Pmbc Recording & Production 101


Published on

A presentation given by Keith Hatschek during the 2013 Pacific Music Business Camp that gives an overview of the entire record production process and concludes with sharing five notable tracks that show some of the key attributes of a well produced popular music recording.

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Pmbc Recording & Production 101

  1. 1. Presented by Keith Hatschek PacAve Records COO Music Business Camp July 2013 Recording Secrets of the Pros Understanding the Record-Making Process
  2. 2. What is record production?  Discuss with your neighbors  Each group make a list of what is needed to produce a commercial recording – include everything you can think of  What did you come up with?  Map on white board  What role do you think “vibe” plays in making good records? 2
  3. 3. Today’s Game Plan 3  Background info  Process of Producing a Record  The Cast of Players  Some “Secrets” to Making a Good Record  Listen and Learn from the Pros
  4. 4. Did you come up with?  Musical instruments, cables, amps, drums, etc.  Recording software, computer  Recording hardware (gear): microphones, stands, cables, patch bays, monitor speakers, headphones  Musical ideas, songs, arrangements! (lead sheets, lyrics, etc.)  Room to record in (home or pro?) 4
  5. 5. Other Important “Tools”  Ears (your most valuable musical instrument)  Hearing protection is vital  Musical knowledge & musicianship  The room becomes part of your recorded sound 5
  6. 6. Learning from My Experience  Recording at Capitol Studios in Hollywood – a “Rolls Royce” recording studio, 24-track analog ($4-5,000)  Recording in an equipment rental company office in San Francisco – DIY on a Sunday morning, everything performed live in one pass to stereo ($100)  Why was the DIY recording so much better?  Each recording you make is a “snapshot” of where you are at that day – use it to evolve 6
  7. 7. The Process of Making a Record  Before you can start making a record, you will need varying amounts of these:  People in various roles  Material, inspiration (songs, lyrics)  Equipment  Studio space  Money (even DIY requires some $)  Manufacturing and distribution plan 7
  8. 8. The Five Steps of Record Production  Pre Production  Basic Tracks  Overdubs (including vocals)  Mixing  Post production (including mastering) 8
  9. 9. Pre Production  Auditioning material –choose only to record the best of the best  Rewriting material – is the material ready to record and distribute?  Chops – does the band have the skill to play at a pro level?  Who will produce? Why does that matter? Having a sound in mind to achieve – why that’s essential.  Getting instruments in tip top shape for recording (differences between live vs. studio)  Making a demo at home to “test” everything before going into the studio 9
  10. 10. Basic Tracks  The foundation of every pop song  Click track often used as a time reference, even with a great drummer  Less is often more, when it comes to playing on the backing tracks  Leave “space” for the vocal and featured instruments  Timing, intonation and feel must be killer or keep at it 10
  11. 11. Overdubs  Solo instruments  Lead vocals  Background vocals  “Sweetening” tracks, such as strings, percussion, hand claps, sound effects, walla, etc.  Fixes to all tracks, sometimes removing parts, as well  Avoid temptation to keep adding – Stevie Wonder sez . . . 11
  12. 12. Mixing  Begin by ending the overdub process with rough mixes on all tracks  Mixing is the opportunity to balance and shape every tracks’:  Volume levels  Tonal character  Spatial perspective in stereo field (Left-Right)  Reverb, echo, or other signal processing as needed  Keep asking, “Does this decision serve the song?” 12
  13. 13. Post Production  After all mixes are approved  Sequence for the album  Mastering (polishing) the overall sound of the album, optimizing levels and timbres (trust a professional for this step if you can’t afford any other pro involvement)  Formatting the album for deliver to CD plant, digital distribution, etc.  Confirming all credits are accurate & complete Photo: Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering 13
  14. 14. Timetable, Budget & Results  Some albums are recorded in a day or two . . .  Some albums take years to complete!  Time = money  Spending more money or time does not necessarily lead to a better final product  The role of the producer and engineer is to set the stage for the artist to give her best performance and capture it as a recording 14
  15. 15. Our Cast of Characters Artist Producer Studio Musicians Production Asst. Engineer Asst. Engineers 15
  16. 16. Artist’s Role  Create the music  Perform the music  Be open to suggestions  Learn what it takes for you to deliver your best performance  Be realistic – listen to those with experience  Be enthusiastic – it’s your music, career & life! 16
  17. 17. Producer’s Role  Spans the artistic and business sides of record making  Gets on the same “wavelength” as the artist  Provides musical input to help artist’s talent and ideas come through with clarity – nearly every song has different production needs  Plays “bad cop” when needed (examples)  Ultimately responsible for seeing that a commercially viable record comes out of the studio  Handles budget, papers, union docs, sample clearances, credits, studio selection, sidemen, etc. (w/ help of Prod. Asst.)17
  18. 18. Engineer’s Role  Help to translate the artist and producer’s vision for how the record will sound into reality  Manages all of the recording processes and steps  Anticipates problems, issues, challenges and has solutions at hand before they arise  Keeps technology “out of the way” of the recording process – invisible until needed  Understands the role of technology in achieving the end goal – a commercially viable master recording 18
  19. 19. Studio Musicians  A virtual band that can provide any musical style, genre, color or emotion to a recording  Flexible, fast, experienced  Checks their ego at the studio door (even though they are amazing musicians/singers) – the artist is the star (Seawind)  Creative problem solvers  Able to read music very proficiently and also play “by ear” in all genres 19
  20. 20. Some “Secrets” to Making a Great Record  Pre Production is often the most crucial part of the entire recording process – why?  Working with experienced professionals can make a big difference in the overall quality (ex. Origins mastering)  Artist must be comfortable to create and perform – engineer and producer must foster optimal environment 20
  21. 21. The “Good” Rule  To achieve the best results in recording, always strive to have:  A good musician  Performing on/with a good instrument  In a good sounding room  Into a good microphone properly placed to achieve the intended result  Doing so will dramatically improve your recording’s overall sound quality 21
  22. 22. Perfection vs. Emotion  Making your recording “perfect” via tools and technology such as Auto-Tune or Beat Detective is possible – is it smart?  Some of the most moving and commercially successful recordings of all time were recorded live with just a few microphones or on only 2, 4 or 8 tracks  Remember, the use of recording technologies and techniques must always “serve the song” (examples to follow) 22
  23. 23. Knowledge is Power  Musicians today must know the basics of how records are made  Understanding the process and the players allows you to make the most of various options  Good idea to use free or inexpensive programs and mic to do some home made demos, get comfortable working with mics, hearing yourself on playback and making recordings (Garage Band, Audacity, CuBase, PreSonus, Pro Tools, etc.)  Only then you will start to understand the potential of how to use the studio as an instrument itself 23
  24. 24. Learning by Doing  The more you record, the more you’ll understand how to get your music into the most commercial (or distribution-appropriate) format  Find a mentor to help you develop your studio sound and skills  Become a “local expert” in recording and you will soon be in demand to help others  It’s a lifelong learning journey filled with opportunity! 24
  25. 25. Stellar Production Samples  “What’s Goin’ On” – Marvin Gaye  “Norway” -- Beach House  “Travelin’ Soldier” -- Dixie Chicks  “Southern Point” – Grizzly Bear  “57821”– Janelle Monáe  “You Wreck Me” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Whileyouarelistening,askyourself, doestheproductionservethesong? How? 25
  26. 26. Let’s Talk About It . . . Questions later? khatschek@pacific.ed Available here, Regular price $19.95; PMBC discount 25% off, $15.00 26