Friday, August 31, 2007

Preparing a demo - part 2, going into the studio

For the past week I practiced three songs with a metronome. I had it wired and walked into the studio ready to record. Of course, things don't always work out like planned.

After we got the room set up I started to play with the click track. Unfortunately, I really couldn't hear it and realized that in all my practice sessions, I relied on looking at my metronome as much as hearing it. I wasn't comfortable when I couldn't hear it (It's actually a good thing when you don't hear it because it means your on time). Lesson #1, when practicing with a metronome, don't look at it.

Ben then started directing me through the studio window (it must have been pretty funny looking). That worked great until I got to the end of phrases, where I like to do a little guitar ad-lib that put me off one beat. Sounds great to me, but killed my time signature. Lesson #2, little guitar enhancements can sound cool but can wreak havoc with your timing.

At the end of the hour, we actually had a track that was OK, but still not great. Next week, I think we need to start from scratch.

During the course of this process, there was a suggestion for me to just carry on, play my normal way and not worry about keeping to the click track. While this would make life easier, I want to do this right and I think the final product will be better.

My bottom-line lesson from this is how important it is to practice with a metronome from day one (yes, I finally get it) or at least practice (a whole lot more) prior to getting into the studio.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Preparing a demo

Everywhere I turn, I keep hearing about the need to have a high quality demo CD. It finally took a voice from above to push me over the edge. When asking at church, how do I get involved with the music ministry, I was immediately told to submit a demo CD.

Today I started working toward a demo. I chose to work with Ben Senterfit in his studio and our approach will be to:
1) Record the guitar to a click track
2) Record the vocals
3) Add Julie's violin
4) Add other instruments later

In preparation for studio time, we started by getting me ready to work with a click track. A click track is basically a metronome. Today we identified the tempo for each song and my goal over the next week is to get my guitar rock solid with this beat.

If you haven't done it before, it's challenging playing to a click track. So I'm glad I have practice time. A few things that I noticed immediately:
- I tend to add an extra beat at the end of phrases (my guitar embellishment was throwing me off time)
- I tend to speed up going into (or during) the chorus
- The first three songs (my favorites) were at basically the same tempo (need to mix this up on the CD).

This should be an interesting process.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Song pitching

I listened to an on-line seminar on SongU by Michele Vice-Maslin, a songwriter out of LA. A few of the key points I heard are:

1) Understand the publishing process - Your goal is to make it easy for person looking for a song. If you don't know the process, they will find you hard to work with.

2) Research everything - Know who are looking for songs and the type songs they are looking for. Listen to the artist. Look at listings of projects such as:

3) Have a credit sheet - Describe what you have done, your projects, who you have worked with, ...

4) Make a quality demo - Expectations of quality have changed and people want high quality demos, professional looking materials. Make sure your vocals are in tune. Add back-up music

5) To TV and movie - Send e-mails and ask "what do you need"?
For records - send an example MP3.

6) Get your music out there, spend money to get your product out there.
- Look at pitching services (songlink, Songquarters, MyHitFactory)
- Submit to songwriting contests.
- Join local organizations (Roots Music, NSAI...)

7) Follow-up with folk you pitch to. Did you get it?

She said that 90% of her income comes from Film and TV, 10% from records. The money is in film and TV.

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