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Another Day in Computer Hell
[Head's up! This article gets pretty
technical. Read at your own risk.]
I was traying to install a virtual instrument library on my studio's PC
day, but the installation kept failing toward the end. While
investigating the problem, I discovered that my PC's system drive had
maxed out. At 60GB it's not a big drive [don't laugh! SSDs
were expensive five years ago!] but I don't recall that drive ever
using more than 35GB.
Since I was installing the samples from the library on a dedicated
samples drive, I assumed I must have unwittingly maxed out the 60GB
system drive with other programs over the past few months. I
immediately placed an
order for a new 250GB SSD, and in the mean time, I decided to delete
some relatively unnecessary programs from the 60GB drive. One of those
programs was Cubase 8.5. I already use Cubase 9, and I keep Cubase 7
around for when I
need to work on older projects that use 32-bit plugins. The 8.5 version
is only nice to have on hand in case someone who uses 8.5 farms out a
project to me, but that would be rare, so I deleted 8.5 and a few other
things to give my system drive a few gigs of breathing room.
I attempted another installation the library, but once again, it
failed, and my system drive showed that it had maxed out. So now I
knew the installation of the virtual instrument library was the
culprit, but I didn't know why, and I didn't know where my system drive
was filling up.
The next day, just by pure luck, I stumbled across a post by someone on
music composers forum who complained that when he installed a virtual
instrument library by another developer, he noticed the files had
installed to two locations — on his samples drive, and in a particular
user subfolder on his system drive. I navigated to the same folder on
my PC, and sure enough, sitting there were about 25GB of files from the
library I had attempted to install! I deleted the files, and my system
drive had resumed to its normal state.
The problem was caused by a default drive path in the program itself
which could only be changed after
installation. During the installation process, you could set the drive
path for the samples, but the program itself still defaulted to its own
samples path, so the samples would literally install to both paths. The
workaround I figured out was to install the program and just one set of virtual instruments.
Then I opened the program, changed the default samples drive path,
installed the rest of the instruments, then deleted the first set of
instruments from the system drive. It worked.
And then I ran into a problem.
Cubase 7 wouldn't load. It gave me a Windows registry error. The
deletion of Cubase 8.5 had inadvertently removed some files from my
Windows registry which Cubase 7 required to work. I had no choice but
to reinstall Cubase 7. The download of Cubase 7 from Steinberg's
not install, so I grabbed my original installation disk to install
And then I ran into a problem.
None of my three of my optical drives would read the disk! I knew that
two of my drives were starting to show their age by acting up, but all
three turned out to be toast. So I jumped online to order three new
And then I ran into a problem.
New SATA optical drives are cheap and plentiful, but IDE optical drives
are no longer being manufactured. Due to their rarity, buying a new one
on the secondary market will set you back $75 to $150! (A few years
these drives cost twenty bucks!) One of my optical drives is SATA, but
since my other five SATA ports are being used exclusively for hard
drives, I have a PCI IDE controller installed for optical drives.
Fortunately, used IDE optical drives are plentiful, but they are used,
so their life will be limited. I bought a whole stack of drives
figuring half of them will fail within a couple years. (Optical drives
are cheaply built; their lasers and/or drive mechanisms typically fail
within five years.) I installed new optical drives, and successfully
reinstalled Cubase 7.
So now I have this new 250GB drive that I didn't really need, but
decided to replace my 60GB system drive with it anyway to avoid future
problems like the one I just encountered. But making a copy of a
disk doesn't work for a system disk. A system disk needs to be cloned, not copied. I downloaded
cloning software, and after several attempts, I found the
"sector-by-sector" setting and got the job done. (An added bonus is
that if my new system disk were to fail for any reason, I could simply
swap it out for the original disk and be ready to roll within ten
And then I ran into a problem.
Programs that use soft licensing, as opposed to using a dongle, tie
themselves to your hard drive's unique ID number. When you change hard
drives, even when you make an exact clone of one, your soft-licensed
programs will fail to run. None of my IK Multimedia products would run.
Each one had to be reauthorized to work on the new hard drive.
Fortunately, IK Multimedia allows for up to ten reauthorizations per
product. It took some time to complete since I pretty much own every IK
Multimedia plugin there is, but my soft-licensed programs are now
Since I happened to be working with hard drives, I decided to make a
change to my 1TB project disk. I have the disk partitioned with three
simple and one logical partition comprising a total of six volumes,
each volume its own drive of around 166GB. I use one drive per
recording project. Since I'd never use anywhere close to 166GB for a
single project, I shrunk each volume down to around 125GB so that I
could add two more 125GB volumes/drive to the logical partition.
And then I ran into a problem.
With Windows' disk manager, you can't merge unallocated space on a
disk, which is what I needed to do to create two new 125GB volumes. I
had to download partition management software to do that. After a few
attempts, I got the job done. I was able to move the existing six
volumes to the front of the disk. When I did that, the unallocated
space that ended up at the end of the disk had automatically merged,
allowing me to add two new volumes/drives to the logical partition.
This change to the disk will make it more convenient to work with
multiple recording projects.
If you've ever wondered why clients pay $30 an hour for my studio
services, now you now. :)
It Seem Like I've Been Ignoring Your Texts?
just confirmed that my mobile phone is randomly not
receiving some calls and texts, and this problem could have been going
on for several months. I don't know if the problem is with my phone or
my provider, so I've decided to switch both. Unfortunately, I have
about three months worth of non-refundable funds applied to my existing
prepaid account, so I'm going to burn through those funds before I can
port my number over to the new provider.
During the next few months, if it seems like I'm ignoring your texts,
I'm not. Please resend them. If you get a busy signal when
calling, please try again later. I apologize for the inconvenience!
Holidays In Music — How Was It Done?
tomorrow is the one year
anniversary of the release of my most recent CD, The Holidays In Music,
I thought it would be fun to share a little about the process behind
making the album,
which includes revealing some intriguing information and explaining why
it took hundreds of hours produce.
Most of you have heard the term MIDI, such as when a polka musician
says, "I have a MIDI accordion." Since the mid 1980's, many polka
bandleaders have used MIDI accordions which can produce the sounds of
other instruments, from pianos and vibraphones to trumpets and flutes.
The sounds of those
instruments are usually stored on a card or a chip inside a sound
module. My recording studio used to have several sound modules hooked
up to a digital piano. Over the years, I used these modules to add the
sounds of many different instruments to my recordings.
Now, let's fast-forward to around the turn of the century, to the
propogation of virtual instruments.
storing the sounds of instruments on cards or chips, they're now
storable on computer hard drives and accessible as software programs.
computers can hold a lot more data than a single card or chip, the
quality and realism of the sounds of the instruments evolved markedly.
Developers of virtual instruments started taking audio samples of real
violins, real pianos, real guitars, real choirs, and everything else
you could imagine, and creating virtual instrument libraries from them.
For musicians and composers using computers in their studios, the era
of the MIDI sound module was over.
Fast-forward to today. Computers are wickedly fast
and powerful, and virtual instrument libraries have evolved right along
with them. Since storage space is no longer an issue, virtual
instrument libraries can be many gigabytes in size. The reason a
virtual instrument library may be so large in size is because it
contains thousands of
audio samples of a real instrument playing not just different notes,
but many different articulations and volumes for those notes. All of
this highly detailed, recorded material results in virtual instruments
that sound so real, only experts can tell they're not.
Almost all of the music for
television shows and commercials these days is composed with virtual
instruments. Blockbuster movies still hire composers who record with
but lesser movies will use virtual instruments to create their sound
The Holidays In Music was created entirely from virtual instruments.
Every note of every instrument came off of my studio's computer. The
drums, the tuba, the bass guitar, the string sections, the trumpets and
— even the accordions — they're all virtual. Only the vocals on this
recording were real.
If you're thinking to yourself, "No way! That can't be possible because
the instruments sounded so real!", welcome to the world of virtual
instruments — and thank you for the compliment!
So why did it take sooooo many hours to create the music for The Holidays
In Music? Using virtual instruments successfully is not the same
sounds in a sound module. Virtual instruments are not just banks of
instruments like you'd find in a MIDI sound module. Virtual instruments
are software programs that offer many in-depth options, allowing you to
choose, shape, and
manipulate the sounds to create ultra-realistic performances. This
requires knowledge of each instrument as well as experience in many
aspects of music production (composing, editing, engineering, etc.)
Here's a small taste of the technical expertise required to create just
one of the violin tracks in The Love
of a Father...
I used a $120
virtual violin library — specifically a sordino patch with the mod
to CC11. After performing the parts in real time, I opened up the piano
roll mode to
edit the notes, their velocities, and their start and end points of the
to trigger legato transitions where desired. I opened up both the CC11
and CC7 volume controller lanes to draw in adjustments to the dynamics.
I drew in pitch bends in another lane, and assigned glissandos to a key
switch. I then spent a few hours
spent editing and making additional tweaks to control details such as
bow position, rebowing, vibrato speed and style, and round-robin sample
One track down — another 182 instrument tracks and 300+ hours to go.
Not all virtual instruments I used were as detailed as the violin
above, but every virtual instrument had to be wisely selected,
appropriately played, and painstakingly edited to create a realistic
mandolins, banjos, and basses have to be edited for hammer-ons,
pull-offs, slides, and fret noises. Brass, woodwinds, and strings have
to be edited for articulations (sustain, marcato, staccatissimo, etc.)
expression, legato phrasing, and dynamics. This is the main reason the album took
roughly 370 hours
Example: To give Hail to the Spirit
of Liberty that huge concert band sound, I used over twenty
patches/sounds from eight different virtual instrument libraries:
A & Trumpet C
& Marching Band 2
Horn Group 2
Winds and Attack & Clarinet
Orchestra percussion - Triangle
Band Kit Cymbal
brass trio (x2)
A significant number of hours also went into the
songwriting, arranging, auditioning and recording of vocalists, and
The Holidays In Music was kind of a proving ground for me to
discover what I am capable of as a songwriter, vocal producer, and as a
virtual instrument composer. I'll be going back to using real
instruments on my next recording, but virtual instruments will remain
an integral part of my music productions.
Speaking of my next recording, this winter I'll be collaborating with
David Austin to create a solid, driving polka album which I estimate
will be released in time for the 2018 festival season. After that, I'll
writing and recording a contemporary single that will feature a
phenomenally talented vocalist from Illinois. These recordings will be
released on CD as well as digital download.
Venues: Book NOW for Oktoberfest
the Oktoberfest season being the busiest time of year for polka bands,
I cannot stress enough how important it is that venues book their polka
entertainment early — preferably a full year in advance if possible.
From mid September through mid October, there are literally more
Oktoberfest events going on than there are musicians available to cover
them. Every year my email in-box is flooded with last-minute inquiries
by venues desperate to find live polka music for their Oktoberfest
events. It's not unusual for my band to receive up to ten inquiries for
the last Saturday in September or the first Saturday in October.
If you want to lock in a good band for your Oktoberfest event, book the
band a full year in advance. The longer you wait to hire, the more
likely you are to end up with an incomplete band, a band of
questionable quality, or no band at all. I am going to do
something at the risk of receiving a little backlash from my fellow
bandleaders, which is to publicly reveal
one of the hidden reasons why it's important to book early for
Most people assume a band is made up of the same musicians all the
time, however, that is the exception, not the rule. Almost every
musician in the polka music
circuit operates as a private contractor; they are free to take
any job they want with any band. The
graphic below shows how the musician hiring fields overlap among bands,
ranging from professional to amateur.
the normal course of the year, bandleaders can almost always hire the
same musicians they normally use, but, during the busy
Oktoberfest season when all
bandleaders are hiring musicians for the same days, the musician pool
can run dry. The last hired bandleader will either have to scrape up
whatever remaining musicians he can find, or turn the job offer down.
gaurantee the best live music for your Oktoberfest event, book
the band you want early — at least 6-12 months in advance — so
bandleader can pick all of his regular musicians out of the musician
pool before they get hired away by other bandleaders. If you wait until
August and September to start hiring bands for September and October,
rolling the dice!
I'm adding a paragraph to this article to emphasize the importance of
prompt communication and action while hiring bands for your Oktoberfest
Every year, I receive multiple inquiries for the same prime dates
the Oktoberfest season. If you are the first venue to inquire of my
band's services, I
will give you the first opportunity to hire us, however, that window of
opportunity can end up being very short if other inquiries are coming
other venues. I can't
those other venues hanging for too long as I wait to hear back from
you. I will always try to grant you as much time as you need to make a
decision about hiring us, but during the highly-competitive Oktoberfest
24 hours is all I may be able to give.
Productions Shares Climb After Earnings, Stock Buyback Plan
Productions closed up more than 13 percent on Thursday after the
company posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue and announced a
new $75 million stock buyback plan.
On Wednesday, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based music production company
reported fourth-quarter earnings of 32 cents per share, in line with
estimates, on revenue of $253.8 million. Analysts polled by Thomson
Reuters forecast revenue of $224.9 million.
"We are pleased to report continued progress on the strategic alignment
of our global music distribution system with polka music consumers,
both domestically and in Holland," Polkasound Productions Chairman and
CEO Tom Brusky said in a statement.
Polkasound Productions' board of directors also approved a new buyback
program for the repurchase of up to $75 million of the company's
outstanding common stock. The timing of the share repurchases will
depend on several factors, including market conditions, the company
Polkasound Productions' stock is up more than 6% year-to-date.
Polka Fest Announces Band Schedule for 2018
bring more people into the Wisconsin Polka Fest at the Olympia Resort
this year, the Wisconsin Polka Boosters have hired the popular
variety-party band, Bobby Way and the Fabulous Wayouts. Based on
advance ticket sales, the event is gearing up to be a success, so the
Polka Boosters have already put together the band line-up for next
year's polka fest in 2018:
9pm-12am: The Toys
1pm-4pm: The Love Monkeys
4pm-7pm: Rebel Grace
7pm-10pm: The Britins
10pm-1am: Eddie Butts Band
11am: Polka Mass with a Polka Band*
12pm-3pm: The Rhythm Kings
3pm-6pm: Pat McCurdy
* To be announced
Digital Accordions Take Europe by Storm
Reich Accordions, a German-based
accordion manufacturing company, has been a leader in digital
accordions since the mid 1990's. Their most recent model, the V-3, has
broken new ground with the addition of actual reeds which are triggered
by air movement and controlled by bellow pressure.
"It took many years of research and development, but we've done it,"
said Reich Accordions CEO Hermann Reich. "The idea for the reeded
digital accordion came to me one day while eating breakfast at the
local Luftwaffle Haus. Our engineers refined my ideas, and now my quest
to create the most realistic digital accordion is over. We have
successfully integrated real reeds into our latest model, the V-3. We
couldn't be more proud."
"We're just having a little problem getting a patent for the new
design," added Reich. "For some reason, the patent office in Berlin
keeps hanging up on me."
According to the V-3 Digital Accordion user manual, the bellows, which
traditionally only controlled MIDI volume data (CC #7) with a pressure
sensor, have been re-engineered to physically move air through
custom-built blocks on which several sets of hand-made reeds are
fitted. The result is a revolutionary musical instrument that is
guaranteed to be most
expressive digital accordion ever made.
"If you pull hard enough, you can actually hear the reeds choke. Try
that on a Roland FR-7!" Reich boasted.
Reich Accordions was founded in 1923, in the basement of a bicycle
shop, by Hermann's father, Ferdinand Reich. By the late 1930's,
Ferdinand's accordion manufacturing company had become an empire. After
the war, they noticed a mysterious, sharp decline in sales, but sales
quickly rebounded in 1946 after the company shortened their name from Ferd
Reich Accordions to Reich Accordions.
"Our first digital accordion, the V-1, was plagued by an incessant
buzzing noise, so we re-engineered the V-1 and came up with the more
aerodynamic V-2 model." said Hermann Reich. "It remains our most
popular digital accordion today."
Reich's marketing team hit Poland and France hard, quickly dominating
the digital accordion market in those two countries. Reich Accordions
then began pushing their products eastward into Russia, but the Russian
people found their marketing campaign to be offensive and resisted.
Reich eventually pulled their accordions out of Russia due to the cold
reception and fierce competition.
Sales of the V-2 are skyrocketing in England, according to first
quarter sales reports.
"[The British] love the V-2! Anywhere you go in London, all you have to
do is mention the V-2, and people will tell you it's the bomb," said
Reich, who plans to use London as a test market for their latest model.
"If everything stays on course, our new V-3 will be hitting the streets
of London by the end of April."
"Make no mistake, we want to conquer the global digital accordion
market," Reich added. "We're preparing for a media blitz in the United
States later this year. When our superior German accordions hit your
country, you can bet the Japanese will respond by hitting you with
their latest line of Rolands. We're prepared to fight, and we will be
victorious! Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Akkordeon!"
For more information:
Reich Accordions GmbH
Uncertain for the Mollie B Polka Show
If the polka music market has seemed volatile lately, it's most likely
due to speculation that RFD-TV may be close to negotiating a five-year,
$4.5 million contract with Mollie Busta to continue hosting the Mollie
B Polka Show. Attorneys for both sides declined to make any statements,
but outside news sources have revealed that RFD-TV has been in contact
with Ryan Seacrest, citing him as a possible replacement for Busta if
negotiations with Busta fall through.
Fans of the polka show are voicing their concerns over the potential
replacement of the polka star.
"I don't know who this Seacrest guy is, but he ain't no Mollie B," said
longtime fan of the Mollie B Polka Show, Gerald Klopfmiller, 67, of
Cornfield, Iowa. "We've followed Mollie to all of her shows. Heck, my
youngest even followed her into the bathroom at Cracker Barrel once and
A similar but rather confusing sentiment was shared by Agnes Stoltz,
89, of Glaucoma, Wisconsin. "I watch Mollie B every day on the TV and
some of the shows are old reruns. I turn the TV off if it's not a band
I like. Whatever happened to Lawrence Welk? The tomatoes just aren't
ripening this year. Hey, what do we say, Milwaukee Braves are gonna win
today! My favorite color is ham! Frogs in a fiddle! Choo choo!"
Industry experts have speculated that if Ryan Seacrest were to become
the new host of the Mollie B Polka Show, Mollie Busta would almost
certainly be approached by MSNBC or Fox News for a co-hosting
assignment. This is likely weighing heavily on contractual negotiations
and could potentially push Busta's RFD-TV salary to just over $1
million per season.
While the contract is in negotiations, RFD-TV will continue airing
reruns of the Mollie B Polka Show, the Big Joe Polka Show,
and the lesser-known Syl Jorgensen's Minnesota Hoolerie Hoedown.
Return to Potawatomi
For over half a decade, the Steve Meisner Band provided Thursday
afternoon entertainment once a month for the patrons of Potawatomi
Bingo & Casino in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, attendance at the Fire
Pit's Side Bar was unpredictable and sporadic, so last year, the Casino
decided to try other options.
In an attempt to bring in more people, Potawatomi hired Klancnik &
Friends. Attendance was just as poor, so Potawatomi decided to go yet
another route and hired the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra with special guest,
Alex Meixner. Once again, attendance remained just as poor. Potawatomi
seemed to be out of options.
Then last month, on a whim, Potawatomi decided to hold an open polka
charged each musician an
entrance fee to bring in an instrument and play. The
Side Bar filled up beyond capacity, and people had to be turned away at
Potawatomi Polka Jams are now held every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, and Sunday at the Fire Pit's Side Bar from 2pm to 6pm.
Attendance is free for dancers, and $7 at the door for musicians.
(Annual musician jam passes are available for $150 at the courtesy
counter.) Musicians wishing to play are required to sign up in advance
as there is a five-day waiting list.
At the request of several musicians who participate in the jam
sessions, Potawatomi has agreed to provide a vintage Rogers drum set
and Magnatone amplifier.
Proceeds from the jams will go toward finding and hiring a bass player.
Five-Part Polka Masterclass
and retired farmer Arnie Glaschmeister has put together a Masterclass
series for today's budding polka music composers and performers.
Starting tonight (April 1st) the five-part series runs for the five
next consecutive Saturday nights, since that is when most polka
musicians are least likely to be working.
The five classes will cover the following subjects:
People who know very little
about polka music are encouraged to join. In fact, the less you know,
the more believable this masterclass will seem. The price is $40 for
musicians and $50 for drummers.
- Sat. April 1: The
biggest names in polka music, from Richard Andrzejewski to Stas
- Sat. April 8: The sap
factor — why "dancing" and "romancing" must be rhymed in every
song you write
- Sat. April 15: The
loudness wars: accordion players vs. adjustable hearing aids
- Sat. April 22: How to
get your original music directly into the hands of indie filmmakers
- Sat. April 29: Moose
Lodges and church basement socials -- breaking out of the nursing home
If by some chance you actually land a gig on a Saturday night, not only
will you be refunded for the class you miss, but you will automatically
be qualified and
strongly encouraged to teach the next class.
Arnie Glaschmeister's extensive film, TV, and radio credits include:
- Holzburger Chevrolet radio commercial
(actually they just stole his music off the internet)
- Local cable access Channel 7
community calendar background music (also stolen)
► Five Years Facebook-Free
five years have gone by since I left the world of social networking. It
was around November of 2011 when I kicked Facebook to the curb for it's
been thinking about quitting Facebook for quite some time, but what
sealed the deal is when Facebook hijacked my account and demanded that
if I wanted to regain access to it, I'd have to give them my mobile
phone number. (Yes, that actually happened.) Well, there was no way in
hell I was about to let Facebook extort private information from me,
both my personal page and business page were sitting in limbo because I
couldn't access my account to delete them. I contacted the Better
Business Bureau who intervened and helped me get my Facebook account
successfully shut down.
Most people would not have given a second thought to giving up their
mobile phone number to keep their Facebook account, but I'm not most
keep a very close eye on my personal information, which is why I'm a
fine print reader. I
read the fine print for every online service I join and on every
sign. I look for red flags, the most common being ambiguous
terminology. Several times over the years, I've had to amend documents
before signing them, whether they were release forms, indemnity
agreements, or contracts. When it comes to social networking
sites, however, there are only two choices:
Sign up, or don't sign up.
Once social networking services learned they could generate vast
amounts of revenue by collecting and selling their members'
socialgraphic information, social networking was (somewhat
transparently) transformed into a huge data mining industry. Social
networking users became a product to be sold. To maximize the value of
their product, social networking sites did everything they could to
make you want to post, click, like, pin, comment, and share more than
ever. Being the fine print reader I am, I read through the continually
changing privacy policies of sites like Facebook and Google, and I
didn't like what I saw. They were getting away with making it seem like
users had more privacy than they really did. After the Facebook fiasco, I deleted my
Google account. Shortly after, I let go of my LinkedIn account and
stopped Tweeting over similar privacy concerns.
I value my privacy very highly. My business address is public because
it has to be, but there are no more than thirty people in the entire
who know where I live. My mobile phone number, the same one
I've had since the 1990's, has
never been made public. The GPS on my phone is permanently disabled.
If maintaining privacy were my only concern, I could rejoin the social
networking scene under an alias, but the truth is that I don't want to
be that connected to everyone
I know. I have neither the time nor the desire to be privy to the
details of people's
lives, likewise, I'm confident not many people want to
know the details
There are some drawbacks to be detached from social networking, though.
the drawbacks, being disconnected from
social networking suits my lifestyle. I'm busy with my business year
round, and when spring and summer get here, I'll be back on the bike
trails and tennis courts. The little bit of sharing I do is privately
with friends, usually through texting or email, and whatever I make
public on my website. The tweeting, posting, snapchatting, pinning and
liking will have to wait for another day. Maybe when I'm retired.
younger people in the music industry, use Facebook, Instagram, and
Twitter as their only forms of contact. They grew up using those
services as their primary form of communication, so they don't give any
publicizing a phone number or email address.
missed a few
funerals, fundraisers, and other important events over the past few
years because the news never made it beyond the domain of Facebook.
Facebook account and the ability to "Like" are occasionally required
these days to enter sweepstakes or to receive service discounts.
nearly 80% of all Americans are on Facebook, some people see the
non-Facebook user as being odd or eccentric, or worse yet, maybe he or
she is a sex offender or some other sort of criminal.
► The History of the Kerler House
a Christmas present to my mom this year, I spent about 80 hours
researching the history of her 112-year-old house and putting it all
together in the form of a website.
Finally Available on Amazon
took 118 days for my music to become available on Amazon.com. According
the CD Baby, Amazon was mistakenly flagging my material as
"non compliant content". It's a shame that it took nearly four months
correct this error.
I extend my apology for the delay to
those of you who subscribe
to Amazon. And I want to caution musicians that digital distribution,
even though you pay for it,
is truly a crapshoot. There's no better way to describe it. CD Baby got
my music distributed to some services, such as Apple iTunes
and Spotify, right away. But an error caused placement on Amazon to
take nearly four
months, and placement on Pandora is apparently still a work in
Baby re-delivered my music
to Pandora in November, so hopefully it will become available
Since all of my music is available for immediate download right here on
my website, and, in
light of the surge of interest in "O
Holy Night" after it was aired on
Milwaukee radio the other weekend, I am offering a special
holiday sale on my website. From now through December 25th, enjoy
discounts on the downloads of "O Holy
Night" and the entire "Holidays
In Music" album!
Contracts, the Long and the Short
a nutshell, a band contract is a document that spells out the details
of a public performance agreement, such as the performance date and
time, location, and compensation. When it is signed by both the
purchaser and the bandleader, the document becomes legally binding. Some contracts are very basic, while
others can be pages long. My band's contract is only one page long. The
top section covers all of the details (what, when, where, etc.) in an
easy-to-read table format. The middle section lists conditions. The
bottom section is where both the purchaser and I sign and date the
The conditions in my contract are few, but they are important. For
example, if my band starts late because stage access is blocked or
someone is giving a really long speech, we still receive full
compensation. If we are playing outdoors, we must be placed under some
sort of shelter in the event of rain. And if there is lightning nearby,
we can cease playing to protect ourselves and our equipment from
damage. Another important condition states that if our performance is
canceled on short notice, the deposit, or a percentage thereof, may be
For most performances, your band's own contract will suffice. In fact,
a lot of
band jobs, such as public dances, are still booked on the honor system
with no contract at
all. Now and then, however, a venue will supply their own contract.
These contracts are often ambiguous to cover everything from solo
performers to theater troupes and may be several pages long, but, just
because they are official-looking documents, don't sign them without
reading them. I'm a shrewd reader of legal documents, and over the
years, I've found a few venue-supplied contracts to contain some rather
One summer a few years ago, a church
festival hired my band to perform. I sent them my contract, but when
they returned it, they included a rider with an indemnification
agreement mandated by their insurance carrier. I read the agreement
carefully, and that's when I discovered something fishy. Their
agreement stated (in a long, legalese way, of course) that if any
employee or volunteer of the festival intentionally or accidentally
damaged any of my band equipment, I would be unable to sue them for
damages. Could you imagine someone knocking a $5,000 accordion off the
stage and being able to walk away harmless?
day, I received a venue-supplied contract to perform at a university
for a private event. The contract was four pages long and listed
twenty-four conditions. I read them all. Everything looked pretty
standard, but one of the conditions stood out as peculiar. It stated
that I, the artist, was responsible for performance royalties. I've
never seen that before. The venue hosting the band is always responsible for the band's
live performance royalties, not the other way around. That's what ASCAP
years ago, my band
was hired for a popular music festival. The festival supplied their own
contract, and in the contract, they requested a 25% commission on all
CD sales. My profit margin was thin to begin with, so a 25% commission
would have made it useless for me to even sell my CDs.
If you find yourself disliking something you see in a contract, can you
anything about it? Yes, you can. Everything in a contract is
negotiable. If there is something in a contract you don't like, you
have the right to submit or request revisions before signing the
contract. In the first scenario with the church festival, I submitted a
revised version of their indemnification agreement stating that I did retain the right to sue for
damages, and it was accepted. In the second scenario, I simply
requested permission to strike the performance
royalty condition before signing the contract, and it was granted. In
the third scenario, I negotiated a 15%
commission fee instead of 25%.
I was recently asked to sign a release form so that parts of one of my
band's live performances could be aired on public television. On the
release form, it was declared that the music I played I either owned or
had "full authority to use for such purposes." In my opinion, the
ambiguous wording reads too closely to a licensing agreement. The songs
I played were cover songs, and I did not secure any permission for them
to be recorded or distributed because that's the responsibilty of the
public television network — the people who are doing the recording and
distributing. So I wrote an addendum on the release form stating that
the songs my band performed were cover songs, and I did not secure any
form of licensing or permission for their recording or distribution.
Why? Because if the public television network failed to secure
licensing for the songs we peformed, and they were subsequently sued
for copyright infringement, they could pull out the release form and
claim that I authorized the recording and distribution of the music we
You don't have to be a lawyer to review and question contracts and
other legal documents. Anyone can do it. All you need is enough common
sense to spot when something doesn't seem right.
Weeks After Release, Album
Reception in Polka Market Gaining Momentum
time and money I invested into producing The Holidays In Music was
truly a gamble. The CD is so unique in nature, there was, and still is,
no way to know who its chief consumer will be.
As usual, I marketed the CD to the people who are already familiar with
my music: Polka fans. I'm happy to report that the response has been
nothing but positive. There seem to be a lot of Polka music fans who
appreciate other styles of music, and what's interesting is how
different everyone's tastes are. One person who buys my CD might rave
about the 1940's ballad, another person might rave about the Volksmusik
hymn, or the Sousa march, and so forth.
This feedback is very important to me, because it tells me that my
songs are reaching a broad spectrum of music aficianados. It also tells
me that those of you who know me for my Polka music are not having
reservations due to the lack of Polka music on this CD. Instead, you're
opening your minds to explore the music I've created in all different
genres. That means a lot, and I appreciate your intellectual generosity.
For the past two weeks, The Holidays In Music
has been holding rank as the fourth best seller on PolkaConnection.com
— not a bad
accomplishment for a non-Polka CD if I may say so!
Outside the Polka music circuit, statistics are just beginning to
report streaming radio plays. People from as far away as Norway and
finding and playing my music, however, it's still too early to
speculate the start of any
sales trends. The digital distribution of my CD is an ongoing process
that will take several more weeks, and the physical distribution to
radio markets will continue over the next couple months.
Thank you all for your continuing support of my musical endeavors!
Holidays In Music - Funny Outtake
"blooper" is from one of the recording sessions for the Halloween Rag Medley:
Holidays In Music" Finally Hits the Marketplace
like to thank you all for your enthusiastic response to the release of
my new CD! Your support of my endeavors and encouraging words are what
keep me motivated to continue creating music. I am humbled by your
kindness and generosity.
There are a few common questions I would like to address:
1. What is
downloading? For those of you who don't quite understand
what downloading is, when you download
an album or a single song, you're not purchasing a physical CD. What
you're purchasing is the music in a digital format that can be played
on your computer and most mobile devices, such as your laptop,
smartphone, iPad, etc. If you want to buy the physical CD online and
have it mailed to you, the only place to order it is: PolkaConnection.com.
The retail cost of the CD, with shipping included, is $16.88. If you
want to save $1.88, you can purchase the CD in person for $15.00
wherever my band is performing. Mollie Busta also has the CD for sale
for $15.00 at her public performances.
2. Did you really
perform all of the music on the CD? Yes, I did. Although I
play several different musical instruments, there are plenty of
instruments I don't play, like the violin, mandolin, theramin, and Vitameatavegamin.
I work extensively with software-based virtual instruments, which is
how I am able to replicate many of the instruments needed to sound
like, for example, a symphony orchestra or concert band. But, to make a
virtual instrument sound like a real instrument requires an enormous amount of patience,
musical knowledge, and technical expertise. To perform all of the music on this
recording required literally hundreds of hours in the studio. At first
I estimated my time producing this CD at around three-hundred hours,
but, after more careful retrospect, I would estimate it very close to
four-hundred hours — the equivalent of ten forty-hour work weeks.
3. I thought you
were just a polka musician! I make a living working as a
polka-variety musician, and that's how most people know me, but my
musical interests extend well into other genres of music. I grew up on
Polka music, but I also grew up on Classical, Heavy Metal, Country, Big
Band, Top 40, and much more. As a performing musician, I don't stray
from the polka-variety music, but as a music producer, my creativity
takes me in many directions.
Upcoming CD Hits a
Roadblock With Digital Distribution
I ran into an unexpected hindrance while submitting my new recording
digital distribution. According
to CD Baby who distributes
independent artists' music to major download and streaming sites such
as iTunes and Pandora, any artist who creates
a medley is required
to title the medley with the name of every song in it. In my opinion,
not only can
in some absurdly long and
redundant song titles, but it flatly undermines
the autonomous creativity of
After spending fifty hours producing a medley, I'm not about to let
some outside entity, who had nothing to do with the creation of the
medley, dictate how I must title it! Rather than compromise
my integrity as an artist, I instead chose to remove two
"non-compliant" songs entirely from
hindrance will not affect anyone who buys the physical CD or
downloads the album from this website — it will only affect people who
download the album from third-party sites such as Amazon or iTunes.
consumers will receive an incomplete album, and will be encouraged to
the remaining two songs from this website.
really is a shame that, in 2016, a major digital music
service doesn't yet have the technology to accept medleys in a way
that allows the artist to retain the medley's proper title. What's
next? Are they going to begin requiring artists to submit their songs
files on 3.5" floppy disks?
Of Jim G's Videos Explained
[Update 2017: Due to this matter being old
news, I have elected to truncate the last names of the people involved
so that this article does not show up in search results when searching
the names of those people.]
always been my preference to keep the legal matters of my music
businesses private, however, when a third party makes such a matter
public, I feel obligated to respond. This article is written in
response to Jim
G's February 2nd claim on Facebook that Joe F. and I are
supposedly "shutting down [his] YouTube channel."
Early last year, several recording sessions for a recording project, An Evening At Martin's Tap, took
place at my studio. At one of the sessions, Mr. G. was filming
video. I had no problem with him or anyone recording video for
posterity, however, I made it very clear to everyone at the end of the
recording session that the videos could not be posted to YouTube or
distributed in any way because they contain audio from an unreleased
recording project. Everyone in attendance at that session, including
Mr. G., heard me very clearly and seemed to have no problem
understanding the reasoning behind my statement.
About a week ago, while browsing YouTube, I stumbled upon six videos
from the recording session at my studio that Mr. G. had made
available. I immediately sent Mr. G. a friendly reminder via
while I appreciate his willingness to share the music, the videos
needed to come down because they contained music from the recording
project that may be on a future CD release. I waited several days, but
never received a response, and the videos remained posted on YouTube.
not my policy to publish private
correspondence out of respect for the other party, however, I will
forward the email I sent to Mr. G. to anyone who requests
to see it.]
Joe F. is the executive producer of the
Martin's Tap recording project. He
paid for the editing, mixing, mastering, graphic design, and
duplication of the project, as well as all applicable licensing fees
for distribution. He is the sole non-registered copyright holder of all
the music that has been recorded for that project, both released and
unreleased, and is the only person on earth who has the legal right to
distribute that music. Mr. G. is not authorized to distribute
that music. None of the musicians who performed on the CD are
authorized to distribute that music. Not even I am authorized to
distribute that music. Only the producer, Mr. F., is authorized to
distribute that music.
In response to Mr. G's apparent noncompliance with
my request to voluntarily remove the videos, Mr. F.
authorized me to act as his agent and work with Google to have the
reviewed my request, found it legal and valid, and acted promptly by
removing the six videos from Mr. G's YouTube channel.
Regarding Mr. G's claim that Mr. F. and I are "shutting
down [his] YouTube channel", I don't understand his reasoning behind
that statement. It is my understanding that Mr. G. recently
opted to make many of his uploaded YouTube videos private, however,
neither Mr. F. nor I know why he decided to do that. Our only concern was the removal of the
six copyrighted videos. Once Google removed those six videos, the
rectified to our satisfaction and we considered the case closed.
This entire problem could have, and should have, been avoided from the
very start. The videos should never have been uploaded to YouTube, but
they were, and it became a
problem that had to be dealt with accordingly. When my personal
communication to Mr. G. failed to solve the problem, the next
logical step was to work with Google to solve the problem.
Polka music and studio recording are fun, however, they are also
legitimate businesses and must be respected as such. When you
distribute music to which you have no permission or authorization, not
only are your actions illegal, but they can have a
detrimental effect on the legal sales of the music. CDs are not
inexpensive to produce. It's not uncommon for a typical polka CD to
few thousand dollars to produce. These large investments must be
protected, and that's what copyrights are for.
Google's removal of Mr. G's videos was not personal in any
simply a standard act of due diligence to protect the copyright and
of Mr. F. Neither Mr. F. nor I harbor
any negative feelings toward Mr. G. We believe he provides a
service to the polka community with his enthusiastic video
of the area's musicians, and we fully support his endeavors to
continue sharing those videos with the public.