Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lessons Learned During Music Recording Sessions

This week at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we put everything we have learned to the test. The ball was placed in our hands and it was “game on”! 

Class #180 had the responsibility and pleasure of recording some amazing live talent and soon-to-be-household-names. “A Silent Surrenders” multi-talented Nick Beaty stopped by to record his adrenaline-rushing new material. We set up drum, vocal, bass and acoustic guitar mics for Nick, set levels, then started recording. The team had a blast working with Nick as he effortlessly transitioned from instrument to instrument.
Also stopping by today was Emily and Al from the sultry, soulful, 60’s sounding group, “The Sh-Booms.” Emily and Al put finishing touches on their new record “1.2.3s”. The "Sh-Booms" not only left a lasting impression on class #180, but also kept every head bopping and every foot tapping as they laid stacks and harmonies.

There were many solid fundamental lessons learned from having the opportunity to engineer for serious, working, performing artists. 

A golden rule to remember is: 

Always be prepared! Arrive at your sessions as early as possible and have everything within your power set up and ready to record. This includes microphones, session files, notes or any other specifics you may consulted with the artist and/or producer about.
While recording, you want to create the most comfortable and productive working environment possible. The best way to ensure productivity is to keep the artist in the loop of what’s going on when not recording and by having an open line of communication - even when giving constructive criticism. Artists appreciate honest feedback! Last but not least, be quick when navigating through Pro Tools. This is important because you do not want to keep the artist waiting.

Music, much like life, is all about moments and most are moments you can’t get back or duplicate. “Always be on your toes and ready for the unexpected,” says student Billy Smith. A good engineer understands the importance of capturing those moments as they could ultimately make your recording stand out from the rest!    


written by James Glenn

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Creating an Original Song From Scratch

Class is in session, literally! 

This week class #180 will be creating an original song from scratch. Many of us have recorded songs at beginner or home studios but have never experienced the “real deal” in a professional atmosphere nor know the many roles that go into making a successful recording. By successful, I don’t initially mean a Grammy Award winning smash hit, but a quality, great-sounding record ready to present to the world. 

Truth be told, you can’t have one without the other. Our instructor, Rich Ott, who has worked with award-winning producers such as Dr. Dre and Rockwilder, gives us the lay of the land and task of assigning our roles in the studio.
Agreeably, the most important job in the studio is that of the producer. These days the term is disrespectfully thrown around as anyone who sits behind a computer or beat machine and makes a beat is considered a producer. This could not be further from the truth! However talented beat makers are, there is a massive difference in the role of a producer. A producer is responsible for overseeing a project in its entirety - not just the construction of a beat. In short, the producer has the most responsibility and pressure as his or her focus is to take the artists’ vision and deliver a marketable product to the label and consumer.       

Learn more about becoming a music producer...

Next are the engineers. The role of an engineer is focus on sound quality, picking the right microphones and editing. In sync with the head engineer is the assistant engineer. This role requires a multitasking runner who can set up mics, cables, and assist the head engineer in whatever way is needed to create a successful recording.

Learn more about becoming an audio engineer...
Time is always money. In most cases a song is already written and ready to record, but there are instances where songwriters will write on the spot, consult with artist, producer and engineers. Songwriters Tj Northon and Billy Smith both state that “dealing with different personalities, trying to mix different ideas and make everyone feel comfortable is the hardest element.” In reality, you will deal with egos, deadlines and disagreements but keep your eyes on the prize - and remember that everyone has the same collective goal of creating great music.

If you have a goal of creating great music, learn how at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. We offer hands-on learning, and you can graduate in only 8 months. 

written by James Glenn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Want Your Music Heard on the Radio?

Want your music heard on the radio? 

Of course! As musicians we all do. It is one of our dreams to hop in the car, turn on the radio, and know that something you created is being heard by thousands. This week at F.I.R.S.T Institute we have been challenged to create our own :30 second radio commercial spot.

The great thing about F.I.R.S.T. Institute is that it opens you up to possibilities and talents you never knew you had. You may walk in as an artist and leave as an artist/aspiring post-production engineer. The roundtable forums are fun: The class sits in a semi-circle and we begin to throw out ideas for our commercial. With the guidance of our instructor and professional program producer Rich Ott, we come up with a winning plan, product, and pitch!
There are several guidelines, “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to recording a radio spot: 

First thing you need is your P.O, or Production Order. A production order is simply your road map. It’s a detailed plan to guide you in setting standards and determining a course of action. Your P.O will state the company you are working for; the run dates (deadlines); the name of the spot (what you are advertising); and the copy points (the script).

You want to avoid T.M.I (Too Much Information) and T.M.D (Too Much Detail). 

Another popular industry acronym to remember is K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid) - you want to be direct and to the point, because over-thinking could cause you to lose your audience’s attention. Most importantly, you must know your target audience (who you are selling to). For example, you may market a product differently to a 25 yr old woman than you would a 25 year old man. 

Would you like to learn how to get your music on the radio? Learn the skills you need at F.I.R.S.T. Institute! We offer hands-on learning on cutting-edge equipment. Graduate in only 8 months! Learn more here...

Written by James Glenn