We are probably going to try our hand at Logic Express for the next song, upgrading from GarageBand. If that doesn’t work, it’s back to GB. Logic Express can import GB files but boy is it a different beast. We both think we’d like the step up — more flexibility, more control, much more power. But of course it comes with an appropriate learning curve, so it will take more time to learn. After three songs in GB we know it pretty well, and we have learned what it can do, but also what it can’t.
There’s always ProTools LE, but only Dan has the hardware to run that, and he doesn’t like it anyway. Apparently 7.3 was the “bad” version (crashes a lot, kept freezing a laptop, doesn’t work in Mac OS X 10.5), and that’s what he’s got. To upgrade, to 7.4 or 8.0, it costs $150, which quite frankly stinks. Now that he has the expensive hardware thing. But it also costs $150 to buy Logic Express 8, with less shenanigans.
Anybody with any experience in such stuff, let us know what you have found useful and comfortable.
So, now that we’ve taken the obligatory week off after a song release, it’s time to start thinking about what’s next.
I am here to tell you, officially, that something is next.
Right now Jude and I are kicking around a few different ideas. Jude came up with a good song for an topic we’d been talking about doing; I think it’s a good fit. He did some first-draft lyrics and I have to do my part on them too.
Then a few days later he said “I’ve got another one” and sent another round of even more complete first-draft lyrics for a completely different song. And I said “that’s also a good one” and figure whichever one of those comes together first is the next single.
Then we got to talking about doing something…bigger. And we are still talking about this. We have the topic; we are looking for the musical vehicle.
Then Jude came up with yet ANOTHER idea and that one, too, is percolating.
I weakly suggested one more idea, which we both kinda went “yeah, I guess” to, so I don’t know if that will happen. We have three good ideas, two of which can be done fairly easily, so I wonder if we will bother working on a half-baked idea. Better to let it bake fully.
So yeah. Percolating. For hints along the way, keep an eye on our Twitter.
Friday was…awesome. When a friend sent a note on Twitter to let me know that the Entertonement page for “Learn to Spell” was climbing the charts on Digg, I was kinda floored. It was at about 740 when I saw it, and said “If it hits 1500 I’m going home.” It didn’t — but it did wind up as the 10th most popular story of the day with 1200 digs. Check it out shortly before the milestone.
We beat the iPhone leak, but not the lady with the watermelon butt. Getting that much attention out of the blue is a real thrill. The Entertonement player hit more than 60,000 plays that day.
Of course, that Digg article came with a flurry of Digg posts in three camps. One camp thought it was a funny song. One camp thought it was stupid that grammar Nazis had a theme song at all and took us to task for not accepting people’s ignorant misspellings as “the evolution of English.” (No, it’s just laziness.) And the other camp said the song itself sucked — “he should learn to sing” was the one that got me, along with the person who said Jude’s use of the same exact organ as the original song was clearly the work of a Casio keyboard on autoplay.
I’ll be honest — that song is at the top of my vocal range, and even though I cut the vocal three times I wasn’t entirely happy with how it sounded. Then I got sick with the flu bug for three weeks, which killed any and all attempts to fix it. But I don’t know that I could have; at a certain point you have to say, hey, this is as good as it gets — for our version of the song, it’s going to have to sound like me singing it. We build everything by hand and don’t use AutoTune to correct flaws; we sound the way we would sound if you were to hear us live…which is funny since we never play live. So we’ll take a certain amount of pride in the flaws, because they’re real.
Anyway, no downside to it. We were thrilled. And if people post and say it’s dumb, we still win — they cared enough to post about it. If you were one of those people who posted, good or bad, thank you.
“Yeah, I know!” I hear you cry. “That’s how I found out about you guys in the first place!” Turns out a few fans have been uploading our songs there for some time now — not a problem, as we appreciate that people like our stuff enough to share it. But what we didn’t expect was that upload of “Halo ((All I Play-Oh))” to get 150,000 plays in about two weeks. We were contacted by the folks who run the site — smart folks, ex-Microsoft folks — and offered our own page to highlight our songs.
The benefit for you, the listener, is that our songs are now extremely easy to embed in web forums, blogs, and personal websites. How easy? This easy:
So next time you see someone saying “My 360 just red-ringed!” you can offer embedded consolation with “Three Red Lights.” When someone gets into the nitty-gritty of building their next PC, you can casually bring up “Vista Drivers” in the middle of the conversation. And of course, when there’s a nitwit on the message boards saying “OMG 360 rulez and ur fav consol sux” you can respond with a playable “Learn to Spell” without delay! Just go to http://entertonement.com/pswapninja (or hit our Songs page) and cut-and-paste the embed code.
So, yay! Another way for Palette-Swap Ninja to take over the internets!
Well, after about a week of selling t-shirts and stuff, we’re happy to say that some of you actually bought them! We’ve quietly added a few more items, such as a “Learn to Spell” lyric tee in three styles, a pullover hoodie (a little cheaper than the zip, but not by much), and by fan request, an embroidered Flexfit hat. Please note that the embroidered designs come in Scorpion yellow by default, but you can also change the color of the embroidery threads in the Customize It menu. If you want the hat logo to be Ermac or Sub-Zero or Rain or Reptile or even Noob, you can do it with a simple color picker. Try it and see, and let us know if you have any trouble or new merch ideas.
The embroidered logos required a conversion fee, so those were a little bit of investment on our end — but that led me to realize that we haven’t explained exactly where this money goes. We don’t expect to make a killing or even a profit (with those setup fees we’re actually in the hole) and the selling of shirts will never take precedence over the making of music. But we are planning to use that support cash to defray various small costs that go into the entity that is Palette-Swap Ninja. Among those potential costs:
- Merch setup fees like those (about half taken care of by our current profits)
- Song license fees. As we’ve stated, we try to get a license for each new song we do, as if we were doing a straight cover version, just to be safe. Each song is three figures at the minimum.
- Hosting and domain registration fees. Not frequent, but kinda crucial! We need our dot-com.
- Gear and software upgrades. We both have plenty of instruments lying around by now, but we are still struggling to find a recording suite we both like. We’ve been through Vegas, ProTools LE, and GarageBand; we are going to try Logic Express now. Being on the same software really simplifies our process, so this is something we’d like to eventually make happen.
One other thing we’ve learned about the merch. We have found that we make an alarming amount of extra cash from what Zazzle calls its referral bonus. That is, if you buy a shirt after clicking on the link from this website to our store, it drops a cookie on your machine, and if you order within 45 days from that cookie’s timestamp, we make roughly three times what we would otherwise make on that same sale. That’s at no cost to you; it’s just that Zazzle shares more of the profits from their cut. So, if you’re going to order, pleasepleaseplease do so from our Store link. (Yes, it’s called Kat’s Eye Design and there are a few shirts in there from one of Kat’s other clients, but the PSwap stuff is sorted under its own product line on the right nav.) This little referral detail helps us a dramatic amount, so thanks!
And remember, there are almost always Zazzle coupons that you can use to get a few bucks off or free shipping or whatever — that doesn’t come out of our cut, so use them!