Producing a Successful Demo

chris-birkett

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

Producing a Successful Demo by Talia Wooldridge, guest blogger.  Originally published September 13, 2016 by SongCat.

Advertisements

Why Avoid DIY Mastering? (Even if you know your way around compressors and EQ’s)

Mixerby:  Karl Machat

Can you think of any process, artistic or otherwise, that hasn’t yet been digitized?  Desktop publishing, graphics, website creation, photo editing. Some of these you can even do online – for free!  The temptation can be overwhelming for some people. Especially when you consider the quality you can get.  It’s almost as if you were missing out for not coming onboard the DIY route.

Digital democratization has brought high level professional tools into more hands than ever before. The Mastering process is no exception.  But this blog is not about analog vs. digital or hardware vs. software. And it’s not about whether you may or may not have the qualifications to use those tools.  This is about why you should hire a mastering engineer to master your music instead of going the DIY route.  And I’ll spare you the quips about it like ‘doing your own dentistry’, or ‘being your own lawyer’!

Ever play a mix for friends or colleagues you did yourself and thought was ‘finished’, then suddenly hear glaringly obvious mistakes?! Were you suddenly providing a running commentary of excuses?  It’s similar to writing an article. You double and triple-check, only to have someone point out a spelling mistake, or ask what this sentence means?  Why do we miss those things one time that suddenly seem blatantly obvious later?

The reason is because we get so close focusing on a project at different levels in different degrees that we start to lose sight of that overall important big picture.  Hiring a mastering engineer gives you a professional, experienced, objective point of view.  Think of it like having a proofreader for your work.

A mastering engineer is your insurance that you only put your best foot forward, and are spared embarrassing mistakes.  You’re not paying the mastering engineer for their tools or software collection, either.  You’re paying for their experience in using those tools.

Mastering engineers give an experienced listen on a system they know intimately in terms of translating to other systems. They balance your artistic desires and preferences with what’s commercially acceptable for your particular work in the marketplace. They will listen, consult, advise, revise if necessary, anything that needs to be done to ensure you can share your music confidently with the world! They do so passionately – but objectively.

No tools – software or hardware – can give you that kind of involved human input.  Hiring a mastering engineer gives you a professional, experienced, objective viewpoint for your music. It can protect you from awkward, embarrassing mistakes. That is why it is a necessary and worthwhile investment.

-Karl Machat is an S.A.C. member and a mastering engineer at Mister’s Mastering House.  He has been putting the final touches on artist music projects for more than ten years.

Recording At Home – An Introduction

Michael HollandThe S.A.C. is defined by the passionate members that make up our community.  One of whom has generously offered to let us publish his articles about Recording At Home.  Over the course of the next few months we will sharing his blogs which cover a wide range of important subjects aimed at empowering songwriters to better handle recording tools to support their songwriting.  Michael Holland was a participant in the recent blogging challenge, who is also enthusiastic about recording.  We’ll let him tell you more about himself in this introduction…

By Michael Holland

You love songs.  You write songs.  You want to present your songs in the best possible light with a top-notch recording, but you want to do it at home.

Look no further.  This blog series is for you!

I offer a special welcome to my fellow members of the Songwriters Association of Canada.  Together, we enjoy camaraderie, mutual inspiration and some really great music.   If you are in Canada, and you write songs, I strongly recommend that you join the SAC.   It’s a great organization.  Thanks to the economic realities of our business, songwriters need to stick together now more than ever.

Go to http://www.songwriters.ca/ if you’d like to find out more about the SAC.

I assume that you want great results from your recording set-up, and that you are not made of money.   I also assume that you don’t have a handy recording engineer and don’t know anything much about recording.  If I talk to you like an idiot, I apologize in advance, but I do want to be sure the least informed readers are not left behind.  I am well aware that most songwriters don’t want to be an engineer, but knowing how increases your artistic options and helps you to show your work off – and it can save you a great deal of money over the years!

It may surprise you to realize that there are quite a few really simple (and free or low-cost) things that you can do to bring your work to a new realm of audio quality.

I am talking not only about the technical aspects such as where to put a microphone, or how to make the bass LOUD while not muddying up the mix overall, but also about generating the desired emotional responses in your listeners.

Recording studios certainly have mystique but it’s really not that mysterious once you get a few basics squared away.  If you follow my blog for the next two months you will find yourself gaining an understanding of the process from one end to the other, and adding lots of useful tips and tricks to your arsenal, and, I hope, making the best recordings you have ever made at home.

You’re probably wondering about my own background.  I have been recording in various studios professionally (and at home) since the late 1970’s and I have specialized in mastering records since the 1990’s.  I have worked on consoles of all sizes and shapes, such as SSL, Neve, Sony, Mitsubishi, Soundcraft, and others.

I have written, performed, sung, played, tracked, mixed, mastered and gigged in Canada and the UK and I have had the best and the worst of times in many recording studios, from very large and famous multi-room complexes (places like Abbey Road and Battery Studios and The Strongroom) to very small and smelly studios (places I would rather not name) and they all taught me something valuable.

These days, I am in West Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I work as both a mastering engineer and a performing songwriter, which neatly satisfies my love of music, words and science.

I will be covering a wide range of subjects including pre-production, headphone monitoring, microphone types, tracking various instruments, mixing and mastering.  Next week we will be discussing Songwriter Home Recording Workflows.

Click Here to visit Michael’s Songwriters’ Profile.