“Andrew shares his journey as a guitarist/singer, covering Dave Matthews, as well as e-commerce tips.”
Leigh Lim: Thanks for agreeing to share a bit about yourself Andrew. Looking at the videos on YouTube does give a bit of insight (you have a number of interests and passions). Do you think you are the sort of person who leans toward multiple things, and just doing ‘one thing’ wouldn’t work that well for you?
Andrew Angell: I definitely have lots of interests / hobbies, so I guess I would say that, yeah, I like to have lots of stuff going on. Too much of any one thing tends to burn me out. “Resting” from one thing involves doing another in most cases.
LL: Can you give me a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with your guitar playing?
AA: My learning flow was a little different than what I think most do. I learned how to read tablature and then just tried to pick up songs.
I didn’t really understand chords, though, and seeing them on tabs confused me. As such, I started with anything that sounded like one single note at a time. For example, the intro lick to Collective Soul, December, was one of the first things I ever learned to play. Actually sort of a complicated lick, but it just sounded easier to me since it was one note at a time.
I really never have gotten into scales or actual music theory much at all. I’ve always just played stuff I like.
LL: With tabs, did you study the available material for DMB songs?
AA: I studied original tabs pretty closely, but the thing about Dave Matthews Band (and Dave in particular) is that the songs are played and sung in lots of different ways. They really evolve over the years and different versions of the same songs can vary quite drastically sometimes.
What I wind up doing with my covers is looking at the tabs to learn how it’s actually played, and then my version usually tends to be some sort of a mixture of all the different versions I’ve heard them play over the years. Each time I perform one of those songs, too, it comes out different. Melody is sometimes different, guitar parts are sometimes slightly different. Just sort of depends on the current mood I guess.
LL: Do you find that once you learn a song, you had it committed to memory? Or did you have to have a guide (either tabs or notes), when you play a song again?
AA: Once it’s learned it’s in there, but if you don’t play something for awhile it can be tough to remember. If that happens I can grab the tab or watch a quick video to refresh my memory and pick it up again pretty quickly.
LL: How has your voice evolved through the years?
AA: Ever since I was little I always enjoyed singing along with music. Never have done any actual vocal lessons or anything like that, but I’ve just done a lot of singing in general over the years.
It often takes me awhile to “find” a song vocally. There are some things I can hit pretty easily, but other things I’m way off key with my voice until I keep working at it to find it. Often that’s a matter of singing from the gut and belting out the notes instead of trying to do it in my throat. The general practice I’ve had with that over the years has allowed me to pick songs up more quickly, but it still happens quite a bit where I learn a new song and have to practice the vocals quite a bit.
I don’t know guitar and music theory well enough to move the guitar part into a key that fits my voice better, so I just have to work with my voice to get it to work with whatever key the original tabs are giving me.
I’ve been told that I’m sometimes singing the harmony, and I think that’s why. It “fits” so it allows me to perform the song, but some people seem to love that and some seem to hate it.
LL: With your recording equipment, what are the current specs you use?
AA: Many of my earlier videos were done with the built in MacBook mic. It was an old MacBook and had a decent mic in it. Then I got a new MacBook at one point and the mics ever since have sucked.
That’s when I went out and bought an Audiobox USB input and a Shure vocal mic. Now I plug my guitar and mic into that, and I use GarageBand on the MacBook. Pretty basic stuff.
I often fight with the settings, and you’ll notice some of my videos have nice, full audio, and others simply don’t. I’ve never been able to find and stick to a solid setting, and I’ve never taken the time to really learn how to produce the audio.
LL: Which vocal mic is it? Did you go with it based on a recommendation or did you just shop around and decide?
AA: The vocal mic is just a basic Shure mic that the guy at the music shop recommended.
LL: Is it the SM58? (I checked out your videos and that would be my approximation from a distance)
AA: It’s Shure BETA 58A
LL: Do you mix the audio for your videos?
AA: I do “mix” but just barely. I play with the channels a little bit to try and make it sound good, but I actually struggle with that anyway because I have Tinnitus and that tends to interfere sometimes when listening to regular speakers. I’ve been meaning to go get a real nice set of headphones, but I just never have.
LL: What’s part of your guitar arsenal at the moment?
AA: Currently I have a Taylor 910ce and a Taylor 914ce Dave Matthews Signature Model.
I use D’Addario XPP17 Medium strings. I like a medium thickness pick with some grip on it.
LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the gear that you like?
AA: I pretty much learned how to play guitar by learning Dave Matthews Band tabs and playing those songs. I wanted the same sound, so that’s what I went with, and I’ve loved it all along for all types of music.
I’ve played Martins and some other nice acoustics, but the Taylor’s really do it for me.
LL: What are the key things people should know before signing up to Paypal? (or deciding if they should keep their Paypal account or go with another payment processing platform)
AA: Educate yourself about seller protection, disputes/chargebacks before you start selling a bunch of stuff.
I def. recommend including PayPal as an option on your website (or wherever you’re taking payments) because conversion rates have been proven to raise drastically when you do so. There are lots of other things I could say about that, but it would go on forever. heh.
LL: conversion rates? In terms of benefitting the seller rather than Paypal?
AA: Conversion rates as in completed checkouts on a site instead of an abandoned shopping cart. eCommerce sites always have lots of abandoned carts, but adding PayPal can greatly reduce that, so it’s good for the seller, but also good for PayPal because they make their money on the fees, and good for the buyer because it’s more secure and quicker for them to checkout.
LL: Is there anything that frustrates you about Paypal?
AA: Frustrations with PayPal (or any merchant account provider) come from ignorance. If you educate yourself about the standard procedures to follow when selling online you will avoid frustration.
So, I have been frustrated with PayPal, yes. That was in 2000 when I sold my very first thing and it turned out to be a stolen credit card so I lost the money and had already shipped the product. Then I learned that it wasn’t PayPal’s fault, I educated myself on how to avoid it in the future, and I’ve been happy ever since.
LL: Buyers seem to have little knowledge on what goes on when a seller unknowingly processes a stolen credit card. Does that mean that the seller actually shoulders the financial burden?
AA: Sellers do shoulder financial burden if they don’t follow standard procedures for selling online. For example, if you sell something for $1k to somebody with a billing address in Ohio, but then you ship the item to an address in New Jersey, and that transaction winds up being on a stolen credit card, you’re not going to have any luck when the credit card company comes asking for that money.
If you ship to the billing address the odds of fraud happening are much lower, and then credit card companies will at least make people return merchandise before honoring a dispute/chargeback.
LL: This is when business insurance would probably come in handy?
AA: Yes, but too many people don’t have that sort of thing.
LL: What would be your advice to sellers who want to avoid the headache you experienced in 2000? Does it come down to purchasing additional software?
AA: No extra software. Just a matter of ensuring you follow standard procedures like ensuring the AVS (address verification system) comes back as a match, the security code matches, ship with signature required on items $200 or more, pay attention to feedback buyer history (on platforms like eBay), etc.
LL: Do you think there would be another site that could overtake Ebay’s popularity?
AA: For an auction platform it’s going to be tough to compete with eBay. They’re a big boy now, and they can squash competition if they need/want to. There are def. market places that can compete, though. Amazon being the biggest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more in the future.
LL: angelleye.com does have a clean feel to it, not overloaded with banners. Was this a conscious choice? Or did the site go though different versions until you found out what worked?
AA: Yes, [there was a conscious] choice to keep the site relatively clean. Really, these days it’s pretty simple to setup a WordPress site and find a nice theme that makes that pretty easy for you.
LL: Did you create the logo of the site as well?
AA: I had a designer make the logo years ago.
LL: What advice would you give to artists who are overwhelmed with number of options (hosting, site layout, tools) to get their website up and running?
AA: Advice for people needing a site would be to go with HostGator for the hosting and setup WordPress with WooCommerce and responsive design theme. I typically sell such packages to people for $1k.
LL: Seems like the more simplistic approach to take payment is to just have a link to paypal on your site. Rather than go for a credit card processing facility?
AA: I like to have direct credit card options as well as the PayPal Express Checkout option on my sites to increase conversion rates as much as possible.
LL: What are your favorite sites at the moment?
AA: My “smart favorites” in Chrome currently include YouTube, StackOverflow, PayPal’s Developer Site, Experts Exchange, Facebook, and ChiefsPlanet
LL: Are there websites that you like to visit just because you like the design?
AA: Not really, no. I visit sites for content.
LL: Website that you would go to when you need to be cheered up?
AA: I’m pretty lucky in that I really don’t often need any cheering up. I tend to live a pretty simple, happy life. If I ever need a laugh, though, jumping on YouTube and browsing around can certainly do it.
LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists? Specific people you wouldn’t mind reaching out and getting in touch with you?
AA: Sure, I’d be open to collaboration if anybody wanted to give something a try.
LL: I’d like to link to one of your videos. Which one would you say is either your favorite, or the one you’d regularly send if you were asked for a video?
AA: My most popular video is [Tool 46 and 2 Forty Six and Two Acoustic Solo Cover] so we might as well go with that one.
* Andrew Angell is a guitarist and consulting web developer based in Kansas City, MO. You can find his videos here and can reach him through the form directly below. If you’d like to learn more about payment processing on the web, Andrew was previously interviewed by Nerd Enterprises — you can view the interview here.
Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (May 2014) between Andrew and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee before being posted.
Leigh Lim is a musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)
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