The Solo Album.com: My CD, DVD-V, DVD-A

Discussion in 'Music' started by Brian Dobbs, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. Brian Dobbs

    Brian Dobbs Ambassador

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    From http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi...6/12_27-23/CAN
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    Drumming up interest in his passion
    Annapolis man cuts the 'The History of Recorded Music'

    By JACOB LINGER For The Capital

    [​IMG]

    Everyone has caught themselves in front of a mirror lip-syncing to their favorite song. Some may even be able to carry a tune. For Annapolis resident Brian Dobbs, however, music is more than doing an air guitar solo or using a hairbrush as a microphone.

    The entire album was written, performed, financed and produced by Mr. Dobbs. The idea came about in 2004 when he decided he needed a fresh recording of his efforts on his chosen instrument: the drums.

    He said a friend agreed to assist in the writing of the album, only to back out at the last minute. Not allowing the obstacle to stop him, Mr. Dobbs decided to conquer the dream himself.

    The studio time had already been booked and there was no place for the musician to go but onward.

    At first, Mr. Dobbs was overwhelmed by the large investment of time and energy that would be put into the project. Not only would Mr. Dobbs produce the album, he'd also be performing all of the vocals and most of the instruments. He'd end up playing the guitar, the keyboard and the drums himself. Why go through all of this for a drum recording?

    "I wanted a recorded performance and I was going to get it," Mr. Dobbs said. "Even if I had to record it myself."

    The first order of business: learn how to play the guitar and the keyboard.

    "I had started off, back in high school, picking up a few instruments," he said. "But the drum is my first instrument."

    Mr. Dobbs realized he had a golden opportunity to record material that fit into the realm of what he tends to be drawn to as a fan. He said the original intent of his recording was to be different because of his appreciation of many different styles of music.

    "There is something on this album for everyone," said Mr. Dobbs.

    Growing up in West River, he followed the masses as a devout fan of what became known in the 1990s as the Seattle scene. Bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains ruled the music charts for most of the decade. They ruled most of the Gen-Xers cassette decks, too. These bands of the grunge era influenced many musicians and led to the creation of probably tens of thousands of "garage bands."

    As a student at Southern High School, and in college at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Mr. Dobbs was in and out of bands. Each always had big ambitions, but never an idea of how to accomplish any of their goals. Once in college, Mr. Dobbs temporarily set music aside and focused on his academics.

    Still, he researched and observed what other bands were doing and how to present himself professionally. That's when he noticed that some of the progressive rock artists he admired served as singer, songwriter and musician.

    "It can be done, so I might as well do it myself", Mr. Dobbs said.

    The chorus

    Eighteen months after he began recording, Mr. Dobbs finished "The History of Recorded Music." Where many musicians would have been satisfied to bundle up the CD in a Zip-Loc bag and immediately get it out onto the streets, Mr. Dobbs had more patience.

    Knowing he was a beginner songwriter in the age of electronic music, which is easily downloaded off of the Internet, he decided to think bigger.

    "I'm not sure that the music alone is going to be a good enough selling point," he said. I want to "push the envelope as far as what (I) can deliver."

    Mr. Dobbs believes that in today's commercial music market, a standard CD no longer makes the grade.

    With a Visual Arts degree from UMBC, he had the know-how to package the album on his own and immediately started working on designing the cover. He also added a little something extra - a bonus CD of totally remixed versions of each of the songs on the album. What's more, there is a DVD with studio footage and an interview with Mr. Dobbs.

    An interesting feature of "The History of Recorded Music" is the way the CD actually looks and feels like a record. According to Mr. Dobbs, the use of the vinyl CD lends credence to the title of the album.

    The title for the album is unique and appropriate. Although it might sound like the name of a Bob Dylan album from the 1960s, Mr. Dobbs said "The History of Recorded Music" is borne of his desire to not use an arbitrary title that carries little or no weight.

    Just when the musician thought that he had enough on his plate, he was contacted by a progressive metal band named Concrete Prophet. He auditioned for the band and eventually became their drummer.

    He said joining Concrete Prophet was "really worthwhile because of the people he met in the band and the kind of music they wanted to produce."

    The big finish

    Once the entirety of "The History of Recorded Music" was completed, Mr. Dobbs set up his Web site at www.thesoloalbum.com and began selling the album on www.cdbaby.com. The latter provides independent artists the ability to attain worldwide distribution for a percentage of the album sales. That possibility of someone in Europe or Africa hearing one of Mr. Dobbs' songs is what excites him the most about this project.

    "If it was on the radio, it would kind of be like, 'Wow. My song is on the radio,' says Mr. Dobbs. "But if someone in another country heard my music, then that would give me more satisfaction."

    ---

    The History of Recorded Music is available at area Record and Tape Traders, www.cdbaby.com and www.briandobbs.com.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    The History of Recorded Music
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Hey Brian,

    I downloaded your "Spirits of Tomorrow" track, and I dig. Nice work!
     
  3. Brian Dobbs

    Brian Dobbs Ambassador

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    Thanks Aaron, I appreciate it.

    I'm surprised however that this forum hasn't given me any more feedback however. This is, afterall, my target audience for this sort of thing.
     
  4. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    I like it! I always wanted to try and compose some music like you have done with all the different instruments. I really like the layering with the different sounds. I especially like the way that you did the video! Concert DVDs are my favorites and since I like to play music too, I always enjoy watching the different musicians and picking out their sounds. The way you added each frame with the different layers was really cool! The music is smooth, flowing, and very melodic and paints a nice picture when the eyes are closed. The sound quality is great even for an MP3 played through my computer. Excellent work!

    -Wes
     
  5. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    The name Concrete Prophet sounds familiar. . .did y'all ever play NEARFest?

    Maybe more folks will check out your page when it's clearer that your angle is prog rock and you're in a prog metal band. There's a lot of love for that stuff hereabouts. [​IMG]
     
  6. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    Brian, your sample track "Sprits Of Tomorrow" is great!! Nice tune, and a really nice mix as well.

    Am I reading your page right? If I buy the album from CD Baby I'll get not just the CD, but also the DVD & DVD-A??
     
  7. Brian Dobbs

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    Wes T, thanks for your kind words. The Spirits of Tomorrow is probably the best sounding track on the album. They vary in quality since the recording process was so long.

    Aaron, some might say the songs on this album are progressive, but that's not exactly what I was going for. This album is indeed a separate entity from Concrete Prophet, but I can understand the association between the two. We have not yet played NEARfest.

    Craig, thanks for the comments. You are correct, sir. If you get this through CD Baby you will indeed get a CD with the DVD-V and DVD-A discs as well.
     
  8. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    What, no SACD? [​IMG]
     
  9. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    Looking forward to hearing the rest of it as well as the DVD-A. CD Baby tells me that they cleaned and polished my copy and put it in a golden box and it is on the way.

    -Wes
     
  10. Brian Dobbs

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    SACD - funny. :)

    Wes, you're the man.
     
  11. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    What can I say Brian? I am totally blown away! I don't even know where to start.

    For starters, the sound quality is top notch! I set my system up using a couple of different recordings that sound the best to me. I didn't have to adjust a thing. Amazing low end! My system really isn't that great, but I do have two 3 cubic foot subs tuned at 30 hz (life is better in stereo) and damn the low end is insane! Overall the mix is excellent and I did not notice any bad tones or resonance anywhere. The sound is very enveloping (is that a word?). I kept thinking that the surround was on even though it was just two channel. Great sound stage. Excellent job!

    I have a DVD-A player but until now I haven't had any discs to try it out other than a demo disc that came with my sound card. I have had hell getting the bass management correct with my setup so it was no surprise that I had to back the bass down a lot for the DVD-A. I am running out of words to describe the sound. Simply awesome! Your use of the medium is very cool. I am old school so I am more of a two channel guy when it comes to music. I don't have a lot of experience with multi-channel music but I think that you have added a tremendous dimension to your music with the DVD-A. Lucky me, now I have a disc that I can use to show my system off with!

    I like lots of different kinds of music. Your CD is right up my alley. You have a nice variety and each song can stand on its own merit. Each song paints a different picture in the imagination. For someone who used a minimal amount of instruments you have done great giving each song its own feel and textures. I have to admit that Superior(ity) pretty much scared the shit out of me on the first listen. You seem like such a mild-mannered guy and then bam! That song is extreme and I was a little worried about you until I watched the interview.

    The extras. Really cool. I watched your interview. It is cool how you put the different video clips in. You don't really hold back either. You pretty much hang it all out there and say "this is me". There aren't many people these days who will do that. I feel like I know you. It gives your audience a lot more insight into your music when they know more about the artist.

    I haven't had a chance to watch the videos yet.

    This is the best 15 dollars I have spent in a very long time! Packed with high quality content. People would spend more money on music and do less ripping if they could get feature packed quality releases like this. If you have been following this thread and you haven't ordered your copy yet do it!

    On a more personal note Brian, I just want to say thanks for doing all of this. Seeing and hearing what you have done documented in so much detail has gotten me excited about getting back into doing my music again. I have always dreamed of writing and recording some of my music but I have never really done much about it. I guess what I am trying to say here is when you see people accomplish their dreams, it makes you want to start chasing your own.

    -Wes
     
  12. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Looking forward to receiving my copy. I would've placed my order two days ago, but I got sidetracked browsing the Progressive Metal section of CD Baby's $5 clearance section. That website is dangerous! [​IMG]
     
  13. Brian Dobbs

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    Wes, thank you. Wow. I just can't ask for anything better than a response like that. For someone to 'get' this project as well as you have, without having known me previously, really makes me feel as though the seemingly endless effort has paid off.

    Aaron, thanks to you as well. I hope you enjoy the CD once it arrives.
     
  14. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Brian. Man, I just can't get over how cool that DVD-A sounds on my system. Killer sound!

    I am curious what you used to tie in your instruments to your PC for recording your demo tracks. I am wanting to do the same kind of thing and I am considering a small Behringer mixer. Should I get one with the built in effects or should I use my PC to produce the effects? Just interested in what you used for that. Thanks. -Wes
     
  15. Brian Dobbs

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    Wes, I'm elated that your listening to the surround mix! [​IMG] Rock on.

    Let's see, most of the songs were demoed using drum tracks I created in Fruity Loops. Anything that was recorded was done so using the most unprofessional way possible, through the computer's line in. Yay. Haha.

    For example, electric guitar --> mini practice amp (the one in the video) --> computer line in. Keyboard --> computer line in. I knew the most important thing was just getting the ideas recorded, not really concerning myself too much with quality.

    If I were to recommend a process to someone else that would produce much better results, then I would say get yourself a sound card with 1/4" stereo inputs for any analog instruments that need to be recorded.

    Sadly, for demoing anything acoustic at my place I stuck a computer microphone in the hole of my acoustic guitar one late night. I gotta let you hear some of these demos. They are absolutely dreadful sounding. [​IMG] Haha.

    Anyway...

    Since I know computer programs better than I know outboard effects processors and external MIDI devices I just loaded sound files into Sound Forge and applied effects. My demoing process was probably the most inefficient part of my whole recording experience. Had I known keyboards better I would have taken advantage of MIDI I/O.

    I suppose it mostly gets down to how much time you want to spend on demoing. In my case, as little time as possible. All the effects I would need up until the point that the album would be completed were in my head. I knew what it ultimately should sound like so effects weren't a necessity during that demoing phase.
     
  16. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Brian! I figured you had a more elaborate setup for your demos than that. Since I don't plan on doing much with my music other than enjoying it as a hobby I am going to try and get a little bit more of the studio to my setup here.

    I currently have 3 PCs here at my desk and two of them have sound blaster Audigy 2 sound cards in them. I am looking at a Behringer 8 channel mixer that does have a built in effects unit. It is under a hundred dollars. I figure I can connect both PCs into that and I can use one PC for playback and the other PC for recording. This way I can mix in each instrument as I go. I can connect a mic, my guitar, and keyboard into the mixer. The only thing I don't have is a set of drums. I definitely prefer the sound of real drums over artificial ones. So does this sound do-able?

    I suppose I have two questions left. If I am using wavs can I overdub stuff as many times as I want without losing quality or do I start getting artifacts from sampling frequencies and stuff? In other words, if I use the highest possible quality and sample rate, can I conceivably be able to play and re-record a wav up to 10 times and still keep a decent sound quality?

    Also, since you are a drummer, are the cheapo 200 dollar drum sets you see on ebay any good for someone who is a beginner and only a hobbyist? I am strictly a tinkerer and not really a serious musician so I can't justify spending a bunch of money on a good set. Just wondering if you think I could get by with the cheap ones.

    Dude, I am amazed that you only took rough ideas and demos into the studio and came out with a finished product that is so awesome. You are incredibly talented.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

    -Wes
     
  17. Brian Dobbs

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    Wes, you're too kind.

    I once bought a cheapy $250 drum set just for practice purposes. I ended up using it for gigging a few times because it sounded good enough. Trust me, I got the cheapest thing I could find and it still worked well enough. :)

    If you keep all of your .wavs consistent, as in no change in sampling frequency or bit depth, then you should have no compression issues.
     
  18. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    downloaded Spirits, too... very nice! good luck with the CD
     
  19. Brian Dobbs

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    Thanks FeisalK, I appreciate the feedback.

    It's interesting you should mention "luck" though. Being a performer, it's a word I often hear. However, in this context, I don't believe 'luck' has much to do with this album's success.

    Objectively speaking, this album packs the absolute most bang for the buck. Subjectively speaking, it's worth every penny. With proper marketing, press attention and general word of mouth this album will know no boundaries. It's better to be proactive rather than relying on 'luck.'

    This is similar to being a musician in a 'local band.' If you have the mentality of a musician that's in a 'local band' you'll always be that, and nothing more.
     
  20. Brian Dobbs

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    bumping to add a portion of the press release.... Many thanks go to Wes and Aaron of HTF for allowing me to use their quotes on www.TheSoloAlbum.com.

    -----------------------------------------

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Independent Musician Releases Surround Sound Debut Album

    Annapolis, MD, November 2006 -- Written, performed, produced, financed and documented entirely by Brian Dobbs, this all-encompassing three-disc set experiments with different styles and soundscapes, with a focus on melodic patterns.

    Dobbs packages a bass-heavy stereo mix on a uniquely styled vinyl CD. The second disc features DVD footage from the studio, an extensive on-camera interview and music videos for each song. Remarkably, Dobbs includes a personally remixed version of the entire album in 5.1 DVD-Audio surround-sound as the third disc.

    Busy performing with progressive metal act Concrete Prophet, Dobbs still manages to develop and maintain the website, www.TheSoloAlbum.com. The site offers insights to his recording experience and provides extensive information to those interested in writing and recording their own album.

    "If you are into making music or have ever thought about it, this release is a 'must have,'" states Wes Thompson from the Home Theater Forum. "It documents all aspects of how this music was made. There is something here for everybody."

    "This is the album that no home theater should go without," states Dobbs.

    # # #
     

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