Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interesting article for indie musicians

Just came across this article and thought some of you might be interested:

It's about how indie artists have to take marketing themselves more seriously. Good read!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Victor Wooten on Tapestry

I listen to the religious program "Tapestry" that airs on cbc quite regularly. This last podcast was an interview of the bass player Victor Wooten who just wrote a book called "The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music" Just thought I'd share the link the podcast:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ontario Sound Recording Tax Credit

Just stumbled across this tax credit for ontario corporations in the record business:

Here's the link:

Here's the details:

Ontario Sound Recording Tax Credit

What Is It?
The Ontario Sound Recording Tax Credit (OSRTC) is a refundable tax credit based upon eligible production and marketing costs incurred by a qualifying corporation with respect to an eligible Canadian sound recording.

How Much Is the Tax Credit?
The OSRTC is calculated as 20% of qualifying expenditures incurred by an eligible sound recording company with respect to an eligible Canadian sound recording by an emerging Canadian artist or group.

Who Is Eligible?
An eligible sound recording company is a Canadian-controlled corporation having carried on a sound recording business in Ontario for at least 12 months as a corporation or, prior to incorporation, as a sole proprietor or partnership.* An eligible sound recording company must earn more than 50% of its taxable income in Ontario for the preceding taxation year and more than 50% of the company’s business must be related to sound recording activities. An eligible sound recording company must have implemented a distribution plan (a plan to market the recording) for at least one sound recording in the preceding taxation year. An eligible sound recording company must enter into contracts with its artists and must bear the financial risks associated with its business or be related to a company that bears the risks.

* If the corporation's taxation year ends prior to May 11, 2005 please contact the OMDC for the applicable requirements.

What Kind of Expenditures Are Eligible?
Qualifying expenditures include recording production costs, such as artists’ royalties, musicians’ session fees, graphics, digital scanning, programming and testing; production costs for music videos that are directed by a qualified Canadian or made at a production facility in Ontario; and direct marketing expenditures including consultants’ fees and certain costs to launch the recording. Touring, performing manufacturing and distribution costs are not eligible. 100% of qualifying expenditures incurred primarily in Ontario are eligible; 50% of expenditures incurred outside Ontario for marketing and music video production are eligible. Qualifying expenditures must be incurred in the 24-month period beginning when the first qualifying expenditure is incurred in respect of the recording. Government assistance received by the sound recording company in respect of the qualifying expenditures reduces the qualifying expenditures. Funding from FACTOR is not considered government assistance.

What Types of Sound Recordings Are Eligible?
A sound recording is an eligible sound recording if the music or the lyrics, if any, on the recording are performed by an emerging Canadian artist and if:

the music was primarily composed by qualified Canadians; or the lyrics were primarily written by qualified Canadians; or the recording production activities took place in Ontario (a qualified Canadian is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident ordinarily resident in Canada at the time of composition or writing),
the total playing time is at least 15 minutes;**
the eligible sound recording company produced the recording and has exclusive contractual control of the master tape for at least 5 years after completion;
the eligible sound recording company has a distribution plan (a plan to market the recording);**
the sound recording is not primarily spoken word or wildlife or nature sounds, nor for instructional use or advertising or promotional purposes; and
the sound recording is not capable of inciting hatred against an identifiable group; the sound recording does not contain undue exploitation of sex and crime, horror, cruelty or violence.
**If the master recording was completed prior to May 11, 2005 please contact the OMDC for the applicable requirements.

Who Is an Emerging Canadian Artist?
An individual is an emerging Canadian artist if, at the time they signed the recording contract, they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident ordinarily resident in Canada and if they have not had a gold recording as an individual or as part of a group in the USA and either Canada, UK, France, Germany, Asia or Latin America. A group is an emerging Canadian group if at least 75% of its members are emerging Canadian artists.

How Is the Credit Administered?
The OSRTC is jointly administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) - an agency of the Ministry of Culture. Application is made to the OMDC for a certificate of eligibility, which the production company files with the Canada Revenue Agency together with its tax return in order to claim the OSRTC. The amount of the credit, net of any Ontario taxes owing, will be paid to the qualifying corporation. If the qualifying corporation does not owe any taxes, the full amount will be paid out.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Young People in Music

I have a lot of people under 16 contacting me about doing a demo that will get them a deal that will make them rich and famous. If only it was so easy! The real question though is even if that sought after deal came, would it be the right one and the right time?

What I have to say to this is:; what's the rush? Spend your younger years developing as an artist and a writer and figure out exactly what you want to say. The reason most child stars don't have lasting careers is that their inexperience made them make mistakes they otherwise wouldn't have had they been older and more mature.

The way's I encourage young people to develop is by writing songs with different people and try to learn through that experience. Record demos at different studios to get a feel how that process works and more importantly what works for you obtaining the results you want. Most importantly go in with open ears and open to others ideas. There are people with experience that are willing to help and if you listen you'll definitely learn something.

My main point is don't rush into something you're not ready for and remember to take baby steps. It may take a bit longer but your career will be a lot better for it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Strength in Numbers

Recording music is a lot different than it was over the last few decades. No question things have improved in many respects but a lot of the technology out there has encouraged people to do it on their own at the expense of collaborating. In my opinion this lack of collaboration has really hurt the creative process and the quality of the work.

Technology now allows people to do an album completely by themselves in their bedroom. Recording gear is relatively cheap now and there are instruments plugins that can sound really close to the real thing. While this can be useful, especially for low budget projects, it should not be used to replace other musicians playing on your project. When you have someone who's been playing their instrument for years and years lay down some parts on your song it can really help take it in a new positive direction.

I've been recording people professionally for 10 years now and I've seen it done and I've done it myself. One different drum groove, cool guitar riff or even a mixing decision made by someone else and a song takes a whole other direction that excites everyone in the room. This is something that was forced on artists in the past because there was no other options except have a bunch of people working together because of limits in technology.

The point of this posting is to encourage people to work together more. Whether it's professionals or friends there's a lot of people that can add something to your music and it doesn't hurt to get them to try. That's another benefit of technology. No limits of tracks and no diminished sound quality every time you press record. Don't be afraid to use that advantage in addition to your sea of plugins!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Factor Awards

The first Factor Demo Award deadline of 2009 is coming up on April 17. Throughout the years I've helped a bunch of artists get these grants to record at my studio. It's always great to be able to help people get some money to record without them having to dig out of their own pocket (or dig out as much). The grant is for up to 2 grand and does not have to be paid back.

Here's more info from the factor website:

Program Information

This program assists new artists, professional songwriters (songwriters that are members of a performing rights organization) and publishers with the production of their songs on a high quality demo recording, as well as basic press kit expenses, to enhance their career.

* Option A: Juried Approval Process
* Option B: Non-Juried Approval Process

FACTOR may provide a contribution of up to a maximum of $2,000 which represents 75% of the total eligible recording budget.

Funding for this program is provided by Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters and the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canadian Collective Initiatives Component.

For more info on how Ashton can help you fill out the application go to and click on the "contact" tab.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bass/Guitar stuff

Just got my main bass setup at Ring Music. John did a great job as usual, bass is sounding nice!

I'm going to be getting John to put a "lil 59" Humbucker pickup into my strat as well. Just waiting for the pick up to come in. I grew up playing a Les Paul and I've never quite gotten use to the sound of the strat, especially with distortion. I've used strats with a humbucker pick up before and I really liked it. It's a really guitar so hopefully I'll use it more with the new pickup.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This is your audio... this is your audio on "Great Rivers"

I've been using the Great River preamps for a few weeks now and I'm loving them. Aside from their sweet microphone amplifying characteristics they're also great for running mix stems through.

I've been experimenting with running the stereo mix of my drums, bass, guitars, keys through the Great Rivers and I have to say I love the final result. The mixes I've been doing have been more musical and sound, for lack of a better explanation, more expensive.

I'll put some sound clips up soon of before and afters but here's a picture of my digital mix stem of the drums and then what it looks like after it runs through the Great Rivers. Compressed much? :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Buying beats with samples

I was working the other day with a hip hop crew that bought some
beats online. One of the beats they bought was based off an obvious sample which more than likely wasn't cleared. A beat with a sample in it can create a lot of hassles for artists who want to get their music out to the public.

Some artists I've spoke to about this have the attitude that, "At the time it becomes a big deal, I'll have the money to pay everyone off".

This isn't really a good plan though for many reasons. Lawsuits inevitably always cost more than clearing something properly to begin with. It can also put your career on hold when matters are decided in court. A lot of times in this business you only get one chance. You don't want to blow it because your #1 hit is tied up in a legal battle for several years. By the time matters are settled, everyone will have moved on to the next artist and you will be long forgotten.

This is of course if your song can even get out there. When manufacturing CD's most CD manufacturers check the disc for any uncleared samples and will want the paper work to make sure everything is legitimate. Radio stations are generally unwilling to play any songs with uncleared samples without documentation too. The risk involved in lawsuits isn't worth it for these companies and trying to sneak it by them will not put you in their good books!

The reason I'm writing about this is to help save you time, money and aggravation. When buying beats off of producers make sure that they have cleared any samples used. This actually goes for obvious samples from classic songs but also applies to drum loops or sounds (string, piano, bass or otherwise) used from a sample library.

You can check out some of my beats @

Click on the purple "Listen Beats" tab above the text to listen to some of the beats that are available

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Great Rivers are here!

The Great River MP-500NV preamps arrived a week ago and I have to say they sound awesome! These preamps were designed to be a "modern" take on the Neve 1073 sound which is one of the most sought after sounds in recorded music.

I've had a week to play around with the Great Rivers a bit and I'm really digging them. I have been recording with an API preamp for about 7 years now so I'm really use to that sound. I was almost wondering if I was taking that sound for granted because I'm so use to it. I haven't had a lot of time to compare between the API and the Great River but I did have some listen tests with vocals. Without music I found they sounded relatively similar. When I added the backing music and listened again though there was a big difference. I can definitely hear what people mean now when they talk about the API "push". The API vocal stood out whereas the Great River settled in with the mix. I also found I could add more top end to the Great River vocal sound without it being harsh. I may decide to record most of my instruments with the Great Rivers and the vocals with API so my vocal stands out in the mix. I guess with experimentation all will come clear.

Here's a few other things I've run through the Great Rivers and what I thought of them:

Bass Synth: Nice! Crank the input till see a bit of red and it gives you a really nice thick sound. I know what the expression "running it through iron" now means :).

Bass Guitar: I ran my bass through a sansamp bass driver--->Great River Pre--->Distressor and then into the apogee converters and got the best bass sound I've ever gotten. Very smooth low end with a nice mid/top end presence.

Guitars: Really nice. I'm going to have to figure out what configuration works best for this as API is known for it's great guitar sound too.

In closing the Great Rivers are going to be a great addition to the Morph sound. The great thing about them is that they should compliment the API I already have really nicely. The API is known for it's pronounced mids and the Great Rivers for their wonderful low end/top end so now I have more sounds to work with. I'll write more about these as things progress and I get a chance to use them more.

Morph Productions

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February Update

February has been a busy month at Morph. Finished a few ongoing projects, started some new ones and kept working on others! Here's some highlights of the month:

I finished the music for the tv show "Ghost" which airs in Malaysia and the Philippines. The director wanted music that sounded like the stuff in the show "House". Lots of ambient layers and cool sounds. It was a great project and something I hope to get more involved with in the future. The show will inevitably pop up on youtube and when it does I'll put a link here for people to view it.

I did a live off the floor gig with my session drummer Craig Lapsley and a Toronto pop/rocker Andrew Bray. Andrew contacted me looking for a bass player and drummer to play live off the floor with for an EP he was doing. We got together and it turned out great.

Toronto pop/rock artist Gemma Wood came into the studio in January looking to record some songs here. We're currently working on a second song together and it's going well. Gemma brings in the song completely written with chords/melody/lyrics and then I help her arrange and put all the instruments in. I played some electric guitar, bass and did some keyboard programming while my session drummer Craig Lapsley laid down the drums.

I did some beats for Burlington pop singer Shi-Anne and for the last month or two we've been recording vocals and producing the songs. She is currently working towards finishing an EP that will be out late this year.

I had a bunch of session musicians come in this month to add some additional textures to some projects I'm working on. I think now a days with people working on music with their computers it's easy to forget how much better a production can be when additional players come in and contribute their unique skills to a song. I definitely try to get other people in when I can.

Michael Olson came in to lay down some cello for the Toronto band "Digital Horse. Ryan Malcolm came in to do some session vocals for adult contemporary writer Andy Winter. John Zytaruk came in to lay down some of his folk stylings via lap steel, dobro and banjo on an album I'm working with with a montreal pop/rock artist.

In new gear news I got a Roland Dep 5 which is a really cool effects processor from the late 80's. The Dep 5 is a processor with a lot of character and while I won't be using it on every session it's definitely going to be really useful for ambient textures. I also got a Novation V station software instrument which has some sweet sounds.

The big news in equipment at Morph Productions right now is that I just ordered two Great River MP-500NV preamps. For those of you who don't know, these preamps were designed to be a "modern" take on the CLASSIC Neve 1073 preamp. It's a sound that is known to be very thick with a very musical colouration and has been widely sought after in music recording for decades. I'm really looking forward to having two of them to track with and to run synthesizer sounds through. The ones I'm getting are the API 500 series which will fit in my lunchbox along side my API 512c pre. The idea of having a neve sound along side API in the same box really appeals to me. I'll post a review and some comparisons when they arrive in the next week or two.

So there's the february recap. The new website will be up in the next few days so keep checking back and let me know what you think. The website as always is

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Love My Space Echo!

As I was saying earlier I've been working on this music for a TV show that airs in Malaysia. The music required is really textural and ambient so I decided to use my space echo which hasn't seen a lot of use lately.

For those of you who don't know, the Roland Space Echo is a tape based echo unit made in the 70's. It works by having a tape loop continually running over a record head and then played back by several playback heads a little afterwards to recreate an echo. The echo time was determined by the speed of the tape as it ran over the heads.

I've had mine for about 9 years now and I just love it. As those of you who have worked with me know, I'm a real delay freak. It doesn't really work with the commercial stuff I do, but I always end up whipping it out when someone wants something kind of ambient or weird.

The real beauty of the unit (and the sound the digital emulations still can't get right) is when you turn up the intensity (feedback) knob. The way a space echo self oscillates is probably one of my favourite sounds ever. This baby sings! I love running pads through it while turning the speed knob up and down slightly to make the whole sound modulate a bit. I usually do this twice and pan the two while keeping the original signal through the middle. That's also a great sound on guitars to create a big washy sound. You can hear it being used like that all over Radiohead's "The Bend's".

It's also all over dub and old reggae recordings. The reggae and dub guys use to put it on the snare (or everything!) set to multiple echos and for a voice it would be set to a tight slap back. The Space Echo loves a Jamaican accent!

When you end up accumulating as much gear as I have, sometimes it's easy to forget some of your old favourites. I think I'll make a point of bringing out the space echo a bit more this year. After 30+ years since creation she deserves a bit of respect!

Here's a link to my gear page on my site if anyone is interested:

Morph Productions Gear List

Friday, January 30, 2009

January News

Had a lot of interesting projects this month. Lots of different things around the world which is kind of cool. It's amazing how much the internet has changed everything. There's always ongoing projects going on but here's some of the new things that started this month:

I got commissioned to do a bunch of music for a pretty big tv show that airs in Malaysia. Creating music for TV and film is something I'd really like to get into and this is a really good start. The cool thing is that it's just going to be a licensing arrangement so when I'm done I'm going to have all these great backing tracks available for other shows as well. The music is kind of ambient and dark which is stuff I love doing. I'll more than likely post the stuff on the licensing site when it's finished.

I had a few americans contact me about doing some hip hop and pop beats for them. One is in Buffalo and the other is stationed in Iraq on a government contract. The beats turned out great and everyone is happy.

When I do beats for people outside of Toronto they generally email me some samples of stuff they're looking for and then I send them stuff back with tags (someone saying "Morph Productions" over every loop of the beat in the background) until they pay me. They usually end up paying via paypal.

For more info on the beats I do and to hear some demos go to
Morph Beats

The last project of the month involved recording a voice actor for a telephone answering system for Hilroy, the paper supply company. Hilroy chose one of the many voice actors I have available to my clients. I have demos of everyone I use so if you ever require someone to do voice over work I can send you some demos and you can choose whom you'd like to use.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Beginning

Hello, here's the beginning of the Morph Productions Blog. This will be used to discuss news at my studio Morph Productions, located in Toronto Ontario. I found that the news page on my site is too limiting in space so there will be expanded news here as well as topics I choose to cover regarding music recording, production, writing as well as the music business in general.

Let the games begin!