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We recently came across this alarming article regarding the future of digital performance royalties. Producers and artists in all levels of the industry should take notice of this developing situation. Let’s do our part to put a stop to the diminishing value of our intellectual property.

The Recording Academy- “It has come to our attention that satellite broadcaster Sirius/XM is seeking to bypass the standard system of paying royalties.  If they are allowed to do so, it will likely result in substantially reduced payments to artists and producers, a lowering of the value of performance royalties, and unnecessary conflict between artists and their labels.

What’s the issue:

Currently, satellite radio pays sound recording performance royalties to the nonprofit collective SoundExchange, which in turn pays 50% to the artists on the recording and 50% to the copyright owner (usually a record label).  SoundExchange pays the artists the full 50%, even if the artist has unrecouped royalty balances, and also pays producers their share as directed by the artist.  The system has resulted in an important new income stream for creators.

Sirius is now seeking to use the option of direct licensing with certain independent labels instead of using the system created by Congress that ensures fair payment to all parties.  Artists should be concerned about direct licensing; 100% of the royalties would be paid to the record label which in turn may pay artists at a lower rate, subject to recoupment.  And labels should be concerned as well; the lower rate being offered could have the effect of lowering the value of performance royalties to all parties.

What you can do:

If you are an artist signed to the independent label…

You can call your label today and request that it not direct license your recordings.  In the interest of fairness and transparency, your label should continue to license through SoundExchange.

If you own or manage an independent label…

It is in your interest to refrain from direct licensing.  While Sirius may be offering positive terms, the long-term effect of accepting a rate lower than the compulsory rate could be to reduce rates overall in the future.  Creating downward pressure on the value of music may be good for Sirius/XM, but it’s bad for artists and labels.  Please see the following statement from the American Association of Independent Music: http://a2im.org/2011/08/09/statutory-rates-versus-direct-licenses-for-digital-music-streaming/

Welcome back to behind the gear at The Record Shop. Are you ready to roocccck!?!?!? (cue stadium of screaming fans) This week we take a look at the Purple Audio MC77. The MC77 is a superior recreation of the legendary URIE 1176 Peak Limiter. This piece of gear bleeds rock and roll. If it was magically transformed into a person it would make Slash look like Yanni. From Drums to guitars to vocals, this thing will give you clarity, punch, and attitude for days. Let’s start by giving you a quick back story on the MC77’s estranged father, the URIE 1176.

The 1176 was designed by audio legend, Bill Putnum in 1967. Bill was a revolutionary in the audio world. He is noted to have been the first cat to use artificial reverb, double a vocal recording, and develop a multi-band equalizer. So it is no surprise that he was also the dude that created what is arguably the most commonly used limiter in modern recording. The 1176 became the first true peak limiter with solid state circuitry. It was popular for its super fast attack time, resulting in a signature tone that can be heard on countless records.

In 1997, a new audio company called Purple Audio released their first product, the MC76 (If you paid attention in roman numeral class you’ll get it). Designed by Andrew Roberts, the MC76 looked like an 1176 that Barney got a hold of in the restroom, and it sounded like one that hung out with Jose Canseco (if your not hip to baseball or the news, he did a lot of steroids). It had all the vibe of a vintage 1176 without the price tag, and it quickly became a highly sought after piece of gear. The MC77 is an update of the original with a few extra features.

Aside from the paint job, the MC77 really stands out in the crowd. It has the sonic characteristics of the classic, vintage 1176 with an improved high frequency response and added grit. We’ve used it on just about everything when we are looking for something to give a track some attitude. If we want to add some punch to drums, smooth out guitars, round out a bass, or put some rock in a vocal, the MC77 delivers every time.

We have one trick in particular that produces some really unique results. But in order to explain clearly, let’s start with a story. At some point back in the day, there was an audio engineer who spent way to much time playing with the gear in the studio. One day he said, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if I pressed down all of the ratio buttons on this limiter at the same time?” Once he had all four of the ratio buttons locked in place, he cranked the input and the rest is history. There are a few different names for this trick; all buttons in, nuke, British mode; but the result is a super compression that has been used to create some really unique sounds. I’m a big fan of smashing the drum room mics with this setting. The setting creates a lag in the attack time, resulting in extra punch, and a drastic compression slope, resulting in a quick drop in level. As this push and pull repeats with each transient hit we can achieve a rhythmic pumping of compression that breathes with the track and amplifies the “room sound”. Listen to any modern rock record and your bound to find this effect in play.

And that concludes this evenings presentation. Check back next week for our next installment of “Behind The Gear at The Record Shop”, where we take a look at another colorful device, the CL1B tube compressor. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

“Wow! Look at all those knobs.” As an audio engineer that is probably the most common phrase I hear uttered by an artist the first time they step foot in a studio. In an effort to figure out what all these fancy buttons do ;) , we thought it would be fun to introduce a new series on For The Record called “Behind The Gear.” The Record Shop is home to a unique collection of modern and vintage equipment. Our audio arsenal was carefully selected to offer a wide range of sonic colors and textures. Each week we will offer an inside look at a different piece of equipment we use here at The Record Shop. We will take a look at the history of the piece,  outline the various ways it is utilized during a session and share some unique tricks that we use to shape the tone of a recording.

This week, we’ll start the series off by offering some basic information on each category we will be covering: Microphones, Pre-Amps,  Compressors, Equalizers, and Plug-Ins. For those of you familiar with the basic function of these devices, we invite you to join us next week when we take a look at the Empirical Labs Distressor, a studio legend that reigns as one of the most versitle compressor/limiters on the market. For the rest of you fine folks, read on my friends…….

Microphone

If your reading this, I’m sure you don’t need a proper definition of what these things do, but for the sake of covering our bases, we’ll turn to Wikipedia. “A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.” Sounds simple enough, but what makes our job so fun is that each microphone does this differently and, in turn produces drastically different results. There are three different categories of microphones that are most commonly used in the recording studio: Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon. A dynamic microphone is work horse device, capable of reproducing loud sound sources as well as those with a powerful attack (such as guitars, kick drum, and snare drum). A condenser microphone is a more delicate device, designed to react sensitively to its sound source, offering a more defined sound on things such as drum overheads, acoustic instruments, and vocals) A ribbon microphone offers a unique tone due to the natural lack of high end frequency response that the ribbon reproduces. Ribbons have become very popular as a method to achieve a “vintage” vibe on modern, digital recordings. For more detailed information visit Wikipedia’s “Microphone” page….

Pre-Amps

A Pre-Amplifier (pre-amp) is a device that takes a low level signal from a microphone, or instrument, and boosts it to a line level signal that can be recorded. As with microphones, every pre-amp offers its own, unique tonal characteristics. There are two types of pre-amps commonly used in the recording environment: Tube and Solid State. As the name suggests, tube pre-amps utilize tube components to amplify the sound, offering a “warm” tone and a subtle distortion that is preferred in many applications. A solid state pre-amp does not make use of tube components and generally offers a cleaner, more transparent tone. Within these two types of pre-amps are countless brands and models that all have their own sonic flavor. For more detailed information, visit Wikioedia’s “Pre-Amplifier” page….

Compressor

A compressor is an audio device that effects the range between the loudest and quietest parts of a sound source (known as dynamic range) A compressor accomplishes this by lowering the volume of the sound source when it passes above the volume threshold that is set by the user. The amount of compression, and the reaction time of the device, is set by the ratio, attack, and release knobs. Just like pre-amps, compressors are also built with either solid state or tube components. Compressors can be used for a variety of applications, from subtly taming dynamics,  to extreme “pumping” that can create intriguing rhythmic effects. For more detailed information, visit Wikipedia’s “Audio Compressor” page…

Equalizer

An equalizer adjusts the balance between frequencies in an audio signal. It allows us the ability to “shape” the frequency range of a sound in order to enhance its qualities, fit it into a mix, etc. There are two main types of EQ’s used in the studio environment: Parametric and Graphic. A Parametric EQ offers a variable frequency selection on multiple frequency “bands” (ranges) and a variable “Q” (range of effected frequency). This allows us the flexibility to hone on the desired frequency and effect it accordingly. Graphic EQ’s have fixed frequency and q selection, often based on frequency “octaves” to offer a natural, musical response. For more detailed information, visit Wikipedia’s “Equalization” page…

Plug-In’s

Plug In’s are used in digital recording to emulate the function of analog equipment. While, it can be argued that software can never take the place audio moving through actual components (and I agree!) software plug-ins have continued to grow in their sonic offering and can be very useful in the modern recording environment in many situations. There are endless options when it comes to plug-ins. The market is flooded with new, innovative tools for manipulating audio. A recent development in plug in technology is what is referred to as “emulation plug-ins” These software devices are built off of algorithms developed through the testing of actual analog gear. Through this process, developers have been able to create plug-ins that embrace the tonal qualities of a specific type of gear. This is a very exciting technology that we have found very useful in Universal Audio’s, UAD Plugs. You can learn more about Plug-ins by visiting this interesting article at Delicious Audio…

Well, now you are ready to venture “Behind The Gear” at The Record Shop. Check back next week for our first installment, highlighting the Emperical Labs’ Distressor. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

Michael Ide, from itproportal.com ,  says that “new reports suggest that Apple may soon replace low bit-rate music tracks with upgraded, higher quality ones. This move could likely be the result of Apple’s licensing agreement with the leading record labels in the music industry. Earlier, Business Week reported that the agreement between the two sides was now on the verge of being finalised, and also that upon being fully implemented it will allow Apple to go through a user’s entire iTunes collection and mirror it”…. read entire article here

While I am in full support of Apple making the effort to maintain the sonic quality that we as Producers spend so much time perfecting, I wonder if the average consumer would go for the idea. In the eyes of the mass consumer, is a high fidelity recording worth the extra space it will take up on hard drives and Ipods? Let us know your thoughts!

Our friend Randy Brunson drops by to share the news on his new digital download widget available at yourmuzik.net

In 2007, I had just spent 3 years developing a piece of property in Spring Hill , Tennessee. Until then,……..thats what I did. Building and Development. But music was always a passion.  Coincidentally, by developing where I did, all the new friends I made were in the music business. My longtime friend and business partner, Jim Heaton, was involved at the time building a Nashville based spa business, with partners that were/are in the music business as well. His immediate partner is a great singer/songwriter, and her sister was well on her way to becoming a celebrity with Dancing With The Stars, and eventually a recording contract of her own.

Jim and I have always had our own passion for performing, but an equal passion for the creation of something that would outlast us. Our idea at the time was, in the aftermath of the collapse of Napster,   that someone needed to give independent artists a platform to perform and expose their talents at an affordable cost to them, to  build a facebook for musicians, and a digital download widget that would give independent artists, (as well as established) the ability to directly sell their music to the public digitally, but “RETAIN MOST OF THE MONEY”.

So came the birth of the initial concept for Yourmusik.net.   In 2009, we created a venue for independent artists to perform at  my farm in the Spring Hill, Tennessee area. Billed as “Howling at the Moon”, it was an instant success with over 20 acts, and 350 people attending an afternoon event that lasted for several hours into the night. We initially had hoped to launch Yourmusik.net at the second party, given this summer, but unfortunately had too many problems with the programming of the download widget.  We had another great day managing to bring in “Younger than Yesterday, Former Members of the BYRDS” as a headliner.  Three years later, thousands of dollars poorer, and beat up on by every software programmer that could get their hooks into us, we are finally at a crossroads with a piece of programming that actually works, and does just what we set out for, gives over 80% of the  proceeds of the sale of music back directly to the artist.

I say crossroads, because I feel even after all this, we still have a long way to go to establish everything we set out for.  The rest of our concept is to create a website that gives musicians a resource to turn to other musicians for camaraderie and support, and to the site itself for the least expensive resource for recording, equipment, vocal and instrument lessons, videos, and on line practice and recording, to name just a few things.

What I will say, is that we are proud to present the Yourmusik Download Widget to  independent artists of all genres, and are working constantly to improve the
speed and performance of this programming. We have built in all the necessary reporting/accounting details so that each artist can monitor the results of their sales with this widget.  We  are essentially licensing the use of this widget directly to each artist who would like to use it, to copy and paste to whatever site they wish, be it Facebook, Myspace, or independent.