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I got to talk about creating music at a tech summit in Prague

Great things can happen when you make connections

picture of man talking behind podium
Talking at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

I was asked to give a talk about how I create music. And the strangest part... it was at a tech summit. Not only that, it was in Prague, Czechia

I know on this site I draw comics about my life but truthfully my main creative outlet is music. I've been writing and recording music for many years.

My band is called Lorenzo's Music and we're an experimental rock band

Over the years we've made music used in video games, independent films, and soundtracks to tons of vlogs.

In 2018, my band switched to only using open-source software to make music. 

We switched to using Ubuntu Studio (a Linux-based operating system instead of Windows) and Ardour for recording the band.

We were even featured on Forbes for doing this - Article: Why One Band Chose Linux To Record Their New Album

picture of man talking to group
Talking at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

Doing a podcast is a great way to connect with people

Since I started my art podcast, I got to meet many great artists that I would never have met otherwise.

Then I had an idea. 

What if I asked the people that made the open-source software I use to come on the podcast and talk about what they do!

Because of that, I got to meet Eric Eickmeyer who leads the Ubuntu Studio project. I got to learn more about Ubuntu Studio and he heard about what the band was doing with it.

picture of man talking to a group of people sitting at tables
Talking at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

The power of creative connections

When I began the art podcast, one of the tips I got from artists is they found opportunities by networking and making connections with people. And I'll say this -- they were right.

When the company that Erich works for was putting together the Ubuntu Summit in Prague they asked if there were any musicians they should know about that use their operating system. 

Erich said I was the first person he thought of and messaged me on Facebook right away!

picture of four men sitting behind conference table
Tom Ray and Lorenzo's Music workshop at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

Saying yes to an opportunity 

My first thought was... I can't go to Prague? That's crazy!

But really, what was stopping me? How could I pass this up?

So I said yes.

The problem was I'd never really done a talk before and self-doubt set in... Hard. 

Who do I think I am? No one wants to hear what I have to say.

But I had to tell myself, they wouldn't have asked me if they didn't want to hear about it. I had to power through.

(Related link: Check out this behind-the-scenes post with the band in Prague on our website)

picture of people in a conference room
Talking at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

Planning and writing. How I wrote my talk.

1. So I started writing bullet points about what I wanted to cover in my talk.

2. Then I opened up Google docs on my phone and turned on the voice-to-text option.

3. Then I looked at the first bullet point I wrote and started talking about it into my phone to transcribe what I said.

I did this as a stream of thought. I just said what came to mind because I could edit this in the Google doc later.

4. Then I would move on to the next bullet point I had and continue the process.

When I was done I had a bunch of pages in my Google doc.

5. Now I could go through the document and edit the text of what I said to sound more intelligible.

But the main thing was that I wasn't looking at an empty page anymore. Cut a sentence here and there and move sections around that work better together.

It all started coming together.

Four men sitting at a table next to a projection screen
Tom Ray and Lorenzo's Music workshop at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

Practice, practice, practice

Now that I had the talk all written I wanted to make sure I sounded natural when I did it. I didn't want to just read it on the page.

So I went over what I wrote, many, many times.

I would have the Google doc open on my phone and read it out loud.

At first, I would try to see how far I could get before needing to look and see what was next.

I would do this while I was driving or while I was doing things around the house.

After about a week, I was able to riff on it pretty much by heart.

You can actually watch my talk on the Ubuntu YouTube channel - Using Ubuntu Studio, Ardour, and GitHub for music collaboration

picture of man singing behind keyboard
Tom Ray and Lorenzo's Music performing at the Ubuntu Summit in Prague (📷 photo by Stanislav Milata)

My band had to practice too

On top of my talk about creating music, they also asked my band Lorenzo's Music to come to the summit to play at the wrap-up party.

So while I was working on my talk my band also practiced our set many times for the show.

And much like what the people on my art podcast told me. I got this opportunity by going out and making connections.


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