In this era fans want/expect to be informed– as things are happening. So in that spirit, here’s a good chunk of the liner notes from the upcoming 4-song EP.
Extended liners: We lined-in dry on all guitars & bass. Lining-in means direct cabling from the instrument to the soundboard that links to a computer, which records the performance. Dry means no effects. If you are studio recording “live as a band,” then effects can be used, as long as they are kept under control. But if you apply effects to the guitar/bass during multi-track recording, insisting “that’s the sound I gotta have,” then the guitarist is leaving the producer with little-to-no headroom for sound treatments, including the three most important parameters: reverb, equalization & compression.
Those three effects are ~95% of properly-done sound production– in any era. Getting the best sound is the purpose of multi-track recording, and it’s how most music is put together. To all those guitar heroes with racks of effects & foot pedals, here’s some good advice from studio experience: save them for the live shows. They are mostly useless in the studio today, due to computers & digital-effects software.
We are currently about two decades into the “noise wars,” which is defined as excessive compression to make songs louder for cheap mobile headphones. Car commercials which blast non-stop, louder than the rest, is the comparative to the “noise wars” in television audio production. The only way an independent artist can compete against this degradation of music is by having better songs, and knowing how to record & produce them.
With this in mind, what you need from a guitar in the studio is a clean & strong signal. If the player(s) get it right, and the engineer records it properly, then the music has a chance of eventually smashing all the loud junk on the radio, MTV, American Idol, AGT, et al. Effects muddle the input signal, which hurts the cause, so apply them only in the mixing stage, not during recording.
Marketing, social media & internet censorship: Once uploaded to the internet, mp3’s quickly proliferate onto all the streaming services, big & small. But don’t be deceived, each service has their own proprietary algorithms which mysteriously work against independent artists. I’m at the top of these blacklists. YouTube, Facebook, et al, are revolutionary social media platforms, which have been hijacked by corporate ownership to work for the military-intelligence apparatus.
Therefore, don’t waste too much time in these domains, because they can (& will) turn you down, make you invisible, & de-platform you without your consent or knowledge. Make quickie thumbnail-image videos for the songs, and let your fans speak for you in the social media forums. That way you’re not devastated if/when videos get taken down, turned down, etc… Fakebook has designed its AI algorithms, so you’ll only see your haters if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like you.
The greater truth is that most kids today download mp3’s either through the artist’s site directly (free– like me), or through an illicit sites (if not free). The message is: make your mp3’s free, as their quality isn’t that of wav files– which is compact disc quality sound. Free mp3’s maximizes distribution, and the name-of-the-game is making new fans.
Streaming is internet radio, so don’t expect to get paid, because you won’t. You don’t have the industry clout. This scientific understanding & revolutionary approach is how underground artists can keep their sanity, while fighting fascist censorship & winning the loudness wars.
Final thoughts on recording: You must be able to work with a click track in order to get set pieces like “Patch Me Up Doc” or “Millennial Whoop” to work. Set pieces are defined as songs you don’t play live. They are more studio creations than anything else. A songwriter typically needs lots of help with set pieces, in musicianship & production. The Beatles “A Day in a Life” is a classic example of a set piece.
It often depends on what instrument the songwriter plays, to determine the order of recording. Does the songwriter have perfect time? Most often, the answer is “No.” The rock music songwriter must find a way to match up melody, riffing & lyrical ideas, with beats.
If both the songwriter & producer aren’t drummers, then the drum track should be recorded first, followed by the bass. This is typically recorded by placing a microphone in front of each guitar & bass amplifier, and around the drum kit. That is a traditional recording sequence & microphone technique when multi-tracking.
You have to know the circumstances & your strengths, while having no weaknesses when studio recording, otherwise you will crack– wasting time, money & relationships. Your team is there to cover your weaknesses with their expertise & skills. It’s a lot easier with digital, if you know what you are doing. My colleagues on this project are true professionals, they are as talented as anyone, and have my eternal respect & gratitude.
What happens to the original tracks & recording masters? Today, any independent musical artist & record label needs to be at the cutting edge to make an impact– both creatively & in business practice. The model we’ve developed is low-cost & top-notch because it’s revolutionary DIY, using the latest technology & boldest ideas from start to finish. Every studio recording that I’ve ever made, dating back to 1997, has been uploaded to a Google share drive. TomP does the same thing with his ex08 project, and everything else.
The Universal Music Group (UMG) fire that blazed through its irreplaceable archives in 2008 (and then was hushed-up for over 10 years) is a valuable lesson in corporate priority & artist responsibility. UMG is a conglomerate money-making machine, with little sense of artistic value towards it archives. They kept things quiet, and collected the insurance money, while the artists whose masters were torched didn’t even know what had happened. UMG allowed the works of many, many legends it was supposedly safeguarding, to carelessly burn to ashes. Many of these incinerated archives were never transferred digitally, or uploaded to a cloud server– so they are lost forever.
Of course, Tom & I have these files on our computers & external backup drives too, but a cloud-based share drive is how to communicate large amounts of data, such as multi-track recordings, final masters, videos, etc, with a producer. The other benefit is that it protects the music & art from being destroyed into posterity.
This also means a private corporation (Google) has all my stuff in its cloud. And by extension, it means the NSA, FBI, CIA, et al, also have them. That’s the price an artist has to pay today, to protect the existence of content. This takes confidence that you have maximized your abilities, knowing that no one else can do it as well. These songs be proof.