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:

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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

mettaaudio.com

Hey everyone! Well, it’s finally live! My new site, that is. Head on over to mettaaudio.com and take a look around.

Be sure to check out the recordings of my new marching band shows, or stop by and check out all the music for media.

This has been a big project that I’ve been working on for a while now, and I’m thrilled it’s finally ready to release. It’s not over yet though! I’ve got several more sections in mind, but they’re not quite ready. You can bet I’ll let you know when they are! In the mean time, I’ve got some more music to write…

Speaking of which, if you are in need of music for your project, whether it be marching band or motion picture, I’d love to have the opportunity. I get asked all the time what exactly I do for a living, and for some reason “composer” kind of stumps people. I guess there aren’t too many of us out there. Regardless, there’s music EVERYWHERE. If you have a project, or you know of anyone that needs music (band directors, video editors, film makers, advertisers, web designers, even photographers need music!) drop me a line and let me know how I can help.

Thanks for stopping by!

Much metta,

John

Falling Awake

Ever notice how once you’re aware of something, it suddenly seems like it’s everywhere? Learn a new word, for example, only to discover that everyone else suddenly starts using it. This isn’t quite that, but close. I’m getting ahead of myself, though…

This isn’t a typical post for me, but I really feel like it goes along with the whole Metta part of Metta Audio. For those of you who don’t know, metta roughly translates to “Loving Kindness.” That can be loving kindness toward anything, be it our spouse, our children, ourselves, our environment… You get the idea.

This video comes to me by way of this post on 43 Folders and is a talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn that he gave at Google.

It’s a long video (over an hour), with even a practice session for meditation so give yourself some time if you’re going to watch it. I found myself going back to it mentally several times since I watched it. Any time something like that touches me, I always want to share it with others. I kept talking to Betsy about it and just had to blog about it.

So if you’re feeling stressed or unfocused and are looking for a simple, no-nonsense starter for Meditation, then this is a great place to begin. May it bring just that much more metta back into your life.

And if you’re like me, this won’t be the only time you come across this… Betsy and I saw someone with a book, titled “Falling Awake” on the airplane on our way back from Atlanta. She asked me if I’d read that book and I just couldn’t place it. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized I had bookmarked his talk in my browser and it was titled “Falling Awake”. So, watch for it in your life. If you see it show up somewhere else, come back here and watch the video. You’ll be glad you did.

Much Metta,

John

Hijacked Post

I can’t believe almost one full week of being self employed has come an gone. It’s actually been a very busy week! I spent some time this week re-aquatinting myself with some (very) basic asp and javascript work for MSC. I honestly feel like a total hack whenever I work on their website, but for some odd reason I love it too. I think it’s the engineer side of my brain that likes to work out the logic of “if this thing happens, then I want to put that piece of information over here…” Kind of like solving a giant, complicated puzzle, but better because it does something when you’re done. (Even if that something is allowing a band director to hear some music.) If I had the smarts to be a programer, I’d probably really enjoy it. And hate it to. I tend to bust out my OCD side while I’m working on some code and sometimes even basic human functions like getting up and going to the bathroom can be a struggle.

“Must write code. Must figure out session(“userID”). Must write CODE!!”

Wow. That wasn’t what I was going to write about in this post at all… It looks like my week hijacked my post, so I guess I’ll just run with it. Anyway, one week is down and I have to say, it feels really good. Really good. That’s on two levels, by the way. First is the total sense of freedom. I got up a little later than I wanted to today, and yet my boss (or my Boss Lady) was totally cool with it. That is just NOT the case when you work in an office. Even if you are lucky enough to make it in on time because you’ve perfected the 3 minute bathing-breakfast, that feeling of panic just never really seems to go away. Kind of like a bad dream hangover. Point: I don’t have to mess with that.

Oh, and before all your haters out there give me sh*t for sleeping in a bit, it’s because I was working until 1am last night. Hallah!

So, the second reason I loved being my own boss this week is because I have work that will pay. That’s pretty key to running a business, I know, but I’ve never been so sensitive of my time until I realized that every second that passes truly equates to food on our table for my family. It’s a good feeling knowing that the hard work I did this week actually and literally pays off.

So that’s my post for tonight. I’ve heard that some people have asked Betsy exactly what do I do, and although that’s what this post was supposed to be about (before I go sidetracked,) that is what I’m going to write about next. Tune in next time!

Much metta,

John

Big Changes, little changes

First, let me start with the news of the evening. As of today, Friday October 12, 2007, I am no longer employed by Marching Show Concepts. Cue the fanfare! I have finally taken the leap into the great unknown of starting a true full time business. I am now owner, musician, programer, web designer, photographer, accountant, gopher and general slacker of Metta Audio!

Ok, so I just quite my day job with a stay at home wife and an 8 month old, which has got to be filed under the heading ‘You’d Be An Idiot If You Tried These Things’ in the “Handbook of Life”, but I assure you this decision does not come without significant deliberation on my part and (much to her chagrin) extensive discussions with Boss Lady. And yes, I’m stealing that nickname for Betsy from MetroDad. Besides, although my sanity may be questionable, do you think for one moment that B would let me do this if it wasn’t a good idea? (the answer is NO)

So, for all you out there that are worried about the state of our family, fear not. MSC is still going to be one of my most significant clients. So much so that we both felt comfortable that this was the right way to proceed. Besides, as B always says:

The only true path to wealth
is to work for yourself

Ok, it doesn’t really rhyme, but it’s close enough, right?

What this does allow me is a little more time, particularly during the regular work day, to spend on other non-marching band things. And after 7 years of marching band 24/7… can I get me a hallelujah!

Ok, the funny part about that statement is one of the things I want to spend my extra time working on is writing more marching band shows! I’ve been so delighted by the responses I’ve received from Humanity, that I’m very excited about having a chance to really dig in and crank out some more original music. But more on that to come.

So, for now, Metta Audio is, and we couldn’t be happier. Would it be overkill to send out a birth announcement? Anyone?

Much metta,

John

Independent

I know I’ve been quite lately, and that is due in large part to a potential major shift on the horizon.

Here’s some history. A month or two ago, Randy and I were mixing the new indoor percussion show recordings I had just created, when out of the blue he mentions that it has been recommended to him by his accountant that anyone who doesn’t work in the office proper on a day to day basis should be moved from employee to independent contractor.

It’ll save on taxes, he tells me. Plus, getting health insurance is so easy these days, it really would be just as easy for me, he continues. And of course, MSC would pay more to cover the extra cost.

After some initial panic, I really started to think about it. I would essentially terminate my employment with MSC and become solely employed by Metta Audio. I would own and run my own company, full time. I would be in charge of my schedule, completely, and be totally responsible for my income from Jan to Dec. And if I wanted to make more money, I’d just have to find more work. Although that may be easier said than done, I do find I have half a dozen projects I’d love to get in to that I’m struggling to get done right now simply because the only time I have to work on them are evenings and weekends.

The more I thought about it, the more I got excited about it. So over the next couple weeks, I began to dig very heavily into the numbers side of it to see if it was possible to actually make this thing fly. With MSC as my biggest client, a vast majority of my yearly work would already be there. How many small business start out with such a major client right from the word go?

After a couple weeks of soul searching, number crunching and phone calling, I was pretty much ready to take the plunge. Besides, with a one year waiting period on pregnancy for any major health insurance policy, I really don’t want to wait around too much on this.

Then Randy got cold feet. I think he realized he isn’t paying me enough and he wouldn’t be saving as much money as he had hoped, particularly with me setting a more fair rate for my work. When he told me he wants to put it off for 3 to 5 years, I wasn’t relieved like he had hoped. In fact, my stomach dropped out as he was telling me this. “no no no! I’m ready…. I want this!” was all I could hear in my head. He tried to persuade me with warnings of higher insurance costs and extra taxes, but it wasn’t any information I had already gone over time and time again. I certainly could take the easy way out and just stay with MSC, but every time I consider that, my heart sinks.

So that’s where we are. The million dollar question is: Do I become an independent contractor, or do I stay full time employed by MSC?

Much Metta,

John