VIDEO: Introducing the "Ghost Pedal" Wireless Wah!

Recently, a group of students from Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering developed the Ghost Pedal, a wireless device that uses sensors attached to the guitar player's foot to create a wah effect — minus the physical pedal.

"Because Ghost Pedal is wireless and does not have a physical pedal, guitar players can activate and use their wah distortion effect anywhere on stage at any time," said Robbie Hoye, part of the the Ghost Pedal team at the university in West Lafayette, Indiana, talking to the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch. "They also have the ability to deactivate the effect whenever they choose."

Once the Ghost Pedal is turned on, the user enters a 10-second mode during which the variable resistor calibrates the ability to flex the foot from the floor. After calibration mode, the guitarist enters freeplay mode.

"During freeplay, the user actively manipulates the wah level by changing their foot's angle from the floor," Hoye said. "The calibration mode adapts itself to modify the resistance sensor to each user and their foot flexibility at the touch of a button. Ghost Pedal and traditional wah pedals use the same motion to activate the wah effect; the guitarist doesn't have to learn a new motion."

For more on this story, give Google a try. For some reason, there's not much out there.

Music Streaming Is Booming, and That’s a Problem for Music Revenues...

It took a long time to get going, but streaming music is finally mainstream. It’s a business, too, generating more than $1 billion a year.

That sounds like good news for the music labels, which have been waiting for digital music sales to replace the ones that disappeared after CD sales peaked 14 years ago.

The problem for the music business is that most music streamers — around 80 percent of them — are free music streamers, relying on services like YouTube, Pandora and SoundCloud for the tunes, says Midia Research. And those ad-supported businesses generate about 10 percent of the revenue per user that subscription businesses do.

Insult to injury: Many people who do stream music say they’ve cut down on music purchases. Of course they have! If you can listen to any song you want, whenever you want, there’s no need to buy a song.

Take a look at the results of this new Midia survey of music streamers:

The big music labels worried for years that streaming would cannibalize CD and download sales, which is one of the main reasons they were reluctant to embrace companies like Spotify. When they finally did cut deals with streamers, label executives said they couldn’t find evidence that streaming was hurting sales. But it looks like those numbers are finally starting to show up.

This is one of the reasons YouTube is going to be rolling out a paid subscription service of its own — the music labels that are letting it stream all that music for free want the ability to convert some of those listeners into buyers.

The problem there is that the pool of people who will pay $10 a month for unlimited music may not be that deep. Midia says only 25 percent of consumers pay more than $10 for music every three months.

A more realistic price, from a consumer’s perspective, might be $3 to $4 a month. But that price won’t be realistic for a while yet: The music labels will only drop it there when they have no other choice.

What You Don't Know About Music Managers...

The following comes from music industry attorney Steve Gordon, author of the upcoming 4th Edition of The Future of the Music Business (more on the book at

Managers have never played a more important role in the music business than today. And if your musical career has reached a certain level, you probably need one. But, What Is a Music Manager Anyway?

A good manager should be able to advance the career of his client. Among the things that managers traditionally do are providing advice on all aspects of an artist’s professional life, using his relationships to generate opportunities, negotiating deals when those opportunities arise, and helping the artist select other members of his “team” such as accountants, lawyers, booking agents and publicists.

Perhaps his principal function has been and still is to hold the artist’s hand through all the inevitable trials and tribulations of being an artist in the rough and tumble of the music business. Traditionally, though, the manager’s principal task was “shopping” the artist to a record label to trigger the holy grail of a recording agreement, particularly with a major label.

That was the “payday” for both the artist and the manager. Managers work on commission, so the goal used to be to sign with a major label and negotiate the largest “advance” possible. When I was a lawyer at Sony Music, advances for a new artist ranged from $250,000 to $500,000 and up. And if an artist caught on, the artist and consequently his manager could become very wealthy — just from record sales. Those days are largely over.

In 2014, record labels, who have lost roughly 75% of their income accounting for inflation from 1999, are signing fewer and fewer artists and when they do, the advances are far less lush. In fact, the artist may never get a “deal” or may be dropped from the roster faster than the old days when the labels had spare cash to support an artist through one or two not very successful albums. For instance, it is well-known that Bruce Springsteen did not catch fire until he had already put out two albums on Columbia. But the company had faith and kept with him. That is less likely to happen today when even the major labels are trying hard just to survive. They would rather put resources in already established acts where a return on investment is more likely.

In these days of financial chaos in the record business, the manager’s role is more crucial than ever. In the old days, once the artist was signed to a big label, the manager’s function was principally to serve as a liaison between the record company and the artist, and sometimes a shield against the record company. For instance, if the label pressured the artist to change their style or record a particular song, the manager would intervene on the artist’s behalf or try to work a compromise with the label. The manager would also work in conjunction with and sometimes prod the marketing department at the label to spend more time and money in marketing and promoting his artist.

But due to budget cuts and massive layoffs at the labels, the manager himself may be called upon to do some of the work himself. For example the manager may take over social networking, try get his artist’s music in movies or advertising campaigns, or find branding opportunities with sponsors. And if the artist can’t find a deal or a deal good enough to accept, the manager may become the artist’s de facto label. In that case they may try to secure monies to produce records and videos from investors or crowd funding, and arrange for both physical and digital distribution, and everything else that record companies traditionally

Management Contracts
Most manager agreements have boilerplate wording stating that the manager’s role is to counsel the artist and do everything possible to enhance the artist’s career. The artist on the other hand is supposed to agree to pay a manager a “commission” in exchange for the manager’s performance of these duties. The most important terms in a management agreement

The definition of the manager’s “commission;” The duration of the agreement; The period of time during which the manager is entitled to a commission; and Who collects the money.

Definition of the Commission
Managers work on spec. If an artist pays an hourly rate or salary, then that person or company may be performing the same functions as a manager but they should be called a paid “consultant.” Managers are, or are supposed to be, people who believe in the artist so much that they are willing to work for little or no money until the artist becomes successful, although some managers will not take an artist on unless they are already earning at least a moderate income from which they can pay themselves a commission.

In any event, the manager’s income consists of a piece of the income that the artist earns in the entertainment business. That piece is referred to as a commission and is generally 15% to 20%. Usually, but not always, the commission is based on “gross receipts or earnings.”

Here is a typical clause:
For the purposes of this Agreement, subject to the terms and provisions of this Agreement, the term “Gross Earnings” shall mean the total of all earnings and other consideration, whether in the form of salary, bonuses, royalties (or advances against royalties), settlements, payments, fees, interests, property, percentages, shares of profits, stock, merchandise or any other kind or type of income or remuneration, related to Artist’s career in the entertainment industry in which Artist’s artistic talents or services are exploited that is received at any time by Artist, or by any person or entity (including Manager) on Artist’s behalf”

This clause is from a standard “pro-management” deal. It’s a kind of contract that almost every music lawyer has on his shelf (as well as the “pro-artist” agreement). It is crucial for the artist that this definition is revised so that “Gross Earnings” excludes certain forms of income that the artist needs to spend in furthering his or her career.

For instance, if a recording agreement provides that a label will pay an advance of $50,000, most of that money may be used for recording costs, such as payments for studio time, producers, side musicians and mixing. If the payout to those third parties amounts to $40,000, and manager’s commission is 20%, the manager’s take would be $8,000 and the artist would only receive $2,000. Moreover, the artist would still be responsible for paying taxes, and all his other expenses such as the accountant, attorney, vocal coach, etc.

Similarly, if the artist is unsigned and paying for the costs of touring, unless the management agreement is carefully negotiated, the artist could easily end up being left with little, nothing on even owing the manager money. For instance, if the artists makes a total of $15,000 playing live gigs on a tour, the expenses — such as a tour bus, gas, hotel, etc, – could end up costing $12,000. The manager’s commission would be 20% of $15,000 or $3,000, leaving the artist with exactly nothing.

The bottom line is all reasonable expenses such as production costs including videos as well as records, touring costs including light and sound expenses as well as travel and accommodations, have to be spelled out in the agreement and deducted from “Gross Earnings.” The quibbling comes in when the attorneys try to define reasonable expenses. For instance, if the artist has to fly to a gig, the manager’s attorney may insist that he or she flies coach, spend less than $50 a day on food, rent an economy car and stay at no better than a 3 star hotel. The artist’s attorney will want to deduct car rental and any other costs that the venue does not cover.

The Term
The duration of the agreement is just as important as the definition of the manager’s commission. Management-artist relationships are like marriages, they can be great, or they can go bad. If things do not work out, it is very disadvantageous to the artist if the manager still has the right to his commission because the artist may want to have nothing more to do with the manager. It’s in the management’s interest for the term to be longer because he then 1. has a longer period over which to help make the artist successful (which could be in the artist’s interest if things work out); and 2. have a longer period of time over which he can claim a commission (which is practically never in the artist’s interest). A “pro-management” form of agreement, which most music attorneys have ready at a moment’s notice, may be three years with options to extend the term of the agreement at the manager’s election. A fairer deal would be 18 months with the option to extend being tied to certain performance goals. For example, the manager would have the right to extend the term for an additional year, but only if the artist makes over a certain amount of money, and an additional year after that if the artist makes more than he did in the first option year. The actual amounts are often spelled out – after protracted negotiations.

Alternatively performance goals can be tied to other goals such as getting a deal with a label or publishers. Everything is subject to negotiation, although everything also depends on the bargaining power of the parties and the negotiating skills of their attorneys.

How Long the Manager Is Entitled to a Commission
An off the shelf pro-management agreement will have absolutely no time limits on the manager’s right to receive a commission from agreements entered into during the Term. It will state that any agreement entered into during the Term, or any “renewal, extension, modification or substitution” of that agreement will be subject to a manager’s commission. This means that as long as the artist is with the same label or music publisher as the one the manager helps the artist get signed to, the artist will have the obligation to continue to pay the manager. Many successful artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bob Dylan have been with same the record company for decades. For example, Bob Dylan signed with Columbia Records in 1961 and is still with that label!

The artist will want to negotiate a “sunset clause.” Sunset clauses specify that even if the artist is making money from a contract originally entered into during the term of the agreement, the manager will not receive a commission after the termination of the agreement or at least receive less than his full commission. Here is a typical sunset clause:

Following the commission term, artist shall pay manager’s commission (“post term commission”) with respect to artist’s gross earnings, as and when collect ed, derived from term products, term services and pre-term products as follows:

Post-Term Years Consultant’s Commission

1 Year = 12.5%
2 Year = 7.5%
3-4 Year = 2.5%
5+ Years = 0%

Sunset clauses reward managers for their work during the term of the agreement and at the same time afford the artist the ability to sign with another manager and avoid paying two full commissions.

Who Collects the Money
Many good managers do not want to collect the money and be required to prepare accounting statements to an artist because that can be a big job in itself. These managers would prefer generating opportunities. The artist in turn may not feel completely comfortable relying on the manager to pay him. A good alternative, at least when the artist is making significant income, is for the parties to mutually approve a third party “business manager” (usually a certified accountant) who can collect and accurately account to both the artist and the manager.

The business manager can also be responsible for paying the artist’s taxes, managing the artist’s money (so he doesn’t spend it too quickly), and advise the artist on investment opportunities. Business managers usually receive a 5% fee for these services. Again, just as in the deal between the artist and the manager, that fee should be a percentage of the artist’s income excluding income that the artist must spend for production costs, touring and other reasonable expenses.

Other Important Terms and Issues
Power of attorney: Some managers will ask for the right to enter into agreements on behalf of an artist. The artist may wish to give the manager the right to sign agreements on their behalf but only after the manager consults with him and he is apprised of terms of any agreement and accepts the contract.

Audit and Accounting: if the artist or the manager collects the money, there should be an accounting and audit provision applying to that party;

“Key Man” provision: if the manager is in an individual working at a management company, a “key man” provision stating that person will have day-to-day responsibility for managing the artist’s career. Here is a typical “key man” provision:

During the Term, (“Key Person”) shall be actively involved in rendering services hereunder. In the event both Key Persons are not actively involved in rendering services hereunder, Artist shall notify Manager of such default and Manager shall be allowed a period of thirty (30) days after receipt of such written notice, within which to cure such default. In the event that such default is not cured within said thirty (30) day period, Artist’s sole remedy shall be to terminate the Term of this Agreement by written notice to Manager, effective upon Manager’s receipt of such notice.

Carve-out” clauses. These are clauses designed to exclude income that it may be unfair for a manager to commission. For instance, if a DJ at a radio station who makes a salary but wants to hire a manager to promote his career as a live performer and recording artist, it may be reasonable to “carve-out” the salary from the radio station from the income the manager can commission;

Songs, masters and other intellectual property. A truly pro-management form will include a clause allowing a manager to commission

…any product of Artist’s services or talents or of any property, including musical compositions, created by Artist in whole or in part during the term hereof.”

This is sometimes referred to as a manager’s “pension” clause. Since one great song can generate income for a lifetime or longer. Unless revised, this little sentence would allow the manager to commission income from a song that the artist happened to write during the term forever (or at least until the song fell into the public domain – life of the artist and 70 years!)

In any competently drafted management agreement, there should also be a clause that states that the manager has no duty to find an artist “employment” but if he does, this will be “incidental” to his other duties. In most states including New York and California, only licensed talent agents are authorized to find an artist employment including live gigs.

Go forth!

Image by Spencer Hickman, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

Iron Maiden Lego Video Goes Viral...

Rotehermi (YouTube username) made a video Lego version of Iron Maiden rocking out "Wicker Man" live, and yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

A few other metal titans have gone "Lego" in the past, but this clip might just be the best of the bunch.

In case you couldn't tell, the video uses the 2002 "Rock in Rio" live rendition of the "Brave New World" opening track. Also, make sure to pay attention to some of the details, for example how the movement of each band member was represented so realistically.

So it's "Scream for me, Legoland!" The video awaits below.

Nigerian Singer Says Cut-off the Fingers of MP3 Pirates...

In a completely bizarre statement by a popular Nigerian singer (Stella Monye) she has suggested that extreme and drastic measurements are now required to control music piracy and to bring back the cash-flow to music artists for their recorded music royalties - she wants an international "Public Finger Amputation" law!

As the vocalist told the News Agency of Nigeria, illegal downloads won't be stopped until drastic steps are taken, naming "chop-chop" as the best example of what would work.

"If their fingers are cut, they won't see the hands to use in pirating the works," she stated (via All Africa).

"Cutting their fingers off will stop them, by the time you cut off two people's fingers others will stop."

"They will learn and it will be faster in stopping them; without a drastic measure they won't stop. Taking them to court to be fined will not deter them. They will pay and come out to continue," Monye added.

In conclusion, Stella explained how piracy caused major issues among the nation's artists, saying, "You become a pauper because of your pirated works, they impoverish you."

"What is more wicked than pirating someone's intellectual property and making the person suffer without getting anything from all the money he invested in the works?" she asked. "We have been saying a lot about piracy but the authorities have not done much for it to be stopped."

Paul Gilbert demos DiMarzio PAF Master Pickups...

The Stone Pushing Uphill Man himself, the living legend Mr Paul Gilbert can be seen and heard in the video below demonstrating Dimarzio’s new PAF Master Humbuckers available in both bridge and neck versions.

As you will see if you click on the link you can buy the PAF Master as an uncovered or covered Humbucker. A number of colours are also available, such as; Cream, Zebra, Chrome a la Satch, or covered in Vintage Nickel, matte black, or Gold.

Congratulations to Paul Gilbert and his wife Emi on the birth of their son Marlon Kanzan Gilbert who was born on August 24th.

MUSIC RADAR: How to… Become a Guitar Tech...

By Music

A roadie used to be the van-owning surly bloke at gigs with his ass crack out. These days, a guitar tech is a problem-solving, gear-knowing machine. They're the unsung heroes who keep your favourite bands' live shows ticking over.

Teching is a viable career that requires skill and know-how. Alex 'Vman' Venturella has tech'd for Fightstar, Coheed And Cambria, Mastodon and many others. In this fantastic Music Radar interview, he reveals what the guitar tech job is really all about…

How did you get into the world of guitar maintenance?
"I remember getting my first electric guitar and I was always tinkering with it. I must have been about 16 and I put a huge ding in it, and there wasn't much on the internet then on how to fix it. So it was books, and then I got into basic repairs. It all kind of flourished from there, really."

What was your first job as a tech?
"I was a guitar teacher and I would fix students' gear. There was a local shop in Edgware, and every now and then the guy there would send me stuff that he couldn't fix himself. It was a word of mouth thing, and I've never set up a website or a shop, which is the way I like it. My first paid gig was when Charlie [Simpson] left Busted. I remember just fixing some of his gear and he asked if I wanted to come and work for Fightstar. I was with them for about five years."

"For the first couple of years, I didn't take it seriously, whereas now it's a professional thing - you can't be messing around on the job"

What kind of work would you generally find yourself doing on the road?
"Whereas most guitar techs or people I see on the road don't touch fretwork or adjust the necks, and if a nut wears down they'll just put a bit of paper in there, I would do heavy modifications, fixing fretwork. And electronics as well; I've always taken pedals apart and fixed them. I've always tried to do that instead of ringing up a company and getting a new pedal in."

Was there much learning on the job?
"The technical side I was great at, but I didn't have the roadie etiquette. I looked at it more as a kind of holiday camp in the beginning. For the first couple of years, I didn't take it seriously, whereas now it's a professional thing - you can't be messing around on the job."

Do you think it helps that you've been a gigging guitarist as well?
"It's like a pride thing. I want the guitar to play as good as someone who pays for a guitar setup. So on the road, I want  the guitarists to have a guitar that I'm chuffed about too. That's the way I've always looked at it."

How have you earned money between tours?
"I repair gear - that's always been an income. It can range, though. One day, you've got 20 guitars through the door, the next you've got just one in a week. That's why teching has been my main money-earner. When I come home, it's more relaxed, more of a holiday."

What are the typical repairs that you'll get?
"Amp repairs, like trying to get a dead amp working again, all the way to refretting, some finish work. I've never done major overhaul work, but with a refret I try to give my experience to customers so they don't keep having to come back. It varies because you never know what you're going to get."

Can you recall any particularly challenging jobs over the last few years?
"I get that with different amp companies sometimes. Some companies like to use printer ports [for the footswitch]; you're trying to fix a switching system and you have to go online and try and find where all the pins run out. When it's basic MIDI, it's in and out of there."

What are the most common things that will go wrong at gigs?
"The more that you get into it, the less problems you might have"

"It'll usually be if we've got hired-in gear. Onstage, the guitar rigs should stay constant. I always check measurements every day to make sure the necks haven't moved. But the more that you get into it, the less problems you might have.

"Six or seven years ago, I'd be running around a lot more onstage, whereas nowadays I'm sitting more on a chair looking at an iPad. That's a good sign - it means you're doing your job."

Is getting a tech job all based around word of mouth and reputation?
"The Coheed one was a good example. Their tech had to fly to Australia for another gig, so [the promoter] rings me up and asks if I can do the show. So I turn up and meet the guys, and they have these big MIDI switching systems.

"Claudio [Lopez] had a lot of gear and he was like, 'Don't touch anything - leave it alone.' But there was ground hum in his rig that was horrendous. He said it had been there for years and to leave it alone. I went and fixed it anyway. Then after the show he came up to me and said, 'Man, that's the clearest my rig has ever been.'

"It was just a few ground loops here and there. Three weeks later, I got a call asking if I wanted to come and work for the band. Some techs are not repairmen, but I'd jump in."

So repair knowledge is really the secret of your success?
"Exactly. At Mayhem festival there were a bunch of bands who couldn't afford to take a tech on the road. It's them in a van going across the States, which sucks. And they break their gear a lot because it's cheaper gear.

"So I would go over to the smaller stages and see friends I knew over there and set up as a kind of guitar fixer. Not for money or anything, but you just get bored and you want to help people out.

"Like Job For A Cowboy, they just had problems every night, so I was fixing their basses, guitars, and putting new pickups in. I was more like a handyman!"

What's an average day like for a guitar tech on a UK tour?
"A medium-sized band at a 2,000-capped venue, you're looking at getting up at 9 or 10am, checking the venue out and having a walk around. Check that load-in is going to be on time. Get the gear in, and then depending on how big the production is, you have to make sure lighting is in first, and front of house is all set up and you're not crossing wires. That's another problem you run into. Even some bigger bands now can't afford proficient expensive techs, so people cross paths with each other.

"Whereas with a more experienced crew it's like clockwork. You knock a soundcheck out later in the day, fix all the problems from the last night's show. You hit show time, and then it's packdown again."

How long after the band finishes will you usually still be working?
"It all depends how proficient the crew is. With Mastodon it's an hour. Once the band is offstage we're in the truck an hour later and it's chill-out time before we do the same thing the next day."

What's the most challenging task you've encountered?
"Challenging in terms of it being a time restraint, I've had to rewire a pedalboard a couple of times when the artist is unhappy with it and they want to change it around. You've got an hour until you're onstage. That's always a pain in the ass."

The reality of being a tech means a lot of travel and being away from home. Is that something that tends to be underestimated by newcomers?

"It is, yes, I always see on Facebook with friends [who are techs, too] that have kids and them having to say goodbye to their kids, and then they're gone for three of four months. That's really tough, and it's a pretty shitty job if you want to keep up a steady relationship. I think that's something that gets overlooked when people see being on tour as a kind of party zone and just having fun. The reality is it's a bit of a solo mission."

Do you modify gear a lot?
"Opeth actually used one of my amps on their new record. It was a Soldano clone that I built, and one of my overdrive pedals. I build pedals, too - I took four of my favourite overdrive pedals and went through each one asking, 'why does it sound that way?' Then I made my own version of it. With the amps, I'm a big Soldano fan, so I took a bit of a Diezel preamp and stuck it with a Soldano power amp stage. It's fun."

You're a big fan of Mastodon, and became part of the band's family in a sense as a tech...

"It's pretty amazing. About seven years ago, I sent a message to them on MySpace, saying, 'Hey I'm a guitar tech, I'd love to come and work for you - you're my favourite band.' I didn't hear back or anything, but lo and behold years later I was on the tour bus one day and went through my old messages and found it. It made them chuckle. So if you put your mind to it, you can eventually work for your favourite band."

Six Tips on How to Start Teching...
World tours with your favourite bands are the ultimate dream, but if you want to make it as a tech, you need to learn your craft. Here are some ways that you can get going...

1). Get fixing
Learn about basic repairs - action, intonation, truss-rod adjustment, replacing pickups, jack sockets, controls. Practise on your gear, buy cheap broken guitars and fix them, then when you're confident, offer your services.

2). Don't forget electronics
Okay, so fiddling under the bonnet of an amp can be dangerous, and shouldn't be attempted if you're unsure of what you're doing.

However, learning to change valves and replace/fix dodgy controls and sockets is a valuable skill. Having a go at making your own pedals can also be a great way to learn about the inner workings of your gear.

3). Approach local stores
Every guitar that gets sold needs a setup, so where better to hone your skills than your local gear arsenal? Guitar shops will often have an in-house technician, but it's worth checking around. Be honest about your abilities, get ready to change a lot of strings, and learn how a kettle works.

4). Put your name out there
Find local musicians in need of a setup and offer a reduced rate to help get your name around. A regular setup (action, intonation, string change and check-up) will cost between £35 and £50.

5). Learn about signal paths
Amps, effects and switching are a tech's bread and butter. They're also the source of many mid-set panics for guitarists. Get to know how signal flows around a guitar rig, and how you can improve it. From here, you'll be the ultimate onstage wingman.

6). Get to know your scene
Go to gigs, meet the best bands in your area, get to know local sound engineers, and help them out. Word of mouth is your main reputation builder, so become the go-to guitar tech by being reliable, professional and knowledgeable.

Ultimate Guitar's Top-15 Songs for Beginner Guitarists...

Top-15 Best Starter Songs for Guitarists...

Another Friday Ultimate Guitar list! If you caught this week's traditional Wednesday Question Ultimate Guitar asked it's web-site visitors to name the best beginner song for all the aspiring guitarists out there. Readers brought up quite a few classics, so the list was extended to a Top 15.

Animals as Leaders even made the list with "CAFO," they reached No. 4 based on votes, but in the end, Ultimate Guitar said, no, that's not a starter riff. Anyhow, on to the list of songs they'd settled upon!

#15. Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here
"Good basic chord changes done brilliantly" is what Mr third(-)eye had to say about this one, and hundreds of thumbs up couldn't help but agree.

#14. Weezer - "Island in the Sun
Very basic, yet very effective

#13. Oasis - "Wonderwall
Not sure you knew this, but "69% of people who learn this song on guitar will only know this song." Thanks to Elegitii for the stats.

#12. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Californication"
Both the riff and solo are easy to pick up on this one. The lyrical content is not the topic here, but "Californication" actually deals with the dark side of Hollywood, and is not just another laid-back tune as some might think.

#11. Blink-182 - "All the Small Things
It's hard to get more basic than this. Works like a charm though, learn to play it here - chords or tab.

#10. Cream - "Sunshine of Your Love
Simple, yet very, very tasty. Tasty enough to make rock history books.

#9. AC/DC - "Back in Black" 
It's worth noting that "TNT" also took a lot of votes, but "Back in Black" it is. In general, AC/DC is just one of those awesome starter bands, whether it's for guitar players or guitar fans.

#8. Judas Priest - "Breaking the Law"
Simple, melodic, perfect for your first scale rundown.

#7. Green Day - "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
Another song that caught a lot of attention was "Brain Stew," but "Time of Your Life" emerged as the Green Day representative.

#6. Metallica - "Enter Sandman
Maybe "Nothing Else Matters" would be a better fit, but "Enter Sandman" it is!

#5. Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop
Back to the punk realm, it's the Ramones and "Blitzkrieg Bop." Also, funny how Sex Pistols weren't even suggested in comments.

#4. Black Sabbath - "Iron Man
"Paranoid" also fetched quite a few of your votes, but "Iron Man" still emerged as the victorious Sabbath representative. Zappo the UG user nicely pointed out this one: "The main riff yes... but as a whole song I'd recommend 'Paranoid' over 'Iron Man.'" Would you agree with Zappo?

#3. The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
Kicking off the Big 3, it's one of those all-time classics that just stun you with simplicity.

#2. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana were actually the most successful band in the vote, seeing that both "Come as You Are" and "Lithium" also scored a hefty amount of votes.

#1. Deep Purple - "Smoke on the Water"
We'd honestly be surprised if this wasn't the No. 1 track for this week. Here's a neat fact - Ritchie Blackmore actually got the inspiration from the opening of Beethoven's "5th Symphony." As the guitarist explained, he just took the intro and played it backwards.

SoundCloud to start paying artists...

Artists will be able to choose which tracks the audio and display ads appear on...

SoundCloud, the digital playground for many music fans and creators, says it will start paying artists and record labels for the first time by incorporating advertising and doling out royalties.

The Berlin-based company, now six years old, boasts about 175 million unique visitors a month. SoundCloud is popular with hip hop and electronic dance music aficionados and musicians who can mix, share, re-mix and mash-up all kinds of music to create ever-changing works.

SoundCloud founder Alexander Ljung said artists will be able to decide which tracks the audio and display ads can appear on. At first, content only played in the US will be tabulated. It plans to later introduce a paid subscription model allowing listeners to skip ads.

The new program begins with 20 partners, which includes music publishers BMG and Sony/ATV, the comedy site Funny or Die and some independent artists. Advertisers include Comedy Central and Red Bull.

Jeff Toig, SoundCloud’s chief business officer, told The New York Times most of the revenue from advertising will be channelled to the content provider but did not go into details.

Up to now, revenues for the company – founded by Swedish engineers Ljung and Eric Wahlforss —- have been minimal. Its revenues came from fees it charged to its most active providers. The company had $13 million in revenue but $20 million in net losses in 2012 – the latest year the company’s filings have been made available.

SoundCloud is still in talks with other major labels for equity stakes in the company on the proviso the labels agree not to sue the digital space for past copyright infringements.

VIDEO: Check Out This 3D Printed Guitar!

As a professor of mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand, Olaf Diegel has used 3-D printers for more than 15 years to prototype new product ideas.

However, 3-D printing technology has recently progressed to the level where Diegel realized he could use the printers to make finished commercial products.

That development inspired Diegel, who also plays guitar, to start ODD Guitars, which produces unusual custom guitars with bodies constructed using 3-D printer technology.

ODD’s guitars feature skeletal frameworks with complex designs.

3-D printing makes it possible to manufacture ‘impossible’ shapes,” Diegel says. “For example, my Spider guitar has a spider web frame with little spiders crawling around the inside. The body is a single piece made of Polyamide, which is an extremely tough and durable form of nylon. I’ve dropped the guitars a few times without damaging them.”

Inside the body frame is a wooden core to which the custom neck, made by Warmoth, attaches, and the core material matches that of the chosen neck material. “Customers can specify mahogany or maple necks and completely customize the electronics. They can also make minor modifications, like having their name, band logo, or other graphics 3-D printed on the back of the instrument at no extra cost. We can even adjust the weight to a player’s preference.”

ODD offers five guitar models — the Atom, Hive, Scarab, Spider and Spider LP — and three bass models — Atom, Hive and Spider LP — which range in price from $3,000 to $3,500. More info about ODD Guitars can be found at and at

VIDEO: D'Addario Strings a Family Tradition...

Blood And Business: How D'Addario Fine-Tuned A Family Enterprise That Avoids The Drama...

It’s no secret that blood is thicker than water. But family businesses can often find the ties that bind to be either a shot in the arm or a pain in the neck. (watch the Forbes Video interview here).

In the business world family is, at best, a source of trust, support and undying reliability and goodwill. At its worst it’s a breeding ground for venomous spite distilled within enemies that know you well, understand how to hurt you and aren’t easy to get rid of. Just ask publishing juggernauts the Pritzkers, or the wine-producing Gallos. Business and blood did not mix well either for the Sarkis restaurant empire in Boston, Canada’s Irving oil dynasty or India’s favorite feuding brothers, Mukesh and Anil Ambani. It’s a special kind of family that grows a successful enterprise without imploding in a flash of lawsuits and love-loss.

One family business that seems to have found away to play in harmony is New York-based D’Addario, purveyor of musical accessories—mostly instrument strings. The family claims a lineage of string-making that goes back to 17th century Salle, Italy. Once goat herders, they used their animals’ entrails to keep instrument makers and musicians stocked. It’s only in the past 50 years or so that the family decided to get serious about it: upping production, embracing new production technology and incorporating under its own name. Last year D’Addario netted a FORBES estimated $12 million on $169 million revenue selling musical accessories worldwide, enjoying over 6% growth per year over the past decade.

With a leadership history now four generations deep, the D’Addarios have more than 30 stakeholders in the family – a dozen of whom work at the company – who receive income distributions proportionate to their ownership. In 1997 the family has installed a formal set of rules which they call their “Family Constitution,” meant to maintain lines of communication and set ground rules for the enterprise. “It’s a matter of everybody understanding that we’re working toward the same aim,” says John D’Addario Jr, former CEO and grandson of founder Charles D’Addario. 

The D’Addario decree dictates that the family – and stockholders – assemble once a year for several days of fun, family business, company news and strategy. There is an official council elected by the family that tackles issues and projects, as well as bridges the company and the stakeholders. The constitution also sets rules for joining the company: one must have a college degree to reach the higher ranks and outside professional experience is encouraged before joining the family enterprise.

Music appreciation and business courses are also strongly encouraged. Rules dictate that no family member will have a position created for her and only the most qualified worker – family or no – will hold a job. The family-wide rulebook even lists email etiquette to keep messages within the D’Addario network clear and respectful. “We share openly all of the major decisions that we’re making about the company and I think that open dialogue and that transparency really helps,” says Jim D’Addario, the company’s current CEO. “A lot of times perception is reality and if you’re not talking about something and really getting to the truth of a matter, people perceive it incorrectly and then the wrong feelings start to germinate. The next thing you know you have a problem.”

A formal structure can neutralize drama brought on by the complexities of growing families and the development of greater wealth, says Fredda Herz Brown of Relative Solutions, the D’Addario family advisor since 2004. “You move from just having individual family dynamics to having branch family dynamics.” New children also need an orientation and connection to extended family, she added, lest they lose touch with the origins of their own legacy. “John and Jim, no matter what, have stayed committed to the idea that this family will stay together as a whole – not just John’s branch or Jim’s branch,” Herz Brown explained.

New blood is on the rise. John D’Addario III, who became company president in January, could be poised to take the reins when his uncle Jim lays down the CEO mantle. The 43 year-old John III – know to some as J3 – grew up working at the factory every summer, spending time in shipping and receiving, engineering, product development and PR work. In that time he came to accept that his last name . “To this day, when I walk in the door here I know I’m under the microscope and every subtle thing that I do is closely looked at. Whether it’s how I present myself to how I treat people.”

Progeny are fuel for a family business and D’Addario enjoys a glut in that department—18 grandchildren, by last count, and at least some will undoubtedly join the enterprise, says John Jr. “There’s a whole bunch of them down the line that are interested.”

The New The Yamaha THR10 Amp w/Philip Sayce...

In this video Philip Sayce demonstrates how the tiny Yamaha THR10 amp sounds when mic’d and run through a P.A. system.

The video description also states that “While most modelling amps struggle to work well with effects in the front end, thanks to Yamaha’s VCM component modelling, THR responds exactly like you’d expect a tube amp to, even with Philip’s ‘best of the best’ effects in the front end.”

Philip goes on to talk about his vintage pedals that work well with the THR10 as well as a new OX Vibe pedal too. Even without the Tube Screamer the amp is generating a really great SRV type tone but with the Tube Screamer kicked in it sounds absolutely killer!

Philip Sayce’s new album “Influence” is released on August 25th through Provogue Records.

Make Music, Not Categories...

By Juan Rodriguez,

A Montreal Gazette article posted today has seriously questioned the need for musical styles... What do you think, should styles be completely eliminated and replaced by anonymous-sounding “music” played by anonymous players (or computers)? Do we really NEED music "Stars" or could the world do without them? Read the article below, and leave your thoughts in the comments... 

Is it rock or is it jazz? Is it heavy metal or death metal? Is it trip-hop or ambient, dance hall or ballroom, lounge or emo? Grunge or jangle pop? Is it neo-psychedelic or dream pop or math rock or paisley underground or, simply, shoe-gazing? Is it minimalist classical or postmodern baroque?

Hey, let’s call it fusion! Yeah, but what category of fusion? (With what is it infused?) Is it live or is it Memorex? Or should we call today’s music scene fragmented, and call it a day? (Could fragmentation become a new category? Just kidding …)

Back in 1965 fans became terribly excited with the invention of a new category of pop: folk-rock. Then, quicker than you could say A Boy Named Sue, along came country-rock. Today, it seems almost all of country music — what used to be called country ‘n’ western — is country-rock.

Why is “classical music” called that in the first place? The term first appeared in the early 19th century, recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary in 1836, with an aim to canonize the “golden age” of music from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven.

Why has Bird With Strings, from 1949, been roundly panned over the decades, even though Charlie Parker’s solos are improvisational gems? Well, strings equals classical music, which is not supposed to mix with jazz — everybody knew that. (True, these string arrangements were corny, even banal, but effective romantically.) Besides, it yielded the closest tune Parker had to a pop hit, Just Friends, and mass-cult pop and high-minded bebop were not supposed to mix.

Consider the confounding categorization of Summertime, the great George Gershwin tune from Porgy and Bess. According to The Jazz Standards, by Ted Gioia, Gershwin considered it a lullaby when it arrived in 1936; Billie Holiday recorded it shortly thereafter. But composer and scholar Alex North refused to include it in his classic tome American Popular Song because it came from an opera. Others linked it to a spiritual, Sometime I Feel Like A Motherless Child, or to blues-oriented songs like W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues.

Yet again, musicologist Peter Van der Merwe claimed the piece had more in common with Antonin Dvorak’s music. Wayne Shirley of the Library of Congress said the main harmonies of Summertime were derived from the “Tristan chord” by Richard Wagner. Duke Ellington had dissed Porgy and Bess for not using “the Negro musical idiom,” that it “borrowed from everyone from Liszt to Dickie Wells’s kazoo band.” (The Duke, who described himself as “beyond category” but was part of the jazz tradition as well as being a pop artist, eventually repented, reports Gioia; his 1961 trio rendering “sounds as if Ellington was intent on proving that he could still be cutting edge in the midst of the increasingly avant-garde jazz environment of the day.”)

Ellington didn’t like the term jazz, preferring “Negro music.” However, during the Black Power movement of the ’60s, “Negro” was considered condescendingly offensive, to be replaced by Afro-American, or black (more recently amended to brown), or the hazy “people of colour.”

Categories are useful, if used correctly (a big if), to give you a general idea of the musical territory the artist is mining (such as hard-rock vs. soft-rock). They’re most useful for radio programmers who believe that only one or two categories of music will appeal to the type of listeners (defined by demographers and advertisers) they want to appeal to. It’s when the listener can remember the category of music, but not the artist’s name that matters turn perverse.

In public places like supermarkets or elevators, people seem to want an other-than-silent environment. (Silence makes a lot of people nervous, scared, lonely). Thus, the birth of the category of Muzak, anonymous-sounding “music” played by anonymous players (or computers) for people who don’t want to hear anything more stimulating than lip balm. Ditto for another anonymous category: “smooth jazz.”

The Bad Plus, a “jazz” trio that pianist Ethan Iverson adamantly says is “not smooth jazz,” has re-worked rock hits as well as this year’s re-vamping of Stravinsky’s revolutionary epic The Rite of Spring. Iverson categorizes the band as “avant-garde populism,” adding “I’m the guy in the band that knows the least about rock … never cared at all for it and with the Bad Plus have grown to enjoy segments of it.”

As for breaking down categories, Iverson says: “The future looks bright, in some ways. More classical musicians are exploring improvising, growing more uncomfortable with the printed page. In the postmodern age, or whatever, it’s about having no restrictions …”

Just as Italian pop tenor Andrea Bocelli, the biggest-selling singer in classical music history, is described as the king of classical crossover (with Sarah Brightman the queen), John Zorn is the king of subverting categories. They include — but are not limited to — jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, surf, metal, klezmer, soundtrack music (spaghetti westerns), noise and ambient music.

“All the various styles are organically connected to one another,” Zorn told The Guardian. “I’m an additive person — the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.”

As music, not categories.

VIDEO: Pat Metheny to Use Orchestrion for His Summer Concerts...

A giant of the jazz world just keeps on innovating...

PAT METHENY, one of the world’s leading jazz guitarists, has assembled a typically unusual band for his current tour. The five-man Unity Group could well be the only one on America’s summer concert circuit that peps up its performances with an orchestrion.

Metheny has been working with the  machine (containing more than a dozen instruments), for over 5 years now, (watch video below from 2010). 

The orchestrion serves as a sort of mechanical orchestra on which mallets pound a vibraphone, sticks hit cymbals and drums, and so on—all triggered by Mr Metheny’s guitar and foot pedals. The orchestrion may not be to all tastes, but its use in these concerts is emblematic of Mr Metheny’s fresh approach to contemporary jazz, which shows no signs of wilting after more than four decades.

Mr Metheny has been showered with accolades, both for his guitar-playing and for his composing, since he began performing in local clubs at the age of 13. He has won 20 Grammys and sold about 20m records, a rarity for a jazz musician. He has collaborated with a pantheon of musical legends that includes the likes of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. He has been copied and studied by his peers and by students. Last year DownBeat, a magazine devoted to jazz, inducted him into its Hall of Fame, making him just the fourth guitarist to receive the honour.

As he turns 60 this month, Mr Metheny is focusing his energies on the Unity Group’s world tour, which is aimed at promoting its newest album, “Kin”. He sees “Kin” as being linked to the albums that came before it, as another chapter in a songbook that began with “Bright Size Life”, his first album, released in 1976. “To me, it’s one long story, one long record with a revolving cast of characters,” Mr Metheny says of his recording oeuvre of more than 50 albums.

The Unity Group is among the best bands Mr Metheny has put together and should burnish his reputation further. It includes Antonio Sanchez, his longtime collaborator and a master drummer; Chris Potter, a saxophonist; Ben Williams, a bassist; and Giulio Carmassi, a multi-instrumentalist. But it is Mr Metheny, the band’s maestro, who is its centre of gravity. It is his sheer improvisational ability with the guitar that will startle most listeners. Guitar synthesisers, whose use he has pioneered, and a 50-strong collection of guitars, give him a vast palette with which to colour his songs. At one moment his playing can sound like a cross between a trumpet and a flute; at another he delivers the high-frequency wail more typically heard in rock. For those who just want to appreciate his fingerpicking technique, though, the best moments are those when he takes up a normal acoustic guitar and plays solo.

When launching the Pat Metheny Group back in 1977, Mr Metheny was keen to develop an ensemble that would sound unlike any other in the jazz world. With the help of Lyle Mays, his co-founder and pianist, he assembled a four-man band that played acoustic and electronic instruments. But it was later, when the group added multi-instrument musicians, inventive vocals and hand claps that it developed its signature sound. The band hit a creative peak with “The Way Up”, a 68-minute song in four movements that was recorded in 2005. An expansive piece encompassing jazz, classical and avant-garde music, it was written as a protest against the dominance of short radio-friendly tunes. Critics were certainly impressed: the CD was the group’s tenth Grammy-winning recording in under 25 years.

Mr Metheny, who hails from Kansas City, Missouri, has long tested the boundaries of what a guitar can do and what it should look like. In the 1980s he asked a Canadian luthier, Linda Manzer, to create a guitar with as many strings as possible. The result was the Pikasso (pictured), a 42-stringed, three-necked beast that can play the sounds of an electric guitar, a traditional Japanese koto and a harp. Thirty years later Mr Metheny still uses it at the start of many concerts. His belief that guitars are “open-ended” instruments, something to be expanded both musically and physically, typifies his ceaseless search for newness in his music. “Someone who knew me when I was 14 said I was the oldest 14-year-old on the planet,” he says. “Now I’m a 14-year-old who is 60.”

Guitar Jokes from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

From the Fringe...

Great one-liners from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

“This bloke said to me: ‘I’m going to attack you with the neck of a guitar.’ I said: ‘Is that a fret?’” Tim Vine

“I sold my guitar to a bloke with no arms recently. I asked him how it was going to work, he replied: ‘I’m going to play it by ear’.” Lloyd Griffith 

30 Years of Music Industry Change, In 30 Seconds...

US-based recordings. Data supplied by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); animation created by Digital Music News.

And here are individual images for each year…

Small music publishers face uphill battle...

by Derek Crownover LLP - attorney with the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright

The music industry is being rocked by the new age of digital media and distribution. This is no more evident than in the recent legal battle between music streaming service Pandora and performing rights organizations ASCAP.

ASCAP and the half-million songwriters it serves are fighting an uphill battle because the courts have ruled Pandora can license digital rights to ASCAP songs for just 1.85 percent of revenue. ASCAP argues that rate should be 2.5 to 3 percent.

Song publishers are losing leverage, too, because the judges also say they cannot cut separate and direct deals with Pandora for the digital rights to the publishers’ song catalogs if they are already members of ASCAP. Said another way, publishers simply can’t give digital rights to Pandora and then ask ASCAP and other performing rights organizations, such as BMI and SESAC, to collect royalties on all other types of performances, such as concerts and at stadiums, motel venues and bars. It’s all or nothing, the courts say — either give all rights to the performing rights organizations or give them nothing.

The result is ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are sweating out the potential for large publishers to cut ties with their organizations in order to leverage their own deals with digital companies to preserve their futures. A year from now, these performing rights organizations could be shadows of their former selves. This is a potentially huge shift in power on Music Row as well — and the biggest struggle of all could be happening in the small publishing houses.

The music oligopoly
Even if consent decrees are relaxed in pending appeals or future lawsuits, large publishers are the only ones that have real leverage with large digital aggregators to negotiate the best rates for catalog uses — leaving Music Row’s small and medium-size publishers facing their own battle for sustainability in the digital age.

With a catalog of a few hundred to a few thousand copyrights versus the tens of thousands owned and active across digital platforms by major publishers, smaller publishers and songwriters aren’t equipped to dole out blanket licenses for their material. Generally, they have to leverage off of a larger entity, such as ASCAP and BMI, to maximize their values for digital or airplay uses around the world.

While large publishers and organizations may use a small publisher’s song rights to grow their assets and attract attention from digital companies, it’s the large publishers that receive advances and ownership stakes. Small publishers may never receive their full share of royalties and must struggle amid shrinking performance checks.

Small publishers generally don’t have the technology or the wherewithal to track, collect and distribute micropayments from digital companies. Digital micropayments are big data that require a complex accounting system to allocate funds among publishers and writers. In these instances, publishers are literally chasing fractions of pennies without the manpower or technology to find out whether these totals are accurate. The infrastructure and the incentives just aren’t there.

These smaller publishers are caught in a paradox: They need to embrace the digital landscape for sustainability but lack the resources to do so independently and fairly.

Fighting for regs
Right now, there are no fundamental regulations for auditing digital rights within performing rights organizations or under the Copyright Act to ensure that publishers and songwriters are receiving accurate royalty payments when it comes to digital performances. Many direct deals with the larger aggregators conveniently leave out the ability for smaller or mid-size publishers to audit and find the truth. The extreme minutia of royalty micropayments, coupled with the swift onset of digital music streaming, often has led to performing rights organizations and smaller publishers accepting payments at best-effort levels and face value, but not necessarily accurate.

What is needed is an accountable system of regulations established under the Copyright Act that results in fair and accurate tracking and distribution of digital rights and royalty payments.

If all publishers can be certain, through the law and oversight, that the system for digital rights is fair and honest, as well as efficient, then smaller publishers won’t need their own technology to seek their own truth in their royalty payments. It also would alleviate the need to hitch themselves to large publishers or invest in technology and processes they cannot afford.

A good accounting system, upheld by the law, could shift the publishing world from its oligopolistic state to a competitive, entrepreneurial society that offers more leverage for publishers with smaller catalogs.

What that exact system looks like is hard to say, but it’s one the music industry must fight for. Otherwise, our independent publishers could continually fade to black.

Derek Crownover is a member attorney with the Nashville office of Dickinson Wright and heads up the firm-wide Entertainment Law Practice Group. Contact him at