Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Announcing The 2011 PAD Challenge

It's time. Actually, if you've taken a few minutes to read the rant I posted well over a month ago, its past time. So, with little fanfare, but much expectation (at least from me), I'm announcing the 2011 PAD Challenge.

If you're new to the blog and wasn't able to follow along with last year's PAD Challenge, the concept is pretty simple. Basically, the challenge piece of the PAD Challenge is to write and finish a new song in just one week. Last year, the stipulation was that you needed to try a song in a genre or style you don't normally work in. For example, I choose to put together a straight up dance track, but I thought we'd keep things a little more open this year. So, the goal is just to create a track. That's it.

So, who is with me? You have until this weekend to decide if you want to participate, then after that, one week to put together a new track. Please use at least one patch from the blog, and send me an email with a link to your track, or the track itself, and I'll share the results here on the blog.

This was a lot of fun last year and I for see this year's Challenge being even more successful, so leave a comment if you plan to join in.

Essential Music Making Gear: AppleTV

Okay, okay, I'll admit it: I can be something of a Luddite in certain respects and have spent years ignoring the phenomenon of YouTube tutorials. I know, it's a little ridiculous, but I've always felt more comfortable following along with tutorials when I'm reading them from a book or a magazine. Its how I originally learned to use Reason almost a decade ago and tends to be the same way I learn the ins-and-outs of any new Reason device following one of the major upgrades.

That said, I've had a 2nd generation AppleTV for a while now, and have slowly been using it to view YouTube more and more, enjoying the opportunity to watch clips online from the comfort of my couch, rather than sitting in front of my computer. The videos posted by Propellerheads have been a blast,from various artist interviews to the slick new promotional commercials, as well as the excellent series of tutorials put together by James Benard as part of his 52 Weeks of Reason campaign.

Of course, Propellerheads Software isn't the only entity posting Reason entertaining and informative tutorials on YouTube. I have subscriptions to videos from a number of the Reason community's big names, such as the always excellent tutorials posted by Reason 101, Ned Rush, Lucky Date Videos, Peff, and Boy In A Band, effectively giving me "Reason TV" at the touch of a remote button.

How is this better than just watching videos on my computer screen? Well, in truth, its not, but I don't really have the patience for watching YouTube on my computer. When I'm sitting at my computer, which isn't as often as I would like, I tend to be focused on putting together patches for this blog, working on music of my own, or doing the day-to-day grunt work that has become necessary in our modern life. With the AppleTV, I can start up a video while folding some laundry, cooking, or doing something else that doesn't always require my full attention. And, if the tutorial is especially good or interesting, I can grab my laptop and "play along" from the comfort of my couch.

Not only have the tutorials I've enjoyed been full of interesting tips and rare glimpses into other people's workflows that I always appreciate, they've been inspirational. Something about seeing other people at work in Reason makes me want to work in Reason, so during my two week break a couple of months ago, I spent a lot of time soaking in wisdom and energy from these videos, picking up the occasional tip, but also excitement.

So, while something like an AppleTV isn't an obvious piece of essential "music making" gear, I've found it to be an excellent addition to my modest "studio." If you have an internet box like the AppleTV, I urge you to set up some subscriptions, and experience Reason away from the computer. I think you'll find it as energizing as I have.

This post isn't meant to be an advertisement for Apple. Regardless of my computer choices, I don't really consider myself a fanboy, nor do I believe that Apple always provides the best product and features. Roku has a line of competing boxes that have many of the advantages of Apple's internet TV box and many more, although YouTube access has been temporarily suspended (there is still Vimeo). Google and Boxee have boxes of their own as well. So, if this is something you're interested in, do a little research and figure out what works best for your setup and needs.