Saturday 5 December 2020

how pop socks got their name

Full disclosure, I am not associated with hosiery manufacturers.

My main role as a musician and pop producer is getting the best out of people's vocals.
I have been thinking for a while about pop shields which are used to stop huge pops in the recordings of vocals caused mostly by the letter P.

It has been said that you can buy a pop shield or make one out of tights or pantyhose instead. I thought this was a myth. However I noticed the other day that one of the greatest musical collaborations, USA for Africa might have had a huge influence on the naming of Pop Socks and of the use of tights or pantyhose as a pop shield.

Here's a still image from the 'we are the world' video.
You can see Bruce Springsteen here singing into a frilly topped pop sock stretched over a coat hanger. Jan 28th 1985.

The full video can be seen on YouTube where several pairs can be seen being used by many musical artists.

So my take on this is that pop socks became so known after this event. 

If you love music, head on over to where you can find out more about independent music.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Trax2020 a playlist from dnldr and Projektor Digital w/c 2nd November 2020

Mark N Hopgood from dnldr announced the top 10 playlist Trax2020 available to download and stream. Supporting Independent Artists.
These tracks are the top 10 performers at dnldr for the week.

#trax2020 - top ten playlist from dnldr

No Time To Die (Part 2)
Zombie 2020 Nightmare Mix
When The Night Is Done
Magic String
Y Tywysog a'r Teigr
When The Night Is Done (Super Starr Mix)
Luckiest Man Alive (Album Version)
Hearts Are Not Toys
Better Place

Listen on Spotify Trax2020 playlist
Spotify - supporting large corporates

Listen on Projektor Digital
Projektor - supporting independent artists

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Here’s How You Can Support Independent Musicians Right Now [answered]

“People are going to have to look out for one another, or else this economy will just collapse,” says one indie singer-songwriter about the coronavirus crisis. Rolling Stone asked the music business how fans can help.

Original article by  @Rolling Stone 

Photo by Melanie van Leeuwen on Unsplash

1. Don’t hesitate to give cash

Artists are understandably divided on whether they should solicit direct money without offering anything in exchange. If an artist is linking to their Venmo, Paypal, Patreon, of GofundMe account in the coming months, it’s more than likely because they’re struggling. “These kinds of things can collectively add up quickly, and it’s super helpful,” says roots singer Janiva Magness. And just because an artist isn’t advertising links to their Paypal doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be grateful for help. Magness suggests contacting an artist privately and asking if they need assistance.

2. Merch is (still) number one

“Buying merch is basically the number one way you can help an artist,” says Rose. “Streaming doesn’t do anything … Most of my income comes from merch.” Purchasing physical CDs and vinyl is still a big help, but the best way to directly help out an artist is to go to their website and pick out your favorite T-shirt, hoodie or poster. “It really goes a long way, and very often that is money the band can see quickly,” says singer Paul Hammer of the band Savoir Adoire. “As opposed to streaming, which takes months, or longer.”

3. The smaller the artist, the more your help matters

Be cognizant of how you allocate your money. Many unproven and new artists who are not yet full-time musicians work in the service industry, and are hurting doubly: With restaurants and bars closing in many cities across the country, there’s a good chance those part-time musicians have just had their only steady paid job pulled out from under them. A good place to spend on lesser known artists is Bandcamp, which is waving its portion of revenue for all purchases this Friday. “Support not just your favorite artist, but also smaller and rising artists who are likely struggling more,” says former LVL-UP guitarist Mike Caridi, who runs the label Double Double Whammy and records music as the Glow. “Small bands who are having touring cancelled need help a lot more than industry darlings. Consider paying more than the suggested price for an album on Bandcamp. And if you bought it already, stream it anyway, or buy a copy for your friend who is also a fan.” 

4. Donate to charities providing direct aid to musicians 

If you want to support musicians in a general sense, but don’t know where to direct your money, start with a few reputable musician relief charities. The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has been providing direct aid to cover musicians’ dire living expenses since 1993. “A fan can rest assured that their money won’t be squandered on frivolous expenses,” says Sweet Relief’s Aric Steinberg. Sweet Relief has set up an emergency COVID-19 fund that fans can donate to, and from which artists can apply for assistance. Otherwise, the Recording Academy’s charity MusiCares offers emergency financial assistance to artists struggling, and has also established a COVID-19 relief fund.

5. Hold onto your postponed concert tickets

One small but crucial way to help out a touring artist is to hold on to your ticket to their rescheduled show, even if you can no longer make it. “Don’t get a refund,” says Traci Thomas, who manages Jason Isbell and John Moreland. “Just reuse your ticket or give it to a friend.” If an artist has already announced dates for later in the year, buy your tickets now. Otherwise, be prepared to go out more than usual and see tons of live music once things return to normal. “The best thing fans can do for us is to stay healthy,” says Texas singer-songwriter James McMurtry, who makes the vast majority of his income on the road. “Be there if this thing ever blows over, and then come back out and see us.”

6. Buy virtual concert tickets in the coming weeks

Within days, musicians across the country have come up with creative ways to monetize their art in the absence of live music. Artists are livestreaming concerts performed from their own living room; some, like American Aquarium’s BJ Barham, will be performing each of his albums in full for fans. Others have come up with even more creative ideas, like North Carolina singer-songwriter Benji Hughes, who announced this week that he’ll be writing customized songs for fans for a very modest fee. UK pop star L Devine announced an “URL tour” that will find her playing on a different medium such as Twitter, TikTok and Facebook each night. “People are trapped in their houses right now and desperately needing to feel relief,” says Rose. “What a perfect time to be putting out music that might offer some sort of respite.” Now, more than ever, when an artist is releasing any sort of music-based content in the coming weeks: pay for it.

7. Shout-out your favorite bands and musicians

For fans who don’t have much disposable income at the moment, there are still ways to help out your favorite artists. “Help us get our names out there,” says singer-songwriter Whitney Rose. “Request our music on radio stations; engage with us on social media.” And like with any crowdfunding campaign, social media exposure goes a long way. “If you do donate, please spread the word,” says Hammer. “Everyone’s going to be on their computers a lot in the next few months, so keep sharing music and ways to help.” 

8. Run a search on what your local venues and workers are doing

When venues eventually reopen around the country, touring musicians will need to rely on their web of independent music venues and clubs around the country. “I’m more worried for service industry personnel than I am for us,” says singer-songwriter James McMurtry. “We can still be capitalists. There’s no way servers can work from home… They need socialism, plain and simple.” In a statement recently released by Brian Witkin, the CEO of indie label Pacific Records, Witkin urged fans to purchase venue merchandise “from your favorite local venue” in addition to buying artist merch. If you’re considering donating your money to the arts, consider giving directly to venues and their staffs.

In Chicago, Spencer Tweedy has created Chicago Service Relief, a website that links to dozens of venues, bar and restaurants in need of help. One of those venues is Chicago’s Empty Bottle, a nearly 30-year old rock club that has set up a GoFundMe page to provide relief for their staff while the venue is closed. Or, considering giving to Covid-19 Relief Campaign at the United States Bartenders Guild, which offers an emergency assistance program that bartenders and service industry workers can apply to for relief.

9. Vote for structural change that would benefit all artists

With an election coming up in November, some musicians are urging their fans to use the current public health crisis as an opportunity to reflect on the structural conditions that affect musicians, who are less likely to have health insurance than the average population. “If everybody who wanted to make a sympathy merch-purchase for us would vote for Bernie and other candidates who support Medicare For All, rent control, and medical and student loan debt forgiveness instead, I would be very grateful,” says Lee Bains, the lead singer and songwriter of the Birmingham rock band Lee Bains and the Glory Fires. “This crisis illustrates the crucial importance of the social safety net. Many of us can’t afford insurance and are saddled with debt. We don’t have sick days and we can’t collect unemployment. So, to my mind, the most crucial decision in front of us is how we value ourselves and each other’s material needs in this country.” 

original article

Friday 21 August 2020

How 3 indie musicians sought to change the music industry for good.

Starting out with independent music
In March 2019, Ricardo Vasques started talking about distributing music with Mark Hopgood. Ricardo had already established an indie music label and Mark had started building an online community of independent artists, dnldr.

Mark was releasing tracks written with Rachel Starr and Ricardo was helping him to release and distribute their music on digital platforms.

Realising something was wrong
Mark had been asked to join a couple of bands in 2015 and had started getting radio plays and streams on Spotify with his band "Fade Files". When the cheques started coming in each quarter (£65 from PRS for radio play and £4.50 for Spotify he realised something was not right. Plays on Spotify were grossly underpaying. No worries, he thought. Just get more plays on radio and Spotify. This increased with the followings they were getting through their indie group dnldr and the private group dnldr for artists which were run by Mark & Rachel.

Meanwhile Ricardo had other plans
At the same time, Ricardo was going through a similar search and not happy with the situation, decided to write some software. He went on a course and the end result was a software program that worked a little like Spotify. Mark and Ricardo were talking about data and how much revenue was being generated by the music plays and something clicked. Between them, given all their knowledge about software, music and the internet, surely they could come up with a platform for independent artists.

In June 2020, the first release of their app, Projektor Digital was shared with their communities and feedback from this release incorporated into the current iteration.

The missing piece in the puzzle
Giving a greater share of the revenue from the platform with several ways to earn from plays and fans, Projektor Digital set a revolution in motion for the benefit of independent artists.

 You can find out more and try the Projektor Platform at

Ricardo, Rachel and Mark continue to produce music as independent artists and share their software platform with members of their communities.

Sunday 2 August 2020

Creating a video preview post for your music.

Unfortunately Facebook isn't kind to musicians and artists. They make it awkward to allow fans to preview music. Here's a guide on how to promote your music to your Facebook page that will play music directly in Facebook.

There are quite a few steps involved and we've put them hopefully together in a way that is fairly easy to understand. As ever if you have any problems, just head over to Projektor Digital webpage and Ricardo, Mark, Sarah, Michael and Rachel will be able to help you out via the chat link in the bottom right of the page ( ).

Step 1: Make a playlist or final destination link. 
The idea is to use a video preview to encourage your fans to listen to your music in full. Make sure you have your playlist URL handy.

Here's how its done in Projektor Digital - other platforms are available too.

a. upload your track and image
b. get your playlist url

First go to the release page and scroll down to get promotion tools..
Promote your music on projektor digital
Release page for your music

Then we will copy the playlist URL - this link will be used in the description for the video post in Facebook later. Projektor Digital automatically creates a playlist and link for your music, putting it with other recent releases in the same genre.

Once the link is copied to the clipboard, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2: get your video preview
Scroll down to the preview and download the video preview that you want to use. 

download a video preview of your music
the video preview section will allow you to download a preview video file

after clicking the three dots (menu) you will have the option of downloading the video

in this case chrome shows the video below

Step 3: create your post in facebook.

This is the part that usually confuses me. The process I follow is 

a. go to your facebook page
b. start to create a post, then choose publishing tools

c.  Then click create post, then click photo/video
You get the option of uploading from computer.

Then schedule the video using the following info in the post, e.g.

In the above example i've used the following

Playlist link: 
#UK20S - my code for UK 8pm on Saturday.

Facebook link:
@projektordigital - because I'm currently helping other artists.

Following up later on this I can use facebook analytivcs for my page to see how well the post did.

If you found this useful and you are a musician or musical artist, consider joiningg us at dnldr for artists, a community of people helping each other to produce and promote music.

dnldr for artists - private community on facebooks

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Comparing revenue for artists in streaming platforms.

Projektor Digital recently launched their streaming platform for Music. With an already squeezed artist comunity and many venues shutting down, we're hoping that this will be some good news.

Ricardo Vasques, CEO and founder of Projektor Digital was interviewed about the key parts of the service.

Ricardo Vasques's profile photo, Image may contain: 1 person
Ricardo Vasques, CEO and founder of Projektor Digital

X: What is Projektor Digital?

R: Our service allows artists to publish to all streaming platforms and share playlists with their fans.

X: What are the key Projektor Digital differences?

R: There are 3 main differences between other services

1. We are a service focused on the artist, less on the consumer.

2. We have a different way of delivering royalties. On top of the usual pay per play mode, we let the artist receive additional revenue through a referral code. Their fans can support them directly, contributing to their monthly income.

3. Focus on providing a fair service. There are no curated playlists. Everyone has a fair chance, so if you produce a pop track, you will be on the pop playlist.

X: What artists are welcome on the platform?

R: We are encouraging independent artists and smaller labels.

X: Thanks for sharing, we are looking forward to hearing more from you.

R: Thanks.

Image may contain: 1 person
Ricardo Vasques artist VCore

So, how do the streaming services compare?
Currently streaming services have a pay per play model.

The most popular service, Spotify gives you up to $0.005 per play ( 1/2 US cent )
The fairest service, Napsterp gives up to $0.019 per play ( 1.9 US cent per play )

In comparison, Projektor Digital gives the artist up to $2.54 per play*

Projektor Digital is a streaming service for independent artists.
Listen to a sample playlist at:

* earned monthly as part of the referral code. Total earnings unlimited.

Monday 13 April 2020

Reviewing keyboards for home / learning piano


Fun stuff

Width of keyboard: min 5 octaves

e.g. Yamaha PSR-E363
this one has a great sound and is user friendly.
has some nice piano sounds and learning features including notes on the music staff on screen.
about £154
I'd recommend this to start with.


There is an EW ( extra wide ?) which has all the keys of a piano - well almost
and it has 2 x 12 W amplifiers, so a little louder.


Then there is pure piano...

All the keys and a great sound.

Roland FP-10


I would buy this, but I already have a keyboard and only one corner for musi.
The hammer action is something that gives the authentic feel of a piano, but as I said before it
However - even though it has no screen, check out the 5 mins in has a great app which looks fantastic. If you have an ipad say

Thursday 2 January 2020

Looking for singers wanting to kick start their music career in 2020

At You Tube X Factory we're excited to anounce a new collaboration with record label dnldr, producer Oncle Gilbert and Rachel M Starr Lyricist.

The dnldr team is looking to help new artists in the following way.

Writing new exclusive music
Building an online profile
Creating a Spotify Artist profile
Building your following as an artist

There are several requirements:

1. you have social media accounts e.g. facebook, instagram etc.
2. you have or have access to a paid Spodity account.
3. you have access to a recording studio, a microphone and a PC or are willing to travel to London
4. you are willing to spend 30 minutes a day as part of our online community
5. have an example of your singing online - either video on facebook / youtube or soundcloud etc.

This is an opportunity to kick start your career in music in 2020 and build a profile and potential means to becoming a professional artist.

To get started:

Join us on the dnldr for artists facebook page

Have a listen to some of our tracks from 2019