My First Behind the Scenes Patreoen Podcast is up Yay!

Just wanted to pop in real quick and say that my first patreon exclusive post is up that isn’t a video or MP3, yay!  I’ve been trying to figure out a structure to recording these behind the scenes podcasts, and finally found my groove with it.  The first one is up, and available for 3 dollar or more patrons, so if you’d like to hear any of my musings for my covers in audio form, it’s a pledge away!

 

You can listen and pledge here.

 

As always, not pledging doesn’t mean I’ll stop making videos.  If you’d like to support me monetarily  and get some cool rewards however, check out my Patreon page 🙂

This Track is Starting to Drive me Crazy!

Remember when I mentioned that I was working on a rendition of a Final Fantasy battle theme?  Remember when I was like “I’ve got it, it’ll be great!”.  I was…half correct in that assumption, because it’s freaking driving me crazy!

 

Well, let me rephrase that:  The very end part is driving me crazy.  I really like the meat of the track, but the phase two of the thing so to speak, isn’t’ going so well and I have no clueee how to finish it up.  I thought, ok, add vocals to it and just have one piano line, but I recorded vocals for it last night and ugh it just doesn’t sound right.  I tried adding some strings to that section, sounds blech.  Tried extra piano, sounds bleh.  At this point, I just don’t know what to do!  I’m going to mix what I have so far, and see if that helps.
My initial plan was to have everything drop out, just have the base piano line, and fill it with a lot of choral bits.  When I tried that last night, the harmonies just weren’t coming together.  I think I may have figured out the backing harmonies I want for it that I’m going to record tonight and hope they fit but if that doesn’t work….no clue what I’m going to do XD I may just scrap it for now if that doesn’t work, because I’ve been trying to get this done for like a month and it’s just not coming together at the end.  At the same time, I know this track is super experimental, probably the most experimental thing I’ve done and I’d like to finish it to see how it’s going to turn out.  But, we’ll see how I feel about it after mixing, I tend to have a better picture of how to fix up a track after I’ve heard it post-mix.

 

In other news, I also recorded a few episodes of a fun behind the scenes podcast I’ve been planning!  I go through my recording and arranging process, and how I decided to cover a certain song in it.  The podcast is a patron exclusive, so if you’d like to hear it, consider becoming a patron over on Patreon.  You can get other rewards, as well, and give as little, or as much as you’d like!

 

 

That’s it for today, We’ll see if on Thursday I’ve finished this cover, or if it drives me mad XD

YouTube Views Experiment, Results and Closing Thoughts

A month ago I started a test where I started monitoring the views of one vide, without any video footage attached to it, and just using a still image.  I wanted to see if it would get the same amount of views in a month, as a video where I was on camera singing just to see if it makes a difference.  At the end of the month, Weight of the World wound up getting 78 views, as opposed to my Inuyasha medley having 194 views in a month.  But, I also posted 3 videos this month, and one the month I posted the Inuyasha video, so I feel like that may have to do with the view count as well – Inuyasha was the only video posted the month it was posted, so if new people came to the channel, that would be the first video to click.  Since I posted 3 this last month, I think my view count got split between those three videos (they all netted about 60-80 views – Inuyasha got 194 in the first month, but do the math and that’s about how many the 3 videos got per month).

 

There were so many variable’s to this experiment, I feel like it didn’t quite work.  For example, my Terra’s theme video has only been up a week, and already has 63 views.  That has me singing in it, along with the album art for the cover.  However, The Witching Hour, which is an animation video, also got a decent amount of views – 69 in a few weeks, and doesn’t have me on it at all.  Even Weight of the World, which like I said is a still image video, still got a lot of views in a month.  So I guess the end result of my experiment is…the video format doesn’t really matter?  When posting consistently I got the same amount of views on videos, but like I said I’m still getting more traction from the being on camera videos (Inuyasha medley went up by 30 views this month, Terra’s theme is new and got the amount of the other two videos in less than a week).

 

At the end of the day, I guess just keep posting videos, you’ll get views and subscribers.  My experiment wasn’t really a failure, just a bit of an eye opener:  If your music is good, people will listen.  I think the best thing to do is have a moving video format instead of a still one, though:  Like if I’m not on cam, use game footage, or animations, because I do notice I get a lot more traction from a video that has a moving picture aspect to it.  I didn’t take into account the popularity of the tracks I’m doing either, so like not sure if that goes into account also.

 

So TL;DR:  This experiment was a semi-success?  It helped me see what to keep on doing on my channel, and what not to do, so I suppose it worked well!
If you’d like to see any of the videos I’m talking about, head on over to my YouTube Channel and take a listen!

Terra’s Theme with Lyrics (Shine) Final Fantasy VI Released!

[Final Fantasy VI] Terra’s Theme with Lyrics (Shine) – Crystal Dennis – YouTube

 

-collapses on the floor after doing happy dance-

 

Ugh, it’s finally released!  I’ll get this out of the way now:  This wasn’t  a pain to arrange or anything, but it was a major pain to distribute.  Releasing this is a really big landmark for me for a number of reasons though.  The first one being, I’ve had these lyrics written for years.  Since about 2013, I want to say.  Back then, I wasn’t really sure about how using midi and virtual instruments worked, and would just try downloading things and not have them work and…stopped trying.  It was always uber frustrating to me, because for this track in particular I really wanted to make it have a backtrack.  That being said, this isn’t exactly how I imagined making it:  I wanted it to be a bit more orchestral, but with what I have at my disposal  right now, a piano and strings arrangement is all I could do.  I’m really happy with how this came out, and how I reworked it to fit this sort of style though, so no complaints!  Honestly, I feel like I wouldn’t really utilize orchestra instruments anyways, and it’s been a lot of fun embracing my folksy Celtic acoustic roots with these arrangements.  Eventually I want to get into making things more dynamic, but baby steps.

 

That tangent aside, I always wanted to have this have a backtrack, and not be a cappella.  Even when I started doing a cappella songs, I wanted this to have music to it.  I tried making it a cappella and it just didn’t work.  Also tried arranging it without a keyboard to play on (writing music without a piano keyboard is just impossible for me, accessibility reasons is the short story about that) so just coming out with this is suuuuch a major goal for me I’m so happy I’ve achieved!

 

And now the bad part of this story.  Freaking Soundrop!  I ranted about this a few weeks ago, because dealing with them was a pain.  Not only did it take them a week to get back to me (and only after I tweeted at them in an attempt to get their attention – which worked) but it still isn’t fully released on stores.  It’s on iTunes and Google Play though, so I just went ahead and posted the video because I was determined to get this out before April because it should have been out last month.  All that aside, squeee I have an artist profile on iTunes!  You can check it out here.

 

The actual track is here:

 

iTunes

 

Google Play

 

And hopefully Spotify and Amazon Music will be coming soon!  I really hope I linked the iTunes link right, as well XD

But yeah think I’ve said all I can say about this one, just happy to have it out after working on it for so long.  I love writing lyrics to pre-existing game themes, I already have another Final Fantasy track in the works!  Just have to figure out what’s erking me about its arrangement XD

The Witching Hour (Original) Smile Bomb! And General Music Update

The Witching Hour [Original Instrumental] – YouTube

 

Smile Bomb!  – YouTube

 

A few musical updates today!  There was one more collaboration I could have linked but I really don’t like how it came out and it deserves a post all its own if I ever wind up posting it to be completely honest.  Not a bad experience, just an annoying one lol.  But, This collab is another story!  I met Chris through seeing a friend of mine link her collab with him.  I commented on the video, he emailed me and asked if we could do something together and my answer is always “Yes!”.  After that, we got talking, and we get along really well!  He’s really nice to work with, and I definitely am happy to have a new friendship with him (an working relationship, as well!) it’s really nice to have people to talk to about all this music youtube business who’s into it too, I’ve already gotten loads of help and support from him, and doing this collab was amazing.  Yu Yu Hakusho is an anime I loved from my childhood, and when I saw Smile Bomb on the list of suggestions he had I was like “I love that song, let’s do it!”.  Overall, I just feel really open about talking to Chris, and working on improving our channels together, and this collab is hopefully the first in many more collabs with him!
This is another huge milestone, because it’s the first thing I’ve done that’s on iTunes and Spotify and other music distribution sites EEE!  I couldn’t stop myself from listening to the preview over and over again on iTunes, it’s so cool to see it there!  I can’t wait to see more of my stuff go on those stores as well, it’s a dream come true!
On that note, I got all of the distribution stuff situated for my next cover.  I had to get a bit aggressive with Soundrop, because I emailed them three times before they responded – and they only responded when I tweeted at them about my problem (which was pretty entertaining to see, I must admit hahaa).  They fixed it yesterday, and my next cover is now in the process of being listed on stores!  So after that’s done, I’ll be posting my Terra cover on YouTube (finally!  I’ve been working on this for so long).  They said it could take up to a week to get it to stores but I’ve seen other friends have a turnaround of a day or so, so the cover will be going up next week, woo!

 

Because Terra’s theme wasn’t ready yet, I opted to post the other video linked above.  I mentioned working on this track a while ago, and got my awesome animator friend to make an animation for me.  The first custom one he’s done, yay!  (Side note:  If you want him to be able to do this a lot more, consider supporting me on Patreon – he also made my album art for Terra’s theme).  I put this together a few weeks ago probably, just in a 3 hour span of time.  Figured out all of the melodies just by noodling on the keyboard.  I figured out the piano background first and was like “Oo this sounds spooky, what else can I add to it” and just kept on building on it until I got this.  I half improv, half made the main melody.  Not sure if I could even redo it haha but I really liked how it came out for my first attempt at an all instrumental track!  Let me know what you think J

 

It sort of just happened this month, but I really liked the amount of content I released!  I got one original track, one cover with backtrack, and one VGM/anime cover arrangement done.  I’m not going to concrete say I must stick to this schedule, but at the same time I kind of want to.  If the licensing goes smoothly, it really wouldn’t be a major hassle because this is all I do for an…attempted living XD I’d love to try and get a video out a week, but I don’t think I could do that with music all the time so may look at doing some how it’s made behind the scenes stuff, who knows.  Either way, I’m really happy this month of music is over, because hoo boy was it stressful haha.
That also was a lot longer of a post than I expected, but like I said a lot has been going on!  Hope you enjoy these videos, more will be coming soon!

Almost Backslid, but Stopped Myself – Progress Yay!

So as stated on Tuesday I’ve hit 100 subscribers on YouTube.  I think that’s in major part to starting to arrange my own covers, and recording myself on camera for said covers.  I also set a goal to post 2 covers a month, and this month I had two…technically.  I had one arranged for the longest time, but for some reason I didn’t record the vocals for it until last week.  I was going to record video footage for it this past weekend, but didn’t get to it, and there starts my dilemma.

 

I usually record video on the weekends.  Like, I’m pretty sure I’m conditioned to do that because the thought of recording video during the week just erks me, and I’m not motivated to do so.  I think it’s because I gear myself up to prepare to record on Sunday (but I’ll probably do it on Saturday this weekend, I want to get it done) because I do vocal warm ups all week and take a break on the weekends to rest my voice.  So I take that time to do other things, usually bake or record video depending on what I need to do.

 

So back to setting a two covers a month goal.  I totally misscheduled!  I know it’s entirely my procrastination’s fault, and if I had recorded vocals and mixed like two weeks ago I wouldn’t have this problem.  I recorded the actual piano like last month and just have been sitting on this, so legit the only reason I didn’t record vocals and get this done was laziness.  And that made my brain go into paranoid overdrive, because I thought of doing videos in my old, still photo style.

 

I’m planning to license  this specific cover to be sold on digital music distribution sites, and had my friend do some art for that.  So I was like “I’ll just use that instead!” and I went back and forth, back and forth about doing this.  I don’t mind using animation’s for covers still, because there’s movement involved in that and it isn’t just a still photo.  But I really want to stop using still images as a crutch, and almost back peddled into doing so, but I stopped myself!

 

Last night, I made the video really quick.  I wrote out my video description, even uploaded it onto YouTube, had it unlisted to share to patrons, but when I was doing all that, I got this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I started getting super nervous that the quality wouldn’t be good, that this video wouldn’t get as many views as my last two, that I wasn’t doing my best.  The first two were just me being wonky, but the last one I think was my brain going “Cryyyyystal you know you don’t want to do this stop stressing out over your self-imposed deadline” because even though I want to do two covers/musical pieces a month, the fact of the matter is, I didn’t plan well enough for that to happen in March.  If I’m going to post a video, I want it to be one I’m not going to second guess (something I did a lot last year) and I want it to be the quality that I want, with guidelines I set forth.  I’ve never done this before, but I kept the video unlisted, deleted the video and told myself to just record this weekend, and post the video next week.  After that, I felt a lot better about my decision, but was glad to have gone through that process of uploading, not feeling right about it, and deleting, because if I hadn’t I would have been debating with myself about what to do about the video for ages.
One of my main reasons for not recording video was just because I wasn’t feeling being on video this week.  But, that’s ok:  I’ll wait until I feel better about being on cam and record.  I’ve also set some guidelines in place for my video styles, because I don’t want to have a mental battle like this again XD so I figured I’d do it like this:
For arrangements that I worked super hard on like what I’ve been doing recently:  Record myself on video, because those videos deserve to have me on video for them, because I’ve worked really hard on them!
Originals:  Either choose to use an animation, or record myself on video.  More leaning towards an animation, if my friend has something that I can use for certain originals, because I like the idea of having a scene playing while some video game inspired music is playing.  Because, let’s face it, any original track I do that isn’t a song with lyrics is going to be RPG/JRPG inspired, that’s just my esthetic haha.  On that note, I finished my first all instrumental original, and in March too!  So I got my goal of getting an original track done in the month of March.  I really like how it came out, even though it’s probably pretty basic!  Once I finish up with this video, I’m going to work on releasing that one.

For covers with pre-existing backtracks:  Haven’t decided yet, maybe a still photo?  Or maybe I’ll set this one to have the option to choose between recording myself singing, animation, or still photo.  But still using a still image just doesn’t sit right with me anymore, but we’ll see when I do a cover with a pre-existing backtrack how I feel.  I think I’d probably just record live singing, though, but want to give myself flexible  guidelines because I realize that’s just how my brain works.

 

In the End, I realized this was a really good thing that happened, because I touched on something I probably needed to deal with.  Setting guidelines, and limitations for myself, and finding out that that sort of video doesn’t appeal to me anymore is a huge step forward, because I remember when recording myself on video just didn’t appeal to me haha.  The fact that a still image vid wasn’t up to snuff is a great improvement on my YouTube mindset, that can only improve from here!  I also learned that it’s ok to miss a deadline you set for yourself and make sure that missing the next deadline doesn’t happen again by having better time management.  Next step:  to not chicken out about licensing my covers, and to figure out how to master tracks for releasing on those platforms!

I’ve Reached 100 Subscribers on YouTube!!!

I did it guys!  After almost 2 years of YouTube, I made it to 100 subscribers!  I checked, and my YouTubeaversary is April 17, so almost two years.  I’m SO FREAKING PUMPED!!!

 

At the beginning of March, I noticed my subscriber count was at 95, so I randomly decided to set the goal to get to 100 at the end of March.  Usually, I’d just set a goal and hope it happened, but this time I was a lot more proactive, linking my channel all over social media, asking people to share my channel, and people to subscribe if they hadn’t been subscribed already.  I was pleasantly surprised to see so much support come through from old friends, family members, and acquaintance’s.  My brother kept on retweeting my link as well, and he got a few of his let’s player buddies to subscribe too, which helped loads:  one of his friends was my 99th subscriber, in fact!  I can’t see who my 100th subscriber is because of their channel preferences, which is ashamed because I’d really like to know, but I’m also not complaining because AHHH I’m at 100 subs!  In doing all of that, I realized hustling to get something accomplished wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.  In fact, it’s actually pretty fun!  Doing this helped me get over my trepidation’s in regards to sharing my content, so that was a major bonus in just deciding to get to 100 no matter what this month.
One of the cool things you get when hitting 100 is a custom URL.  So instead of my channel link being some weird user ID, it’s now /c/crystaldennismusic.  Which, to be honest, is the whole reason I was pushing so hard to get to 100.  I really wanted that custom URL, and seeing it there is so amazing.  I’ve typed it in like ten times today and squealed every time my channel has popped up, it’s sooo cool!

 

Now that I’ve hit this milestone, I feel like my channel is finally going somewhere.  100 people like my music enough to be subscribed, and that’s an amazing feeling.  That’s like, the size of a concert!  Getting the amount of views I get, now that I’m recording myself is great too, and I feel like it majorly contributes to people’s readiness to help me out.  I could kick myself for not doing so before!  I’m not going to do every video on cam, like I don’t think I’ll do it for originals, but maybe I will, who knows haha.  I want to branch out and start recording in outside locations as well eventually, just have to plan it a bit better.  But overall, I’m super excited that I’ve hit this milestone!  I’ll shoot to hit 200 by the end of the year!

 

In other music news, a random tune popped into my head last night.  I’ve been obsessing over NieR Automata’s OST and story, because I’m a huge fan of the first NieR, and the OST for the 2nd game doesn’t disappoint!  The story doesn’t either, it’s freaking beautiful.  I’ve been soaking in NieR lore, watched the entire games story on video, and have been watching all the boss fights because ugh I love this game so much, and wish I had a PS4 to play it.  That tangent aside, I think this tune that came up is really inspired by NieR’s instrumentation style:  melancholy and haunting.  For my first piano original, I was trying to do a video game type of track, but it didn’t really click until I was practicing piano last night and ran across some really gorgeous sounding key combination’s.  So, I grabbed my USB cord, plugged my keyboard into the computer and recorded a few layers of melody.  Tomorrow I’m going to fine tune it a bit and see what I can come up with, so excited!  The tune is a bit simplistic, but as I’ve stated before:  I think simplistic, acoustic folksy stuff is just my style haha.  I never find a need to add more than about six instruments to a track, and I’m finally feeling like that’s ok.  So woo for progress in my musical self-esteem!

 

Long post, but ugh I’m just so excited.  EEEE I got to 100 subscribers!  My channel can only go up from here, can’t wait to make more content this year!  This milestone has given me major motivation, can’t wait to get my next video out so I can start working on other projects!