A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘musos’

The Recording Studio

Hey guys, first of all apologies for the blogfade, I’ve been really busy, especially since my broken wrist has healed and I am playing again. I have a few great new songs ready to be recorded, well two of them are ready to be recorded, I’m still working on the guitar solo for the third which is a jazz song.

I’ve said many times that you should sign up to your Performing Rights Association. I’m a writer member of APRA (If you are in the USA you can join either ASCAP or BMI) which looks after Australia and New Zealand. Actually I wonder why it isn’t called ANZPRA? As well as making sure that you collect your performance royalties, they do lots of other things like putting on the awesone S3 Song Summit Sydney which I went to and blogged about last year. They also support and sponsor lots of seminars like the one I went to at Depot Artspace yesterday.

Now I have of course recorded in a studio before, but this was a great workshop with the opportunity to learn more about recording, mixing and mastering. There were a couple of things that I came away with that I thought I would share with you.

First of all, with the economy as it is, many studios are quiet and you may be able to negotiate a deal, even if its just some extra practice time. Rates seem to vary from $25 an hour to huge sums. Don’t just go on price because you may get what you paid for, although some people may be very good, but either getting started or just want to help fellow musos or gain experience. So cheap doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality.

A key bit of advice is to hear some examples of their work. Also see if they have experience in your genre.  Someone into electonica or heavy metal might not bring the best out of country or a solo singer songwriter with just a guitar. But then they might too. Anyway check what they have done and ask if they have testimonials or any hits under their belt.

Another good bit of advice is to collect a selection of tracks of artists whose sound you like and you would like your track to sound like. Then you can take those tracks to the studio for the team to listen to. You can say, I want my track to sound like that. The guys at Depot Artspace, said that if you do that, they will be able to come close, although of course a lot of it is up to y0u.

There was some discussion, instigated by me, as to what costs to expect for mixing, mastering etc. I wont preempt any pricing but you should be leaving at least a c0uple of hundred dollars. One of the suggestions was whether you were looking for a single or ‘just an album track’. I was surpised at that. Obviously some people want to put more into their ‘best’ tracks. The problem I have with that is that I want all my tracks to be the best they can be and often the track you like the best isn’t the one that becomes the hit. There is also the issue that in todays world of iTunes and downloads, its quite possible that most of your sales will be for single tracks. These days of most of the albums I buy, there are only a few tracks that I really like.

I’ve currently got my eye out for a few musicians that would like to record with me in the studio. I’m especially after a drummer and someone who plays pedal steel. I can’t pay them but they will get credit on the demos. I’ll do another blog soon about demos, this blog is about the studio.

For solo artists like myself (I do play with resident or jam bands but its been many years since I’ve been IN a band), keeping time can be an issue when you bring session musicians in. When  its you on your own people won’t notice if your timing slides a fraction and sometimes you even do it deliberately. I do that in my new jazz song Color Blind. If you can’t keep steady in a studio, it’s going to cost you time and money and annoy the other musicians. My Tascam home studio has a click track and I also have a metronome, but they are both so  boring and don’t give you the one beat. Fortunately my new Digitech Jam Man has a choice of 10 click tracks, they aren’t great, but much better than what I had before and I don’t mind playing with them. Maybe I’ll  be able to download some better samples. One thing the Jam Man doesn’t seem to be able to do is let you select the beats per minute, you have to tap it in, but I digress. The point is that if you make sure you are as ready as you can be, before you get to the studio, the better your result will be.

So shop around, do your homework, ask for examples of their work and ask liots of questions. People don’t work in recording studios for a job. They do it as a vocation. They do it because theyh love it. You will pretty much find all of them interested and happy to show you around and explain how they work. Remember, its about their reputation as well as yours.

How about leaving a comment and sharing your experiences in the studio?

Advertisements

Get a support act gig

One way of looking for gigs to perform your original songs is to look for opporunities to become the support act. There are all sorts of opportunities out there and they all come from networking. On 4 September I will be one of 4 or 5 suppor acts at Forde’s Bar in Auckland. I found out about it from a friend in a local songwriting group. I don’t know who the main band will be. but all I had to do was ring and ask if I could get a 20 minute spot.

I guess then, the first thing you have to do is ask. The next thing is networking. The reason I heard about the opportunity was through networking. It, as is often the case, is about who you know.

The support acts for main shows are often friends or acquaintances. So you need to become friends or acquaintances with the people you would to support or their supporters, because of course it can also come from a referral.

Who would you like to open for? Go to their gigs, introduce yourself and talk with them. If you liken them you will be able to sincerely talk about their music and what you like about it. Don’t go up to them and ask for a gig!

Your music should fit with theirs if you are going to open for them. A country artist is likely to get boo’d off the stage if they are opening for a Metal band. On the other hand you don’t have to be of the same genre. At a Bic Runga concert a couple of years ago, her openers included Anika Moa (who has a nice smooth sound and fits the easy grooves of Bic’s music and has her friend (get the picture?) Anna Coddington opening for her on tour right now). Another opener who were extremely popular were Flight of the Conchords. This was the first time I and (by the reception) had heard or seen them, so they came accross as fresh and new, but also very different. But they were laid back which was how the whole show came accross. They were very different but they still had a good fit to the environment and atmosphere and the mix of audience.

Muso’s are usually very friendly and open for a chat in their breaks. Don’t be afraid to go up and talk to them even if they are surrounded by people they know and you are a stranger. A few years ago I was in Fiji and had a listen to the house band at the Suva Travelodge as they were doing their sound checks. I sat in the empty lounge and had a listen and ended up having a chat with the band. Next thing they were asking me what I was doing that night. I replied that I had no plans and next thing they are saying “You have now, you’re playing with us”. So that evening I found myself playing the blues with an awesome band, on a very nice Gibson Les Paul.

So what is the lesson? Find bands you like (and have some synergy with yourstyle) , go to their gigs, get to know them and when the opportunity is right, ask if they have or need an opening act. Bands and solo performers generally know each other, at least a little and are likely to know if there are other similar bands needing openers.

Last but not least, try your local music shop, check their notice board or during mid week, when they are fresh and recovered from the weekend, ask them if they know of any acts looking for support bands or artists. They are probably in a band themselves.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you are looking for a country opening act for your gig, have a listen to me at MySpace and give me a call.

If you found this blog useful , tell someone and leave a comment and perhaps subsrcibe so you don’t miss out on the next one.

Tag Cloud