Acts of Volition Radio: Session Eight

Acts of Volition Radio: Session EightAfter being vocally out of commision for a while due to a bad cold, Acts of Volition Radio is back. This is a special session dedicated to the late Gene Eugene. If you haven’t heard of Gene Eugene, that is why I do this. His songs are among the most important to me of any I have known.

The music of Gene Eugene. Recorded Friday, March 19, 2004 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 27min.

Session Eight Playlist:

  1. Lost Dogs – Jimmy
  2. Adam Again – Worldwide
  3. Adam Again – Stone
  4. Starflyer 59 – Fell In Love at 22
  5. Adam Again – Every Mother’s Way
  6. Lost Dogs – If It Be Your Will

If this is your first time hearing Acts of Volition Radio, you may enjoy previous Acts of Volition Radio sessions as well.

 

Acts of Volition Radio F.A.Q.

I’ve been getting quite a few emails asking about various aspects of Acts of Volition Radio. Also, I’ve been glad to see that a few other sites seems to have taken to the voice-annotated downloadable compilation format (LugRadio and Mathcaddy Radio). Whether or not it was inspired by this humble site, I’m glad to see it.

Here, then, is my attempt to answer some of the more common questions about producing a downloadable radio show.

What hardware do you use to record Acts of Volition Radio?

I have a Shure SM57 microphone that I bought in the hope of doing some home recording. It’s a relatively cheap microphone that works well for voice or instruments (particularly guitar amps). It costs about $150. I plug the mic straight into the soundcard on my IBM ThinkPad T30. However, I think I could get better quality with a pre-amp of some kind — instead, I just jack up the signal in the recording software (probably to the detriment of audio quality). A good mic-stand helps too.

What software do you use to record Acts of Volition Radio?

I use a windows shareware multi-track recording package called N-Track Studio. It’s not very polished, but it was really cheap ($45) and does what I need. I think N-Track Studio is to ProTools (or other pro audio software) what Paint Shop Pro (or maybe more like LView) is to PhotoShop — the much cheaper, much less polished little brother that does 90% of what the pro software does.

Why don’t you use GarageBand?

I probably would if I used a Mac. It looks like a good piece of software that would do everything I need (multi-tracking, volume envelopes, etc.).

Why release the show as one MP3, rather than individual MP3 files?

I release the show as one mixed-down MP3 because that seems to me to be the easiest way to release a collection of songs with voice annotation at a reasonable quality. There doesn’t seem to be a decent way to release a collection of tracks together (another argument for an album file format). I could release a zip file with a collection of MP3s and an M3U playlist — but this would limit where it could be easily played, add extra complication, and limit control over the flow of the show. I do occasionally talk of the fading in/out beginning or end of some of the tracks.

I also see the show I’m putting together as a peice of work in of itself. I’m adding value by collecting tracks and adding my thoughts and impressions. The result is one unit of work. Yes, it’s a pain that you can’t skip ahead a track (of course, you can always manually jog through the track), but I think this is a reasonable trade-off.

While I suspect that keeping the show as one file does make what I’m doing a bit more palatable to the music industry, as it is a bit more difficult for what I release to end up as individual tracks on file-sharing networks, this isn’t why I do it in this format. I’ve never thought crippling features or tying the hands of the user (listener) was a good means of protecting work — but rather it is usually a symptom of broken law and regulation.

Is Acts of Volition Radio Legal?

Kinda, sorta, not really… When I first started, I emailed SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada). SOCAN is kind of like ASCAP here in Canada — they handle the licensing of music for radio and the compensation of artists. I got an informative and timely reply that explained, that:

“SOCAN is not yet issuing licenses for the communication of musical works in Canada over the Internet. As such, there are no rate cards nor is there a set form that you are required to fill out. However, when the Copyright Board approves a tariff applicable to your business (tariff 22), SOCAN will require that you pay all applicable fees and taxes retroactive to the commencement date of your business.”

To avoid any copyright infringement legal issues, I was advised to send a letter to SOCAN stating that “my company” (I guess that means me) agrees to pay any taxes and fees retroactively once the rates and laws are sorted out. Apparently a typical fee for this type of licensing in other medium runs around $0.25 “per subscriber” — but I’m not sure the “subscriber” model really holds up in a downloadable format.

I do get the impression that the downloadable nature of Acts of Volition Radio is particularly beyond the understanding the legal system to address so far.

Basically, they haven’t quite figured it out yet. I decided not to sit on my hands and wait for policy to catch up with culture and technology. I’ll do my best to follow the laws and pay any appropriate fees when they are finally sorted out.

How much bandwidth does it take? How do you pay for it?

Not a whole lot. The show isn’t so popular that it runs up too much bandwidth usage. For example, Session Six was downloaded about 400 times in February. Also, I’m a partner in a web development firm and I’m able to piggy-back on some of the hosting/bandwidth resources available to me there. After taking a quick scan of some web-hosting sites, I see that you can get 45GB of traffic for under $15/month — not bad.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Seven

Acts of Volition Radio: Session SevenI was waiting for some CDs to arrive for my next planned Acts of Volition Radio playlist, but great songs just kept coming to mind. So, instead of waiting, I’ve put together another session in the interim. This session was recorded while hunkered down in my little house surround by a lot of snow.

Songs from a snow storm. Recorded Sunday, February 22, 2004 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 36min.

Session Seven Playlist:

  1. Denison Witmer – 24 turn 25
  2. The Be Good Tanyas – The Littlest Birds
  3. The New Pornographers – The Slow Descent into Alcoholism
  4. Matt Mays – City of Lakes
  5. Hank Dogs – Way of the Soul
  6. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
  7. Sixpence None the Richer – Angeltread

If this is your first time hearing Acts of Volition Radio, you may enjoy previous Acts of Volition Radio sessions as well.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Six

Acts of Volition Radio: Session SixSession six of Acts of Volition Radio done. This session doesn’t have a theme as some previous sessions have had. Rather, it’s just ten great songs.

Ten songs you’ll like. Recorded Sunday, February 8, 2004 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 52min.

Session Six Playlist:

  1. Metric – Combat Baby
  2. Garrison Starr – Superhero
  3. Ground – All the Most
  4. Dennison Witmer – The 80s
  5. Clem Snide – Accident
  6. Sixpence None the Richer – Tension is a Passing Note
  7. Counting Crows – Angels of the Silences
  8. Matthew Sweet – Smog Moon
  9. Daniel Lanois – Falling at Your Feet
  10. Dar Williams – Highway Patrolman

If this is your first time hearing Acts of Volition Radio, you may enjoy previous five Acts of Volition Radio sessions as well.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Five

Acts of Volition Radio: Session FiveSession five of Acts of Volition Radio is all about great guitar rock songs. This is a good one to burn to a CD and play in your car.

A collection of great guitar rocks songs. Recorded Sunday, February 2, 2004 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 45min.

Session Five Playlist:

  1. Aunt Bettys – Rock and Roll
  2. Catherine Wheel – Way Down
  3. Foo Fighters – Hey, Johnny Park!
  4. Matthew Sweet – Sick of Myself
  5. Pearl Jam – Given To Fly
  6. Poor Old Lu – For the Love of My Country
  7. Smashing Pumpkins – Here Is No Why
  8. The Age of Electric – Ugly
  9. Weezer – Say It Ain’t So

If this is your first time hearing Acts of Volition Radio, you may enjoy previous four Acts of Volition Radio sessions as well.

The process of recording and assembling the radio sessions is getting easier each time (and hopefully better).

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Four

Acts of Volition Radion: Session FourThe fourth session of Acts of Volition Radio is here. This session is based on songs and albums that are particularly well recorded, produced, or engineered.

A collection of particularly well recorded, produced, or engineered tracks. Recorded Wednesday, January 21, 2003 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 49min.

Session Four Playlist:

  1. Sandbox – The Garden Song
  2. The Watchmen – Brighter Hell
  3. David Usher – F-Train
  4. Age of Electric – Enya
  5. Poor Old Lu – Ring True
  6. Hole – Awful
  7. Cush – Heaven Sent

Also, a reminder that Acts of Volition Radio has an RSS feed of it’s own. The next session is going to be all about great guitar songs — I’m looking forward to it.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Three

Acts of Volition Radion: Session ThreeA little overdue (if that’s possible when you have no deadlines or schedule), here is the third session of Acts of Volition Radio. This session is based around artists that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at some point.

An hour of name dropping – music by people I’ve actually met. Recorded Sunday, December 21, 2003 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 40min.

Session Three Playlist:

  1. Strawberry – I Miss My Mom
  2. Eyes for Telescopes – My Boy
  3. The Rude Mechanicals – Needles in the Hay
  4. Sloan – Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore
  5. Mike Knott – Rocket and a Bomb
  6. Adam Again – Worldwide

I hope I have the voice at a better volume this time (let me know). Also, I got some great tips on how to avoid peaking the recording levels by not punching my Ps and Ts from the lady of radio, Ann Thurlow. However, the advice came after I recorded this session, so my new expertise has not yet been applied.

Thanks to Stephen MacLeod and Dennis Arsenault for helping me track down a few of the rare tracks.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session Two

Acts of Volition Radion: Session TwoThe reaction to the first session of Acts of Volition Radio was generally positive. Here, then, is Session Two:

Nine great live recordings. Recorded during a snow storm on Sunday, December 7, 2003 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 1hour.

Session One Playlist:

  1. Jellyfish – Ghost at #1 (live)
  2. Ben Folds & John McRae – Fred Jones (Part 2) (live)
  3. Ben Folds – Brick (live)
  4. Sloan – Deeper Than Beauty (live)
  5. Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter (live)
  6. Tragically Hip – Nautical Disaster (live)
  7. Radiohead – True Love Waits (live)
  8. U2 – The Fly (live)
  9. MxPx – KKK Took My Baby Away (live)

Some technical notes: I will try to get one of those foam microphone covers before the next recording to try and cut down those annoying punchy ‘p’ and ‘t’ letters. Does anyone with any recording/engineering experience having any advice? Should I be compressing or normalizing the voice tracks?

Also, there is an RSS feed for the Acts of Volition Radio posts.

Next week: an hour of name-dropping – songs by people I’ve actually met – and maybe an interview with the president of the internet.

 

Acts of Volition Radio: Session One

Acts of Volition Radio: Session OneI’ve had the idea of doing a weekly radio show on the web floating around in my head since the Acts of Volition website started over three years ago. I like the idea of assembling a bit of music, talking about who it is and why I like it, and making it available for download. An hour show could be posted for download and those interested could listen at their convenience (much like we enjoy the Strong Bad emails at HomeStarRunner.com or a new edition of The Onion each week).

I finally got around to trying it out tonight. I’m unclear on the licensing issues, but if I have to, I will pay the appropriate licensing fees if and when I can figure out what they are.

So, here you have the first ever edition of Acts of Volition Radio:

Six fine songs and me talking about them. Recorded Friday, November 28, 2003 by Steven Garrity. Run time: 34min 30sec.

Session One Playlist:

  1. The Postal Service – Nothing Better
  2. The Weakerthans – Manifesto
  3. Brad Sucks – Making Me Nervous
  4. Pedro the Lion – Magazine
  5. Apollo Sunshine – I Was On The Moon
  6. The Darkness – I Believe in a Thing Called Love