When a boy fell in love with music…

If someone were to ask me to pick my musical icon, I would proudly answer Michael Jackson.  When I was a boy I grew up listening to classic rock and country tunes in the backseat of my parents car.  At that time, this was the only music I knew.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Michael Jackson video on MTV.  It was his Bad video and it seemed so out of this world, so larger than life.  From that moment on I was hooked!  It was so different from everything else that I had heard up until that point.  My mother told me that this was pop music.  I asked her what exactly pop music meant, she told me, “Well, it’s popular!” I had no idea what she meant, but I thought I had found the holy grail of music.  He was my first true source of musical inspiration.


The obsession only grew!  The first album I got was a hand-me-down of Thriller from my uncle.  PYT, Beat It, and The Girl Is Mine were my favorites, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t play that album forwards and backwards, over and over again.  The next album I got was Dangerous for my eighth Birthday.  To this day it is still my personal favorite Michael Jackson album.  It was like magic, something I just couldn’t get enough of.  I would dance (when no one was watching) to the whole album in my room.  The album was stuck on repeat for well over a year.  During this time I also stalked MTV for any and all MJ videos.  I think Michael defined the medium.  He gave each single life with a clever, generally over-the-top music video.  Those videos showcased Michael’s creativity, story telling and perfectionism.

For most, the bottom fell out soon after.  I was around nine years old when the allegations of child abuse came out.  I refused to believe any of it and stood by my hero!  It wasn’t easy, a lot of other people thought I was weird.  I guess what pulled me through was his music.  Personally I never believed Michael was ever sexually motivated.  What I saw was a person who had a strong passion for music and big heart.  A person who could be easily misunderstood.

I continued to collect Michael Jackson albums and singles.  History came out in 1995, his first release post allegations.  That album showed a different Michael.  It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was clear that something changed.  I guess the best way I can put it is anger.  I never saw that side to him before, but he expressed his anger clearly through that album.  The first single was Scream, it was supported with a multi-million dollar video and ad campaign.  At the time, it was a record-breaking budget for a video.  Scream went to number one on the Billboard top 100.  I was happy that even with all the allegations, he could still reach the top (at least then I knew I wasn’t the only one listening to him).  History produced a few more singles, but it was never quite the same.

Another long break before we got his next album in 2001, Invincible.  Another album filled with mix emotions.  Although the album made it to number one, none of the singles had the same sort of impact as once before.  The album did much better internationally.  Perhaps something that pulled away attention from the album were further accusations of child abuse.  This time Michael didn’t settle.  In 2004 Michael went to court, fought back and, in one of the most conservative districts in California, Michael was unanimously declared innocent on all accounts.  I was so happy for him!  At times I wish this is what he would have done back in 1992 instead of settling out of court.  After this I truly hoped for a refocus on music.  Sadly that never came to be.

After years of rumors regarding his financial stability and parenting skills, fans finally got some music related news in 2008.  Michael was going to put on a final tour called This is It.  I was incredibly disappointed that the shows were only taking place in London, but there were strong hints that he would bring the show to North America if it were a success.  I remember reading sites online and looking for YouTube videos of concert rehearsals.  The show was an instant sell out!  Fast forward to June 25, 2009, I’ll never forget that day.  I was working at an at&t kiosk in the Mall of America when someone came up and stated quite simply, “Did you hear?  Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital! They think he’s dead!”  I couldn’t believe it, my heart sank.  It was so unreal.  I remember driving home that night and I swear, each and every radio station seemed to be paying homage.

Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  That was certainly the case in regards to Michael.  The whole industry felt a sense of loss, a gaping hole that will never be filled.  I’m disappointed that I never got to see him live.  I also find it sad how 2001’s Invincible would be the last album that he would see completed.  Such a loss!  Looking back, its easy for me to say that he had a huge impact on me not only musically, but also in my character.  Michael was a fantastic role model for me and I only wish I got the chance to share that with him.  To let him know that at least I didn’t care about the rumors and gossip, I cared about the character and talent.  He made me fall in love with dance music, a passion that lives deep in me to this very day.  Many of today’s musicians label him as their inspiration, much like myself.  I only hope that I can do something in my lifetime that can give back to his legacy!


Sharing and Collaboration in the Digital Age

Blog Assignment: Transformed Media Landscape – How is media transforming?  We’ve had a number of conversations about the new collaborative nature of media, specifically about Clay Shirky talks on this idea as it relates to the notion of ‘cognitive surplus’.  After viewing both of the required videos for this unit,  pick one or two points from his presentations and write a blog on how you see yourself or society applying a more collaborative approach to media.

I hate to break it to the world, but I think we have run out of ideas.  Hold on, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Think about it, we’re well over fifty years into this modern, mass consumption culture.  I mean, how could this not happen?  Now, let’s get past all that.  Because once we do that we can then begin to learn from our past.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What Inspired?  What mistakes should we want avoid?  How would we do it differently if given the chance?

I think the future of media is collaboration.  Today its more about using one source of media to inspire something else.  Don’t know what I am talking about? Watch an episode of Family Guy. The show is primarily made up of references to the past, while it’s also uniquely its own creation.  Because I think, to be successful, this has to be something more than just simply making what’s old, new again.

I’m an avid EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fan and it’s in our culture to share a creation and have others remix it into something new and uniquely their own.  It’s actually why I fell in love with the genre.  I love how a big room anthem could be remixed into a lounge-y poolside song for the summer, or a tribal anthem for a pride event, or a tricked out dub step banger.  Great things can be gained from collaboration, while the memorable moments of the past should  be allowed to be future sources of inspiration.

CwF + RtB

Blog Assignment: Rise of the Mass – Read the forum post by Trent Reznor on the changing music industry as well as the article about making it as a New Artist. Write a blog on the article incorporating ideas presented in class: i.e. the transformed media landscape, methods of communication throughout history, etc.

Do you agree or disagree with Trent? Why? Why not?

I ran across this other blog that perfectly captures Trent Reznor’s whole CwF + RtB philosophy. I couldn’t agree more! The future isn’t about fighting your fans. The fight everyone should be focused on is our modern day short attention spans due to over saturation. The successes know how to become a brand, and that doesn’t mean selling out. A good brand should define exactly who you are!  It’s important to take control of your message; what your about, how you want to come across, and what you’re looking to accomplish, etc.  But remember, it’s not only getting people interested, its even more important (and difficult) keeping them interested!

If you have 15 mintues watch this presentation by Michael Masnick at this years MIDEM09.  This is a perfect example of how a brands (NIN) can connect with their market by developing channels that are relevant and engaging.  If only more companies took the time to truly understand their customer on this level.

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The Story of Logan Spencer

Blog Assignment: Project

Many of you have or have had mashup project in your one of your classes. Blog about this process. Share the processes you used, experiences you had, trials you’ve overcome, etc… Share with us your work in progress or a finished work if you have it.

Mixing & mashups are something I have been doing as a club DJ for years now.  What seems like forever ago, I had a dream to become a DJ/Producer.  I had no idea where to start, just that I knew I loved music and someday I wanted to control music for myself.  I think that’s the hardest part, at least it was for me; where exactly does someone start?  It was after a trip to San Diego, CA with my friends over Memorial Day weekend.  We went out to a club one night and I swear I didn’t leave that dance floor.  At the end of the night I waited to give my praise to the DJ.  When I thanked him for a job very well done he just looked at me and stated, “I saw you out there, you can feel music too… have you ever thought about DJing before?”  
When I got home all I could think about was what he told me.  I then realized that the only way I will ever realize my dream is by working for it.  I downloaded the trial version of Virtual DJ and just worked at it.  It was very, very hard at first.  You almost have to retrain the way you listen to music, breaking down the structure. I also had to learn about keys and harmonies, learning about what sounds good together… and what doesn’t.  
Once I got the basics down, I then focused on creating an online presence… primarily for support.  It’s not fun to be mixing just for yourself, I wanted to entertain others.  I joined PodOmatic and started sharing my mixes.  Eventually I grew a following, this following provided the support I needed to motivate me.  What was hard eventually became far easier allowing me to learn other skills.  
It all became professional when a local area club discovered my DJ facebook page.  They wanted me to become their resident Saturday night DJ.  I was floored!  Fast forward three years later and now I have played at countless clubs, I’m the resident DJ for both Fridays and Saturdays now, I have a following on both facebook and Podomatic… and I am realizing my dream of producing music by going to school at IPR in Minneapolis, MN.
Yes, it all starts somewhere… starting is the hardest part!  I included my most recent ‘House-101’ Podcast below.

Blog Assingment Number ONE

First blog: Write a blog about yourself. Who you are, where you’ve come from, and why you are here at IPR.

Hello, my Name is Brandon Butkowski.  I am a 28 year old male that currently lives in St. Paul, MN.  I grew up in St. Michael/Albertville then moved to Fargo, ND for college.  After a few semesters I decided to put school on hold and move back to MN.  Fast forward roughly eight years and I now find myself back in school, at IPR in Minneapolis, MN.  I often get asked, “Why IPR?”  The answer is simple, I LOVE music!

When I was originally going to school at NDSU in Fargo, ND I was pursuing a degree in marketing.  I never truly felt a love for it, in fact I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  I felt as if I was just going to go.  When I finally came to terms with that I realized what a waste of time, effort and money this was. 

I moved back to MN and chose to focus solely on full-time work until I had a better idea of what I wanted to do with my life.  About four years ago, around 2009, I started to DJ local clubs and bars in the area.  This pushed me further into music, but it was always hard to find the time needed to dedicate myself to music because of my full-time job at AT&T. 

When I lost my job in the summer of 2012 I knew that there was no better time than now to make music my life.  I enrolled into IPR’s audio recording and engineering program and began my journey in the fall of 2012.  Two quarters into the program and I couldn’t be happier.  Unlike NDSU, I have no hesitations or reservations about the path that I am on… I think I made a good choice!

And so it begins…

Today marks the beginning of quarter two over here at IPR.  I find myself mixed with emotions, happy to be back but sad break is already over (it went by far too fast).  Today I have one class, the Lab for my Computer & Web Fluency class.  We were instructed to begin a new blog for class.  So this is the product of that request.  I intend to use this blog primarily as a journal of my time here at IPR and my personal journey with music.  But that alone would be boring, so expect a healthy does of dry humor, sarcasm and personal opinion to fill in the gaps…  Let the journy begin!!