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Best things in life aren't free!

For years I had been messing around with various software packages, synths and plugins but never really bothered to learn how to use them properly. I would half-heartedly tinker and fiddle, making noises but never really making much of an effort.

Warez is bad umkay?

Warez is bad umkay?

This all changed about two years ago... Why? What moment of clarity gave me the motivation to get my arse in gear and start being productive?

Had I just been lazy? Did I not have access to the necessary materials to further my journey into this wonderful world of music production? Had I been using the wrong tools?

Nope. Actually I hadn't spent a single penny on any of this software, it was all 'acquired' via one of the numerous easy methods in this digital age. Long term evaluation I was telling myself but something clicked one day and I realised that having not invested was what was holding me back. I had nothing to lose, literally.

This is where it all started!

This is where it all started!

So I scraped some pennies together whilst evaluating the real demos of a few choice DAWs and settled on Ableton Live Intro.

I parted with cash: a fairly significant sum of £60 or so, not to be sniffed at but the effect it had was incredible and suddenly I couldn't get enough! I was watching YouTube videos, searching for tutorials and spending every bit of free time researching how to use my new software.

Soon I outgrew the limitations of the Intro version and found myself spending more money of course!

I upgraded to Ableton Live Suite, bought myself the amazing Sylenth 1 soft-synth and then went on to buy iZotope Ozone (not without some serious haggling with an eBay merchant in the US mind!).

Yes, yes this is MY studio... Honest...

Yes, yes this is MY studio... Honest...

It then went on to hardware; Traktor controller, Ableton Vestax controller, MIDI keyboard, more Traktor controllers, Ableton Push...! And since all of this has cost me hard earned cash the motivation to master it all and improve has never waned.

With a finite amount of money of course came the natural requirement to limit myself to only the tools I have paid for and I have been so much more productive as a result. Now I will look for ways of doing things within the tools I have rather than rushing off to download a new plugin / synth / patch. 

Okay so I'm not insisting you must spend money though, there is a vast array of free plugins and even music making software itself ( http://bit.ly/15pQKpa ) so there's really no excuse to download cracked illegal software of any kind. Not to mention that a lot of cracked software can be laced with trojans and other nasties, do you really know what you're downloading? 

So if you want to be more productive with music making I certainly found the best incentive to progress is to spend some money and see how motivated you become then!

Have you got any links to free plugins or software that you use? Post them in the comments! I'd be interested to hear if you've had a similar experience and gone from the 'evals' to the paid versions of software... ;-)

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Immersed 016

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Tracklist

01 - Selfoss - Gusgus
02 - No eyes (feat Jaw - Original Version) - Claptone
03 - Sonnentanz (Original Version) - Klangkarussell
04 - Arabian Horse - Gusgus
05 - Freak & Chips (Hector Remix) - Carlos Sanchez, Javier Carballo
06 - Astronomia - Toni Igy
07 - Timezone (Extended Mix) - Sander van Doorn pres. Purple Haze featuring Frederick
08 - Junoka - Marek Hemmann
09 - I Remember (ft Kaskade) - Deadmau5
10 - The Great Divide (Original Intro Mix) - Velvetine
11 - Edge Of The World (Original Mix) - Dennis Sheperd
12 - Black Room Boy (Above & Beyond Club Mix) - Above & Beyond
13 - Riemann (Merse Live Remix) - Florian Mendl
14 - Armed - Original Mix - Eric Prydz
15 - Flutes (Sasha Remix) - Hot Chip
16 - Media - Slam + Pan-Pot
17 - God Is A DJ - Faithless
18 - My Pet Coelacanth - Deadmau5
19 - My Breath Has Been Taken Feat. Zoo Army (Original Mix) - Jerome Isma-Ae
20 - Spectrum (Armin van Buuren Remix) - Zedd feat. Matthew Koma
21 - In Your Arms (Rafaël Frost Remix) - Andy Moor feat. Jessica Sweetman
22 - Hey Boy Hey Girl - The Chemical Brothers
23 - Unprepared (Extended) - Marco V
24 - Grrrr - David Guetta
25 - Papillon - Stephan Bodzin
26 - Levels (Radio Edit) - Avicii
27 - Levels (Skrillex Remix) - Avicii
28 - Squeeze - Roughmath
29 - Harlem Shake (Cazzette Ultra Bootleg) - Baauer
30 - Harlem Shake (Midnight Beast) - Baauer
31 - Brain Splat by Kai Wachi & Squnto - Kai Wachi & Squnto
32 - Vengeance Rhythm (Koan Sound Remix) - Two Fingers
33 - Absolut (Original Mix) - Bjornberg

Email subscribers have had their early access to part 1 already, why not sign up here?:
http://mersemusic.com/contact/

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All in a spin

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All in a spin

For the past 10 years I have been half heartedly learning music production and DJing in my spare time.

Music has always been an important part of my life and I kept saying that I really need to develop my passion further than creating the odd mix here and there.

Just before Christmas I came across dottedmusic.com and a new programme they were about to run called We Spin, described as an education in branding, enhancing web presence and online marketing (amongst other features!). I wasn't really sure what to expect but made a commitment  to putting in some dedicated time every day to follow the tasks being set.

Over the course of three months I had my eyes opened to how to best leverage various tools, websites and social networks to market myself effectively, all without leaving the comfort of my own home! At first I thought it was too early a stage for me to worry about all this but soon realised that doing that at the start was essential!

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I set up a Facebook page, a twitter account and put together a website as a single focal point for everything about me and my music. I created an online and downloadable press kit, put together a biography and polished up some of my original music for free giveaway. I was shown how to really make the most of these tools at my disposal, most of which were completely free!

The programme was run by Andrew Apanov who can only be described as a guru and authority in what works and just as importantly, what doesn't! His wealth of experience meant I didn't have to experiment for years working out what I needed to do and tapping into his incredible knowledge was just invaluable. Andrew is an all round top banana and I can't recommend him highly enough if you want to learn how to leverage everything available to its full potential.

Follow Andrew on Twitter!

Follow Andrew on Twitter!

We even went through how to have a photo shoot and clichés to avoid - like having your photo taken against a brickwall background was a classic apparently or with any music related hardware!

I'M A DJ!

I'M A DJ!

Now that I have this solid foundation I can focus on building a solid fan base and concentrate on my actual music. It's no good having awesome music if nobody knows about it! I now have 3 tracks of mine being released this year and with Andrew's guidance I had everything in place to respond quickly with my press kit, social links and contact information and everything the labels needed.

I now produce my DJ mixes 'Immersed Radio' monthly and working with Andrew has both inspired and motivated me to succeed.

So if you are stuck with your great music but no idea on how to stand above the noise, get in touch with the Dotted Music team today!

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Four Hour Merse - Time for a major change

Weight loss and music? What's the connection...?

The summary for those that don't like long reads is: I'm fat and I'm fixing it :-)

So that's a bit of an ambiguous title to start with, so let me explain: I'm overweight by a good few stone. I've admitted to myself many times over the years and openly tell people I'm fat. See I think what that means is 'hey I've admitted to it so it's no longer a problem huh?' when really I've been just using it as an excuse to not actually do anything about it.

I'm not on a diet, no - that signifies in my mind a temporary state whereby I would eat rabbit food for a few weeks, lose a pound or two and then revert back to my chocolate gorging / going blind on cheese ways.

I've made a major lifestyle decision to completely re-evaluate the way I look at food. It's all Tim Ferriss' fault; he's a world renowned 'body hacker / human guinea pig' that you may have heard of in a 4 Hour Work Week context. I picked up his book 'The Four Hour Body' (4HB) a couple of years ago, read the parts on weight loss and was wowed into starting a journey that saw me shed 2 stone over the course of a year - great stuff!

Some of the major attractions to Tim's 4HB programme:

- It was simple; eat this, this and this and nothing else
- You don't calorie count, go hungry nor eat tasteless food
- Results are fast
- once every 7 days you have a 'cheat' day where you can eat ANYTHING you like!

All sounds too good to be true but it worked for me just as promised. I followed the (simple) rules and ran my own 'experiment'; found out what worked for me by tweaking the meals until I was happy with the results.

But somehow I slipped back into old habits, made excuses for not sticking to it and found myself at 17 and a half stone by April 1st 2013 - the fattest I've ever been. Buying clothes was a stressful nightmare, I was permanently lethargic and with a 2 year old son that seems to be running off a mini nuclear reactor demanding more and more from daddy I realised (again) that I had to do something about it - and this time it'd better damn work.

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So I have revisited the 4HB but this time with one pretty significant change. I failed before because no matter what I did, I always longed for something during the week and despite holding out until cheat day, the longing was there for the other 6 days. It got to the point where I'd get up earlier in the morning on cheat day so I could get more cheating done and when it was time for bed, I'd hit the cupboard for 'one last chocolate bar' - not because I wanted it, but because I could have it - Tim told me I could!

I've made a conscious decision to no longer treat food as a source of pleasure, quite simply:

Food is just fuel
.

I eat what I need to eat to not be hungry and follow the programme: that's it. Don't get me wrong, all the food I'm eating I am thoroughly enjoying!

But I am not yearning for chocolate / ice cream any more because I know, as I always have, that these things are bad for me! And I know that unless I make this massive psychological change I will fail again, and that isn't an option!

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Will Smith was asked in the MIB 3 film "Do you know the most destructive force in the universe". His answer was sugar - and it's actually spot on. Sugar has become more prevalent in so much food these days that it's hard to avoid it yet we all know how lots of sugar is bad for us. I've been duped into buying 'low fat' alternatives in the past to later find out that they actually contain more sugar than the original 'fat version'!

I started this lifestyle change on the 1st April 2013 at a weight of 110.6KG. This morning I weighed in at 102.8KG. Whilst out shopping earlier, I picked up 8 bags of sugar (try it!) to represent what I'd lost in the past 6 weeks and it really hit home how much extra weight I'm carrying and how much stress it's putting on my body.

Over these 6 weeks alone I have noticed a massive increase in energy and I am positively BUZZING! This is where the connection to my music comes in; I now understand 'healthy body, healthy mind' first hand. I am so much more productive and have tunes forming in my head all the time, recording melodies into my phone, tapping out new drum beats and rolling out monthly mixes regularly now - I'm so much more positive and motivated that I will succeed in this.

Finally after 20 odd years of not worrying about what I eat I've pushed the button.

I will report progress once in a while and one day when I'm no longer embarrassed,  I'll share the photos I've taken of myself and compare the difference! I'll also cover a bit more detail about what food I am actually eating and take you through my new cheat day too!

Also keep an eye out on the https://www.facebook.com/mersemusic page for updates too!

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Air Head

I like to think I'm not an air head but there have been occasions when I feel like it - namely when I see the image on the right. Yes, it's the Ableton Live empty project of despair! 

So how do you go from blank project of doom to 'killer-track-omg-tiesto-just-played-it-at-ultra'?

Like any art form, creativity is of course key. It's not a skill that you can learn as such, there are no books that will give you a creative streak but there are plenty of resources that will guide you and explain some techniques that can get you over 'writer's block'.

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There's two really great examples that I've come across, this short article at AfroDJMac and this free eBook from the awesome Tom Cosm with 10 key ways to 'keep the creative juices flowing'.

I'm interested to hear your methods of keeping creative and any resources you've come across too, let me know in the comments or drop me a mail!

Good luck with your next production and I look forward to hearing it, I may even mix it into one of the Immersed Radio shows!

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