Best Friend Forever Login

To participate, register for Best Friend Forever access or login below:

Latest Release

Brad Sucks: Guess Who's a Mess album cover

Guess Who's a Mess, my third album. 10 tracks, instant downloads.

Not into albums?


Email Signup

Get the latest Brad Sucks updates:

Upcoming Shows


There wasn’t a lot of exciting software at the NAMM music trade show this year and it made me wonder: why are recording software manufacturers being so slow to add Internet collaboration features?

Anyone will tell you that we’re in an Internet indie music golden age but popular recording tools barely recognize the Internet exists for anything more than patch updates. Cloud services have come to the most mainstream services (email, calendar, music, photos, contacts) but recording software has barely made a move in that direction.

There are so many ways the Internet could improve software like Pro Tools, Reaper, Reason, Logic and Ableton Live — easy collaboration, cloud backups, portability (easily access your audio data on your iPad & iPhone), revision tracking, quick in-software purchasing of samples/plugins/devices, preset sharing and hands-on lessons to name a few off the top of my head.

And it makes business sense for the companies. By making the Internet an integrated part of the recording software companies could get their customers into a subscription model instead of this weird yearly upgrade cycle and they’d be free to roll out & market new features any time, distribution and copy protection would be easier, companies could gather metrics on performance to improve the software & stamp out bugs, you could demo and sell features, samples, presets, plugins and lessons to your customers, sell iPad/iPhone/Android apps to work with your cloud data, etc, etc.

I feel Ableton Live and Reason are uniquely positioned for success in this area. They’re largely MIDI, sample and loop based so they’d use less bandwidth to sync. Plus their interfaces are already very modular — selling new devices and features and packs wouldn’t require much redesign.

My suspicion right now is that Ableton (who haven’t released a major new version of Live since January 2009) is working on a full rewrite and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t include a lot more Internet. But whoever it is, someone’s going to make a move and then all the other players will have to play catch up.

Posted on - February 16, 2012 [at] 8:10 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , ,

George emailed me to say:

I wanted to ask your opinion on what you think computers could do to make it easier for musicians to create and perform music.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to blog two of my replies:

Collaboration: There’s a lot of opportunity right now for better creative tools. The biggest feature missing from all the major Digital Audio Workstations is semi-realtime collaboration (realtime is probably asking too much until the net gets better). I was just bugging Justin at Reaper about that the other day. Maybe ohmstudio ( will fill the collaboration role but I think it’s a feature every DAW should have within a few years.

Songwriting: For a long time I’ve been fantasizing about rapid songwriting software. Something analogous to a lot of the more creative, less technical software for screenwriters. The software could prompt the songwriter for sections, melodies and riffs and keep them cataloged. It’d let you easily rearrange the structure and experiment, organize your notes & ideas and help you generate new ideas. Throw a good rhyming dictionary in there, a markov chain generator for lyrics, etc. So a musician can quickly hammer out a bunch of song ideas and flesh them out without spending much time dicking around in software. I should be able to write and record an entire song with a guitar, microphone and foot pedal to control the software.

And that’s the tooth.

Posted on - November 23, 2011 [at] 6:55 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , ,

I’m still using Reaper as my main DAW and I still love it. I’m hacking away at the next album with it. Reaper 4 should be released shortly as they’re up to Release Candidate 4 as of this posting.

Here are some of my favorite things in v4:

ReaEQ – They added a live spectrograph to the EQ, which was a feature other EQs (like the one in logic) made me want.

Selecting chunks of audio in the media explorer is pretty sweet when you have compatible VSTis. You can preview an audio file and select a section from the waveform and drag it right into the plugin or timeline. Very handy.

Midi Track Controls (ReaControlMIDI) – I’m not actually sure if this was in v3 but I know I was trying to get a weird midi controller to control the tracks long ago and had no luck. This makes it easy.

Project Bay – Now you can see and manage all the effects and media you’re using in your project.

Screensets – save and recall Reaper window layouts easily. Nice.

Here are some things I am not fond of:

The default theme is too dark and the color coding of tracks is really hard to see. I was finding it really tough to organize my projects so that I knew what was going on at a glance. So I switched back to the v3 theme, which is OK for now.

The Media Explorer is slow on my Mac. Hopping between files with the cursor keys is weirdly slow. This was never a thing on Windows.

And here’s my wish list:

I’d like a simple multi-sampler. A Battery-style ‘pad’ sampler would be my preference. Setting up many tracks of ReaSamplOmatic5000 is cumbersome.

Some metadata/search in the Media Explorer would be great. I have a ton of samples kicking around but if they’re not easily at hand.

Workflow improvements – Reaper is already so far ahead of the competition in functionality that I think it’d benefit from some time spent on its usability. While it’s awesome that each pulldown and context menu and preference page are overstuffed with cool options, it can be overwhelming. And I’m a pretty huge nerd so I assume the less techy out there go into cardiac arrest at the sight of it.

Anyway, great job Reaper team.

Posted on - August 1, 2011 [at] 2:00 pm by Brad
Tagged in - ,

imageFinally got around to adding a radial email address finder to my Mappy Email Signup app. Mappy Email lets visitors/fans select their locations on a map and save their email addresses. So you can contact them only when you’re in the area (which is more polite). It’s basically an open source that doesn’t hang all your contacts up in a third party.

The new version finally has a page (/admin/) where you can specify a radius (in kilometers), click the map and see all the email addresses that are within that area. So you can paste them into whatever mailing list app you’re using.

Posted on - July 12, 2009 [at] 10:00 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , , , ,

image Reaper 3 came out a little while ago and I’ve mentioned that I’m experimenting with switching to it from Cubase. So far I can’t imagine going back to Cubase. Some of the things I like:

  • It’s fast and small. While the 4.4MB installer file size is great, it’s the responsiveness and quick loading time that are truly awesome. Cubase feels bloated and slow after using Reaper, as do most DAWs.
  • Powerful. The amount of features in it are ridiculous. You may have to hunt for the options, but 99% of the time it’s there.
  • I haven’t had it crash on me yet.
  • It’s fully customizable. I feel like I can trick it out as much as I want. From themes to keyboard shortcuts to actions, you can make it your own.
  • Frequent useful updates. Unlike Cubase’s usual “launch buggy, gradually patch those bugs and save any useful new features for the next version you have to pay for” you actually get an amazing amount of updates and improvements.
  • An active community and approachable developers. Reasonable or good ideas get implemented quickly, developers are responsive in the forums, lots of people were helpful when I was flailing around in “I’m used to Cubase!” land.
  • It plays nice with dual monitors. HOORAY.
  • Quick search of VST plugins.
  • I don’t feel locked in. Project files are in plain text, you can export your stuff easily. You can move your preferences around easily.

Some things I don’t like so much:

  • There are so many options that new (and/or less tech-savvy) users will likely feel overwhelmed hunting down the right checkboxes to get the behavior they expect. It’s awesome that it’s so customizable, but I’d love to see them pick some more universal up-front options and move a lot of the tweaks to a Firefox about:config style interface or just an .ini file.
  • A lot of the comping/audio behavior doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The logic behind which items play and which don’t when they overlay each other on the same track still confuses me, so I try and avoid it. Comping generally works but lacks the precision of Cubase or Logic.
  • Unlike versions 1 and 2, Reaper 3 doesn’t have my song Making Me Nervous as the default project. :( :(

Anyway, it’s been good and I recommend trying it out. There’s an un-crippled evaluation version so you’ve got nothing to lose.

Posted on - June 9, 2009 [at] 7:38 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , , ,

imageI bugged the author of (delicious/flickr style) file tagging software TaggedFrog to add support for audio file previews and v1.0.1 has it. (Make sure you grab and install Croak on the download page.)

I’m also told if you need mp3 support to download the irrKlang library and place the irrKlang.NET2.0.dll file in the root folder of your TaggedFrog installation. It’ll automatically enable mp3s in TaggedFrog. (It’s not included due to licensing issues.)

This is a pretty great solution for Windows musicians looking for something similar to Audiofinder for the Mac. Thanks Andrei!

Posted on - April 16, 2009 [at] 10:39 am by Brad
Tagged in - , ,

One of the best tech things I saw at Zap Your PRAM was this TinEye Music app for the iPhone. You take a photo of album art with the iPhone and TinEye identifies the album and looks it up in iTunes.

I was totally skeptical so we tried it out on my CD, taking this fairly crappy photo:

i don't know what i'm doing photo

And bam:

i don't nkow what i'm doing in itunes

I was impressed. Image search/recognition tech usually works great inside a pre-defined catalog of images but tends to fail in the wild.

Later on I got a demo of the newest version of the iPhone app and it worked just as well but also had Allmusic, Youtube and Wikipedia links for me. Crazy neat. Thanks to Suzanne for showing it to me!

Posted on - October 23, 2008 [at] 3:14 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , , , ,

ST1Sample Tagger is exactly what I want for sample organization. Only problem? Loading and saving doesn’t work (works on some files, not on others). I’m frustratedly staring at C# tutorials now and thinking about all the time I could waste making my own. Ugh.

Posted on - September 22, 2008 [at] 9:46 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , ,

One exhaustive search and some tireless tagging later, my sample library dreams are mostly realized. The winner? MediaMonkey 3.0 beta. Voila:


MediaMonkey 3 adds support for multiple genres and a “track browser” similar to the one I like in foobar. It doesn’t work exactly as I want — I’d like to have two genre columns and be able to select, say “drums” and “kick” and have it exclusively display samples that are tagged “drums” AND “kick”. But it doesn’t — it shows any that are tagged drums OR any that are tagged kick. But doing keyword or keyword -> album is still a great improvement over simple directory hierarchies.

It’s also really helpful rating samples that I use frequently. MediaMonkey 3 also supports multiple libraries, all the file formats under the sun, drag and drop to Ableton Live works good and it’s totally free, woooo.

And here for your benefit are the results of my many media player experiences trying to find the right sample organization client:

foobar2000 v0.9.5 – Just… complicated. Need foo_custominfo to handle WAV format genre metadata. Then that data doesn’t work in the facets view, etc, etc. I’m sure some foobar hacker could make it do what I want, but I don’t have the time or energy.

musikCube – Has facet view, does drag and drop, doesn’t do multiple genres.

Winamp – Sort of does what I want with enough wrestling — though the interface is a little retarded in the mind. But it won’t do sample drag and drop to Ableton Live, so you’re out.

wxMusic – Crashed reading in my media library and gave me lots of warnings that it couldn’t read certain WAV files.

mp3rat – mp3rat only does MP3s I guess. Imagine that.

I just saved you a lot of thankless work. Enjoy!

Posted on - December 9, 2007 [at] 7:56 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , , , , ,

With completing all recording and sequencing on my next album and me regaining my enthusiasm for making new music, a complete sample library reset is in order. I’m a sample hoarder but my current setup (30-40 gigs of loops and samples in d:\music\samples\ subdirectories) has always been awful. The hierarchy’s all wrong and it sucks to browse. For a long time I’ve wanted a tagging style sample browser but I understand it’s a limited market.

But lately I’ve been using the latest beta of foobar2000 for my mp3 listening and organization. One thing I totally love about it is the facet view:


You can enter a search query or click in any of the panels (you can choose what tag you want each facet to be based on) and it narrows down the other panels based on your selection or search query. It’s really fantastic and makes it easy to explore your collection.

So a light bulb went off last night: this is exactly what I want for my samples! With some help from the foobar2000 forums I set up another copy of foobar and had it index my sample directories. Big problem: foobar saves all the metadata to the actual audio files — .WAV files don’t support genre metadata. Boned.

I’ve been scrabbling around trying to make foobar do what I want with various plugins but it’s a pain in the ass. Now I’m on to trying other media players…

Posted on - December 8, 2007 [at] 12:32 pm by Brad
Tagged in - , , , ,