Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mastering

                                          Jon Crowley, Joe Marciano, Max Ross


Blog #11 Mastering


Wednesday(4/29/09) I went in and we did all the mastering for the CD.  Before doing this record I had always heard people talk about 'mastering' and honestly had NO idea what it really was.


Mastering is essentially making what will be the final CD.  One thing done during mastering is the boosting of all the levels of the tracks to commercial standards(normal volumes you'd hear on a CD).  All of the mixes and sample tracks I had been listening too, I was basically cranking my stereo as loud as it would go to get a normal volume.  I'm not sure why the recordings are done at a lower volume, but boosting the volumes of the tracks is one thing that happens in mastering.  We also made some small adjustments of volume on a few spots on the record(one song had a louder B section, so we boosted that).


Another thing that happens during the making of the final CD is determining the space between each track.  Mike(the engineer) and I listened to the ends of each track and then the beginnings of the next track and 'felt out' what where to start the next song.  This wasn't necessarily a scientific process, nor did it involve arbitrarily putting a 4 second gap between songs.  Each space between songs was different and we adjusted the space in to make the tracks flow into each other the most naturally.


There is also some balancing done during mastering.  Essentially the tracks are balanced to EACH OTHER, that way the listener doesn't have to keep turning his CD player up and down when the CD moves from quiet songs to loud songs.


After we finished all this, I had my final CD.  I got a copy of the "Plant Masters" and a copy of the "Reference CD".  The "Plant Masters" is what I will sent to the CD replicator to get my CD copied.  But first I will need to make final decisions on my Art Work and wait to hear back from ASCAP about the publishing.


I'm listening to the CD right now and I can't say enough good things about Systems 2 studios.  They did an amazing job with the recording, Thanks guys!!!



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Copyrighting and Publishing

                                John Beaty-Sax, Jon Crowley- Trumpet


Blog# 10 Copyrighting and Publishing


Monday my friend John came by and walked me through the process of Copyrighting and Publishing the music from my CD.  First we went to the Govement website and filed an eCO.  We uploaded all of the tracks, and album artwork and sent it to them.  There was a processing fee of $35, and I got an account number.  Now I just wait(which could take months) until I hear from them, so baring some unforeseen incident the recording is now Copyrighted.  The forms were a bit confusing, so it was nice to have someone walk me through it.


Here is the Gov Copyright link:

http://www.copyright.gov/register/


Then we went to ASCAP, and set up a publishing company for me.  I came up with 4 or 5 possible names for the company, and now I will have to wait and see which name I get(I'm sure most of them will be taken, there's only so many words in the english language).  After I get confirmation from them(they said it should take about 2 weeks and that I will get a letter in the mail), I'll send them my music and that should take care of publishing.  Membership to ASCAP costs $40.


www.ascap.com


I think I will also mail myself a copy of the written music and audio CD later today too, just to be safe.  I think in the future I will copyright and publish stuff earlier(maybe even before we record), doing it this late in the process might put a halt on the release of the CD.  Live and Learn!!



Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gettin' the Gears Movin'

           Nick Anderson- Drums, Yayoi Ikawa- Piano

Blog #9 Gettin' the Gears Movin'

Since my last entry I've finally come up with a track order and have also decided to call the Album 'Connections'(which is also a name of a track on the album).  I will explain the album's meaning in a later blog entry.  Now that I have the track order, I have called Systems two studios and am working on scheduling a time to do the Mastering(making the actual CD).  I'm also going to do one last minute mixing correction on one track.


TRACK LIST:

Connections

Momentum

Tabula Rasa

Vista

Ambrosia

Icarus

Right Now

City Mood

Decision


I have also decided to go use a graphic artist name Julio from Miami, who was both good and affordable.  He is a friend of a friend and designed the covers for 2 of my saxophonist John Beaty's Albums.  I told him I wanted something 'clean looking' and that I didn't want to put a picture of myself on the cover.  I also told him that I wanted to incorporate some sort of crow image(my last name is pronounced Crow-lee, and some friends call me 'Crow' for short).  Julio has sent me a few mock-ups and I've told him what I like and don't like and we're working together towards a cover and design that will fit the album.


The other thing I need to figure out is the Copyrighting and Publishing aspect of the album.  I've had teachers warn me over and over again that I need to open my own publishing company for this, that way I receive all the money from my songs(there's a good chance it won't be much, because it is a jazz album, but better safe than sorry).  Everyone I've talked to has had different advice about how this process works from "Just mail yourself a copy", to "Send the audio CD to the library congress", to "You have to submit all the stuff online now".  Hopefully later this week I'll meet up with my friend John and he'll walk me through this mess.  This business aspect of the recording I find a bit overwhelming, and probably the least fun.


Lastly, I just want to say Thanks to everyone who came on to the gigs in Philly and DC this week.  We had really good turn outs and it was great to see some old friends and meet some new ones.  Strangely enough, I really felt that I grew as a player after those gigs I could write a whole entry about all that I learned musically from them, but maybe I should just keep this blog focused on the recording...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


                          John Beaty- Alto Sax    Jon Crowley-Flugelhorn


Blog #8: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


SO, since I finished mixing I have been listening to the songs a lot and really thinking about what order to put the tracks in.  I think the key here is to start strong and have a good flow to the tracks.  Obviously if you put all your up-tempo stuff first and all of your ballads last, it would make for a poorly organized CD.  At the same time, you want to make sure you end your CD strong.  I've been told that some people(music biz people) will only listen to the first few minutes of the first few tracks, so I've got to makes sure I start strong.  I've got a few potential CD song orders, just have to keep mulling it over before I make that final decision.


I've also been reviewing the mixes and making sure I like the way everything sounds.  I've had some friends listen to the tracks to to get a second opinion.  At this point I've listened to the tracks so many times that it helps to have a fresh set of ears.


I'm also in the research phase of the Album Cover Design and layout.  I've gotten some recommendations from a few friends and am looking at the different artists' work and weighing my options.  So far I've had offers ranging from Free(I have some generous friends) to $1500(or more with revision costs).  I have some ideas as to the cover design and I know I want to include some photos from the session as well as some written liner notes.


This week I am preparing for some shows next week with my band, which will take place in NYC, Philly, and DC.  So final mastering will most likely occur after the 25th.


Here are the Dates:

Tues April 21st @ Parkside Lounge, NYC 9-10pm (Guest John Beaty-sax)

Weds April 22nd @ Chris's Jazz Cafe, Philly, 8-10:45pm

Thurs April 23rd @ Twins Jazz, DC, 8-11pm


w/ Julian Pollack- Piano

Greg Chudzick- Bass

Nick Anderson- Drums


Come out, Enjoy some Music and say 'Hey'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mixing

                    John Beaty-alto,  Jon Crowley-trumpet


Blog #7: Mixing


Friday(4/27) I went back to the studio for a marathon Mixing session.  We finished all 10 songs(including 2 versions of Icarus).  Mixing, for those out there that don't know, consists primarily of balancing the levels of the different instruments.  This process is REALLY important because this is essentially what the CD will sound like.  If the horns are too loud or the drums are too quiet or the instruments are panned strangely its going to make the recording sound crappy. 


This session at the studio I worked with Joe Marciano, who was my recording engineer during the actual recording.  For the most part, I stayed out of his way and let him work his magic, then he'd play it back and ask me if I had any suggestions.  I only chimed in a few times with things like "Well, this part the trumpet has the melody so it should be highest in the mix" or "Can we bring down the piano comping during the head here".  For the most part though, I just sat back and listened to how great it all sounded played back.


Overall, mixing took 8 hours to finish.  Just like editing, I can see how some people can spend a LOT of time doing it.  I am happy with the way it all turned out, and am now listening to the Mixed tracks for any last minute corrections/improvements we can make. I am also thinking a lot about what order to put the songs in; which will happen next during Mastering.


Things are just starting to get interesting, there are a bunch of new topics that I will talk about in this blog soon including: Publishing, Copyrights, Printing, Mastering, Graphic Design, Press Photos, Distribution, Contract with Labels...so stay tuned!!