with a simple FM topology. After acquiring the Dinky's Taiko and Basimilus Iteritas modules, I found myself still using several modules to patch kick drum and snare sounds I was happy with. (Nothing against either of those modules whatsoever; I like them both for more out-there percussion sounds. Particularly BI.) So we took the Neuron voice from our Axon plug-in, altered it to broaden its tonal range and make it more capable for traditional drum synth sounds, and shoved it in a 12HP package.

The result is a nice little drum voice that we're particularly happy with. Hit the product page for specs and an overview video. I'm actually taking a break from retail-packaging the first batch of these to write this post. They're on the way to our Galaxy Of Retailers starting today, and will be available in the AD store at the end of next week if you want to order direct.

Next up, it's been no particular secret that we're working on non-Euro hardware. This turned out to be surprisingly difficult. Euro has a pretty set-in-stone standard for look and construction, and known suppliers, and you work within those parameters. When we started examining stand-alone products, well, things got hairy quick. But this summer's labor is beginning to bear fruit, and we will definitely be showing our new line of Audio Damage pedals at NAMM in January. We hope to show three different pedals, but that might be optimistic. This has proven to be a surprisingly difficult and time-consuming operation.

Interestingly, most of the difficulty and time consumption resulted from the fact that I just can't stand those Hammond boxes that most boutique pedals come in, and wanted our own folded steel chassis. It turns out that you need to know quite a bit of mechanical engineering to cause such a thing to be created, and since I had two years of mechanical engineering classes in high school in the 80s, of course I was up to the task. But lo, and furthermore hark! My brother-in-law works at Baer, which is (literally) right up the street from us, and he loaned me one of their engineers. Then the fine folks at Cutting Edge Manufacturing here in Phoenix took those drawings and tuned them up a bit, and then BLASTED SHEETS OF STEEL WITH A 4000 WATT LASER! (This shit is so fucking cool, I don't even.)

The first article is pictured above. These things are so tough you could drive a tank over them. I don't know about the rest of the thing, but the chassis will definitely survive the apocalypse. The guts are digital, of course, but feature true bypass (done with relays), assignable expression pedal destinations, and true stereo where appropriate. I think the non-Euro folks are gonna be very pleased with these, and as we get a WORKFLOW in place to build stand-alone products, you'll start to see some more sophisticated shit, in addition to our ever-expanding Euro line.

October 20, 2015

Instant Anger…

by Chris Randall

Eventide has finally released a native version of the Anthology suite of plugins. About half of them have been native for a while, but it's nice to have the whole set. They might seem a bit quirky to people that didn't spend every waking hour in a recording studio in the 80s and 90s, as most of the plugs are directly modelled on the Eventide Clockworks hardware equivalent, but that said, in many cases there is no equivalent commonly available. If you make IDM, in particular, this is a desirable collection; many of the plugs have Richard Divine presets that are essentially "Instant Autechre." (In point of fact, several of his presets are named as such directly.)

H3000 Factory is my favorite of the set. I use it when I'm closing in on the end of the production process, and there is a hole in the arrangement. You can run pretty much any sound through this plug, and just skip through the presets until it sits.

Caveat Emptor: I did the UI update for Ultra Reverb, and partial design for Octavox and Quadravox. (Ultra Reverb is another special member of this collection. Reverb as a creative tool, rather than a room-maker.) There's a 30-day special on this package for cross/upgrading that you should definitely take advantage of. For the price, probably the single best bundle of plugs available. 'Tis here.

September 30, 2015


by Chris Randall

This article on Engadget caught my eye this morning. The tl;dr version: Deadmau5 is streaming his studio work (and gaming, I guess) on Twitch.

Now, everyone reading this is no doubt familiar with my love of process, and while I don't particularly care about Mr. Zimmerman's process in particular, I like the general idea of sharing your work while you do it. I'm a visual thinker, and I get way more out of watching someone do something than reading an article or instruction manual. The vast majority of my learning comes from watching process videos and talks on YouTube. In point of fact, my favorite YouTube channels are Jimmy Diresta and I Like To Make Stuff, both of which are (while not music related, even a tiny bit) 100% about process.

I don't have any particular problem with people watching me work; in point of fact, the results are generally better because of the audience. (As long as I'm not doing vocals. That's a different story.) My questions about this idea is thus: is this something other people find interesting? I mean, would you sit on your couch for an hour and watch someone patch a Euro system or program beats on Twitch or YouTube Live? I personally don't generally watch music production process videos, because they are (and I am in no way tooting my own horn here; just stating a fact) usually put up by people that are far less experienced than I in electronic music production.

It wouldn't be that much trouble for me to pull this off. I have a commercial broadband connection here you can drive a truck through, and the technical knowledge to provide pretty good video and audio streams. However, I honestly have no idea if it's something you guys would be interested in, and thus worth the trouble.

(It would, however, be an excellent impetus to keep my office clean.)

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