Posts tagged recording studios toronto
Posts tagged recording studios toronto
Back in the day before computers were common in the recording studio, if a client wanted even the slightest of changes made to their song, they would have to spend loads of cash to rent out the studio. Now with computers running the show this has all changed. Mostly for the better but there are drawbacks to technology as well. I’ve noticed that clients now are more aware of the infinite possibilities that computer technology can bring to the table. The problem with this? If a studio encounters a hard to satisfy customer (and we always do at some point), revisions will eat up lots of the engineer and producer’s time.
Don’t Be So Quick to Blame Your Engineer…
Not to sound bias, however, initially if a client has taken the time to check out the studios portfolio and was blow away by the quality of work, its likely the guy/studio driving your project has very little to do with a client not being satisfied with the end result. I find that 99% of the the revisions I end up doing for clients play a direct role in either 1 out of the 5 listed below or a combination of all.
Reasons for Constant Revisions…
If an artist isn’t confident in his/her musical ability, then they will look for every possible reason why the song isn’t “good enough” and constantly request things to be changed. In some cases, an insecure artist will also try and make it seem like it’s the engineer’s fault.
Lack of studio experience:
When a person is new to a situation, it’s human nature to make things harder than it has to be just because of the lack of experience. If it’s the artist’s first time recording in the studio or involved in a production, they don’t know a whole lot about the process and might feel the need to “nitpick” more about minor things and eat up a lot more of the engineer’s time. It’s a classic scenario of someone feeling the need to justify their position. It isn’t until a person has gone through the process several times, will they realize things don’t have to be so complicated and probably don’t require as much time to do the job right as they might think.
Lack of musical direction:
Sometimes clients will expect me to mock up multiple ideas (which I rarely do unless there’s a larger budget) before committing to one solid idea. If the budget isn’t there then it’s vital that the client has a solid idea of which musical direction they want to go with the song. Lack of direction means more revisions and more time wasted for both of us.
Growth of knowledge and skills:
As a producer/engineer I am constantly building my set of skills and knowledge therefore the quality of my music is constantly improving. If I applied every new technique I learn to a single song I’m working on, I would never finish the song! You see, part of knowing when to stop with revisions is accepting your music for what it is today (in the now) and accepting that, part of your musical journey is in fact a never ending learning experience in which your music quality will always get better over time. What I usually tell myself “It is what it is, now let’s move on!”
Requesting Changes Just because you can:
This goes back to computer technology; many clients will request tons of minor tweaks and changes simply because they know they can be done and what’s to blame? computers of course. Sessions can be recalled at the click of the mouse so the mentality here is “ all he has to do is open up the session and tweak this or that” What many clients fail to realize is that in some cases I end up spending more time on revisions then I do on the actual creation of the song. It’s important to be conservative with requests.
Record labels literally go through hundreds of demos each day and many are overlooked due to the fact that they just don’t have a sound, style and image that will stand out. In this article, I explain the essential ingredients to a successful demo package.
If having the next radio hit is on your agenda, simply handing over a demo that sounds exactly like everyone else’s music won’t get you noticed in today’s market. And as much as I feel it’s important to be on top of current musical trends (in order compete against others) I still stress the need to honor your own true character through your music. It’s important to find a balance between your own musical influences and a sound that will help you compete with today’s current trends.
Many indie artists prefer the DIY approach when it comes to producing their demos and anyone who knows me knows I’m all for it! I love the fact that I can work in the comfort of my own home studio using nothing more than my computer and Ableton. The reality is many huge tracks are being produced and engineered nowadays in simple environments like these as opposed to the traditional big studio… But… here’s the catch, regardless of which tools you use, you still need to know what you’re doing to conceive your visions and make your music sound amazing. Just because you own a powerful laptop and have protools or logic doesn’t mean your demo will sound good creatively and sonically and If your demo lacks in quality, I can assure you that it will be harder to get noticed and all you will end up with is an amateur sounding demo, a few bucks saved and a lot of time wasted. If writing great songs and melodies is your strong area of the process, leaving all the production work in the hands of the pros will ensure you have a killer sounding demo which will help you grab the attention of labels and fans. taking the time to find the right producer for you and trusting in their abilities is worth the investment in the long run.
Demo/E.P. VS Singles
Single releases are great if you’re an established artist like Lady Gaga because you have already built up a massive fan base and have dedicated listeners. Radio stations don’t even think twice before dropping an established artist’s tracks into regular rotation. But when you’re just starting out, it’s important to give potential labels and fans a little variety. Show them what you’re truly capable of musically. Having a three track demo or five track E.P produced will help you kick start your music career a lot faster and grab listeners attention and will even help you show off your musical diversity.
Being an artist myself, I know what it feels like to finish your first track and feel eager to share it with your friends and the world. But when I was first starting out, I didn’t want to rush this process. I knew my music needed a lot of development and I decided to hold off on sharing my sounds and continue to develop my craft as a producer/engineer and musical artist. I attended engineering school, experimented constantly, read tons of “techy” books and shadowed some great producers. Overtime, I started to notice a huge improvement in my music and once that happened, I knew it was time to start releasing my own work to the world. This still applies to singing and song writing, many artists who are just starting out have little to no experience vocally and want to come out of their first recording sounding like Mariah Carey. It’s not going to happen overnight, but with a lot of practice, dedication and maybe some vocal coaching and learning about proper song structure, you will be able to write some great songs, find a producer who understands your vision and come out of the project with a great sounding demo.
Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
The press kit is equally as important as the quality of your music so make sure you don’t take any shortcuts. Think of your press kit as your own personal resume so shop to the industry. It should reflect the vibe of your music. You want to make sure you pay a professional to take high quality pictures of yourself, hire a professional writer to write your biography and work with a talented graphic artist who can design a stunning logo for you and don’t forget to include your contact info. Doing this will help you grab the attention of record labels, promoters and your fans.
If you are sending your demos out digitally, make sure the mp3’s are tagged properly. This means, inputting the songs name, artist name and website into the mp3 file so labels and fans have a way of finding you.
Before I start most of my mixdowns or at least the mixes that are dance floor oriented, I have three basic routines I have put into practice. I Insert a compressor on the master channel, decide which elements are the most important for the track and make sure all unnecessary frequencies are removed from my mix. I’ve explained in further detail about these three below.
Mixing to a Compressor:
A compressor is essentially what “glues” the track together in the end and it’s safe to say, we all use them at some point in our tracks. So let’s say you have a nicely balanced mix, you’ve applied some eq, compression, space FX etc to all your individual source tracks and you’ve even bussed all your sections to their own dedicated group channels. Now what? Well the next step would be to start adding some master channel FX. So you start by reaching for a compressor, tweak a few parameters and suddenly your mix sounds a little wired. All of a sudden you can’t seem to get everything to work with the compressor so you start adjusting your kick which leads to an adjustment on your bass track and before you know it you’ve lost the entire balance of your mixdown and have to start again.
Well I can start by saying, this isn’t the compressor’s fault at all, and it could be an indication that there was something wrong with the mix to begin with. Maybe the kick drum is too loud or there might be some unwanted mud in the low end causing the compressor to work extra hard. Whatever the case may be, if you start by inserting a compressor on the master before you get a balance, you’re able to make all the important desicisions based on the way the compressor reacts to your mix beforehand.
Here’s a screen shot of the basic master compression settings that work for me using Ableton’s compressor but feel free to experiment to find your own taste. Remember, there are NO RULES!
Every style of music has its most prominent elements that drive the track home. In dance music it’s your kick and bass line. In Pop or Urban genres it’s the vocal. Before starting a mix, it’s a good idea to listen to the rough mix first and find out which elements are the most important so that they stand out when the mix is finished. Let’s say I’m mixing a big room house banger with big epic chords, a dirty bass line and a hard hitting kick drum. Those three elements would be where I start. Once I get those three elements working nicely together, mixing everything else around those three parts is usually a breeze.
Low cut Filters:
The kick and bass are the only two elements in the mix that need to sit in the lower register. Getting these two elements to work well together can be a nightmare at times but there is something you can do to help make the process much more pleasant. It’s important to note that the human ear won’t hear anything passed 20 Hz in fact, anything below 60 Hz we tend to feel more then hear. With that said, I always like to tighten up my kick and bass by cutting certain frequencies from these two elements first. For example, I cut everything below 40 Hz on my kick to “tighten” it up and get rid of any “mud” and with the bass, I sometimes cut everything below 55 Hz.
But what about everything else in the mix like Percussion, vocals, pads, leads, loops etc. Some of these types of elements might have low frequencies that could be cluttering up the mix and making it harder for the kick and bass to do their thing. Best solution is to just cut the lows out of virtually everything else leaving enough room for the actual low end energy to breath. I tend to cut below 100 Hz and upward depending on the source itself. But you have to be careful because you don’t want your mix to sound too “thin” either.
Many times when I’m working on a project with an artist I am asked to also provide them with a remix. I thought I would write up a short description about why the remix can add massive value to an artist’s music career.
Remixing is talking the original songs separate multi track parts or “stems” and adding a completely new composition and musical style to its original recorded version. Providing a song with a remix allows the artist to reach specific markets and a wider audience of listeners. A remixed song allows the artist to get radio spins on specific dance music stations around the work as well as night club plays which wouldn’t normally be offered through their original version of the song. Some labels seek out remixes of a song so that they can market the song to club DJ’s who are playing frequently in night clubs to build hype around the artist.
Most club DJ’s I know almost always prefer playing the remix of a hot pop song rather than the original for a few simple reasons.
1. The remix is a completely different genre of music all together but the fact that it is a remix of a well known classic or radio hit means people on the dance floor lose their minds when it’s played. DJ’s love this.
2. The remix is usually faster in tempo and fits with all the other top club tracks in there set.
3. Proper club mixes give DJ’s at least 1 minute of beats to mix in and out of making transitions from song to song easy to manipulate when mixing. This is usually not available on the original pop single that is meant for radio.
Now that I have giving you a little knowledge about the benefits of having a song remixed here are a few links to some of the remixes I’ve produced over the last few years and a few of my favorite remixes of all time!
As well as producing original material for clients I also take on Remix projects. Check out my website www.sublevelmusic.com
Overall 2010 was a very busy year for me in the studio and I can’t help but feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with some of music’s greatest up and coming talent! As the projects continue to role in, I anticipate an even better 2011 for artist projects and hope some of you reading this will consider taking your first steps to achieving the hit sound and musical success you deserve.
On that note I decided to put together a small list of links to just some of the featured projects I produced, remixed and engineered over 2010 and wanted to share them with all of you. Enjoy.
Featured Studio Projects of 2010
I’m sure you already know I provide Original Composition, Beats, Remixes, Recording, Mixing and Mastering at my studio so if you’re interested feel free to check out my website www.sublevelmusic.com and contact me so we can talk more about your future projects for 2011.