Saturday, 27 March 2010

Zen mastering and Woody Guthrie

Since I'm pretty sure I am done with working on the album (hurray!), I have uploaded one song for you to listen to.

Please buy it and help me fund the release!!!! You can pay a dollar (the cost of about three mouthfuls of coffee), or more if you want to generate some good karma, or want to email a copy to a bunch of your friends without feeling guilty.

It's my version of This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie (I wrote new lyrics for it). It's the most stripped back, straight-up folk song of all the songs on the album. Got that down-home country feel, yee haw!

This week I have been getting my head around The Campaign. I met with Lauren (my manager-type person) to talk through all the various things we need to put in place over the coming weeks and months: photo and video shoots, lists of places to contact, press releases, electronic press kit, update website, work out what to release when (and how), where to tour (and how and when) ... the list goes on and on. It will be loads of work but I'm really excited to have the freedom to do it exactly as I want.

I also had a final crack at mastering the album.

When we made the first album I had no real idea what mastering was. I couldn't see why you would need mastering on top of mixing. I mean surely once it's been mixed, it's ready to go, right? Wrong.

Mastering basically means taking a bunch of songs and turning them into an album. You take the final stereo mixes of each track and make sure all the volumes are right - both within the song and from one song to the next - as well as being comparable to other music in the same genre. You make sure the frequencies are balanced (not too bassy, not too top endy), and the loud bits are not too loud, and the quiet bits are not too quiet, while at the same time maintaining the dynamics of the song. And then there's the overall 'texture' or 'flavour' of the tracks - smooth or rough, warm or cold, bright or thumpy. There are a bunch of techniques and pieces of kit for making all that happen, and it is harder than it sounds! I have spent quite a few hours on it now (much longer than a mastering engineer would have spent, though with significantly less efficiency) and have done at least four versions, learning as I go.

With the first album, a mastering guru did the work. He has a beautiful studio designed specifically for mastering and has done work for everyone from Nick Drake to George Harrison to Depeche Mode. But now I am DIYing it and so I have had to learn fast (fortunately learning fast is something I have become quite good at - a bi-product of refusing to stay in one place or specialise in one thing).

And other news - I found out this week is that you need to allow two months from submission of your music before it shows up in digital retailers (itunes, etc.). I thought it would be, like, five minutes or something. So that was a handy find! Better get designing an album cover!

Tomorrow I am heading into downtown Vancouver for a seminar on digital music marketing set up by the nice folks at Music BC. Timely or what???

Until next week...


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