(or How To Get Your Foot In The
Door Without Actually Getting To The Door)
A lot of folks have sent me e-mails
telling me how much my website has helped them in their efforts to break into
the business, put together a winning mix, expose resources that many people
don't realize are out there, or some other musical venture they were in the dark
about. Which got me to thinking; what about the folks that haven't been to the
site? Shouldn't they be entitled to information without shelling out their
savings for it? Of course, they should!
That's why I decided to bring some of
the site to you, Forest Pro. There is a lot of information, so I will break it
up into three parts, prompting you to come back every month to get it all.
(Pretty sneaky, huh?) Well, here is Part 1.
PART 1-Getting Started
The music industry is a huge machine that depends on several things to
keep it happening:
1. Good Players - If you are a
beginner on an instrument, it may be wise for you to get well-practiced before
venturing into this highly competitive arena. The last thing a player needs is
to jump into the fire before they know how to cook. Although it can be fun, it
can also be dangerous and costly to the novice musician.
2. Good Business Sense - After
all, this IS a business, and there ARE sharks in the water. So it wouldn't be
good to try to play if you don't know the basic rules of the game. Know the
worth of your material, and keep the most sensitive aspects of your work to
yourself until you are sure the people you are dealing with are actually looking
out for your best interest. More often than not, the major labels are giant
leeches that will suck you dry and leave you without any recourse in the event
that your contract outlives your usefulness to them. Your potential to make
money off of you is the only thing they worry about, so I'll show you how to
keep your prized possession out of the hands of these major league pirates, and
still do well for you.
3. Good Common Sense - Don't
ever forget that because this is a business, you MUST work at it. No one ever
got something for nothing, so put the "overnight sensation" thing out
of your mind. There is no such thing. The only way to make a good musical career
is to build it yourself, without so many unscrupulous hands in your business.
Sometimes, it's not even a good idea to have relatives helping you in your
career, even parents.
Time To Work
First of all, what kind of music do
Rock? Country? Hip-hop? Gospel? Jazz?
Chances are, the kind of music you
like to hear is the kind you play (duh!).
The fact is, you play what you want your audience to hear sometimes, but
you should be thinking about what THEY want ALL the time. Keep in mind that you
will only be as much as your audience wills you to be. Sounds kinda weird, huh?
DEAL WITH IT!!!!
I mean, you and I both know that the biggest chunk of your audience is
made up of people who just listen to music, not play it. But in the "real
world", are you gonna be the one buying all of your tickets? I think not.
If you are going to play rock, play the best rock. If you are a country player,
make your audience "boot scoot" till they pass out.
I'm hearing overtones of "but I'm an artist, I wanna play what I
like to hear", and "I will not compromise my integrity". I hear
ya. Don't wanna do cover, huh? Well, artist, I sure hope you got a good day job.
The bottom line here is that you have got to
be the best, and that means doing the same things that the best do. Emulate that
Van Halen riff! Practice those George Benson arpeggios! Get it right the first
time, and if you can't do that, do it until you do get it. Then it will be time
for you to move on.
Let's change gears a bit.
I was asked by a visitor to the Web
site to do something about computer recording. I didn't want to at first, but I
gave it some thought.
I will do my best, but there are
three things you must remember before reading further:
1. I am NOT the world's
foremost authority on computer recording, despite the fact that I built
the computer I am now using for this purpose, a 450 mhz comp with 128 MB
RAM, 3.2 GB HD, and a basic Crystal Semi full duplex sound card. I have two CD
drives, one a standard CD_ROM and the other a Philips 40X CD Writer. It is
loaded with several different kinds of MIDI and digital audio mixing software
like Sweet Sixteen Lite, Voyetra Recording Station, Cool Edit Pro 2, Sound Forge
6.0, Quartz Studio Free, Turtle Beach 2000, and Tsunami Pro 3.2. That should
also tell you that I'm not rich.
2. Unless you know a lot about
how to handle MIDI, digital audio, sound
3. As I said in the beginning,
this info is for poor folks like me, so
All right, on to some info.
Digital Audio 101
I am assuming you know nothing or very little about digital audio
processing, so I will give you the layman's version of how it works.
Computer recording is the science of
recording sound files, or "wave" files onto a computer hard drive.
They are called "wave" files mainly because the extension on these
types of files is .WAV. They are playable through any audio rendering program
you have installed on your computer, such as Windows Media Player, Real Player,
or any other application that renders digital audio through your sound card. The
studio depicted here is an elaborate setup, but from it you can get a basic idea
of how it is set up.
There are three main levels of digital sound, known as "sampling
frequencies". The first and most widely used for low end sound effects is
11.025 khz. The term "hz" means "cycles", or something
similar to RPM, only we are talking about vibration in seconds. The
"k" stands for thousand, so that means just over 11,000 vibrations per
second. This is known to computer buffs and audiophiles as "telephone
quality", and is not suitable for music, at least not recorded music. It
is, however, excellent for short sound clips like cartoon characters' quips,
radio and TV commercial clips, and other "fun" applications. It is
also suitable because the filesizes are small, usually in the 10kb range.
The next frequency is 22.050 khz, better known as "radio
quality". Although some people use this one for music, the quality of the
music in this range is still below par, much for the same reason it is better to
record on analog tape at a fast speed. Think of digital sound quality the same
as analog as it relates to tape speed: the faster the rate, the better the
quality. As a veteran of tape recording, you should know that recording at 15
ips renders far less noise than at 7.5 ips.
The last frequency used is 44.100 khz, or "CD quality". This is
industry standard speed for recording CD's, because of the serious clarity. The
only drawback to this speed is that it takes up a lot of room on your hard
drive, or whatever drive you are using for storage. In addition, the processing
power required to adequately process digital sound at this speed must be quite
fast. That means if you are thinking of trying to record on anything less than a
233 mhz Pentium computer, you may as well trash everything you got right now,
and just start beating your head against the wall.
Try the Freebies!
It is not a shameful thing to try out the freebies available on the Net.
After all, that's why they put the freebies up there, so you can try them out.
My email is stuffed every week with new software tryouts from the Shareware
Music Machine. That's where I got Cool Edit Pro 2, Tsunami Pro, Quartz Studio
Free, and even Sound Forge 6.0! Also, some of the software that is marked as
"shareware" or "demo" actually works past the expiration
date, although some of the functions may be disabled. Sweet Sixteen Lite is a
demo, but it seems fully functional. I use it for certain things, and it serves
the purpose fine. If you download a demo, and it doesn't work well, uninstall it
quickly! Sometimes the boneheads who write the programs don't work out all of
the bugs, and it could damage your system. Such a program is Fat Rock
Well, as I said before, I am not a computer recording guru, so this
lecture is gonna have to be short. But from time to time, I will put links on my
upcoming Links page to different sites where you can find a lot of neat things
to experiment with. I'm even giving away my own personal copy of Recording
Station, complete with serial number. In the meantime, if you have any
suggestions, links, software sources, or questions, please feel free to either
put them in the guestbook or send me an e-mail at email@example.com,
and I will get back to you personally as soon as possible.
Be sure to come back next month when the subject will be
"Recording". Until then, take care.
to me at my new e-mail address (thanx, Gary!)
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