O'Flame / Blog

Mixing tips *Computer studio*

If you record in the same room as your computer, noise can be an issue. Position a directional mic so that its rejection node points at the noise source. Alternatively, if possible, manually reduce the computer's fan speed. Just don't try to hide, cover or screen off your PC, as it will just get hotter and noisier.

Mixing tips *Effects*

Don't overdo the effects, especially reverb, as this can clutter your recording and take away the contrast that is needed to give your mix punch. As a rule, the drier the sound, the more up-front it will sound, while heavily reverbed sounds tend to move into the background. If you need strong reverb on lead vocals, try to add some pre-delay to the reverb effect and adjust both the vocal level and reverb level so that the vocal sits comfortably over the backing.

Mixing tips *Levels*

Don't monitor too loudly. It may make the music seem more exciting (initially), but the end user is unlikely to listen at the same high level. High monitoring levels also tend temporarily to shift your hearing perspective and can lead to permanent hearing damage. It's fine to check the mix loudly for short periods, but most of the time, it's useful to try and mix at the level you think the music will eventually be played. (Forget I said this if you're mixing dance music for nightclubs!)

Mixing tip *Compression*

Compress the vocals to make them sit nicely in the mix. Few vocalists can sing at a sufficiently even level to be mixed successfully without compression. Soft-knee compressors tend to be the least obtrusive, but if you want the compression to add warmth and excitement to your sound, try an opto-compressor or a hard-knee model with a higher ratio setting than you'd normally use. Be aware that compression raises the background noise (for every 1dB of gain reduction, the background noise in quiet passages will come up by 1dB), and heavy compression can also exaggerate vocal sibilance.

Mixing technique 101

Don't mix entirely in headphones, or at extremely loud volumes through your monitors. Spend most of your time mixing at moderate and even low volumes, occasionally cranking it up to see how things move at those high energy levels. Try listening to your mixes through several different headphones (which can pick up clicks and pops not heard in the monitors) and at different volume levels through the monitors, as well as on different monitors if possible. The mix will surely sound different on the different systems, but the objective is to get things to sound good on all systems, not great on some and terrible on others. Occasionally walk away from the monitors and listen to your mix from another room. This gives you another perspective on level imbalances not apparent inside your normal mixing environment.

The Contract

when it comes to signing, it is important that you have the contract drafted and/or negotiated by an experienced entertainment attorney who is well-versed in similar entertainment / management contracts. The important thing about a contract is that it should define in no uncertain terms the nature of the relationship between the parties. It should also spell out how, if at all, you can get out of the deal if the manager is not performing as promised, and what the penalties for non-performance should be. You should also understand how and for what duration commissions are to be paid after the management contract has been terminated. As long as everybody understands their roles, works hard, and follows through with their commitments, everything should be fine; even if you don't sell a million records or sell out Madison Square Garden.

Advice for artists seeking management pt.3

A potential manager should like your type of music and be familiar with how an artist like you should be promoted and marketed. It is extremely important to find a manager that is the right fit, and if you can't find one, you are much better off managing yourself until the right one comes along. If you find a manager that sounds interesting, try and set up a six-month trial period o see if you are compatible with each other before signing a long-term management agreement.

Only accept friends, friends-of-friends, family members, etc., as potential managers if they have some experience in managing artists in your genre, have some industry contacts, and know how the music business works. These people are often well-intentioned but can cause more harm than good with what they don't know.

Advice for artists seeking management pt.2

The manager-artist relationship is a very important one, and you must be sure that the manager is a right fit for you (and vice-versa). Many times, a manager will approach you before you get a chance to approach them. This is not necessarily a bad thing since it makes sense that you came to their attention by being talked about on influential blogs, having an impressive social media picture, creating a buzz in your area, selling a lot of CD's, receiving radio airplay or great reviews, or putting on a great live show. If this is the case, you should expect them to know a lot about you and ask a lot of questions.

A sign of a good manager is that plenty of dialogue will take place before the contract is offered and signed. You should spend a lot of time discussing your short and long-term career goals and seeing how they can help you achieve what you want. You should ask them what ideas they have to get you where you are trying to go. You should also check to make sure that the potential manager doesn't have too many artists on their roster, and that they will have enough time to devote to your career.

Advice for artists seeking management

It is important that you speak with artists who are already signed to the management company (if the manager has an artist roster) before approaching a manager. If the artists have stayed with the manager for a long time and have a good relationship, you can take that as a sign of a commitment for the long-term; which is a good thing. Be wary of managers that don't ask a lot of questions about you, your goals, and your achievements. Don't be offended by these questions, since they only serve to identify areas of opportunity or career challenges that the manager should know about.

Even though there is no standard commission that a manager should take, be cautious of a manager who talks about commissioning 25% or more of your earnings. 10% - 15% (or in some instances 20%, depending upon the circumstances), is more in line with what's fair. Whatever you do, don't sign a contract on the spot without taking time to have it reviewed by an entertainment attorney. Few things are so urgent that both parties can't take a few days (or weeks) of their time to negotiate a contract that will bind them together for several years and involve potentially several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tips..Why try to fit in?

Find ways to get ordinary people who love music, to love your music. We live in a time when everybody and their sister can and does make their own music. That doesn't mean, however, that your music has what it takes for record labels to invest their money and time developing, promoting, and marketing that music.

Try your music out on "music fans" in the same way you would solicit opinions from A&R Rep. Talent scouts in the music industry are always following tips they hear from their street connections. But remember, your music must truly stand out in some significant, original, dynamic, and creative way. 95% of the independently produced CDs out there contain regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians.