This Track Drove me Crazier, But I Think I’m Done With it!

Recorded extra vocals on Tuesday, still didn’t get the effect I wanted.  So I sat down at my piano  last night, and tried to get a strings progression I liked.  It failed miserably rotfl.  But, luckily, I have amazing friends who come to the rescue!  One of my more musically inclined friends recorded a chord progression for me I really liked, but I just couldn’t get it down on keyboard so I did something similar enough and called it a night because I literally had been trying to record and fix up that one strings section for four hours and by 1 AM I was frustrated nearly to the point of tears.  I really need to not drive myself to that point but…it happens, what can I say?  When I want to finish something, I get really determined to do it even if it’s to the detriment of my sanity lolol.

 

With the strings added, it sounded better.  Not how I wanted still, but better.  I wanted to add more vocals to the 2nd part of the song but it just wasn’t working for me…until, I went, aha!  I can use that same chord progression my friend made, only make it with my voice instead of strings!  I did something I never have done before, and rolled out of bed to record the extra layers I wanted to test out.  Partially because I want this to get done, and partially because I needed to hit really low notes, and a tip I got years ago from a fellow singer was when you need to do that, just roll out of bed and use your morning voice.  I had never tried doing it before, but it totally works!

I have to see how everything sounds after mixing it later today, but honestly at this point, I’m done with this track.  I still find it a bit jarring as of now, but I think I’m always going to feel that way about this cover in particular because it’s the exact opposite of how the original sounds.  Honestly, I’m proud I took the leap to do something this experimental, whether it sounds good or not.  It’s at the point where I’ve worked so hard at it I’m posting it regardless of how I think of it.

 

I think I’m letting my nerves get to me too.  Like, I’m really iffy about posting this and people being like “Ugh, this sounds nothing like the original!” I’ve heard covers that sound drastically different than the original though and really enjoyed them, it’s just the 2nd phase of the track sounds so much different than the first to me, but at the same time, I like how it sounds?  It’s difficult because I really can’t go to the original and be like ok add this part because they both have completely different stylings, so I’m having to borrow things from the original, rework them, and fit them into the style of my cover.  I’m happy I’m doing this because I’m really pushing my music muscle, but ugh XD  Lol this is the most conflicted about something I’ve ever been, which usually is a good thing when it comes to music.  I did a more folksy cover of another Final Fantasy track (not a battle song) I need to post too, but with that one I can see it sounding the way I’ve covered it.  This one, I took from being high energy battle music to being haunting piano, vocals, and strings so really I’m just nervous about how people will perceive it.  But I know someone who has a YouTube channel where they do nothing but make battle arrangements of different music, so I guess me doing the opposite to a battle theme isn’t much different XD

 

TLDR:  I’m over thinking this entire thing, I like half of this track, am ok enough with the 2nd half and am going to post it anyway once I record video.  Need to record video for the other Final Fantasy song I’ve had done for like a month, I’ve been majorly slacking hahaa.  I really need to get a schedule going for this sort of stuff.

 

In other news, I got a statement from Soundrop, and I got some money from someone buying my tracks online, woohoo!  My first 78 cents, I’m in the money XD but in all seriousness, I’m super excited someone bought one of my tracks, super exciting!

More YouTubeness

So this is going to be me talking about YouTube video stuff so if you’re sick of reading about it (I don’t blame you if you are) then go ahead and skip over this post, I’ll see you next Tuesday XD

 

But After dumping out my feelings about the video stuff this Tuesday, it helped clear my head a lot.  That’s generally the reason I keep up this blog, it’s really cathartic and helps clear my head.  But I was thinking about my whole stupid overthinking of making videos and came to a realization that I just need to play each upload by ear.  Before I mentioned having a certain type of song be one video format etc etc but I think doing it that way is silly.  For example, there’s a song I’ve had finished last month and I really like.  I don’t know why, but for this video in particular, I want it to have imagery  that isn’t me singing in front of cam.  I feel like this song would lend better to some animated visuals, but it’s a cover I arranged from scratch so my brain kept on going “You have to record youself on cam, dems the rules!”.  But I really wasn’t feeling it for this one.  So instead of realizing I needed to do another format for it, I dragged my feet on the upload of it and it’s a month late, which is ridiculous!  I think I just need to go with my gut, not force certain videos, and like I said just do what feels right for the song.  I get the same amount of views, at the same speed over a month so why not just post what I feel is right for the video.

 

There’s another video that I have in the works that I’m super excited to do.  For this one, I really feel that recording myself on video for this one is the right decision.  I’m excited to record on cam for it, so that’s what I’m going to do.  Just like the video I mentioned above:  I didn’t force it, and recording on cam just came to me as the right decision.  So I’m just going to go with what I feel is the right call on a video to video basis, and see how I feel about it.  I already feel good about it just writing this down, so I think it’s definitely the right call.

 

I’ve also realized, that the type of music I do lends really well to a simplistic style!  Since I do folk, acoustic, and Celtic stuff usually, when I do record myself on cam having it set up the way I usually do is fine.  Because folk music is really Earthy and raw, I feel confident that I can keep the format I have and it’ll work out.  Not sure if I’ll throw in playing some instruments along with me singing, I think I’ll play that by ear too.  May shoot outside sometimes, as well!  Just to get that nice folky vibe in my videos.  Once again, I feel confident this will work well, and can’t wait to get back on the video saddle again, feeling a lot more confident in the production of my videos.  Before, I’d make a video, but I’d be so uncertain about making it.  But I want to go into the second half of this year confident in what I’m doing, no matter what it turns out being, and for me going with my gut instinct always winds up being the right choice for me:  Sometimes I second guess myself, but whenever I go through a cycle of doubt I always circle back to what my initial choice was.  Silly, I know, but it just happens haha.

 

So the second half of this year (it’s crazy it’s already June) I’m going to focus on what I already planned to focus on, making my videos the best quality I can.  I know now that doesn’t mean be on camera at all times, but instead if means do the video you think will fit the song, and do what you’re comfortable doing for each song on a case by case basis.  And, get some better lighting, so I feel good about recording on video.  Also, don’t stress out about being in full makeup every time I record, because that has been a huge deterrent  for me wanting to record sometimes as well.  All in all, the lesson I take away from  this is: Never give up, trust your instincts!

 

Nier Automata Possessed by a Disease Cover, plus Mini Music Updates

[Nier Automata] Possessed by a Disease Cover – Crystal Dennis – YouTube

 

Posted this cover last week.  It’s been in the works for like, 2 months, and let me tell ya it’s probably the most intense cover I’ve done with a pre-existing backtrack.  I adore Nier’s music, but the reason I tend to not cover things from it is the sheer amount of work that goes into doing so.  The Chaos language is something you have to pick out by ear because there aren’t really any lyrics around, so it’s like learning a song in another language which, I always have to learn phrase by phrase.  Luckily, this song is in Enka, which is a real language but still…same concept applied.  I wanted to cover this song so much though, it’s my favorite piece of Nier music.  So not only did I learn this one by ear, but I took the time to write out the phonetics of the song so I could get as close to the original as possible.  Is it perfect?  Nope!  But it’s as close as I’m going to get with pronouncing the lyrics in this song so I’ll take it XD
The other troublesome thing with this one was mixing.  I only have access to Audacity for mixing due to like, no other DAW being 100 percent accessible (get on the ball for PC some DAW come on) so the original mix of this was garbage, and I hated it so much. I hate not being able to use a more advanced DAW in general but I use what I can to the best of my ability and that’s another story for another post, but one of my friends offered to mix this one for me because of that.  When I heard this mix, I was floored!  It was just how I wanted it to sound, love how it came out.

 

The last step of releasing this one was the step I always debate over the most lol.  The dumb video!  In the end, I did a still image because I just wanted to release it and have been stressing out over what types of videos to make for eeeevery video  and honestly, at this point, I’m starting to re-evaluate what style of video I want to make for my channel.  I had this epiphany  last night when I couldn’t sleep:  I honestly don’t remember if recording myself on camera singing was something I wanted to do, or just did because everyone on YouTube forums and subreddits said I should do it to engage the audience more.  Seeing my view counts for certain videos, I feel like that isn’t exactly the case for my channel:  the highest views I have on any cover is close to 1000 views in a year, and that’s a still image video, same with the second video with the most views on my channel.  I like the idea of giving back to the artist community in a way by commissioning artwork to use in videos, using animations of friends and acquaintances  and things like that, and when I think about doing that for videos, I get excited to make things.  When I think of recording myself on camera, I think of how much of a hassle it is to get everything set up, and that it’s ridiculous how much I’m stressing over it when I really care more about producing music.

 

I know I talk about this particular thing sooooo much on this blog so if you’re tired of hearing it, sorry XD I know I’m tired of thinking of it, so yeah!  I’m not going to for sure say I’ll never record on cam again, but like I said I’m definitely going to re-evaluate what type of videos I want to predominantly  feature on my channel, and make sure they’re videos I’ll 100 percent be alright with and proud of posting, regardless of what they are.

 

That being said, if you watch cover videos that use animations or still images, I’d love for you to describe the style they use to do so!  I know some way bigger YouTubers use minimal art and animations for vids, so if you have a particular YouTuber you like that does this I’d love to hear why.  It’s hard for me to figure out what style could work for me when I can’t see others videos XD

 

And I told myself I wouldn’t blog about this when I posted my tangent on facebook at 5 AM, oy…

 

 

Some Mini Music Updates, to finish off this post:

 

Piano Practice update:  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I hit a major landmark the other night!  I’ve been struggling with playing and singing at the same time, but the other night while practicing, I was able to do so!  I was so happy because that was something I was majorly struggling with, so just being able to do it was so cool.  It’s weird how it doesn’t seem like you’re progressing in something, but then something like that happens and you go “Oh, guess I actually am improving”.

 

Original Music Update!:  I’m working hard to churn through my backlog of melodies I’ve recorded and not finished.  I finished up a simple piano and strings piece last night and really like how it turned out.  It’s some more VGM inspired music (aka loopable music lol) so be on the lookout for that soon!

The best piece of advice I’ve read is to just finish up compositions,, no matter the quality.  You learn something from every piece, and can move on knowing you completed something.  So I’m going to work hard to do that with all the melodies scattered across my computer!

 

Song Writing Update:  I have five or six originals I wrote probs about 2 years ago.  I didn’t have a keyboard, or drum, or any way to use VSTs that was accessible with my screen reader, so I did them all a cappella.  But I always dreamed of going back to them, rearranging them with instruments, and re-releasing them.  I got inspired by a critique on one of them to stop procrastinating on doing that little project, so we’ll see how this goes!  Aka I hope I don’t just procrastinate on doing it more XD

 

I wrote a companion piece to the very first original I made that I need to work on too.  I’ve just been slacking on it. But I feel like I should probably redo the first original then work on that one so the styles match.  But once again, we’ll see how that goes haha.  I’m trying really hard not to procrastinate on these things though!  At the same time, I need to pace myself and doing all of these will probably lead to burn out if I’m not careful so yeeX D

 

Mmm, don’t you love when posts get far longer than you expected them to?  Tends to happen to me when I’m talking about music.  Anyway, hope you enjoy the Possessed by a Disease cover, and see you guys on Thursday!

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!

Weight of the World Cover from NieR: Automata and Mini Experiment

Weight of the World cover from Nier Automata

Late post today, because I’ve been recording video all night.  Recording video is one of those things that I always dread getting ready to do but then love doing when I’m actually doing it haha.  Recorded for two collabs, and one of mine which I was going back and forth about recording for and got really good results with tinkering with my video settings and setup, so woo!
But enough of that, here’s a cover from NieR Automata aka the best game of 2017 so far.  I loved the first game, and the first games OST, and this one only amps up the quality of awesome it has with its music.  Definitely going to cover more from this series, loooove it!
I’m also doing a mini experiment with how I uploaded.  As you see, I uploaded this one with a still image.  So, since I’m a weirdo who really likes to see how things work, I’m going to track this videos view progress and put it up against the view count of my last on cam video, which would be the Inuyasha cover.  Do they both get the same amount of views in one month, and how many do they each get in the first upload day?  Right now, the Inuyasha cover has 189 views in a month.  It had 31 on its first day so let’s see how the NieR cover is doing so far!

 

Views for Nier cover in 1 hr: 14

In 8 hrs:  24

11 hrs:  27

23 hrs: 33

2 days:  41
So far, both videos have gotten about the same views in one day.  At the end of its first upload day (Sunday) it had 27 views.  Inuyasha had 31, so only a 7 view difference.  By the morning of the next day, Weight of the World had 33.  So as of now, doesn’t seem like either video style really makes a difference in view count, but we’ll see at the end of the month if Weight of the World reaches 189.  I know there are a lot of other variable’s,  like how popular the song is etc etc but still  they both got about the same amount of views in one day so who knows how much that actually matters.

 

But enough of my weird “science” lol.  Hope you enjoy the cover!

 

Extra Note:  Just saw my Inuyasha cover and it’s up to 193 so I’ll use that as my base number for this since I posted this today lol.  So we’ll see how Weight of the World  does in comparison!

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!