Matthew Alexa is a Nova Scotia based singer-songwriter with a modern pop-rock edge. He was originally recognized as a drummer in the Canadian music scene and this is his first introduction to the music world as a singer-songwriter. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Alexa on his recent release of his 11 song debut album “Chasing Airplanes” which was released on July 6th through Bandcamp, CD Baby and iTunes.
Alexa first started working with StudioPros in July of 2011 after seeing an ad in Sound on Sound magazine and tried us out for a custom guitar track. After hearing the results of how the guitarist improved his recording, Alexa was hooked for the rest of the album. We continued to piece together his album by replacing guitar parts with our session guitarist coming in and re-tracking his ideas to take it to a more polished level. We then starting adding additional instrumentation step by step: bass, additional guitars, pedal steel, keyboard layers, live strings including violin, cello and viola, backing vocal arrangements to support his lead and eventually the final mixing. Alexa performed all of the drums on his album, which was a great way to put his mark on his record to establish his sound. (more…)
How to avoid the pitfalls of your previous studio experiences—and vastly improve your chances to get your song published with major A&R representatives.
Stephen McElligott reminisces about a recording he made of one of his songs in a local studio. “I wasn’t happy with that production, really,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Oh gosh, how am I gonna save this?’ I basically turned around and found Studio Pros and thought, ‘Brilliant, they’re my savior.’” (more…)
Thinking his music career was over, Arizona-based artist Tony Perre used Studio Pros to get back in the game.
“My experience with Studio Pros has allowed me to dream a little bit more about what I can actually accomplish as a musician,” says Tony Perre. “Studio Pros has allowed me to take all of my musical ideas and songs and get them out there. To me, having a very simple process with great musicians who basically do exactly as I ask them to do, with their quality of musicianship, it’s just such a winning formula to me that I can actually dream again from a musical standpoint.” (more…)
Studio Pros artist Eliza Kelley has been a professional musician for years, but not of the rock variety. With a master’s degree in French Horn performance from Boston University, she has been playing and teaching classical music for a living in her hometown of Atlanta, GA. “I play with the Greenville Symphony, and I play in Atlanta with the Atlanta Pops and the ballet and the opera,” she says. “Those gigs are very fun, but they’re also very serious, very focused and high-pressure.”
Looking to enjoy the lighter side of music, Kelley took up a hobby as a singer/songwriter, a decision she’s glad she made. “I’ve been totally having a ball with it,” she says. But she didn’t initially intend on playing the indie-rock that now defines her sound until she began collaborating with Studio Pros. Originally writing pop songs with cello and percussion arrangements, it was a conversation with Studio Pros’ head engineer Kati O’Toole that convinced Kelley to go the rock band route. “When I talked to Kati the first time, she told me about the full production,” she remembers. “I thought I’d try it. I’m really happy with the direction it’s taken with Studio Pros. It does make me want to find a guitarist and bassist that I can go out and gig with.”
Kelley found Studio Pros while searching for ways to get professional recordings of her songs. “I was trying to record my own stuff. I have plenty of friends that are musicians, but getting a good recording, I mean I’m not a sound engineer,” she admits. “I could use some help with it, and I loved that Studio Pros was a great package. You get musicians and pretty much everything’s done for you. I didn’t have to rely on lining people up and doing all of that. I really loved the way that Studio Pros was all-inclusive.”
I watch the Grammys every year. I almost feel obligated to, like I would be missing out if I didn’t check out the biggest award ceremony of my industry. Sometimes there are a lot of artists nominated that I love, and other times my tastes differ from what the general public has been listening to for the last year.
When I was a kid, I would root for my favorite artists to clean up at the Grammys and yell at the screen in disgust when someone won who I thought was undeserving. I suppose that’s about the same for everyone who watches, even people in the theater at the ceremony itself. But as the years went on, my admiration grew for anyone who was winning a Grammy. Even if I wasn’t personally a fan of their music, I respected the artist’s musical accomplishments. Maybe I started thinking that I couldn’t really criticize the winners until I won a Grammy myself!
Another thing happened as I got older, something really fun: I started to personally know people who were nominated for the awards. After years in the business and a degree from Berklee College of Music, suddenly my peers and friends were winning the most prestigious award in music. Best new artist Esperanza Spaulding went to Berklee while I was there, and a friend of mine won a Grammy for his involvement on Eminem’s album.
But the big news for me to report is that one of Studio Pros’ very own keyboardists was among the Grammy winners! He played on The Stanley Clarke Band’s self-titled album, which won best contemporary jazz album. We’re always touting our Grammy-nominated engineer, but let’s not forget that our session musicians are of Grammy-caliber performers as well, and this win proves it!
With an upbringing that included classical Indian poetry and Eastern mysticism, it’s no surprise that Dimple Sharma’s music is infused with the sounds of music heard on the other side of the globe. Born in India, her parents passed on their love of the local culture. “My father’s side in India descended from a long line of meditators,” she says. “Thus, the mysticism of the East was ever present in my upbringing.”
Sharma has since moved to Toronto, Canada, but the Eastern inspirations of her childhood remain in her music. Combining a love of singing and writing songs with her seven years of experience studying ancient esoteric texts, she managed to develop a unique style that’s as much spiritual as it is musical. “The music became a mix of my east Indian origins and western sounds akin to Delerium or Tangerine Dream,” she says, referring to her use of instruments such as sitar and tabala on many of her songs. “The lyrics were written for the urban monk–the individual adapting to the ever-changing, modern paradigm, yet still upholding traditional values and principles.”
When she was having trouble finding reliable musicians to record her projects, Sharma turned to Studio Pros to get Los Angeles session players to quickly record professional tracks for her songs. “I had read positive things about Studio Pros in music magazines years back, and I decided to contact them,” she remembers. “In the past, it was not easy to find musicians that had the technical expertise in addition to a high level of professionalism and ability to follow through on a timely basis.”
So, you’ve decided to start your first project with Studio Pros. Great! You’ll notice that the first step after placing your order is the upload page. This is where you get to upload a scratch version of your song for our musicians to work from, plus any other files you might want to include. Here are some important things to keep in mind to help you prepare to make your Studio Pros project go smoothly.
Record to a Click Track
One of the most helpful things to provide our studio musicians is a song recorded to a click track. The click track is like a metronome; it keeps the beat steady and even. Recording to a click allows our players to know exactly where they are in the song while recording their parts. If you’ve never recorded to a click before, you might try using an online metronome to determine your song’s tempo. Then, download a free audio recording program such as Audacity and set up a click track. Record to the click, then upload your rough recording to our website.
Take note of the tempo (measured in “beats per minute,” or BPM) so you can tell the Studio Pros musicians what they’re recording over. This will help to ensure that our session players are laying down the right parts for your song.
Upload a Text File With Instructions
Although you get a chance to write some instructions during the ordering process, you may want to get into more detail for your song (or you may have forgotten something when you first ordered). Write instructions for your song in a text file, and be as detailed as you’d like. The more direction you can give the musicians, the better. Save your directions to a convenient file format—TXT, RTF, and DOC are usually good choices—and upload them at the same time as you upload your scratch recording to make sure our players don’t start recording before you tell them everything they need to know!
Use Reference Tracks
Reference tracks help our players understand the musical context of your song. Because music can be described in vague and subjective language, having solid examples of what you’re looking for can help immensely. See our post on reference tracks for more information on this.
Include Chords and Song Structure If You Can
Whenever possible, it’s good to provide the musicians with the chord progression and the structure of your song. For example, you could write:
INTRO (4 bars)
[Em ] [Am ] [Em ] [G Am]
VERSE (8 bars)
[Em ] [Em ] [Am ] [Am ] (x2)
This, along with the click track and instructions, will help make sure our musicians know the correct structure for your song.
When you’re recording a project with Studio Pros, the more you information you can provide our musicians with before you start, the easier it will be to get the song you’ve envisioned to become a reality!
Without a band of his own, Jeremy Bright turned to online musical collaborations to breathe new life into his songwriting.
“I’ll never be one of those people who lives for my job,” says Jeremy Bright. “I live for my off hours and my passions and my hobbies.” Bright’s passions, of course, include his music. A piano player since he was six, the Alabama-born songwriter’s love of music may have been set in motion generations before he was even around. “A lot of my family was into music, so it’s kind of in my genes,” he says. Now in Phoenix, AZ, Bright recalls his early musical influences being the soul music of his home state and the music of churches he grew up in.
And while he enjoys his day job as a software engineer, he doesn’t get his biggest fulfillment from his nine-to-five hours. Bright has been working on his latest album for three years, and he’s made collaborating with musicians online a regular occurrence. “I was in a band, but that kind of fell apart,” Bright says when explaining why he turned to the Internet to find musicians for his album. His search brought him to Studio Pros, where he explored the website and listened to demos to get a feel for whether the service would be a good fit for him. “What I heard was quality. So I gave it a shot, used Studio Pros on one of my songs. The tracks that I got back sounded good and I just kinda went from there.”
Bright used several Studio Pros services to supplement tracks he had recorded himself, choosing different Studio Pros musicians depending on what his songs needed. “I used the drummer to replace some of my drums, and on one song I used their guitar player to replace some bad tracks,” he says. “On ‘Angels Watch Over’ I used Studio Pros for the majority of the instrumentation on there.”
Isham knew his songs couldn’t reach their full potential in the confines of his project studio. So he used Studio Pros’ musicians and engineers to bring them to levels he couldn’t reach on his own.
Five years ago, Studio Pros artist Isham first started getting serious about music and began exploring the many facets of being a musician. “I was torn between the artistic and technical aspect,” he says. “I love electronic instruments and old vintage stuff.” Not classically trained on any instruments, he initially relied on sequencers and software–plus a little vocal training–to take the music that was bouncing around his head and make it a reality. Isham used his home project studio to create music inspired by old R&B and soul artists such as Stevie Wonder, Prince and James Brown and electronic artists like Kraftwerk, The Crystal Method, Prodigy and Daft Punk. “I spend a lot of time in my project studio,” he says. “I use it to draft some instrumental tracks that I can share with my lyricist partners.”
Currently living near Bern, Switzerland, Isham realized he needed to take his music out of his project studio into a more viable option to create broadcast-quality recordings. So he turned to the Internet, where he found Studio Pros while searching for guitarists and vocalists to record custom tracks for his songs.
“I was already quite used to using the Internet to share my work with studios and session musicians,” Isham says. “But I was not always happy with needing to go to several places to get a final product.” He appreciated that Studio Pros was something of a “one stop shop” for all of his recording needs, from instrumental tracks to mixing and mastering. “Most of the instruments we need to do a pop/rock/electronic/R&B song are available in one place,” he notes.
Isham was also impressed by the quality of Studio Pros’ session musicians and how quickly they could crank out quality tracks. “I’m amazed how in two or three days they can bring your instrumental tracks to another level,” he says. “And I really liked the very friendly and helpful staff. Kati is so nice and she always has good advice.”
Kevin Tye had never made a professional product with his music. With the help of Studio Pros, he’s now taken his passion to the next level.
Kevin Tye has quite a bit of musical experience–he played in local bands for almost a quarter century. Eventually he moved on to writing his own material, taking advantage of the fact that he could set up a home studio very easily with today’s computer recording options. These days, he writes and records songs in his spare time when he’s not a this full-time job as a teacher. “I do it as a passion,” he says. “I just like to create things.” But until recently, he had never attempted to make a fully professional recording of his music.
Tye writes in multiple styles and genres, but as of late he has been focusing his creative efforts mainly on writing country songs. He saw an ad for Studio Pros in a magazine. “I decided I would give it a try,” he remembers, “to see what one of my songs would sound like through a professional studio.”
“I was a bit unsure exactly how it was all gonna play out,” he admits. But Tye’s confidence grew with each step of the recording process with Studio Pros; it started with a song sketch and built from there, while he gave his input on each of the tracks as he heard them. He was particularly interested in hearing the musical direction his songs would take by letting Studio Pros’ session musicians make their own decisions. “I wanted to see what the choices would be for people who are doing this thing day in and day out,” he explains. Then, giving more of his own feedback as the process went on, Tye struck a balance that he felt optimized his songs. “In the end I think it was a good mix of musical choices. For example, the singer did some slightly different things in the vocal than I had done, which I ended up liking quite a bit. So it was kind of that process where I was just feeling it out at first, then giving more input at the very end stages.”