Thursday, July 28, 2011

Music's New Golden Age

While it might not seem it to many (especially those who've been in the business a long time), you can rightfully say that music is entering into a new golden age. Sure, most of the Top 40 charts and radio seem to be dominated by beat oriented dance songs, but real music played and written by real players is making a comeback. I personally can sense the trend by the buzz in the air and online, as well as some signs of life on the sales charts.

Want some proof? Let me list just a few artists that are a throwback to music's first golden age of the 60s/70s.

Adele: Here's an artist who's had great success by being herself. Her first album 21 doesn't have any beats or loops, it's not that polished, and there's not a lot of sweetening. It's just Adele and her talent. 21 has sold about 2.5 million copies and another million digital copies in the US alone, and is a big hit in most of the world. Her single "Rolling In The Deep" (there's a song analysis here) sold almost 5 million downloads. Someone is noticing.

Fitz and the Tantrums: You might not have heard about this group yet but you will soon. They're sort of a throwback to the Motown days. Their first album Pickin' Up The Pieces was done in the lead singer's living room and still sounds great, but it's more the bands vibe and material than anything else.


Mumford and Sons: How can what amounts to a folk band be this popular? It's because they're music comes from the right place. Totally compelling. See for yourself with my song analysis of "The Cave."

Bruno Mars: Talk about R&B, Bruno takes it to a new place. He's had great chart success (his single "Grenade" is one of the most popular song analysis on this blog), but he's the real deal. The guy can really play, sing and write.

Rafael Saadiq: Rafael may be the new face of soul, as he's another triple threat in that he plays, writes and sings. But it's his music that's so much the same as when soul was king, yet different.

Carney: I was turned onto this band by Bob Lefsetz, who so touted their song "Testify" that I had to check it out. Don't let the fact that lead singer Reeve Carney is playing Spiderman on Broadway, this band is the real deal.

So what do you notice about the above acts? They can all bring it live, and they're in all different genres, that's what. And that's exactly what gives me hope for music today. There are exciting new things happening that remind you of when music was great. Well, it's great again. Now the business is another story!
----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

8 Things To Check Before You Press Record

Here's an excerpt from my book The Recording Engineer's Handbook. It's a checklist of questions to ask yourself before you ever hit the Record button.

1. Does the instrument sound great acoustically? Make sure that you start with a great acoustic sound with the instrument well tuned and minimum of sympathetic vibrations and extraneous noises.

2. Are the mics acoustically in phase? Observe the 3:1 rule and make sure that any underneath mics are at a 90° angle to the top mics.

3. Are the mics electronically in phase? Make sure that all the mic cables are wired the same by doing a phase check.

4. Are the mics the correct distance from the instrument? If they’re too far away they’ll pick up too much of the room or other instruments. If they’re too close the sound will be unbalanced with either too much attack or ring, and not enough of the body of the instrument. Walk around the player, put your finger in your ear, and find the spot that sounds the best. Remember, most instruments need some space for the sound to develop. The ambience from the surrounding area is a big part of the sound for most instruments.

5. Does it sound the same in the control room as when you’re standing in front of the instrument? This is your reference point and what you should be trying to match. You can embellish the sound after you’ve got the sound as close to the way it was when you were standing next to the player.

6. Is there another problem besides the mic placement? A great sound is dependent upon the instrument, the player, the amp (if there is on) and the room. The player has to be able to achieve the tone you're trying to record with his hands or mouth or voice first and foremost. The mic itself usually has less to do with the ultimate sound than the placement, room and the player and ultimately, the project itself.

You should always trust your ears and begin by listening to the musician in your studio, find a sweet spot and then begin your microphone placement there. If you don’t like the resultant sound, then move the mic or swap it with another. EQ is the last thing you should touch.

7. Is the problem in your signal chain? Don’t neglect your microphone preamp. The better your preamp, the less trouble you’ll have capturing the sound, but sometimes a certain mic/preamp combination will give you the sound you need. Don't be afraid to experiment.

8. Is the problem in the players signal chain? A guitarist’s signal chain, for example, can be a huge help or a big hindrance. You’ll get a warmer yet aggressive guitar sound by decreasing the amount of distortion from pedals, but turning up the amp’s volume instead to obtain the sustain/distortion from the amp and speaker. Also, smaller amps and speakers tend to sound bigger than large amps/speakers when recording.

REMEMBER: Mics cannot effectively be placed by sight, which is a mistake that is all too easy to make. The best mic position cannot be predicted, it must be found.
----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Worst Piece Of Electronics I Have

I don't usually rant on this blog but "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," to quote the movie Network. I admit it, I'm somewhat of a geek. I have just about every type of electronic gadget there is, from smartphone to e-reader to iPad, iPod, iPhone, iMac (and 4 other Mac's large and small as well), to a wide range of professional and consumer audio and video gear. Not all of it is the latest and greatest, but most of it is within a generation of the latest. I'm frequently on the bleeding edge of software updates and I'm not afraid to get inside any electronic piece and tangle with electrons. OK, you can see how that qualifies me as a geek.

There is one piece of gear that I "rent" that completely baffles me in its utter inadequacy - and that's my two Scientific Atlanta HD cable set-top boxes. Talk about a dumb device, I think my very first cell phone ten years ago had more processing power than these supposedly new devices have now. I realize that the cable company has a lot to do with it (in my case Charter Cable), but come on.

You mean to tell me in 2011 that you can't even display the entire TV listing and have to cut it off because of lack of characters?

You mean to tell me that in 2011 you have zero interactivity? Why should I have to buy a connected TV? Am I not connected to a network already?

You mean to tell me that in 2011 the boot time for On Demand is so slow that it's unusable. I mean, who wants to wait for literally 5 minutes for it to boot up?

And worst of all, you mean to tell me that in 2011 you still build a box that is so unreliable that I've been through 5 of them already? The two that I have now have the same problems as the previous ones. They decide to reboot at the most inopportune times (which is good for 10 minutes of downtime or so). They freeze the picture and audio randomly. I have to change the channel to unfreeze or God forbid, manually reboot. They will play a channel perfectly then suddenly give me prompt that says "Looking for the channel" then "This channel is not available." Guess what, time to reboot.

And they sometimes have an audio clicking that sounds just like the clock problems that we all used to have with our early DAWs 10 years ago.

How do these people stay in business? Why does every other piece of electronic gear hardly ever have a problem, yet these things are a daily pain, even after they're replaced?

The thing is, I'm fairly happy with Charter's cable service itself, but these things are so frustrating that I'm beginning to think it's time to "cut the cord" as they say in the cable industry.

Sorry for the rant, but I'd love to hear any suggestions, alternatives, experiences or remedies from anyone.
----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Gadgets From Summer NAMM

Those of us NAMM show veterans who've been attending Winter NAMM for more than about 10 years or so have lamented the fact that very little new gear actually comes out any more at the show. For the most part, we've seen it already on the Internet, and just about every piece of hardware or software is evolutionary, not revolutionary. I can't remember the last time I heard someone say, "You've just got to see this!" at a show.

So if you can't expect much from Winter NAMM, there's even less to expect from the much smaller Summer NAMM held in Nashville. While I didn't attend (hardly ever do), I'm told it didn't disappoint in this respect. TechCrunch did find a few things to get mildly excited about (emphasis on "mild"), which you'll see in the following video. JamHub, which I featured here a few years ago, may only now be catching on, which I think is why it's also featured.



----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...