Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cool & Dre Signs Production Deal with F.I.R.S.T. School Graduate

F.I.R.S.T. School graduate Brian (Yung Ladd) Pickens is making major over in the music industry. He graduated from the Audio Engineering and Music Production program in September of 2010. Since then, he has been back in forth from Orlando to Miami working 
on various music projects for Cool & Dre. Be on the look out for Yung Ladd!

Cool & Dre’s recent signee and protégée, 20-year old Brian Pickens known as Yung Ladd is quickly making a name for himself as a producer. Having produced “It’s Good”, 
one of the most talked about tracks off of Lil Wayne’s Platinum album Tha Carter IV, he 
is on his way to a bright future as a music creator.
What makes this story even more special is that Yung Ladd was introduced to Cool & Dre through his mother, Lisa Truss 4 years ago when she sent a humanitarian request via MySpace to Cool & Dre. Yung Ladd was 16 years old when he became gravely ill and his mom thought an encouraging word from his idols would help lift his spirits. To
Lisa’s surprise Cool responded to her request and the super producers met with Yung 
Ladd in Florida with the assistance of the Make A Wish Foundation. Thankfully, Ladd received the life changing care he needed and his health continues to improve.

Over the years Cool & Dre saw how incredibly talented Yung Ladd was as a producer and signed him to a production deal through their imprint Epidemic Music. Ladd then made the move from his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Orlando, Florida to continue his mentorship with Cool & Dre. Ladd’s next track will be Fat Joe’s “Another Round” featuring Chris Brown. Ladd is also producing tracks for Don Trip, Bird Man, The Game, Chris Brown, Usher and more. Expect to hear much more music from this incredible young talent. 

Would you like to be the next music deal success story? 

Consider a career in music production at F.I.R.S.T. School! Check out the website for more information, videos, photos, class information, and more. Graduate in 8 months! Get started today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Audio Tips & Tricks: Mixing for Vinyl Records

Did you know?
The total sales of vinyl were up 14% in 2010, selling 2.8 million total units. Classic album releases account for many of the sales, as the Beatles' Abbey Road was the top selling vinyl record last year, but new releases from Black Keys, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire also had remarkable sales on vinyl. The sales of CDs fell by nearly 20% for the fourth year in a row and digital sales only gained 1%, with an overall 12.8% drop in all U.S. album sales. All of this is mostly due to rampant piracy still very prevalent in the music industry.
So it seems the only medium that is not only maintaining it’s sales levels, but growing rapidly is the trusty vinyl LP. Almost every major label and working independent artist are being released on vinyl because of these figures. So as professional audio engineers we should be familiar with some of the techniques and standards of recording and mixing for vinyl.

To properly mix for vinyl requires an awareness of what the medium can and cannot do. Unlike digital the laws of physics dictate the way we work with wax (wax is what many engineers and DJ’s call vinyl, referring to the original wax masters audio was recorded to). This first thing to take into account with vinyl is playing time. Your standard 33 1/3 LP can fit approximately 23 minutes of program material per side the 45 7” can fit around 4 minutes per side (now you see why the length of a typical pop song is under 4 minutes).

Instructors at F.I.R.S.T. School can teach you all about music recording! 
Check out the F.I.R.S.T. School website for more information!

The length of your songs per side dictate the loudness of your wax. In basic terms the wider the groove, called the lateral excursion, the louder or stronger the signal is. This is why the 12” single became popular with dance music. One song taking up the entire side of a LP would have a giant groove and play really loud with extended low frequencies, conversely trying to fit 5 or 6 songs on one side of a 12” would make the grooves very narrow and there therefore would be quieter. Talk with the vinyl mastering engineer to advise you on level versus playing time to help you decide on song order or wether you need more than on LP for release.
With mixing for vinyl you must be careful with extreme high frequencies (HF). Vocal sibilance, cymbals, some brass instruments, and any aggressive high frequency EQ will cause real problems with cutting the wax. Prior to cutting the vinyl the RIAA HF pre-emphasis is added to the audio and if the signal has too high levels of HF there is a chance of damaging the disc cutting head or a least a very unpleasant effect on the record.
Low frequencies (LF) will present a different set of problems, in particular equal levels of opposing phase information. This will make the record player (typically with cheaper cartridges) unable to properly track the vertical movement while the vinyl spins and the groove changes form shallow/narrow to deep/wide. Usually a LF crossover system is employed to make sure that low frequencies are reordered and and cut so LF is equal in both left and right channels. These errors can be caused by improper mic technique that cause phase issues, over panning of LF instruments (this is why your kick drum and bass instruments are typically best in the center of a mix), effects that create extreme out of phase conditions like flangers and too much reverb, or over equalization of low end. All of these recording and mixing errors will make the vinyl uncuttable.

Also keep in mind that the vinyl disc doesn’t have the full range that digital media has. Keep this in mind when mixing and mastering. Don’t make your mix levels too loud or use a brick wall limiter to aggressively when mastering. If you approach your mixing with these basics in mind, the transfer to wax will be a successful and great sounding process. But if you don’t you will leave your mixes to the skill of the cutting engineer, who will use whatever processing needed to protect their equipment and get you mix to play on vinyl. This leaves no guarantee that your mix will sound like what you had envisioned once it hits wax.

Are you fascinated with music recording? Learn more about Audio Recording, Audio Engineering, and Music Production at the F.I.R.S.T. School website!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sean Paul and Power 95.3 Radio Visit F.I.R.S.T. School

Sean Paul, Jamaican dance hall super-star visits the F.I.R.S.T. School in Orlando, Florida, to promote his new single "Got 2 Luv U" featuring Alexis Jordan. Thanks to Power 95.3 radio, Orlando's #1 Station for Hip Hop and R&B, listeners were able to win a chance to be apart of this huge event at the F.I.R.S.T. School
The afternoon started out with the Power 95.3 street team prepping the school with Sean Paul flyers, posters, and creating an interview area in the film sound stage. 

F.I.R.S.T. School Director, Alan K. Forbes, says "It's great to have such an influential music icon interact with fans and up and coming entertainment professionals. This really means a lot to our students".  Thanks to a Cox Media Group Production Manager, and F.I.R.S.T. School graduate Erik Velez the F.I.R.S.T. School continues to have excellent opportunities like this on a regular basis.  
Once the event was set up, Sean Paul and his entourage entered through the front door and was meet with tons of students and fans taking pictures and signing autographs. Once Sean Paul made it to the interview area it was all about the fans. He played songs from his new album, and was open to answering any question that was asked to him. 

Totally unscripted were two up and coming Hip Hop artist from the F.I.R.S.T. School that actually got to sign a hook and rap with Sean Paul. School Director, Donney Smith, says, "I was completely amazed that when these two up and coming artist asked if they could sing a hook and freestyle with Sean Paul that he took the challenge. The energy in the room was amazing!"  

Check out the F.I.R.S.T. School website to learn more about exciting upcoming music events!