Smoking Hot Pipes - PAM - M7Presentation Transcript
Leadership Portfolio: Working With the smoking hot pipes
A Cappella Background A Cappella music has, in the past, been a strong underground tradition that millions of fans have loved and enjoyed without even realizing it. It used to be that the only time this music was enjoyed or common place was during the holiday season, at local universities and colleges, or at sports games for the singing of the national anthem. The past decade, however, has seen a strong surge of this style of music outside of these typical occurrences.
More and more professional groups are being founded and continue to have successful touring and performing careers around the world. The first popular and recognizable group of recent decades has been Rockapella and they have set a general model that many others since have followed with some sort of original variation.
As this phenomenon has continued to grow, the general public has began to catch more notice with A Cappella groups performing on national talent competition TV shows such as America’s Got Talent, and even getting their own shows such as the new hit TV show Glee and the upcoming competition show that will be on NBC and will hold auditions during the month of September known as The Sing Off, which is being advertised as “The Ultimate A Cappella Competition.”
Selecting the pipes
The Smoking Hot Pipes is a new and young group in the Rochester, NY area. Originally formed as a leisure past time for post collegiate men, the Pipes are one of a select few A Cappella groups in the area that aren’t associated with a local school. They are still in the early growing stages and trying to find their identity and being able to truly solidify their strong suit musically.
Researching groups like this was a difficult task because there was no readily available information on the internet and performances are typically advertised by word of mouth. The only way to learn about these groups was to audition for them and spend time with them in their rehearsals. After completing this process with a couple groups, the Pipes was the obvious choice for a few reasons: first and foremost is their musical ability and talent, but also, they have a unique dynamic and personality in the rehearsal space and during social situations that none of the other groups in Rochester had.
They have the perfect balance of a strong work ethic and an ability to joke around during rehearsals that breeds a wonderful sense of camaraderie between all the members that isn’t discriminatory in any way. This combined with the talent that each individual possesses and brings to the group is what will give the Pipes the ability to continually progress and grow in a positive direction and gain more recognition which will develop into a strong fan base.
Origin/background of the pipes
The Smoking Hot Pipes first came together in May of 2007 as a group of six guys who used to be involved in their own respective college A Cappella groups at various universities and colleges. After a few months of rehearsals, the group size increased to a membership of ten gentleman, each with a love of singing and performing who happened to all live and work in the Rochester, NY area. This rag tag group of guys have since become a vocal rock group performing arrangements of songs from groups like The Fray, Michael Jackson, Matt Nathanson, and Reel Big Fish.
Group members bring different talents and skills to the table. Several of the group take turns running rehearsal, each bringing a different set of listening skills to improve the group’s sound. As an A Cappella group, we use the human voice to replicate the sounds of what you would hear in a typical band. We have members who sing the bass line that you would normally hear as the bass guitar, some who are able to mimic and imitate a full drum kit , and the rest who provide the background harmonies and rhythms that would normally be filled in through the use of guitars, pianos, synthesizers, and other instruments of the like.
Process of Group Selection
Originally it was a matter of searching out A Cappella groups in the surrounding area which in itself, was not an easy task. Most groups realize that they need some sort of internet presence but are either unaware of how to approach it or incapable of completing such a task due to either a lack of knowledge or a lack of finances. Myspace and Facebook are also not the easiest of sites to search through for local A Cappella groups if you don’t already know the name of the individual group, but between these sites and Google, I was able to compile a list of a few groups in Rochester or nearby.
Once located, I contacted all of them to talk about the type of music and sound each ensemble was going for and to learn more about the group dynamics and history. The Pipes were the youngest out of all surveyed. The others were looking to be more of a social experience, enjoying the ability to get together and sing as a group, maybe perform a couple shows here and there, mostly small events and venues. Despite being the newest group, the Pipes were the only one looking to grow not just in size, but in song selection, performance venues, popularity, and entertainment value.
Deciding what activity to get involved in
The nature of an A Cappella group is as varied as the number of different styles of music. As such, the types of opportunities available are numerous. The difficulty comes when attempting to narrow down what opportunity to focus attention on for the best interests of the group in terms of getting the name out to potential fans and people of interest looking to book entertainment like what the Pipes can provide.
With the holiday season approaching in a few months, we decided to put together an album of Christmas music. We divided up songs among the group to have arrangements put together for those who are able do such a task, myself included. While we were in this process of looking at venues for holiday concerts and music selection, we were approached by Spinergy, a local CD and DVD duplication company that handles everything from the designing to silk screen printing and production of CD’s and DVD’s.
What was spinergy looking for?
Spinergy puts together an album of holiday music together every year that it distributes to customers as a thank you for selecting their business for the creation of the products and media they are contracted to create. Their distribution for this project is approximately 2500 local businesses and patrons. This year they decided to ask a few of the local A Cappella groups to put a compilation together of a variety of holiday tunes
I was one of the members of our group that headed up the assorted tasks of working with Spinergy and ironing out all the details of this project and what was expected of our group and who would be handling what.
Spinergy needed final and finished recordings of holiday music submitted by each group. Licensing fees, if any, were to be handled by the individual groups because Spinergy was already handling the production costs of graphic designing, printing, and CD duplication for the entire disc.
This meant that each group, if they hadn’t already, was responsible for recording, mixing, and mastering all of the material to be submitted to Spinergy and had to absorb the associated costs as well.
As a graduate of Full Sail’s Recording Arts Program, I was fully capable of handling the recording tasks required for a project of this magnitude. During the course of the program and since its completion, I have been acquiring electronic equipment and skills used for recording and mixing and would have a personal vested interest in this venture because of my level of involvement with the Pipes as a member of the group.
How to handle the recording process
The guys of The Smoking Hot Pipes don’t have much experience in the world recording. It has since become my responsibility to acclimate them during this process that they are unfamiliar with. So far the group has been responsive and open to the ideas I have brought to the table.
First, the process began with writing the arrangements and selecting the music. There are two other individuals other than myself that have the background and skills necessary to arrange the music for this project. To avoid having to pay any sort of license fees, we have opted to choose music that resides in public domain and thankfully, most traditional christmas music falls under that purview.
The Smoking Hot Pipes is in the middle of rehearsing and recording the music for this christmas project. Unfortunately, due to performances that were scheduled months in advanced before the project was brought to us, we have gotten somewhat behind in our schedule. As things stand now, we will begin the recording process in the next week.
I’ve taken the liberty of setting up the recording schedule and beginning to coach and guide the guys on what is going to be happening during the course of recording the music. My hope is that by taking the time to break the process down so that everyone has a basic understanding of what is going to happen, this will eliminate the fear or any anxiety that they may have.
Capturing the best performance possible relies entirely on making sure the artist is comfortable and in a good mental state while they are recording their parts. No matter what mistake they make, taking every precaution to keep the mood light and fun, even if mistakes are made, is paramount to the success of the recording process so that the mixing process will be smooth and easy.
Important points learned
Working with the Pipes has brought a number of different things to my attention, particularly in regards to group dynamics and building a successful partnership within a group of ten guys that have to work together to be successful. Most managers have trouble dealing with bands where they have to maintain relationships betwen three to five members and what I have to work with is double that amount. This means double the work and potential for problems to arise.
This has already become a problem. Recently there were issues dealing with a certain member ranging from performance quality and interactivity to lack of responsibility when asked to perform certain tasks. As a result, the group had many discussions as a whole, both with him being present and without. It was decided that the group was going to ask him to leave. This can sometimes have an adverse affect on the group, but thankfully with the necessity of focusing on upcoming performances and the this christmas CD project, the Pipes have been able to push forward in a productive way with a positive attitude.