Monday, February 27, 2006

Catching Up

In the past few months, we've been very busy releasing and working on a number of projects. We'll have entires about some of them in more detail in the near future, but I just wanted to catch our readers up on what's been going on.

The Indie Band Survival Guide

Beatnik Turtle has been very fortunate to stay together for over 8 years, and in that time, we've learned a thing or two. Mostly by either making mistakes that we said that we wouldn't repeat, or by doing research. About two years ago, we started to reflect on this, and put together a guide aimed at other indie bands, and those folks that were interested in what goes on behind the scenes.

And now, after years of work, we'd like to announce the release of the Indie Band Survival Guide a 100 page book that shares what we've learned in our time as an independent band. The subtitle summarizes it best: "Everything we've learned so far. Research, articles, stories, and practical know-how about the music industry written from an independent band's perspective."

We don't claim to have the answers. But what we do have is over 8 years of experience. And two years of dedicated research and writing. It's also been professionally edited. (Thank you Brad!)

The Guide is free, and under a Creative Commons license that makes it clear that you can share it freely with others without asking our permission. (Just don't try to sell it!)

We've gotten some very kind comments about it, and we're glad that we can share what we've learned. We are going to be improving this over time, especially as we learn from other bands, and as we do more research. We'll have more on this topic in the future.

The DVD Geeks Reprise

Beatnik Turtle worked on a theme song for a TV show pilot, called DVD Geeks. We mentioned this on our front page in the news stories. The update on that is that the show did quite well at the convention, and generated a lot of interest! We wish them luck in their negotiations. If things go the right way, great things might happen!

We Write Songs Good

We've enjoyed writing songs for theater, TV, and movies so much that we've made it part of our band. When the DVD Geeks people went to the NATPE convention, they brought along some postcards and disks from Beatnik Turtle to give away. Those are a launch of our songwriting services, where we will write songs...on demand!

Anyone who wants music for themselves, whether that be a theme song for a TV show, or a song for a website, and everything in between can contact us. We have enough people in the band to cover many different styles of music, and we like the challenge.

The one project that we'd love to tackle is a theme song for another band. (Which we have actually done before without being asked. It was not well received. So we made it our own theme song!)

Order Beatnik Turtle Around

If you've ever wanted to order Beatnik Turtle around, here's your chance. Do you have an idea for a song? Is there a topic that you can't believe that there's no song about it?

Send us a compelling idea, and we may just write a song about it. Thanks to this concept, there is finally a song about going commando (which will be released as part of a future project)! You too may be able to get BT to write a song about neglected topics!


Beatnik Turtle has released our own newsletter. While we had a mailing list before, we built a whole new system, and have named the newsletter to make it easier to keep people informed of our doings. Which, as you can see even by this blog entry, is quite a lot.

Before this newsletter, we hadn't been updating our fans very much at all, in spite of having an email list. Some of our friends were asking if we were even still together, when instead, we're doing more than ever.

For those of you with bands that are curious of how we did it, we've built this newsletter using something called PHPList. It's a very capable program that lets us build templates for the subscription pages, automatically handle subscribes and unsubscribes, automatically handle HTML and plain text versions of the same newsletter, and, most importantly, deals with bounces very well. When you're dealing with hundreds of addresses, these features are critical.

We're giving a away exclusive free songs to all people who subscribe to our newsletters, as well.

The Hunt Continues

We've been auditioning bass players for the past few months to fill in the gap. We've met some great people, and while some of them may have originally auditioned for bass, they instead have been helping out in different projects. Other bassists, we are using on recording projects in the future.

Our concept of the band is somewhat different than it was in the past. It's not us against the world. It's us against all of the projects that we're taking on. And we can find a way to use different people on different projects depending on availability and talents. Therefore the "us" part of it can change depending on who's available, and what we need to do. This has made us quite flexible, and because of the variety of people involved, has really expanded our sound. It means that we can have more than one person filling in on an instrument, from time to time.

An Invitation Back to the IPO

David Bash from the International Pop Overthrow has invited Beatnik Turtle back for another year! We're looking forward to performing at it again. The IPO is a pop music festival that plays in a number of cities throughout the world. BT performed in it last year, and got a great reception. BT is also on last year's compilation CD.

This year, Beatnik Turtle is going to be playing on Sunday, April 23, at 4:30 at Schubas. We've wanted to play at that bar for a very long time, so we're looking forward to it.

A question comes up immediately, "Who are we going to use to play bass?" We've got someone lined up to sub on the bass. More on that later.

The Steve Levy Show Theme Song

Steve Levy, from The Steve Levy Show has asked BT to do a theme song for his late night TV show, and we've been working on this in between the other things we have going on. Just last night, on Sunday, we came up with something for it in the studio that we're excited about.

It'll be a few more weeks before we can say that this one is right for him, but, as we've said before, it's fun just working on projects like this.

Beatnik Turtle Sponsors Pubcrawl, and Lends Songs and Studio to the Cause

For many years, friends of Beatnik Turtle, and the band itself has been associated with Pubsprawl, a pubcrawl that is now entering it's 10th year! BT is now an official sponsor, and we have lent our talents to the betterment of all.

We have contributed our computer skills, writing, and humor, and recorded rocking versions of two traditional Irish songs to help them out. Not only that, but we let them use our studio to help produce the "Pubcast." Voice talents from BT also find their way onto the pubcast, including work from Jason, Randy, and especially Chip, who is well on his way to becoming a professional voice talent. (Really and truly. He's already done some commercial spots.)

If you don't have a sensitive nature, we recommend that you listen to the Pubcast, and enjoy yourself. The songs that BT worked on are part of the 'cast.

Also, if you're a BT fan and are available around Chicago on Saturday, March 11, come on out and join us. You'll be able to see some of the band there. Even if you can't make it, we recommend that you check out the website.

Computerizing our Studio

In the last three months, we've taken our studio from an HD24 system with a Masterlink CD-Burner, and a Ramsa DA7 to an entirely computer based system. The capabilities that this has over our old system are tremendous.

  • Sonar Pro

  • Acid

  • 2 PreSonus Firepods

  • Hordes of plugins, including Waves Renaissance.

The ability to use loops in order to kickstart us when we're recording a song is amazing. We can drop them in and "paint" them across the song to give us a guide until we get our real drummer in to record over it. Also, the plugins really enhance our sounds in ways that we never imagined.

Those of you who are experienced with computer-based recording are probably snickering because you've already been familiar with this stuff, but we came from using recording-devices originally, including tape-based multitrack recorders. (We still have a 4, and an 8 track that uses cassette in our closets.)

We will be speaking of Waves in the near future in a blog. Although their Renaissance plugin is a good product, they have really treated their customers poorly. More on this soon!

On top of computerizing our studio, two of the bandmembers purchased Sonar Studio edition, as well as the PreSonus Firebox, which lets them have a studio of their own. These can be paired up with a laptop computer to make a truly portable studio. The output of which can be brought to the main studio to do more advanced work. Really amazing stuff.

BT2 Well Underway

BT2 is the working title of the next BT album. It's called album number 2 because the intervening albums could be called digressions from what we were supposed to release. Just to give you an idea why: BT launched 5 new songs at the release party for our debut album in 2001, and none of those have been recorded in the studio yet. And, of course, in the meantime, we've written quite a few new songs. Most of them are favorites at shows, and they aren't available for people to listen to at all.

As a stopgap measure, we recorded a Live Album in mid 2005, which should be released this year. But that doesn't give us studio versions of the songs.

So we've finally laid down tracks for BT2, which is looking like a double-album, because of the large number of songs that we have slated. A few weeks ago, the band spent a retreat in a cabin up in Lake Geneva Wisconsin, and recorded drum tracks for 26 songs, and a good chunk of those songs will be on BT2 (and some are for other projects!)

We'll be working on bits and pieces of BT2 as we are in the studio, and hopefully, will get it done this calendar year. Which is important, because in 2007, we have quite a few new projects planned.

There's More

If you can believe it, there's even more news, but many of those points deserve their own entries, so they are coming soon!