Social Media, and Parallel Compression
I was given an assignment in my industry class: identify my top five modern artists. I then had to find their team (label, managers, producers, ect) and follow them on social media. The reason? Like a lot of us, they tend to post about their daily lives, and since they’re in the business they can be a valuable source of information. Also, most labels have job postings on their websites, many of which are entry level. It’s amazing what you can discover with a little research. My list included Porter Robinson, Bon Iver, Daft Punk, Atmosphere, and Sufjan Stevens. I wanted a mixture of artists from different genres whose songwriting I admire. I wasn’t able to find all the people I needed, but more than I expected. A lot of them could be found by just clicking the “About” section on the artist’s Facebook.
The concept of reading articles and paying attention is very useful. The current goings on in the music industry have more impact on indie artists than I originally thought. For instance, I learned that CD sales have dropped 40% between January and July. That’s a significant difference in a short time. It makes me reconsider printing my next release. Change can come quickly and if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss it.
I’ve been messing around with music production since 2013, and most of what I’ve learned has been through YouTube. It’s helped me get a lot better, but along the way I’ve picked up some bad advice. In my songwriting class I discovered that I’ve been doing parallel compression wrong for years!* I was taught to simply adjust the dry/wet knob of the compressor. My teacher said this will not give you the same result as routing the signal to two buses. I was also surprised to hear that you should almost never put a reverb plugin directly on the track, but should usually use sends. I’ve now tried the correct techniques and I can say it’s a big improvement. I feel a little silly not having known these already, but I guess that’s why I’m here.
For my next demo I returned to the studio and re-recorded my vocals with a clearer melody. I added drums, a synth bass line, and used Melodyne to slightly tune my voice.
Dr. Olson said the chorus is nice and the recording quality of the vocals is good, but my instrumentation is bare and we need to work on my vocal sound. He wants to talk about what artists inspire the sound I’m going for. He says I need to get my identity to push through the song.
(*Parallel Compression: Mixing an unprocessed signal with a heavily compressed version of the same signal. This can give you the phatness of compression while maintaining the dynamics.)