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Entries in music (23)
One of the questions we asked our panel at NAMM 2014 was how optimistic they were about the future of the industry, that video will be coming soon.
There are both opportunties and threats that have been opened up by new technology that have made making music far more open. At the same time the same technology has created challenges such as online piracy, and even online music streaming services offer a small return for the average music maker.
In a couple of weeks Avid will be unveiling their version of the future with Avid Everywhere, it seems every man and his dog has the a version of the future of how we will make and share our music.
Some commentators paint a dystopian view of the future and others remain optimistic. Is everything broken or are there some real signs of hope for the future of music making - or is it just the same as it has always been?
So let us know how you feel, take our poll and most of all leave your comments.
Rich Tozzoli has worked with such artists as Al DiMeola, Ace Frehley, Hall & Oates and David Bowie. He has composed for the likes of NBC Olympics, NFL, NHL and Deepak Chopra/Oprah Winfrey, and can be heard nightly on History Channel, Discovery Networks, Nickelodeon and all A&E networks. Over to Rich….
Composing for TV is creative, challenging and always fun. But you have to be able to work fast, think on your feet, and have full control over your DAW. I think of Pro Tools as an essential instrument that helps me translate what’s in my mind to what comes out of the speakers during a broadcast.
- In The Box - I happen to write for a variety of different shows, so each day (and sometimes each hour) has its own direction. That’s why it’s so essential to work with a fully automated setup, and for me, that composing, editing and mixing completely in the box. That way, I can recall the entire session, including video, at a moments notice with no worries.
Read part 1 of this article here.
4. Tools of the trade
If you want to work, then you need the gear. Music production equipment is by no means cheap, and we often find ourselves making hard decisions and going without in order to try and build a collection of equipment that makes us useful to as many people as possible. The reality is that a client expects you to have at minimum a simple recording set up and computer to function commercially, so the question comes down to how you go about establishing this? The answer is
The social network
There is a perceived value both musically for the artist and in terms of marketing to everyone else in the inclusion of a music producer in the creation process. Having a producer essentially represents a vested interest in an artist’s work by an external body, and signals a certain added value to the work they have and plan to create. Whether they state it or not, artists nowadays work with producers because they are perceived as a legitimate and effective way of bringing their careers to the next level, which includes a significant step towards getting signed.
So what does this mean for a producer? It means that
Everyday producers, engineers, songwriters and artists all around the world engage with each other in studios, rehearsal rooms and online in the pursuit of the creation of music.
For many people, the performance of music is for the self and not necessarily for the purposes of earning an income. Their music is more of an innocent exploration of the creative arts, and a chance to do something different for a period of time. However, for a smaller number of songwriters, composers and artists the pursuit of a viable career in music is the ultimate career goal and a full time commitment.
Artists that endeavor to succeed in the music industry inevitably come across the figure of a
This is a continuation of my article on defining your unique position as a modern music producer. Here is some more food for thought:
Like any other global industry, the music industry is essentially its own functioning micro economy. Affected by supply, demand, costs, laws and regulation, the music industry changes its face constantly, based on cultural, financial and societal trends. In recent decades the proliferation of the Internet and mass access to technologies like virtual instruments, sound libraries, and budget recording gear has enabled a much larger number of musically minded people to participate in the music industry.
There is split opinion as to whether this easy access is a positive or negative development, but regardless of this debate, numerically speaking the industry is now hugely saturated. So in a situation like this how do we, not as artists, but as producers go about marketing ourselves in a meaningful and memorable fashion? Here are a few important points to consider:
This is part 2 of a two-part feature on pre-production with new clients. Click here to read part 1.
An important preparatory step that is often overlooked is the practical sequence of tracking on a production. For example, nine times out of ten in commercial music, the vocals are the most important element of the music. If this is the case in your production, then everything needs to work around the vocals. Finding out what the vocalist is most comfortable singing over in studio is a valuable piece of knowledge. Knowing which of your clients is the strongest and most competent performer out of their comfort zone is also important. Take for example
With the support of iLok, more tips & tricks from the community. Here is one from Denis Kilty….
With Pro Tools 11, we now have the ability to bounce and bring back in in one movement, an audio stem. This bounce feature can be useful in many ways, but one way I discovered this evening is a quick tool for cleaning up the noise floor in ttracks.
I was recording some finger clicks for a track, and had the gain quite high so that the clicks could be recorded at a good level. However, my room creates a low frequency hum and noise that appears when really gained up (from my mac). My solution to quickly cleaning up the clicks is to put a gate on the clicks, adjust accordingly, and then offlline bounce the audio back in. A very quick process, it makes the strip silence tool (which I find very unreliable) obsolete, and the gate naturally treats the audio with a more musical tone, making it more prefeable. It also saves lots of editing, consolidating and CPU. Enjoy!
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Pre-production in the music world is a massively underused and underestimated process. Music records have been made and broken off of the back of good and bad production sessions. Some might argue that pre-production decides whether a production is going to succeed or not before it has even started. In the same way that tracking content properly at source is always preferable to ‘fixing it later’, planning the content of that very recording is of even more importance and consequence. So how do we as practitioners prepare for the perfect session? Here are some tips that will help you produce efficient and comprehensive productions from start to finish.
Welcome back to part two of string production. This article is a follow on article from part one, so if you haven’t read that, I would suggest reading that first here.
This article will be addressing the low end of the string family, cello and the double bass, as well as taking a look at the psychology of string players, and some considerations for overall string arrangement & production.
Strings are one of the most prevalent families of instruments used in modern commercial music, film game and TV production. Be it their unique tone, their capacity to capture almost any mood or the sonic footprint they leave on any arrangement, strings are a key instrument group that every producer should know how to handle.
This article is the first of two, designed as a overview on how to produce a string recording. What this isn’t is an in depth look at every nuance of stringed instruments. For this, I recommend Samuel Adler’s “The Study of Orchestration.” This first article will share an overview of the higher register string instruments: the violin and the viola, and the characteristics that are most pertinent to be aware of for general recording and mixing purposes. The next article will address the cello and the double bass, and talk about dealing with string players on a social and psychological level in the studio, finishing with some useful production techniques.
The modern music industry is very much modular in nature. We often find ourselves in dynamic, short-term work environments, and for the most part, the nature of what we do radically shifts week in and week out.
While working in a dynamic and constantly evolving environment is part and parcel to the reason a lot of us choose to work in the music industry, it is important for us to figure out the best practice for many of the processes we undertake. When I refer to workflow, however, I am not only referring to the literal Pro Tools / Logic session templates we establish for speed, but also and perhaps more importantly, the mental processes we apply to handle the industry as an individual. Having your sessions clean and concise is useless to you if you are over stretched, over worked and incompetent as a result of dealing with too many projects.
Below are a selection of tips on how to address some of the biggest issues we as producers come up against when trying to manage our affairs:
Songwriting is a skill that is born out of the immeasurable and the unquantifiable.
Just like poets and authors, musical content comes from creativity, intuition and inspiration. While this is second nature to many professional writers, to the majority of amateur song writers, songwriting is something that requires practice and focus to hone into a useable skill set.
It is a skill that improves over time, and is certainly not exclusive. While top tier proficiency in songwriting will largely remain with those of natural born musical talent, there are still many tricks someone from a less musically-intuitive background can employ in their production processes to improve and hone their craft.
It is undeniable that working in the music industry now is not only increasingly competitive, but fundamentally different in its structure and workflows.
We might not say it out loud, but this has undoubtedly ruffled the feathers of more audio professionals than we care to count. As much as we deny it, people don’t like change, especially when it threatens the very fabric of our business model. The industry is very much an ‘Adapt or Die’ environment, populated with constantly changing workflows that require not just evolution, but revolution to continue to operate at ‘industry standard’. The recent PTE article about Phils Book and the decline of iconic UK studios is a prime example of this reality.
So, the industry has dramatically evolved, and even though nearly anything is now possible from the confines of a laptop, we often still find ourselves asking the question: “Why is it so hard to find good work?”
Here are a few points to consider about your presentation while managing and sourcing work:
The evolution of popular culture in the last 10 years has pushed the majority of the music affiliated to it into a realm of creativity that largely stems from the digital and electronic synthesis of sounds.
The sad fact is that due to money constraints, time constraints, the limitations of the home studio environment, and in some ways the influence of popular music trends, more often than not, a producer or songwriter is going to reach for a digital emulation of an instrument, rather than hunt down the real thing, figure out how it works and record it.
It is at this point in time we have to address the elephant in the room: Most people currently making music via their laptop or computer, have probably never recorded or really played the majority of the instruments they are using to make music. Have you personally ever tried ot play a cello? Or a flute? Or an exotic African percussion instrument that Native Instruments gave you for $99? Now what I am not saying is that you are musically ignorant, if you haven’t opened up a piano and looked at the technical design of it and where the sound actually derives from. It is indisputable that knowing the optimal sweet spot to capture the stereo image, if it is correctly tuned, or the tonal difference between an upright, baby grand, grand or concert grand piano is tremendously beneficial information.
This article isn’t about making home studio composers feel inadequate for their choice of tools. (I personally work on a rig on a Mac about 14 hours a day, and utilise sample libraries constantly in conjunction with real instruments.) This article is about challenging what we think we know about the instruments we work with on a daily basis, so that we become better at our trade.
The most prominent example that comes to mind for me is strings. Probably the most widely used orchestral instrument in modern music, strings rear their head in everything from dance music to motown to cinematic cues, yet we constantly hear strings being misused and mixed in a way that is obviously misinformed. Even fairly experienced mixers I’ve listened to, myself included, have made silly mistakes with instruments that we are not that familiar with, and the simple solution is this:
Good news for those of us trying to make money from music, global music sales revenues rose for the first time in 13 years. Apple iTunes accounted for 60% of total revenues dropping a whopping $3.4billion into the record company bank accounts.
Some even more encouraging news is that illegal downloading of music went down, this has been put down to services such as Spotify and Pandora.
I wonder if you were one of those people who sat in front of your teacher, or your parents and felt like some alien as you tried to explain how you wanted to spend the rest of your life being an artist. If you even dared to suggest it, then I’m also guessing you got the talk about having a real trade to fall back on.
When I was a kid we lived in a village, it had a butcher, a baker, a hardware store and a bank. I remember how my Dad would take me to the hardware store and buy a single screw, or a hinge. I remember how he took me to the bank, it was all wood panels and glass. We would go into the office of the bank manager, he and my Dad would talk about his business and shoot the breeze.
So what does all this have to do with your creative talents - a lot.
Now, if I want to buy screws, I need to buy 50 of them in a pack from some megastore on the outside of town. There will be 50 in the pack, not because someone gives a sh*t, but because industrialisation has ensured that every screw is efficiently packed, not with care, but precision. The same can be said for your bank, you have more chance of an audience with the Pope than a bank manager. They’ve all gone, they don’t manage customers anymore, they just manage budgets and the rest is down to a computer. You don’t get your Amazon order on time because someone at Amazon thinks “I can’t let Fred down” you get it on time because it has been systemized down to the last inch. This is the price we pay for efficiency, more people get more stuff, but less people get craftsmanship and individual care.
This is the result of post-industrialised, efficient world. The world is now run by industrialists and corporations. Artisans and craftsmen are few and far between - caring is now an art form, not a given. It is a fallacy that the family was killed by TV and that conversation was killed by social media. This happened during the industrial revolution when families, who had previously worked together in fields, farms or mills began to separate to go work in factories. Far less sharing and caring were the result. This is summed up with the absurd notion that we have a thing called “quality time” with those we love, the rest we can suppose is anything but.
Even worse, we were told this post industrial, work for 35 years, retire to do what you always dreamed of was true, that we would all have it. It may have been true for a short period of history, but not any more.
Now we have a fragmented society that is desperate for some kind of connection, for something, or someone to show them that there is something bigger than the ‘dream’ they were sold.
Your art is that connection, your songs and films are more needed than ever before. They help people transcend from the mundane and unfulfilling and help them, not to escape, but to believe in something that they once knew when they were a kid.
That was before someone told them to get a real job and stop dreaming.
Some of us ignored that advice, it’s a good job we did, as we bring those gasping for air, for something real, a chance of living once more. The world needs your creativity more than ever, so keep making your art - it’s a lot more important than most people would have you believe.
Excellent interview here on The Hollywood Reporter with 6 composers talking about bringing music to film, featuring Marco Beltrami, 46 (The Sessions), Mychael Danna, 54 (Life of Pi), Alexandre Desplat, 51 (Argo, Moonrise Kingdom, Rise of the Guardians,Zero Dark Thirty), Patrick Doyle, 59 (Brave), Danny Elfman, 59 (Frankenweenie, Hitchcock, Promised Land, Silver Linings Playbook), and Fernando Velazquez, 36 (The Impossible) — gathered in one room.
- Singer Etta James, aged 73
- Soul Train creator Don Cornelius, aged 75
- Singer Whitney Houston, aged 48
- Monkees’ Davy Jones, aged 66
- Guitarist Ronnie Montrose, aged 64
- Song writer Robert Sherman, aged 86
- Bluesgrass legend Earl Scruggs, aged 88
- Bandstand host Dick Clark, aged 82
- Musician Levon Helm, aged 71
- Men at Work’s Greg Ham, aged 58
- Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, aged 47
- Funk godfather, Chuck Brown, aged 75
- Bass player Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, aged 70
- Disco diva, Donna Summer, aged 63
- Bee Gee, Robin Gibb, aged 62
- Country singer Kitty Wells, aged 92
- Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control, aged 44
- Composer Marvin Hamlish, aged 68
- Mamas and Papas’ Scott McKenzie, aged 73
- Singer Andy Williams, aged 84
- Jazz legend Dave Brubeck, aged 92
- Amp legend, Jim Marshall, aged 88
- Rock Guitarist Mike Scaccia, aged 47
- Guitarist Doc Watson, aged 89
- Singer Mitch Lucker, aged 28
- Composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, aged 76
- MC5 bass player Micheal Davis, aged 68
- Blues and soul guitarist Skip Pitts, aged 65
- Fleetwood Mac’s Bob Welsh, aged 66
- Songwriter Hal David, aged 91
- Sitar legend Ravi Shankar, aged 92
- Session player Big Jim Sullivan, aged 71
- Guitar player Bert Weedon, aged 91
- Band leader Johnny Otis, aged 90
- Saxophonist David S Ware, aged 62
- Hip-hop producer Chris Lighty, aged 44
- Record producer Carl Davis, aged 77
- Reggae Producer Danny Sims, aged 75
- Producer Winston Riley, aged 68
- Singer/Guitarist Tony Sly, aged 41
- Motown Producer Frank Wilson, aged 71
- Tramps singer, Jimmy Ellis, aged 74.
If you think we have missed others, then please let us know.