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Collaborate or Independent and Why??


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33 minutes ago, tunesmithth said:

The term for some people equates to "not spending time alone". For that type of individual, working alone on a project falls into that same category. Wouldn't you think?

 

Agreed, online chatter etc can be social. My point was that in my experience, online collaboration doesn't involve a lot of time 'together'... it's more like...here's my update....wait for mail.... oh another idea, cool.... send another update...etc etc etc. Not complaining but it's not really 'hanging out'. There are moments when it can be...

 

36 minutes ago, tunesmithth said:

No, but I'd be willing to bet that's why David helped Jenn

 

Yeah and I've helped Jenn and others. I just don't really think of 'helping' as collaborating especially. David did something similar for me when I first joined (on the bridge on 'River Ghosts') and technically I considered it a collaboration.... (and I was hugely grateful)... but we're stretching the term 'collaboration' for the purposes of this conversation and my point was that whilst I do enjoy helping people, I don't consider me really 'collaborating' in those cases... and when I want to collaborate it's to be creative rather than helpful. 

 

Anyhow, not meaning to begin a fuss about all that... but I think my short reply was taken slightly wrongly... I needed to elaborate to reply to you at least.

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I sometimes follow my inner voice when it comes to helping others. I mean, I'm fully capable to make music on my own, but I also think there's something to be said for working with others. I think we are all here to work in some kind of group. I don't necessarily feel I need that from a musical perspective to feel complete, but I think it can add something and it's good to have a different perspective.

 

Sometimes I'll see someone with a track that they could use help with and I'll be tempted to help. I only have so much time though. In reality I can only do so much. Online collaboration DOES take a lot of time. If I see a person who needs help with a one time kind of thing, I don't mind doing the one time kind of thing, like adding a part and then I'm out of it.  I can't take any more on right now where I'm constantly going back and forth. The ones who I'm working with I'm committed to that as much as it's possible.I do well to only have one or two things like that going on since I'm also involved musically in other things/areas.

 

The pros of working alone are 

- Fast turnover of ideas from start to finish

- No need to  clear an idea with another.

- The original concept doesn't deviate in any way

-No worries of contract or artistic disputes

- You'll never be doing anything that you feel is outside of your artistic comfort zones

 

The cons of working alone are

- You might be missing other good perspectives

- All areas you lack in will be evident 

- You might be limiting your self to valuable ideas and resources

- You'll miss the experience of working with other musicians and lyricists ( I think this one is important, even if it's only online )

 

 

I don't often comment on the critique board because I usually work best with one other perspective I can trust. If you give me too many directions things get muddled. Also I don't feel one fast listen is a good way to comment on others work, and frankly that's all I usually have time for. I don't mean a cursory listen at work,  I think it needs a good honest evaluation taken from a close listen. I will do this whenever I feel I can do it. Same goes for lyrics. I need to ramp down and get into serious reflection mode. For me, that can be difficult. I certainly reflect on my inner thoughts all day, but to read a lyric and reflect on that, I need an extra shot of concentration and time.

 

 

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49 minutes ago, starise said:

Also I don't feel one fast listen is a good way to comment on others work, and frankly that's all I usually have time for. I don't mean a cursory listen at work,  I think it needs a good honest evaluation taken from a close listen. I will do this whenever I feel I can do it. Same goes for lyrics. I need to ramp down and get into serious reflection mode. For me, that can be difficult. I certainly reflect on my inner thoughts all day, but to read a lyric and reflect on that, I need an extra shot of concentration and time.

 

I totally get this.  I could say the same.  I would prefer concentration time to give a good listen over a one-shot deal. I love it when I can be really focused on what I'm doing.  Good concentration time is spotty in my household.  

 

I think also, someone mentioned online collaborations replacing face to face collaborations.  Well, for me, when I started, I didn't know anyone who wrote songs.  I didn't have any musical connections whatsoever.  Can you say "cold call".  That is me all the way.  I take that back.  I knew of some twin teens who played music.  They had each other and they wrote together.  I didn't have anything to offer them at the time.  My sister married as I was beginning this and her husband had written a few songs and had been in the music scene awhile,  but again, I had nothing to offer him at the time and I just never went there.   I might now, but it still wouldn't be face to face because they're on the opposite coast.  

 

I searched and searched online and elsewhere for local workshops in songwriting and couldn't find any that hadn't already passed by at least 6 months or that were ahead by at least 6 months or more.  Even those were scarce finds.    By the time I would have been able to connect with one, it didn't seem worth my money because I had learned a lot of what I would have taken the workshop for.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that not everyone is in the center of music hubs or have the connections to write face to face.  My area is rather rural.  Most bands around here do covers with the exception of maybe one song they wrote years ago or visiting bands that are here today, gone tomorrow, literally.  There is one lady I NOW know who lives in my state that is in some of the same forums, but she had a contract with a co-writer that limited her options.  We've met up a few times.  We're at opposite ends of the state.  She's out of that contract now, but she's going to be moving, Argh!

 

I am now starting to connect with somemusicians or at least on the way there.  

 

I have some songs that I am the only contributor to, but they don't go very far on account my skills are limited.  I come from a perspective that if you have the gift of writing or music, that gift is meant to be shared.  If it isn't shared, what a waste! If I could be a self-contained musician, I would more of that, but I also very much enjoy collaborations. Sure I would like very much to be wise in how I handle that gift and to profit off it and I'm working toward that, but that's a learning process and my focus so far has been on the craft of the creation.  I can't stand the idea of those creations gathering dust and not being shared, which is what would happen without collaboration, since I want more than a few strums on a guitar and my vocals.

 

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1 hour ago, starise said:

Also I don't feel one fast listen is a good way to comment on others work, and frankly that's all I usually have time for. I don't mean a cursory listen at work,  I think it needs a good honest evaluation taken from a close listen. I will do this whenever I feel I can do it. Same goes for lyrics. I need to ramp down and get into serious reflection mode. For me, that can be difficult. I certainly reflect on my inner thoughts all day, but to read a lyric and reflect on that, I need an extra shot of concentration and time.

 

I dunno... I think a quick listen can tell you a lot. You may need more time to critique in detail...but sometimes all anyone wants is a rough 'is it good?' or 'anything stand out good or bad?'. And I think a quick pass is valuable because .... the average listener will only listen once unless they love it, and might only listen to the start if it's not grabbing them.

 

Words too... I think really good words come across as feeling good very quickly.

 

So if you or anyone else ever feels like you have no time for one of mine... I'm just saying I'm always happy with a quick listen, an honest thumbs up or down and a brief response... a first impression. Detailed feedback is valuable, but I think any feedback is... 

 

 

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Dek, I think you probably pick up more on one pass than I do. I know that wasn't your point, but it made me think a bit on how some people tend to get more aurally in detail than others.

I tend not to absorb much in the first pass. If you give me directions verbally and they seem complicated I'll probably be asking you to please repeat them. That's just a thing with me.

 

More to your point, yeah I know fairly immediately if I like it or not. If I do like it I'm all about telling them. If I think it sucks OTOH, I'm hesitant to say anything. For the record though, none of your music sucks :D

 

I can't give any real detail in a limited listen though, unless something is WAY off. Like a snare that sticks out or a really off tune vocal. Or just plain cheesy music done with cheesy instruments. This can't always be helped, so I'm not going to be the one to make anyone feel bad because of that. And as I see it, I have more than enough problems with my music to correct. Still, I'll occasionally jump in and try to be as accurate as I can about it.

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Tom's comments made me think of this track I made about two years ago. I worked with a producer named Jeff Evans who lives somewhere around Perth Australia. 

Jeff wanted to help produce the track and I did all of the keyboard work.Jeff is especially fond of this kind of music, so I thought nothing of it. We had set out to make something that would make a good TV opener track. Jeff is a member of Taxi, so he put the track out to them. He said he would let me know if anything came of it. 

 

Jeff did a lot with the various keys parts in terms of EQ to make them sit better. Jeff is a mixer/producer as an occupation.

 

In hindsight I should have probably made sure i signed something. I knew Jeff had commercial interests in helping with it. IOW This wasn't just a " Let's make a song" kind of thing. 

We never mastered it , but it reminds me of the kind of thing I've not been back into since I've been learning acoustic instruments. Actually, it makes me think about doing some more of it.

 

 

 

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Beautiful collabs, @starise. I remember that song you wrote with @Achazia, such a beautiful and timeless sound.

 

I think having a written agreement is quite necessary for commercial writing, as everyone involved would want to be absolutely clear on what will happen to the final product. Plus, it's good evidence. Haha.

 

Here's an interesting collaboration issue/story I came across recently, it's a pretty good read: 

 

https://forums.taxi.com/seeking-advice-on-a-co-writing-situation-t137711.html

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Thanks IMKEN. That wasn't intended as a promo. I just wanted to show I've done a few collabs here and there. I have most recently appreciated working with Parchisme and Sreyashi as well. You've probably heard those tracks.

 

I guess if I ever were to run into the situation you mentioned above I would be much more leary. As  you can see, I've been all over the map in terms of genre. If someone had the ambition to make a whole album with me..which BTW is a LOT of work to do right. I suppose if that was the main motive, then yes, some plans are in order I think. And maybe a realistic view of the expectations.

 

What have your experiences been? Are you attempting to co write or co produce anything at the moment?

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Tom and Tim bring up many things that I've experienced trying to collaborate with others.

 

When I was in bands we had no issues regarding collaboration.  No one was paying anyone and those that contributed would get recognition for their works.  We'd set deadlines and knew each others skill sets well.  About the only extra was that I would do the engineering, which can be a hassle because everyone wanted to be heard above everyone else.

 

About that link...  I too was a producer way back when before vst's.  I'd do a lot of work for hip hop performers.  Which meant I would do the lions share of the work and I'd be paid accordingly. I'd never cut someone a deal no matter how much I liked them or how good the material was or the possibility that it would lead to bigger and better.  I rejected a lot of grunge and experimental music artists as they didn't have the money and I had to keep my studio running and feed myself.  Some of the artists I produced for did move up in the local scene but didn't have national success.

 

Online Collab projects overall have left me for the most part bitter.  That being said I'm always happy when I see people pulling it off for themselves.  In the early years I'd get projects where I'd just have to play guitar and a few other things and someone else would come along and do the remix.  We'd share stems work out things for various projects and I'd atleast get some credit for my input.   As years went by however the dynamic changed.  Some of you may recall my acoustica forums experience where I'd do all of the work composing/arranging/recording all the background parts and then someone would play a track over it and take all the credit.  It infuriated me to no end.

 

That being said.... I love the lyrics / poetry postings here.  I'll find some lyrics and then start writing the rest of the song behind it.  I'll record it as a rough demo and then delete it thereafter as I have no rights to the lyrics and I haven't asked anyone if I can use the material.  That too has past.  I'm much more interested in doing my own arrangements of standards for jazz guitar.

   

 

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22 hours ago, starise said:

Thanks IMKEN. That wasn't intended as a promo. I just wanted to show I've done a few collabs here and there. I have most recently appreciated working with Parchisme and Sreyashi as well. You've probably heard those tracks.

 

I guess if I ever were to run into the situation you mentioned above I would be much more leary. As  you can see, I've been all over the map in terms of genre. If someone had the ambition to make a whole album with me..which BTW is a LOT of work to do right. I suppose if that was the main motive, then yes, some plans are in order I think. And maybe a realistic view of the expectations.

 

What have your experiences been? Are you attempting to co write or co produce anything at the moment?

 

From the little experience that I've had so far, I find that collaborations usually don't work out for me, when:

  • the level of craftsmanship between the songwriters/producers do not match,
  • a co-writer is not flexible with their contribution/ideas. e.g. They are not willing to rewrite their lyric/melody/etc.,
  • a co-writer takes their cues from a book on how to write a song,
  • a co-writer is indecisive and doesn't know what they want. A little indecisiveness is understandable, but when it hinders the development of a song for more than 2 to 3 weeks, I think it becomes a problem.

 

At the moment I'm practicing how to mix/master, but I'll probably start collaborating on songs again next year(2018).

 

Ken

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Good points all round ImKen.

 

Just a few ( probably too long :D thoughts).

 

When I read point two I said "ouch". I am reluctant to change something I've worked at for a long time if I like the way it is. That said, I am still willing to try and change a part if asked, especially if the change represents a mistake I made.

 

In the past I've mostly recorded takes and used the whole take. I'm just now beginning to get into the editing process where you takesections of a song and re arrange it in software. This makes that process much easier. So for me, it hasn't been that I  didn't want to change it. It has been more the fact that I didn't want to mess up an entire song trying to change a minor issue. I have learned that the little things that bother me in the beginning can't be covered up and they don't go away.:D If I like the beginning, I'll like the rest of the process usually.

 

This is why I think it's a good idea to have a basic agreed on structure ironed out between partners early in a mix because the more dense a mix becomes the more difficult it is to make changes to  sections of music. Adding another sound over the existing mix isn't usually difficult. Adding another beat or taking a beat away in a dense drum line though is agonizing for me.This means you need to take away everything else in the music that was there too and make it sound natural. For those using loops it isn't as much of an issue since it's all locked together, even then, tempo changes within a song can be tough.Sure it might seem easy in concept, even knowing how to do it in software. Actually making the changes can be more involved.

 

It's easy to say, I'd like an extra measure there, but then it needs to have the same ambiance as the rest of the mix. Instruments can't be cut off. Reverb tails need to stay. You don't want to hear a blip in the audio. There are ways around all of that. They aren't always quick fixes. This is why many producers stay in the midi realm until the very end. If the take is audio you might be in trouble.

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, ImKeN said:

 

From the little experience that I've had so far, I find that collaborations usually don't work out for me, when:

  • the level of craftsmanship between the songwriters/producers do not match,
  • a co-writer is not flexible with their contribution/ideas. e.g. They are not willing to rewrite their lyric/melody/etc.,
  • a co-writer takes their cues from a book on how to write a song,
  • a co-writer is indecisive and doesn't know what they want. A little indecisiveness is understandable, but when it hinders the development of a song for more than 2 to 3 weeks, I think it becomes a problem.

 

At the moment I'm practicing how to mix/master, but I'll probably start collaborating on songs again next year(2018).

 

Ken

 

Yes good points. 

 

It's not always about being at a similar skill level though.... really it's just about being a good fit together and most importantly it requires a level of mutual respect/admiration (which isn't always about matching in skill level, but that definitely can be a factor) and also...just being on a similar wavelength and into each other's ideas (even if that sometimes means you find that you like ideas that are very different from your own or your expectations!).... it's really quite rare to find a good and creative collaboration.

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@starise - I would hate to be in a situation like that but I think you can avoid them by simply following a strict workflow.

 

I usually try complete a song before going into any sort of production process, I think dividing the workflow into small manageable sizes can help you stay focussed and efficient: songwriting -> production -> mixing -> mastering. When the songwriting is done, one door closes and the next door opens. Following strict rules like this can really motivate you to do your absolute best in the time frame given to your work. This is still just a theory for me, but I hear a lot of professionals talk about having strict workflows like that, and they also stress knowing when to, LET GO!

 

However, I was mainly referring to early in the process of collaborating when ideas are brought to the table. Some guys are so attached to their work that they will not budge, and it is very hard for me to work with writers like that. Plus, I know that no matter how good a melody might sound to me, it is completely useless without equally awesome lyrics to accompany it. I feel the same is also true the other way around, you can have the perfect lyrics written out but if it doesn't have an equally great melody to go with it, it's just a good poem in an audio format.

 

Ken

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12 hours ago, MonoStone said:

 

Yes good points. 

 

It's not always about being at a similar skill level though.... really it's just about being a good fit together and most importantly it requires a level of mutual respect/admiration (which isn't always about matching in skill level, but that definitely can be a factor) and also...just being on a similar wavelength and into each other's ideas (even if that sometimes means you find that you like ideas that are very different from your own or your expectations!).... it's really quite rare to find a good and creative collaboration.

 

So true, Dek. So far, I've met only one collaborator like that. We both started out in songwriting at about the same time and learned everything, together. We've been writing together for about 6 years now.

 

I think a more specific way to put it would be, the level of contribution has to be right up there with the rest of the co-writers. If I can't come up with something that the song could really use, then there wouldn't be any point of me being in the collaboration.

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46 minutes ago, ImKeN said:

However, I was mainly referring to early in the process of collaborating when ideas are brought to the table. Some guys are so attached to their work that they will not budge, and it is very hard for me to work with writers like that. Plus, I know that no matter how good a melody might sound to me, it is completely useless without equally awesome lyrics to accompany it. I feel the same is also true the other way around, you can have the perfect lyrics written out but if it doesn't have an equally great melody to go with it, it's just a good poem in an audio format.

 

Sorry Ken, I tend to overthink it sometimes. Yes, hopefully can nail it down early in the process before any major production happens.

 

49 minutes ago, ImKeN said:

I usually try complete a song before going into any sort of production process, I think dividing the workflow into small manageable sizes can help you stay focussed and efficient: songwriting -> production -> mixing -> mastering. When the songwriting is done, one door closes and the next door opens. Following strict rules like this can really motivate you to do your absolute best in the time frame given to your work. This is still just a theory for me, but I hear a lot of professionals talk about having strict workflows like that, and they also stress knowing when to, LET GO!

 

This would be my hoped for approach. What cutting and splicing is really doing in the beginning is usually arrangement. Maybe two verses instead of one, maybe put the break in another place. Maybe change a drum sequence. For me, this has always figured into the beginning stages. I guess technically it isn't really production. It would technically be editing the song at the basic level. This is MUCH easier in the beginning. If I could work any way I want in a collaboration, it would be - idea->collaboration->edit->production->mixing->-mastering->distribution. 

 

The only thing potentially restricting about this is, what if one of us has a great idea later into the production stage? This is what I've ran into before. Do you let that idea go or do you try to use it? If I can incorporate it I usually do and this is what can involve back peddling in the mix....and letting go haha, yeah, that's a big one. 

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On 9/7/2017 at 9:17 PM, starise said:

The only thing potentially restricting about this is, what if one of us has a great idea later into the production stage? This is what I've ran into before. Do you let that idea go or do you try to use it? If I can incorporate it I usually do and this is what can involve back peddling in the mix....and letting go haha, yeah, that's a big one.

 

If what's already written is not bad, then I would not change anything. That might not be a good idea if you are writing for radio/artists, but for TV/film, speed and quantity is key. Or so I've been told.

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On ‎8‎/‎29‎/‎2017 at 9:56 AM, starise said:

“musicians can be a picky and moody lot.”

 

That’s the main problem with collaborations. It works great it the collaborators are on the same thought process. But, getting the point across (especially over the net or phone) can be completely aggravating. In the end not worth the effort.

 

“Is this why you might have considered collaboration? Or do you see the advantage in having other ideas in the process apart from technical advantages?”

 

I think for many musicians there’s an insecurity that your work just isn’t good enough. Have you ever noticed that the grass is always greener on the other side. Clapton talks about Layla being a worthless tune till Duane Allman came in and laid down his slide track. The slide is great. But, there’s much more to that song than that track. Hendrix hated his voice. Really? Unless you’re a egomaniac all artists have insecurities. By collaborating, you have a second person to blame for its failures or success. 

 

“What are the advantages or possible disadvantages to collaboration?”

 

The only advantage is getting a great part from a collaborator that an individual can’t do on their own. While Prince was a magnificent musician. He did most of the recording himself. You can hear it. I record everything myself and I hear it. There’s a linear nature to multi instrumentalists, where a group or duo sounds like different ideas blending into a single song.

The disadvantages are numerous. Starting with miscommunication. One person thinking they did a great part, and the other hating it. I’m sure many here have been in bands. Think of the process of rehearsing a new song and arguing out what each player is going to do. Now, remove the band from the room and do it in text and distance. Nightmare is more like it.

 

“What does an ideal collaborator look like to you? What ideas do you have about what a good partnership should be? What have been some of your experiences?”

 

A perfect collaborator enhances the song in a positive way. My first bandmate and I still collaborate at times. But, we were always in sync musically. So, he can send me a track and I can add to it naturally.

 

 “Should one person totally control one part of the process, or should each person have equal input?”

 

It all depends on who wrote the chords, lyrics and melody. If you wrote all the parts, you should be in charge UNLESS the ideas from the collaborator enhance the product in a positive way. But, if as the main songwriter you don’t like the ideas, you should have the final word. Just know you can be wrong.

The one thing about ideas and collaboration. Most people record at home on their computers. If you’re not paying for the time in a studio and you have the disc space (if you don’t…) then ideas can be tried and set aside, and tried again. There is no time constraint or funds flying out the window.

 

 “Have you had successful collaborations in the past? Why were they successful?”

 

Me and my first guitarist just naturally played together. I had a bassist also that was a natural. He was just too unreliable at times. The guitarist was always there. I was actually the problem in that duo. He wanted success, I wanted to enjoy myself.

 

Quote

 

 

 

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I appreciate your comments Snowman. I can certainly understand your sentiments, especially if you have had some bad experiences in the past. I was really hoping this thread wouldn't descend into a whole" It won't work, don't try it" kind of thing.

 

I mean, I've had some bad experiences in a band setting and we were just a few guys playing together, no gigs to speak of.

 

In a few ways I think technology has made working together easier and less stressful. It isn't exactly like working in a band but I agree similar.

 

In the one band I was in, one person acted as if I didn't exist. We had an agreement to discuss actions taken on behalf of the group. TBH this is just common courtesy where I come from. You never just do something on a whim and not ask or at least tell everyone else involved to make sure it's ok. Asking is best, telling, not so much in my case. Especially if you don't bother to tell me until after you've done it. I wanted to wring his neck......you might have guessed, we don't hang together any more.

 

I hope I never run across another person like this when working on music. Sure that could happen online, if it happens in the small things, chances are it can happen in the big things and maybe tghis is a way to gauge people. Try a pilot project with them first. If you feel the need. Have then sign some kind of agreement. I don't see all agreements as stable even, I mean, they can still do the opposite. Yes you have legal recourse, but how many are willing to pay an entertainment lawyer to sue them for losses incurred? I venture to say, not many.

 

This is why basic trust is more important to me than any signed sealed papers. Granted we might need those too,in order to iron out details. If I don't have trust though, forget it in the first place.I think that whole process distracts from the art. If I'm worrying about all of that I'm not in a creative productive mindset.

 

I think there are two kinds of collaborations, A. Those in the business, like the Nashville hub. Insiders who work together and have partnerships like any business. The buddy system, maybe the secret handshake system, who really knows? Nepotism abounds. It really isn't about relationships, it's run more like  a contractor who is subcontracting and getting a product out there to sell. This is why a lot of the new music sucks IMHO.

B. There's the smaller collaboration groups and teams of people who aren't in it primarily to make money. It's more difficult to make money for that group because you don't have those inner connections.

 

I like the way it was set up in the 70's for creativity. The artist had a rented house to go make albums with the band in and someone else took care of the rest. I think the lack of technology might have added more artistic flair to the end results. Now we are so partitioned at computers that we need to wake the spirit of those times up again.Part of that is probably online collaboration.

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