I'm the chief engineer at Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham. If you've made it here you may have previously read my column over on Supajam: Machiavelli's Guide to the Music Industry. While Machiavelli's Guide is aimed squarely at helping artists/musicians to develop so they can get ahead in the music business, this one is a bit more of a personal ramble. Somedays it will be all about the music, on others it will be a wider rant on the state of the business, sometimes it might just be a review of a mic, guitar or amp we have used, occasionally it will be a bit of a geek-out on the analogue/digital issue and how it's affected this industry. Whichever it is feel free to have your say in the box at the bottom of each blog! Cheers, Trev
Recording Studio blog
Some of you may remember my blog series, Macchiavelli's Guide to the Music Industry, which ran for a while on a well known site. I started that blog in the first place when I thought that the main reason that many musicians couldn't find a way to climb the music industry ladders was because of how opaque it must look from the outside. Because it wasn't obvious to them which were the snakes and which were the ladders. What I tried to do in that series was to help artists to understand what a record label was looking for and what the expectations of them as a signed artist might be.
I guess we are really lucky here at Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham, England. I recently overheard a conversation between a handful of younger engineers along the lines that they really hated sample replacement of drums but it was a necessary evil 'in this day and age'.
So you have made your record and now you are thinking of getting it mastered. But what mastering studio should you use? or indeed, do you need one at all? It's come to our attention recently that an increasing number of recording studios (and indeed most studios in Birmingham) are beginning to offer mastering services or online mastering done by their usual engineer in their usual control room.
Other than private recording studios in the hands of music legends like UB40 and Ocean Colour Scene, Birmingham Studios have never really featured as a destination for the serious London recording musician. Circle Studios facility, with it's four large live rooms, two control rooms featuring API and Neve desks and mastering room has well and truly changed all that.
Recording drums tests a recording studio to extremes. And while half the musicians in the country now have their own recording set up few have access to a great sounding room that can really make their music shine. That's why when we first decided to build Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham, we knew it had to be different.
Circle Studios' API recording console first arrived in Birmingham while our refurbishment was still underway about 3 years ago. If you are interested you can watch the v-log of that over on youtube. Here's the first of thirteen videos which showed the journey to Naples and back again to collect it:
We are always surprised that people don't seem to get how huge the difference is between recording drums, or indeed any acoustic instrument, in a great sounding recording studio and recording in a carpet-walled toilet. Our new video series will set the record straight. We wanted to do something a bit different to the usual recording studio video or even drumming video. Here's the trailer. Tell us what you think so far:
When I was a kid I hated Gibson's Les Paul Junior guitar. It looked like a cheap fake version of the venerable Les Paul to me. It's skinny headstock didnt seem to scream rock and roll in the way that Peter Townshend's burgundy red Deluxe did. Not to my mind anyway. My aversion lasted for the best part of (ahem) ten years.
The Music Industry is a cruel and shallow money trench where thieves and pimps run free? But how did it get like this?
Fundamentally there are two key issues at play: 1. The music business is a cool sexy industry where, for musicians and songwriters, fortunes are made and lives are changed forever and 2. It's an industry that is shrouded in mystery for those on the outside. And when the naive interface with the unscrupulous it's never likely to end well.
Life is varied at a commercial recording studio. We literally don't know what's going to come in next. This is great because it keeps us on our toes and helps to keep our perspective wide. A couple of weeks ago I received my first Bhangra song to mix. While I had done quite a lot of recording of Dhol and the like (including all of the forthcoming Samplephonics sample pack which was done right here at Circle Recording Studios Birmingham) I had never been asked to mix the genre before. I thought I'd share the experience here. As I didn't know the vibe well I had no preconceived ideas.