9 Life Lessons That I’ve Learned as a Freelance Producer

1. Never be the reason why things are taking forever. If mixes, stems, vocal comps, or those types of things take longer, then so be it; but make sure it’s because you were waiting on the artist and not the other way around.  The people that wait on you are the artists who carry your good name.  You don’t want your name associated with rolling eyes and snickering remarks.  You depend on your work to get more work, and that is honestly how this business goes.

2. You can always learn more about the process, about the experience, about the mic positioning, about the way you handle an artist, or how you handle yourself.  Maybe you figured out how many hours you can stay up straight without noticing the time go by.  Or, maybe this time you were able to consciously sit back and say “Ok guys, that’s a wrap, we’re not getting any more done tonight.” If you have an ego, make sure that it’s because you have a few Grammys in your back pocket and not because you’ve been “around.” Never stop learning and you will continue to hone your skills as a producer and an individual.

Dan in Studio3. Pre-production is key to making deadlines.  It all happens to us, sometimes there are things that just take a backseat and never get done.  The singer you thought was going to be your saving grace was actually slacking off because you were blinded by your “trust” in his/her ability to prepare things on their own time. There are occasions where unforeseen things will happen and it’s inevitable that your prospective finish date will get delayed. Sometimes your artist is having a hard time and is going through some personal things that can’t be resolved immediately.  It’s your job as the producer to carry on and get things done the best you can in the time frame that is given.

4. Get your personal life in order first before you go off and think you can spend a week in the studio.  Make sure you know that you can be gone for long hours at a time and that you aren’t just leaving someone hanging out to dry on something else you were working on.  The worst thing that can happen is that you have to leave the studio for a personal reason . “Oh, I have to pay my rent – be right back” will not cut it, and will most likely result in losing the gig.

5. Ask yourself, “Do I really like what I’m working on,” because if you don’t, then you won’t care about it enough.  Once you stop caring about something you let things fall through the cracks.  You let yourself cut corners where obvious issues stand.  Sometimes you let yourself completely crash and burn and start to wonder what happened in the beginning that caused a massive spiral of bad events.  Was it because you didn’t care enough?  Was it because you didn’t ask yourself some honest questions about how you feel?  Take a night and sleep on those massive decisions. They are what define you and your work.

6. Take a step back and acknowledge what you will gain from your next project or your next big endeavor. Think about what every project is going to do for you in 5 years and then make a decision. Do you think your next big project will make you look bad? Do you think your next big project is a stepping stone or just a paycheck?  What do you think you could learn?  These are questions that you need to weigh.

7. You’re going to make big mistakes no matter what you do or how you swing it.  At one point in time you’re going to miss a fine detail, blast someone’s ears in the studio, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, or offend someone without knowing it.  This might even cost you the gig. The point is that you learned from this experience and more importantly, it will never happen again.

8. Plan your budget out as early as humanly possible.  Don’t just say “Yeah, studio time is going to cost ‘this much,’ my tracking fee is ‘this’ per hour.” No, sit back and write out every fee, every move, every drop of gas down so that you have a realistic idea of how to get from point A to point B. How do massive productions that tour around the world for years at a time stay profitable? It’s because of a budget. Live by it. Figure out how your artist or group is going to spend it. Once the money runs out it’s more or less coming out of your pocket. See “3” for more details on that.

9. Figure out your end game and don’t let anything stand in it’s way.  It only takes a few small tweaks to your life to get you one step closer to your ideal job.  Do them one at a time and don’t stress if you make a mistake early on.  That’s part of the learning process. You can’t look at your life and directly compare it to where you want to be, that’s just overwhelming and unrealistic.  What you can do is find a professional who is doing exactly what you want to be doing and learn from them. Listen to their records, email them, read their blogs, and listen to their interviews.

Play Along Jazz Contest Gets Your Music Heard By Jazz Pros

Take the next step in your musical journey this summer at PlayAlongJazz.com. Devoted to giving Jazz musicians the tools they need to succeed, Play Along Jazz gives you the chance to play with some of today’s finest musicians, to learn from their live playing, and to combine your musical voice with theirs.

How does it work? At Play Along Jazz, you will find a list of Jazz standards from which to select: you have the option to choose your tracks (stereo drum track, mono bass track, stereo guitar track etc) and mix the session yourself (what we call “Mix Your Own”) or download a stereo file that has one of the tracks omitted: drums silent for the student drummer; guitar silent for the student guitarist, etc. Downloads are priced for students and each month you will have the chance to play along with a new stream for free. There’s also an email request link so that you can suggest the addition of tunes that interest you.

Through August 31, 2009, when you purchase 15 downloads at Play Along Jazz.com, you will have the chance to submit one of your Play Along songs for review by some of today’s top jazz professionals. This acclaimed panel will select one special song from one aspiring artist that shows the greatest potential in creatively improvising in the play along environment. The winner will also receive a complimentary copy of Cakewalk’s most intuitive digital audio workstation, SONAR 8 Producer!

Hard Rocker Andrew W.K. Produced Albums With SONAR

Did you know that the Party Animal / Rock Star Andrew W.K. is a SONAR user?  With the exception of his 2006 release ‘Close Calls With Brick Walls,’ W.K. has recorded all of his albums using SONAR.  As told to EQ, “I really liked working with SONAR because I could have multiple regions of audio in one track and overlap them to make this collage of waveforms’.

‘Brick Walls’ proved to be a change from the usual for W.K. as he literally stepped outside the ‘walls’ of his software to collaborate in real time with the legendary Rastafarian Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. ‘He is the first person I have met who truly uses magic in the studio,’ states W.K. The pair jammed out a whole album with the help a few mics and a small group of session musicians to play the backing tracks. Without the help of a computer, the instruments were mixed naturally in the air.

Read the whole article on Andrew W.K. at EQMag.com

Tani Diakite’s New Reggae / R&B Track Featured At Kicksville

Tani Diakite of Mali, was recently featured in the first edition of Kicksville’s The Singles with a new project entitled Kalamaya or ‘it’s not good to fight’.

Kalamaya was built around an ‘incredibly haunting’ melody and a kamale ngoni (an African harp) with reggae and R&B influences. The track was recorded and produced using SONAR.

Kicksville is a ‘political movement, a virtual community and a musical collective.’ Everything is created from scratch by Kicksville’s citizens, a team of musicians, artists, and technology wizards who commute to Kicksville from twelve different cities on three continents and who’ve worked with a dizzying range of other artists ranging from Laurie Anderson to Van Halen and dozens of others, including Queen, BB King, King Crimson and members of the Grateful Dead.

Cakewalk Hosts Masterclass at ASCAP EXPO 2009

ASCAP’s Annual “I Create Music” EXPO is a three day event taking place next Thursday April 23 through Saturday April 25 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. It is the one place where serious songwriters, composers and producers alike can connect face to face at panels, workshops, performances, exhibitor demos, one-on-one sessions and networking events.

This year, Cakewalk is hosting live demonstrations on the new SONAR V-Studio 700 given by Product Specialist Seth Perlstein and an exciting new masterclass in a fully-functional on-location studio!

Cakewalk Modern Music Creation & Demo Room

 Expert producers and music creators will be using the award winning SONAR V-Studio 700 to exemplify different techniques, tips and tricks for the modern recording musician. Cutting edge technology is allowing creative people to take control of their music and turn demos into finished masters; this is the place to ask questions and learn.

The Home Studio Master ClassIn sessions taught throughout the day, pieces of music will be recorded by a producer and engineer and developed in a fully-functional on-location studio. Featured studio tools and products to include Auralex Acoustics, Behringer, Blue Microphones, Cakewalk, Gibson, iZotope, NightBird Studios, Roland, Solid State Logic and West LA Music. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to get a close-up view of the Home Recording process.

Thursday: Constructing & Recording a Unique Track that Cuts Through the Pack with Producer/Composer Gionvanni Loria

Friday: Composing & Producing for Film & TV with Producer/Composer Shawn Clement and Producer/Musician Justin Lassen

Saturday: Writing, Producing, & Recording a Contemporary Pop-Rock Song with Producers Jimmy Landry, Brandon Ryan and Jorg Kohring (from the band, Orbit Monkey) as well as Guest Artist Cori Yarckin

ASCAP EXPO 2009: Schedule of Events

Tune Up Your Production Skills with SONAR 8 Help Guides

StreamWorks Audio Offers Complete SONAR 8 Video Tutorial

Whether you are a beginner, just learning the ropes, or a more seasoned veteran of SONAR, this video tutorial leaves nothing out and offers lots of valuable information to get you up and running quickly.

You will learn how to setup your computer for optimal performance, master SONAR’s new user interface & advanced recording and editing techniques, use effects, dial in software instruments, mix down tips & techniques, and much more!

StreamWorks’s SONAR 8 Tutorial: Now Available in HD

SONAR 8 Power! by Scott Garrigus

SONAR 8 Power! is the ideal reading companion for SONAR 8, featuring detailed information that even the most experienced user will benefit from. New users will start from the beginning and learn everything they need to know to use SONAR 8 for recording, editing, producing, mixing, and bringing their music to the masses. Upgraders will learn all about the new features in SONAR 8 as well as enhancements made to existing features that may affect their current production workflow.

Learn how to use AudioSnap, Session Drummer 2, and V-Vocal