Copyright

Copyright Myths

Music copyrighting is a tricky and often confusing subject.

As we all know, flat out copying someone's music is a no-no.  It is unethical and unlawful.  However, there ARE many things we can use from other people's music without actually running in to a Copyright infringement issue.  For instance, chord progressions and scales.

Below is a quick tutorial explaining and dispelling some Copyright myths by Richard Stim in his Lynda.com course on the subject.

Hurting my ears

Creating and using a De’esser

Often during the mixing phase, I will sneak in some extra high-end on the EQ in an effort to bring out clarity in several instruments, (including vocals).  Everything will sound great on my system.  Then I play the song back on ear buds, or my phone, and realize the "esss's" and "teeee's" are waay too harsh.  Like, ear bleeding harsh!  A work around for taming them, without losing your clarity, is using a de'esser.  Follow the link below for a free video instruction on setting up your de'esser and how to use it.

Setting up your De'esser

Mike Lizotte

MicrophoneGrouping

Microphones – How they work

Here is a cool article, complete with a video on explaining the different types of microphones and how they work.  Some people use a tool and never really care how they work, but there are times when knowing exactly how the tool works, will allow you to chose the right tool for the job!

Click on the link below, which will bring you to a FREE Lynda.Com article and video on the subject.

 Microphones Explained

 

-Mike Lizotte

Taking Notes

The importance of taking notes

Taking notes is a key step to improving my final productions.  I don't mean taking notes away from my ultra killer kazoo solo, I am talking about breaking out pen and paper.

 

If you have ever listened back to your songs or mixes, you have surely encountered a “spot” (or maybe several “spots”) in the song that make you cringe as it plays by.  This could be that one bass note which clashes with the organ, or the one 'slightly out of time' snare hit, or maybe just that the vocals are a tad too loud.  I recommend writing down everything that is not 'perfect' as the song plays through.  You can then return to your song or mix, armed with your notes and start making adjustments.  It's very important that you start the note taking process from the FIRST listen back and I will explain why.

 

Humans are very adaptive creatures.  For a simple example, let's picture getting in to a hot tub on a cold winter night.  As you step into the hot tub water, your senses scream that you are going to be boiled alive!  After a short time you force yourself to sit down and your body eventually gets accustomed to the temperature.  Now, what happens when we get out? Brrr!!!  The opposite is true when taking a cold shower, eventually your body will get used to the temperature and it will 'feel' right.  (Barring the extremes of course!)

 

Our ears adapt to stimuli just like our bodies adapt to temperature changes.  When we first start mixing a song, we might boost the high-end on the EQ a bit.  After a short time, our ears will become accustomed to the extra high-end and we may decide to boost a little more.  Now, if we take a break, or listen to other music for a bit, when we return to our mix we realize the high-end is WAY to high.  This is why it is important to have a reference song to compare with, while we mix.  A blog post on using reference mixes can be found HERE.

 

Our ears and minds will also adapt and become accepting of parts that we did not originally like upon first listen.  There could also be psychological reasons for this, especially if it is our own material, but I'm not smart enough to have a psychology debate on the subject.  Because we adapt so well, this is why it is important to take notes of the problems you hear on the FIRST listen!  You don't want to give your ears or mind a chance to adapt or dismiss the problem areas.  Also, by having written notes in your hand, you have specific instructions, written by YOU, on what needs to be addressed.  You then have a clear road map on how to make your mix or song sound great!

 

I wish I could tell you it only takes me one time to get everything right in my song or mix, but I would be lying.  There are mixes I have listened to dozens of times and taken dozens of notes before I felt I had it 'right'.  Like everything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Give it a try and let me know if it helped!

 

As always, subscribe to our mailing list for more tips, tricks, tutorials and deals not included in the blog page.

 

Mike Lizotte

Chopin Treble Clef Music Note Money Clip

Making Money from your Music PT 2 – Music Libraries

This is part two of the blog series “Making money from your music”.  In this post we will discuss music libraries.  The first blog post in this series spoke about streaming your music over internet radio and how to submit your music to Pandora.  That post can be found HERE.  Based on some feedback I received from readers, I wrote a follow-up article explaining the benefits of giving away your music for free, which can be found HERE.  I recommend reading the first two blog posts if you haven't already.

 

In this post, I will talk about music libraries, some general songwriting tips specific to music libraries and where to find them and submit your music.

 

Much of the music you hear on television and commercials comes from music libraries. In the past, television producers would hire composers to write custom music for their commercial, show, corporate video, documentary, or any other media they nMusicLibrarypiceeded music for. The composer or composers would create music for a film and typically offer a solo piano arrangement as a “temp” track to the producer for approval.  Once the temp music was approved, they would move on to recording the full score with live players and instruments.

 

In the present, budgets are way down in media production and in many cases, the music budget is ….less than ideal. I don't know which was the cause and which was the effect, but the bottom line is, music is really cheap now and it's hard to find productions willing to pay top dollar for your music.  They are out there, but you will have a lot of competition.  Music is also being produced for a fraction of the cost as years ago.  The majority of composers work from their home studios now.  We no longer have the big studio production costs of the past.   Recording software and computers have been a game changer.  There are also high quality sample libraries, many of which you would be hard pressed to know what instrument was a live player and what was recorded using samples.  So when we cry at the music budgets for television and media, we also have to take in to consideration that music does not cost as much to produce as in the past.

 

Despite that being said, many people don't realize how much setting up a professional home studio can cost.  We can be talking anywhere from $1,500 dollars to $350,000 dollars! Don't let the word “home” fool you, some of the professional Hollywood composers have some pretty sweet set ups with all the gear you could shake a stick at! …......Ok enough daydreaming about gear.

 

On to the music libraries.  There are a wide variety of music libraries.  Some music libraries are high-end and they offer only the highest quality productions, while other music libraries will accept almost any composer and will take medium level productions. Some music libraries will have lots of contacts and will get steady placements in media, while other music libraries will have hundreds of thousands of songs in their library and will rarely get any placements.  Some music libraries are royalty free, while others are not.

 

Each music library will offer its own terms and will most likely take anywhere from 30%-60% of each sale.  This is the cost of them being your “publisher”.  Many composers and songwriMusicNotesters have a negative reaction to this initially, after all, why should they get 50% of something I created??  But the obvious answer is, creating a product is only 50% of the work.  You still need to market it, develop contacts, work on the licensing deal, sign contracts etc.  If you look at most industries, production cost of a product is only a portion of the budget.  You always need sales, distribution, employee payroll, benefits and rent at the minimum.  As you can see, if you look at your music creations as a business partnership, you produce and they sell, it doesn't seem so bad.  I studied under the very talented Brad Hatfield who has more television credits than I can list here. Brad had a saying when talking about music libraries and that was “it's better to make 50% of something than 100% of nothing!”.  Once you adopt this phrase internally and realize it is absolutely true, then you can start focusing on your music.

 

I decided a few years ago that whenever I had free time, I would try to write a song for the music library.  I also write music for advertisements, jingles, television, corporate videos with my company M & J Music Creations LLC.  Often times I will create 30 or 60 second advertisement spots that are not accepted on the first submission.  Instead of throwing those music creations away, I add them to my music library.  Doing this for a couple of years, I have had my music bought and licensed all over the world.  At this point, I have a collection of songs in the music library and every now and again I will get an email showing me another sale.  This is money for 'work' I already did and all but forgot about! To be realistic, I have not paid off my home with the money from the music library yet, but that's also because I don't have a lot of time to create music for it anymore.  I have met several people who make a living off of their music library sales. One guy had over 900 pieces of music in his music library!  If you treat it like a job and work at it constantly, you will eventually grow your material and start making money. This is assuming you can create good quality productions.

 

What kind of music are they looking for?

 

This is easy to answer – EVERYTHING!  Sometimes a TV music supervisor will search out a music library to find source music, which may be playing from a car radio or jukebox during a scene.  This is music that will be in the background of the scene and may be EQ'd to sound like it is coming out of a radio, as an example.  If the producers of the show want to use a popular song, they will have to pay big dollars to license it.  So buying or licensing an unknown song from a music library is a more favorable choice in many cases.  They might scan through and find a song that fit with whatever genre or style the scene is portraying, then license it for the scene.  It might be a scene that needs house or techno music, or a soap advertisement that is looking for soft sensual music.

 

General guides and ideas for music library composing

 

Advertisements - typically run :15 seconds, :30 seconds and :60 seconds.  If you create music for these exact lengths, it has a better chance of being used due to the convenience factor.  Remember, your reverb, delays and sustains have to end by the allotted time as well.

 

Song length – A song length from 1:30 to 3:00 minutes is good ballpark. Rarely you will get your song into a scene or production and have it play more than 3 minutes.

 

Sound-a-likes – Most music libraries will post what kind of music they are looking for, based on supply and demand.  You will find that they are always looking for “sound-a-likes”.  Sound-a-likes are songs that sound like they are in a certain genre, or a certain band or a certain era.  If you are going to create “sound-a-like” songs, just be mindful not to outright copy or steal material, or you could find yourself on a hot seat.

 

Song structure – I would suggest going with a typical ABA format or something easy to follow.  Always add a short intro and an ending.  This gives the music editor many options when splicing and editing the song.  “Nooo they can't cut up my song!!”...Yes, yes they can and they will :(

 

Other considerations – Very few songs are going to be the 'featured' song in the film. Sometimes they are, but consider all the music in a film or radio and you will realize that most of the music is in the background, under dialog.  This means that they do not want the music to distract the audience, they want the music to enhance the mood. With this in mind, there are some general understandings when writing music under dialog:

 

Have a steady rhythm.  If you are changing time or doing double stops, it is going to call attention to our ears. We tend to accept the constant and be alerted to change.

 

No crazy solo's. If you want to make a song and call it “Steve's sexy-ass-sax solo” or Brett's bitchin' guitar riffs” then by all means do it and solo your hearts out, just make sure it's named appropriately so when the producers are looking for a sexy-ass-sax solo, they find it.  Otherwise, a blazing, distracting solo in the middle of a scene is not going to work and will be cut.

 

Choosing a music library

 

Some libraries are exclusive, meaning that you cannot sell the same song anywhere else except for their library.  Other libraries you can sell as many places as you want. Make sure you do your research on this and decide.

 

As mentioned previously, some libraries have a lot of placements, and other just have a lot of songs.  Most libraries will have a “recent placements” list or something similar which will give you some insight in to the kind of money they generate.

 

Check to make sure you agree to their terms and publishers share.  Never give up the master rights to your music! However, don't be too shocked when they want 50% either.

 

The easiest way to get started is to find a royalty free library, make a profile and start uploading songs.  They will all have a moderator who has to approve the music prior to going live, so make sure your music and production are up to par.  When you upload songs to any library, make sure to take the time and complete all of the information on the songs, this will allow the most opportunity for your songs to be found on a search.

 

I recommend when you create a song, to write in the comments field, the genre, instruments, length, BPM and lyrics.  If possible, also make different mixes, instrumental, lyrics 6 DB lower, and normal.  Also different lengths: full version, :30 second and :60 second versions.  If possible make a :15 second stinger.

 

If you feel so inclined, I would challenge you to commit to writing a song and submitting it to a music library.  Even if it's not the best song you have ever written,  The benefits you gain from forcing yourself to write, mix and produce continue to grow the more you do it.

 

If you subscribe to our email list (upper right corner of the screen), you will receive a FREE music library report with a list of music libraries and a direct link to them, which should aid you in your music library search.  Thank you for being a reader and stay tuned for more in the series, “Making money from your music”!

 

Mike Lizotte

   
Free sign

The advantage of giving away your music for free

Giving away your music for free (or really cheap) has its benefits.  This is a follow-up article to http://www.homerecordingwizard.com/make-money-music-pt-1-submitting-music-pandora/ .

 

Most business models involve giving away selected products for free. or at a loss,  to attract customers.  You want to look at the long-term benefits of having customers, vs the short-term of "losing money".  Think of coupons or weekly specials at the grocery store.  They often advertise items at a discount to attract customers to the store, hoping they will purchase other items which are not discounted.  Or the gas station that advertises "free hot dog with fill-up".  You get the idea.  Short term 'loss' for long-term gains.

 

Let's face it, there is a lot of music on the internet.  You need a way to attract people to YOUR music.  That's why the first article in my series "Making money with your music" focused on submitting your music to Pandora radio.  I am sure you have read that internet radio and Pandora do not offer much money in the way of royalties, for streaming your music.  However, the quarterly royalties you receive from the internet radio plays is NOT where the real money is going to come from.  The real money is going to come from gaining exposure and attracting fans by streaming your songs on Pandora or internet radio.

 

Once you have a fan base, you can then monetize yourself, and your music in a variety of ways: selling songs, giving lessons, live performance, selling merchandise, making custom music for advertisers etc.  The free video below, by Bob Owsinski goes in to more detail on the subject, and does a great job explaining the advantage of giving away your music for free.   This entire course by Bob Owsinksi is highly recommended and a great resource for learning how to sell your music in the various formats.

 

 

Click here to get a 7 day free pass to Lynda.Com and watch this course and thousands of others: Get 7 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com.

 

As always, if you liked the article and would like to learn more, subscribe to our mailing list and you will receive extra's which are not included in the normal Blog.  (I never send SPAM and never sell or give your email to others).

 

Mike Lizotte

Moneyfrommusic

Make money from your music PT 1 – Submitting your music to Pandora

Making money from your music is not just for the rich and famous, anyone can do it and I will show you how, in this upcoming series.  In part 1 of this series we will discuss submitting your music to Pandora.  A short video by Bob Owsinski at the bottom of this article will spell out the exact steps.

 

The key to making money in music is not selling the next super mega hit song to Lady Gaga or Garth Brooks,  (although, that would be super cool!)  The key is to have realistic goals and the knowledge of how to reach those goals, which I will help you with.

 

In one of my earlier articles: http://www.homerecordingwizard.com/7-ways-make-money-music/ I offer some ideas on the subject.  In this upcoming blog series "making money from your music", I will give you a road map to follow so you can achieve some positive cash flow, to pay for some of that expensive recording gear :)

 

The below video by Bob Owsinski gives you everything you need to know to start making money from your music via Pandora.  While you may not make a zillion dollars from streaming songs on Pandora, it will get your music heard by millions of people, and if your music is as good as you hope, the popularity can be turned in to more money via downloads or CD sales.  The first step in selling your music is to get it out there and heard.

 

You can sign up to watch the entire series by Bob Owsinski here: lynda.com online tutorials, or click the link at the end of the video

Mike Lizotte

MD PRVExp

Getting a realistic MIDI performance

As some of you may know, I also write music for media with my company M & J Music Creations LLC. Many of the projects I have worked on required realistic sounding orchestral pieces, but without the budget for a real orchestral. In these cases I turn to sample libraries for the MIDI mock ups.

 

Although the high end sample libraries of today will make your MIDI performance sound much more realistic out-of-the-box compared to the past, we still need to make adjustments to our MIDI performance to get authentic sounding results. In this months issue of Soundbytes Magazine I wrote an in-depth article explaining how to get a realistic performance from your MIDI instruments. This not only applies to orchestral arrangements but also applies to drum grooves and any other MIDI instrument you might use.

 

Check out the article here: Getting a realistic performance from your MIDI instruments.

 

I was requested to write a follow-up article for the next issue with more advanced techniques. If you have any questions about this article or would like me to cover specific material on MIDI performances in the future article, please leave a comment below or email me at Mike@HomeRecordingWizard.Com.

 

Mike Lizotte

VolumeFaderthing

Mixing Instrument levels and finding “the pocket”

The most important part of a mix is finding the correct balance for each instrument so they fit “in the pocket”.  From my experience, for an instrument or vocal to sit correctly, it needs to have the correct volume level in the mix and frequency space in the arrangement.  Every song and arrangement will have it's own unique set of challenges, but I will share some general ideas and techniques that I have picked up along the way, which will hopefully assist you in your productions.

Arrangement

In all fairness, we can't talk about having a perfect mix without addressing arrangement.  Some songs are arranged with each instrument in their own space to begin with, and mixing is simply a matter of adjusting volume and panning. In other cases, especially heavy metal, there will be low guitars, low bass and a kick drums to deal with.  This situation can present some challenges in getting a clear low-end in your mix.

Another example: if the arrangement has several instruments in the vocal frequency range, it might be difficult to make the vocals fit in the pocket.  When confronted with the arrangement problem, we tend to crank the volume of the vocals and they never feel 'right', either too loud or too soft.  If it is your own song, you can try to re-arrange some parts.  Some quick ideas would be, instead of strumming the entire open G chord, try playing just the high triad of the chord, or heck, move the G chord up an entire octave! It might sound odd at first, but when mixed with the rest of the song it might just sound fantastic.

If re-arrangement is not an option, you have the task of going in and carving out frequencies for your vocals from the other instruments.  Using a frequency analyzer to find the dominant vocal range is recommended.  See this article and video which explains how to do that.  After finding the dominant vocal frequency, you can then begin to carve out that frequency space from your other instruments with an EQ.

With the frequency space cleared out for each instrument, you can concentrate on volume.

Volume Levels

Guitar is my main instrument and until the last year or two, it was the instrument I composed all of my songs on.  When it came time to mix, I ALWAYS started with the guitars.  I wanted them to sound fantastic! I wanted every guitar player that heard the song to say “cool tone man”.  Sadly, I realized that my guitars were always mixed too loud.  Not for me, the guitar player, but for the listeners. I then had to come up with a different method of mixing.

When in Rome....

I read many articles from mix engineers who said they like to start their mix with the drums and bass.  Being a guitar player, I ignored that advice because I knew people wanted to hear an awesome guitar, not some background beat on the drums.  The problem was, I wasn't getting quality mixes.  I started dissecting the instrument levels in all the songs I came across.  In many cases, I realized guitar was NOT the center piece of the mix, as it was in my head.  The mix was centered on a clear rhythm section and vocal.  Everything else had to wait their turn before being 'featured' in the mix.

My new approach was to take the advice I read from much better and more experienced mix engineers than me. (Who would have thought that would work!) I went back and revisited my mixes.  I cleared all automation and turned the levels all the way down.  I then started with just drums.  Once the drums were set, I mixed the bass guitar to the drums.  I realized bass was much easier to mix when it sat alone with the drums.  I moved the volume fader for the bass a few times and all of a sudden it magically fell into this “pocket”.  And by “magically”, I mean just that!  It was as if my own preconceived notion on how loud a bass should or shouldn't be with the drums, was overridden by some divine intervention by the mix gods and the bass reached out and said “baby I'm home”.  The levels between the two instruments just felt “right.  It was so obvious, that there was no room for my constant doubt and second guessing on volume level.

My next dilemma was, what instrument do I add next?  Since I knew myself and my tendencies painfully well, I knew there was little chance I would ever mix a guitar too quiet and decided to leave that for last.  Next was the center piece for the song, the vocals.  My mix now consisted of drums, bass and vocals.  I actually found the song almost mixing itself at this point!  The vocals were fairly easy to place with just the bass and drums.

Lastly I began to mix in the guitars, horns and keyboards. I took a whole new approach. I was not mixing as a guitar player who wanted other guitar players to hear my song.  I was mixing as a listener who treated the guitar as just another instrument in the mix, whose job was to stay out-of-the-way of the vocals.  What I found was that the guitar also found a sweet spot in my mix when I approached it like this.  There is some sadness when I say, the “sweet spot” was quieter than if I had mixed it my 'old' way.  My first mix with this approach was a success and it almost seemed like the song mixed itself.  Each instrument fell into its own pocket and everything just “felt” right.

Taking this new approach to mixing propelled my production level and opened my eyes like no other technique before.  If you are not achieving the quality mixes you would like, I encourage you to take a new approach and try this technique out to find the “pocket” for each instrument.

Mike Lizotte

The Gallery Studio

The Gallery Studio – by Mike Lizotte

 

A peak inside one of Connecticut's oldest recording studios and interview with the man who started it and continues to operate it after 50+ years in the business, Doug Clark.

 
The Gallery Studio

The Gallery Studio

I'de like to preface this interview with my own back story on how I came to meet and know Doug Clark. In 2012 I happened by chance to meet Mr. Clark's daughter Melissa. She told me her father had a recording studio. Being a home recordist, I did not get out to real studios very often. Melissa showed me her fathers studio and I read the sign “The Gallery”. I had heard of The Gallery but did not know anything about it. I decided to stop in during business hours, in an attempt to take a peak around and marvel at all the gear I couldn't afford, and probably didn't know how to use.

 

The next day, I dropped by the studio, where I met longtime Gallery employees Roz and Suzie. They were very friendly and charming, they also had no idea I was only there to drool over expensive studio gear and possibly beg for a chance to put my hands on a real mixing console. Looking back, had I just stated my selfish intentions, I bet they still would have been just as friendly and charming.

Doug

Doug

At first glance upon entering the studio, I saw several computer stations, a lot of electronic and music equipment in various states of repair, an entire rack of VCR's 8-track players, DVD players and a bunch of other things that I did not have a name for. I then met Doug Clark. He was very friendly and invited me in. I put my cards on the table and told him I just learned of his studio and wanted to check it out. Doug was inviting and took me for a tour into the music studio section. I observed dozens of headphones neatly placed on the wall, a wall of chords that were neatly wrapped and secured with ties. This was nothing like my home studio already! I then seen Doug's custom made 16 Channel mixing console. Like most home recordists would react, I was stopped short in my tracks, having a vision of me working frantically on the console, moving sliders and pressing buttons at a feverish pace while Dream Theater was doing a live take in the next room. Reality hit moments later when I realized I didn't know what many of the buttons did, besides the sliders and EQ. Doug explained he recorded through the console into an ADAT machine, which then outputted into a 2 track stereo into the computer.

Doug continued the tour around the studio, and then extended into his whole business. The Gallery not only records, mixes and masters music, but they do packaging, artwork, duplication, video recording, commercials, video editing, video duplication, equipment repair and probably many more things. I was very impressed. Doug spoke to me about electronics and showed me various pre-amps he had built, as well as the custom patch bay he made on his console. Much of the conversation was over my head, but I kept occupied knowing that I had also just touched a Neumann U87 for the first time.

Since 2012 I have gotten to know Doug well, and have grown even more impressed with his knowledge and skill. If there was a way to download knowledge from someone's brain in to mine, Doug would be high on my list of brain's to download.

At WWW.HomeRecordingWizard.Com we speak about everything home recording, but in this case I decided to pick the brain of a long time, established studio owner, to share with us how his business has changed over the years. It is the change in the industry, which has brought us to the home recording revolution.

Doug Clark Interview

Mike Lizotte - How did you get interested in the recording industry?

Doug Clark – I first had a TV repair shop and then I thought it would be fun to have a studio, so I bought a small 2-track recorder. I can't remember the name of it, but it was a ¼ track stereo machine.

Early Recorder

Early Recorder

ML - What got you interested in music?

DC -That's a good question. I enjoy working with people. I am not a musician, so it's not the music per se. I just enjoy working with people.

ML - What year did you open your studio

DC – I started the business in 1961, so probably recording 2-3 years after that in the basement.

ML - Do you remember your first major gear purchase

DC - Probably a ½ inch 4-channel Atari recorder.CONTROL IN E.H

ML – The only Atari I know is Pac Man (laughs). Do you remember how much that cost at the time?

DC – Maybe around four thousand dollars or something like that.

ML – Did you buy that right off the bat to get the studio going? Or were you up and running already?

DC – I was already going for around 4 years.

ML - Can you describe a typical recording session when you first opened your studio.

DC – The first sessions I did were typically setting up a bunch of mics in the studio and everyone played live. I had around four microphones at that time. I would also take the tape machine out to the clubs and record live performances.
First Studio Recording Session

First Studio Recording Session

ML – Were you going straight into the Atari recorder?

DC – I went through pre-amps. I don't remember what kind, it might have been something I built. It was around that time that I got into electronics and began designing and building consoles.

ML – How many consoles have you built?

DC – Probably around 10.

ML – How many channels on the consoles?

DC – The largest one I've built was 24 channels, and that's the one in there (points to console in current studio)

ML – How many years have you been using the current console?

DC – Around 17 years. All analog with custom built pre-amps.

Doug Clark built console

Doug Clark built console

ML – Do you still build your own pre-amps?

CD – I kind of got out of the pre-amp manufacturing

ML - You have an original PLATE reverb set up, do you prefer that over Software reverb.

DC – No, I would say it's a different tool. If you have a screw driver, sometimes you use a Phillips, sometimes you use a Flathead, it's just a different tool. A little more organic sounding.

ML – Do you still use it often?

DC – Not that often, it's faster to go in the computer for a sound.

ML - You have not totally changed over into digital recording and mixing. Is that due to a preference for analog sound, Or is it more a gear and workflow preference?

DC – I record into an ADAT machine, then in to a 2-track digital. I haven't found a reason to switch over to completely digital because I can meet my customers needs with the equipment I have.

Doug Clark

Doug Clark

ML - You also Master music for others. Do you notice a difference in sound quality between stuff recorded on an Analog platform compared to digital?

DC – I would say yes. Analog is a little more smooth. Digital, depending on how it was recorded can be a little harsh on the high end. People often bring me their music to Master, which they recorded in Pro Tools.

ML – Do you think the harshness has to do with digital, or do you think it could be simply people recording at home and not in a real studio, under the guidance of an experienced engineer?

DC – I don't know if this will answer the question or not, but when you record live analog instruments together, you get bleed from the other instruments into each mic. I get a lot of mixes given to me which are all samples and there is no air in the recordings, like it's real close. It makes a big difference in sound.

ML - What do you think of modern music and the loudness wars?

DC – There is this thing called the Fletcher Munson curve. Basically, what it says is if you perceive the highs and lows a certain way, when you bring the volume up, your brain will add highs and lows. This tricks people in to believing louder sounds better. In reality, if you simply use the volume knob on your stereo, it will do the same thing.

Current vocal booth

Current vocal booth

ML – So when you're Mastering music, do you try and get it as loud as you can, or are you trying to keep some dynamics in the music.

DC – It depends. It depends on the type of music. Some styles of music you can compress until it distorts and that's what the client wants. On the other hand if you have a piano with big spikes in it, compressing it will sound terrible.

ML – Do any of your clients ask you to get it as loud as you can?

DC – Absolutely (laughs). I think that's part of the American Dream – bigger is better. Bigger houses, louder sounds, that whole thing.

ML - It is no secret that many professional music studios have closed their doors in recent years, Do you feel this is because of the ease of which everyone can record at home on their computers?

DC – When things were really busy for me in the studio, bands used to come in and record several tunes and they were getting air play. It's almost impossible to get air play now. The bands are not making money anymore. They can put their songs on Itunes and make pennies but if they spend a thousand dollars in the studio, there's no way for them to make that back.

ML - What has been your secret to staying in business for 50 plus years?

DC – Diversifying is one.. Recording is just the beginning for us.. We have the art department, packaging, printing, shrink wrap, duplication. Sometimes if one area is slow another one is busy. Or sometimes they all get busy. Some of the big studios in New York, all they did was record, when that died down they were out of business.

Award - Doug Clark

Award - Doug Clark

ML -You offer a lot of services here, including video and video editing services, repairs etc, is diversity key to staying in the game?

DC – Yes. I heard a seminar once. It said “find out whats wanted and needed, and produce it”. I am always looking to see what people want, not what I can push on them.

ML – Sounds like great advice and a great quote.

ML – When you first started, was music recording your main source of income for the studio?

DC – No, it was repairs.

ML – Did music recording ever take that over?

DC – Slowly. Here is a little story. When I first started on the 2-track machine, when someone wanted an overdub, I would pull out the erase head, so it would record on top of something that was already recorded, without erasing it. This would give you a second track. The only this is, if you screwed up a second time, you would have to go back and re-record the first one again. (laugh). Once the 4 channel recorders started coming out, people couldn't overdub on them because you could not listen back from the record head while it was playing. So what I did was put little micro switches in them so you could switch it. People then started bringing me their machines and saying “Doug, I want to be able to overdub on this machine, can you do your little magic with the switches?” I did that for a while, then of course after that, Tascam, Teac and those companies started coming out with that provision for it.

ML – When did you expand in to the rest of your services? The art, video, etc.

DC – It popped up slowly over the years when there was a need for it. We used to do our own vinyl Mastering. When customers started asking how they would get their duplications, artwork and packaging I saw the opportunity and was almost forced in to those services.

ML – When did the video services come about?

DC – As I saw music studios going out of business, I knew I had to go in to other things.

ML - With less studios available, do you think it is harder today, than in the past, for an aspiring recording engineer to learn their craft? Given the limited opportunities to learn directly from experienced studio engineers, such as yourself?

DC – I never took in an intern and there is good reason for that. You spend a lot of time and invest in someone, then they will leave your studio. I do consulting work however. Smaller studios will come to me looking for advice and have me come to their studios to see what they are doing wrong. I have a consulting service for that. One misconception people have is, they believe it's the equipment. A lot of people just don't know how to work the equipment that they have.

Large Session

Large Session

ML - Do you have any advice for aspiring studio owners in this day and age?

DC – I hit the music business at just the right time. People would ask me if I knew how to mic different instruments, pianos? Yes. Saxophone? Yes. Accordion? Yes. A lot of that stuff doesn't exist anymore. There was a lot of variety back then and you could learn different things. Today, it seems it's more rock band related. Not too many Polka bands recording nowadays. Today's engineers aren't going to get those opportunities. I would suggest just buying a couple microphones and start recording people and learn. Try to find a niche, Classical, rap, rock etc. Everything you hear on the radio or Tv was recorded somewhere.

4/26/14