032 – Why did I start ANAK Creates?

I discussed what my brand ANAK Creates actually is, but now I want to share more about why I started it. Maybe this will inspire you if you are thinking about embarking on a new project or just want to share your knowledge about something you find interesting or have a talent in.

First, we have to go back a little bit to look at what I was doing, and the huge change in my life that happened that opened up the possibility and opportunity to be able to do this. I was working in Toronto at Noble Street Studios, where I worked my way up from an intern to hired as a full-time assistant after 6 months. After gaining the trust of many clients I started engineering more and more sessions. I was making myself essential to the experience people had at the studio, and I eventually became the studios head engineer for many clients.

Making this all happen was not easy, it was countless hours of work, many fun sessions but also many painful sessions. More late nights then I cared to count, and many lessons learned by getting thrown into many situations. I didn’t really have anyone to hold my hand and show me exactly what I needed to know, so instead I had to pave the way for the experience people had while working at the studio and working with me. Because of this, I got to work on many gold and platinum records, be apart of many Juno and Grammy nominated and winning projects, gaining invalueble knowledge and connections with the industries best.

Eventually, I decided to leave since I wasn’t getting the opportunities I wanted, and I felt it was time to go on my own path. The knowledge I had gained from working there was priceless, having worked with some of the biggest and best artists in the world, and having been able to work alongside the industry leading engineers and producers. I learned and got first hand experience of how major, chart toping records were made.

There is currently a massive shift in the music industry around how music is being made. It’s moving from major studios, with piles of analog gear, consoles, big rooms and major budgets, and heading towards people making music on their laptops in their basement or smaller rooms with smaller budgets and less gear. So many artists are trying to learn to create music themselves because technology now makes that possible. There is such a big number of people getting into music creation, but there are limited spots to work professionally, and even fewer opportunities to learn from the oldschool professionals who have been doing this for years and paved the way for everything. Those are the exact people I have worked along side and learned from, but at the same time I am young and relate to the creators that work from everywhere on their laptops.

I realized that I had a very unique set of knowledge that I could share with the world, to people who want to be able to do what I did working in a professional studio (and how to get there) and also being able to share the techniques of the professional industry with everyone starting out since I can break down the knowledge from the big studio environment to growing audience of laptop creators. Many professionals don’t share these things because they are too busy and it doesn’t benefit them very much, so they don’t see the point, but yet there is a growing number of creatives hungry for that knowlege. This is where I decided I had an opportunity to be a mentor to those who won’t have the same opportunities, since I am able to share this knowledge that is getting lost just as fast as the major big studios are closing. I want to not only share what I learned over the years but also adapt it so it’s accessible to everyone no matter where you are or what gear you have access to.

My free time from leaving the studio, combined with my addiction to filling my time with projects, gave life to the ANAK Creates project, which has now become a bigger idea then I could have imagined and is what I focus most of my time on.

I hope that through my teachings, I can help inspire people to make better music and be their happiest doing it. I believe that knowledge like this is best being shared, not hoarded, because it will just increase the quality of the industries output as a whole, which benefits everyone.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

 

031 – What is ANAK Creates?

For those of you who don’t really know what ANAK Creates is, let me explain the grand vision a bit further. It’s best if you know now because you’re just going to keep hearing about it constantly since it is one of the biggest focuses and a huge undertaking for me.

My overall plan for it is very large and ambitious, but I have not been more excited about something in a long time. It is always changing and I’m working on it constantly, so I’m sure there will be many articles about the things I learn through this whole process of starting my own business.

I guess first I should answer the first thing, WHAT IS ANAK?

ANAK is my initials for my full name. Alex N.A. Krotz (I’ll leave my middle names out of it, not really important). Now, why is it so important to me? Not because of what it means in different languages (apparently it means Child in one place, and is a great warrior in another culture) but because it is also my Dad’s initials. He has a different name, but we both share the same initials, and for my whole life, the ANAK name has been around. When I started my first recording studio it was ANAK Studio, and I had ANAK Productions and many other things. So that leads to this.

WHAT IS ANAK CREATES

ANAK Creates is my new brand, it’s a platform I’m creating to educate and inspire people in audio production, engineering, pro tools skills, the music industry, living a creative life, and professionalism in a creative career. Most of it is directed at people who are creative in the music and audio space, but it extends to anyone interested in a creative field.

I am starting a YouTube channel where I will have vlogs where people can get to know me since I believe the best education and inspiration comes with a personality. I will also be putting up audio production tutorials, including Pro Tools tips and tricks, audio mixing, engineering and production and much more.

I have also started the ANAK Creates Podcast where I discuss the audio industry, technology, professionalism, and living your best creative life. Currently, it’s a solo show, but I will have a few guests lined up to come on to the show in the future. I think this will appeal to more people than just people in the music industry. People who are interested in how music is made, how that industry works (since it is such a huge part of everyone’s daily lives) or anyone interested in a creative field will get some value from the show.

I also have a website I put all these things on, a blog there where I will make blog versions of my tutorials and podcasts and share different things that I feel people would find interesting or valuable.

I also have different services I do as a freelancer, such as my photography, my video production & video editing and Squarespace web design. I have a store as well, where currently people can buy prints or digital versions of my pictures, but I will have audio products like presets, samples, templates, and courses coming as well.

I am also creating some audio production courses, pro tools courses, and writing books within this space as well. Obviously, there are a lot of more long term things in here, but I am already working on plans for all of this.

It has been a really interesting adventure so far and continues to be while I am learning how to create all this content, market it, and how to gain followers and reach out to the people while maintaining my sanity. In a future entry, I’ll talk a bit more about my journey and why I wanted to start this whole brand and education platform.

Until then, always be creating.

Alex

030 – The response to my launch and what I learned

It has been just over a month now since I announced the launch of my website and the ANAK Creates podcast. I wanted to update you on how that went and what I learned from the whole experience.

Overall, I have been hearing such amazing feedback. Everyone that has reached out has only had positive things to say. I know there are things to improve on, but I feel that where I am already is such a great starting place.

What did I learn so far? My biggest take away from the launch (and what is now contributing to the next week of my life to dive deeper into this) is my lack of marketing and promotion. I launched on Monday, June 10th, and then from Wednesday, June 12th, I was on a plane. There was virtually no time for me to spend promoting it, and that was simply because of my own booking. The reason that timing had to happen, was that I wanted to get the podcast launched in time to be able to talk about it to the students at OIART when I did my lecture and have it available for them to go check out. I also set that date because I had a specific reason (the lecture) to release it. With launching something new, it’s never the perfect time, so sometimes you just have to jump and go for it!

This week I am working on crafting ads to try and help promote it in the hands of people I would otherwise have no other access to. I am also working over the next month of putting it into groups on Facebook or other places, not just to promote it, but in hopes that my current and future content can help people. That is ultimately my goal, it just makes it easier for me to do so when more people listen. Learning to create ads will be interesting, having different versions to see what translates to more clicks and what doesn’t. I can’t wait to share my findings and how I went about fine-tuning things to optimize my promotions.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

029 – I’m back! Where’d I go?

I know this is my second post since being “back”, but I did want to just write a little update about what I’ve been doing. First I want to say that part of this blog is to inspire people, but part of it is also to keep a record of my life and what I’ve been up to that I can look back on in the future.

So where’d I go?

On Monday, June 10th, I launched my podcast. 2 days later I got on a plane and flew to Toronto, Ontario. I spent time in Stratford (which is where I am from) visiting family and friends. 

Friday, June 14th, I went to OIART (Ontario Institue of Audio Recording Technology) which is the the post-secondary school I attended. I gave a lecture with my friend and production partner Al, about audio editing techniques, recording studio etiquette & professionalism, and showing some mixing and audio engineering techniques we use. It was also an opportune time to promote my podcast and upcoming education channels to the students since I believe there is so much great information for them.

Following the lecture, I went to visit my friend Travis from the band Travesty. We got to relax in his hot tub, chat about upcoming projects and hit a local bar for dinner. I then drove to the cottage, where I proceeded to spend the next 2 nights. Mostly my time was spent editing video projects for a company in Germany, but I did manage to get some reading and swimming in. There are currently some more renovations happening at the cottage, and we put in a new beautiful retaining wall along the side of the cottage over the time I was there. By the end of the summer, we should have a nice new deck along the whole front of the cottage as well, so I’m excited about that.

I spent a few days back in Stratford where I saw friends, got to see Ryan’s new studio he’s building that should be functioning by early September. I already have a project booked in there mid-September, so I am very excited!

On June 19th I went to Toronto to engineer a big project for 10 days at the studio where I used to work. I will tell you about it in the near future when I am allowed to announce it. I then went straight back to the cottage for a few nights where I was doing some audio editing, and then I went to London from there for a meeting about some curriculum development and courses I am working on building for ANAK Creates in association with my friend who works at Western University. Fun fact, when I got home, I had a package which was the physical print of the 3rd book that I was apart of with him! (I’ll be talking more about that soon as well).

Then, on July 3rd, I got on a flight back to Vancouver, where I am now, unpacking and organizing everything from the trip, and getting prepared for what’s coming up soon!

I could not be more excited about what I have on the horizon. I can’t wait to show you, but also to walk you through the development as I learn how to do what I’m doing.

Glad to be back, that’s it for now. Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

028 – My Birthday and breaking my 500-day goal

As I wrote in article 020, I was on track to cross my 500-day goal for streak on my Apple Watch rings. Well, since then I achieved it, bypassed it, and stayed true to my word by slowly starting to increase my goal to eventually break that streak. In the end, the streak was 525 days.

I let it get broken on probably the most appropriate day possible, and that was on my birthday. Why is it the most appropriate day? The way I see it, a birthday is a day for starting new things by re-evaluating your last year and creating new goals for the next year of your life. So I feel like moving on from the obsession with this streak was a great thing to do to start out my next year spinning around the sun.

Also, yes, it was my birthday! I spent my birthday working all day, with a client, in Toronto. This is slightly entertaining to me because I have spent so many birthdays in the past sitting in the studio, but even after I left my old position and went freelance, I still found myself sitting in that same room on my birthday. Some things never change.

Over time I think birthdays become less and less of a big date that people celebrate. To be honest, this year felt that way much more than previous years. However, I feel like the significance of a birthday within my own head is increasing in importance, since it signifies another year of goals and a great time to start new ambitions and projects.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic birthday celebration. It was low key, one of my closest friends took me out for dinner to some hidden away exclusive restaurant where we had to be on the waiting list for hours. The food and drinks were amazing, and some of the best fried chicken I have ever had, along with many other incredible dishes (we tried over half the menu).

I will forever be grateful for that birthday celebration, and although it wasn’t anything extravagant like most people tend to think about with birthday celebrations, it was perfect, impactful, and will forever remain in my memory, and that’s what counts for me.

That’s it for now. Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

027 – Heading to Ontario

I wrote this yesterday on a plane. So when I say “today” I mean yesterday.
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Today, I am heading home to Ontario for a 3 week-long trip. This is the first time I have gone back to Ontario since moving to British Columbia just over 8 months ago.

I love it in Vancouver, it’s such a beautiful city, and I have been really loving the culture and the environment in BC as well, but that’s not to say I don’t miss Ontario and my hometown.

What I miss about Ontario

There is definitely some nostalgia feelings since it was my home growing up. The place that I know the best and where most of my friends are. Overall I miss my family & friends, and my family cottage the most. The cottage is one of my favourite places to go, to think, to relax, and also to work! It is not surrounded by beautiful mountains like out here in BC, it’s just on a small little lake with a forest around it, but it represents my childhood and the place I would always go to relax. I plan on going there for a couple of days while I’m home to do some writing and lots of work. There is no internet up there, so it is harder to research, however, this proves helpful for staying focused without constant distractions.

Why I’m Heading Home

There are a couple of reasons I’m heading to Ontario. First, I have some things I need to renew and sort out back in Ontario since I will be there much more frequently in the following months. Second, I am engineering a recording session at the studio in Toronto for 9 days. Third, I am doing a lecture at my old school OIART alongside my production partner Al.

There are many more things like seeing friends, working on a new curriculum for a course I am putting together, work on upcoming YouTube content, podcast content, and some other bands I have meetings with to potentially work on their records. I have tried to bundle as many things into my schedule as possible in this short 3-week trip.

I am very excited to be heading home again and seeing my parents and friends, get some work done, and have a little change of pace. I know I’ll miss beautiful BC, but I have lots planned for when I get back, so I am excited to return. You’ll hear about that as it comes up.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

026 – The Big ANAK Creates Launch!

Today, June 10th, I am extremely excited to finally announce the launch of the ANAK Creates website AND the official launch of the ANAK Creates Podcast!

Today is a very busy day with launching, sending emails, doing promotion, and getting it all online, so writing this I haven’t really been able to see much response yet since I’m in the middle of making it public, but the bit that I have seen has been very positive!

It’s an incredible feeling to be able to finally launch this, putting all this hard work out into the open. It’s been months in the making to get to the point that I am confident enough in my work, both the things I have already done as well as what is coming in the future. I had to feel prepared enough in myself to be able to maintain the things I’m launching while also being able to continue to work on new things. I am a workaholic, but we all have limits!

With the launch of the website, my plans for the future are also out in the open now, like how I will soon be launching tutorials on my YouTube channel, continuing the vlogs, and that I will also be launching courses on audio editing/engineering/mixing, and that I have a weekly podcast that everyone can listen to and share.I feel so great announcing to the world what I have been working on and having that personal pressure of people expecting things to make me accountable.

I have so many more things that I’m working on behind the scenes as well which aren’t even part of the initial launch, and I can’t wait to be able to share all of those as well. It’s such a drive and inspiration to be able to finally get things off the ground running.

I want to thank everyone for their support with this endeavour in my life, I couldn’t be happier and I really hope it inspires and helps people in their individual creative journeys.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

025 – Apple WWDC Mac Pro Announcement and thoughts

Just the other day was WWDC. The World Wide Developers Conference is a yearly conference Apple puts on for developers and generally signifies announcements relating to operating systems and software. Sometimes it does include hardware, and when it does it tends to be something more along the lines of the professional devices or their more niche products, so not the iPhone releases.

I was into coding a few years ago, and they always had announcements on at this about their coding language that I was learning, so I always had the dream of going for that. It’s quite difficult to get a ticket and be there, but I would still love to go. If you don’t know, most of my tech is Apple, so hence my extreme excitement for this every year.
This year, Apple announced the yearly updates to the line of operating systems (MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, etc) but they also announced some hardware that is EXTREMELY exciting for us creative professionals. We have been waiting for for years for this product that Apple actually issued an apology for their last design version, because they messed it up so bad and had designed themselves into a corner, so they had to do some drastic re-design.

That product is the Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro is Apple’s high-end professional desktop computer that is geared toward the video, audio and developer clientele. The power in these machines has always been incredible and they (normally) have many more connections on the back for different accessories that professionals use, such as added processors, monitors, external hard drives and other gear. This is very different from most people’s simple word documents, emails and Netflix watching.

With the previous version of the Mac Pro (2015), they made some big mistakes and designed themselves into a thermal corner, alongside taking away the modular design away so very little could be upgraded or added. This is a huge issue for professionals who spend so much money and time on a machine. They even issued an apology and statement that they were working on a new version that would be modular again. That is the model that was finally announced this past week.

For a while, Apple was getting a lot of hate from the high-end professional community, the exact group of customers who had helped make the Mac what it is today. This community has been feeling like Apple had forgotten about them, and it seemed like Apple was putting all their time and attention into the iPhone and major selling products to make money while forgetting about their true supporters.

Luckily they have fixed this, and without getting too technical, this new Mac Pro is decked out in tech specs! The price is quite high (no, I won’t be buying one anytime soon) but the performance and design are back to what we expect from Apple. It does fit right into the very high-end professional market that has been wanting an update for some time now, and we are all very excited about seeing the company acknowledging this market again after many years of “silence”.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

024 – Deciding on the ANAK Creates Launch

I am working on something amazing for ANAK Creates. I am beyond excited, and almost ready to launch, at which point I will talk even more about what is going on and behind the scenes.
For those of you who have been following, on May 31st, I did the soft launch of the ANAK Creates website. This means that I launched it and made a few posts about it but it’s still pretty low key. The website contains a landing page with a sign-up for my newsletter, and when you sign up for the newsletter you will be presented with a link to see a preview of what is coming. This preview is the first episode of the ANAK Creates Podcast! I have not announced officially that I am making a podcast, so this simply serves as a little preview for those dedicated to supporting me early on.
On June 10th, I will be releasing the full website, as well as officially announcing the podcast! Upon release, the podcast will have 3 full episodes so people can subscribe and get into the content and what’s to come. Moving forward it will be one episode a week. People who are subscribed to my newsletter will also be emailed about the release, and this contains a list of the first 6 podcast episode names, so potential subscribers can get excited about what’s on the horizon!

I am so excited to finally release and talk about everything, I feel like I’ve been working on this forever and now I can share it to help and inspire people. It feels so good to have already gotten the support and interest I have gotten, and I really think that people are going to enjoy the value I have to offer.
I find the best motivator to completing something is to pick a date and tell some people, even close family and friends. This helps you stop pushing things off and makes you feel like you have to get things done. I decided on this date for my launch because it was almost a month away when I decided, giving me enough time to finalize the things with the podcast, the newsletter and the website, while still giving me enough time that I knew I could pull it off. The date is also a few days before a lecture I am giving at my old school where I would love to promote it and give students something to listen to and learn from since I feel the content will be a perfect resource for them.

I also have enough time around the release to deal with any problems, maintaining momentum and promotion before being bogged down by other projects that are planned.

Check out the website if you’d like, anakcreates.ca and see what is up!

Also, who would listen to a separate podcast of me talking about random things to do with this and other stuff with friends, that’s not all music related? I think that would be so fun. Anyway…

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex

023 – Vancouver Adventure – Being a tourist in your own town

My friend just left today after his week-long visit here to Vancouver. This was the first visit from a friend in Vancouver since I moved just over 8 months ago. By no means am I an expert at this city, but it was really fun to be able to show someone around, bringing them to my favourite places, point out the locations I frequent, favourite coffee shop to work from, and the views I get to see every day. It’s the small things about getting to introduce someone to the new life you’ve built.

Another fun part of having someone visit is getting out of your normal bubble to try new things or check out new places that you haven’t yet. Wherever it is that you live, you tend to think about things different then if you were visiting, even if it is for an extended period of time. You are constantly thinking that you will be able to check out different parts of the city anytime you want, which means you almost never go actually check them out!

When you have someone visiting and they want to see the touristy parts, it means you also get to experience them for yourself! It is much more fun with a guest anyway.
Alright, let’s recap some fun things we did!
BBQ

One evening we hosted a BBQ with around 10 people in attendance. This was the first time we had hosted an event like this! We have a BBQ in our front yard that we had never used, so we decided to finally try it out. It also was a big factor that my friend was here and knew how/liked to BBQ, which is not my forté.

MOBI Shaw Bike Share

Ever since I moved here, I have seen these MOBI bike shares around town, but have never signed up and given them a go! That changed while we were walking one day and wanted to speed up the walk, so we signed up and took them out. We proceeded to bike almost 40km in 2 days with these, all over town, and even using them around Stanley Park. Lifehack: Much cheaper than a rental bike. The network of those bikes is incredible and so helpful to have available. If you live in Vancouver and don’t have a bike (even if you do) this is such a handy thing to have!
Stanley Park Second Beach

We went swimming! It’s finally getting warm enough to make that enjoyable. My friend tried to swim in the ocean every day he was here that we went near the ocean. Until now, I had not gone swimming once yet since I moved here! To be fair, I moved in the fall and winter is not prime swimming weather. I finally went in this week, and after the initial chill of getting in, it felt very refreshing. The rest of the swim was a game of dodging the really cold patches of water and finding the warm patches.

Bloedel Conservatory

We took an adventure to the Bloedel Conservatory, which is a domed tropical paradise in Queen Elizabeth Park full of exotic birds. They give you a sheet of paper with the different kinds of birds and you had to check them off as you spot them, it’s quite a fun little game. It was very fun and I highly recommend people go check it out.

Through the rest of the trip, we managed to check out Granville Island, and some different food places, have another BBQ with friends near Kitsilano beach, where we also managed to catch multiple sunsets over the week. It was such a fun visit, and I am so glad we could make it work. In another 2 weeks, I will be seeing him in Toronto when I’m back there! More about that soon.

Until next time, always be creating.

Alex