Blog Archives

Norman Harris on Bloomberg Radio

Norman Harris, author of Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer, was on The Bloomberg Advantage on Bloomberg Radio. He spoke with hosts Carol Massar and Cory Johnson about the book, and gave a short story you won’t find inside the book! Click on the link below to hear the entire interview.

>>Listen<<

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In Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer, Norman Harris tells how he became the world’s leading seller of vintage guitars. As founder and owner of the legendary store Norman’s Rare Guitars, he has sold some of the finest fretted string instruments to the biggest stars in the world, including George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and many others.

In 1970 Harris moved to Los Angeles in hopes of hitting the big time in music. His first plan was performing, but plan B was buying and selling guitars, and he had no idea how much opportunity for this there would be. Many groups came to LA also hoping to hit it big, but those who didn’t might have to sell their instruments. This helped make early-1970s Los Angeles a haven for beautiful vintage guitars. At the same time, Hollywood was beginning to realize the value of time-correct instruments in film, and the recording industry recognized the high-quality sound vintage instruments produced. The value of these instruments has grown dramatically since the ’70s, and the vintage guitar market has become an international phenomenon – with Norman Harris at the center of it all.

Filled with fascinating stories and insights into the entertainment business, Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer is an intriguing memoir from a man who has spent a lifetime getting extraordinary instruments into the hands of extraordinary artists.

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Interview with Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy, author of Recording Unhinged, was recently interviewed by Mike Levine a contributor of AudioFanzine. AudioFanzine is an online magazine that caters to musicians as well as sound engineers, home-studio recording enthusiasts, and audio and lighting engineers. They spoke about her book and some of the unconventional techniques it offers up. Read an excerpt of the interview below!


00142105The book is really impressive. Not only did you write it but you also illustrated it, including the very colorful cover. Why did you decide to do the book in the first place?

The book came out of just having all these weird things that I would do that other people wouldn’t do, and I noticed that when I went into sessions, I was building interesting things, so I thought I’d share that. And then talking to different engineers that I’m associated with at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and at trade shows, I realized that they also had some interesting techniques that nobody had really documented. And there were about 35 different people that I interviewed, and I collected their stories and some of their techniques. And then I illustrated some of their techniques, because I’m better at drawing it out than trying to explain it. It’s much easier for me. And that turned into doing much larger illustrations and caricatures of these people that I was interviewing. So I just went on with it. And with the help of Chris, my manager, and the co-writer of the book, we created all of these different panels. The Producer Pods and Engineering Marvels and the people in the industry that are heroes.

The book is kind of modular. Little short pieces all organized by type of instrument to record or type of recording technique.

It’s like tapas. You’re going to take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and put it on a plate and enjoy it.

It makes it really easy to read because you can just jump into any chapter, grab a few things, go somewhere else, etc.

And that’s what I was hoping, that it would become a coffee-table type book, where you could open up one page and get inspired. Especially if it was just on the corner of your console or on top of a speaker. Then you just open a page and it should help unstick you.

The book offers lots of unique ways to get results in the studio. For example, I love the part about distracting singers.

It’s something that I’m really good at. I worked on my techniques over the years on how to get a great performance, and a lot of it has to do with distracting the musician or the singer so that they stop thinking about themselves. You can be really goofy in the studio. You can adjust the temperature to get an effect. If you want the singer to be angry, because you have an aggressive part, then you make it uncomfortable for them. Or, I read something about John Lennon hanging upside down once, and I thought I’d try that. It was a disaster, actually, I wouldn’t do it again. The poor guy almost had an aneurysm. That was actually Serj Tankian, the singer from System of a Down.

You had more success with Serj when you set up a tent in the studio for him to use as a vocal booth.

That worked out, really well. If you’re in a studio where you don’t have an isolation booth, and there’s too much reflection from the walls coming back into your vocal mic, a tent works great.

So the tent was there for sonic reasons, but it also gave him give him his own space to be in while singing?

The initial reason was to calm down the reflections. But it turned into his special place, and was even better.

Was it a canvas tent?

It was just a regular camping tent. It was tall enough that you could stand up in it and you could stand up a mic in it. And also, it didn’t require stakes, because we were in someone’s house — Rick Rubin’s basement, actually.


Read the article in its entirety here!

More Than Just A YouTube Success

Nick Messitte a contributor to Forbes, took a closer look at the guys behind Pensado’s Place and caught up with their expanding platform. Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick are also two of the authors behind The Pensadao Papers: The Rise of Visionary Online Television Sensation, Pensado’s Place. Read an excerpt of the article below!


00120020.jpgSince the last time we covered Herb and Dave, their platform has become much more than a lens; in orchestrating partnerships with brands, distribution platforms, and publishing companies, they’ve become a full fledged media company, procuring not only the wherewithal to penetrate a growing marketplace (we’ll touch on that later) but also the physical space to accomplish, as Herb put it to me, “pretty much anything a media company can do—of any size.”

Indeed, the Pensado Media Center, built in conjunction with Westlake Pro, offers the duo an in-house means of shooting high-definition productions, of securing bandwidth for streaming/broadcasting content across various platforms, as well as the ability to hold seminars and master classes, all while housing an art gallery and a library to boot—a place “where people in audio can come up, learn, read, put their feet up and so forth,” as Herb told me.

Now, this is just what’s happening in the Los Angeles area. Elsewhere, with the help of recognizable pro-audio brands like Audio-Technica, Avid, and iZotope, the duo have been able to pull off some eye-opening stunts, such as donating duffle-bags stuffed with quality studio gear to audience members in packed conventions (something I saw them do last year at Washington, DC’s Howard Theater).

And, with the help of Hal Leonard—alongside the production company Groove3—they’ve launched their own curricula: Pensado’s Strive, an umbrella of audio-related information which aims to be “a world-class library of educational materials,” offered both “in a subscription-based model” online, and in “traditional print and digital-print, which is something unique in the space of online audio/visual sites.” This is how it was explained to me by Hal Leonard’s Group Publisher, John Cerullo.

Here we pause for a moment, for if you’ve ever played an instrument in a school-based setting, the name Hal Leonard probably strikes a chord: their “Essential Elements” series is de rigueur in most music-education spheres, as is their “Guitar Method.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Hal Leonard isn’t just a publisher of one series of recognizable method books. They are also a dominant marketing/distribution hub supplying content throughout the entire music-education industry, one that is able to act as a one-stop shop for multiple institutions; they are in the enviable position of single-sourcing ostensibly competing brands to multiple outlets across multiple platforms (for instance, they handle Forbes’ own Bobby Owsinski’s seminal textbooks on engineering).


Click HERE to finish reading!

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“Five Star Music Makeover” giveaway!

Courtesy of Music Connection, five lucky people will be given the chance to win the book, Five Star Music Makeover The Independent Artist’s Guide for Singers, Songwriters, Bands, Producers, and Self-Publishers!  Music Connection is an online publication that has grown from a popular print publication into a spectrum of products and services that address the wants and needs of musicians, the music tech community and industry support services.

To enter and learn more about the giveaway, click on the link below!

>>Enter Here<<

00145992.jpgIn order to achieve success in today’s music industry, artists must first do a great deal of work on their own. Learning the required skills can take years of real-life experience, and hiring personal coaches, studio professionals, and consultants can be costly. But now, for the first time, there’s an invaluable resource to help you meet these challenges.

Five Star Music Makeover is an engaging all-in-one guide designed specifically for aspiring artists. Written by five experts with over 100 years of collective experience, both on and off the stage, this unique book covers five key skills every musician needs to succeed: (1) improving vocal production/technique; (2) writing memorable and marketable songs; (3) recording your ultimate EP; (4) navigating the publishing world; and (5) promoting music effectively.

Also included are insiders’ stories and anecdotes, helpful tips, creative exercises, celebrity interviews, and all the practical expertise necessary to develop a successful music career. Five Star Music Makeover is a complete and practical career guide – a resource that transforms artists from good to great.

 

Helpful tips from Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again with some helpful tips for those looking for an entertainment attorney. He points out five important qualities to keep an eye out for to make sure they are the right match for you. Read an excerpt below!


Finding an entertainment attorney isn’t difficult to do. The challenging part is finding an attorney who is right for you.

Attorneys are necessary to the business of music, and eventually, an entertainment attorney may be integral to your music career success. A good music business attorney reviews contracts you receive with your best interests in mind, translates contract clauses and complicated legal writing into terms you can understand, and knows what issues are most important to negotiate for in recording, publishing, and merchandising agreements.

Finding an entertainment attorney isn’t difficult to do: you can ask for referrals from other bands in your city, refer to music industry source books such as the Music Business Registry, and even seek lawyer referral services in your area with a simple Google search. The challenging part is finding an attorney who is right for you. Like in any profession, there are good and bad attorneys, and you’ll need to look past the standard qualifiers like price and location to find someone who you like and trust. You might end up paying a little more, but here are five important considerations when hiring an entertainment attorney.

1. Years in practice. Consider the number of years your potential attorney has been specializing in the music business and whether they do it full time. This is important! It’s difficult, even for attorneys, to make it in music, so when you find one who has been at if for a while, you’ve found one who is doing something right. Second, the music industry is constantly changing, so it makes sense to hire someone who is nose deep in music rather than someone who is just taking on the occasional client in between divorce cases. This is not to say a young or smart attorney can’t get the job done right, but an experienced and specialized attorney may be a safer bet.

2. Client list. Be sure to consider the various artists an attorney has represented. I have personally observed that attorneys who have represented successful clients get things done faster. When first starting out in the music business, I hired an attorney in my home town of Princeton, NJ who had never represented anyone notable in the music industry. The New York heavyweights he went up against had a field day with him. They waited several weeks between correspondences and seemed to pay him zero respect. The deal dragged on for months and never got done. It was a frustrating experience.


Read the rest of the tips HERE!

 

Howard Massey speaks with AudioFanzine!

Author of The Great British Recording Studios, Howard Massey, was interviewed by AudioFanzine. AudioFanzine is an online magazine that caters to musicians as well as sound engineers, home-studio recording enthusiasts, and more. Read an excerpt of the interview below and see it all at AudioFanzine!


00333513In the early 1960s, at the beginning of the British Invasion, the studio scene in England was thriving, but the British studios used different gear and got a very different sound than their U.S. counterparts. In recent times, most of the major British recording studios have closed, and for a time, it looked like much of their history was in danger of disappearing, too.

In 2010, music journalist Howard Massey was approached by Malcolm Atkin from the Association of Professional Recording Services, a British studio trade group that was headed at the time by Sir George Martin. Atkin asked Massey to write a book documenting the British studio scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, in order to document that very important era of recording. (Martin ended up writing the book’s forward.)

Massey agreed, and spent the next five years researching the book. The result was The Great British Recording Studios (2015, Hal Leonard Books), a fascinating read for any fan of recording. It looks at the major British studios during those decades, including who recorded in them, what gear they used, who the engineers were, and more.

Audiofanzine had a chance to talk to Massey and delve into the world of British recording in the golden years.

The book goes into great detail about the studios, including their engineers and gear collections. How did you get all that information?

Well, it was an enormous research project. I kind of think of it now as the world’s longest term paper. I was given access to the APRS archives, all the major studios were members and as part of membership they had to submit their equipment listings. So I had access to that, and also, there was an APRS directory that was published every year in which most studios took ads and listed their equipment. So I was able to track the changes through the years. And then, tons of online sources, and there were annual Billboard listings in England of studios. So basically, it was a lot of putting pieces together. But the material was sourced from the studios themselves. It was not third-party, or estimates. It was all actual hard facts and figures I was able to find sources for.

Did you interview lots of people, as well?

I interviewed over 300 people.

Did you spend a lot of time over there doing this?

I made five trips to England over the course of the five years.

Because of the Beatles, we’ve heard a lot about EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios), but Olympic and Trident were the other two really big ones back then, right?

Yes, I would say. Along with Decca. Decca was probably a little more well known for classical recordings, but the Decca complex was actually bigger than the EMI complex. It was actually larger.

And Decca is where they invented the Decca Tree stereo-miking technique?

Exactly. That was one of the key technical innovations. Of course, EMI was responsible for the Blumlein pair, which is kind of the counterpart. But in terms of pop, EMI, Trident and Olympic were the big three. The Who did a lot of recording at IBC, that was another big studio. And there were a few of them, the prog-rock bands like Yes and ELP tended to work at Advision, another key facility. And then there was a very, very large film-scoring facility called Delane Lea CTS, where almost all the James Bond films were scored, the blockbuster James Bond films out of the ’60s were recorded there.


Read the entire interview here

 

Don Randi on BBC Radio!

Don Randi, author of You’ve Heard These Hands, was Spencer Leigh’s guest on BBC Merseyside’s On the Beat. They spoke about Don Randi’s musical background and the many people that he worked with as a member of The Wrecking Crew. Listen to the podcast below to learn more!

>>Listen<<

00140980With that, Don Randi begins his introduction to You’ve Heard These Hands: From the Wall of Sound to the Wrecking Crew and Other Incredible Stories, a fascinating look at the life and musical times a keyboard musician, composer, arranger, music director, and record producer who has thrilled music lovers for years, even if they weren’t aware of it.

Randi played keyboards on over a thousand popular recordings and was a member of the remarkable “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians during the explosive pop music era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Neil Diamond, and Linda Ronstadt are among the many music greats Randi has worked with and writes about in You’ve Heard These Hands.

For many years, only music industry insiders, close friends, and jazz fans who visit Randi’s nightclub, The Baked Potato, have heard him tell some of the amazing, heartfelt, and hilarious personal stories in this collection. Now everyone can discover the in-studio, behind-the-scenes, and on-tour tales from the man whose hands we’ve heard playing on our favorite hit tunes. You’ve Heard These Hands will capture the attention and emotion of its readers, who won’t be able to resist sharing Randi’s stories with their friends.

Bobby Borg on Taxi Independent A&R

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, was featured on an episode of Taxi Independent A&R! He speaks about his book and gives you some insight on topics featured in the book. There’s even a little surprise at the end! Click play on the video below to learn more!

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There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

Business Basics for Musicians is the layperson’s guide to the music industry, written by a professional musician for other musicians. In his book, Bobby Borg simplifies in a conversational tone five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed:

  • Career Execution
  • Business Relationships
  • Pro Teams
  • Deals and Dollars
  • and Future Predictions.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.

Howard Massey on Pensado’s Place

Howard Massey, author of The Great British Recording Studios, was featured on the 254th episode of Pensado’s Place! In this episode Howard Massey speaks about Abbey Road, EMI, and many other groundbreaking music operations of the early and mid 20th century and emphasizes the importance of historical knowledge in addressing the modern music environment. Watch the video below to learn more!

00333513From the time that Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in the 1870s, music has become an integral part of everyday life.   Nine decades later, the “British Invasion” spearheaded what was inarguably one of the most important and creative periods in the development of recorded music.

In The Great British Recording Studios (November 2015, Hal Leonard Books, $34.99), Howard Massey tells the story of the iconic British facilities where many of the most important recordings of all time were made. The first comprehensive account of British recording studios ever published, it is endorsed by and was written with the cooperation of the British APRS (Association of Professional Recording Services, headed by Sir George Martin) to document the history of the major British studios of the 1960s and 1970s and to help preserve their legacy.

The Great British Recording Studios surveys the era’s most significant British studios, including Abbey Road, Olympic, and Trident, with complete descriptions of each studio’s physical facilities and layout, along with listings of equipment and key personnel, as well as details about its best-known technical innovations and a discography of the major recordings done there. Seamlessly interweaving narrative text with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from dozens of internationally renowned record producers and a wealth of photographs – many never published before – Massey brings to life the most famous British studios and the people who created magic there. His “Stories from the Studio” take readers behind the scenes of the making of some of the world’s best-loved records, including The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet.

Meticulously researched and organized, The Great British Recording Studios will inform and inspire students of the recording arts, music professionals, casual music fans, and anyone interested in the acoustically pristine facilities, groundbreaking techniques, and innovative artists and technicians that have shaped the course of modern recording.

Too old for Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again to give you some tips on overcoming age discrimination in the music business. After a certain age you can’t become a police officer, join the military, or become a flight attendant, but in the music business things can be a bit different. After the age of 25, some find it difficult to get a record deal, but if you’re open minded and proactive you can find success in the industry. Here are Bobby’s thoughts!  (By the way, this article originally appeared on the Indie Music Bands blog several years ago, but Bobby’s words are just as relevant today!)


00139915Sign With A Major?
Major labels make up the majority of commercial recordings sold in the United States. As of this writing, the three largest record companies (or three majors) are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. Each major is also part of larger corporations that run a system of distribution channels, regional offices, international divisions, and other music business companies. Therefore, bottom line profits and corporate reporting are of primary concern—and reps most typically seek younger more “commercially viable” artists who can theoretically ensure a faster return on their investment. Additionally, the benefit of seeking younger acts is that if successful, they could potentially reap a return on the label’s investment for several years to come.

“It’s a young man’s game,” said one A&R representative who wishes to remain anonymous. “We look for artists from age 15 to 25. It may seen harsh, but it doesn’t makes sense to invest an older race horse when you can get the younger thoroughbred crossing the winner’s line for years to come.”

Unless a dramatic shift takes place in the industry in the next few years (which is very possible—more on this later), then seeking a major label deal may obviously not be the wisest focus for more adult artists: plan and simple.

Go Independent
Independent record companies (also called indies) are in majority not owned or controlled by the majors, and are generally distributed by smaller regional distributors. With less overhead and investment risk, indies are more open to signing less mainstream and perhaps more adult artists than the major record companies.

Said one indie rep in a recent music connection A&R poll conducted in 2003, “We tend to stay away from age discrimination. I look to the music first and people who have maturity and a strong business sense. Of course they must still have a marketable image even when they’re older—but it’s the professional performers who keep their health and image a priority and can convince the masses they’re younger than their years. If they have talent and look the part, then who cares how old they are.”

Indies may not just be more open to signing more adult artists, but also older “brands” or “genres” of music. Indies are known to be the sanctuary (literally) for veteran artists are were once successful and no longer can find a home on a the majors. Case in point, Sanctuary records (formerly CMJ) made a name for themselves by signing several of the hard rock bands that were once very popular in the 1980s. Surely, labels like Sanctuary aren’t trying to market to the masses nor do they have the budgets, but by signing artists who still have a modest (albeit dwindling) fan base and who are still willing to get out on the road and tour, a potential profit can be made for all parties involved.

Read the rest of the article HERE!!