In this article for Production Expert, Location Recordings Studio Assistant Charlotte Tindle talks about her experience at the recent Normal Not Novelty event held at RedBull Studio London on November 7th, 2017 at which they aim to create a relaxed atmosphere for female industry professionals to network.
Why Normal Not Novelty?
Since making the transition from university to the music industry, it's been difficult not to be aware of the lack of females in the business. The Normal Not Novelty events at Red Bull Studios are held every month in order to connect females in the music production industry. It was an amazing opportunity for me to meet young, confident women starting out in their music production careers. From engineers and producers to DJ’s and singer-songwriters, it was exciting to be among the buzz.
There is a fantastic article by Kat George that states...
Given that less than 5% of music producers and engineers are female, there isn’t much room for social growth for women in the industry, going hand in hand with an equally limiting professional growth trajectory wherein men traditionally work with, answer to, and promote other men.
Arriving And Making Friends
After passing the female security (nice touch!) I started the evening talking with Naomi Belle, a singer-songwriter learning to produce her own music. We were the first two people there so we spent the first half an hour chatting about ourselves and the industry, then decided to mingle. As I wandered around, I met two other girls; Maxine Blake and Bre Antonia who were both very inspiring. They both had albums and EP’s coming out that they were very excited and nervous about. We all swapped social media info to keep in contact for the next event. It is so important in this day and age to make sure you have the ability to connect with people after you meet them, so finding them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are essential for building your "little black book" of connections.
Introduction - Great Vibe
Having never been to Red Bull studios, I instantly loved the vibe. When everyone was gathered in the presentation area, the buzz didn't stop. We had a quick introduction to Brendon who runs the event and the studios, and the ladies who were taking the workshops and seminars. There were three sections; Production, Engineering and a DJ Q&A. It was an impressive introduction that gave me reassurance that women in this industry are becoming a vital part and we’re well on the way to being normal not novelty.
- DJ Q&A - Fresh from completing a successful second year of her Floor Sixx mentoring program, Radio 1XTRA DJ Sian Anderson will be on the couch with Madam X talking about her passions for music and helping young people.
- Electronic production demonstration - Liverpool native Lauren Lo Sung will be sharing her production knowledge with the audience and host K Minor as she makes a track from scratch.
- Engineering workshop - In-demand Mastering Engineer and regular engineering host Katie Tavini will help show the crucial steps to prepare your mixes for mastering.
Workshop Groups - Engineering And Mastering - Great Advice
I chose the engineering group which was in the downstairs SSL G control room. She is 26 years old, from Manchester and has a very established mastering career, she shared her knowledge of ‘what to do before sending your mix off to a mastering engineer which everyone found very useful.
Below is part of the handout Katie gave us. It is full of handy tips from the very basic to the more advanced. Guys you are allowed to use these too!
Preparing your mix to send to a Mastering Engineer
- Make sure you’re happy with your mix.
- Crossfade any edit points to make sure there are no little pops.
- Check your levels on individual channels within the mix – make sure they're not hitting 0dB.
- Check that your plug-ins aren’t clipping/distorting.
- If you’ve mixed into a master compressor, check how much its actually compressing your mix by. There’s no need to remove it, just make sure that it isn’t killing all of your dynamics.
- Check your mix in mono!
- Leave headroom – your master fader should be peaking between -3db and -6db. This will allow enough room for processing during mastering.
- When you're exporting/bouncing your mix, make sure you leave a couple of seconds at the start of the track and again after the very last note has finished ringing out. If there is unwanted noise on any part of the mix, try and leave 30 seconds of it at the start of the track so that the mastering engineer can transparently remove it.
- Export/bounce your track at the sample rate and bit depth it was mixed at.
- Import your finished mix back into your DAW for a final check.
- Label your tracks clearly! For example – BandName_TrackName_MixNumber.wav – Always works well.
What to send to your Mastering Engineer
- Finished Mixes (Labelled Clearly).
- Tracklist with correct capitals and punctuation.
- Artist name.
- Album/EP Name.
- ISRC codes.
- Some info about track spacings – if you're happy to let your mastering engineer take care of this, let them know. Otherwise, a rough idea is always good – short gaps, long gaps, Seamless between tracks etc.
Katie went on to answer everyone's questions thoroughly and made everyone feel comfortable, which continued the relaxed atmosphere of the event as questions ranged from simple little facts to the more complex and in depth. Each woman who spoke had a different involvement in music production and the workshop benefitted most of us in the room as conversations would drift into completely unknown territory, which was very interesting and I learnt a great deal in just an hour and a half!
Once the seminar had finished, the buzz started outside once again as everyone had a drink in their hand and were having in-depth conversations. I was keen to meet the event organiser, Studio Manager Brendon Harding, so I waited in a cue of 3 people to introduce myself to him! Brendon is a lovely guy and I appreciate the effort he goes to make these events happen. They certainly benefit the industry massively.
After the drinks, I began my journey back home. I felt uplifted and I couldn't stop smiling. Normal Not Novelty made me feel like I can do anything, which sounds cheesy but the evening gave me so much confidence and belief that women are on the way to the top of the game. I will do my absolute utmost to share the event with all the females I know starting their production journey and hopefully, they will do the same to create a ripple effect of empowerment.