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Music Production Tips

Do it right.

Recording can be an expensive and even daunting process. Here are some tips to help you better maximize your time in the studio and minimize your stress and expenses. Some of these tips are universal, while others vary from studio to studio.

PREPARATION
– Have all songs written and parts figured out and assigned before coming into the studio. Don’t waste valuable studio time and money on things you can easily do at home or at your rehearsal space. This point cannot be stressed enough.

– If you are sequencing tracks or using beats, have them ready to go on a CD or hard drive before coming in.

– Practice, practice, practice! The tighter your songs are, the smoother the recording of them will be and the better the end result.

– Prepare a minimum of 25-30% more songs than you plan to actually use on the final product. Allow yourself a few throw-aways for the songs that aren’t up to snuff with the rest of the album.

– Come into the studio well rested, clear headed, and ready to work. Recording is a physically and mentally demanding process. Bring plenty of water and food.

– Change guitar strings and drum heads the day before coming into the studio and bring extra sets of everything, including drumsticks.

– Bring in your own rig. If you are a guitarist and want to capture the sound you get from the daisy chain of your guitar, pedals, and amp then be sure to bring your entire setup in. Experimenting with studio instruments, amps, and pedals is fine if you’re not set on what you want for a sound, but put a time limit on it. Let the engineer and producer, who are much more familiar with their own gear, assist you in finding the sound you are looking for.

– If you are working with a producer, give them a demo of the songs you want to record in the studio. Discuss production ideas ahead of time, and set aside reference Cds that serve as good examples of production styles you are striving for. Map out track assignments if you are recording to tape.

-Make a budget of how much money you have to spend on your project. Estimate how many hours you think it will take to complete your project in its entirety. Most musicians grossly underestimate how fast they think they can record their project. Depending on the band, a full length CD could take anywhere from 50 hours on the low end up to 250 hours or more on the high end. Variables to consider are how much recording experience the band has, how long the band has been playing together, and how elaborate of a production is desired.

SET UP
– The drummer should arrive 2 hours before the rest of the band to allow for proper set up and undivided one on one between the drummer and the engineer. Good drum tone is crucial to a good sounding record.

– After the drums have been set up and sound checked, if it is a live recording situation the rest of the band will set up and sound check one by one in an order set by the engineer or producer.

– Stow all instrument cases and other items not needed for the session either back in your car or in an out of the way nook of the studio. Keep the floor space as uncluttered as possible, and set up allotting a comfortable amount of space between band members.

– Wait in the control room while each member sets up individually and is given their sound check. Keep talking to a minimum to allow the engineer to focus and hear everything that is going on in the soundcheck.

– After everybody has been soundchecked, a headphone soundcheck will be conducted. In a similar fashion, the engineer / producer will proceed one by one inquiring what each person needs in their headphone mix.

Tips for Building a Website for Your Music

RECORDING
– Mentally block out all of the microphones and gear surrounding you. Stay relaxed and play naturally. Put emotion and feeling into your performance.

– Stay focused. The studio is an expensive place to party. Refrain from drinking and other recreational activities. Don’t invite guests to your sessions – they will only serve as a distraction and may try to inject their opinions. Avoid unnecessary phone calls. Stay focused on the task at hand.

– Do more than one take of every song, but limit it to 5 takes. Odds are if you haven’t hit the performance you are looking for in 5 takes, you are not going to. Move onto another song and come back to that one if time allows.

– LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN! When you think you have a song in the can, come into the control room and listen to each take of it before moving on. Do not assume a take was good enough without listening to it just because “it felt right”. Get the sound and performance you are looking for. Don’t assume that you can fix things in the mix.

– Tune up in between each take.

– Consult with the engineer and producer before recording with effects.

– Defer to the engineer / producer in terms of recording process and performance quality. They are much more experienced in a studio setting than you are and have finely-tuned, objective ears that can hear things you may miss (i.e. flat notes, bad chords, tempo changes, etc.).

How to Become a Record Producer

MIXING
– Bring in Cds that you like sound of for references.

– Mix at a moderate volume.

– Don’t mix on the same day you record.

– Keep chatter and noise to a minimum. Listen attentively to what is coming out of the monitors. Don’t distract the engineer and producer or one another.

– Take small, five or ten minute breaks between songs. Go outside or to another room where it is quiet to give your ears a break.

– Mix down sessions should be limited to 8 hours to ensure your ears stay relatively fresh.

– Listen for random noises, such as lip smacking, foot tapping, digital “crumbs”, etc. These annoyances will be amplified when compression is added. Listen for them with headphones and remove them as you discover them.

– Listen for the overall balance between instruments. Think about the song as a whole. Not every instrument can be front and center. Mixing is about compromise. There is a natural tendency for musicians to want their own levels to be raised even when it may not be what the song calls for. Do what is best for the song as a whole.

– If the entire band is present at mix down sessions, appoint a spokesperson to be the liaison between the band and the engineer / producer. Discuss your mix ideas amongst yourselves before coming into the studio and convey them to the engineer at the beginning of the session. Work out differences as a band, and don’t put the engineer in the middle as a referee.

– Trust the engineer / producer! They are much better trained to mix your record than you are. Don’t expect to get each mix right the first time around. Bring home Cds of your mixes and listen on as many different stereo systems as possible – especially boom boxes, moderately priced home stereos, and car stereos. These are the places people are most likely to listen to your CD. Experiment with different volumes, but be sure to include low, soft volumes too. Make notes of your observations and bring them with you to your next session so you can tweak the mix. You may have to repeat this two or three times before you end up with what you consider the perfect mix.

(via offthebeat-n-track.com)

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And album of the year goes to…who??

Independent labels are reveling in their success after grabbing the spotlight and many of the biggest awards at the Grammys. It marked one of the biggest nights in years for indies, setting the stage for a surge in their online music sales.

Meanwhile, the rest of music industry is trying to figure out if the unsung acts from smaller labels are winning major awards because of the viral nature of the Internet — or in spite of it.

The presence of the indies during the annual awards show has grown in recent years as more bands appeal to fans directly through Facebook and YouTube instead of traditional sales channels.

A record number of nominations this year and the most wins in two years proved that a good band can break out despite lacking the resources of a major recording company.

“This was a major, major night for the independents,” said Daniel Glass, CEO of Glassnote Records, whose band Mumford & Sons performed during the show and was nominated for best new artist but didn’t win.

Canadian indie band Arcade Fire won for album of the year — an unprecedented third straight time an indie label act has taken the top crown. In all, independent label artists won awards in 45 of 108 categories, the most since 2008, and they accounted 273 of the 542 nominations, up from 231 three years ago, according to the American Association of Independent Music.

Despite the critical acclaim, just 11 percent of the music sold last year came from artists signed to labels other than the majors Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group Ltd., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The relative obscurity of some acts left some Twitter posters stunned (“Album of the year goes to who ?” one tweeted) but with 484,000 albums sold since “The Suburbs” was released in August, according to SoundScan, Arcade Fire has a solid following.

“There’s a lot of great music being made outside of the major label system,” said Recording Academy President Neil Portnow. “It’s created a window of opportunity for some very independent, forward-thinking, risk-taking entrepreneurs.”

(via AP)

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32 Ways to Make Money as a Musician

Here 32 different possible revenue streams for artists, as compiled by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC). The group is currently conducting a survey of musicians to figure out which streams are working the best.

A. If you are a composer or songwriter, here are possible revenue streams from your musical compositions…

1. Retail sales: Mechanical royalties from physical sales of recordings of your songs at stores, concerts or via mail order.

2. Digital sales: Mechanical royalties from digital sales via online services (CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Rhapsody, MySpace Music)

3. Sheet music sales.

4. PRO Royalties: Royalties for the public performance of your work (airplay on radio, TV, movies, jukeboxes, live performance and foreign royalties, and home recording and foreign levy payments) as distributed to you by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.

5. Advances from publishing companies during a publishing deal.

6. Payments from publishers for litigation settlements.

7. Commissions for works.

B. If you are a performer (think Patsy Cline), possible revenue from sound recordings…

8. Digital performance royalties: Royalties for the digital performance of your recordings — airplay on satellite radio, webcast stations, cable TV stations — distributed to you by SoundExchange.

9. Advances from record labels that are not just reimbursement of recording or touring expenses.

10. Label payments for tour support or recording expenses.

11. Payments from labels for litigation settlements.

12. AARC royalties: collected for digital recording of your songs, foreign private copying levies, and foreign record rental royalties, distributed to US artists by AARC.

13. AFM Payments (TV, Film): Payments from the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund to performers on recordings used in TV and other secondary uses.

14. AFM Payments (Recordings): Sound Recording Special Payments Fund to performers for the sales of recorded music

15. AFM/AFTRA Payments: Payments from the AFM/AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund (distributes recording and performance royalties to the non-featured artists)

C. Possible revenue from licensing your musical composition or your sound recording…

16. Ringtone Sales: Mechanical revenue from ringtone sales

17. Synch Licenses: Synchronization royalties based on master rights licensing your song to TV/movies/video games/commercials

18. Sampling Licenses: Licensing fees from other musicians sampling your songs.

D. If you’re a performer, possible revenue from live performances…

19. Touring and shows: compensation for playing live shows or performances, including busking.

E. Revenue from a performer’s brand…

20. Merchandise sales: t-shirts, posters, etc.

21. Sponsorship: of tour or of a band/artist.

22. Direct financial support from fans/patrons.

23. Ad revenue or other miscellaneous income from your website properties (click-throughs, commissions on Amazon sales, etc.)

24. Acting in television, movies, commercials.

25. Product endorsements.

26. Other licensing of your persona (to video games, comic books, etc.)

F. Revenue from an artist’s knowledge of the craft…

27. Work for hire/hired as a studio or live musician or composer

28. Work as a music teacher.

29. AFM/AFTRA session payments: Session payments for recording sessions, TV appearances, and performances flowing from synch licenses

30. Producer: income from producing or music direction

G. Other ways a musicians’ work can be funded:

31. Government grants.

32. Nonprofit/foundation grants.

(Credit: Route Note)

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