DON'T FORGET YOUR IN-EARS!
I just read “Pushing the Limits of Native Processing” (July 2007), which says, “I couldn't daisy-chain two units together without experiencing digital snats due to clocking problems.” This issue could have been remedied by installing the WinXP dual-core Hotfix and the AMD dual-core Optimizer patches.
I also wanted to comment on the article “The Unfamiliar P.A.” (July 2007). One of the best things an up-and-coming band can do is invest in an IEM system and a digital console to create each performer's mix. This has many advantages: You can have perfect mixes every night and use the time normally spent to dial in a wedge monitor mix either to hone the house mix or just to chill out before the show. The band I work with, Artemis, uses a Yamaha 03D or BSS SoundWebs to drive three separate in-ear mixes, with effects tailored to each performer. We can even automate the in-ear mixes from a MIDI keyboard or our electronic drum kit to change the mix for each song or even sections of a song. You'll never again be at the mercy of the house wedges, you'll substantially lower onstage volume and your in-ear mixes will allow you to give the best performance possible.
Your article “Production Construction” (August 2007) was of great interest to me. I agree that songwriting — especially in pop, dance, hip hop and R&B — certainly has changed. The definition of a song as something that you can sit down with a guitar and sing is completely out the window in those genres. However, in reading the article, I kept expecting Mix to address the bigger question: Do these producers get a songwriting credit in these situations?
As a full-time producer, songwriter and composer, I am often called upon to provide all kinds of input for my clients in the songwriting process. The blurred line of songwriting and beatmaking for me is, at what point does the producer become a co-writer? Are the producers in the article performing a work-for-hire for a set fee or do they require points on CD sales and downloads as compensation? Or do they actually get songwriting credit and collect royalties? And, if they do get songwriting credit, what percentage is common?
Thanks for your letter and astute comments. As a general rule, if a producer's input makes a recognizable contribution to the song, it is considered significant enough to warrant songwriting credit. The exact percentage is typically something agreed upon by the entire writing team and their publishers — save to say that the old set standard of 50/50 or equally divided shares is long gone in such piece-meal processes. Of course, in an era of plummeting production budgets, the monetary incentive of having your name appear in the writing credits is stronger than ever. Some producers go so far as to insist on “stirring the songwriting pot,” even when unnecessary, just so they can cash in on a portion of the royalties from a lucrative hit as a form of salary subsidization.
— Jason Scott Alexander
OH NO, NOW I…I'M STILL ALIVE!
In his article about re-creating the opening bass riff from Carly Simon's “You're So Vain” for a new Janet Jackson track (“Boombastic Bass,” July 2005), Kevin Becka mentions that the original bass line was played by “the late Klaus Voorman.” However, Klaus is still among the living and was recently interviewed in Bass Player magazine.
SMALL ROOM OR NO SMALL ROOM?
I was inspired to write concerning the Mix observation, “The majority of records today are being made in a personal studio — jamming in a spare bedroom, laying down beats in a ‘closet-turned-control-room’ or any other number of tracking/mixing necessities” (TalkBack, “Pre-Production Trade Secrets”). Here's why: I was asked to simply copy a CD (by someone who had never burnt a CD before!) made from a classical opera recital. This material was in desperate need of some de-noising/de-clicking, etc., so I decided to do some work in Sound Forge, using the iZotope mastering plug-ins, as well after performing some audio restoration.
A little bit of EQ and multiband compression after restoration brought it to life, and so I gave them the “remastered” version, never mentioning that I had done the work (or had a modest home studio). Nonetheless, I received immediate feedback that the material was greatly improved and the singer was thrilled. I'm not a mastering engineer, yet they noticed the results immediately. I thought it might be interesting to ask real mastering engineers like Grammy-winning veteran mastering engineer Jay Friggoletto the question, “At what point should someone consider moving their project into a professional mastering facility?”
If the majority of records today are being made in a personal studio, how can the producers of recordings made in this manner maximize their results for a professional mastering engineer who is listening on Quested monitors. Here are some other subjects of possible discussion in addition to the volume wars: the use of convolution samples in mastering, how close a plug-in can get to a Manley Variable-MU and the trend toward listening on less-than-audiophile equipment. I think answers to these questions would enlighten those of us with personal studios as to when we should move to the next step and bypass the invisible bottlenecks that may be present in the untreated rooms where “the majority of records are being made.”
THE VENTURES GET DUE CRED
I was happy to see The Ventures get some props in Mix (“Classic Tracks,” July 2007), as for two years I was front of house and road manager for them back in the late-70s and early 80s. In a page-and-a-half, Gary Eskow did a good job chronicling their history and the background behind “Walk Don't Run.” This was of particular interest to me, as on the day I left the band, Don Wilson and Bob Bogle gave me the Fender Jazzmaster (modified with a Tele neck) that they used to record “Walk Don't Run '64.” I still have that guitar to this day.
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