Time until sign-ups begin:

Monday, August 22, 2011

SpinTunes Feedback

I just sent out surveys to people who signed up & entered a song into SpinTunes. If I missed someone, just send me an e-mail & I'll respond.

If you respond via e-mail I will not be posting your responses or sharing them with anyone. They are just for me to mull over while thinking about SpinTunes #4.

For those of you who just followed the contest, but did not sign up, you can also leave feedback in the comments section below. You can also e-mail me if you want your thoughts kept private. I'm not going to debate things with people right now...this is just your chance to vent. I'll copy & paste the meat of the e-mail below if anyone wants a prompt to use....I hear you like prompts... :p

This post will be deleted in a couple weeks, and when this post gets deleted, I will stop using the SpinTunes e-mail address until it's about time for SpinTunes #4. From that point on...don't expect responses from that account.

1. In general, did you like having more people involved in the judging this time around?

2. Of the 5 regular judges, which did you find to be the most helpful, and why? (Mike, Glenn, David, Mitchell & Ben)

3. Of the 5 regular judges, which did you find to be the least helpful, and why? (Mike, Glenn, David, Mitchell & Ben)

4. If the schedule were to change to allow more time for communication amongst the judges, would you be for adding another week between challenges? Would make communication easier, but that’s a long break between rounds & there could be a loss of momentum & interest that comes with that.

5. Is there anyone you would like to see as a judge in a future SpinTunes? If so, tell me who & why?

6. What did you think of the popular vote being used in Round 1 & 2? Did you hate it or want to see it used in Round 3 & 4 in a similar way?

7. Would you like to see the Molly Lewis Rule brought back? A couple people have suggested having 4 finalist AND keeping the Molly Lewis Rule.

For those that don’t remember, the Molly Lewis stated that:
- If a finalist doesn’t enter a song, the highest ranking musician that was eliminated from Round 3 who also shadows Round 4 will be allowed to compete as a finalist.

It was also suggested that this rule be applied to every single round. So people who fail to enter a Round 2 song, could be replaced by the highest ranking musician that was eliminated from Round 1 who also shadowed in Round 2. This would encourage more people to shadow, but give no promises that the song will be allowed to compete.

8. If we have around 40+ enter a song in round 1 again, would you be against randomly breaking the entries up into 2 different groups & having 2 different sets of judges rank & review each? With the large turn out we had this time, it’s fairly difficult for judges to rank & review that many songs in the first 2 rounds. After the first 2 rounds, the remaining competitors from each group would merge into 1 group for rounds 3 & 4.

9. If you could create a future SpinTunes challenge, what would it be & why?

10. Ok, time to vent. Anything I didn’t mention that you want to bend my hear about do it now. It can be about anything related to the contest so lay it on me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

SpinTunes #3 Champions: Matt And Donna

Runner Up: Pat And Gweebol
3rd: Ross Durand
4th: Charlie McCarron

Congratulations Matt And Donna! You survived all 4 rounds, and you both are now SpinTunes Champions. I wish I had a big fancy prize to give you, but in SpinTunes it's the musicians who provide the prizes. You've done more than your share with your 4 entries, and along with all the other great songs everyone can enjoy the prizes. Hopefully we can get you a SpinTunes t-shirt in the future, but it may be awhile. We've already got enough money (when Google gets around to sending me a check) to buy Kevin a shirt, and after we get Mitchell one, you're next.

It was great having you involved with the contest, and I hope to see you in SpinTunes #4 as judges or competitors. (expect an e-mail in December about judging)

ALL the finalists did a great job. You all earned your way into the finals, and I could have been happy with any of you being the SpinTunes #3 champion.

Totals & Reviews:
In the end 24 of 40 people sent in their votes/rankings, and the final count was:

Matt And Donna - 71
Pat And Gweebol - 60
Ross Durand - 58
Charlie McCarron - 51

Popular vote totals:

Pat And Gweebol - 19
Matt And Donna - 10
Ross Durand - 5
Charlie McCarron - 2
(36 total votes)

Mitchell Adam Johnson - Glenn Case - Ben Davila - David Santucci

Guest Judge's Review: Walt Ribeiro - Anhayla - Chris Commisso
Alternate Judge's Review: Spin

Thank You
Not only to the finalists, but to everyone that signed up or participated in SpinTunes. Judges, shadows, fans who listened & voted... I'll once again be sending out e-mails to everyone in a couple weeks. It'll be your chance to leave feedback with me that I can take into consideration when planning SpinTunes #4.

I'll be updating the "SpinTunes Hall Of Fame & Records" page sometime this week. In case anyone is interested in knowing more about how the stats have changed from 1 contest to the next.

The next contest will probably start around Jan. Between Song Fight, Frankensong & various other projects, there should be plenty to keep you busy until SpinTunes #4. Keep an eye on my Spintown blog, because I normally post about those type of things there.

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Walt Ribeiro

I sure hope you guys are familiar with Walt & his projects already, but if you're not...you have to check out http://ForOrchestra.com. I'm extremely happy that Walt was able to review a round of SpinTunes.
Jonathan Coulton 'Want You Gone (Portal)' For Orchestra by Walt Ribeiro by ForOrchestra

Walt Ribeiro
Composer, Pop Songs Arranged For Orchestra

Charlie McCarron
As you become in tune with the lyrics and grow to know fiona, you really appreciate this piece. It breaks the verse-chorus-verse rule, and that's refreshing. I love the female backsingers at the last chorus, which had me thinking it was fiona entering into the singer's world. a beautiful, not over-produced, and very thoughtful piece. the soft words, polite drum beat, arpeggio'd guitar, and backed male lyrics allow you to relax. You may not be able to fall in love with your first best friend, but you'll surely fall in love with this piece at first listen.

Pat And Gweebol
Getting past the uncompressed audio, MIDI instruments, and unbalance volume of the singers, I actually enjoyed this piece. I liked the theatre-feel of this piece, and how well the arrangement was. If the instruments were 'real' then it'd sound fantastic, and so I understand not everyone has a band at their disposal. I also enjoyed the backup singers, the drum beat, and how everything dropped out at the end. A good composition.

Matt And Donna
The piano was very beautiful, but i wonder if there could have been more to this piece? Maybe a violin passage while the bass drops out? the song grew on me, both for it's soft drum beat, and interesting chord progression, and trumpet section.

Ross Durand
The lyrics seemed odd at times, and didn't spark too much creativity. The production was great, and I enjoyed the singing. However, the guitar strumming seemed a tad off at times, but maybe that was intentional. I really wish the pre-chorus had more 'punch' to it, a common technique to use is that rather than add more punch to the chorus, perhaps 'thin out' the verse, that will create the same effect while also allow the listener to breathe. I liked the hook.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Anhayla

Anhayla is another YouTuber I've followed for a long time now. I've become a fan or her originals & her covers that get posted on her channel: anhaylarene.

I'm really honored to be a judge for round 4 of SpinTunes. When I listen to a song, I want to hear a great melody and an even better story line. Music and lyrics should never compete in a song and they should complement each other in every measure. I appreciate all types of music and love creativity. Please take my comments as words of encouragement and constructive criticism. Let's get down to it.

Ross Durand
This was a great song and it was very easy to follow. I liked how the song had a concrete beginning, middle, and an end. Also, you told a great story through your lyrics. My only advice would be to add either more music or more harmonies to the chorus to make it stand out. I would like to see the last line of the chorus "Cause they don't make em like me anymore" have more of a punch to symbolize the end of that segment. Maybe you could repeat it again or possible adjust the melody. Great song! I could easily hear this on the radio.

Matt And Donna
Loved the melody of the lyrics in the verse. I love that the lyrics weren't predictable and that you said things in a creative way. I would have liked to have seen more variation in the piano to separate the different parts of the song. Also, I was reading the info about the song and noticed it was about "an old car who is on its' last legs and has been abandoned by its' owner." When I listened to the song, I thought it was about an actual relationship between people. I'm not sure if this was the point, however, if you want to get your idea across you should reference the actual word "car" so your audience will understand clearly. Overall, loved the poetry in this song.

Charlie McCarron
The music was really beautiful and it complemented the theme of the song. I really enjoyed the guitar and the subtle drums. This was a great love story about a young relationship. I could really identify with being head over heals for your first love. However, I would have liked to have seen more structure with the lyrics. There weren't any memorable lines that lingered in my mind at the conclusion of the song. It would have been nice to hear the last part "skip stones with me" repeated earlier to create a refrain. Very beautiful song and lyrics.

Pat And Gweebol
I enjoyed the chorus the most. You painted a beautiful picture with the lyrics you chose. Most of all, I think it complemented the music in the chorus. The lyrics in the verse could be developed a little more by describing where the Deville is going. Develop the atmosphere that you and your love share so your listeners will know exactly what to imagine in the chorus. I wasn't the biggest fan of the music, it was a little repetitive. It seemed like the music was over powering the song in most parts. In the end, It was a nice song that the entire family could enjoy and that's what's most important.

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Chris Commisso

I've been a fan of Chris on YouTube for awhile now, and when it was time to look for guest judges, he was one of my first choices. I noticed he uploaded a new video today, and his channel is called ThePianoShack. After you read his reviews, you should check him out.

Charlie McCarron - Skipping Stones
The laid back vocal fits nice with the sparse production & sweet lyrics. Totally diggin the solo in the middle….fretless bass? Whatever it is, I love it because I wasn't expecting it. The chord changes in spots are unpredictable….which again, I love. In a world of predictable songs this one sticks out in a good way. Sometimes songwriters will choose strange chords to be different but it ends up sounding so weird the listener can't get into it. Not the case here. A nice retro Beach Boys/Jack Johnson vibe going on but still current sounding. Cool also how the title hooks near the end of the song. The only thing I would suggest on this one is possibly a more interesting opening with the guitar. It just strummed the opening chord a few times & didn't really interest me in what was coming. A melody played or a chord pattern that still fits with the song might work. Only a suggestion of course. Overall, I thought this was a great track! Awesome work!

Matt And Donna - Back Down The Road
Very nice vocal on this one. And cool trumpet solo! Overall the song has a great feel & mood to it. And obviously the writer is a strong lyricist. I guess the song started to lose my interest after a couple minutes & my guess is that's because the lyrics didn't really pin down a strong emotion that I could relate to. Again, the words & music created some undeniable emotion but I just stared tuning out after a while. If I were working with this writer, I'd want to know what he/she is crazy passionate about in life then work up a song from that place. I think you can have a passive laid back song & still be reactive in subject matter. An example might be "Fire & Rain" by James Taylor. Very chill song musically but lyrically cuts to the heart. Overall I very much enjoyed this song & it certainly peaked my interest to hear more from this artist.

Pat And Gweebol - In The DeVille
Male & female vocalists have a good blend. The melody was nice & overall the song has a charming quality to it. Everyone can relate to a special place where we all go to get away from the world, so that's a relatable theme. It's also a theme that's been done to death, so I would suggest the writers find ways to write about these kind of subjects from a different angle….a unique one that no one else has touched on yet. I know that's easier said then done, but it's something worth working towards to make your songs stand out. A modern example would be Christina Perri's "Jar Of Hearts" a song about her boyfriend breaking up with her. She could have called the song "He left me" or "I'm alone again" ect. But instead she chose a unique angle & great title. And your title actually is a strong one. The only other thing I would suggest is to work on improving the music production. It sounds like a programmed beat & piano pattern on an old keyboard. True it adds a little charm but it's also very dated & thin sounding. Either network with other producers to help you with your songs or just start watching some "how to" music production videos on youtube. There're tons to choose from these days. And of course none of this is necessary if you're just recording for fun. But if you really want to take things to the next level, the production has to be better. Other than that, I enjoyed your song & think there's a lot of talent here!

Ross Durand - Rusty
Great title & I dig the Tom Petty-ish vocals. I admire the writers honesty & it's easy for the rest of us to sing along because of the strong attitude of the singer. The drums sounded like a pattern played from a keyboard which unfortunately works against the edgy gritty vibe of the song. They really need to be real drums but I understand that's not always easy to make happen. Working with a producer would be a suggestion or if your self-producing, experiment with other ways to do the drums. Possibly a loop from a recording program such as Acid Pro or Propellerhead's Reason. Then you have a sample of real drums. Makes a big difference. Other than that, nice tune!

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Mitchell Adam Johnson

All four of these songs are remarkable. And that's why I am going to make remarks about them all. I think 'Back Down The Road' & 'Rusty' are a little more straightforward... whereas 'In The DeVille' & 'Skipping Stones' are a bit more complex. And because of that, it was difficult for me to rank these songs. They are all SO well written. I'm hearing a lot of strong arrangements and tons of poppy melodies. What a good bunch of songwriters!

Anyway, here is my ranking, starting with 1st place:

1. Matt And Donna - Back Down The Road
As usual, your song is really beautiful. Great vocal performances - both on the lead and harmony. There is the perfect amount of vulnerability in your voice - yet it still sounds confident. Fantastic trumpet bridge - especially when the harmony kicks in. Very Belle & Sebastian there. That's probably the best part of this song. Especially the V/ii chord - oh man!!!! And the descending bassline walk there! Heartbreaking lyrics. The harmonies at "but time is kind and terrible this much is true" are gorgeous - wait, maybe that's the best part of the song. Great job on the bassline - love how it's not always on the root! Wow, I absolutely love this song. The production/mixing is professional. The marchy snare - nice call. Really, this is perfect. I think overall, this is the best song you've submitted. You knew I'd love this song, didn't you? I'm giving this song first because it is 100% solid from start to finish - I loved every second of it. The other songs this round have some 'not quite as good' parts... not this song. There was a lot of care put into writing, arranging, and recording this song - and that shines.

2. Pat And Gweebol - In The DeVille
This song just keeps getting better and better. Nice staggered melodic lines - great harmony. Fantastic vocals. Hooks everywhere. Very 'Wedding Bell Blues.' I'm hearing some serious Mamas & Papas in there - in the vocals, the swung rhythm, and the jangly piano (nice job on those octave riffs). Great arranging on the synth string things and the organ. The "lalala" part is my favorite. Whoa, Pat's lala's are perfect - I LOVE IT! The follow-up chord progression is better that time around. Man, you guys wrote like a billion different parts to this song. I think when this song begins it's pretty good, but by the end it just kicks serious ass. The last vocal is wonderful. Like Charlie's song, this one takes a few listens to fully grasp. There is a lot going on at all times. Again, that lala part is so good - wish it happened more often - That is my favorite section of any song this round, without a doubt.

3. Charlie McCarron - Skipping Stones
For some reason this reminds me of the White Album... and Sam Phillips... and early Of Montreal (especially in the chord progression). Great vocal harmonies - creative. Cool how you were able to make a song catchy in an unusual time signature. Great slidey solo. Once the arpeggiated guitar kicks in, it really holds everything together. Wish you had that going on more often. Crazy chord progression - yet your gift for writing melodies has helped you tie it all together, seamlessly. You use the V/vi chord a lot, and it works well - it will hook us all in, without question. Towards the end of the song the progression gets a whole lot poppier - I like that. And those girl backing vocals are fantastic - sounds a lot like something Lennon would've done. That's my favorite part of this song.

4. Ross Durand - Rusty
That is awesome tone on your lead guitar (probably my favorite thing about this song). This is a really well written song - I can see people singing along to this! I hear some Dire Straits in there. Nice hook - very memorable - really - I can TOTALLY see a lot of people really digging this song. Simple and poppy chord progression. A little loose on some of the rhythms, but besides that, it's solid. Clever lyrics - love how it works on two levels.

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Ben Davila

1. Charlie McCarron - Skipping Stones
interesting chord progression
I like the 6/8 feel
this is very cute

2. Matt And Donna - Back down The Road
strong piano
love the horns
strong rhymes
good analogy's
good backing vox

3. Pat And Gweebol - In The DeVille
I like the story
strong chorus
I like the jangly piano
like the backing vox in the last chorus
nice ending

4. Ross Durand - Rusty
Like the shaker
good country sound
good harmonys on the chours
like the first person personification

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: David Santucci

I liked all of these entries a lot!! Great job to everyone and congratulations for making it to the final round!!

In my mind Ross’ entry stands out as the clear winner, and after that it was really tough to place the others. I liked them all just about equally. So, after giving them each a few listens and thinking about it quite a bit, I decided that Charlie’s entry, while I love the catchy sound and unconventional structure of it, had to take last place simply because it failed to meet the challenge much more than the other entries. If it weren’t for that, I probably would’ve given it second place because it is much less generic sounding than the two remaining entries. But, the challenge has to count for a lot, so that’s how I scored this.

My picks for #2 and #3 could have been either/or, and I finally, once again, had to let the deciding factor be which one I felt met the challenge the best, and so Matt & Donna get second place in my book.

I think this round, in spite of having the fewest entries, was the hardest to rank. I could barely find anything to criticize or find fault with in any of these songs!! Excellent work. All of you make me feel totally inadequate as a song writer and not worthy to be a judge in this competition, and I say that with complete sincerity.

4. Charlie McCarron – Skipping Stones

Really unconventional meter and creative chord progression… I really like this song! Nice build to the end; really boppin’ tune. I liked it a lot, but felt this was the least relevant entry in terms of the challenge. The connection to the photo was very sweet, but ancillary at best, in terms of how much of the lyrics you spent relating to the car and the scene of the photo. (Relatively little.)

2. Matt & Donna – Back Down The Road

Really pleasant sound. Very easy to listen to. Great job at meeting the challenge! Love the choice of doing this from the point of view of the car as a character with thoughts & feelings. Not sure if there was ever a big climax to this; it stayed relatively the same intenstity the whole way through, although added instrumentation part way through did give it some variation and expanded the texture a little. Great sound on the harmony vocals. I like it a lot!

3. Pat & Gweebol – In The DeVille

Great lyrics! Great sound. Sweet story. Liked it a lot! The synth violin sound at first was annoying but I didn’t mind it as much by the end of the song. Too many instruments during the climactic last chorus though; I wasn’t able to hear the counterpoint lyrics enough to understand what was being said. If you’re going to have counterpoint lyrics answering one another, make sure they’re loud enough in the mix to be heard… or remove an instrument or two so they don’t get lost in the texture. This is a very minor criticism however. I still love the sound. Overall, great job.

1. Ross Durand – Rusty

Like Matt & Donna’s entry, I love that you did this from the point of view of the car. I was hoping someone would do this! I think your song, of all the entries, was the most relevant to the picture. This song was completely about the picture, every single lyric was all about this car and the state it is in. Major points for that. Also, major points for creating the only song in this round that really rocked. The tambourine and happy 60’s rock guitar licks added just the right sounds to make this a classic tune. Excellent job on the mix with your harmony vocals too; the harmonies add subtle texture and don’t overpower the lead vocal. All around, rock solid entry. Love it.

SpinTunes #3 Round 4 Review: Glenn Case

Matt And Donna - Back Down The Road
Great melody, and it’s probably my favorite I have heard from you to date.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – good (2)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – good (2) SCORE: 10 out of 10

Charlie McCarron - Skipping Stones
I enjoy the chord structure and the way you interpreted the photo into the lyrical content.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

Pat And Gweebol - In The DeVille
Good melody and lyrics. The dynamics are flat, and that does the song a disservice. Not wild about the choices of keyboard patches.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – good (2) PERFORMANCE – good (2)
CONCEPT – okay (1) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 8 out of 10

Ross Durand – Rusty
Lyrics are quite good, as your lyrics often are. I still don’t care for your vocals, but that’s a personal preference more than anything. Is there a bass instrument in there? Song probably would have benefitted greatly from a little more on the low end. Song structure is sufficient.
LYRICS – good (2) STRUCTURE – okay (1) PERFORMANCE – okay (1)
CONCEPT – good (2) DYNAMICS – okay (1) SCORE: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SpinTunes 3: Round 4 Songs

The album is now available for FREE download, and you can vote for your favorite entry as well.

For the time being, in an attempt to save on the free downloads, you can only download the album all at once. I will make individual songs available for free download in the near future.

"In the last round, everyone who has been eliminated (who also submitted at least 1 song) will be allowed to rank the songs. This round the judges have no say in matters, but they will still be required to review each song. Rules for a tie are altered just a bit. Popular vote is the first deciding factor, then the judges, and then I am the last deciding factor." - Rules Page

I'll be going through the list of sign-ups tonight/this morning & sending e-mails to those who are allowed to vote & rank the songs this time. If you don't get an e-mail, but think you should have a vote feel free to contact me. (rumor has it I'm not perfect) Your rankings will not be published on the blog, but I will be posting the names of the people who vote.

I want to thank people for staying at the LP even though there was a 25 minute delay due to tech issues. Tested it yesterday, was fine. Tested it today, it was fine. Broadcasted a Pre-Show for over an hour before the LP, and it was fine. 5 minutes before the LP was supposed to start...shit storm. So thanks for entering great songs & sticking around for the show. Good luck to all 4 finalist.

You can find the album on BandCamp by clicking the image below:

(Album cover by Dr. Lindyke & Photo by Reinfried Marass)

People Who Have Voted:
Luke Brekke, Esquire - The Offhand Band - Gold Lion - Edric Haleen - Wait What - The Boffo Yux Dudes - Ethan Ivey - Caleb Hines - Bryce Jensen - Jutze - Chris Cogott - Spencer Sokol - Dr. Lindyke - Menage' a Tune - Emperor Gum - Inverse T. Clown - Heather Miller - Matt Walton - "Buckethat" Bobby Matheson - Governing Dynamics - Steve Durand - David Ritter - Common Lisp - Godz Poodlz
(24 of 40 votes have been cast.)

- August 6th 11PM (M) - Judges reviews are due & eliminated competitors rankings are due.

- August 7th 1AM (T) - Reviews are posted & the winner is announced.

- You can vote for your favorite song with the poll in the right sidebar. -->

(If anyone wants to make a video for their song, I'll include it here.)

Reviews & Links Of Interest For This Round:
(If anyone writes any reviews or song bios please send me the links & I'll link to them here.)

- Sammy Kablam posted a Negative Reinforcement review of this round.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Round 4 LP & Deadline News

Thankfully, even though a couple tempted fate, all 4 finalist turned in a song by the deadline.

The listening party will be hosted by me on August 1st (THAT‘S TODAY), and it starts at 8PM. I hope you decide to stop by, and bring friends. I’ll start a pre-show around 7PM for those who want to come & hangout early. The album will be available for FREE listen & download shortly after the LP.

I've been having a lot of tech issues lately, so fingers crossed that this LP goes ok.

Listening Party Location: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spintunes

Deadline Eliminations: N/A

And The Winner Is: I just want to remind everyone that the judges do not decide who wins SpinTunes. The popular vote does not decide who wins SpinTunes. The people who signed up for the contest (who also provided at least 1 entry) decide who wins SpinTunes.

After the album is posted, anyone who meets that criteria will be allow to e-mail me their votes. Just like the judges, you will have to rank the 4 finalist from favorite to least favorite. Your rankings will not be shared unless you decide to do so, but I will post the names of everyone who voted in the final round. For bands who have more than 1 member, you only get 1 vote. You'll have to talk it over with each other to decide how to cast your vote. More details about the final round can be found on the rules page.