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  • The EP // The Full Length // Don't Hurry

    There are a lot of interesting opinions out there about recording music and how much music to release when considering to put out a project. Some of these opinions are based on past music distribution culture, some are based on artist ego and identity and others are based in wisdom and research. I am going to focus this blog entry specifically on making the case for recording an EP over a Full Length if you are an independent artist.

    There was a time not too long ago when album sales mattered more than just earning a small profit from a person to person transaction at the merch table. Album sales were used to gauge the popularity of an artist or how healthy an indie artist's business was. Selling music in hard copy form is still the best way to get your music into a persons hands at a performance but the rules of what a sale represents are changing. In the case of an elite few artists these old rules still apply but there are fewer and fewer elites making crazy life changing money than ever before. The financial gap between the working class artists and the biggest Top 40 artists is wider than the Grand Canyon... Adele recently destroyed all kinds of presupositions about elite artist sales with the release of her new record. Her situation is likely not even the slightest bit close to our reality.

    Our reality is budgeted. Our music creating reality is represented by a very specific amount of time versus a very specific amount of cash. Time costs money, both on the recording front and the personal interest front. Your music and the way that you release it is what garners the interest of your followers. Music is your first impression. Every time you release new music you are releasing a new first impression. If you are attempting to be in business as a music maker and performer, it's very important that what you release is your current best effort.

    There are a lot of misconceptions in the process of making a record. Each producer has a different way of guiding the artist through the process. There is one common factor that rings true with a vast majority of successful projects and that fact is very simple. THEY NEVER RUSH. When you see a project by a mainstay artist like Coldplay, Taylor Swift or Adele you can automatically understand that the artist spent at least a year preparing for this project. Big artists never hurry the process. Adele took 6 months to finish the song "Hello". Great music is worth taking our time on. Your followers will be more satisfied by a project you suffered and toiled over than a project that you rushed to completion.
    More often than not, I encounter indie artists that have set unrealistic deadlines and budgets for their projects. This is so common in fact that I often spend a lot of time helping them reshape their idea of how to release music so that they don't shipwreck their business by taking on more than they can handle.

    It's very important that you know how big your fanbase and cashflow really are, and can gauge how long it will take you to make a return on your investment based on past and honest future projected sales numbers. If you continually play shows and are doing 50-100 dates per year that are payed an honorarium, you may consider doing a full length or a double EP.

    However, if you are just starting off (2-3 years into your career) and have released maybe one previous project and you aren't being payed an honorarium at performances then you may consider releasing a series of singles first and then a follow up EP. The reason for this would be to engage your audience and build some excitement around your new music.

    Here are 10 benefits to consider for making an EP over an Full Length album if you are an indie artist.

    1. You can sell a 5 song EP at concerts for $10.00. Yes you can. People will pay for it and I've seen it done this way for years by a lot of artists. By charging $10 you are literally asking people to help you on your music journey. It creates a more sentimental connection between you and your fans because they are helping you move forward. They want to see you succeed. You are also establishing a value strategy with your audience.

    2. Recording an EP is easier to manage and afford: It costs less to make, and takes less time. A full 5-6 song EP usually takes 2 weeks to track properly. Any studio that wants to crank out a song or more in a day is ripping you off unless they have a really good team working with you and an established track record. Be smart.... If your ears don't like their previous body of work then don't hire them. Big artists will spend a week or more on one song arrangment. I recommend spending 2 days on the recording of each song. Wouldn't you rather spend a couple days on one song making sure it has the time to be how you want it? It's very common for producers that work at a per song rate to spend 2 days on just the arranging and tracking of a song. You can expect to pay $1200 - 2000 per song for a seasoned and reputable indie producer. This rate usually includes the studio time and often the cost of session players.

    3. You are much more likely to be able to afford working with a seasoned professional producer. Speaking from my own experience which is pretty deep and from the experience of my peers; a producer is more likely to commit time to a smaller project for indie artists and be more generous with their pricing.

    4. Recording an EP allows you to pick from the best songs of your body of work for distribution. Believe it or not...It's good to be in a place where you have to make hard decisions. By picking the top 5-7 songs in your catalogue to record you are cutting out songs that people might not respond well to. Honestly, there may be songs that you love that your audience doesn't respond well to. This is a business decision. The better quality songs you release and can perform the more likely that you will grow your business and be able to sustain it. I've seen artists go into a lot of debt by recording too many songs and then not being able to get the tour support to sell records. The idea that you can just throw your music up online and people will buy it is ludicrus. You have to tour to support your music. If your aren't touring or playing shows then you are just releasing music as a hobby. That's ok if you just want a fun and very expensive hobby.

    5. Releasing an EP will allow for you to release more music, more frequently. Yep.. You can potentially afford to release music every year instead of every two years.

    6. It's easier to crowd fund an EP over a full length. Why? Because you are asking people for less money and they will be more likely to want to help you. If people feel like you are going to be able to make your goal they will be more likely to help you. Also, you don't want to become the artist that is always asking for more money. If you don't reach your goal and have to go a second round your risk putting people out. They may not say anything to you about it but they may not be inclined to help. When someone puts down cash to help you they are excited to be a part of what you are doing. If you don't reach your goal they also share this failure and most people aren't interested in going a second round.

    7. By spending less money on the recording process you are left with the potential to spend cash on other needs... Like videos, website or a promotions company to help with your release etc.

    8. If you also have a job it's much easier to get time off to record an EP than an album.

    9. Recording an EP allows your sound to develop faster if you are a new artist because an EP is a smaller commitment and doesn't force you to commit to playing songs live that you may outgrow in a year. You may only continue performing 1 or two songs from a previous release anyways. Take this advice from a guy who is part of a band with a 100 song catalogue. Sanctus Real only typically peforms our newer, popular songs. Rarely do we play songs from even 5 years ago.

    10. Creating a vision and plan for an EP is easier if you are managing your self. Because the amount of work you are taking on is less you are free to have time to work on other aspects of your release.

    Some common missconceptions about recording an EP versus a Full Length.

    1. I am not successful if I don't release a full length: Really? This kind of thinking is ego and insecurity motivated and it can cause you to go into debt and possibly lose your business. I can name artists that I've seen go through this. You don't want anything to do with this kind of thinking.

    2. Labels won't be interested in me if I don't release a full length: NOT TRUE AT ALL... This is a very ancient way of thinking that some old school industry people hold. Labels want to see a large fan base, equitable and healthy business decisions, large concert turnouts and great songwriting. If you create something that is valuable people that invest will likely become interested in what you are doing.

    3. I can make more money by selling full length albums: Techincally you don't start making money until you break even. So if you spend $24,000 to make a full length (Which is cheap by seasoned producer standards) it will take you way longer to break even then if you spend $10,000 to make an EP. This is simple math. Also, people are way more likely to part with a $10 bill at your merch table. It's a nice round number. If you are selling a 12 song record for $10 you are losing money according to the online price per song of $.99 - $1.29.

    4. This is my shot. I've got to record a full length: Your "Shot" is what ever you make it. Spending a fortune to make a record could be the milestone you pay for, for a long time. Don't be sucked into the romance of it. Be smart, make good decisions and manage your money well. Believe it or not recording a single is actually more fun that recording an album. Once you get a month into recording a record you may feel differently about how much fun it is.

  • To Crowd Fund or Not To Crowd Fund... That Is The Question...

    To crowd fund or not to crowd fund?... That is the question...

    Crowd funding is a trend that has been all over social media in recent years. Every band with songs these days most likely considers crowd funding as an option to help pay recording and marketing expenses for their next release. I mean why not? Asking your fans, friends and family to donate some money to help you make a record sounds like a great idea. It's the potential of money for what seems like a smaller amount of work than having to save your own personal money. Crowd funding can also help speed up the process. Rather than playing a ton of gigs over the course of a year to save up money you can now spend 30 days asking for help online.

    As a producer and a band member I have had a lot of clients and friends use kickstarter, indiegogo and rocket hub to raise money for projects. The reality is that all of these people had mixed results. Several indie artists that I have worked with have had failed campaigns that didn't raise even half of their goal. In the end they had to rely heavily on their profits from touring and merch sales to help pay for their recordings and cd printings.

    So what is it that makes a crowd funding campaign successful? Below I am going to outline a few simple fundementals that will help you in your journey towards crowd funding a project.

    1. Personal Expectations: Its vital that you as the artist have a realistic perspective on how apealling your music is, how large your fanbase is and how much music you should attempt to record. If you are an indie artist that has only been around for 2 years or less and are funding your first project, trying to raise more than $1000 - 2000 isn't a wise idea. Now if you have blown up and are touring 50-100 days per year and have a strong social media presence then by all means go for more money. However, just because people are nice doesn't mean that they are willing to part with their money to help because you think you write cool music.

    2. Social Media: Before even considering to do a crowd funding campaign it's vital that you spend at least a year building your social media following. You can't ask pretend people for assistance. How do you build social media? Well...You have to make an authentic connection with your fans by performing live and then point them towards your social media. Once they are on your social media you have to provide daily content that is well thought out and interact with them. Such is life...If you just want to be an artist and not do the work it takes to interact with people then you should probably not attempt to crowd fund a record.

    3. Fan Base Availability: The people that you are interacting with are not just consumers...They are people whom your music connected with... Something you said or did witin your songs or concert moved them in a such a way that they wanted to become part of what you are doing. You owe it to them to be available.

    4. The Big Picture: A lot of artists are still stuck in their full length album obsession. There are major label artists only putting out EPs but somehow I still see indie artists who aren't making any money trying to finance full length recordings way to early in their careers... The truth is...You are better off raising the money to record one greatly written song with a great producer than you are recording 10 average songs in a local studio or a bedroom. Keep the big picture in view. This is a very competitive business and putting out your best material is the one thing worth doing right. If people love the one song you put out and you promise to put out an EP with the help of crowd funding, people will likely want to get involved and help you out.

  • //BRING ON THE BASS//

    // 2014 // Tracking bass for the Sanctus Real "The Dream" Album with producer Pete Kipley.//

    Bring On The Bass!!!!!!

    I've been doing bass recording in the studio for a minute or two so I thought I'd share some things that I have picked up over the years. Starting first with some basic expectations that producers have when they hire a bass player for a studio session.

    If you are going to pursue session work it's wise to know the nashville numbers system and how to read bass cleff. Playing to a click track should be second nature for you as well. Also, being able to play with a pick and with your fingers is really the only way to go. Only knowing one right hand technique isn't going to get you work. As a bass player hired to play a compostion you are hired to read the music infront of you and play it back with a really good interpretation like an actor reading a script. Good players will be able to get into the feel of the music quickly. As a bass player hired to come up with a part you are there to create a part on the fly and it's always expected that you'll do it quickly while playing efficiently. Studios charge by the hour and the longer you take to do your job will cost the producer or the label more money. Their job is to stay under budget. No pressure...

    BRING THE TOOLS WITH YOU:

    Don't rely on the studio to have what you need. It's your job to make sure that the producer has what he needs in the bass department so that it sounds awesome unless he says otherwise. Heres a list of gear that I recommend if you are intending to be a real session bassist that does frequent session work.

    * 2 basses - A lot of guys bring a P-Bass and a Jazz Bass or similar models. If you are doing country or fusion a five string bass might be a good idea.

    * A lower wattage tube bass amp - I have a couple different fliptop amps that I use. Ampeg's B-15n is the most recorded bass amp in history. Ashdown makes a killer low wattage bass head. If you go the route of a head I recommend a 15" speaker cab or a 2x10" speaker cab

    * Pedals - Set up a pedal board with all of your favorite tone machines on it. Always bring a Sansamp bass DI. This little unit is a must have. I have one and use it more often than I'd like to admit. Also an ABY signal splitter box is ideal as well. Believe it or not, not all studios have them.

    * Signal Chain - At the highest level, studio bassists will bring a rack of preamps, eqs and compressors and even a mic or two to sessions as a courtesy. Often times you are going to an overdub studio and they might not have what you need. If your desire is to be a full time session bassist and you have the chops you might want to buy some of this stuff. Neve 1073 with EQ, UA 610 Preamp, UA 1176 Compressor, Empirical Labs Distressor and a nice Fet condensor mic. Here are a few mics that are killer on bass amps. Electrovoice RE20, Bock 195, Miktek C7e, Mojave Audio MA 301Fet, Lauten Atlantis, Neumann TLM 102

    BASS RECORDING ON A BUDGET:

    So we have already visited a more expensive approach to having the tools that you need to track bass but I will give you a quick lowdown on what you can use if you are on a budget.

    1. Make sure what ever bass you have has fresh strings, is intonated, is set up how you like it and doesn't have any electrical ground buzzing issues.

    2. If you are on a budget it's not likely that you have a nice low wattage amp. A nice amp is going to cost somewhere between $1000 and $3000 so I am going to recommend not using one to record. We are going to focus on just recording a DI. I am going to recommend using a SansAmp Bass Driver DI. You can find one used on Ebay for around $125-150. You can run a mic cable directly into your interface from the DI. The sansamp will give you a cool and full tone with some EQ options and the ability to add tube like saturation to your signal. Make sure that you land on the clean side unless you are really trying to get an overdrive tone. Also its important that you don't over hype the low end. I find that it sounds best to keep an even balance of all the frequencies. Its easy to over do it and then have to retrack bass again later. You want to avoid that.

    3. Another option is using an amp simulator software in you computer. Purists may hate me for this but the honest truth is that the results are actually great. If they weren't people would stop using them. A cheap option is Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4 LE. There is an Ampeg SVT Bass amp model in the software that is killer. Also a lot of todays newer softwares have built in amp sims. Logic Pro X is great for that.

    Believe it or not a seasoned session player can make a killer sounding studio bass track with just a cheap squier p-bass and Guitar Rig LE 4. This is true because being a good studio musician is ultimately more about the part, performance and the feel of the part than it is about how much you obsess about your sound. Plus a good mix engineer can likely make it sound great.

    STUDIO ETIQUETTE:

    Reputations spread real fast in the music industry. If you are really good at session work but are a butthead and aren't respectful or are lazy it's only a matter of time before a producer stops hiring you and tells his friends about it. So here are some things that will help keep you in good graces with a client.

    1. Firstly you are hired to be a bass "operator". Ultimately the song is the artist's, writer's and producer's vision. That means your vision is probably last in line. You are there to operate the bass and arrange a cool bass part. Its wise to check your ego at the door.

    2. Be on time but not too early and never late. Too early might interupt something and lateness is rude. I recommend getting to the studio 10 mins early and beginning to load your stuff to the door. If it's a big studio you may be able to load in 15 mins early if you are lucky. Being way too early is just awkward. Don't do it.

    3. Never show visible frustration or create awkward moments during a session. If you are frustrated request a short break "2 minutes" and leave the room. Showing anger in that environment is not cool. Walk the hall or pop outside for some quick fresh air.

    4. Don't talk too much. It's really important to be a good studio hang but you are hired to work. Work takes time and time takes money so it's best to be friendly but to keep the ball rolling unless you are on a break. Always keep the session about your clients. Telling them what you had for lunch or sharing stories about the bar you went to or sports event you attended the night before is best to avoid.

    5. Take criticism and listen to ideas. Some guys will get irritated when a client makes a suggestion but it's important to remember that you are their guest. They invited you to be there and they are paying you. So, no matter how bad their idea is it's your job to take it and make it better.

    6. On your way to the session text your contact and ask what kind of coffee the client and producer wants. Pick up the coffee and pay for it.

    7. Don't smoke. First off if you are a smoker all of your gear will smell like smoke and so will your clothes. You also might be tempted to take a smoke break if you are stressed. Believe it or not most people view smoke breaks as rude and selfish. Keep in mind that you are in a control room with other people and they can smell you. Make sure you smell good. Also make sure you have chewing gum or breath mints. Bad breath is bad news in a control room. Trust me...People notice this stuff.

    8. Put your cell phone in your coat pocket with the ringer and vibrate off. I've seen guys get fired for looking at their phones too much during a session. Don't be that guy.

    MY FAVORITE BASS TONES:

    Over my time as a session bassist I have had enough time to test out a lot of different signal chain and instrument options. Here are some of my favorites. Keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to do bass tracking. Try some of these but also come up with some of your own. Its important to keep exploring tones.

    1. Clean Tone: P-Bass or Jazz Bass into a UA 610 DI or 1073 DI. This is a very simple option but it sounds great and clean as a whistle. A little compression either with an LA-2A or Distressor can add a bit of control and harmonic distortion to the sound as well. This is great for a quick and solid tone.

    2. Fat and Somewhat Dirty Tone: 72 P-Bass Into a Xotic Bass RC Booster. I then split my signal and send one lead to an amp and the other to a DI. I use an Ampeg B15n or my Tyler Fliptop Amp with a 15" speaker. I mic the amp with a Bock 195 Fet condensor about a foot and a half away with the mic placed dead center on the speaker. The mic channel is running to a Neve 1073 then into a LA-2A and then to the A/D. For the DI I send it to either an 1073, UA 610 or my Retro Instruments Power Strip. From there I send it to my 68 Urei 1176 and then I use a pultec EQ to tighten up the low end with a 20hz boost/cut trick. I add a wide Q small boost at 600 hz according to what the sound requires as well. From there I send it to my A/D . I have had a lot of great tones come out of this set up.

    3. Sans Amp Set Up: I like p-basses a lot. So I send my p-bass into my Sansamp VT Bass and dial in the right tone. From there I go into a Pre. Either a 1073, 610 or my Retro Strip. From there I go into either an 1176, LA-2A or into my UBK Fatso with the glue setting dialed in and a little tape saturation. This is a great sounding, quick set up. I use this a lot on song demos and TV and Film custom compositions. Its really great.

    Some of these tips and tricks I have learned the hard way and some of these I have learned from running sessions of my own. I hope that they help you have a successful session in the future.

    Good Luck!

  • Karate//Fire and Aspirations

    This video was an audtion video for the show "Americas Got Talent".  It has some of my favorite childhood elements.  Karate, Fire and Guitars with distortion.

    Karate//Fire and Aspirations

    Febuary 13th 2015 By Jake Rye

    Every single person on this earth has aspirations and goals.  Some are massive in scope and others are simple things that we write on lists so we don't forget.... Wash the dishes, fix the plumbing in the guest bathroom, get the oil changed in the car, start a record label and sign a super talented artist, learn how to play all of Beethoven's songs by memory on the piano. Things like these race through our minds, weigh on our souls and fuel our dreams. The ability to dream and aspire is one of the major things that separates us from the animals that roam the earth. We aren't monkeys thinking of bananas. We are creatives that dream of art and music. We dream of bringing others joy and being fully alive while we create.

    We invest in our talents. We labor because of the challenge and the excitement that our art gives us. It spurs us to spend long hours late into the night creating. As a teenager I remember skipping dinner so that I could get more time in on my bass guitar. I would play until the blisters on my fingers would peel off and sometimes fall asleep with my bass amp still on and my bass laying on the floor.

    As we grow and put in hours some of us may reach a professional or mastery level of performance be it as a musician, dancer, singer, painter, photographer or any other creative venture. In his book "Outliers" author Malcom Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours for a person to master his or her trade. That doesn't mean that you will beome a master of anything you set out to do after 10,000 hours of practice. You may see improvement but the standard for mastery is pretty high in the current world we live in. Everyone is a critic these days. Some of us may find a hobby that we are not great at but love anyways and we will devote 10,000 hours to learning it. Some things that I know I have committed 10,000 hours to that I am not a master of are baseball, basketball, drawing, video games, being patient etc... I love baseball and am a pretty darn good left fielder with a quick first step but I wouldn't go try out for the Detroit Tigers or even the local division 3 college team for that matter.

    My point is that we learn instruments, write music, dance, paint, create because something about it makes us feel alive. Every time I create a new song that conveys my emotions or state of being I feel like I just breathed a giant breath full of oxygen. It feels deep and rich and my soul feels renewed.

    So after years of learning and working hard at creating, building or practicing, what is it that makes some of us professionals and some of us hobbyists? Why do some of us have the opportunities to go forward and make a living and some of us try hard to make it but come up short? Often I will hear questions from hopeful artists like...How do I become a famous artist? How do I become a professional?

    This is a hard topic for me to write about because every person's journey is unique to them and I may risk sounding like a dream smasher or even a jerk. The truth is we live in a time where there is so much technology and ability to record, market and sell music that a lot of people are attempting to start businesses prematurely. There are "how to" blogs and youtube videos everywhere showing and telling people how to do this or that so that they can chase their dreams of professionalism. People who have devoted very little time to learning their trade are attempting to enter a massive world of commerce by selling their music online. Everywhere you look on facebook there are artists selling their music. In fact there are so many rappers, singers and bands out there that it sometimes feels like an overwhelming wall of white noise.

    My answer to all of the above questions is simple and you may have heard it before. "Bloom where you are planted." It is the simple wisdom of self awareness. Start from where you are with the influence and talent you have now. Be a steward of what you have been given. Be patient and allow for your art to grow and be exactly what you want it to be before you attempt to pursue business.

    Here are some disciplines to follow that will help you grow....

    *If you are a Christian... Pray and thank God for what He has given you and ask Him for opportunities to grow what you have been given.
    *Have an idea what success looks like for you. Don't let others views of success pollute your idea of what success is.
    *Keep a practice schedule and challenge yourself.
    *Treat others awesome!
    * Be on time to rehearsals, gigs and apointments.
    *Avoid Debt.
    *Don't try to be a "full time" artist until your art is beyond self sustaining. You are not risking failure by getting a J.O.B.
    *Keep a monthly budget and stick to it. Don't let a single penny slip through the cracks.
    *Avoid trying to be famous and rich. If these are your goals please quit now and save yourself the heartache.
    *Set short and long term goals
    *Learn when and how you can take risks.
    *Have realistic expectations of yourself.
    *Create often.
    *Become a part of a music community. Online life is easy... Get in a freaking room with people who will challenge you and share your journey.
    *Avoid jealousy.
    *Don't throw out your ideas before you have had a chance to sleep on them.
    *Don't be desperate.
    *Resist pushing others down to propel yourself forward. Raise others up... There is truth in the old phrase "Rising tides float all boats".

    The journey towards being a professional is long and slow for most of us. It takes true commitment and fortitude. The truth is that you definitely will experience failures and that is ok. I was a part of two bands that I poored my heart, money and time into and eventually they both failed. I learned what not to do in the future. After starting off as a producer and engineer it took 4 years before my studio business was sustaining enough that I could quit my other jobs... During my start up I had 2 separate jobs to pay the bills.

    If you live in reality and not a false world driven by fame and fortune, become a value to your community, are great at what you do and treat people awesome it is likely you will have some success in what you set out to do.