Monday, October 13, 2014

INFO: Mashups Copyright Basics

Often I see people posting questions regarding copyright issues on forums such as acapellas4u, and while being no expert in these matters I can at least share my own experiences and knowledge of copyright issues affecting mashups. Please be aware though that this is not legal advice and I have no legal qualifications, what is written below is how I currently understand various copyright issues and this may be wrong so be sure to look into these matters yourself if they do affect you.

1. Is downloading an acapella or instrumental legal?
Downloading an acapella, instrumental, or original version of a track for free is almost certainly going to be in breach of an artist/label/publisher's copyright. However the likelihood of you being prosecuted for such activity is currently very low and I suspect pretty close to zero. As I understand it actually sharing/uploading the files is far more likely to get you in  legal trouble than downloading them will.

2. I bought a track off Beatport / iTunes (or any other store). Does this mean I can sell copies of a mashup or remix I made of the track?
In most circumstances no. Buying a copy of a track for your own use from a service such as iTunes does not give you the right to distribute the track yourself to other people. If you wanted to sell copies of a mashup or a remix of someone else's track that you made, then you would first have to get permission from the copyright holder of the music you were using and then pay them the necessary amount to be able to use their track. However remixes of tracks purchased through Beatport can themselves be sold on the Beatport website, check beatport.com for more details.

3. Can I post a mashup or remix on YouTube?
Yes you can. YouTube automatically scans uploaded videos for copyrighted material. If YouTube decides that a video contains copyrighted material then any royalties that video generates will be paid to the copyright holder of the copyrighted material that is used. YouTube may block your video in certain countries as rules regarding copyright in certain countries are stricter than in others. YouTube may also block videos containing copyrighted material on mobile devices and other platforms which do not generate advertising income. And sometimes YouTube will simply completely block your video if it contains copyrighted material.

4. Can I share a mashup or remix on other internet sites?
It depends. Some sites currently don't scan for copyrighted material (eg dropbox) and some do (eg daily motion). Whether a site which scans for copyrighted material blocks your mashup or remix will vary from site to site. A site which doesn't scan for copyrighted material will obviously allow you to share a mashup or remix but beware that you will probably be in breach of copyright if you share a mashup or remix this way.

5. Can I host a mashup or remix on my own website?
Doing this would most likely infringe upon the artist or label's copyright and could get you in trouble. I have seen people mention producers being sued or fined for hosting mashups on their own site and as such I personally don't host any mashup downloads on my blog. Many other people of course do host mashup and remix downloads (eg mp3 files) on their own sites without incident.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

LISTEN: Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. - Body Movin' Party - Mashup by Niall Spence

Hi everyone! Time for a new mashup:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSx7OmZKAd4

Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. - Body Movin' Party

Any dedicated mashup fans out there may have noticed that my last mashup also featured 'Long Live The Party' by Andrew W.K. This time though I've mixed it with another Beastie Boys track as the quality of the acapella used in the first mashup wasn't great.

This mashup was created using the acapella version of 'Body Movin' by the Beastie Boys and an instrumental version of 'Long Live The Party' by Andrew W.K.

Thanks to dickalan at AndrewWKmusic.net for sharing the original instrumental Andrew W.K. track with the world.

If you would like to hear my other mashups simply click here. And to be the first to hear about my new mashups and music, you can follow me on Twitter (@NiallSpence) or hit like on my facebook page: facebook.com/niallspence.

Thanks for listening and party hard!

Niall
@NiallSpence

Saturday, September 27, 2014

LISTEN - Long Live Paul Revere - Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. - New Mashup

Hi everyone! Here's a remake of a mashup I made earlier this year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq1BKyPNvmk

Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. - Long Live Paul Revere

This mashup was created using an unofficial acapella version of 'Paul Revere' by the Beastie Boys and an instrumental version of 'Long Live The Party' by Andrew W.K.

The version of this mashup posted earlier this year featured a different instrumental, but as a better quality instrumental version of Long Live The Party by Andrew W.K. has now surfaced I thought updating this mashup would be a good idea.

Tragically though after 25 years the official Paul Revere acapella is still yet to be released, so until then the DIY acapella will have to do. Maybe Rick Rubin will dig it out soon? A new mashup of this instrumental with a better acapella can be heard here.

If you would like to hear my other mashups simply click here. And to be the first to hear about my new mashups and music, you can follow me on Twitter (@NiallSpence) or hit like on my facebook page: facebook.com/niallspence.

Thanks for listening and party hard!

Niall
@NiallSpence

Friday, September 19, 2014

Still Going Strong.

Thought posting something might be a good idea, let people know I'm still active!

No new music to share as yet but over the next few weeks and months my plan is to record and share some new music and also add some polish to some of my previously shared tracks.

My mashups are currently on the back-burner but there are a couple that I might finish off and share inbetween any new music that I post. Any mashups that I do create will be shared both here on my website and also over on my YouTube account, where if you subscribe you will be the first to hear any new mashups or music that I share with the world.

So in the absence of anything to new to listen to from me, here is a YouTube playlist featuring some of the tracks I've been listening to this month....


Here's the link in case the embedded video above doesn't load.

Thanks for reading/listening :)

Niall
@NiallSpence

Sunday, July 27, 2014

INFO: My Top Mashup Making Tips

Hi

I've intended to make this post for a while now but after receiving some good advice over on the mashstix.com forum I decided now would be as good a time as any to share what knowledge I have regards making mashups. (Not that I'm any authority on the subject but maybe someone might find some of these points useful)

These techniques are things which I find useful when making mashups, and while there may be other ways of achieving these outcomes; these are the ones that work for me. Feel free to share in the comments if you have any better ideas!

My Top Mashup Making Tips:

1. Differentiate the acapella and instrumental tracks you have on your computer from the rest of your music library in some way. I still find it useful to have a separate folder for acapellas and instrumentals as I then know what I've got to work with, however a more modern solution would be to use some kind of tagging system through your OS or other software.

2. Having trouble warping an acapella? Try warping the original version of the track as well. This will be easier to warp than the acapella and once you have warped the original it will benefit you on two accounts: Firstly you can now more easily tell which words occur on which beats visually when placing warp markers, and also by playing the original and acapella tracks together alongside each other you can hear when the acapella is going out of time. When playing the tracks side by side; if you hear an echo/delay the the tracks are quite out of time, if you hear a phaser effect they are almost perfectly in time and once you cannot distinguish between the two except for maybe an increase in amplitude (volume) of the vocal, they are in time.

3. For whatever reason acapella files you find off the internet may not be the same tempo as the original tracks. Bear this in mind when warping them.

4. Listentoyoutube.com. A very useful site, just remember that audio obtained this way may not be of the highest quality. Also be wary not to infringe on any anyone's copyrights when using this site, okay?

5. Download Switch Sound file converter. As the name suggests this application allows you to convert audio files into different formats. I have two main uses for this software; firstly it allows you to convert MP3 files to WAV files (useful as some applications will not recognise MP3s). And secondly, after you've rendered a WAV file from your DAW, you can then convert the file to an MP3 suitable for sharing online.

6. Download mp3tag. This is an excellent tool for conveniently tagging your mp3 files so people don't have to do it themselves when they download your tracks. It even enables you to add artwork to mp3 files.

7. If you do find an instrumental or acapella online which you may wish to use in future, don't hesitate and download it as soon as possible. I say this as online accounts/sites for instrumentals and acapellas often get shut down, which can leave you searching for the track all over again.

8. Acapellas4u.co.uk is a great site for finding acapellas. The only thing to remember is though, is that the site is not totally exhaustive. So it is always worth checking on Google even if you don't find a track there.

9. When searching for a particular acapella on Google you may find that the first results you find are DIY acapellas. It is still worth looking through a few more results if this is the case, as I have found official acapellas listed lower down than DIY acapellas in the past. This can happen for instance when an official acapella gets leaked sometime after a DIY acapella has already become popular.

10. If you want to find a better quality version of an acapella or instrumental file that you have already downloaded, use the file size as a way to see if a file you find online is identical to one you already have or not.

11. Don't be afraid to move on to a new mashup if it sounds like one you are currently working on will not match correctly.

12. If you find a mashup works in your head but not in reality it doesn't, maybe try to mashup a remix of the instrumental track instead, this has worked for me in the past.

13. When starting out warping, start by warping tracks with very well defined beats, for instance dance or hip hop tracks. You will probably want to ensure you work with music that is in common time (the 4/4 time signature) when you are first starting out too. Then the more you practice the more easily you will be able warp more complicated pieces of music, such as those that have less well defined beat waveforms, and other time signatures.

14. When you first attempt to warp rock songs it can initially seem impossible to visually identify where a downbeat in the music is. A good trick is to notice where a kick (bass) drum hit occurs; they can be identified by zooming in on the waveform and noticing a distinct characteristic wave that occurs on the start of most bars.

15. Use effects to your benefit. Clever use of just a couple of audio effects can make your mashups sound much clearer. For instance filters/EQ can help reduce 'clashing' frequencies and compression is useful to help 'glue' sounds together.

16. Here is a nice tip for downloading mp3 files which are included on websites in things like 'preview players'. Be aware though that this doesn't work on all websites and the location of the mp3 'file name' varies from site to site. Also don't infringe anyone's copyright...okay?

17. If you are not already, become familiar with the following terms; BPM, Warping, Pitch Shifting, Key, Scale, Waveform and OOK

18. If you would like some constructive feedback on your mashups try posting them to the 'Submit Here' board on the Mashstix.com forums. Mashstix.com is also a great place to hear new mashups from both established and less established mashup producers.

19. Make sure your mashups are in time. No one wants to hear an out of time mashup.

20. You will want your mashups to be 'in-key' basically what this means is that the key of the two (or more) tracks you are mashing are identical.

21. Where to find acapellas - acapellas4u.co.uk and google are pretty much the main tools I use. YouTube is also good way of confirming if something actually exists or not even if you don't wish to download the acapella from there at least you know that the track is available somewhere.

22. Make a video for your mashup. Think, pop-stars must make videos for a reason right? From personal experience (and I'm sure this is proven too) there is something about moving pictures that sucks you in. If you already post your mashups on YouTube then consider making a video for them other than just a plain still with music playing. Assuming the tracks you are using already have videos there is nothing to stop you using these to accompany to your mashups. Be aware though that if you are planning on posting the video to YouTube they might decide block the video even if the audio alone is not blocked. If you don't have the time/skills/computer to put together a proper video try making a video based on a slide show of photographs (only those you have copyright for though...right?) as I have found even these are more effective than plain still videos.

23. Creating DIY acapellas and instrumentals - If you can't find an official instrumental or acapella version of a track then there is always the possibility that you could create an acapella or instrumental version of the track yourself. There are various ways to do this and all the different ways I'm aware of are listed here.

24. Discogs.com is a great site for confirming whether an official commercial or promo instrumental release exists for a track, and where you will be able to find it. Be aware though that while extremely comprehensive the discogs database is not totally exhaustive, as I have found instrumental promo releases which exist but are not listed on discogs.

And those are the main pieces of advice I have to offer regarding making mashups. If you would like me to add any more or make any suggestions leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.
Niall

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NiallSpence.com - Troubleshooting and Known Issues

Bugs and Known Issues

Internet Explorer and Firefox - Incorrect links boxes layout: I will solve this problem when I next get chance. Only a minor aesthetic issue.
Internet Explorer - Feature links at the bottom of the page don't load, load incorrectly or takes a long time to load. I'm still working on this feature so hopefully this problem will be solved soon. Until then this site feature works with either Firefox or Chrome.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mid Term Report - 2014!

Hello!

As it is half way through the year thought it would be a good time to round up everything that is new to niallspence.com so far this year.

The first half of 2014 has seen me produce 10 brand new mashups! And so far the most popular mashups have been this Eminem vs Fischerspooner effort and this quite lo-fo Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. mix. My personal favourite though is this CSS vs ODB mashup.

If you would like to hear all my mashups from 2014 checkout the YouTube video playlist below:



Download links for each of this year's mashups are coming soon but until then don't forget to download all my 2013 mashups right here.

As well as making new mashups I've been involved in other mashup related activity this year. This includes hosting the Kn0ck0ut plugin for DIY acapella creation and reposting a long-lost-classic Missy Elliot vs Nirvana mashup which had pretty much disappeared from the internet. Click the video below to listen:



Aside from producing new mashups my other main focus so far this year has been improving my website. If you are a regular visitor to the site you may have noticed a few changes over the last two months with developments like a new desktop homepage, improved navigation facilities and a sleeker looking layout which will hopefully make it easier for fans to hear my music and mashups (the mobile version of niallspence.com is halfway through a soon-to-be-completed transformation which will be launched soon).

As for the second half of the year my plan is to work on some new music, so be sure to checkout my soundcloud and if you subscribe/follow/like any of my social media accounts you will be first to hear any new music I release this year.

Thanks for reading and listening!
Niall
@NiallSpence

Monday, June 23, 2014

INFO: Creating DIY Acapellas and Instrumentals

If you want to create a mashup or remix of a track, but can't get hold of the official studio instrumental or acapella via the sources listed here, then there a number of ways to create DIY acapellas and instrumentals or obtain unofficial or alternative versions of instrumentals and acapellas. Read on for a list of the main ways this can be done but keep in mind that there is no guarantee that any of these methods will actually produce a quality acapella/instrumental of a particular song.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

INFO: Where To Find Official Instrumental and Acapella Tracks

Okay so lets say you want to find a download link for a studio instrumental or acapella version of a song, the first thing you probably want do is search for it using Google. However you will probably find that for many tracks it is not as simple as searching and finding a working download link to the official instrumental or acapella you need. If an official instrumental or acapella does not appear on the first few pages of search results, it is likely that it hasn't been made available to the public yet and it is possible it never will be.

However by knowing where most official instrumental and acapella tracks originate from, it may be possible for you to locate the track yourself. Read on for a list of ways you might get hold of an official instrumental or acapella track.

Friday, June 6, 2014

FREE DOWNLOAD: kn0ck0ut 0.8 - DIY Acapella Creation Software

Free Download of kn0ck0ut v0.8 by St3pan0va

Kn0ck0ut v0.8 is VST plugin which allows you to create a DIY acapella using your DAW by spectrally analysing the instrumental and original versions of a track.

This software is by St3pan0va but as their original host site for the free download has since disappeared, I have uploaded it via niallspence.com.

The software is totally free to download, and checkout the read me that comes with the zip download for more information about kn0ck0ut (pronounced knockout). Please note this download is fully legal as the software is distributed as freeware.

While the results using this plugin are far from perfect I decided it would be worth uploading knockout to the internet once more as it still garners interest on sites such as acapellas4u.co.uk.

Also if you run LV2 compatible software then there is a port of the kno0ck0ut plugin with improved performance available here.

Have fun creating acapellas and thanks for reading!

Niall
@NiallSpence