Celebrate Deep House with Pesto Music!

Cherry Pickers, an inhouse label of Believe Digital - Europe's leading digital distributor - has picked two of our releases for their latest compilation. "Celebrate Deep House Vol. 2" is available exclusive from Beatport starting today. The compilation contains Jon Silva's "Terrace Mix" of Bruno From Ibiza's "Delicia" (also available on Pesto 014) as well as Processing Vessel's "One Night Stand" from our first Pesto EP "Deep Discoveries".
We are happy to see our Pestoleros in the good company of Florian Kruse, Evren Ulusoy, Bas Amro, Maya Jane Coles and too many more to mention. Check it out in the player below:



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PestoMix 016 by Daxxel c/o Karisma Chronicles

PestoCast150x150
PestoMixes have been made by artists from different countries and it's hard to believe that to this day, we did not have any by a French DJ. Time to change that!

Maxime Ménard, also known as Daxxel and the man behind the Karisma Chronicles podcast, hails from the shores of Brittany in the North West of France. I've already had the great pleasure to supply Maxime with a guest mix and put myself on the ever growing list of top notch artists such as Budai & Vic, The Timewriter, Krummstoff, Cooccer, Edmund, Da Funk, Kruse & Nürnberg and many, many more names you've surely heard before.

Today, Daxxel returns the favour with a deep and bouncing PestoMix and going over that track list lets you already imagine a superb kickstarter for a Saturday night. The mix also works on different days though - I have listened to it on rotation the last days.

Here's what you get on PestoMix 016 by Daxxel:

01. Two Armadillos - Je Suis Differente [STHMLaudio]
02. The Messenger - Your Love [Soul Industries]
03. Leif - Priority Feat. Donna Lea [Fear Of Flying]
04. Nikola Gala - Broken Chords [Freerange]
05. A Few Dudes - Nice Trip (Replika's Trippin Cut) [Deepology Digital]
06. Astraglide - Only You [Ambiosphere]
07. Oriol Calvo, Tetsuya Ura - Not Yet [Extremly House]
07. Yud Kei - Grace Emotion (Sea Of Wonder Mix) [M.O.D.A - Music Fashion]
08. Onur Ozman - Midnight Talk (Astraglide Astral Remix) [Ambiosphere]
09. Patryk Molinari - Some Old Some New [Pesto]

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Pesto EP001: V.A. - Deep Discoveries [service links]

cover artwork for Pesto EP001



Buy this release from:
Beatport
Juno Download
iTunes
Traxsource
Amazon MP3





For more news related to Various Artists - Deep Discoveries, please click here.

PestoCast: V.A. - Deep Discoveries [Pesto EP001]

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Here are all tunes from Pesto EP001 - Deep Discoveries compiled in one PestoCast. If you prefer a WAV file, you can download one from our Soundcloud page.

Tracks featured in this podcast episode are:

01. Deep In Calm - In Pieces
02. Norman Creed - Deep Breath
03. Patryk Molinari - Some Old, Some New
04. Yamil Colucci - It's Good To Smile
05. Processing Vessel - One Night Stand
06. Christos Fourkis - About Me

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Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries [video]

Since the video player on the right side is a bit tiny, we thought we'd post the video teaser for "Deep Discoveries" here in super duper HDTV 3D-ready - ahh, stop it! Here we go:





Pesto EP001: V.A. - Deep Discoveries out excl. on Beatport

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
Without having read the text, you know it's a good day when the Beatport player appears here on pesto.de.

Introduced with our behind-the-scenes to give you an impression of the effort put into each and every release, announced last week and delayed again, having spent more time on the video teaser, the time has finally come to release our youngest baby into the wild. Say hi to our very first Pesto EP named "Deep Discoveries".

In addition to our compilation series such as "2.0", “toolbox" or “Beautiful & Timeless", we launched this special format to bring you more new talent, more diversity and more pleasure.
Every EP will contain up to six tracks by various artists and "Deep Discoveries" is no different:

We have "Deep In Calm" from Poland with a lush and atmospheric opener, "Norman Creed" from Germany with a shaking track that's being compatible both with deep sets as well as clubbier ones, "Patryk Molinari", also from Berlin with a musical masterpiece, "Yamil Colucci" from Argentina with a number similar to early and danceable Matthew Herbert, San Diego-based "Processing Vessel" with a sweaty and funky tool and last but not least "Christos Fourkis" from Greece who delivers a deep groove monster.

Pesto EP001 is supported & played by Graham Sahara (Seamless, km5), Darren Holland (Baldeelox), Nacho Marco (Loudeast), Joan Ribas (Ibiza Global Radio), Igor Marijuan (Ibiza Sonica Radio), DJ Linus (Exun, Pacha MUC), Andrew Chibale (Salted), André Kronert (Night Drive, Neurotron), Nadja Lind/Klartraum (MoS, Soma), Will Sumsuch (Urban Torque, Etoka), Oz Hemingway (UCOH), AMDJS, Christian Quast (BPitch, futureaudio), Tom Morgan (Discoteca), Dave Miller (Illegal Cargo), BiG AL (ReadyMix, GU, Baroque) and many more...

Too many words already, I know, so let's go straight to the goodies:



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Free DJ mixes for the weekend (containing Pesto EP001)

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
Isn't that cruel? While you are still eagerly waiting for the release of Deep Discoveries, others already have it playing on their decks.

We've published a new PestoMix earlier today though that contains a couple of tunes from Pesto EP001 and from other upcoming releases. To further satisfy your needs for world-class DJ mixes and fresh music, we have put together a couple of really awesome mixes that contain one or another tune from Deep Discoveries.

Let's begin with Nacho Marco of Spain's Loudeast. This link leads to a file on yousendit.com so better be quick with grabbing that one. It will last for 7 days:
https://rcpt.yousendit.com/945045929/e14f96747ad02abfacabe3d9783af703

Next on our list is Martin who runs the immensely successful DeepGroove radio show with over 2,500 listeners. You will find tonnes of more great DJ mixes there:
http://www.deepgroove.co.cc/dgrs-05-09-10/

Mr. Jones of the Disclosure Project must be regarded one of Pesto's most constant supporters, with awesome DJ mixes regularly posted to his Mixcloud:
http://www.mixcloud.com/mrjones/september-deep-promos-2010/

And speaking of constant supporters, Russia's AMDJS are none less. The deep brother and sister (literally!) run the highly acclaimed AMDJS radio show that's broadcasted on 26 stations in Russia, Brazil, Lithuania, France and Ukraine:
http://soundcloud.com/amdjs/radio-show-vol82

Have a great weekend & we hope you enjoy the mixes as much as we do!

PestoMix 013 by Jon Silva "Karisma Chronicles"

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Back in July, I was invited to deliver a guest mix for Daxxel's "Karisma Chronicles" blog/podcast from France. Being in the good company of Gorge, Scope, Kruse & Nurnberg (yeah, I know it's Nürnberg), Nikola Gala, Burnski, Bas Amro and Cooccer and under the heavy influence of at least one month of pure summer here in Cologne, I made this little DJ mix.

As it contains a couple of previously unreleased tunes from Pesto EP001, Pesto EP002 und upcoming Pesto singles, it's still as fresh as the morning.

Shake your thang, show me whatchu got - here's the tracklist:

01. Alankara - The One (Intro Tool) [pesto.de]
02. Patryk Molinari - Some Old, Some New [pesto.de]
03. Norman Creed - Deep Breath [pesto.de]
04. Out Code - Lost In Chinese (Stefan Naimor Remix) [Tokyo Red]
05. Stan Kolev - Event Horizon (Jon Silva Remix) [Outta Limits]
06. Helly Larson - The Sea [pesto.de]
07. Replika - Inner Visions (Jon Silva's Tool Mix) [pesto.de]
08. Jozef K - Elevation (Ellesse & Pete Zorba Remix) [Kaluki]
09. Nick Fay - Your Love [pesto.de]
10. Bruno From Ibiza - Delicia (Jon Silva's Terrace Mix) [pesto.de]
11. Benedetto & Farina feat. Robert Owens - Relight The Stars [Inkfish]

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Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries: out now NOT

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
So you expected part 5 of our behind-the-scenes here last Monday. I promised to publish some DJ feedback, a new mix and I especially promised to not delay the release of our Pesto EP 001: Deep Discoveries another time. Since Deep Discoveries is not being released today, the question is "what happened?". I could have also titled this post "how to make a fool of yourself in public", so I'm sure you'd be interested in reading about the reasons why our first Pesto EP will be released next Wednesday, the 15th September 2010. In case you missed the former parts, here are part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Last weekend, while writing the fourth part of our behind-the-scenes, I finalized the release by uploading all required files to my distributor. For each contained tune, I have to enter information such as the composer of the works, their publisher, the track name, the project name, set a flag if a tune contains any explicit content, etc. This bundle of information is called metadata and the distributor requires it in order to provide download stores with that information. If you perform a label search for "Pesto" on a shop's web site, it will show you all Pesto releases. That's because I've entered this information into the distributor's database which in return the shop's system will read out and insert said data into their database/catalogue. Download stores are more or less databases with more or less pretty and/or useful interfaces to present the data, including the files to be downloaded by you after a successful purchase.

Also part of this data is the cover artwork which can be seen in the upper left corner of this post. This artwork must not contain any email addresses or URLs as it might be rejected by certain stores (namely the iTunes Music Store) - a fact that is relatively new to me. If you take a closer look on the cover for our toolbox: 1 compilation, you will see our domain name in full shining glory. It also does not make a lot of sense to me as this would be the only way to tell customers which address to insert in their browser if they would like to find out more about the label they just bought music from. After all, iTMS does not allow to search for labels rather than artists and track names only.

So I deleted the cover from the metadata, asked the designer for a new one without the URLs and tried to upload the new cover. It did not work. I would see the progress bar for ten minutes until I would retry to upload the cover to my distributor. Again, I had no luck and tried a couple of more times. I then decided to send the new cover to my label manager at my distributor by email, including a short info on what had happened and enjoyed the rest of my Sunday.

On Monday though, I was not at my desk the whole day and did not access my emails. If I had done, I would have discovered a message from my distributor (not from the desk of my label manager), telling me they could not verify my product since the cover was missing. I sent it again on Tuesday - just one day before the release date but it was too late already. Beatport takes time to insert the product into their system, they need to encode my WAV masters to MP3 - in short, one day was not enough. The release had to be delayed.

Who's to blame now? The distributor as it was their system playing up? In part, surely. The major part of responsibilty though has to be taken by the old fool that is me. If I had uploaded the release mid last week, I could have reacted in time and nobody would have noticed anything of the drama. Since I call this series of posts a "behind-the-scenes" though, I surely have to include this failure of mine as well. You can imagine how pissed I was of myself: writing all these posts, sticking to a tight schedule that would climax in the final release, putting a stress on how crucial proper timing was - all went in the litter box. Quite embarassing and unprofessional - ouch.

Anyway, the show must go on and that's why you will find the DJ feedback here on another day (mind you, I won't tell when I'll pulish that - hah!) as well as the promised Jon Silva DJ mix with tunes from Pesto EP001 and 002. The good thing is: I have more time to prepare the video for Deep Discoveries and will probably have to come up with some more ideas in order to maintain the tension (these nude pics suddenly appear to be a good option).

Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries - behind the scenes pt. 4

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
As I said yesterday already, I will spare you my nude pics. I have way more interesting background info on how "Deep Discoveries" was made. And since the post yesterday was highly technical, you will probably find today's part 4 much easier to read. After all, it's Sunday and our brains are in weekend mode so this one's not as demanding - at least I'll try to keep it that way.

We've covered the whole creation process of PEP001 (short for Pesto EP001 or simply "Deep Discoveries") starting with the selection of tunes and making up the playlist in part 1, went on to creation of the visual appearance in part 2 and ended with part 3 of our behind-the-scenes, dealing with the mastering of the EP and some basic thoughts on promotion.

Today, I will be talking about the promotion process in whole, our custom-made promo system, share some DJ feedback with you and I will also let you know how getting DJ feedback is serving my narcisstic needs.

From the highest mountain to the deepest valley



After I had mastered all tunes and rendered them to disk, I had a folder sitting on my drive, filled with WAV files. One minute of WAV roughly eats 10MB of disk space (these are files comparable to what is found on CDs - 44.1kHz sampling rate at 16bits), the whole EP would require 400MB of space on Pesto's servers. Way too much to share it with people!

But since God Allah Jehovah the Fraunhofer Society gave us the MP3 format, there are ways to compress the size of an audio file while maintaining most of its contained audible information. When sending out promos, I'm encoding the files at 320kBits which means the resulting MP3s are approx. one fourth of the size of the original hi-resolution/CD-quality WAV files. Usually, WAVs have a bitrate of 1440kBits and this is what you get on Beatport unless you're opting for the MP3 version. MP3s sold on Beatport have the same encoding quality as our promo files.

I would name the WAVs in a proper way so that just by looking at the file name, everybody would know where the file belongs to. I would then add ID3 tags to said WAVs so that track names and artist names would be displayed in a player such as iTunes, WinAMP or on your iPhone. After that, I'd convert the hi-resolution files to 320kBits MP3s, tweaking the information bits (aka ID3 tags), embedding the cover artwork in the MP3 and place them all in another subfolder of the "PEP001" folder. Then, I'd repeat the process and convert the same WAV files to the MP3 format again, this time encoded at 64kBits in order to use them in the MP3 player on our promo page. This player is pretty similar to the MP3 player on the website you're currently reading (have a look at the right side, given you're viewing this page on a Flash-enabled device).

screenshot showing the

After packing all 320kBits music files and the artwork into one .zip file and uploading it to our promo server, I would update the promo section, adding a download link for the release, have the MP3 player hold all tunes of "Deep Discoveries" so DJs can preview the tracks (this means updating an .xml file with the track names and uploading the 64kBits files to our promo server), exchange the banner picture so it shows a portion of the current release's artwork, check all links for consistency and download the promo myself to check if everything is working as expected.

Once the promo page is confirmed working, I'd fire up my bulk emailer (it's like your common email client but with special features), write some introductary words about the release, include details such as catalogue number, release date and write some words about the music and the artists on that release and then start sending out personalized mails to my promo pool. The mailout is limited to 200 messages, then the mailer takes a break for a few minutes until it continues sending the next bunch of 200 until finally, every promo pool member has received their personal message in their inbox. The reason for sending chunks of 200 mails each is as follows: my provider told me that sending more than 200 messages in a row would be considered spam by the automatic filter system and would result in putting both my IP and "sent from"-address on a blacklist containing suspected spammers, making it impossible to send out further messages.

Back to the promo mailouts: when introducing the artists and their tunes, I write a few words about the song so that the recipients of that promo would already get a rough picture of what to expect. I'd assign attributes to the music such as "deep shizzle", "suitable for afterhours" or "peak time stuff". In case of "Deep Discoveries", I came up with this:

"We have "Deep In Calm" from Poland with a lush and atmospheric opener, "Norman Creed" from Germany with a shaking track that's being compatible both with deep sets as well as clubbier ones, "Patryk Molinari", also from Berlin with a musical masterpiece, "Yamil Colucci" from Argentina with a number similar to early and danceable Matthew Herbert, Los Angeles-based and Ankara-born "Processing Vessel" with a sweaty and funky tool and last but not least "Christos Fourkis" from Greece who delivers a deep groove monster."



Without even having heard any of the tunes, your imagination would give you a first hint on how the tunes might sound like. It's the moment when your subconscience either tells you "meh, I'll check that later if at all" or "hell yeah, I wanna know what this Pesto EP is like". Apart from the fact that "Processing Vessel" was born in San Diego and grew up in Ankara, just to remain living in San Diego to this day, you'll find all necessary info in an admittedly long sentence, yet all in one place.

I told Murat aka "Processing Vessel" that people would not pay too much attention to his place of birth rather than using the information provided to decide if the promo was worth listenining to and downloading. I may come across a bit ignorant here, but to be honest, most people do not even read past the second sentence once they've spot the download link. I could also send a message saying "DeepHouse, you know you'll like - it's from Pesto, download, play & chart please". I'm sure it would work as I'm seeing lots of mailouts from other labels every month that are equally appealin. Actually, these messages are the counterpart of "listen my track" mails. I was raised in a way though that suggests being polite to others, especially if I want something from them.

Other labels use promo systems run and maintained by third parties such as FATdrop or VIPUltima, I've build one of our own. From the very beginning, I also paid a lot of attention to personalization as I find it essential not to appear as one of countless labels sending out promos into the wild. The people in the Pesto promo pool are carefully selected and deserve a personal approach, so they're all addressed with their first name. I'm sending a message to myself in order to check the mailout and it always begins with "Hey Jon", "Dear Jon" or similar - all the promo mailouts read like a personal message (did somebody say "dedication" again?) because that's the way they're meant to be perceived.

Setting up this promo system was not so difficult: I had to build a page template once and then just exchange the details according to the release being sent out. Promo services ask for a fee of 50EUR per mailout or more - building this system saves Pesto Music the same amount of money with each release. This is money that I can invest in ads on Facebook or Google AdWords, reaching even more potential customers. Other promo systems force you to leave feedback before being able to download: that surely helps increasing your return rate - on the other hand, many DJs want to play the tune in a club before sending feedback. Our system allows this. Other systems will add watermarks to the MP3s you download so that a DJ sharing your promo becomes trackable. We trust the DJs in our promo pool and give them maximum flexibility. We're still asking our promo pool members not to share the files though and since they're all grown-ups and aware of the fact that they'd get kicked off our pool in the blink of an eye (and never receive anything from us again), no one shares the files - at least not on the web.

Serving my narcisstic needs on Wednesday



As mentioned in yesterday's post, timing is crucial. You have to think about the recipients of that mail and imagine what they're doing on certain days of the week. Most of them are DJs who spin on a regular basis, usually on weekends. They might check their inbox on Monday after having spent an exhausting weekend but they're probably not in the mood to listen to new music. So, Monday is a bad day to send out promos. Thursday and Friday though are the classic "new releases" days. This is when people used to visit their record store or go to a download store these days. Since every other label releases new stuff on these two days, it's more difficult to get heard then and stick out of all that "background noise".

After analyzing my own inbox, the perfect day to both send out promos and release products seems to be Wednesday: Pesto releases won't slip below the radar as not many other labels are asking for attention yet but DJs are already looking for new material to play out the following weekend. They will have one day more to get acquainted with the Pesto release, making it more likely our promo ends up in their CD sleeves and gets played. And since I am convinced of the quality of our releases, it also becomes more likely that these DJs will chart one of our tunes as they remember them being useful for their sets and/or they get a great crowd response.

The people receiving our promos would then start to get back to us, sharing their feedback and their thoughts on that release with us. And I have to admit it: reading the first feedbacks dropping in always provides big satisfaction for me. After countless hours of dedication and work, after all the love both the artists and I have put into each and every release that comes out on Pesto, I feel like watching my child make its first steps. And if the feedback goes along the lines of "Love them all!", "amazing package", "really can't tell which is my fav - they're all great!" or "solid as ever", I know that my artists have delivered killer tunes (well, I knew that already since I signed them to Pesto - but now I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling that way) and that I've done the very best to introduce my artists to a selected circle of DJs from all over the globe. This is when a big grin settles on my face and I cannot get rid of it. It makes me happy for the sake of my artists who deserve this exposure and it also tells me I'm holding a great product in my hands (or on my harddisk for that matter). Sales are not everything, but they can be a big reward and motivation for anyone who's making music - receiving feedback is even more as people will share their thoughts with you rather than only clicking on the "buy" button.

Friday, I'm in love...umm...Monday, I'm publishing DJ feedback



Like mentioned above, lots of jocks prefer playing the tunes in public before feeding back. As I sent out the promo for "Deep Discoveries" just last Wednesday, I'm expecting some more feedback during Monday. So far, I've received lots of raving reactions already - there really isn't one guy saying Pesto EP001 was mediocre, let alone bad. I will publish the DJ feedback received so far tomorrow, on Monday. You can also expect a short video with samples from all contained tunes, a Jon Silva DJ mix featuring tunes from Pesto EP001 and even Pesto EP002 on Tuesday and a conclusion, summing up the experiences made during the planning stage of "Deep Discoveries"on Wednesday, when PEP001 "Deep Discoveries" will finally be released as a Beatport exclusive. Stay with us - we'll be right back after the break!



Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries - behind the scenes pt. 3

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
As promised yesterday, here's the third part of a series of posts, providing you with insights on how "Deep Discoveries" finally made it to the download stores. In case you missed them, here are part 1 and part 2.

So, I had the master recordings from the artists and the cover artwork was done. Next on the list were mastering the files, determining the final tracklist/track order, setting up the promo and uploading the finalized release to my distributor.

As every artist has a different setup, a different skill level and (hopefully) a very unique signature sound, it makes sense to group a bunch of tracks in a meaningful order. Some tunes are deep, some are percussive, some are a bit heavy on the treble portion and so on. Once I had made my mind up which tracks Pesto EP001 should consist of, I tried to arrange them in a way that they would feature a nice dramaturgy when listening to them in a row. Similar to a DJ mix or a tune itself, you would have one tune with an intro function (most supposedly the deepest of the bunch), to be followed by the tunes that have higher energy levels. You would also make sure that the tunes were not too far off from each other soundwise, adding bass or treble on one tune while cutting them on another one, for instance.

One could argue that this approach does not make much sense in times of single-track downloads but that's part of the philosophy on Pesto - I want it that way. I'm not offering a collection of tunes that were thrown together in one place indifferently. I want to offer a product that makes sense, that creates a certain atmosphere and evokes certain emotions - a compilation of music I enjoy and think you as a customer would enjoy, as well. I do things with love and dedication and compiling such an EP is no different.

Mastering the tracks



After I had the playlist set, I went to adjust the files soundwise. "In Pieces", the lovely opener of this EP by "Deep In Calm" was well-produced but very low in volume. On the other hand, the solid "One Night Stand" by "Processing Vessel" had already seen a mastering engineer and arrived here in its final state. The term "mastering" (or postproduction) here refers to a process that - very roughly speaking - irons out those differences and gets all tunes on a similar level volume- und soundwise. There are other meanings to that word but that will be a different post here soon.

These days, "mastering" is often misunderstood as "make it as loud as possible" or "make it sound like the big tunes on Beatport". Making a tune screaming loud is no problem from a technical point of view. Seeing it from a musical angle though, you'd still want all those little details to be hearable. This is what gives life to a tune and makes it breathe. When going through 300 new tracks on Beatport though, you are likely to skip those that are lower in volume. Since this is not only limited to electronic music but to recorded music in general (with the exception of classical music and Jazz), a phenomenon called "loudness war" is being encountered since the 1980ies. If you're familiar with Metallica's "Death Magnetic" album, you've just found one of the infamous and questionable "winners" of said war.

What I'm usually aiming at is an RMS level of -6dB but that also highly depends on the source material. Even for somebody who is not familiar with "RMS", "peak level" or "decibel (dB)", it's obvious that a chilled Lounge track has different requirements than a club banger. Keeping this in mind, I started to process the files, listening to and comparing against reference tunes every now and then. When I re-imported the mastered tunes into my "Pesto EP001" playlist, I noticed the tracks would not match when listening in one go. I did a second mastering session, now not paying attention to the EP as a whole rather than individually adjusting the tunes and consequently running into the "Beatport sound" trap: the tunes were loud now but sounded like dog poo - flat and lifeless but in your face like the smell of the former. I suddenly also noticed clicks and pops that hadn't been there before, so I double-checked the source files and they were all fine. The unwanted artefacts were due to beginner mistakes such as wrong settings on my mastering equipment.

I was undecided if I should cry, smash my fist on my keyboard, kick the computer under my desk or do all three things at once. I chose a different option though. After smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, I decided to master the tunes a third time. After all, neither the keyboard nor the computer were to blame - it was solely my fault. As it showed a few days later, this was the right decision and when the artists returned their thoughts on the master, I knew everything was fine.

Reading the above can easily give you the impression that this process takes just minutes. It's not: depending on the source material, finding the right processors and settings may take 15 minutes or more, rendering the files takes some time, cropping them to remove unwanted silence or applying fades takes some more.
As I'm located in a residential area though, I can do these kind of tasks only during daytime when my neighbours are at work. Furthermore, my ears aren't good for mastering in the morning (they are too sensitive then) nor are they late at night. In the end, I'm not a dedicated mastering engineer rather than some kind of one-trick pony. So there's a timeframe of maybe three or four hours in the early afternoon when my hearing is just perfect for mastering duties.

It's also important to work on something totally different when you're stuck since trying to make it happen when the surrounding isn't right is like running against a wall. On top of that, I cannot spend my afternoons with mastering only. I have remix jobs to finish on time, reply to emails, maintain my social networks, buy food and drinks, etc. I had informed the artists of "Deep Discoveries" of the new release date (8th September 2010) and I was determined to not delay it one more time.

Connecting with the world outside



The thing is: there are good points in time to put out a release and there are dates being suboptimal. Beginning of the month would usually be considered a good occasion: people have money to buy music, DJ charts are being compiled, podcasts and mixes are being made, magazines are being printed. If you want your release to develop the most possible friction while keeping an eye on your marketing budget (or while having zero budget except your workforce), these are all points to keep track of.

It's not enough to just put out a great release though. A person I've used to make music with for a couple of years said "good music will sell by itself" or more generalized "a good product will sell by itself". If that actually was true, Coca Cola, Porsche or Apple wouldn't have an advertising budget at all. Nearly everybody knows these brands, yet still, these companies spend millions on advertising and marketing year by year. People will need to know that they can buy your product, they need to know you exist, they need good reasons why they should give you their hard-earned money.

In this niche of the music business Pesto Music operates in, a lot of marketing and actions of "to get known and raise awareness" is done by so-called tastemakers. These can be club and radio DJs, podcasts, blogs, magazines, celebrities (nobody would care about Ke$ha if she had not been supported by - please forgive me - Paris Hilton) and other multiplicators. The more often you come across "Deep Discoveries", the more often you hear people you trust talk about it, the more likely you will go and find out more about this issue and eventually end up buying the music. It's how we humans work - we're following the herd.

What I am doing to achieve this is sending out free copies of the release to the group of people mentioned above prior to the offical release date. It's part of a process called "promotion" and the free copies are therefore called "promos". These guys will listen to the music and reply with their thoughts: if they like it or not (and which track or version is their favourite), if they will use it for their mixes or chart it in their monthly DJ charts.
One DJ including one of the tunes in his or her chart makes a statement to his or her fans: "These 10 tracks are what I think is the best music this month (and this Pesto tune is one of them)". Given that DJ has 1.000 fans in his network, charting a tune equals to 1.000 possible contacts with people who would not have known Pesto before (highly simplified, of course). Do you remember the word "multiplicator" from above? You've just read a possible definition. This goes even further if a couple of DJs start charting a tune on a website such as Resident Advisor: RA compiles monthly charts that compute all contributed Top10s, reaching even more people beyond the group of followers of a certain DJ.

Push that button



Those of you knowing me in person are aware of the fact that Sundays are sacred for me, even though I'm not religious. It's the only day I can spend with my wife, leave the computer off and do something totally different. For you though, dear readers of pesto.de who have waded through this admittedly more technical and geeky part of our behind-the-scenes, I will make an exception.

Tomorrow, you will find here part 4, dealing with the odds of promo mailouts such as messing up background info on artists and being considered a spammer, why I need to convert WAV files to 320kBits and 64kBits, how Pesto saves money by having built a custom promo system and how my narcisstic needs are being satisfied. I will also post some nude pictures of me (I won't and you would not want to see that, but it maintains the tension, doesn't it?).



Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries - behind the scenes pt. 2

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
Following up on part 1 of my little piece on how Pesto releases are made, here's the second part with more gory details and more classified information you won't even find on Wikileaks.

So, after the name was set, I was still undecided about it - I found it a bit too cheap and too obvious. Surely, it was better than simply "Deep Tunes" but it also wasn't something to blow my mind, to get me excited. When I shared my concern with others, they told me they liked many of my concepts - just after I had explained it to them. Apparently, when developing new ideas, I'm usually digging too deep. I'm trying to make up associations and deep links between items that only a person would understand who had gone as deep into the matter as myself.

That's not how marketing works though. Sophisticated concepts are great and can be jaw-dropping but very often, they won't work in the first second. And this very second is crucial when trying to get the attention of fans, listeners and possible customers of Pesto Music. "Deep Discoveries" remained therefore.

Up next was creating the cover artwork and a general identity for the Pesto EP. The graphics should be timeless so that nobody would be tired seeing it after one year. The cover design should look great in fullscreen mode as well as on shops' web pages. While my distributor demands the artwork to be 1440 pixels wide, Beatport displays them at only 80 pixels wide when browsing through their catalogue in list view. To put it differently and to make you imagine better: think of a road sign that's approx. 60cm in diameter such as a speed limit sign (they look like this at least here in Europe):

50km/h speed limit road sign, european style

And now imagine the same sign 18 times smaller. That's the size cover artworks are displayed in Beatport's list view in relation. It's this size (yes, there is a picture below):

Maxima_velocidad

Back in the good ol' days of 12" covers, designers could go fully creative on huge areas of carton. Quite obviously, this is not the case with covers for digital downloads. So far, I've designed the digital cover artwork for Pesto myself. You will find that the artwork for the first releases look quite awful, changing for the better beginning with Pesto 005 by Babak Shayan, our very first digital-only release. You can see I wasn't satisfied with the look still and that's why the covers for Pesto singles kept changing until I came to a design that I found functional and decent looking, first introduced with Pesto 013 by Replika.

As much as I love doing as many things myself as I can, I surely also recognized that I'm not a graphic designer. I know a few things about colour rooms, CMYK, contour trapping and the likes but graphics are not my profession. I needed to hire a designer.

As I knew a couple of great creatives, I thought I'd make a contest among some designers (it's called "pitch") and let the best one win. In order to draw more attention to the Pesto EP and the label in general, I had in mind to publish the designers' sketches on the Pesto Music fanpage on Facebook, embed a poll there and let you, the fans and Pesto followers decide. I thought "if 7 designers enter the pitch and each of them sends all their friends to /welikepesto in order to cast their votes, I have countless new fans, raise awareness for both the label and the designers' work, fans are part of the whole process (say crowdsourcing light) and I'll have the best possible design meeting the consent of a majority, the producers get exposed to people who would otherwise have never heard of them - everybody's happy, I will be a millionaire and retire".

Well, those were not exactly my thoughts - but except for the millionaire part, that's how I imagined the whole thing. Wrong!

One of them never got back after sending a reminder when the deadline had passed. Another one went on holidays just to send me a few sketches after returning that did meet not any of the criteria I had written down. The next one suddenly had too many clients (I really want to meet your sales rep - somebody who's able to acquire clients for weeks of work in just a few days, wow!), another one suggested pink covers for housier releases, even though the first drafts hadn't been that bad and another one found the deadline too close (which actually was a proper excuse - I had intended to release the first Pesto EP in early June and the deadline was just two weeks ahead then). Remember the part from above dealing with great concepts that are too difficult to catch up with? Yeah, this pitch was a great idea - it just did not work out.

So eventually, I found the right guy for the job - or better put, he was recommended by one of my buddies here from Cologne (hvala Danilo!). David van Stephold (you will read more about him and find some samples of his work here soon) was the only guy who actually got back with a sketch, explaining what he had in mind and why he designed the artwork the way he did. He's living just around the corner so what could I wish more for?

To be honest, I did not like the artwork that much in the beginning. But the more people I showed it and got great response, the more I understood that again, my concepts (and expectations therefore) were simply too complicated. David's design just made "boom", it clicked with people, they liked it lots.

While all this was in the works, I mailed the artists from the release, announcing release dates that would be delayed again and again. I revised the tracklist, changed the track order, asked the artists for final master recordings (while one of them was writing his university exams at that very moment) until I finally got the artwork and the master recordings.

Next on my list was mastering the tunes, entering them into the distributor's system and into my label software, setting up the promo campaign and making some buzz on my social networks so that people would become aware of our new baby, the Pesto EP. As you can imagine, again, this did not go without minor hiccups and in part 3 of this behind-the-scenes, we will finally arrive at what I'm currently doing for the release that will be out on Beatport excl. the 8th September 2010 if nothing goes wrong (fingers crossed). Tomorrow, you will read why I was mastering "Deep Discoveries" three times, how I messed up some info on an artist and why I nearly smashed my computer but eventually felt very content. Stay tuned.



speed limit sign picture source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maxima_velocidad.png

Pesto EP001: Deep Discoveries - behind the scenes pt. 1

cover artwork for Pesto EP001
Remember when we announced a new release format, the Pesto EP? That was end of April, in other words - four months ago. Quite a long time in this business. You might be wondering what took us so long and I have the great pleasure to give you some behind-the-scenes insight, straight from Jon Silva's desk. Taking Pesto EP001 - Deep Discoveries as an example, let me explain the steps required to make such a product.

Everything starts with the artists: I know a couple of people whose music I like and whom I'm in touch with on a regular basis. These guys do send me their unreleased music and if I like it, I'll try to sign it to Pesto.

The second group are producers that I haven't been in contact with before and who send me demos. My task here is being a filter: not to judge between good or bad music but to tell if I like a tune or if I don't. Tracks that I'm rejecting might be the favourite of the next A&R or label manager so it's not automatically a sign they're bad ones - I just don't feel them, I don't feel they belong to Pesto, I don't see them on the horizon I envision for the label.

When signing such tunes, I mostly do not have a specific release in mind. Very often, I'm saying to myself "this could be a good one for the next 2.0 compilation" or "this one has great remix potential but does not feel like a Pesto single, let's put it in the 'Pesto EP inbox' playlist".

The third group are producers that start following me on Soundcloud, for instance and I'm checking their profile and listen to their tunes - just to discover true pearls of (mostly) young talents. I will then try to license these tunes for Pesto, as well - usually also not with any specific product in mind.

Send me your track


This is a constant process throughout the year, it's part of my daily business so to say. Another constant in my daily routine is - believe it or not - listening to music. When answering emails, doing administrative things, reading news and blogs, I have music running in the background. Very often, I listen to podcasts and DJ mixes I get sent. On other occasions, I listen to the "inbox" playlist mentioned above in loop mode. Some subconscient process starts then and my mind begins to associate one tune with another, virtually compiling playlists of tunes that match a certain vibe or otherwise belong to each other.

I would then start grouping these tunes in new playlists and try to develop a product that eventually can be bought on all major download stores.

Back in April, I already had a playlist for the first Pesto EP. The playlist consisted of raw tunes - some of them unmastered WAV files, some of them crappy MP3s (that's still good enough to get the picture). I listened to that playlist repeatedly and tried to find a catchy term for what I was listening to. Sure, they all were deep but "Deep Tunes" is not much of a good EP title, now is it? I'm also a fan of twists with language (I'm much better at it in german, believe me) so I went searching for a nice alliteration. Since all of these tunes were not by artists I was already working with, rather than new discoveries, "Deep Discoveries" was the way to go. I asked my wife how she liked the name and a couple of other people, doing market research if you will. They all liked it.

The next steps were designing the cover artwork to give an easily recognizable face to this music and the Pesto EP itself. I would exchange all the paperwork with the artists, asking them to send hi-resolution files of their tracks, infos about themselves so I could use it for promotion, mastering the tracks, speaking with my distribution about the best strategy to place the Pesto EP, and so on. And this is where the trouble started, but that's another story which you will read here tomorrow in part 2 of this little behind-the-scenes write-up.