A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘performing rights’

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?

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Join your Performing Rights Association

Your Performing Rights Association can be very important to you in a number of ways. They assist you with protection and ownership of your Intellectual Property IP) and most important, they collect and distribute performance royalties on your behalf. They do much more than this, but this is the key reason for their being.

I am a member of APRA which is an awesome association covering the rights of New Zealand and Australian songwriters and composers. Venues pay them a fee for live gigs and radio stations provide them with playlists so that they can process royalties for radio play of songwriters work. APRA also works closely with their counterparts around the world, the biggest being ASCAP and BMI which are the 2 societies in the USA. You will find loads of great information on their websites, even if you don’t live in the USA. They also run amazing seminars with some of the best songwriters ever.

When I play a gig, I put in an electronic return on the web site, with the venue details and my set lists and the following I get paid. It’s not a lot, but the more you gig, the more royalties you get. You also get paid whenever your tracks are played on commercial radio. Ironically at the moment I get no play in New Zealand, but you can hear some of my songs on the radio in Canada.

APRA also puts on training seminars and as of this year, they started the great new event S3 (check out the link from my other blog about this event Song Summit Sydney) which was a fantastic learning and networking exercise. They even let me pay for my registration from my future royalties. This is no small event with speakers including Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams and my fravorite Ralph Murphy.

APRA also sponsors the APRA SIlver Scroll Awards which is the major music event of the NZ calendar.

On top of this they are greatt people and from the directors through to the team in the office, they are there to help us as artists in any way they can. You can even use their premises for meetings (relevant of course) if you need some space. APRA people are there first and formost because they care about local music. You should find out who your PRA are and join them as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. This organisation’s sole purpose is your rights an outside of running costs, all revenues aer distributed back to the artists.

Oh and I almost forgot, their website is full of useful information and contacts as is the APRAP, a magazine I always look forward to reading.

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