80% off? you mean 20%, right?

An end of year sale!

First off, let me be clear: MettaAudio is running a sale, and everything is now 80% off. That may be all you need to read, in that case… GO!

For a limited time

And yes, this is for a limited time, because if it wasn’t, than it wouldn’t be called 80% off, it would be ‘the price.’ So if you’re a photographer who makes slideshows for your client, this is a great opportunity to grab some fresh, new music for your productions.

Seriously, 80%??

Seriously. The idea of running a huge sale actually started a few weekends ago. I was home with the kiddos while Betsy was out and we were listening to music on my iPhone. After a couple pieces by Percy Grainger my phone started playing music I had written, and in many cases, not listened to in quite some time. The more I listened, the more I enjoyed it. It was like coming across a set of old childhood photos. They’re both familiar and fresh at the same time. By the end of the morning I had decided I wanted to try and get my music into more people’s ears, and one of the best ways I know of to do that is make sure people can afford it. And by people, I mean you. And that new photography studio that opened up downtown. And that Mom who wants to put up videos of her kids on YouTube without having them mute the copyrighted music in a couple months. And even seasoned photographers like my wife who have clients comment regularly on how the slideshow made them tear up. So, 80% it is. Take a listen.

Tell your friends

If my goal is to get more music to more people, I certainly can’t do it alone. If you know someone who you think would be interested in using my music, send them a link: http://mettaaudio.com/blog/products-page/

Be sure to shoot me an email or leave a comment that you’ve passed my site on. To show my appreciation, the next new piece I release is yours for free.

Did you say ‘new piece?’

I plead the 5th. But you might want to subscribe to the RSS, just in case.

Thanks for tuning in. Happy listening!

John

P.S. Just in case you’re one of those people who just reads the P.S., take 80% off everything in the store. Go now.

Step 1

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to find our gift, our voice, our unique talent and share it with the world. It’s not optional, by the way. It’s the whole reason we’re here.

Follow the easy

The inevitable first step to changing the world is identifying what your gifts are. For as simple as that sounds, it’s one of the biggest hurdles for most people. Finding what is unique to you requires two steps. First you must find what your innate talents are. These are those little abilities that mask themselves in a feeling of ordinary. “It’s not a talent, anyone can do that…” is often a good sign that you’re on the right track. What appears to you as a basic skill is a huge challenge for someone else. Pay attention to those.

1% inspiration

Finding those talents is step one. The next step is looking within those gifts to find what motivates you, after all, the process of developing and sharing your talents will take perspiration. You often have to stoke you own fire, so there’d better be a spark there to begin with.

I’m still at step one. My passion and talent seems to be learning more than just about anything else. There’s always something new to learn about music, composition, web development, graphic design, Ruby on Rails programming, Blender and 3D graphics, to name a few of my recent interests. Assuming learning is one of my talents, how exactly do I share that with the world?

The grass is always greener

It’s a shorter one today, I promise. I was reading the other day about America’s single largest irrigated crop. What do we grow more of than anything else? There’s so much of it you can see it from space. Know what it is? Perhaps corn? Maybe wheat? Nope.

Grass.

Yep, that lawn that’s most likely outside your window right now is part of the greatest agriculture movement in our fine country. Chew on that.

Personally I think lawns are as completely ubiquitous for two main reasons. First, we’re deeply wired as social creatures. I have a lawn because my neighbor does. I don’t particularly like mowing, but I do so to keep from pissing off the people that live around me. Lawn begets lawn begets lawn. It’s such a part of our culture that it would be very hard to remove the lawn and replace it with anything else. There are even local laws preventing me turning my yard into a native Indiana habitat. After all, who wants to live next to a yard full of weeds?

I think the other reason lawns are the de-facto suburban standard is people inherently like creating order out of chaos. A lawn can be relatively easily sculpted into neat flowing lines around trees and bushes. They butt up gently against the hard edges of sidewalks and driveways. They provide a uniform height and color filler to our little corner of the world. With minimal effort, we create order.

Of course, the downside of lawns are the 800 million gallons of gas burned in lawnmowers every year to manicure these lawns. Or consider the fertilizers and herbicides used to keep our lawns need and green, or the water we dump on our lawns each summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love lazy summer evenings in our backyard playing on our lawn. They are memories I will cherish my whole life. But this weekend as I pushed my mower around our yard, I couldn’t help but wonder if all the fuel, water, man-hours, and land couldn’t be put to use in a better way. If only I could find a way to harness all that power and resources without pissing off the neighbors… I guess I’ll just have to chew on that idea a while.

I’m OK with that.

This weekend my whole family plus the neighbor boy was outside playing. The neighbor boy is a sports nut, by the way. At least once a week he comes over decked out in pads from one sport or another. He has equipment for roller hockey, ice hockey, soccer, baseball, golf… That’s just his thing.

Miles, however, is the exact opposite. Case in point:

We’re playing baseball. The neighbor boy has out a bat, baseball, bases and even a pitcher’s plate. He’s barking orders at Betsy to pitch the ball, I’m in outfield. It’s a hit, he’s running bases, I’m chasing. Where’s Miles you ask? He’s sitting in the top of the playhouse. He’s declared he’s the “robot voice” that’s announcing the game. Then a fly ball comes to him. Instead of tossing the ball back into play, he yells “Let’s pretend this is an ANGRY BIRD!!”

And that’s just his thing.

Miles at 4 is a head strong, curious kid who totally lives in his imagination. And I mean totally. At this age he marches to his own drum, which half the time is turned upside down and is a pot he’s cooking in. Or a car. Depends on the day.

Ok, one more example of Miles being Miles:

Our family was at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in mid September. We’ve decided to let Miles pick out some rock candy, so he’s looking at all the colors and the lady selling them is going through the flavors.

“This one is blueberry, this is cherry, this is watermellon.”

“I’d like the white one.” says Miles.

“Oh, honey, you’re not going to like that one, it doesn’t have a flavor.”

“Oh, I’m OK with that.”

Now, if an adult said that to me as a 4 year old, I’d pick a different color. Not Miles, and that’s what I love about him.

One of the challenges of being a parent is that you don’t know the long term consequences of your decisions and actions until the long term has arrived. So, we parents make decisions based on a myriad of sources, but never on long term experience. We may consult teachers, counselors, books, the internet, fellow parents. Partly we go off of gut and partly based on what our parents did for us when they were young (or younger) and just-as-inexperienced parents.

I am totally thrilled he is who he is, but I also know that schools sometimes have a hard time making room for the wildly creative children. They always prefer kids that can follow directions, keep quiet, color in the lines, and do-what-you’re-told-thank-you-very-much. Schools are designed to make factory workers and good employees. They want everyone to fit into a standardized test and write at a right-handed desk. (That may have changed since I was in school…)

As a parent I worry that Miles will struggle with that part. He’s just not a good cog right now. The rules he follows are his, and they’re fluid. The games he plays he leads. He wants to play with other kids but can get frustrated when they don’t follow his rules. He can spend 45 minutes playing with a circle of paper he cut out, flying it around the room like a spaceship. The kid lives in his head. I honestly feel that in the long run it is his independence, his creativity, his willingness to re-invent the rules that will allow him to be successful in this evolving society, and to truly share whatever his unique gift is with this world.

And so, as a parent, we are forever trying to help him strike just the right balance between following instructions and following imagination.

Balance.

I will listen to him talk non stop for 2 hours (seriously) as engaged as I can be, but will ignore his request for milk until he remember to say please.

Balance.

I will try again to show him how to throw a ball, but won’t tell him the badminton racquet can’t be called a “swisher” and is for fighting off bad guys.

Balance.

Of course, he’s only 4 and 1/2, so it may just be a phase. Check back in 20 years, and we’ll see how we did.

They do more before 9am then some people do all day

Sometimes I feel like I’m the “some people” the Army used to refer to. As much as I hate to admit it, my mornings aren’t productive. Really at all.

The Problem

The problem is 3 fold:

  1. I LOVE the idea of getting up early in the morning, but my morning self just doesn’t agree. “Just ten more minutes. I promise.”
  2. I’m a dad. My mornings belong to my wife, my kids and my pugs. Although not always in that order.
  3. Blogs. Need I say more?

That means I’m ready to dive into my workday right around the crack of 11:30am. Not really a recipe for elite productivity.

The REAL Problem

Ok, I lied. Although everything I’ve said about my mornings is true so far, that’s not really my problem. My problem is fear. I may finally sit down to my computer to work at 11:30am, but on most days it won’t be until 2:30pm until I hit my stride. I spend 3 hours being afraid. Wow, that sucks. It doesn’t matter if it’s programming, web design, writing music for marching bands or film scores, I have a very hard time actually starting the work that needs to be done, and that’s the honest truth. No matter how passionate I may be, or how much I love what I do (which I totally do!) I have a strong mental resistance to starting my work. Starting seems to be the key, too. Once I start, I’m good.

The Solution

It’s a problem, so I’m going to try an experiment based on some coding advice from a fellow programmer:

“Leave something broken at the end of the day”

Leaving something broken up on your screen gives you instant access to both the problem you need to focus on and the tools you need to fix it. No more resistance from not knowing what’s next. No more resistance from having to start the apps you need to get to work. Just work, waiting.

Simple, huh! So, today and all next week I’m going to try to leave something obviously broken on my desktop. That way when I do finally sit down at my computer I know exactly what needs to be done, and it’s open, running, and RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, ready to be worked on. Right after I read my blogs, of course.

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Today I’ve been thinking about Facebook, partly inspired by this piece by 8 Gram Gorilla. Gordon asserts that “Facebook “[Facebook is] a for-profit company that sells emotion, memories and relationships and the more we feed it, the more dangerous it becomes.” Essentially, Facebook makes money by selling, well, me. They sell the single most valuable thing I have, my attention, to the highest bidder. Shouldn’t I have some control over that? (And I don’t mean “Facebook Privacy” kind of control, I mean real control.) Is it fair that Facebook gets paid by luring me (and stalking me in a way… like) around the internet?

Of course, all paranoid ideas about privacy aside, there is a potential upside although I haven’t really seen it yet. Facebook, (or twitter or Google or …) already knows a lot about me, including what I’m really interested in. They should be able to hyper target advertising to what I’m REALLY interested in. I’d be more than happy to see ads for Sounds Online or 8dio come through. And I think about how unhappy I am to receive yet another Uline catalog in the mail. (They’re the AOL mailer of the 2000s). Or even worse, retirement and senior offers for Betsy. (Those really bug me because they’re based solely on the fact that she’s a widow. It’s the moral equivalent of lawyer ambulance chasing.)

The paranoid me definitely feels resistance to Facebook because I know they’re just selling me. But ultimately I’m an optimist, and I’m hopeful that as the information age progresses, marketing will actually become somewhat useful… or at least less annoying.

The Renaissance

Blogging rule #1 – Never apologize for not writing, particularly if it’s been longer than about a week. Honestly, no one cares. Actually, no one is listening any more. At least that’s my hope anyway. Without further adieu:

Once upon a time long, long ago in a land far, far away, I started a blog. Originally I was going to blog about my composing adventures and the rise of Metta Audio. And then i did. And then I didn’t. My absence started out as “I’m too busy to write” which turned into “I don’t have anything to write because Betsy King had already written all about it. With photos. Who can compete with that? And finally I’ve progressed to “It’s been soooo long since I’ve written. (Insert familiar feeling of guilt) No one is listening anyway. (Guild transitions into smug hopelessness.) Do you pity me yet? No, of course not. It’s just an abandoned blog. Not particularly original.

But somewhere in the back of my head I kept thinking “I want to write for some reason. Who knows what I’d write about.”

Then I read this: Seth’s Blog: Talker’s block

Pretty smart, huh? So I’m writing.

Tin Caps, Season 2!

Last year I was fortunate enough to do some work for Punch Films, including writing music for the Tin Caps commercial. The Tin Caps actually put together two videos, a longer one that is played at the game, and a 30 second one for commercials. Derek at Punch came to me last year with the long edit finished, looking for music they could license just for the commercial. It was a thrill seeing my work on TV for their commercial, but when I actually went to the game, I was disappointed to see the longer version without my music.

Fast forward to this year and again Derek contacted me to write some music. The Tin Caps owners had already picked out the music they wanted for their in-game promo, but I was determined to have my music played at the game and not just on TV. I convinced Derek to let me write some original music for it anyway, which he was willing to present to the owners and let them decide whether to use or not. Here goes nothing:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Guess what?… They loved it! So, any Fort Wayne locals, if you attend a Tin Caps game this season (and you should!) be sure to listen for my music. Betsy and I haven’t been yet, but we’ll definitely find some time soon!

By the way, I got a call from my good friend Chris yesterday while he was at a game. When the promo came on he recognized my music, freaked out and immediately had to text me. Said it gave him goosebumps.

So if you go to a game, be sure to let me know if you catch the video. I wouldn’t even mind if you texted me. 😉

Much Metta,

John

P.S. – I used this choir library for the choir sound. It’s a unique library in that you can actually type in the words you want the choir to sing. Any guesses what the choir is saying?

Short Film – Out of Focus

On April 23 my good friend Amil gathered his film crew together and decided to enter the New York Film Race. If you haven’t heard of a film race before, you basically get 24 hours to write, film, edit and assemble a 3 1/2 minute short film for this competition. They give you a theme and a surprise element that must appear in the film. (That way you can’t really work on it ahead of time…) This year’s theme was “Side Effects” and the element was a pushup. They announce the theme and surprise element at 5pm on a Friday, and the film is due in hand by 5pm on Saturday. Needless to say, it’s a LOT of work.

This video, however, is not actually the entry we created. As they were editing it (and I was waiting to score it) Amil realized that the film was too long for the competition, but actually coming together rather nicely. So, after they chopped it up to fit the time constraint and entered the competition, Amil decided to go back and finish up the longer version. This is the longer version of “Out of Focus”:

The scoring process took place over a couple days this week and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It seems to balance being dark but not heavy, mixing both acoustic and synthetic elements. I really wanted something that set a mood without really telling you what’s going on, since that’s part of the charm of the movie. Everyone in NY did an awesome job, from the acting to editing and color. Amil really brings together some talented people.

Here’s the official poster for the entry:

Out of Focus Poster

The film is staring Matthew Jenifer, Sumeet Bharati, and Dama Nilz, and was produced by Amil Dave, Christopher Camp, Sumeet Bharati, Matthew Jenifer, and Travis Collins.

Thanks for checking in!

Much Metta,

John

My New Home Away From Home

In an ongoing effort to catch my blog up to my real life, I’m going to finally sit down and write a bit about our NEW STUDIO!

Metta Audio's new studio

That’s right! Metta Audio, which was originally started in our dining room / home office has finally transitioned to a full blown dedicated studio space, which I share with the ever talented Betsy King of Betsy King Photography and a new colleague/friend Tim Harvey.

I’ve been there a month now, although it hardly feels like it’s been that long, and I love it. It’s a great little space for me and for my work. Mixing in a larger room has proven to be an incredible change from my tiny home studio. The first day I was there, I pulled up some older works I had been happy with and listened to them to test the room acoustics, and I think for the first time ever, I could hear the compressor. And it wasn’t pretty. Details in the music were showing up that I hadn’t heard before. The bass was more present. It is so much easier to hear exactly what’s going on and make better choices which leads to better music. Win win, I say.

The studio has brought with it some great new energy. Already I have had more people stop by or call and chat about future projects and ideas than I ever did at home. Thanks to Betsy’s decorating sense and an Ikea run, I finally have a great place to meet clients and collaborators. If you’re ever interested in stopping by, visitors are always welcome. (Although call first, just to make sure I’m there.)

Metta Audio meeting space

As I spread the news, I get a couple reoccurring questions. Why did we move into a studio space? Honestly, because working from home with a three year old and one on the way means work time always takes a back seat. I worked all the time yet was never really 100% there, and somehow I only ever really got the bare minimum done. My home office was off the kitchen too, which means I could hear EVERYTHING that happened in the house. And I had to mix on headphones 90% of the time, which is hard to do even if you’re good at mixing, which I am not, I’m afraid.

I also get asked about how we found the space. The best I can say is it was a combination of the internet and destiny. It started almost on a whim, and when we actually saw the space, we just knew it was the right next step for our businesses.

Of course, a change like this isn’t all roses. I love having some isolated work time, and having my office away from the house has definitely forced me to work when it’s work time, and be home when it’s home time. But it also means I’m not home all day every day, and I find I miss my boy. Like most of America, I have to say goodbye to him every morning, as I head off to work. I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. I stall like crazy, wandering around the house, mumbling, trying to gather up everything I need to take with me, and finding excuses to chat with Miles. I’m sure it drives Betsy crazy. I really do miss him and Betsy while I’m at the office, but it’s what I do to take care of my family. And honestly, since I’m still gloriously self employed, my schedule is still flexible and I take full advantage of that. So you’re not going to get any complaints from me! Besides, with my view, I never feel that far from my family:

My view of Miles

The new studio address is:

2042 Broadway
Suite 202
Fort Wayne, In 46802

For Betsy’s take on the space, and a good description on how to find it, be sure to check out her blog about it.

And last by not least: What do I consider to be the best thing to come from the new studio space so far? Can anyone say Tin Caps? More on that later…

Oh, and a quick THANK YOU to Betsy for letting me swipe some of her photos of our studio for this entry. Don’t worry, they’re used with permission!

Much Metta,

John

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