New Gear Warning – Akai Professional MPC Live

It happened again…

Here at GBM Music we love to create background music as varied and interesting as possible, and to keep doing so on a consistent basis means we have to keep adding to our arsenal of music creation gear that we can call on.

At least that’s what we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about shelling out on some exciting new gear that we could probably survive without.

The truth is that there’s nothing more inspiring than discovering a new piece of equipment, and new ways to work and create music. Especially if things ever feel a little stale.

We’ve opted to purchase this new piece of gear from Akai as it offers a whole new workflow – combining the best of standalone work with the best of computer-based work.

The Sampler can be used in a completely standalone state and includes a hefty battery. While the cliche of playing and composing on the bus or in the park is even less applicable to this unit than usual, there’s no doubt that being able to leave the studio or the computer and crash on the sofa or bed with a device can be really great.

Equally, being able to throw an entire project in your bag and take it to a different studio or a collaborator is very appealing.

With a massive memory, and what looks like a buttery smooth touch screen interface to boot, the MPC Live is causing a lot of interest for music geeks, and MPC fans.

At £800, this is no small investment, but a device that’s being effectively marketed as a DAW in a box is potentially worth that level of investment, if it’s going to result in an improved workflow that results in more musical output.

We were tempted to hold out for the Elektron Digitakt, which looks like great fun, and perhaps even looks a little more adept at sample mangling, but the sheer workhorse nature of the MPC Live, and the smooth integration of the workflow from head, to MPC Live, to computer, made this device irresistible.

We’ll be sure to let you know how we get on with the new device once it’s arrived, and we’ve had a chance to test it out. But what do you think – did we make the right choice?

GBM Music instrument photo shoot


We’ve got something a little different for you in the blog today. Last night, I was let loose in the studio with my new camera, and decided to try and get a few different snaps of some of our favourite pieces of equipment, which we use to create the background music that GBM Music sells.

Here are some of our favourite snaps from the shoot – let us know what you think of them! You can find more info on many of these synths in our blog about favourite gear.

Korg Monotribe

The Monotribe is a real beast, and it looks as good as it sounds, when its MS20 filter is screaming.












Arturia Microbrute

We mainly use this brutish synth to add crunchy basslines, and we love its chunky knobs and dials!

Microbrute GBM Music










Korg Electribe

We also love this guy, complete with useless but cool LEDS on the bottom, and a great little touchpad for adding effects to your instrumental tracks.












Teenage Engineering OP-1

It’s hard to take a bad picture of this stylish all-in-one synthesiser from Sweden. It just looks great!

Teenage Engineering OP-1 GBM











Novation Circuit

One of our favourite new pieces of hardware, this colourful synth simply keeps getting better and better.dscf0202













How music can make your podcast pop!

Podcasts once seemed destined to take over the world, and were the new big gimmick a few years ago. Since then, the format has carved out its own niche, and they remain a much-loved form of content, which listeners from across the world love.

These downloadable audio broadcasts tend to be informal, immersive and engaging, and provide a unique experience for the listener, beckoning them into a new world, or a deeper conversation than typically found in the media.

While informal chats like the Adam Buxton Show are always entertaining and can often be insightful, other popular shows like Radiolab and Serial take on a more structured approach, telling engaging stories, and using sound to enhance the show.

The one thing that the shows all have in common is the use of music to create an engaging experience, and truly immerse the listener in the story.

Starting a podcast and why background music matters

If you’re considering starting your own podcast – whether it’s as a hobby or for your business – you need to think carefully about your choice of background music.

It’s important that you avoid breaching any copyright laws, and have the full rights to use any music you use in your podcast. Popular music is often prohibitively expensive, however, which is why so many amateur podcasts and vlogs sound cheap and unprofessional – simply put, they’re using cheap and unprofessional music.

The music you use will define the tone and atmosphere of your entire broadcast, so this shouldn’t be something you take lightly.

The music will also serve as punctuation for your podcast, breaking up the segments, providing structure and creating user familiarity.

There are a lot of podcasts out there, and if you want yours to stand out, then you need to choose original music, that fits your style perfectly.

Simply rehashing cheap, or royalty free background music that’s ubiquitous across the internet will quickly turn listeners off, as it instantly screams out amateur.

You want to be creating a polished, professional podcast with its own identity, so don’t try and take a shortcut when it comes to the music you include.

Here are a few things to think about when choosing background music for your podcast:

  • Familiarity – Ideally, the music you use will be instantly identifiable with your podcast. To do this, it’s likely you’ll need an original composition.
  • Style – It’s no good having a jaunty clip of music leading into a heavy topic. Think about the atmosphere you want to create, and paint a soundscape for your listener.
  • What do others use? – Find some podcasts you love, and listen to how they use music and sound to achieve great effects.
  • Price – While you’re unlikely to be able to license music from pop’s biggest names, try calling in a favour from a musical friend, or look for up and coming artists who want to share their work with a wider audience. If you pay for some music, do your research, and don’t get ripped off.
  • Versions – If you do pay for an original composition, make sure you get a few different mixes of it – for example one without lyrics, one without drums and one with extra drum breaks. This way you can really make the most of your investment, and use your piece of music as the bedrock to your audio, without it sounding repetetive.

Does music really help you read better?

If you like to read, chances are you’ll have often wondered about the effects that listening to music has on your reading.

Whether you are staunchly for or against this type of multi-tasking – this is a debate that everyone has an opinion on.

While some insist that reading is an almost sacred activity, which should be conducted in silence to allow you to fully enter the story, and absorb all of the author’s intentions, many others insist that music can greatly enhance the music making experience and make it all the more immersing.

What the science says

As you can see on Mind the Science Gap, a University of Wales study actually found that music served as a distraction when attempting to recall a series of items. The issue here, however, is that reading is not a dry, logical process, and this study does not really seem to address that side of the debate.

The study was backed up by another, however, which seemed to imply that whether background music was beneficial or not varied heavily from person to person.

The website also cites another study, which suggests that the lyrics may well be the issue, and that instrumental background music has been shown to improve performance.

Elsewhere, this Independent article also suggests that lyric-free music is the way to go.

Across the internet, from our own research, and from personal experience, the consensus seems to be that, if you want to improve your concentration, you should ditch your pop hits and find something with a repetitive beat and a warm electronic feel.

But who’s right?

While there’s no shortage of opinions on this matter, and there’s science to support both arguments, in truth it simply comes down to each individual’s preference.

The people who write-off music as a distraction, may be talking from their own experience, but I, and countless others could argue that it sounds like they’ve never experienced the groove that a good song can help you get into while reading.

Even while working, listening to good music can help you enter a state of flow, which is incredibly productive, and I know that whenever I’m writing or studying – a good soundtrack is an essential ingredient, and really helps to keep the momentum high.

It’s also especially useful if you’re doing a boring task – as it simply gives you a little treat to enjoy, while you get busy. Of course, you have to be able to immerse yourself in the task, however, and not get distracted flicking through your favourite songs.

If you are going to listen to music aim to keep it at a low volume, and choose some songs that are lyric three. Conveniently, if you’re looking for some good background music, which will really help you focus, we have plenty of choice for you here at GBM Music! These tracks have been designed to boost concentration, and really enhance your reading experience, without distracting you from the task at hand.