We will be leaving our island paradise for Walt Disney World early Saturday morning. Wake up time that day will be 5:00am. The drive is about two hours from Anna Maria Island to the Grand Floridian resort at Walt Disney World.
I purchased our park passes and I made all of our dining reservations. This is trip number twelve to Disney so we pretty much know the drill. I find the unofficial guide to Walt Disney World a handy reference. Bob Sehlinger updates this book each year. 800 pages and counting. I also find the unofficial online guide to have some useful material particularly in the discussion forums.
We have always booked into Walt Disney World during off peak times to avoid crowded parks. Unfortunately we will experience both on this trip: huge crowds on New Year’s Day and relatively light crowds on the Monday and Tuesday.
We fly back to Toronto next Wednesday morning from Tampa International Airport. Another early morning that day as we will need to leave Orlando and drive to Tampa in enough time to check in at 8:00am.
I have been asked to highlight some tips on the ProTools platform and so, over the next few days, I will highlight some of the lesser known secrets of the greatest ProTools operators in the industry.
When I get together with other audio engineers I always ask questions about how they are using their rigs. Here are a few helpful suggestions:
One tip that has saved me on more than one occassion is setting AutoSave. With Setups > Preferences I check the Enable Session File Backup under the Autosave options. I keep the ten most recent backups and I set the backup to every 5 minutes.
I also limit the Open Ended Record Allocation to 15 minutes. This reduces the lag time when I press record. Basically, this setting tells ProTools to prepare the disk for 15 minutes of recording time. If left to the default, ProTools will prepare the entire disk which can introduce lag when recording tracks.
I like to save session files at each stage of the recording project:
- SongOne Basics
- SongOne Overdubs
- SongOne Vocals
- SongOne Mix Prep
- SongOne Mix
I always make sure that at the end of each session I have a complete copy of the session on the primary audio disk as well as a backup on the firewire drive. Although ProTools is fairly robust it will crash during sessions. You can never have too many backups.
We spent the day yesterday in Venice. Not that Venice. The one in Florida. Venice is a small beachside community that is roughly 20 miles south of Sarasota. The town was developed as a planned community with wide boulevards, parks and other facilities all mapped out prior to construction. A wonderful place to explore.
I came across this interesting piece on exploding the big music myth at P2Pnet.net. The author, Michael Giest, is a law professor at the University of Ottawa and he holds the research chair on Internet and e-commerce law. His spin is that there really has been minimal impact to the music industry from peer-to-peer music sharing. The losses are insignificant and the real impact to the music industry has been the growth of DVD sales and the crowding out of CD sales as a consequence.
There is no question that DVD sales have been hugely successful and that people are buying DVDs. After all, why buy a CD when it is so easy to pirate the material. Much tougher right now to pirate DVDs. Almost as tough as pushing a go kart around the track.
A few subtle changes to the look and feel of the blog. Spent some time today working on my CSS chops. Although relatively straight ahead compared to programming languages, I still find CSS a very iterative and complicated way of fine-tuning page presentation. Very flexible though. Separating content from presentation is good practice and allows me to ripple changes by working on one stylesheet only.
Fair warning. This post will be a bit long. Being on vacation and away from the studio means that I have too much time on my hands.
I will be starting work on a new project in January. I have a few concerns, as I often do, when I start working with a new artist. Does the artist have reasonable expectations? Is the artist coachable? Are there any issues with ego? In short, concerns about motives and expectations rather than concerns about the recording process itself.
But what does it really take to create a competitive product in today’s market? Talent, hard work, money, and time. Even then, there is no proven path to success particularly if success has not been defined in advance of a recording project.
I start pre-production sessions by asking a basic question: what is the vision for the project? Most of the artists that I work with are involved in music ministry and their objectives are pretty straightforward: create a product that can be sold to support ministry activities.
Sometimes, though, I receive responses that hint at other objectives. Usually the responses talk to commercial quality, competitive product, showcasing talent, and, interestingly enough, award-winning. What is the objective really? Record deal? Fame and fortune? Mass market airplay? Hard to know. And my internal alarm bells go off.
Let’s make the assumption that the level of talent is high. Given the competitive nature of the music business, it is not a given that high talent is rewarded by the marketplace but it is an important start.
The average cost of a major label release breaks down to around $35,000 to as much as $100,000 per song.
The average cost of a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) release is about 1/10th that of a major label release, or $3,500 to $10,000 per song.
The costs of a project fall into two main areas:
1. Recording costs
2. Production costs
Under recording costs there are expenses for the producer, the engineer, the arranger, the studio musicians and the photographer. There are also expenses for studio time, equipment rentals and media.
Under production costs there are expenses for CD duplication, promotion and publicity.
Most artists underestimate how long it will take to record an project. The average CD project can take about 12-18 months from planning to release. Of course, there are many variables. Preparation, experience, personnel, and schedules can all affect the amount of time involved.
I generally estimate based on the following:
- Basics (drums, bass, rhythm instruments, scratch vocal): 5 hours per song
- Lead vocal tracking: 3 hours per song
- Overdubs: 3 hours per song
- Backing vocals: 6 hours per song
- Mixing: 8 hours per song
For a twelve song CD project I would estimate about 300 hours in the studio. I usually add another 100 hours or so for edits, backups, project updates, etc. Mastering is a full day session once the recording and mixing is all finished.
And, when all of this work is done, the real work begins: promotion, touring and selling all those shiny new CDs.
My daughter flies in from Toronto today. We will be picking her up at Tampa International Airport which just happens to be pretty close to the Tampa Guitar Center.
I really cannot see how we can bypass a visit to this music superstore since we are so close.
I have been receiving emails about my weather reports on this blog. Apparently I overlooked the foot or so of snow that fell over the past few days. Bitter cold and snow. At least there is a white Christmas back home. All we have down here is white, sandy beaches and warm weather.