How to Make Extra Money From Music

So the title captured your attention? It was designed to do exactly that. If you are a performer or songwriter, then this post is definitely for you. Did you know that you can get royalties paid in addition to performance fees for gigs that you have played? Did you also know that in addition to the money you get from youtube advertising, there are additional royalties just waiting for you? If the answer is no, continue reading.

 

 

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APRA AMCOS logo

 

Music Copyright Collection Societies
There are organisations that collect license fees from music users and pay royalties to artists and composers. There are affiliated music societies all over the globe that do this, and the one in Australia is called The Australian Performing Rights Association APRA AMCOS(APRA has a list of affiliate societies here). Their job is to help music creators get paid for the work that they do and facilitates music consumers a simple way to use and copy music legally. What APRA is and how they do what they do, is shown in the below video.

 

What to do next
Go to the APRA AMCOS website (apraamcos.com.au) and create a profile. Once you have made a profile, it is just a matter of adding the details of your work to the profile. That was easy? Well not quite, there are a few hoops to jump through. When submitting works, you can only submit one at a time until they are reviewed individually. Then the best part: you list live performances that you have done because you can actually get paid royalties for playing your own music on top of the performance fee you are already receiving.

 

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Make more money for your craft

 

What’s the catch?
There is only one caveat, to be eligible to claim royalties, your works MUST be commercially released. This can be done by two avenues: you get signed to a label and they take care of this for you (at high cost), or, you can independently release your recorded music on a distribution platform such as Distrokid, CD Baby, Ditto Music, Record Union, MondoTunes and Reverbnation to name a few. For those of you who intend on distributing independently or finding out more about music distribution, here is a very good blog article: Everything Musicians Need to Know About Music Distribution.

If this blog was helpful to you in any way, please like, share and reblog to spread the word.

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How to Maintain Artistic Creativity Whilst Getting an Income

When working with others to a common goal, a shared vision of the project outcome is not always possible. Some people have a very clear direction that they to take, and others know what they want but have difficulty articulating it. My aim as a producer/engineer is not only to provide a refined and robust audio product but also to accommodate the wishes of my clients.

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Negotiating an agreement

Negotiation
In any interaction between two parties, there must be a shared goal and communication is essential in negotiating the vision of a project. The expectations of both parties should be discussed during this phase, to ensure that the outcome is achievable and within the scope of the clients budget.

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“Shut up and take my money!” – Phillip J. Fry

Expectation
In the studio production/engineering industry, people generally know what type of recording they are trying to make and will seek out a suitable engineer. Most recording engineers will have credits on previous audio projects and an online presence in various forms, such as blogs, social media and portfolios, so the clients should have some expectation of what product they will be getting. Some people can be notoriously hard to deal with irrespective of the industry that they are in and if my military career taught me anything, it is that 5% of people will require 95% of extra effort.

Finding balance
Working in a freelance capacity enables me to cherry pick the projects that I like. If I am going to be spending the time listening to the audio over and over, it can’t be a genre that I don’t like. I once did an 18-hour session on a country song, and I am not a fan of country music, so that was well outside of my comfort zone. Comparatively, similar sessions on hard-rock songs, I was still pumped at the end and had to drag myself away from the desk.

Lesson learned
These two scenarios taught me that money was fairly low on my priorities but being enthusiastic about the project rated at the very top. I guess I won’t be the guy who will ever compromise creativity for $$.

New Studio Desk

New gear is enough to get any muso or audio engineer frothing, and I’m no different. Due to increased demand and the fact that my old console no longer meets my requirements, I am upgrading to a Toft ATB 32 channel large format analog mixing console. A few people that I know use the Toft or Trident consoles and I really like the sound of the British EQ, it is within my budget and suits my needs precisely.

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Ultraphonic designed desk

 

To accommodate the Toft, I needed to get a desk that could house it and all of my rack gear. I contacted the guys from Ultraphonic at Stafford and told Alex my needs. After a few different variations, we settled on a design with the angled sides, 7RU at the top and 14RU underneath, giving plenty of room for rack items. After a couple of weeks, Alex told me that the desk was ready, so I went and picked it up.

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Panasonic RAMSA DA7 Digital Mixing Console in the old desk

My old console was a Panasonic RAMSA WR-DA7 digital mixer. The DA7 is my first console and I learned a great deal about audio engineering using it. I even recently repaired a few components and gave it a service and I will reluctantly sell it at some stage. This console is fully functional, however, it no longer suits my needs.

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Repairing and servicing the WR-DA7

Once all the cabling and rack gear was removed from the old desk, I took out the DA7 and assessed what I would do with the desk. The trouble is, I built the studio around the desk so there was no way it was fitting out the door. After deciding that selling it wasn’t worth the hassle, I chose the destructive method of disassembly, using a hammer whilst laughing maniacally.  Once the shattered remains of the desk were stacked in a nice firewood pile outside, I brought in the new desk and started assembly.

 

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Ultraphonic desk

The new desk was a breeze to assemble. There were no hiccups and I am really happy with the design. Now the only thing missing is the Toft console! I have been waiting since early Feb for Toft to send one, but nothing is in Australia and the hold up is at the manufacturing end. I hope to hear back from them within the next few weeks as mixing in the box is ok, but the workflow will be so much faster with the console.

Big shout out to www.ultrafonic.com.au Great desk and those guys are a pleasure to do business with. I highly recommend anyone to check them out!

 

Acoustic Investigation of Hired Gun Studio

Introduction
In this investigation, I will acoustically analyse Hired Gun Recording Studio (HGRS) in order to determine factors that adversely affect sound quality within the room. As an Audio Engineer, it is extremely important that I have a good understanding of the acoustic properties of my audio working space. The properties of a room can drastically absorb and reflect frequencies of the audio that is played within it, changing how sound is perceived. This blog will explore the different aspects that impact audio performance within HGRS.

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Inside HGRS

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Rehearsing in my studio

Room Purpose
The room is used as an audio manipulation environment, performing engineering tasks such as tracking and mixing audio. It is also used as a rehearsal space for my band, and also for teaching guitar. It is a purpose-built recording studio/rehearsal space that is a free-standing box that I constructed within my double lockup garage.

Room Properties
The dimensions of the room are as follows:

L = 484 cm W = 456 cm H = 200 cm

To apply the bolt ratio, we must convert the height to the value 1 and divide the values for length and width by the same denominator.

L : W : H
484 : 456 : 200
(484/200) : (456/200) : (200/200)
= 2.42 : 2.28 : 1

 

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Bolt ratio chart

The ratio for the room does not plot within the dotted line on the chart, therefore, the room does not fit the Bolt Ratio. I overcome this shortfall by artificially changing the width of the room with removable free-standing panels and the position of my sofa.

The floors are polished timber laminate, the walls are covered in stage curtain and eight medium sized semi-rigid fibreglass panels (Auralex Pro-panel kit), the roof is composite wood panels. Under the floor, there is separation from the slab via insulated pads and beams, creating a “floating” floor.

The construction of my studio walls:

The walls are constructed in stud and noggin fashion with acoustic fibreglass insulation batts inside and then each side was covered with thin laminate wood panels. The roof is constructed in the same fashion as the walls.

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Layer of stage curtain, acoustic construction blanket on walls

There is an additional layer of acoustic construction blanket between the stage curtain covering and the interior wall. The side that has the garage door has several large and thick windows and additional acoustic panels, between the garage doors and the studio, to help reduce noise from passing traffic.

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A/C roof vent

The air conditioning is ducted and baffled, with the vents coming through several egresses in the roof. The door is a typical interior door that opens inwards and is sealed around the edges when it closes.

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HGRS floorplan

Room Contents
Objects within the room are as follows:
– one large wooden studio desk and mixing console (2m x 1.2m). Desk contains many rack-mountable items
– 16 channel console
– two sets of studio monitors
– one 3 seater suede couch
– three large guitar speaker cabinets
– two guitar amplifier heads
– guitar rack full of guitars
– 6 piece pearl export drum kit and cymbals
– storage container
– chest of drawers
– two office chairs and one bar stool

I use two pairs of monitors, ADAM Audio A77X and Rokit 5. The monitors have been placed 120 cm apart and 120 cm from my listening position, forming an equilateral triangle. This positioning gives the optimum stereo image width that is ideal for mixing.

 

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Calibrating the REW software

Analysis method

It is my opinion that the room sounds even and balanced (at the listening position) and sounds slightly “woody”.

Software: The room analysis software used was Room EQ Wizard V5.18 and the sine sweep was captured using Pro Tools 12.7.1.

Hardware: A JBL MSC1 measurement microphone and a Digitech QM-1589 SPL Meter were both used to calibrate the software the room, connected via XLR to a PreSonus Studio 192 USB3.0 interface. The room measurements were conducted with two RODE NT2A (set to cardioid pattern, no pad, no filter), fixed to a stereo bar and connected to my interface.

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Visual representation of a log sine sweep

Due to the wide variety of recording that occurs in this studio, and signal level constancy, I decided to use a sine wave sweep. Sine sweeps produce frequencies with a much higher energy than a clap or pink noise, as they dedicate the fully available dynamic to play one frequency at a time. This gives sine sweeps a much better resistance against room ambience and background noise. Sine sweeps are particularly useful to determine resonant frequencies. Specifically, I used 256k logarithmic sweep from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at -12 dB over 5.5 seconds.

Factors that may affect the recording in this studio are; room dimensions, building materials, surface materials, construction techniques and, absorption coefficients of items within the space measured. Other factors can be; local heavy vehicle traffic noise, incorrect calibration of the software, speed and power of the PC, incorrectly earthed audio equipment (ground hum), poor quality power from the supply, poor mic position and the quality of the signal chain used to measure.

Room measurement

Three measurements were taken in the room from locations that would typically be used when mixing or tracking. All measurements were conducted on a timer, allowing me enough time to leave the room so that my body’s absorption coefficient would not affect the reading.

Position 1

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Position 1

Position 1 – Measurement was taken from my seated listening position with the microphones set at ear level.  Sine wave maximum SPL was 98.4 dBA.

 

Listening Position Waterfall
Position 1 frequency waterfall graph

There is an even bass response below 200 Hz, peaks around 300 Hz and 1.2 kHz withtwo significant dips at 1.4 kHz and 5 kHz. It is possible to correct this by applying an EQ directly to the main output studio monitors, boosting and cutting where appropriate, giving the perception of an even frequency response. The MSC-1 Monitor controller I use has room mode correction software that automatically measures frequency response and I use to adjust these errant frequencies. This position could be considered to sound fairly even and balanced.

Position 2

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Position 2

Vocal Tracking Waterfall
Position 2 frequency waterfall graph

Position 2’s waterfall graph indicates a strong dip at around at 65 Hz and from 150-200 Hz, and a large amount of tapering from 7 kHz upwards. This indicates strong absorption of those frequencies due to the measurement being taken in close proximity to a fibreglass absorption panel and the stage curtain on the wall. The sine wave log sweep max SPL was 86.2 dBA at this position. This area could be considered to sound “wooly“.

Position 3

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Position 3
Drum OH Waterfall
Position 3 frequency waterfall graph

The position for this measurement was taken in the drum overhead microphone location. There are four significant dips at 50 Hz, 80 Hz, 150 Hz and 1 kHz. There are two peaks 1.4 kHz and 2.3 kHz. The maximum SPL of the sine wave log sweep was measured as 86.4 dBA. This area of the room could be considered to sound “harsh”

Room Modes
The first two Axial Modes (standing waves) for each dimension:
Length: 35.6 Hz, 71.2 Hz
Width: 37.8 Hz, 75.5 Hz
Height: 86.1 Hz, 172.2 Hz

The room sounds good and this is due largely to the fact that bass response is even and well controlled and gives clarity in the low end.

Background noise

Room noise
MAnalyzer plugin background noise snapshot

There is a small amount of background noise coming from the PC tower’s CPU fan at a level of 35.4 dBA and means it’s time for me to upgrade to a liquid cooled CPU. The hum of the CPU fan is audible to the human ear but is only minor.

 

RT60

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REW RT60 graph

RT60 stands for Reverb Time 60 dB. It means the time decay of an audio signal to drop by 60 dB. The RT60 for this room is:
62 Hz = 0.24 mS
125 Hz = 0.18 mS
500 Hz = 0.17 mS
1 kHz = 0.11 mS
4 kHz = 0.14 mS

Summary
Using subjective terms, I find the room to sound even and balanced with a mild “woodiness”. This investigation has shown me the problem areas and I can use that information to correct the errant frequencies or modify my expectations of certain frequencies within the room. I find that this would not be considered an ideal tracking space, however, armed with the knowledge of how this room responds, I believe that I am able to produce quality recordings and tracking here without any problems.

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

In 1992 the band Pantera released their album titled “Vulgar Display of Power” and changed metal music forever. Dimebag Darrell’s blistering solos, Phil Anselmo’s aggressive vocals, Vinny Paul’s punishing double-kick and Rex’s tight bass groove, along with well-written songs, thrust the band into the mainstream consumption. They unified fans of other heavy metal subgenres, inventing their own style called “power groove”. They reshaped the sonic landscape of modern heavy music, leaving behind a legacy that will continue long into the future, despite the band’s break up in 2003.

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Pantera after performing at Monsters of Rock in Moscow 1991

The titans of the heavy metal genre; Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and ACDC, are all ageing and it’s likely that in the next two decades, none of them will be performing live. These are the perfect conditions, creating a genre vacuum for a new band to exploit.

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Metallica outside Greg Fieldman’s recording studio

In the absence of a unifying band, it seems that the metal genre will continue to remain fractured, with people having individual preferences for their own bands within different subgenres. Occasionally, there are bands that come close to breaking through to the mainstream, such as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Alter Bridge. Early 2016 saw the band Disturbed achieve widespread acceptance and accolades for a cover of the folk classic The Sound of Silence, however, it will remain to be seen if they can capitalise on this success.

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Lamb of God “Wrath Trophy”

Due to my own preference for heavy metal, I remain optimistic that the genre will achieve a renaissance in the near future. Widespread mainstream acceptance of heavy metal is exactly the shake up the music industry needs. Considering that most people in the music industry are barely earning a living, record labels and songwriters are risk adverse. The current state of pop music is stale, uninspiring and bland in its sameness. Any change would be for the benefit of the entire industry and it is only a matter of time until audiences become completely bored of pop homogeneity. If we apply the 20 year rule, or that trends tend to repeat every 20-30 years, we can expect to see heavy metal become mainstream in the very near future.

Ravenous, Rabid and Devouring

There is something innately moving about watching a live performance of your favorite band. The intimacy of seeing the artists in person makes the impact of their music a visceral experience. A lot of people even experience chills and goosebumps as the neurotransmitter dopamine floods through the body. For others, the stimulus can be so overwhelming that they faint, as seen in video of Michael Jackson concerts.

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Pig Mouth @ The New Globe Theatre

As a performing musician, I am drawn to live performances much more so than recordings. At gigs, I am able to appreciate stagecraft and the virtuosity of the artists as they play in front of me. The ability to put on a show and entertain, rather than just play your instrument, gives the performance so much more impact. I incorporate showmanship when playing live with my own band.

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HGRS SoundCloud banner logo

Whilst driving, I am usually listening to new music on SoundCloud in order to discern different audio mixing and production techniques by listening. It is a great way to train my ears by picking out individual parts of songs, such as mentally isolating the snare drum or EQ shape of a guitar. By doing this repetitively, it reinforces the neural pathways between my ears and brain, enabling me to listen more critically. An essential skill for any Audio Engineer to develop. (Hired Gun Recording Studio)

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recordingrevoloution YouTube

I spend a lot of time watching YouTube channels of audio professionals to gain a deeper understanding of Audio Engineering. YouTube has been an extremely valuable educational tool (also a source of many wasted hours) that I have used to improve as a musician, learn more about new equipment or software and discover new production techniques.

Social media sites enable me to stay informed about new events, gigs, the local music industry and new musical gear that I wish I had the time to try. They are also great platforms to engage with fans of my band and followers of my studio. (Facebook, Twitter)

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Inside Hired Gun Recording Studio

My voracious consumption of media has been extremely beneficial to me by keeping me well informed and greatly improving my skills as a guitarist and Audio Engineer. Through the media that I use, I have learned many useful techniques and will continue to seek out knowledge.

Opening My Third Eye

Judged by name alone, the band Tool seems a likely name for a metal band, however, there is much more to this ensemble than a simple four letter word. At a casual glance, you may only hear angry vocals and distorted guitar, but that is only scratching the surface. They are largely responsible for my musical influence.

History

Tool was formed in 1989 and came up through the Los Angeles music scene, rehearsing and playing clubs and bars for two years until they were signed by Zoo Entertainment. They released the album Opiate and toured supporting acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Rollins Band, and Fishbone. The quartet consists of; vocalist Manard James Keenan, lead guitarist Adam Jones, bass player Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey. Each member of the band is an accomplished musician with their prodigious talent recognized by being awarded three Grammys and two Grammy nominations. I first became aware of the band in 1995 when my brother Joel played their album titled Salvial. Instantly I was captivated and have been a fan ever since.

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Dissectional art for Tool’s Lateralus CD by Alex Grey

Art

The music they create is perfectly matched by the unique visual art used on their album covers and in the hypnotic animations used in their music videos and live shows. Adam Jones directed the band’s music videos and assisted various artists with their creation. Similarly, I aspire to collaborate multi-disciplinarily in order to manufacture an audiovisual sensory feast to enhance the live performance of my own music.

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Tool live in concert at Tulsa 2016

Performance

During shows, Maynard will sing to the rear of the band partly hidden in shadow, often singing to the backdrop; Danny will be on a drum platform to the mid-right of the stage; Adam and Justin will take front stage left and right respectively. It is an unorthodox stage setup, however, it takes the focus off the band and onto the music. A Tool concert will generally be very loud, transcending the audience’s general exposure to music, and in conjunction with the animations, gives the performance enhanced visual impact. Whilst my own band’s positioning is relatively traditional, we engage our audience with energetic stagecraft, jumping from speakers and into the crowd.

Music

Extensive use of odd time signatures gives a certain feeling of freedom, endowing Tool’s music with an immersive quality. Experimentation with lyrical themes, polyrhythms, uncommon percussion instruments and guitar effects, pushes the boundaries of the clichéd word “genre” to its limits. Analysis of the song Lateralus reveals the creative use of the Fibonacci number sequence, for the rhythm of the music and delivery of the vocals. Inspired by their meaningful songwriting, I have been able to draw on significant events from my life as inspiration when composing my own music. In particular, the song War Torn draws upon the emotional impact of taking human life in the name of survival.

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Myself performing at Ric’s Bar 2016

Summary

Tool is exceptional. The band is both profound musically and glorious in is uniqueness. They are currently in the studio recording a new album due for release early 2018. Thanks to their influence, my pursuit of knowledge about recording and producing quality music inexorably propels me towards the field of Audio Engineering.

“You really should be able to feel the higher power of music and be moved by it, rather than listening to me waffle on and having to explain it.” Maynard Keenan in an interview, Sonic Evolution With the Use of Tool. (1996, November). Boston Globe.