Recording Studio Blog
August 20, 2014 - Baby Boy
Today my son turned 1 year old. I never particularly wanted children but my wife did, and if it was important to her, so be it. Well let me tell you ... I thought that I knew all there was to know about love after I met her ... but boy did I obviously need another lesson!! All everyone ever told me before my son was born was. "it's a lot of work, but it's worth it." Um ... so is climbing Mt. Everest - No thanks! But nothing prepared me for just how absolutely fulfilling & beautiful this love could be.
January 1, 2014 - A New Year
Well here we are again. Right smack at the absolute, very beginning, tippy-top of a new year! This is always one of my favorite times because if there are any changes I'd like to make in my life or things that I want to start anew, this is the one and only time of the year where it really feels to me that the slate is utterly and unconditionally wiped clean and that the start is as fresh as can be. Of course it's all just a frame of mind, but it's one that I love. Happy New Year!
December 25, 2013 - Merry Christmas!
Merry, Merry Christmas everybody!
For me it has been one of the most joyous years of my life with the birth of my son - our first child - a few months ago.
I wish for everyone the kind of happiness and joy that my new family has been experiencing this year.
BTW, I'm quite certain that anyone who does not celebrate Christmas is not offended by someone like me who wishes them a Merry Christmas during this season ... right? After all, if someone were visiting NYC from say, Australia, in early July, and then someone from New York, not knowing that the other person wasn't from here, inadvertently, but with good intention, wished them "a happy Fourth of July", would that person take offense? Of course not! Right? Right!!
And lastly, am I the only one who hears the children's choir in John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" as being terribly and painfully and constantly out of key???
August 7, 2013 - MP3s
Everybody loves mp3s - they're so small that we can fit thousands of them, maybe even tens of thousands, onto our smartphones or iPods (does anybody use iPods anymore??), and they make it easy to send and receive music in emails and over the internet.
And they suck.
Yes, they do indeed, in fact, irrefutably, suck.
Why? Because they sound HORRIBLE! An mp3 is one TENTH the size of the of the original music file that an artist releases on a CD. In order to make an mp3 so small and convenient, 90% of the musical data from the song is thrown away! And you can hear it. An mp3 always sounds thinner, more brittle, and deficient in the bass register compared to an uncompressed recording. I can always tell when I am listening to an mp3. But that is not the only reason or even the main reason why they suck. The main reason, is because they are insidious.
Because of their convenience, they have become the predominant way that most people experience music today. Mp3s are everywhere - on our phones, iTunes, youtube, and all across the internet. Heck, who actually buys a CD anymore? And because of that, people's audio quality IQ has been severely dummied down.
It would be one thing if mp3s were advertised as being inferior quality, a substitute for the real thing, to be used for convenience's sake when access to the full sized music file is not easily available. Sort of like how we know that seeing a snippet of a movie on youtube is nowhere near what we would experience if we had the Blu-Ray disc. But no. Mp3 has been presented to us as the proper and main delivery system of our time. So we have the vast majority of the population accepting mp3 as the de facto music and music quality standard, having no idea that they've been sold a vastly inferior bill of goods.
June 23, 2013 - The Complete Artist
I just completed a session with one of my very favorite clients, Demetra. (reverbnation.com - Demetra)
Now I have hundreds of current clients and literally thousands of past clients, so what makes her so special? Well, she's a pleasure to be around for sure: good-natured, funny, smart ... but that's not what makes her one of my favorites. I can honestly tell you that most of my clients are awesome people, fortunately for me that's the kind of people that I seem to attract.
What makes Demetra so special is her commitment to excellence in being the best artist possible and making the best music possible. That is not as common of a trait among musicians as you would think. If an artist is trying to make a professional career in music, then a commitment to excellence in music means a commitment to excellence in ALL aspects of music: the melody, the lyrics, the arrangement, the production, the recording, the musical performances of the musicians involved, the vocal performance, and finally, the mixing and mastering. And then after a project is completed, it means being the best artist that you can be by doing your utmost to put on the best possible live shows that you can and have them supported by the best possible marketing that you can muster. This includes amazing photos, a great website, and a strong effort put into all forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc..
Demetra has all of that going on in a big way. When she brings a song into the studio, the lyrics and melody have been poured over and finely honed until they are something truly special. When it's time to record a vocal or instrument part, it is gone over and over and over until it's certain that it's the very best that it can be. When it's time to mix, ALL the stops are pulled out and twenty hours or more are dedicated to that process alone. Then she takes the ball and runs with it as far as gigs and social media are concerned.
I'd say that 98% of musicians like to focus on one or two or a few of these aspects of music, but not all of them. And yet it takes all of them to make music that stands apart from everything else AND reaches its intended audience. Now not everyone has the energy, stamina, patience, or drive to focus on all of these things - and that's certainly okay - it just means that you probably won't be able to make your career out of music. However when someone does have that ambition and puts it into practice, it is an energy that is refreshing and a joy to be around.
May 7, 2013 - Equipment vs. Experience
One of the things that drives me crazy is when a prospective client calls the studio, and instead of asking me what kind of projects I've worked on, or what my experience is with recording certain types of music, or where he/she could listen to some of my work, instead they ask me if I have such-n-such music production program, or preamp, or microphone, or some other such thing which has little if no bearing on the final product.
Obviously they still have a LONG way to go in learning about how music and great art is made.
Let me propose a hypothetical question that may put this in a clearer perspective:
Assuming that you are not a professional sculptor ... how do you think you would fare if I dropped a 10,000 Lb block of marble in front of you and gave you every modern cutting device known to man ... super-precision, diamond-tipped, computer-assisted, and laser-guided ... and asked you to create for me a beautiful sculpture? Do you think it would turn out well?
Now if I took another 10,000 Lb block of marble, and provided only a chisel and a hammer, but gave this one to Michelangelo ... between the two of you now ... who do YOU think would make the better sculpture?
And would his finished creation be only slightly better than yours?? Or would it be a masterpiece compared to your piece of ... well, no need to use that language here, but you get it.
Music production is exactly the same. Give me a cheap microphone and the most remedial of production tools, and I promise you that I will run circles around an inexperienced engineer with a multitude of multi-million dollar equipment. In the end it is a producer's ears and experience that help to shape a great production. Knowing what sounds "right" and what steps are needed to get there. The same way that a Michelangelo knows how to envision and mine a great statue from a rock. Better tools and equipment help to get you to your end result more easily and faster, but they are merely facilitators to that end. Experience trumps equipment - BIG time.
Oh ... and by the way ... I DO have very nice production programs, preamps, and microphones.
April 25, 2013 - Groove
Just read a phenomenal article by one of the great Rock producers - Michael Beinhorn - explaining the relationship between the timing of the various instruments in a band and how it relates to a song's feel. For true diehard musicians only, but it may be a real eye-opener: A Primer on Feel
March 26, 2013 - Sound Quality
Sound quality is a big deal to me.
"Duh!" you may say, "you're a music producer - of course it is."
Not so fast. The two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. All people involved in the recording and production of music love some aspect of it, that's why they do it, otherwise they'd be in some other profession - because music is just too damn hard to make a living at unless you love it, but the actual sonic quality of the way music sounds isn't always part of the equation. I know many producers who get their thrill more from the arranging of musical parts, or from capturing a performance from a great artist, or from helping to tweak the way a song is written. To many of these people sound quality may be a consideration during the process, but is not always a main concern.
Blasphemy I say.
Before I started this blog last month, I had already posted a number of articles (or perhaps rants ...) online concerning this issue which is extremely important to me - and not nearly important enough to many people in the music business IMHO. But since I don't want to be redundant and repeat myself here, I'll just provide this link if you'd like to read more about it: Audiophile Blog (Scroll down to start reading at the bottom to read the posts in order)