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Posts Tagged ‘drums’

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Can Keyboards Give Drummers a Run For Their Money?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

If you want a great drum track for your song, you might want to practice your… keyboard skills?

Well, if this video teaches us anything, it’s that we musicians should probably start shedding our keyboard chops if we want to record a funky, tight drum part:

And if you want to really rock out, just follow this guy’s lead (he really busts it open at about 1:20):

So the moral of these two videos is this: if you want to record a drum track, you can lock yourself in your room, practice drumming on a keyboard for hours on end, and then maybe in a few years you might be able to play something that resembles a real drummer. Almost.

…OR…

You can spend all that time that you would have been practicing your fake drumming skills working on writing great songs instead, and have a real studio drummer lay down a live drum beat for your song within 48 hours.

So let’s do a quick recap: years of practice, or a two-day turnaround? Something that sort of sounds like a real drummer, or something that’s actually played by a professional studio drummer? A $2,000 keyboard, or a $150 drum track?

I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is the better choice! And when you’re ready to have studio-quality drums recorded for your next song, have Studio Pros make it easy for you!

Buying an Electric Guitar

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

In my last post about buying gear, I walked you through what you need to know to buy the perfect acoustic guitar. This time around I’m talking about guitars again, but we’ll be looking at electrics. Shopping for an electric guitar can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Walking into a music store to find 20-foot walls covered in different types of electric guitars is an intimidating sight for the uninitiated. Luckily, I’m here to make sure you’re not uninitiated… Here’s what you need to know before you head to the guitar store.

Find the right price range

Just like with acoustics, the range in prices for electric guitars is about as wide as the grand canyon–from $100 to several thousand dollars. And while you can sometimes get a very nice electric for much cheaper than an acoustic of similar quality, it’s important to remember that you’ll also need to buy an amplifier, so that instantly adds to the price of your guitar (and it’s a topic for a future post).

Unfortunately, the cost of many woods commonly used to make guitars has gone up over the past few years, meaning guitar prices have risen accordingly. American-made guitars in particular seem to have jumped in price. The Fender American Standard Stratocaster, for example, now sells for around $1,000, whereas it used to be closer to $700-800. The Mexican-made counterpart now sells for $500-$700. But a lot of players seek out American-made guitars because they are generally built well–a quality that means the guitars tend to sound better and last longer. Some popular U.S.-made electrics include Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters and Gibson Les Pauls. Other USA companies include Ernie Ball/Music Man, Paul Reed Smith and any number of boutique guitar builders.  Many guitars are also made in Japan–Ibanez is a popular Japanese guitar manufacturer.

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Featured Artist: Rich Marcello

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

A seasoned songwriter and poet, Rich Marcello teamed up with Studio Pros to give his productions the professional edge he needed, and keeps on coming back for more.

Boston based songwriter Rich Marcello is no novice when it comes to getting out the ink and jotting it down.  With over 30 songs professionally produced with Studio Pros, he’s gotten the continual experience of producing his tracks online, and is regularly bringing Studio Pros more material to produce.  “I’ve been writing for around 20 years,” says Marcello.  “At first I did a lot of the production myself but several years ago I decided to get them professionally produced, which was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Marcello came across Studio Pros (which was at the time DrumsForYou.com) through an online search and decided to give it a try.  Starting with just a drum track, he heard the quality of Studio Pros’ production team and decided to try it out for a full production.  “By letting other really talented musicians work on my material it really took my work to a much better place. I knew I found a great partner in music and I’ve felt that on every song Studio Pros has done for me.  I think Studio Pros is the best in the business–I won’t ever use anyone else,” Marcello stated.

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Featured Artist: David Llorente

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

David Llorente used Studio Pros for his first professional project and was blown away not only by the musicianship, but by how much they cared.

“It was probably one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had as a musician.”

That’s how David Llorente feels about his time working with Studio Pros. “Just going through all the processes, seeing what people have to do to get a professional track cut. I didn’t know how long it took. I didn’t know everything that was involved from start to finish. And now, having gone through it with Studio Pros, I’m never gonna forget it. It was awesome.”

Llorente, a Nashville-area singer/songwriter, was hunting down recording options online when he discovered Studio Pros. “I really wanted to get this project out, it was real heavy on my heart,” he remembers. “I read about Studio Pros and thought, ‘that’s a good idea.’” Though intrigued by the idea, Llorente still needed convincing that Studio Pros was the best choice for his music. All it took to persuade him was a little research and a phone call to head of production Kati O’Toole.

“The credentials behind the staff are amazing,” he explains. “I actually went and checked out Katie’s albums that she had done. She’s not just a producer, but she’s a musician and songwriter.” Knowing that his songs were in the hands of fellow musicians put Llorente at ease. “I could hear that she’s passionate about what she’s doing. It was cool to have some people that really cared.”

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Press Kit: What You Should Include

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Even if you’re relatively new to the musician world, you’ve probably heard the term “press kit” thrown around quite a few times by now. A press kit is a package of materials that you might send to record labels, media outlets, venues, etc. that contains all of the pertinent information about your band. But what does that mean exactly? What is and isn’t relevant information?

You’ll want your press kit to follow some basic standards if industry people are going to look at it. Here are a few tips and essentials on putting together the ultimate press kit.

Band Photo

The first thing in your press kit should be a hi-resolution photo of the band (or yourself if you’re a solo artist.) This can be black and white or full color. There aren’t a whole lot of rules when it comes to taking a great band photo (although you might want to stay away from some common clichés such as railroad tracks and brick walls).  But you should definitely make sure of at least two things: everyone’s face should be easily seen in the picture, and the band’s “image” should be on display. If you play dark metal music, it might not suit your image to be wearing bright colors and lying in a field of flowers. If you’re an upbeat pop band, it might not fit to be wearing all black and looking dreary. Let your band’s character shine through!

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Finding Musicians For Your Band

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

One of the great things about Studio Pros is that we hook you up with world-class Los Angeles session musicians to play on your songs. This can be a great resource, particularly for artists who don’t already know too many studio-ready musicians. But when it comes to playing live, you might decide that you want some fellow players to help fill out your sound–especially after you hear the lush new arrangements and full-production treatment that your songs received from us!  Although we can’t rent out our session players to play your live gig, we can at least give you a few pointers on finding some great musicians to join forces with.

Craigslist

Craigslist is a common place to find musicians, with many freelancers looking for gigs through the site. You can post a classified ad in the “Gigs” section or in the “Musicians” section (under “Community”). When doing this, be sure to specify exactly what you want–instruments played, the style of music, pay (if any), show length, duration (if you’re looking for a long-term commitment or just someone to play for a show or two), etc. It’s a good idea to specify that the musician must have their own gear and reliable transportation (and that they should show up on time). Also, provide a link to music samples so any prospective players know specifically what kind of music they’ll be playing. In return, ask anyone interested to send you samples of their playing.

Music Stores

This may be considered the “old fashioned” method at this point, but it’s still worthwhile to print out physical flyers and post them on bulletins boards in local music stores and schools. One of the best ways to find musicians is to go where they congregate!  Anywhere that sells music gear or teaches music lessons is a good choice. Include all of the information mentioned above for the Craigslist ad, and make sure your contact info is clear.

Musician Classifieds Websites

There are websites other than Craigslist that offer services to hook fellow musicians up with each other.  Sites such as Bandmix.com offer alternatives that focus specifically on musicians, without any of the extra clutter that comes with Craigslist.

Word of Mouth

Sometimes all it takes to find someone is asking around! If you’re a musician, chances are you have several musician friends. Ask them, and ask other friends and family members if they know anyone who might want to play in your band. You might be surprised with the number of people you find!

A Note on Safety

Any time you’re dealing with communicating with people you’ve never met, you should always be cautious for your own safety. Never reveal any personal information in posts on the Internet. Always meet new people for the first time in a public place away from your home. And it’s always good to have other people that you trust around as well. Inviting a guitarist to meet you and your drummer at a rehearsal space is fine… Asking a prospective bass player to meet you alone at your house is not. Always use common sense!

There are thousands of musicians out there just dying to play with a great band.  The key is getting out there and finding where they are!

Still in the recording stages of your musical project?  Have Studio Pros’ top-notch professional studio musicians take your songs to the next level!

Featured Artist: Allenton Hill

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tim and Christopher Allen decided to use Studio Pros to breathe a little life into their recordings.  In the end, they ended up getting a bit more than that.

Along with Brad Ackerman (drums) and Kristin Allen (vocalist), Tim and Chris Allen form the band Allenton Hill, who cite influences as diverse as Owl City (on the song “Fireworks,” listen below) and Switchfoot.  ”Truthfully, most of our music has been influenced by three main bands: Hillsong, Phil Wickham, and Coldplay,” says Tim, who plays lead guitar, does some singing, and is the principal songwriter of the group.  He’s been playing music with his brother Chris, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and piano, since they were kids.  ”When we were young, we were always around music,” Tim remembers.  ”Most everyone in my family plays an instrument or two… Eventually the music fever hit Chris and me.”

“Dad always turned up the music when we were driving around and he’d have me pick out all of the instruments,” says Chris.  ”This led to me having significant appreciation for the details in music.”

The members of Allenton Hill, all in their early twenties, got together when they began to play at a local Youth Center in their hometown of Dayton, OH in 2006.  They met Ackerman, who has now been playing drums for about 16 years, when he ended up living at their house for a short time.  Although he currently lives in Nashville, Ackerman drives up to Ohio every week to be with the band.

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Featured Artist: Robert Norris

Monday, May 17th, 2010

With a little Studio Pros magic, Robert Norris is making music fun again.

Robert Norris had all but given up on music by his early thirties.  ”Music just wasn’t fun anymore,” he remembers. “I basically ran out of steam and decided to get on with my life.”

Norris had been a musician since he was a kid, when he took drum lessons and started his first garage band in junior high. As time went on, he began learning music theory, became a lead singer, and even got to sample the rock star lifestyle in the beach town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. “The summer we graduated, 1975, the drinking age was 18,” he says. “We were playing in bars that we were barely old enough to be in. Lots of fun, great experience, and a taste of the life.”

After a brief stint at UMass Amherst as a vocal music education major, Norris sang in several bands around the Boston area and began writing original music. After a band breakup, he took to the studio to record a cassette tape of original songs called Nobody’s Dream Come True. But despite getting some local airplay and seeing some interest in his songs, Norris felt like he had hit a wall; music was set aside and life went on.

But as most musicians can attest to, the music bug doesn’t easily go away; years later, Norris wanted to start singing again. But having been removed from the scene and all his old musician contacts for so long, he needed to hire session players for his recordings. “I contacted a studio locally,” he says. “Having no other viable options, I scheduled a four-hour session to start my first song. He charged me from the minute I walked in till the minute I left with no allowance for the three breaks the musicians took. And to make matters worse, I didn’t really like what we had recorded.”

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Featured Artist: James Robinson

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

With the help of Studio Pros, James Robinson made recordings on the road and expanded his production company’s clientele.

James Robinson is one of the lead writers and producers of APT6 Entertainment, a music production team (also including Dwayne and Dwight Madison and Greg Edwards) based out of Los Angeles, CA.  As self proclaimed “R&B heads,” the team is heavily influenced by such classic R&B greats as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and The Underdogs, as well as modern acts like Neyo, The Dream and Trey Songz.

“R&B is just our thing,” Robinson says.  “APT6 was birthed in the church/gospel music scene, so it’s only natural.”

Robinson joined APT6 in 2007, two years after it was formed.  Though originally brought on as a hip-hop artist, he was eventually made a co-owner.  Between Robinson, Edwards and the Madison Brothers, APT6 covered the composing/songwriting and keyboard playing side of things.  Studio Pros helped them have everything they need to be a full-service production team.

“Studio Pros is amazingly simple,” says Robinson.  “I can’t stress that enough.  We uploaded our WAV files, then we were prompted to leave notes and examples of what we were looking for. Within 48 hours we had our first sample! The engineer was almost dead on AND open to making adjustments.”

He soon learned to love the rapid turnaround time that Studio Pros offered.  “When we asked for adjustments on bass levels and reverb, we were shocked at how fast the turn around time was–I believe it was within a few hours,” he remembers.  “That was when I became a huge believer in the quality and customer service of Studio Pros.”

But the real kicker for Robinson was that he and APT6 did everything while they were on the road.  “We were going back and forth between in-home setups and handling a lot of business,” he explains.  Being in one place was close to impossible.”  And what did he think of what Studio Pros did with his simple recordings?  “The results were amazing.” (more…)

Featured Artist: Roger Miller

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Roger Miller, like many musicians, is a bit of a perfectionist. Luckily, Studio Pros is full of perfectionists as well.

At the beginning of summer 2009, Roger Miller acquired the funding he needed to record a full-length album of his Christian alternative acoustic music. In order to get a professional sounding product, Miller decided he would head to Nashville, TN, rent out a recording studio, hire session musicians, and put together an album that could hold its own against any major label production. But during his online search for recording studios, he came across a more convenient option that caught his attention: Studio Pros.

Unsure of whether or not Studio Pros could really deliver the top quality product he was looking for, Miller sent in just one song to test the waters. The final product convinced him to continue on with his entire album. “The final album and the songs, they exceeded my expectations quality-wise,” Miller says.

Miller sang, played guitar and even some cello on his songs, but one of his favorite parts of the process was working with the professional studio musicians that Studio Pros provided. Through this recording process, Miller had access to some of the best musicians in LA playing on his songs, while still involving him in the production of his album. “Going into it, I had pretty high standards,” Miller says. But he was impressed with the caliber of playing he received. “The drum tracks were incredible. They were a lot better than I thought they were going to be. The backing vocals were stellar.” Miller used a strategy that combined using his own very specific musical ideas in conjunction with letting the musicians improvise and do their own thing when the songs called for it.

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