We had the great privilege of hosting the indie artist of indie artists- Rachael Sage at #PutnamsUnplugged on Sunday, May 10th. In preparation for the show, SLB went to her indie label offices of MPress Records to do a two part interview. The first part of the interview we discuss Sage’s artistry from visual to musical influences. She also discuss her new album Blue Roses as well as her extensive touring. We also hear live clips of her performance at Putnam’s Pub & Cooker. We also discuss songwriting, collaboration with Judy Collins on a Neil Young cover tune – Helpless. She shares insight into her world with a tenderness, as we hear the angst of being an artist and the ever question of when are we ever ready to collaborate with those that we have come before us.
Part 2 we cover how her indie label Mpress came about and how she finds and signs artists, also how should an indie artist present themselves to a label, dos and don’t, etc.
Listen to podcast interview on SLB In The Trailer page
Avoid the ‘Uh-Oh’ Moment:
10 Things to remember when you are in the middle of recording your project by Devlin Miles
- There is a beginning, middle, and end
- The Beginning everything is exciting and you are excited to hear your song come to life, energy is high, people are focused, the money is available
- The Middle – spending too much time with people, people work and process in different ways, communication is key, too soon to judge the end product, be mindful of time wasters, focus wanes and the work begins, devil is in the details, be sure to have good back-ups the project is half over you want to make sure that if anything happens you have all the work you have invested in thus far.
- The End – Things are wrapping up and the songs are finally taking shape, you can see the deadline, you need to get re-focused as the money is running out tempers and attitudes are flaring, people are getting testy, personality traits are shining through, weaknesses and strengths. You might need to be resourceful in how to get more money to finish the project to your liking, be aware of someone milking the budget because they don’t have anything else on the books, communicate your deadlines and be consistent with your follow up. Get all your files backed up and be sure that they are accessible- have another studio or friend check to see that the files are legible and that you will have what you need when you are pitching your tunes for Film/TV, correct charts and lyrics sheets as things can sometimes change in production, so you have them for live shows to send out to musicians on a moments notice.
- Getting the mixes–
- Your folders should look something like this:
- get all the final mixes and save them in a folder for you to send on to mastering, get instrumental versions of the songs, I suggest having the final mix saved in 2 places: on your drive and on your computer and/or on the cloud, so you can save each song in a separate folder with charts and lyrics, Clouds- make file sharing so easy when you work with people in different locations.
- Song title: Echo
- Echo – Mp3 or mp4
- Final mix wav and AIFF
- Instrumental Echo
- Background Echo track for karaoke or track singing
- Echo Chart.pdf
- Echo chord and lyric reference.pdf
- Back-up, back- up, back-up – Be sure to back –up every time now, there are some final nuances that happen every edit and you want the latest version. Be sure to “bounce’ the tracks after every session, so you will be able to listen to the latest version of your edits
- Don’t settle– you have come this far, do not settle. If the drums aren’t as crisp as you want them, tell the engineer. If you hate the background vocals or lead vocals do them again! Yes, time is money, but this is a product that you have to be proud of because you are the one that is going to be out there promoting it. I know from experience if you are not proud of the product you won’t take pride in ownership when you are promoting the Cd!
- Know when to say when – this might seem like a direct conflict with what I said above, but it is important to know when you have tweaked enough, there comes a time when you have to let the song, music, and lyrics tell the story and not let the littlest things in the mix get in the way of the song. If you have others listen to it and they point it out, then you know it has to be fixed.
- Listen on many different kinds of systems – Listen through earphones, car stereos, little speakers, and big speakers because you will hear different things. It also will give you a better understanding of what mastering will do. It will even out all the frequencies and get the song to sound consistent on all forms of playback
- Let others In – Select a few people to listen to the tracks and get their thoughts –warning make sure you are ready for honest feedback at this point. Point out any concerns you might have after they have listened and see if they agree. Warning if they aren’t hearing the song at this point, something is off in the mix, they shouldn’t be so distracted with the mix that they can’t hear the tune. Also be sure to pick people that enjoy and are familiar with your genre of music. For example, don’t ask cousin Sarah to listen to a metal tune if she hates metal- she has no frame of reference, like wise for Rap, Singer/songwriter, etc.
- Get out of your head –the reason you are doing this is to share it, don’t be so critical of yourself and others that you cripple the project. No one wants to work with a dictator or boss that is unappreciative, let others help you bring it to life and allow them the space to create around your frame work with that said – pay attention when someone really makes a tune stronger and decide whether you think it is worthy of a monetary recognition or a possible co-write. Warning you will be tied to this person as soon as you share co-writes, so be sure that they are going to help you promote it and take ownership, if they don’t strike you as motivated to help the song, don’t tie yourself to someone for life. They were paid and signed a “Work For Hire” agreement, correct? A must!!!
- Be kind and ask for help – This is really important, remember you need these people to make your songs great, so be kind in all your communications and even when speaking of the person, who might not have done their best performance on your song. Everyone has lives and unfortunately your project might not have made it on their priority list, so they didn’t perform to your standards, but when speaking of them in the professional world speak kindly as you never know who knows who and how everyone is interconnected within your little world. The second part of this point is to ask for help. When you need help finishing up a piece or when you are out of money, but still need something done, when you speak kindly and ask for help you might be surprised, who will rise to the occasion. Someone else might believe in your songs as much as you and want to be involved in your project and consider a co-write as payment or a payment plan, but be sure to honor the commitment, if this person pulls through for you and always refer that person- what goes around comes around!
- Be honest – honest when the money is running out, honest when you don’t like the reference mixes. Rather than sitting, bitching, and worrying about what you don’t like about the producer, engineer, musician, tracks, the process, discuss it with the person, so you can leave the communication open. We are all here to learn from one another and if you prefer to receive pretty polished mixes to share with your BG Vocalists and other additional instrumentalists speak up. This is also in the best interest for the producer/engineer as well because they want to put their best foot forward too to potential clients – (see 10 Things producers should know when working with indie artists)
Avoid The Uh-oh Moment PDF
The Bottom Line: 10 Things producers should know when working with indie artists
By Devlin Miles
- Know the real budget– this is important to keep artists realistic as they start adding instrumentation or several vocalists. You want artists to respect your time, but it is also important to communicate how the editing process works, best to have this discussion before recording day, so everyone is on the same page. Artists may not be willing to divulge this information because they want to keep money available for the post-production, so be specific. “How much money have you set aside for recording because I anticipate with your style of music and the project ahead to be costly on editing – around 10K.” If the artist looks surprised by this then they really are new to this process and you will have to cut corners with instrumentation and hours whenever possible, but let them know that it might sacrifice the integrity of their life’s work. The artist might appreciate your honesty and either try to find more funding or be willing to cut corners.
- Life’s Work – every artist hopefully believes in their project and themselves enough to bring it to the recording studio, so when attitudes fly or people get on edge remember this is the artist’s life work-to-date and they are trying to leave their mark on this world and they need your help to bring the project to life.
- Egos – egos are going to fly on both sides to try and win the client, “I worked with so and so or I have toured with so and so.” It is important to be more interested in the project and be open to the possibilities of working together. Pay attention to the person, do you like them, can you work with them for 6-8 weeks?
- Do you like it? – Do you like the material/songs the artist is working on? Listen to some of the newer stuff to see if you like what they are doing now verses what they have done in the past.
- Timeline – know it and is it realistic based on your current workload and given what the artists vision is for the whole sound of the album?
- Don’t be afraid to refer out if the artists genre is not your specialty, better to have a good working respectful relationship than to have it sour because you were not able to track a 32 track album or more
- Communicate your expectations in terms of pay and how the files will be managed and given to the artist
- Put the agreed to terms in writing, so everyone is accountable for what they agreed to. If you are expecting to get paid hourly regardless of mixing or tuning vocals- you need to communicate that and give an expected budget, nothing worse than being in the middle of the project and not being able to finish due to lack of funs- it kills the momentum of the project and strains the working relationship.
- You in the mix –When giving out mixes give your best mixes possible at that point because the artist is more than likely going to share it with others or fellow musicians that are to play on the album and best to put your best work out there as your calling card to future clients. DO NOT give out shitty mixes that will have the artist questioning your work or work ethic.
- Be accountable – if you have made mistakes in recording and know that you can do something better, you might have to suck it up and admit to it and offer your free time in exchange. Your error will be figured out eventually in mixing or mastering and you don’t want to leave a bad impression on other music industry professionals. Also a view from the artists side- Link to: Directing Your Project: 10 Things to ask when interviewing producers & engineers for your project
(See Help Me!!! 10 Things to Beware of when recording a new album)
The Bottom Line PDF