Monday, June 18, 2012

Many of my friends are musicians. Some have their own studios. In my quest to learn more about the music industry I decided to ask one of them for an interview. Here  Ryan “Yay” Slorence discusses what it is like to be an engineer. 

What do you do?
I mix music giving it radio quality sound.

How long have you been an engineer?
3 years.

Where did you learn your craft?
Pro Media in Nashville TN.

What made you want become an engineer?
To further my craft as an artist, learning all aspects of music.

Oh, you are an artist? What genre?
Hip hop, rap, whatever you wanna call it. I do pop also.

Here is a video from his group Prettidope called "Unthinkable Freestyle." This shows the type of music he masters. 

Do you enjoy working as an engineer?
No, it is stressing.

What is stressful about being an engineer?
Sometimes when I listen to people’s music it is not good. At all. I’m talking about the sound quality.

Listening to people telling you what to do none stop. We are talked to any kind of way and shitted on and treated like robots.

What tools do you use?
Protools, Waves plug-ins, Digi 008, and various other plug-ins.

What can artists do to make your job less stressful?
Artists should take more care when recording their vocals.

What are some of the obstacles you face as engineer?
It all starts in recording. If it starts off bad it is difficult to fix it.

Step one: Record it well.

How would you suggest that?
For home recording invest in a good microphone. Neumann 87 is an industry standard.  Listen to the engineers work before you decide to pay him or her money.

What are the red flags you are working with an incompetent engineer?
If he or she cannot get the sound quality up to your standards you are working with a bad engineer. Fire him!

How long should a mix take?
Depending on the mix, it takes about a day or two per song.

How do you test the mix?
Listen to the mix in different systems. Check it out in your car, which is one of the best ways to listen. Also, try home stereo, computer.

Can you relate an experience you had as an engineer?

My First Paid Project

I was paid to do a whole mixtape. I spent weeks doing it. The pay was good. I worked hard. I enjoyed the money.

What I learned from this interview is musicians are particular people. Our demand for perfection creates headaches along the way. But, the beauty that results is worth the effort. Just make sure you pay your engineer well. If you have a qualified professional let him or her do what he or she does best and trust you will get good results. They appreciate feedback but no one likes a micro-manager. 

If you would like to appear on this blog please, email me here.


Sara Jo

Album Release Party

Let’s say you have a growing number of fans because you have been marketing like crazy. Now your album is done and you are ready to share it with the world. Do you just put it online and wait for the dollars to roll in? You could. But, why not have more fun? Put together an album release party. This is a great way of thanking your supporters and creating more press for yourself.

What to Provide

What should you have at your album release party? Besides the obvious, the band and DJ, you will need plenty of albums. Bring merchandise for your fans to purchase. Remember, this is to thank everyone, so remember to give away plenty of products. Autograph the CDs to add that special touch of gratitude.

You will also want to have catering there. The food does not need to be heavy. This should not be dinner, but a snack is preferable. According to your brand you will benefit from having beverages.

Of course fans will want to photograph with the band. Make sure to get a good photographer. Some will have their own cameras. Be sure to tell your fans about your website and inform them your pictures will go up soon. They will be interested and go to your site where they can find out more about what you are doing. This is also a wonderful marketing opportunity for those who have only been introduced to you.

Where to Host

When selecting a place to have your party first decide the mood you want to set. If you are going for an intimate occasion with your most loyal fans a friend’s home or a coffee shop may work well. You may decide you want a big stage and a little distance from the fans. If your album is highly conceptual you may want a theatre. Look for a place that fits your brand and the sound of your music.

Check out the places you spend time. Also, find your fans and see where their favorite places to go are. They may know of a spot that would love to host the party.  Of course, you should start this search early enough to set aside funds in case you need a security deposit. Wherever you go make sure to get a contract that clearly states what your money buys you. Some places will include catering and alcohol.

What to Perform

You clearly want to perform songs that are going to get your fans singing along. Make sure the songs are ones you are excited about. Ask those who have heard the album which are their favorites. Album release parties are supposed to be fun introductions so keep anything depressing out of the set, for now.

While you have your fans present interact with them. You may have industry professionals or press there. They will want to see how the crowd responds to you. You do not want people tweeting your party is boring. Accessibility is a must for artists today.


You will want to use the same marketing techniques you use to get your fans. As mentioned in the “Musician and Entrepreneur” article this includes blogs, emails, and other shows. Ask the business owners in your community if you can post flyers about your show. Make sure these stores fit your brand or are knowledgeable of your music. Take cds with you to give as a thank you. If you are uncomfortable giving all your music away pick your top three songs or offer a free download code on your website.


If you are asking anyone to help finance your party you must approach them with a win-win situation. People do not want to offer up their resources without something in return. This could mean your friends too. You do not always have to present cash. Sometimes a mention on your blog and pictures with the building name will appease business owners. If you do not have money offer your services as a musician for a party of theirs in exchange for whatever you need from them.

If you have friends and family helping out make sure not to take advantage of them.  Loved ones may be happy to assist you if you show your appreciation. This could mean free merchandize for them, free entrance, or free drinks. If they are paying definitely remember to send a thank you card.

Look for creative ways to fund and promote your album release party. Get a nice outfit, take photos, and turn up!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Know Your Audience

In my Masters program I had to create a business plan. Before you can do anything in business you must answer several questions well. (1) What is your brand? (2) Who is your target audience? (3) Is there a need for you in the market or are you creating a new one?

I’ve talked to you about the importance of knowing your brand. You must decide this before you make any decisions because all decisions must center around this. Your brand informs you on your audience. So let us direct our attention there.

The following are questions you can use to define your audience.

1.     What is the age of my fans?
2.     What do they do for a living?
3.     What do they do for recreation?
4.     Do they drink alcohol?
5.     Do they smoke?
6.     Are they religious?
7.     Where do they live?
8.     What brands do they buy?
9.     Did they graduate college?
10. How much money do they make?
11. Where do they vacation?
12. What do they wish they could have that they do not?
13. Are they emotional?
14. Are they responsible?
15.  Are they married or single?
16. Do they have children?
17. Where do they hang out?
18. What kind of cars do they drive?
19. What are their favorite websites?
20. What are their fears?
21. What are their fantasies?
22. Who is on their Ipods?
23. What are their favorite sports?
24. Do they have a healthy lifestyle.
25. What social networks do they use?
26. Do they play video games?
27. What designers do they wear?

Underground artists are great at studying their audiences. Companies higher market researches to find out what consumers want and do not want. They leave surveys under the door. You can do something similar on your website. Simply ask them to opt-in to a questionnaire. Make the questionnaire simple so as not to take too much time. Enthusiastic participants will leave comments. You can also leave simple polls on your site.

Of course everyone is not going to be the same but creating a profile of your target audience will allow you to find brands that have similar target audiences. These are companies you can approach for sponsorships and collaborations later. In the meantime use the information you gather to reach your audience. If you know where your crowd hangs out you can go there and talk to them. You will be able to give them samples of your music and receive hits on your websites. These hits will translate to faces in the crowd and more downloads. If you know their favorite websites you can interact with them online.

Take advantage of the opportunities you get to speak with fans. Use the feedback you get from those who purchase your records to make your sound stronger and solidify your image.  You can reward those who supply you information with something free like a download or access to an exclusive video.