Category Archives: Music

I officially suck! – Who else does by relation?

Zk96mOpQz0Z7GuKRJLv16aojo8JEUhhOWb fjOMs96wLooking at my amazing music career, I can only say that it didn’t really work out. Not that I am rock star material, but I actually think some of my music is pretty good. However, the rest of the world don’t agree and Spotify happily rates my popularity as being 0 out of 100. I can’t really take that as anything else than a sign of my music not really having hit the main stream.

An obvious career move of a failed rock star is of course to become a bitter music critic, and I’ll follow that tradition by checking if all music similar to mine sucks by relation.

Why am I fit to be a music critic one may wonder. As I see it, being a failure within my genre makes me exceptionally fit to critique similar music, after all I do have a natural talent for things that don’t work. Therefore I’ll be listening closer to artists that Spotify judges similar to me as those must be within my area of failure expertise. 

During a couple of days I somehow qualified for being matched to other artists on Spotify. This matching has since disappeared but I managed to catch it. You can head over to https://artistexplorer.spotify.com to explore the artist similar to another artist interactively or be lazy as me and look directly into the Spotify application on your computer or phone. Below is the list of artists that Spotify judged as being most similar to me.

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Being an investigative music critic (what a cool title!) has never been this easy. Exploring further down the list of similar artist yields fascinating names like ”Brink of disaster”, ”The Jerkoffs” (Yes, I will listen to their stuff only because they have that name), and ”Hospital the Musical” (I tried to instruct Siri to play me their music next time I’m in a hospital and after thinking long and hard she refused, so I guess that’s that.).

I immediately want to know what a Beer corpse actually is (is it the can? Or is the actual beer dead? Was it alive at some point?) or if Jenny really is kind and other deep thoughts. I will try to answer these and other questions but I’ll do it mostly from the Spotify application as all information needed should be there and I really don’t want to put too much time into this (as you know that true talent is enough to succeed and work should basically not be required).

I have built a small playlist of the songs mentioned in the article (yes, it contains my stuff as well). And if you don’t have Spotify you can probably find all this stuff somehow on youtube or apple music or any other service, just I won’t collect it for you. Use Google, or Bing if you are more ”alternative”.

Terre Neuve 

The artist that turns up first in the list of similar artists to me is Terre Neuve, and I have to say I am immediately offended! Not due to the explicit lyrics though. There are none. Neither am I offended by the music, as there is none of that either!

Terre Neuve has one album on Spotify and it’s called Hope Eternal Springs (Loopable Audio for Ambiance, Meditation, Insomnia, and Restless Children)!

I am offended by Spotify claiming my music is most similar to a recording of water in a stream somewhere. Thanks. Listening to this basically just makes me want to pee, so I’ll just skip this artist in my review round (hey, I’m not going to sit and listen though 15 tracks with different variations of water running, I just won’t!).

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I’ll look at the photo on the album though. It’s a nice one. Good depth. A bit soft on the colors, so the photo gets a 3/5 score from me. The album I’ll just continue to ignore and hope that Terre Neuve finds a good audience that likes his album as I’m sure he does a great job of recording water. I won’t add any if these sounds to the playlist, but here is the hit Small Bubble Fast Stream for you to enjoy anyway.

Oh, just one more thing to be offended about. This is what’s most like my music according to Spotify. However I don’t turn up in his list of similar artists at all, but both David Guetta and Daft Punk do…

Enough of this. After a visit to the loo I go on to listen to the next artis.

Cab Driver

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Now we’re talking! Cab Driver currently has one track on Spotify: Gasoline. Like my music it has less than 1000 listens, but unlike many of my songs this rocks! The song starts of with a cool guitar riff, followed by more guitars and powerful drums and bass that follow along the basic structure of the song. But man, that lead guitarist can play! 

I have no idea what the singer is trying to say most of the time (and for some reason he reminds me of D.A.D lead singer Jesper Binzer), but that doesn’t really matter as I doubt the song is trying to convey any solution of major world problems, and if he is I really don’t know what I should do with that information anyway. He has energy and he performs well. Google the lyrics if you need them. I don’t. 

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The song gets a bit monotone after a while, but its straight through good rock performed by excellent musicians and it makes perfect sense that they have only 5 listeners per month. After all, I like this so it must be bound for failure. 

 I’d include a picture of the band here if there was any on Spotify, but there isn’t. If you’re curious you can google that as well.

Beer Corpse 

Below is the page I get for Beer Corpse on Spotify. XY5lcX23yabvYKBRL vl xj3diZt0JZCz vTvx 9PR0

I hope you like it. At least in Sweden it looks like this and there is not a single song available. I guess they are available somewhere else, like in another country or something, but I have to say that this music critique thing isn’t going amazingly well.  Being a failed rock star is one thing, but a failed music critic? C’mon Spotify, at least put people that have published music as similar artists! Or is the similar artist concept based on something else than music? Profile pic? 

Anyway, to answer my deep thought about what a Beer Corpse actually is, I can now tell you it’s an empty profile page on Spotify with a shout out to help make this artist popular by listening to their music! Somehow however 11 people have managed even if there is nothing to listen to. Impressive.

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Yes, I know this is in Swedish, that is what my Spotify prefers and as I speak Swedish I don’t really mind, but this is ridiculous in Swedish or any other language. Why is an artist that has no songs at all referred to as similar artist? And why are you requesting me to listen to music where there is none? 

I’ll help you out Spotify, as I happen to be pretty good at this computer stuff.. Now, add something like this in the player code. 

if(artist.has_no_music_that_can_be_played_in_this_country_or_is_just_sampling_of_water())
{
   Find_another_artist_that_actually_has_some_music_and_show_that_instead();
}

You’re welcome!

Cheryl Foster

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Cheryl Foster has a hat and likes the beach. That is as much as I can understand from the photo of her album Ain’t about me. The music is boring too, except the single No superman that is both boring and somehow disturbingly performed (the bass really gets to me.. is it a little bit out of sync somehow?)  so that one will most definitely be a hit. 

I actually listened through almost all the songs, something I really hadn’t planned to do but it was so uninspiring that I died a little bit inside and in my sudden apathy just let it play on. At least the songs after No superman were well performed and she seems to be a rather good singer. So the beach-hats off for that.

As I don’t like this all that much, Cheryl is destined for success and I expect her to be visible on the charts soon. 

Luckily I’m not getting paid for this as I really can’t come up with much more to say here.. Not even anything evil. 

Piuma 

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I’m confused again. 

Not that me being confused is very rare, but publishing the same record twice, with the same recordings of songs on Spotify is beyond me. But Piuma know better and published their album, creatively named Piuma in 2015 and then again as a vinyl playback in 2016. WHY? The only difference is that the vinyl recording has worse sound quality as far as I can hear.

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Piuma seem to be cool though, and as I’m kinda cool too I listened to the version of the album that has been recorded and digitally mastered (my assumption), pressed onto analog vinyl, played back and recorded with digital equipment, digitally compressed and streamed to my computer. Somehow I assume this process should recreate the experience of listening to vinyl, something I haven’t done since I last listened to the Smurfs Icelandic christmas album (I couldn’t find that one on Spotify, but here is a recording in the same spirit).Url I bet it is those feelings and memories Piuma want people to recall with their vinyl version, so the rest of this review will be in the spirit of that old album, as probably is the wish of the artist. 

Smurfing the songs on the album in shuffle mode is a bit smurfy I must say as the pieces are obviously ment to be smurfed in order. Especially smurfing from Universoul to As Far as Eye Can See may cause you to smurf a bit.

The songs are quite smurfy and the band smurfs them well. Universoul and No hesitation are too long but Born is smurfy. They’ve obviously smurfed Led Zeppelsmurf for inspiration. Well smurfed!

Piuma are definitely running the risk of being utter failures as I actually smurf them and they are the first artist I smurfed where I chose to press the follow button. I am now one of their smurfs.

JennyAnyKind

Ok, lets get two things clear.

  1. JennyAnyKind sounds like a guy
  2. This is the first artist in the list that actually has any song with more than 1000 listens! 

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This is of course a huge milestone for me as a critic to critique such mainstream music. This band has 70 listeners per month to compare with Piuma with the previous record of 19.. 

Anyway.. Looking more at the band it seems they forgot Jenny.. 

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..or they’re all kinds of Jennys?  I don’t know and I can’t really answer if any is kind. 

I just come to think about the movie Forrest Gump. There is a Jenny there. She seems kind but she dies. 

The music is cool and laid back. They don’t seem all that bothered about having misplaced Jenny and just keep on rocking in a smooth way. The band is obviously inspired by pre-70s rock/blues and let it shine through and they may have heard a Bob Dylan song or two that inspired them. And they actually seem serious.

U9 22OklngrGbKJVCXA3O3F7nvTtyx7RVm8Cug GOwwJust look at the cover of their album Peas and Collars. There is some work behind that and I like it.

No-Jenny-of-Any-Kind are quite likely to be successful based on the notion of what I fall for is a failure as while I have to say I like the music, I won’t be listening actively to it again. It just doesn’t touch any nerve  (not even the pee nerve like Terre Neuve did).

Djane

I want Djane to be GI-Jane. I just do. 

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Anyway. This is another super popular artist with 95 monthly listeners (just below Justin Bieber) and songs that have been played thousands of times. 

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GI-Jane is using a language I don’t understand at all, but hey, music is universal isn’t it? The intro in Hino Funkerio  leads me to think about the music in The Secret Of Monkey Island (it’s a game if you’re a non-nerd) but quickly changes into a bad karaoke version (with some creative changes) of Vanillas Takapenlin tytöt performed when the party is almost over by the people who have had the most fun but didn’t pass out. The voices don’t go together at all and seem a bit off.. But I wouldn’t know. Perhaps it’s supposed to be like this. Obviously thousands of people have checked it out at least.

Their other song Sem Vergonha is better but still nothing I’d like for anything else than background music in a latin restaurant. It would fit quite well for that so I’ll add it to the playlist just in case you’re going out for dinner tonight. 

I have by now given up all thoughts of Spotify having figured out any relation between me and the artists they claim are similar. I think it’s just a sort of random function that selects some other failed artists and mixes them together. 

Me

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Ok. I don’t really care what you think here, but the most similar artist to me, must be me. It’s like so similar that it’s exactly the same. Not even Terre Neuves water album is that similar to my music. Also, now when I’ve written this piece, Spotify has decided that I don’t have any similar artists anymore. They’re all gone. I can only interpret that as Spotifys algorithms have concluded that I’m unique at least in this very moment.

The music is very environmentally friendly in a way as many of the words used are recycled from other songs. Phrases like ”Out of my league” and  ”I don’t know” are commonplace.  If English is not your favourite language it’s fine. These songs are all the same so you can just think an unhappy and hopeless thought and you’re in the right mood and should be able to enjoy  it (if you are the kind who enjoys feeling miserable that is). 

Some of the songs are in tune, some are not. Some are a bit pop-rockish, some are not. Musically the red thread is quite unclear, but lyrically the misery is there in most songs. The singing could have been performed by someone who is good at singing or had any charisma, but to make it a little bit more difficult to like the music, it is performed by me. 

There are a few pop with EDM-flavour experiments in Surreal and No one knows, there is an attempt at writing a country sounding song in Ragged Dog and then there are other master pieces like Ghost, From the bottle, Supernatural temptation and Just a dream among others. These are easily some of the best songs ever written (if you exclude all that are better that is).

The production is uneven and it’s obvious that it’s done by someone who really doesn’t know what he is doing. A cool thing you can do is for example trying to listen to No Man in a rather new Citroen C4 with standard stereo and raise the volume to close to maximum. The base drum will sound like a plastic toy of some sort and annoy the hell out of you. So the songs definitely have character, even if for some the character is more like Darth Vader than Luke if you know what I mean. 

Wrap up

This concludes my investigative and deep diving study of my failing music and it’s relatives. I hope it has given you some insights. Writing it helped me find Piuma as well as writing one more article to clog up the internet with, so I guess it’s all good.

Now go listen to some music! It’s good for you and it’s good for the artists.

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Automatic music video

Much to my surprise, I have come to realise that YouTube is used by many for music listening. That’s too bad, as I don’t know much about making videos.

For a few songs, i used iMovie to cut together some footage and text. See for example From the bottle below

But making these was a bit tedious, especially when it’s the music and not the video that interests me.

So, after some surfing, I ended up with this little script using ffmpeg

ffmpeg -i "The Stage (v1.01).mp3" -i ../cover.jpg -filter_complex "nullsrc=size=1280x768 [base]; [1:v] setpts=PTS-STARTPTS ,scale=768x768 [cover]; [0:a] showwaves=s=512x768:mode=cline [sw]; [base][sw]overlay=x=768 [tmp1]; [tmp1][cover]overlay=x=0 [out]" -map "[out]" -map a:0 -c:v libx264 -shortest -crf 18 -c:a copy "The Stage (v1.01).mkv"

That yields the following video

and

ffmpeg -i "Beneath the snow (v1.01).mp3" -i ../cover.jpg -filter_complex "nullsrc=size=1280x768 [base]; [1:v] setpts=PTS-STARTPTS ,scale=768x768 [cover]; [0:a]showspectrum=mode=combined:slide=scroll:color=intensity:scale=cbrt:s=512x768[sw]; [base][sw]overlay=x=768 [tmp1]; [tmp1][cover]overlay=x=0 [out]" -map "[out]" -map a:0 -c:v libx264 -shortest -crf 18 -c:a copy "Beneath the snow (v1.01).mkv"

that generated this one

There are more possibilities for using ffmpeg and generating music visualisation, but I found these two to be the simplest to use. This is perfect for us nerdy musicians that want to be able to script all boring stuff out of our lives 🙂

(note that the script does not transcode the music, it leaves it as is = good thing)

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Fallur: Making of 2.0

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Now, the game Fallur was released a bit early, just to be out in time for christmas (and the reason for that being that I had invested 30 minutes into making christmas graphics for the game). Now it’s time to make the game good enough to be playable for the rest of the year.

screenshotGraphics

The graphics in the 1.0 version of the game where all photography based, and the game ran in 360×540 resolution with 48×48 sprites. This is a quite nice resolution to work in when using that kind of graphics, but if the graphics is to be hand-drawn it puts quite a lot of pressure on the artist.

Screenshot_2014-12-29-12-36-15For the 2.0 version I decided to lower the resolution quite a lot (4x) to hide the fact that I can’t draw at all, and also that the added resolution really didn’t add anything at all to the game play.

For sprites I used the very nice Random Sprite Generator by Boris van Schooten (check out his site that’s full of games and useful stuff). That received me of the pain of having to do much graphics.

The rest of the graphics is just scale down of the higher resolution images used in 1.0 except for the background that I simply removed in favour of a simple gradient that makes the game more playable.

Sound

Making music is one of my greatest passions in life. I am always playing my guitar and coming up with a new song. It’s like breathing. I have to do it. So making music for a game should be simple, shouldn’t it? Not really.

I make rock music mostly. I have once in a while made these “chip/synth”-kinds of tunes, but they are much more effort to make than a guitar based rock tune. So, I made this:

This is an early draft of music that could be added to the game, but I am not sure right now as it can’t be compressed below 2Mb of size without sounding really bad. I got it down to 1.5Mb by removing most high-frequency sounds in the song and then compressing to 80kbit. That will have to do for now..

Gameplay

The original gameplay was very simple. Hit all things that fall down (at varying speeds) but don’t hit the ghosts. Then of course the difficulty increased by increasing the number of things falling down as well as the speed.

The result was a game that was completely unplayable after level 20. It was simply to difficult. My analytics data proved the point by showing that most people failed early (or thought the game was boring and quit).

Change to the gameplay is now that there are 6 personalities with different behavioural patterns. For the first 10 levels only one, quite simple one is available. Then another, a little bit harder comes into the game and so on. The game is now playable for 60-70 levels for those who  fancy this kind of super simple game. It will be interesting to see on the analytics if anyone has the patience or interest to go that far or if people just drop the game after a few levels due to bordom.

What now

The 2.0 version of the game is now live on google play. It has a bit more evolved gameplay than the 1.0 version and a rock soundtrack of quite low quality.

Now I will keep my eyes on my analytics to see if this appeals to anyone at all, fix issues and enhance if needed. Who knows, there might even be an iOS version of there is enough of people playing it on Android. But the goal with the game is the same as before. I do this for learning.

There will be updates. Possibly the music will be changed, the Facebook integration is very rudimentary, perhaps a google play integration would be a good thing, overlay screen showing when a new monster has been unlocked should be made, sound effects added and so on.

But now, let’s see if anyone plays the game.

 

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Meaning of a message

There is so much in a picture and a message.
I’ve run two ads on Facebook. One for End and one for Supernatural Temptation. The one for End is getting alot of plays while the otherone isn’t. End is targetted at people with complicated relation status and has a picture that is clearly pointing at marriage issues (the same as below in the soundcloud image)

The one for supernatural was pointed to general hipsters that like independent music with an image that really conveys no message at all. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the ad for Supernatural was basically just waste of money as it did’t engage the viewer.

Lesson learned: There is no shortcut to real plays.

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One shot music video

Got this simple idea one day on my way to work. How about just shooting a video with the phone and sing along to a song? Said and done, I put my Xperia Z2 on the dashboard and started filming.

Simple enough, and I guess it’s better than my normal music videos as there is actually a video in it 🙂

Enjoy

You can see all my videos on my youtube channel (just don’t expect to much movement)

 

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Using the spotify widget

Assuming things can be a bit risky.

I was delighted when I found these Spotify widgets that I could embed on my pages for promoting my music.



..and for those that have a Spotify subscription this is good. But not really for the rest of the world.

I was finding that I was getting quite alot of traffic to on of my pages that had a Spotify widget at the top but there was no increase showing in the statistics on Spotify. After a quick check of my page using another computer than usual I understood why.

Even though the widget looks like it can play the song, it can only do that if you’re logged into Spotify. If the play button is clicked the user is asked to log in (and most people won’t bother).

I’ve now moved the Spotify widgets further down on the pages and have SoundCloud ones at the top instead. That is much more effective as it requires no sign in.

 

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Ads with AdWords and Facebook

I’ve been experimenting with online ads using both Google AdWords and AdMob as well as Facebook ads for the last week.

Now, to begin with, the comparison will not be completely fair, as Google was running a campaign that gave me a coupon of 750 SEK (the very nice support at AdWords arranged that for me when I asked if I could be eligible for their ongoing campaign) while there was no such campaign on Facebook and thus my budget for testing there was significantly smaller than on the Google services. I have yet to find a similar possibility on Facebook to get started.

Anyway, I think I might have some preliminary findings that are of interest.

Lovur adFirstly, Advertising an application with AdMob has been quite effective. Even at low daily budget of 20 SEK/day it was effective. Weekends were especially good.

Advertizing music using Googles AdWords ads was however not as successful. The Ads got the clicks and thus visits to the sverrirv.com page of the tracks, but very few people stayed on the page to listen, and then only using the SoundCloud links (not Spotify). In fact, my Google Analytics data indicates that most people that got drawn in to the pages via ads didn’t stay on the page at all (0 seconds).  I guess that means they clicked the ads by mistake in most cases.

Facebook was just as unsuccessful as AdWords when it came to getting people to play the Spotify music. I guess that has to do with the requirement to have a Spotify account and that many people don’t have that. Facebook was however quite good at getting plays of the SoundCloud links. That’s reasonable as the music can be listened to directly in Facebook, not requiring the user to do anything at all other than listening.

My conclusion from this is that I will do my next experiment on Facebook with music and perhaps do another drive for my application using Google AdMob. I’m not getting people to listen to my songs by using AdWord at the moment (not necceseraly a fault of adwords. Can just as well be my website design that drives people away).

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Surprising spread of the Lovur app

I’m truly surprised I have to admit. The Lovur app has seen qSpreaduite some spread.

Of course, it’s due to that I have been experimenting a little bit with ads with Google AdWords but I never thought it would get this kind of spreading and that users would return!

The ads have focused on US, UK and India but there is some spread also except for those countries and it’s increasing every day.  Do the ads run in other countries than I’ve selected? I don’t know..

Anyway. The appimagelication is not a hit by any means, but it’s got a lot more than the expected 0 users, and the users are well spread and some are returning. Quite satisfying for a few hours of learning HTML5 I must say.

 

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Using AdWords to promote music

My music is a hobby. I’m lucky enough to have a good job that I really like and I don’t have to depend on my music to put food on the table (it would not be a lot of food…).  But, it would be very interesting to know if I could make any real money of it.

To do that I need listeners, and that means that I need people to know that I exist, or at least that my music exists. So I am doing a very small experiment using AdWords to promote one of my songs. The ad

I chose the song Smygehamn , as it is linked to a place, and the place is quite popular during the summer months for tourists.

So the question I’m trying to answer is if the ad actually manages to drive any traffic to the homepage of the song, and also if it leads to any purchase or streaming plays.

Time will tell, and I will write again here in a while about how this has turned out.

 

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Music is moving out

My music hobby is moving out from this site. As this page is generally about anything I feel like, I want it to be quite rarely updated with things I like to write about or some programming thingy I’m trying but the music stuff is taking overhand. Therefore http://sverrirv.com har been created for the music stuff.. So here will be a quiet place for my other nerdy endeavors..

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