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Hi, I'm Dan-O. I am a singer songwriter and I also like making instrumental music which you can use royalty free. Click here for info on licensing my music and songs for your video, photo slideshow, film, app or other media. For questions about my music see the FAQ.

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High Concept Story Plots: How to for Hollywood Screenplays

I’m co-writing a feature length alien sci fi screenplay based on my short film Zedic and the Crimson Born. To improve my knowledge of screenwriting I decided to watch a few how to videos. This first video I came across is a guide to coming up with the main story for the movie which can be called its “High Concept”. This concept can then be the summary you use to pitch your film.

The author of this video explains that if you are pitching your screenplay to Hollywood producers and agents, you should stick to a proven high concept—but with an original twist. He says formatting using examples, templates and software can be helpful, but it is not as important as the high level story. The idea is to follow some basic rules, but still be creative. Check out this very informative video!

English: 42, The Answer to the Ultimate Questi...

English: 42, The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The high concept is essentially the main super cool original idea behind your script. In the video he gives the example that for the movie “The Minority Report” the high concept is the idea that a small group of psychics can see into the future and you can get arrested before you commit the actual crime. Here is a post that discusses the Titanic’s high concept as well.

So one of the ways to come up with a new high concept as a writer, is to take the idea of a previously successful film and put a spin on it. For instance, take the the same idea but use it in a different genre.

I’ll come up with my own example now.  How about the idea behind the Bourne Legacy —a government experiment of creating super spies gone wrong. Well what if you put that story in space and make it funny. So now you have Bourne Identity meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Not bad, I may use that : )

If you like this post you may be interested in my other article “7 Indie Film Digital Distributors You Can Submit to Online“.

Also this week I released a new piano and guitar track called “Come Alive” that is free to use in your film or video.

The Bourne Legacy — Making of and Industry Background

Well I saw the Bourne Legacy and it was pretty good. I thought the story was very interesting so I spent some time looking into the industry background and making of the film. Here is what I found:

The Bourne Legacy was directed by Tony Gilroy (previous films: Michael Clayton and Duplicity) he wrote the screenplays for the other Bourne movies as well.

Robert Ludlum wrote the Bourne series of books that the screenplay was based on. He has written over 23 action thriller novels since 1971! However, the novel the Bourne Legacy was written by Eric Van Lustbader—Ludlum passed in 2001.

It turns out Matt Damon was not in the film because he was basically tired of doing Bourne films! Even the initial director Paul Greengrass bailed!

The film was shot mostly in Manila— the final scene was incredibly beautiful, I want to go there : )

The soundtrack was composed by James Newton Howard who has an incredibly long impressive history of film credits. Most recently he did the Hunger Games and Snow White and the Huntsman. I really enjoyed both of those movies.

So far the The Bourne Legacy has mixed reviews. But I enjoyed the story and Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are super cool.

Worldwide box office so far is $46 million which surpassed expectations and the film sold a few hundred thousand more tickets on opening weekend, than the The Bourne Identity.

Here is the trailer if you have not seen it yet:

7 Indie Film Digital Distribution Companies You Can Submit to Online

I’m looking for a way to distribute my film Zedic and the Crimson Born for viewing online. I am going to explore 7 options and make notes in this post. I could just put it on YouTube but before I do, I would rather find a distribution solution that could do one of the following:

1. Offer a way for people to donate or pay to see the film. Its a short so I would be happy with $1 per view.

2. Provide a “content locking” solution where a viewer would complete a survey or view an ad to see the film and I am paid by the advertiser. I really do not want to deal with YouTube’s random monetization approval.

3. A distributor that offers the film some exclusivity and privacy. This is really a pilot for a feature, so I’m not looking to open it up to the general public – just people who know me and my music, and maybe some heavy duty sci-fi enthusiasts…

4. Provide an existing user-base of independent film fans and discovery engines where my film could be found by indie scfi-fi buffs.

5. Add it to YouTube if all else fails. Promote it, try to make it rank. Buy YouTube views for it if you have to in order to increase reach.

So here we go, I am going to try each of these and let you know how it goes:

IndieFlix.com

Photo Credit: ShowerHacks.com
IndieFlix is a new media indie film distributor and a community for filmmakers and fans. You can go directly to the film submission page here.

To qualify for submission your film needs to have at least been selected for a festival. You need to submit a DVD screener to them by mail, even if you get accepted through Without a Box.

Status: I submitted my online screener through Without a Box and I will update this post to let you know how it goes.

Distribber.com

This service allows filmmakers to distribute through iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and Cable VOD. They only accept feature length films.

You need to pay a set up fee for this service but you keep 100% of the revenues.

iTunes: $1295 plus $79 a year

Amazon VOD: $95

Netflix Watch Instantly: $595

Filmmaker Direct (Cable/Satellite/Telco VOD): Submission is $249, $5000 if you film is accepted

Status: These fees are too high for me. But if you have a budget for a feature, I think it is incredible that you can be nationally distributed for under $10K and producers keep all revenue.

Vodo.net

Producers can distribute their film for free on Vodo via a network of P2P file sharing sites. Down-loaders watch for free.

Vodo then offers sponsorship opportunities to people who like the film. Vodo also offers a 50/50 split on syndication to cable/satellite TV and streaming services.

Click here for the direct link to sign up as a publisher and submit your film.

Status: I registered and submitted my film for approval. The submission form only asked for film title and a website.

Update: I got rejected because Vodo only accepts shorts 10 minutes and longer so they do not “compete with other file hosting sites”. That makes sense because YouTube does *not* accept videos 10 minutes and longer. 

SnagFilms.com

Focuses on bringing on-demand independent films to fans for free. Advocates of indie filmmakers and active in the film community. Shares ad revenue with producers.

They prefer submission via Without a Box and it is free to submit! Click here to go directly to the submission page. They have minimal acceptance criteria so approval is likely based on the quality of the film.

Status: I submitted via Without a Box.

Distrify.com

You embed their player on your facebook page, blog or website. Users can buy a stream or download right from the player. So people see your trailer and they can immediately purchase a view of your film.

It’s free to sign up and add 1 film! Just click here. Then filmmakers earn 70% of all revenues.

Now this sounds cool.

Status: I signed-up and uploaded my trailer. First the trailer was processed and they sent me an email. Next I uploaded the entire short – my 8 minute film took about 30 minutes to upload. After a while it was processed and I set the price at the minimum of $.99 cents. Here is the real live player!!

Updates: I also did a test purchase on the Distrify player. The payment processing and streaming player are both excellent.

I logged in and found that I actually have a few rentals! The Distrify dashboard shows your preview to rental conversion rate and right now it is about 3%.

DynamoPlayer.com

An embeddable player like Distrify that offers viewer the ability to pay for viewing using PayPal. Its like a YouTube player and you can put it anywhere so there is no software involved.

The DynamoPlayer is also a free to set up solution! Producers keep 70%. I like it, let’s see how it works : )

Status: Bummer, their Java-based up-loader does not work on any of my browsers. I’ll try again later and then send a note to support.

EggUp.com

This is another media player type option with a twist. You mail the company your DVD for processing  and a “.Egg” file is created. Then when viewers pay, your .Egg can be streamed or downloaded on the desktop, iPhone or iPad. Read EggUP: A DIY Indie Film Distribution Platform for more info.

The .Egg file is self-contained but secure so you can send it anywhere and you don’t have to be concerned with piracy.

As a final step you would use the EggUp paypal widgets on your website or blog to actually sell the .Egg file.

Status: I’m already set-up with Distrify so I think I’ll pass on sending in a DVD. But this looks like a good alternative used by many filmmakers.

Conclusion

Well obviously Distrify gave me an immediate solution for providing semi-private and secure access to the film. The next step will be creating a marketing plan that actually drives digital streams from the player.

Since this post my film Zedic was screened at the New Filmmakers festival in NYC (which was very exciting) and I discovered that they have a service for private online screening and submission to distributors at NewFilmmakersOnline.com.

I didn’t find any great ad “content-locking” solutions though I did learn that BlamAds is probably one of the best options for that.

Hopefully IndieFlix, Vodo or SnagFilms will work out as a way to offer the film to a community of existing music indie film viewers.

My next step for “Zedic & the Crimson Born” is to package up a proposal for a feature film to pitch to co-producers and investors. For the full length version I will explore a much wider range of distribution deals : )

The Best Electronic Music Blogs

I have been doing electronic music for years (listen here) and I can tell the genre is definitely getting more popular. I have seen a huge increase in the number of people listening to the style online. A major reason for this is because each year electronic artists invent fresh new styles. Electronic music is very interesting and fun!

Blogs have popped up everywhere to cover all the innovative music making out there. They provide the latest news, information about events and offer free or paid downloads of the latest songs. This selection of the best electronic music blogs is based on the number of hits they receive, what they offer, popularity and freshness.

Discobelle

One of the most visited blogs is Discobelle. The blog is based in Sweden and has been in existence for the past 6 years. Over this period it has managed to get allot of fans.

Content is posted regularly about a wide range of sub-genres. They have posts on single tracks, remixes and new videos. They also have exclusive guest mixes.

Feel My Bicep

Feel my bicep, is a blog based in London. The owners of the blog have a electronic music project which is well established and they tour extensively.

The blog has a wide selection of tracks that are of great quality, and that is why it is preferred by many fans.

Salacious Sounds

Salacious sounds is a very popular blog. It has new and fresh electro, dubstep and house music. The layout is great and simple – enabling a user to easily navigate the system.

Allot of the music can be downloaded for free. There all also lots of “best of” lists, news and articles.

Fresh Beat

Fresh beats has a collection of really amazing music.

The blog has a great design. It has information ranging from the latest news and music to a bunch of interviews and fresh promos.

 

Resident Advisor

This unique electronic music blog publishes reviews, features and news. Thousands of label profiles and artists are also featured.

You can view the club listing and user-generated events, applicable for both club-goer and clued-up music lover. Users are also free to join competitions and other activities by browsing their forums.

Bacau House Mafia

This electronic music blog offers previews and downloads of quality house music.

The blog often posts entire sets of tracks at once you can download. It also has a clean, nice and simple layout that is very easy to manage.

Just beware that tracks are on file hosting sites that are hosted on cheap hosts like BlueHost – so you will have to open new tabs to listen and download.

Electro Station

This electronic music blog specializes in daily posts with quality tracks from different music genres.

Every post is tagged and sorted for fast and easy browsing. As a visitor, you have the ability to preview tracks without leaving the blog.

 

Top 5 Online Electronic Music Radio Stations

It’s difficult to find really good streaming radio to listen to on the computer. So I put together this list of the top 5 online electronic music radio stations that I like! You can also stream my electronic music : )

Proton Radio

Featuring some of the latest online electronic music radio singles, Proton Radio is on the forefront of the internet radio scene. Boasting a powerful combination of electronic dance favorites along with superb DJs who are entertaining, informative and don’t get in the way of the music. You can listen to the live feed for free or become a subscriber and listen to all of their shows on demand.

Established in 2001, Proton Radio boasts over 100 original shows broadcasting all day and all night with a focus on introducing great new talent in the electronic music scene. For the best in electronic music on the internet, Proton Radio is definitely on top.

EclecticRadio

Straight from The Netherlands, EclecticRadio features the hottest dance and house music around, offering a world-wide audience along with artist from all parts of the globe as well. ElectricRadio recently revamped its entire 2012 line-up to bring you the best in electronic music.

More than just an internet radio station, EclecticRadio is also an artist and event management agency bringing you the total package in electronic music entertainment. This bold approach ensures that ElectricRadio will be a real force over the foreseeable future as they are expanding their radio shows to bring even more into the electronic music scene for your entertainment.

UZIC

Provides a number of great DJs hosting electronic dance music shows 24/7, UZIC features bold, fresh electronic music that fills the internet with new, exciting talent. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, UZIC has become one of the leading electronic music radio sources in the world.

A great combination of established artists along with new talent makes UZIC one of the great forces in today’s electronic music scene. Having been established several years ago, UZIC also has one of the finest lineups of DJ talent in the industry today; hosting vivid, exciting shows while staying out of the way of the music.

Mugasha

Electronic music of the people, by the people and definitely for the people, Mugasha has taken the unique approach of allowing you, the listener to create their own podcast and have it broadcasted on Mugasha. If you are an aspiring DJ then this is your chance to shine on one of the best electronic music stations on the internet.

Mugasha also provides easy to use features such as their app you can download for your mobile device to let you hear the best in the latest music when you want, where you want. Offering new sets of material you may have never heard with popular sets of your favorites, Mugasha stands at the forefront of today’s electronic music scene.

Beatport

Since 2004 Beatport has been delivering the best in online electronic music radio. Featuring premium digital formats and combining the best in new talent along with showcasing the favorites, Beatport has carved out a unique niche in the electronic music scene.

Every week the DJs update the lineup with new, exciting electronic music with hundreds of fresh tracks, many from artists just making their name on the scene. 24/7 you can hear new, exciting music sent straight to your computer or mobile device. From their studios in Denver, Colorado and Berlin, Germany, Beatport has become one of the internet favorites for showcasing the best in electronic music.

Electronic Music In New York

So you want to check out electronic music in New York City? Well there is plenty going on including festivals, events and of course clubs! If you are a fan, DJ or producer that is living in or visiting New York—then have a look at what’s happening here.

Electric Zoo Festival

The Electric Zoo is a 2-3 day outdoor summer electronic music festival in New York City—known for it’s after parties! You can buy a full 3 day pass or for individual days. They also have “VIP” and the best coolers for everyone, which have one of the most amazing traveling packages. The main stage features top acts like David Guetta, Tiesto and Skrillex. Check out the killer trailer:

Cielo Club

Cielo is *the* electronic music club in the Meat Packing District of NYC. It is upscale but not elitist like some “guest list only” clubs. It has a really high end sound system and a 70s look. Started by Ibiza DJ Nicolas Matar—Cielo has risen to number 22 in DJ Magazine’s “Top 100 Clubs of the World”. The club is open Monday-Saturday (but not Tuesday) from 10pm-4am. There are some clips of the club half way through this video:

Provocateur NY

Provocateur is a strictly “guest list only” club but also one of the coolest. If you are a great social networker you can probably get to know some insiders via GuestlistSpy.com to get invited. Its designed as a glamorous fashion club—complete with huge 20 foot wings where girls dance on the balcony (you can see those in the video). There are plenty of lighting and smoke effects that sync up to really amazing electronic music!

DubSpot Electronic Music & DJ School

So maybe you want to learn how to produce electronic music or become a DJ in New York City? Professional producers and DJs at DubSpot can teach you music creation and mixing using software like Ableton. All you need is a computer and passion to learn electronic music! The school has a very personalized program based in a supportive community philosophy. You can see from this video that DubSpot is a special cool place.

I Love Electronic Music NYC Meetup.com Group 

So maybe you want to check out some of these clubs and events but none of your friends or family like electronic music? Well then the iluvEM Meetup.com groups would be cool to visit. You can discuss electronic music with other fans or network to promote your work. This is an actual *offline* social gathering of real people who live and breath electronic music in NYC!

Electronic Music In New York

 

Top 5 Music Production Schools to Check Out!

I get allot of questions about getting into music production. You can learn yourself through trial and error, take individual classes or go to school to get a degree. Some colleges also offer programs in the music industry which is a great compliment to production training.

Below is a listing of the five of the top 5 Music Production Schools I know of. Courses include everything from audio engineering to sound design and mixing. While they are in no particular order, it is safe to say that most people would agree that the number 1 spot does belong to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Berklee College of Music in Boston is considered the top school of music. Berklee began its mission in the teaching, training and educating in the field of jazz but has expanded to now include other types and styles of music to include hip-hop and rock along with jazz. They offer three types of degrees in music, including one in production and engineering.

Berklee guarantees a hands-on approach in each of their music degrees. Some of the more famous names that have graduated from Berklee include Kevin Eubanks in 1979; Keith Harris of the Black Eyed Peas in 1998; Quincy Jones in 1951; Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks in 1995; Branford Marsalis in 1981; John Mayer in 1998 and so many more.

Needless to say the college helps create extremely talented artists in the performing field but also behind the scenes names that don’t necessarily get top billing but whom the well-known names would be lost without.

The Steinhardt School of Music within NYU is where the music industry gets some of its top trained production people. NYU’s Steinhardt School offers one of the few Masters Degrees in specialized divisions which include the technical and computational aspects of music.

Anyone graduating from NYU Steinhardt School will definitely have the training and contacts needed to rise in the music industry field of production with their degree. Steinhardt School has a very strict and stringent entry process which accepts only the most elite and talented individuals.

The Recording Connection Audio Institute is one of the less traditional types of schools and is known in the industry more so than by the press and public. Although the school has been around since 1983, in terms of colleges and universities that makes it a fairly new school.

The basis of their learning is a hands on approach in the industry, providing training that will not only get students directly into the business and handling all aspects related to their desired degree but making connections that most colleges and universities simply don’t get their students out into the real world to make.

There is a course curriculum that is actually taught one on one to the student, making it a very personalized and individualized learning experience in the industry itself. There is no actual brick and mortar school to attend but instead a base office in Hollywood, CA with satellite professional studios in numerous cities. Students begin and work with professional studios and professionals in the field in an apprenticeship style program.

Its validity is questioned by some who are used to the brick and mortar style school settings; while others liken the experience to a “tech school” or apprenticeship, with minimal “book” style learning. While this is truly one of the more different styles of professional recording career colleges because of it’s “beyond the brick and mortar” school type; one has to only look at today’s cyber schools that are graduating students left and right with valid, legitimate and proper degrees and diplomas.

You’re not going to see as many “big names” come out of this college as you are “real working people” who are in the industry, behind the scenes. While colleges like Berklee and NYU have big names behind them, this is simply because they offer aspects of performing along with the behind the scenes of the music industry. The man who was the head engineer in producing the Black Eyed Peas album isn’t going to be well known to most people while the name of the band will be.

Indiana University Bloomington’s Jacobs School of Music is also one of the most well known schools of music and the largest overall school, enrollment wise, to offer specialty music degrees ranging from Associates to Masters Degree programs. Opening in 1910 the Jacobs School of Music has a substantial history and past associated with its music program and offers degrees in everything music from the performance end to the engineering and production aspects of the industry.

The Peabody Institute of The John Hopkins University is mainly known for their performance degrees; however they are known as one of the top colleges offering a Masters of Art in Audio Sciences which covers most aspects of musical production and in particular the technical aspects. This degree is not for the faint of heart as one can only be considered for entry once they have obtained their BS and then apply for admission.

Most people that choose The Peabody Institute of The John Hopkins University do so for their performance degrees as opposed to their technical and production aspects. A Masters in Music (MM) from The Peabody Institute of The John Hopkins University is an impressive looking addition to a resume but that’s not always what is looked for when applying or working in the true music production industry.

Schools such as this and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University are examples of spending money on education that could be seen as “wasting” time on non-music classes. Taking courses in science, mathematics, history and such are not really useful for a career in music production.

For example, I have a two year degree from the Hartford Conservatory of Music where we only studied music. I found that much more useful that the 4 year music business program I then went through at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.

Free Uncopyrighted Music from Public Domain 4 U

free uncopyrighted music

Finding tracks that are really free uncopyrighted music that suits your video, film, game or presentation is very difficult but not impossible. The songs on my site here for instance are free, but I do still own the copyright and I ask that you credit me or donate.

With public domain music however, you don’t need to credit anyone or pay for it to be legal. In many cases the musicians and composers have passed away. In some rare cases the owner is still alive but offers the music under public domain.

Music expert Joel Selvin is curator of public domain music at his site Public Domain 4 U. You can simply right click on the links and download songs that he has found that have no copyrights.

Just remember, no matter where you find Public Domain music, that you should still do a bit of research on the piece before you use it. This is just to make sure that the audio really is Public Domain.  Also, if the free uncopyrighted music is for commercial use you should run it by a lawyer. But if its just for personal YouTube videos or student film this may be a great alternative.

Video: How to Search for Free Uncopyrighted Music on Public Domain 4 U

5 Copyright Free Music Licensing Public Domain Resource Lists

Copyright FreeIn reality the only “copyright free” music is public domain, and there are not allot of completely legal free and clear recordings in the public domain. However, you can find them if you look:

PDInfo.com – List of copyright free public domain music and songs with sheet music reprint files and legal information about copyright.

Wikipedia.org/Sound/list – Mainly classical, hymns and choir music by Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Bach and Beethoven. Some excellent recordings of the concertos, suites, and sonatas on piano, violin and clavier that could be used for scores.

PDMusic.org – Hymns and blues songs in the public domain by a variety of composers. Midi files are offered by the site owner for a fee.

MusOpen.org – A non-profit that offers access to public domain music recordings to the world wide community for free and copyright free.

PublicDomain4u.com – Links to public domain music in all styles from hip hop beats, electronic, jazz, blues to soft rock instrumentals. Places where you can find songs by indie bands and artists online. There are lots of MP3s here from underground sources, so make sure to check with each artist.

JazzOnline.com – Excellent hand-picked collection of public domain jazz music. Hard to find recordings you can download of traditional jazz artists from the early 1900s performed live.

“I think art is the only thing that’s spiritual in the world. And I refuse to be forced to believe in other people’s interpretations of God. I don’t think anybody should be. No one person can own the copyright to what God means.” – Marilyn Manson

If you just want a free legal way to license and download mp3 music that has a copyright then check out this great video about creative commons and lists of music sources:

CopyrightFriendly.WikiSpaces.com

Wikipedia.org/CreativeCommonsLicense

MasterNewMedia.org/FreeMusicforVideoandPodcasts

SeabreezeComputers.com/FreeMusic

Most of this is creative commons music, not copyright free music, but you can still use it for free. Some of these sources allow commercial use, others do not.

You can find my own complete collection of creative commons music on my home page.

Dan-O

“Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.” – Mark Twain

2500 Creative Commons Licenses

2500 Creative Commons Licenses by qthomasbower, on Flickr

Comic by calmaction on Flickr

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