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  • 15 Sep 2014
    If you are like me, and you weren’t born into this world to give perfect vocal performances on the first few takes of a recording session, this blog is for you. I have heard that there are singers who can do three passes of the song and have it nailed down. What amazes me is that their vocal performance is perfect while keeping the intimate connection to the story. Although my ability to record vocals has become much faster given intense lessons and experience, I am still in awe of the three-take wonders. I think we all agree that the vocals are absolutely critical to the success of your project. You often hear music executives saying the song must great, the band great…but the vocal performance has to move you! So much preparation goes into making the songs strong — multiple reviews, rewrites, performance. The band practices and sorts out arrangement for these great songs and lays down tight bed tracks. Next, the singer has to really perform these songs well and with a connection like a live performance. I want to touch on this last point, because a vocalist really can prepare for the studio. Here are a few things I have learned over the years and I hope they are helpful to you: 1. Take singing lessons at least once or twice a week for 3 months in advance. Three to four months in advance of recording the final vocals, the singer should pursue lessons from a reputable vocal coach. There are a number of reasons why. Singers sometimes forget that the human instrument is quirky and complex. The singer might need to undo some odd habits formed over time like sticking out the neck, tightening the jaw, not lifting the scalp, slouching and emoting. Maybe the break between the chest and head voice isn’t smooth. Maybe there is a loss range that has happened over the years. Maybe the singer runs out of air when singing – perhaps the air support needs work. 2. Practise 15 to 20 minutes of vocal warm ups every day (prior to any singing). Your singing coach that you take lessons with will be more than happy to provide you with a 20 minute warm-up to be practised everyday. By warming up your voice, you will have greater endurance in your recording sessions. You will be able to sing for five or six hours with ease. To take this one step further, you can do a short yoga routine each day to really warm up and loosen up your body and strengthen your breathing. 3. Action your lyrics. I wrote a blog on this topic already, but to summarize, you write an action verb beside each line of your lyrics to express the character’s action in each line. This performance technique (borrowed from acting) gives each line a unique meaning that comes across in the lyric. For me, this technique made an incredible difference in my vocal performance. While it is easier to connect with a live audience because you have immediate feedback, it is harder to connect when you are singing into a mic in front of your face. 4. How do you want your fan to feel?. I find it helps to truly think about the listener and how you want them to feel from your singing. What style of singing is appropriate – legato, behind the beat, on top of the beat, punchy, etc. You can play with different styles depending on the song. If you give your producer lots of variety in your takes, you will have a strong session. 5. Get lots of sleep. Health and endurance are required in vocal recording sessions. In terms of health, you need to keep your energy and health in check so you don’t have any throat or nasal conditions (if you are feeling stuffed up try a salt water gargle and the neti pot). In terms of endurance, if you are being produced by someone other than yourself, you may have to act out different roles and parts. You may have to try on voices and styles you may not be familiar with. 6. Time of the month. Really? If you are female, watch out for the pre-menstrual time of the month when you are recording. Studies have proven there are several vocal changes (menstrual cycle dysphonia) http://www.singershealth.com/pms.html. Some of the changes include difficulty singing high notes, having a husky or fuzzy quality, decreased volume, breathy quality, and intonation problems. Speaking from experience, being pregnant is another hormonal ride that can make consistent vocal performance difficult (shortage of air, etc.) 7. Watch certain foods. As you get closer to the recording session, stay away from mucous causing foods like dairy products. Try to avoid coffee and alcohol (yeah right) – if you can to stay hydrated. Try licorice tea as an anti-inflammatory after a hard day of singing. On the day you are recording, avoid clearing your throat as this is hard on your voice. Drink luke-warm water (with a bit of lemon) to stay hydrated. Doing stretches for your neck and back will keep you lose during the session. Eat lots of healthy foods to keep you going. 8. Try different mics. Prior to recording, I would suggest trying out a bunch of different microphones – rent or borrow a few different ones. Have an idea of the vocal sound you want and see which mic delivers the vocal sound you like. In my recent project we tried six mics or more. There were a few clear winners for my voice. If you have a producer, find out what their favourite is and why. 9. Be fearless. One tip I recently learned is to not be embarrassed to make mistakes and try different things. Almost every time I make big mistakes there are some incredible moments afterward. Keep going…don’t stop because it wasn’t perfect. 10. Sing from beginning to the end. Doing several entire takes of the song right from the start really gives you a way to connect with the song. It is nice if you don’t have to carve up the song or use Melodyne. The more you have worked on your instrument, the less you will need to tamper with the voice in Melodyne! If you are paying for the studio on an hourly basis, you will find that the more you work on your voice, the faster your session is going to go, and the cheaper it is going to be! If this is your first time recording vocals, you can expect that you will do one song per day (this may not include the harmonies). You will realistically have a good five or six hours of recording in you. It is best not to have to record the same song over a few days because your voice is difference each day and you may end up having a poor vocal match. If you are recording for several days in a row, you might want to try the licorice tea each night and gargle with salt water to help your voice recover. You may do the harmonies or extra vocal parts after each of the songs are completed or do the parts at the end. Thanks to my wonderful vocal coaches along the way for all of their wisdom and advice: Ann Ruckert http://www.ruckertmusic.com/, Orville Heyn http://www.orvilleheyn.com/ and Micah Barnes http://www.singersplayground.com/. Happy singing!
    50800 Posted by CanadianMusicians
  • 07 Sep 2015
    It’s often the case that more than one person has a hand in writing a song. Think of all the famous songwriting partnerships: John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Bernie Taupin, Elton John, and so on. It’s not difficult to understand that a song can have multiple authors when you realize that each member of a rock band will often have input over the portions of songs that they contribute to. Even though one or two people produce the lyrical and melodic background of a song, many band members develop and refine their instrumental parts during recording. When a singer who isn’t a musician (like Mariah Carey) approaches a producer or production team (like Swizz Beatz) to write a hit song, it’s often the case that the singer will still have input into the musical direction of the song, or at least contribute to the lyrics. For example, Madonna writes melodies and lyrics, and her co-writer, Pat Leonard, “figure[s] the rest out.” [ Peter DeVries, The Rise and Fall of a Songwriting Partnership] The credits on some rap albums can read like laundry lists. Just looking at a random song Kanye West released in 2010, “So Appalled” (featuring Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz, The RZA) had a whopping nine people who shared songwriting credit: Ernest Wilson Terrence Thornton Shawn Carter Cydell Young Robert Diggs Mike Dean Manfred Mann Kaseem Dean Because of how collaborative the music-making process is, songs that have multiple authors are just as common as those with a sole author. A similar situation with multiple authors arises when songwriters collaborate with producers. If the producer rewrites some of the songwriters’ lyrics, he could considered an author of the song. How copyright law will treat a co-songwriter partially depends on whether or not you have an agreement with your co-write. It also depends on both the nature of that agreement (what the agreement actually said) and whether it was written or oral. If you don’t have an agreement There are no statistics to confirm this, but it’s almost certain that the vast majority of songs written by multiple writers and musicians are not subject to any agreement regarding the ownership of the song. Without an agreement, a song written by multiple people is subject to the default rules of the Copyright Act. Absent any agreement to the contrary, you and your co-writers are joint authors in the work. Joint authorship is a bit difficult to understand conceptually. It does not mean you and your co-author are 50/50 owners in the work. You and your co-authors are actually all 100% owners of the work. Everyone who adds to the work, as soon as they add enough material and input to meet the requirements to get copyright protection, has a full right to exploit the work in any of the ways that sole owner could. Joint owners of songs are subject to several additional obligations to the their co-owners that sole owners aren’t subject to. For example, although any co-author can license a song and make money off of it without the knowledge or consent of any of the other co-authors, the co-owner has a duty to account for the money made with the work and share that money with the other co-authors. If you have an agreement While the majority of all songs written do not have agreements between the co-writers, the majority of commercially-released, major label songs have agreements in place either before or after the song is written. Although it’s best to have an agreement in writing before you begin writing songs with another person, the idea that you have to draft and sign a contract each time you sit down with someone to write a song is not only impractical, but also a pretty big buzz kill. That said, agreements are written at this stage mainly so everyone in the room knows, in advance, what they are entitled to when the song is finished and how ownership interests will be divvied up. Getting everyone on the same page ahead of time is a goal that you should strive for even if it isn’t written down. For songs that you know ahead of time will released commercially, several things should be understood in advance: payment, credit, rights. Payment and credit are straightforward. For the former, you should know how much money will each person get if the song is a financial success. For the latter, you should know who will be named as writer(s) of the lyrics and writer(s) of the musical composition for the song. These agreements can be reached informally and orally, but when the potential for commercial success is great, it may be wiser to work this out in writing. What can’t be agreed to orally is a transfer of rights. Rights (who actually owns the song) is something that can only be exchanged in writing. Whenever co-writing a song, you must be concerned about rights. Without an agreement otherwise, co-writers are joint copyright holders who both have equal rights to use the work for whatever they desire. However, the share of ownership may differ, so they could be 50/50 owners, 30/70, or whatever. Always find out if your co-writer is registered with one of the Performing Rights Organizations (Socan, BMI, ASCAP, etc.). If you are part of a different Performing Rights Organization you may need to separately register the song to get royalties for public performances of the song. Even if you are a part of the same Performing Rights Organizations it's always a good idea to make sure your co-writer registered the song properly. Additionally, be aware that with a recorded song, there are two separate copyrights at work: one for the actual song and one for the sound recording of the song. If you’ve written a song that’s never been recorded, then you own the copyright to the song so long as you’ve written it down. But, if someone records your song and pays the standard royalty amount, then they own the copyright to that cover recording. As for the recording itself, don’t assume that you own it simply because you are paying the producer a fee for his time. There may be a clause in the producer's standard terms of business that states that he owns the copyright, or possibly a share of it. It’s also possible that the legal system wherever you live might automatically grant the producer copyright, like a wedding photographer keeps copyright in their photos, even though they have been paid to take them. It is in your best interests to not share any of the copyright in the recording with the producer. Instead of granting the producer a portion of the copyright, it would be better to pay a fee to the producer for his work. Or you could agree to give the producer a royalty. Written by: By Shaun Spalding. http://www.newmediarights.org/
    2268 Posted by CanadianMusicians
Canadian Music 58,595 views Sep 15, 2014
15 Things You Should Know About the Canadian Music Business

Canada is hot. The market north of the border continues to yield talent that scales the Billboard charts and drives sales worldwide, from Justin Bieber to Michael Bublé, Drake to Deadmau5, Avril Lavigne to Arcade Fire.

These acts, among many others, are nominees for Canada’s Juno Awards, presented April 1 in Ottawa. But before the Junos comes Canadian Music Week, the music festival, conference and exhibition that taking place March 21-25 in Toronto, drawing artists, executives and fans. In recognition of CMW’s 30th anniversary, Billboard Magazine offers 30 things you should know now about the Canadian music business. We’ve put together 15 of them here.

1. Canada is the world’s sixth-largest music market. It ranks in sixth place in digital sales, seventh in physical sales and 10th in performance rights revenue. Digital trends: Internet users, 26.2 million; broadband households, 9.5 million; smartphone users, 8.1 million. Recorded music by sector (2010): physical sales, 66%; digital sales, 29%; performance rights, 5%. (All data according to IFPI.)

2. The Independent Digital Licensing Agency offers digital distribution, royalty collection and administration, and help securing capital financing primarily for independent labels. IDLA is owned by its independent label members and offers everyone the same 9% administration fee without a fixed term. Unlike CD Baby or TuneCore, there is no upfront fee.

3. The Polaris Music Prize is a jury-chosen cash award for the best album of the year without regard to genre or sales. Held each September, it’s adjudicated by about 200 selected music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers, and a final “grand jury” the night of the event. Since 2006, the winners have been Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, Fucked Up, Karkwa and, in 2011, Arcade Fire.

4. Numerous government and private grants and no-cost loans are available to Canadian musicians for a range of career-development activities. Funding sources include the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Media Development Corp., Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings and MuchFACT. Almost all the provincial music industry associations have grant programs, such as Music BC and Manitoba Film & Sound. There’s also the Radio Starmaker Fund, funded by private broadcasters.

5. Slaight Music, co-founded by Canadian radio industry heir Gary Slaight, has invested, sponsored and donated about $2 million to more than 20 artists and 14 music-related organizations, including the Polaris Music Prize, Unison Fund, Juno Awards, the Canadian Country Music Assn. Humanitarian Award, Dixon Music Hall, Honey Jam and the Canadian Music Managers Forum. All funding decisions are made by Slaight and business partner Derrick Ross-there is no application process. The Slaight family sold Standard Broadcasting in 2007 for $1.1 billion. Slaight will be honored for his work on March 31 during Juno Week by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

6. Dance-pop band These Kids Wear Crowns, signed to EMI Music Canada, is now managed by Coalition Entertainment (Simple Plan, Finger Eleven), and the group’s album, Jumpstart, is getting a global release. In Australia, where the act has toured three times, the title track is almost double-platinum (140,000 units). The album is also out in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan and France, and will soon arrive in another 14 territories.

7. There are many synch opportunities for acts in Canadian TV productions. Among the current Canadian shows various music supervisors are placing tracks in are “Degrassi,” “Flashpoint,” “Arctic Air,” “Lost Girl,” “The L.A. Complex,” “Rookie Blue,” “Heartland,” “Dussault Inc.,” “Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays” and “Mr. D.” Among recently licensed tracks are Broken Social Scene’s “Sweetest Kill,” Hooded Fang’s “Den of Love,” Land of Talk’s “It’s Okay,” Wren Kelly’s “Jump,” Winston Hauschild’s “Lonely,” Leeroy Stagger’s “I Believe in Love” and Kuba Oms’ “Ride On.”

8. The Sheepdogs, the ’70s-styled rock band that won Rolling Stone’s magazine cover competition last summer along with a record deal with Atlantic, also landed a deal with Bedlam Music Management (City and Colour, Dinosaur Bones, Monster Truck). The band has finished recording an album with Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. Meanwhile, the band will play select U.S. dates from March to June, including South by Southwest and Coachella. The Sheepdogs’ 2010 album, Learn & Burn, is gold in Canada.

9. For Live Nation Canada, the first quarter includes national tours by Canadian acts like Jann Arden, Hedley and Simple Plan. In April, Johnny Reid kicks off a 27-date tour. that ends at Halifax Metro Centre on May 16 with a lone date scheduled on July 13 at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome. Road warrior Bryan Adams also launches his first full Canadian tour in 20 years on April 11 in Newfoundland, ending June 22 at the MTS Center in Winnipeg. Top upcoming tours by non-Canadians include Madonna, Van Halen, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Diamond and Iron Maiden.

10. The Air Canada Centre in Toronto, which ranked as one of Billboard’s top 10 highest-grossing arenas with a 15,000-plus capacity, will host Van Halen (March 17), Nickelback (April 22), Red Hot Chili Peppers (March 27-28), Bryan Adams (May 3) and Il Divo (May 19), with other bookings pending.

11. Cirque du Soleil production “Dralion” in January opened the busiest year since 2010 for the K-Rock Center in Kingston, Ontario, an SMG Canada venue. Bookings at the 7,000-capacity building this year include shows by Megadeth, Deep Purple, Hedley and Jann Arden with upcoming dates by Billy Currington, Bryan Adams and Johnny Reid.

12. Management company/label Coalition Music (Simple Plan, Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, Justin Nozuka) purchased a 12,000-square-foot building in 2010 that was once a convent. The company built a large recording studio with an SSL board, a soundstage/showcase room in the former chapel and plenty of rehearsal space (the nuns’ bedrooms). It also operates a “music business for musicians” school. The Artist Entrepreneur program starts April 16.

13. According to Music Canada, the trade organization representing the major labels, “the digital market is still relatively untapped.” ITunes, Slacker, Rdio, 7digital, SiriusXM, HMVDigital, Zune, Rara and eMusic have all expanded into Canada; Pandora Radio isn’t available; and Spotify is reportedly finalizing deals with the labels. Among the Canadian-owned legal digital services are phone companies Bell Mobility, Telus, Rogers’ urMusic, Research in Motion’s BBM Music and Galaxie Mobile, and broadcasting networks CBC Music and Astral Radio (music and music video). Also operating are online store Puretracks, Internet radio Mediazoic and Motime for mobile content.

14. The most recent estimates from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) forecast February royalty distributions of $39.3 million, including about $12 million from cable TV, $10 million from radio airplay and $2 million from satellite radio. The total figure represents an increase of 7% across all distribution pools except concerts, international and private copying. “Once a final decision has been made by the courts regarding [pending digital copyright issues], SOCAN will work toward distributing to members as soon as possible the monies collected” for those uses (Billboard.biz, Dec. 6, 2011).

15. Walk Off the Earth had 30,000 subscribers on YouTube before its cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” went viral-amassing 69 million views for the video of the quintet playing the song on one guitar. Union Label Group founder Matt Colyer stepped in as manager and the group has signed with Columbia. At the time, the band had seven songs in the can co-produced with Justin Koop (Grade, Silverstein). It’s now finishing up the album.

Tags: #Canadian Music 


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