EAST BAY WAY - A Sound Strategy, Inc.
No. 45 JUNE 2007
www.iLiveToPlay.net
Doin’ It the
East Bay Way
40 Years of Funk with
tower of power
Meet Idol
Coach “Byrd”
The ABCs of
Compression
Monitoring
Your Recordings
BUYING Powered
P.A. Speakers
New in SAM.U
0
MAY/JUNE
80% 1.5 BWR PD
56698 99731
• Tips From a Hit Songwriter
• Succeed As a Working Musician
• Ask the Soundman
3
06
inside
Features
Published by
Dayspring Communication Group, LLC
14 Tower of Power
Still Doin’ It the East Bay Way
17 Paying Up and Getting Paid
Two rulings simultaneously caress
and smack down the Indie artist
20 Song Byrd
Tips and insights from the vocal
coach for American/Canadian Idol
PUBLISHER
Robert A. Lindquist
ASSISTANT EDITOR
Dan Walsh
OFFICE MANAGER
Elizabeth Edwards
ARTIST Liason
Jake Kelly
Tech Stuff
12 Live Sound 101
Puttin’ On the Squeeze
23 24/7 Studio
Monitoring Magic
27 Buyers’ Guide
Self-Powered Speakers
30 New Gear
38 Gear Reviews
Future Sonics m5 Earpieces,
Peavey 32 FX Mixer
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Bill Evans
Director of Sales & Marketing
Eddie Fluellen
Art Director, Production
Linda Evans, Evans Design
EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS
Priscilla DiLallo • Erin Evans
CIRCULATION
Barbara Lindquist
Columns
9 On the Road
The Perfect Press Kit
10 In the Trenches
Gig Etiquette 101
42 My Back Page
You’re Fired!
Singer&Musician University
31
32
33
34
35
37
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
On Songwriting
Soundcheck
Playing in the Real World
Ask the Coach
Ask Lis
Departments
6
8
18
40
41
Set List
Contributors
Now Playing on iRadio
Singer&Musician’s Mall Classifieds
Advertiser’s Index
onthecover
Tower of Power are still doin it the East Bay Way
after nearly 40 years. See this issue’s cover story
on page 14.
HOW TO REACH
SINGER&Musician
For subscriptions, change of address
or back issues, contact us at:
Singer&Musician
P.O. Box 10
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Letters, comments,&
editorial suggestions:
revbill@ILivetoPlay.net
Proud Member of:
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setl i s t
Finding What You
Weren’t Looking For
The answer often comes when you stop looking
By Bill Evans
M
aybe it’s just me,
and the screwy way
my mind works,
but I can’t count the number
of times I have gone looking
for something that I REALLY
needed and could not
find, but found something
else totally unrelated and
lost track of what I was
doing and went in a totally
different direction.
Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times
it drives people around me nuts. Every time I
start to rag on my daughter about not focusing
s i nger&musician
June
2007
on what she is supposed to be doing, my
wife—who is much wiser than I—just gives me
“that look” to remind me that the fruit does not
fall far from the tree.
It’s a tough call. I know she needs to be
able to focus but I also know that most of the
really good things in my life came when I was
not looking for them.
The thing that got me thinking about this
was the Live Sound 101 piece in this issue. I
was looking for a graphic I had seen years ago
showing how over-compression had made
a Celine Dion song louder than AC/DC. So I
typed “Celine Dion vs AC/DC” into Google
and came up with a very scary You Tube video
that you can find a link to on the iLiveToPlay
site.
I took over editorial at Singer&Musician as
the result of a diatribe I wrote about the nature
of magazines in the Internet Age. I got my day
gig as the result of a series of unrelated phone
calls between people I hardly knew that took
place minutes after the Brits who owned GIG
canned me.
I
am
currently
playing in probably the
best version of my band
that I have ever had
since I put it together
in ‘84. The bass player
I met through a friend
and he was playing in a
metal tribute band—not
a place I would have
naturally looked—but
Our “beloved” editor and his posse at play at The
he is so good it’s scary.
Club at the Cannery Casino, Las Vegas.
I mentioned to the same
friend that I needed a
bone player and he happened to remember that his friend Eddie—who has
made his living as a keyboard player for years—was a bone player. And get
this—A week before I first called him, Eddie had finished a five-year gig at a
major Strip hotel and had made a resolution to play his horn more.
My sax player came to me when I asked someone about a trumpet player
because I thought I already HAD a new sax player. He gave me a card and
said, “This guy is a sax player but he probably knows someone.”
Our #2 vocalist is a woman who we met as one of the organizers of a
parish festival we have been playing for years. A couple of years ago she
asked if she could sing with the band and we said “Sure.” And she has been
around ever since.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that the answer often comes
when you stop looking. Like this one, here at Singer&Musician we have been
looking at ways to freshen up the SMU section of the magazine for a while.
We added a couple of things and moved some people around but still felt it
needed more. But other tasks beckoned and we stopped thinking about it for
a while. So what happens? Two new columnists fall into our lap. For the next
year, the father and son team of Greg and Ry Kihn will be expounding on the
intricacies of songwriting and the ins and outs of being a working musician.
So welcome the new guys and stop thinking so much. sm
con t r i b ut o r s
L
ots of new folks this month as Singer&Musician
continues to grow and evolve. You will find info about
two new high-profile columnists in SMU on their
respective pages. Hit songwriter and real-life rock star
Greg Khin will be taking Singer&Musician readers through
the basics and intricacies of good songwriting while his son
Ry, a noted guitar-slinger who learned a lot from Dad’s lead
guitarist—some nobody by the name of Joe Satriani—gives
readers the 411 on being a working musician.
You will also find an expansion of our music
biz coverage with a feature on two new rulings
out of Washington D.C. that will directly affect
many indie musicians. Expect more of this kind
of important coverage in future issues.
Meanwhile, a column we have been
threatening to introduce for a while now finally
makes its debut. It has been said that there
are two rules for a good gig. #1 Don’t piss off
the sound guy. #2 See Rule #1. You can get
the lowdown on working with (as opposed to
against) this person who can make or break your
gig. In Soundcheck. Here’s the lowdown or our
resident audio guy.
Bob Gibson—soundcheck
We’ll let Bob tell his own story. “I started out as a musician in
the late 70’s, playing various rock and punk clubs around the San
Francisco Bay area. I got into the sound business the usual way;
hanging out at the clubs, meeting some sound guys and becoming
interested in what they did for a living. Eventually I met a local sound
company owner willing to hire me and teach me a few things. In 1984
he hooked me up with my first road gig, a van and trailer tour with
a country band. I stayed on the road for the next 10 years, traveling
the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with various bands and theatre shows.
In 1994 I moved to Las Vegas. Since then I’ve worked for local
sound companies and at the casinos; doing lounge, show room, and
corporate gigs.”
Bob’s current gig is with on of Sin City’s best regional soundcos,
H.A.S. productions which does a large percentage of the one-off
concert gigs around town including work with acts as diverse as the
Beach Boys, Hootie and the Blowfish, Big and Rich, Sheena Easton
and Quiet Riot. We met Bob when he was mixing a Loving Spoonful
show at a casino in Laughlin. Welcome him aboard and take note of
We want to hear from you!
Drop us an e-mail at: revbill@ilivetoplay.net
Richard Gilewitz
Known as one of the strangest men in acoustic music today, Richard
Gilewitz fascinates his audiences with fingerstyle gymnastics while
spinning yarns too unbelievable not to be true. His ability to make
one guitar sound like an entire orchestra stems from 33 years of
well-honed technique and 25 years of on the road touring, creating
his own signature sound that has been captured on his six releases.
But it is his live shows that bring out the best in this man who follows a distinct cadence
that creates a glow that continually grows a little brighter with each tune. His contributions to Singer & Musician include a series on making and releasing a live CD.
Jake Kelly
Jake has taken on the role of Artist Liason/Head Evangelist for
Singer&Musician and iLivetoPlay.net. Jake is uniquely qualified for
this job having worked both sides of the music biz fence—working
for a major label artist on big tours plus recording and releasing his
own material at the same time. You’re sure to see him around at the
trade show/music conference circuit. Talk to him—he only bites if
you ask him to—and let him know what the iliveToPlay Network can do for you.
Lis Lewis
Lis Lewis is a vocal coach in Los Angeles whose clients include Gwen
Stefani, Britney Spears, the All-American Rejects, the Pussycat Dolls,
Jack Black, Jimmy Eat World and many others. She is the author of
two books both with warm-up CD’s: The Singer’s First Aid Kit and
The Pop Singer’s Warm-Up Kit. Her website, http://www.TheSingersWorkshop.com, is packed with information for singers who are
serious about their careers. Working with such high profile artists has given Lis a
healthy perspective on the daily struggles of singers which she passes on through her
teaching and writing.
Phil Parlapiano
Phil Parlapiano is a multi-instrumentalist composer who has worked
with Grammy award winners John Prine, Rod Stewart, Tracy Chapman, Lucinda Williams and many others. The idea of Deconstructing
a Hit is not just to show you how to play someone else’s song. The
hope is that, by “deconstructing” the work of other writers, you will
find ways to advance and vary your own writing. For more info, visit
Phil’s website: www.parlapiano.com.
s i nger&musician
June
2007
on t heroad
Press Kit 101
I
By Mike Aiken
n looking through your
emails, I’ve noticed
a theme – questions
about the basic tools of
promotion. A recurring
question was on putting
together a good press kit or
promotion package.
What is the purpose of a press kit? It is your
main marketing and sales tool. It will be what
introduces you or your band to promoters and
the media. It should be oozing with all the good
facts about you, who you are as an artist and
why you are so special.
Elements that every press kit should include:
(Each should have a title and be no longer than
one page)
•
Your Biography: Written in the third person,
this is your development as a performer.
Be sure to include a description of your
music style or genre. Give a performance
background of your act including such
things as key performances, recordings,
and quotes. Be sure to include what your
niche is. Don’t be overly wordy. Make
each paragraph count. Remember this is a
bio, not an exaggerated sales pitch.
•
Accomplishments: Consider this as a
timeline of special achievements. Include
things like dates of past recordings, special
shows, endorsements, label signing, awards
etc. Listing these events as bullet points in
a timeline will work much better than as a
narrative. Update this page as soon as you
have new material. Only the facts!
•
Presenters Page: While I haven’t seen
this in many other press kits I have found
it a useful addition to mine. I list excerpts
from reviews by past promoters of the
shows I’ve done. This should show you as
professional and responsible to deal with
from a promoter’s point of view and will
also serve as a recommendation to future
promoters.
•
What The Fans Are Saying: Keep this up
to date with quotes from your growing
fan base. Try to include a variety to
cover your recordings as well as your live
performances and if you can, choose a
geographically diverse selection. Your
press kit will mainly be used pursuing live
opportunities so be sure you cover how
the crowd likes your performance. Include
the quote, the fan’s name and location. If
it doesn’t add, don’t include it.
•
What The Critics Are Saying: Use this
•
•
•
•
page to highlight what reviewers have
said about you. Use quotes from radio,
interviews, concert and CD reviews. If you
don’t feel you have enough to fill a page,
combine this with the fans sheet (above)
and make one page out of two!
Promotion Photo: This is usually a staged
shot with your name and any booking or
management information you may have.
Use a head shot if you are a solo performer
and a band shot if you are a band. This
photo is truly worth a thousand words
and should portray your style, attitude etc.
If you are a thought-provoking, moody
singer/songwriter, that should come
through. If you are a fun, party cover
band, that should come through. It may
pay to hire a good photographer and not
just hand the camera to someone who
isn’t doing anything else at the time. This
should be an 8 x 10. I use color but many
folks use black and white. Again, what do
you want to get across?
Reviews, interviews and articles: Keep
track of all of your press. Keep copies of
newspaper, magazine and internet press.
Take the best and most representative of
these and include them. Again limit each
piece to 1 page and I would suggest not
more than 4 pages. Although your press
is the most interesting reading ever, most
folks are too busy to read every word. If
you give entire articles, highlight the best
one or two lines of each. That way you give
them what’s essential, they see someone
felt strongly enough to do an article about
you and if they are so inclined they can
read it at a later date.
Press Release: If you have one it can be
helpful to include a good press release
about your latest recording, major
performance etc. Many times a promoter
will pull the promo/press material for the
event directly from what you give them.
CD: Include your latest CD and one
sheet. If you have a recording of a live
performance be sure to use it.
There are many ways you can choose to lay
out your press kit. Give this some thought. Do
you have a color theme for your package? Again
this is the introduction to your act so consider
what is most important for someone to see first.
For example, mine is a two pocket folder with
a sticker on the front and a business card in the
slot provided. It opens with my promo photo to
the left and my bio and CD to the right. To the
right ( from front to back) I have the CD, bio,
accomplishments, presenters, fans, critics. To
the left (also front to back) I have my photo, CD
one sheet, press release, interviews and reviews
(in order of importance for the reader’s waning
attention.)
Once you have your killer press kit assembled,
keep only a handful on hand. You will find that
you are updating the information regularly and
want to present the most current package.
Common pitfalls include giving too much
information and not having clear contact
information. If you have a tremendous amount
to get across that’s great, but do it concisely.
If something doesn’t add to your portrait as an
artist, leave it out. Probably the mistake I see most
often is a lack of contact information. Don’t make
a promoter dig for a way to contact you. They
won’t. Make this easy to find and easy to read.
Good luck and have fun with your kit.
Make it the best that you can and it will do a lot
of the selling for you. sm
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
inth et r e n c h e s
Booker’s Beefs:
Some Gigging No-No’s
to Keep in Mind
I
By John Sollenberger
’ll never forget the time I
subbed for the drummer
of a notorious Southern
California party band at a
bar near San Diego. These
guys were famous for doing
stuff that would drive a
booker nuts and gain the
ire of club owners. They
were only able to get away
with it because they were
historically a big draw.
As we were setting up, the front man (a local
legend for, shall we say, starting the party early)
was already approaching three sheets to the wind.
He set the suitcase carrying his accessories on
the stage next to his mic stand and announced,
“If I toss cookies, it’s going to be in there.” He
then proceeded to play the entire gig sitting on a
bar stool onstage.
Those were the days. Fortunately for the
health of the singer and the good of the band,
they’ve toned down a bit, and they’re still
working today. However, some players out there
still haven’t quite gotten the message, leading to
complaints from clients and venue owners, and
causing bookers to drop them from the first-call
list.
I recently spoke to long-time L.A. area
booking agent Denise Cogan, asking her
about the kinds of no-no’s that can give bands
unexpected weekends off. She emphasizes that,
since most of her gigs are high-end casuals, “I
really don’t have that many
complaints these days since my
club booking is now minimal,
and the bands I run are pros
and they are on time and do
their job.”
Drunk and/or Sloppy
However, in the past
she says that, besides the
Not starting on time
aforementioned
drunken
sloppiness, the laundry list
Showing up with the wrong instrument(s)
of complaints included, “not
starting on time, showing up
No instrument(s)
with the wrong instrument, no
Different band than what was originally booked
instrument, completely different
band that was originally
Long and/or excessive breaks
booked, long and/or excessive
breaks, showing up with
Showing up with improper attire
improper attire, not showing at
Not showing at all
all, letting audience members
l NO-NO Checklist
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
Letting audience members perform with the band
Too loud
Crappy PA when not provided by the venue
Leap-frogging the booker
10
s i nger&musician
June
2007
perform with the band, too loud, crappy PA
when not provided by the venue, are some of the
problems I have encountered over the years.”
The issue of leap-frogging the booker is
one that Cogan says she still does see from time
to time. Acts sometimes try to make an endrun around the agent and cut their own future
deals with clients. Taking work away from the
agent can lead them to drop the band from their
roster.
“If an agent, entertainment director or
booking person books you at a venue, private
party, etc., you as an artist must respect their job
and make sure you do not step on the toes of the
booking person,” she says. “If someone comes
up to you at a private event you need to refer the
interested party back to the agent not hand out
your cards or take the gig away from the agent.
“The booking person makes 10 percent of the
booking normally. That is NOT a lot of money
if the artist is making 90 percent of the gig. So
why take work away from the agent? If the agent
books you several times through a client and you
tell the client you will work for less and cut out
the agent, this is just wrong.”
While she says that this hasn’t happened
very often, “I NEVER worked with that artist again
or the client involved. Hope they could live with
themselves.....and their dishonesty!”
Cogan says that there are unscrupulous
agents out there, but “I am totally honest with all
of my bookings and even give the artists a chance
to review my contracts so they know I am taking
care of them financially and making sure all of
their needs are taken care of for every event.”
Bottom line: respect your profession and
respect your booker. You’re better off in the
long run. And save the fun and games for after
the gig! sm
Some players still haven’t quite gotten
the message, leading to complaints
from clients and venue owners, and
causing bookers to drop them from the
first-call list.
lives o u n d1 0 1
Putting on the
Using the power of compression for good, not evil
By Bill Evans
I
n the last issue of Singer&Musician, I related the story of a live gig I did where I
arrived to find a rack of compressors not even plugged in and how, because the sound
guy copped to “not getting” compression, it was a good decision. Like reverb, a little
compression can go a very long way and if you don’t understand it, you should not use it.
What It Is
When you hear a really great performer or
band that understands—Gasp!—dynamics, they
pull you into the song by going from soft to loud
and back to soft again? Well, a compressor does
just the opposite. It squeezes or “compresses”
the dynamic range of an audio signal. In simple
terms, it does so by lowering the louder parts
of a performance allowing you to bring up the
overall level and make the softer parts more
closely match the loud parts. Think of it as a
kind of automatic volume knob.
Most compressors have five controls—
Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release and Output or
Make-Up Gain.
•
Threshold determines at what level the
compression kicks in. Signal below the
threshold passes unaffected.
•
Ratio determines how much squeezing a
signal gets. A ratio of 3:1 means that for every
12
s i nger&musician
June
2007
•
•
•
3 dB
of signal over the threshold, 1 dB of sound
is allowed to pass. The higher the ratio, the
more compression is being applied.
Attack refers to how fast the compression
kicks in and
Release how quickly it lets go. When you
apply compression, you will usually lower
the overall gain as you are bringing the
peaks down so
Make-Up Gain allows you to get the level
back to where you started.
In general, the lower the ratio—the more
natural the sound.Setting the ratio at less than
3:1 is often used to add “punch” or to “tighten” a
performance or recorded track. (These are totally
subjective terms and all but impossible to really
define. Your best bet is to play with a compressor
some and hear it for yourself.) Higher ratios are
used
to get the dynamics
of a performance under control. Settings higher
than 10:1 are called “limiting” and are most
often used as system protection to keep “loud
Larry” from blowing up your speakers.
Sounds with hard transients like a snare
drum need a slower attack to avoid cutting
off the initial “crack” of the drum and making
it sound unnatural. Fast attack and release—
combined with a ratio over about 4:1—can
result in “breathing” or “pumping.” This is when
the loud sound is quickly compressed and then
released and the subsequent sound passes under
the threshold and does not get compressed. You
can really hear the compressor working which
is something you never want to happen. As a
rep from a major high-end compressor maker
once told me, “If you can hear a compressor
working, it is set wrong or it’s broken.”
livesound101
Squeeze
When to Use It
I am one of those guys who believes, “as
little as possible” is always best, but it really
depends on the act and the performance and
what you are going for sound-wise. Really good
players who really listen and adjust their playing
to the others onstage with them don’t usually
require compression. I recently asked the sound
guy for Tower of Power, Ace Baker, what kind
of compression he used on the horn section and
he just wiggled his fingers. Those guys are so
dialed in that they “compress” themselves.
Two common uses for a compressor in a live
setting are to get a soft singer, or one with a very
wide
dynamic range, up above a loud
band. Another common use—one that sound
guys will argue passionately about—is to put a
good stereo compressor with a very light setting
across the L-R outputs of the system to smooth
things out a little bit. But this means you use
a good (read expensive) compressor that brings
something to the party in terms of tone. Typically
we are talking about tube compressors here and
they are not cheap.
A compressor can be used to bring up
a weak kick drum (but be aware that using a
compressor to bring up a weak signal means
you also bring up the noise floor) or to tame
an out of control snare drum. It is almost
always used on the bass and many bass amps
have a compressor built in. (Be aware that
any tube amp will produce a bit of “natural”
compression—a big part of the tube sound.)
As a guitarist, I have used a compressor to add
sustain to a solo and even to send the guitar into
feedback if that is the effect I am
going for and I can’t crank the amp up enough
to do it the natural way.
Someone’s At the Gate
Compressors are part of a class of devices
known as “dynamics processors.” The other
most common devices in this class are limiters
which we already touched on and noise gates.
A
noise
gate
is
used to clean
up a “dirty” signal and keep the
noise at bay during quiet moments or, more
commonly, to “turn off” a mic when it is not
being used so it does not pick up signal from
other sources around it and muddy-up the
whole sound. Drums—especially toms—are
often gated so the mic is only feeding signal
when the drum is actually hit. Again, be careful
with the release settings to keep it from
sounding unnatural.
Also a gate on a
lead vocal mic
will help keep
the drums out
of that channel
when the singer
is not at the
mic.
There are a
bunch of decent
entry-level mixers—most notably from
Yamaha—that have built-in “one-knob”
compressors that allow you to dial in how much
you want to squeeze the signal and through the
magic of digital signal processing, it makes the
other adjustments for you. There are also some
very good compressors with presets for different
kinds of inputs including the Presonus Blue
Max and the TC Electronic C300. Those are
good places to start if you are just starting to
“get”compression. sm
Compression has been evilly overused in recording—especially at the
mastering stage resulting in Celine Dion actually being louder than AC/DC.
Really. Go to the I Live to Play Network for links to some very interesting
articles on this problem.
LINKS
www.ilivetoplay.net/celine
www.ilivetoplay.net/everythinglouder
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
13
cov e r s to ry
Tower Of Power—
Still Funkin’ After (Almost) 40 Years
By Bill Evans
Photos by Linda Evans
I
t has become the mantra of indie music for
the past decade-plus—you don’t need radio
or a major label to make a living making
music. It is one thing for folky and fringe artists
to embrace this idea, but they are far from
alone. In fact there are some folks who have
known that for years and years.
Take Oakland funk legends Tower of Power. As this issue of Singer&Musician
goes to press they will be finishing up their 39th year as a working band. In that
time they have had a couple of big hits—“So Very Hard To Go” and “You’re Still
a Young Man”—and they have a hardcore fan base that buys the albums but this
is a band that makes their living on the road. With four original members (and one
almost original) still hitting the groove, the band still does somewhere in the range
of 120 gigs a year. And they are still teaching those of us who are a little (in this
case only a little) younger how it is done. When TOP was in Vegas recently, I took
my entire band to see the show. If you have never seen them, you need to know
that a good Tower show is like witnessing some kind of force of nature—both
beautiful and savage in the same breathe. And this was a very good Tower show.
At the end of the show, my sax player—who has been a pro for a long time and
played with blues legend Ruth Brown for the last years of her life—looked at me
very seriously and told me, “Thank you. I was schooled.”
I was very fortunate to be able to spend some time with founding members
Emilio Castillo (tenor sax, vocals and leader of the pack), David Garibaldi (drums)
and Francis “Rocco” Prestia (bass) plus almost founding guitarist Bruce Conte
before the show. Take your seats, class. The lesson is about to begin.
IN THE BEGINNING
So how did you guys first get together?
EC: Me and Frank, we were in high school, we were actually in junior high
together. And he started playing with our band when he was 15 years old.
RP: I was 14, I was a freshman in high school. A friend of mine knew them
and suggested to them that he knew a guitar player, which wasn’t the truth.
EC: …I knew him and I liked him, and this guy Charlie Faulkner said, “He
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s i nger&musician
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2007
cover story
We basically jones for those times when we can
get together and create music. that’s the stuff that
really gets you off.
—david Garibaldi
plays guitar!” and I was like, “Oh, you’re
kidding!” And I told the guys, I go, “This guy
Frank plays guitar, and he’s pretty cool. He’s got
really cool hair.” And that’s what we based our
decision on. He’s a cool guy, and he’s got cool
hair, and he came in and he played guitar, and
he was the worst guitar player in the history of
man. I mean, he could barely form a chord. It
was like a week-long process for one chord.
RP: See, I’d never played with anybody, so
my interest in guitar…my mother would say,
“It’s more like, ‘Johnny, come practice!’” It was
a forced issue.
EC: And then my dad hired this guy to
come teach us once a week as a band. He was
a fabulous guitar player. His name was Terry
Saunders, he’s still in the Bay Area. And he
would come once a week and teach us kids, as
a band, how to play a song. So every week he’d
come, he’d say, “What do you want to learn
this week?” We go, “We dig this song by the
Animals!” He’d go, “Boom. Here you go.” He’d
teach us, you know? But the first thing he did
when he came to meet us, he looked at him,
and he’s got his guitar, he’s trying to make a
chord, and he looks at me, and goes, “You
need to play the bass.” And we all go, “What’s
a bass?” And he goes, “Never mind. You need
one.” That’s all he told us: “Never mind. You
need one.” And within two weeks, he was eight
times better on the bass than he was on guitar. I
mean, he was just a natural on the bass.
including Greg (Adams, brass), you know, Dave
– Dave is probably more schooled than the rest
of us. Some guys are schooled, but basically
everybody just kinda does what they do, and
it works.
DOIN’ IT THE EAST BAY WAY
RP: It is hard when you’re so spread out
‘cause you have to actually think about it, take
the time to be together. It’s not like we’re all just
next door and you can just hang, anything like
that. But we’re older, we’ve all got families.
But you talked about coming up and doing
things the old-school way. Does the fact that
you’re not all together now, does it make
coming together a more precious thing?
EC: Sometimes. [laughter] I mean,
sometimes, it really is. And other times, it’s just
like…
RP: It’s a gig.
DG: Yeah. You know, we’re flying in, we’re
hitting the tour, we’re gonna play…we have
a pretty wide range of songs that we can do,
but still, it’s a certain amount of songs that we
know. To change that takes a lot of work, a lot
of time. You have to plan it out logistically. We
basically jones for those times when we can get
together and change the show, or get together
and create music. That’s the stuff that really gets
you off. And then, gig to gig, some nights we
walk off and it’s just like, “Man, I love doing
this. It’s a pleasure.” Everyone just feels like,
“Man, we were burning last night.” Other times,
Rocco, you’ve influenced an awful lot of
bass players!
RP: That’s what they tell me. Well, that’s
very flattering and all, you know. It was never
nothing planned. Like he said, I mean, it fell
together that naturally. Nothing was ever
really thought about it, you know. I mean, the
people we had in our band from him on down,
including Mick (Gillette, founding brass player),
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
15
cov e r s to ry
Play with people. You can practice all day in the
house, but if you play regularly with people, you
will learn how to play music.
—Emilio Castillo
it’s like, “Eh, we did good last night. It was a
good gig.”
DG: The cool thing is, everybody has the
same mentality coming and playing as good
as they can every night. So it’s not like half the
guys are phoning it in, half the guys are here.
It’s a real unified effort in terms of bringing the
music to people, so that part is really cool.
EC: And also, we all want to be in the band.
It’s not like an artist who has people that they
hire. They might be thinking, “I can’t wait until
I get to that gig next month when I’m back
with so-and-so. I really dig THAT gig.” I mean,
everybody really digs THIS gig. They really dig
this music; that’s how they got in here.
DG: There’s Tower 101 when the new
people come in. There really is. They have
to learn our way. Just because you grew up
hearing the songs, it’s different than actually
sitting down and playing with us.
EC: Richard Elliot did a long stay here with
Tower of Power. We had Mark Russo on alto,
and he had left us to go to the Yellow Jackets,
and we needed a strong player, and when they
brought Richard’s first record –it was smooth
jazz before smooth jazz was smooth jazz. So I
listened to it, and I was going, “You know, I don’t
know,” because Mark Russo was ferocious and
he had gotten even more ferocious during his
time with us. So Gene Vanno was our manager,
and I said, “Tell the guy to come down” – we’re
playing the Palomino; these were the hard times,
you know? – so we’re down there, and I said,
“Just tell him to come down, and I’ll take care of
him. So he shows up, he’s all, “Hi, I’m Richard
Elliot.” “Hey man, nice to meet ya. You got your
horn?” He goes, “Uhh, yeah. Am I going to sit
in?” “No, we’re going on now.” And he goes,
“What?” And I go, “We’re going on now! Get
your horn out.” And he goes, “I don’t know any
of the charts!” And I go, “You’re never going to
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s i nger&musician
June
2007
learn them if we don’t go now.” I get him up
there and he doesn’t know any parts at all, and
I say, “And this tune, you gotta do this step.”
I start showing him dance steps. The guy had
never danced or done any kind of showmanship
at all.
So we had all these dance steps, and I’m
teaching him these dance steps and he doesn’t
even know the charts yet, and he went from
being that person to just being this incredible
showman. He’s really into stage theatrics and
all this stuff, and he got that here. I remember at
the time, the horn section was also doing Huey
Lewis & the News, and the manager of Huey
Lewis & the News told us even though Mark
Russo is leaving the horn section, we want him
to do this gig. And we said, “We don’t think you
understand. This is OUR horn section. This is
not YOUR horn section. And whoever I say is
going to be in the first tenor or alto chair, that’s
who’s gonna be in it.” And so the guy took a real
hardline stance. He says, “If Mark Russo’s not
in the gig, then we don’t want the horns.” And
to his surprise, we said, “Fine!’ And about three
days later, he come and his look – “OK! We’ll
see what this Richard guy is like, but if he’s not
as good…” Well, inside of two weeks, they were
like, “Man, this guy Richard is AWESOME!” So,
people just grow here. They come into their
own, and they don’t get in unless they really dig
the music.
TIPS FROM THE MASTERS
Any words of advice? Besides “Don’t do it”?
RP: Just off the top of my head, it’s like
being in the sandbox; learn to play well with
others. You know, get your attitude right, just
don’t give up, keep going.
EC: I’ll tell you what Doc would say if he
were here, what he says at every clinic. He says,
“It’s better to be sharp than to be flat. It’s better
to rush than to drag.” And what I say at every
clinic is, “Play with people. You can practice all
day in the house, but if you play regularly with
people, you will learn how to play music. As a
band, how to express yourself.” And also, “Play
before people,” because there is nothing like—I
mean, with these guys, we’ll learn something,
say, “You guys want to do it tonight?” “Ahh, let’s
give it another day.” We’ll “another day” it for a
week. And then I say, “You know what? We’re
going to rehearse this thing at sound check today
and we’re hanging it out there tonight, fellas.” As
soon as it gets out there in front of the crowd, it
all falls together.
RP: I’ve talked to a lot of guys coming up—
either guitar, bass, drums, or whatever—and
they’ll talk about, “Man, my drummer this,”
or “Man, my bass player…” And I said, “First
off, you’ve got the wrong attitude. Stop right
there. That’s not the way to communicate.”
Communication is a give and take, and you gotta
learn that young or you’re not going to be able to
grow if you don’t.
DG: I don’t think we’ve ever had discussions
as a band where we were telling each other, “I
don’t dig the way you play.”
RP: Yeah, but I know guys that do.
DG: People go there. I mean, I think that’s
part of the reason why we can play together
because we don’t go there.
RP: Yeah, we respect each other.
DG: We play the way we play. We play
together…
EC: Though we have said, many times, “I
don’t dig the way I play.” [laughter] “I played
lousy tonight..” That’s gone on a lot!
DG: But we don’t have that thing where
we’re saying, “Here is where the group is; you
have to be...” We don’t do that.
HV: That “f*#% you” attitude.
DG: Just never do that. sm
feat ure story
Paying Up and Getting Paid
T
he kiss was nice, but
the slap that came
right after was, well,
less nice. We are speaking
metaphorically of course and
referring to a pair of rulings
that came out of Washington
recently. One directly affects
indie musicians positively
and the other has the
potential to have a very large
negative impact on those
who rely on non-mainstream
broadcasters (read: Internet
radio) to get their stuff heard.
Remember Alan Freed?
When one talks of payola, visions of the iconic
Alan Freed pop into mind. Freed, disc jockey,
concert promoter and the man that gave “rock
‘n’ roll” it’s appropriate moniker, was accused
of taking money for airplay. He most certainly
was not the only one and the attempts to stamp
out the practice of “pay for play” only made the
participants cover their tracks a little better.
The practice has continued even with
periodic attempts to rein it in. In the ‘70s, it was
not uncommon for a new record to be given
to a DJ with a little bag of Bolivian Marching
Powder inside. In the ‘80s it was independent
“consultants” who became the gateway to the
airwaves. You want to get on the radio? Better
By Jake Kelly
hire one of these guys to make sure it happens.
And the issue is being addressed again but the
massive consolidation of radio station ownership
that has taken place in the past two decades have
made the stakes higher than ever. Unlike the days
of Mr. Freed, the lock that a record company has
on a slot on the radio is not just one station in one
small town (or just one big city, for that matter).
Record companies and consultants don’t deal
with radio stations, they deal with their corporate
parents—and radio stations have been bought up
by conglomerates at a staggering rate.
The following counts of stations owned
by the four biggest media conglomerates is
approximate but still fairly chilling: CBS Radio
Inc., 180 stations, Entercom Communications
Corp., 108; Citidel Broadcasting Corp., 225
and Clear Channel Communications owns
more than 1,100 stations. An approximation of
the total of all stations is 1630, but the exact
number would be hard to pin down due the
high number of stations be bought and sold by
these chains on seemingly a daily basis.
Independent artists and small record
labels had all but given up trying to break the
stranglehold major labels had on the major
radio stations. While payola used to mean a LP
jacket filled with a few bills to grease the
turntable, now labels
could use their vast
resources to supply
those who oversee
the
airwaves.
After all, not many
independent labels
could afford to fly
music programmers
on junkets across the
country or provided
Christmas gifts of
mp3 players made
by the record label’s parent company to them
during the holidays. It should be noted that the
FCC does not have any jurisdiction over record
labels, but radio on the other hand...
But officer…
The light at the end of the tunnel was
announced to the world on March 5 with
the word of a settlement of the government
investigation into payola allegations. Without
admitting wrongdoing (not unlike our
willingness to pay speeding fines even though
“we weren’t doing anything wrong”), the big
four radio chains agreed to pay a collective sum
of $12.5 million in fines.
But, more importantly to the independent
artist, the big four also agreed to open up their
airwaves to “8,400 half-hour segments” over
the next three years, according to March 6th,
2007 L.A. Times.
This is due in part to the efforts of an
organization called the American Association
of Independent Music (A2IM) and one of
its board members, Peter Gordon, who also
heads an independent label called Thirsty Ear
Recordings. Thirsty Ear released a Grammy
continued on page 22
Will This Kill
SAM’s iRadio?
By the time you read this, it may be old news, but at press time it was still unclear as to what affect the new royalty rates for Webcasters would have
on Singer&Musician’s popular iRadio station (www.iRadio.ws) and similar stations who support Independent Art. Although iRadio is a FREE service
offered by Singer&Musician and the iLiveToPlay Network to help expose the music being created by our readers and site users, it is already quite
expensive to operate. While we support anything that benefits Indie Artists, the fact is, we’ve been paying to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC since day one
and we know of not one artist who has received their cut. We anticipate the same will be true under the new ruling as many Indie Artists aren’t
even aware of the procedure they need to follow to receive their due dollars. In addition, by making the new rates retroactive, the CRB is throwing
a huge, unexpected business expense that is sure to cause many smaller stations to pull the plug. To support stations of all size and further promote
the web radio concept, Singer&Musician has joined with other Webcasters through www.SaveNetRadio.org to establish royalty rates that reward
the artist without bankrupting the very stations that play the music. How can you help? Start by writing your elected officials in Washington, and
look for further updates on the Indie News Blog at www.iLiveToPlay.net—ral
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
17
now p l ayi ng o nir a d i o
iRadio – The Best of the
Independent Artists 24/7
By R.A. Lindquist
W
e’ve been getting
slammed with
new and recent
releases and have added
many new tracks. Here are
just a few of the artists now
in rotation:
The Burns Sisters—This CD is a spectrum of
styles that runs from traditional folk to country,
with lots of sparkling colors in between. Our
lead off pick for the iRadio playlist is “Nowhere
To Fall,” a mellow folk-rock piece that
emphasizes the three sisters’ excellent voices
and harmonies.
Rachael Sage—Rachael is a well-established
iRadio regular with several tracks in rotation.
She consistently releases CDs that are fresh
and full of surprises. The Blistering Sun, is no
exception—it’s a collection of well-written,
well-performed songs with tons of punch, topnotch production and snappy horn parts. Tune
in and hear “Lonely Street,” a fine example of
Rachael’s artistry.
Patrice Pike—You saw Patrice last summer
on Rock Star SuperNova and then on the cover of
the Singer&Musician December ‘06 Issue. Now
you can hear her CD Unraveled, on iRadio. The
CD features a strong dose of raw, vocal driven
rock mixed with an excellent electric ballads
and R&B. iRadio adds “Rufus” and the title cut
“Unraveled” to the rotation.
Malea McGuiness—Malea has a gracious
sound that fits a variety of musical styles.
Most of the songs on this CD are backed with
minimal instrumentation, allowing Malea’s
vocals to really shine. We picked the song “I
Never Cry” for its hooky vocals and an intro
that is reminiscent of “Lucy In The Sky With
Diamonds,” and the track “Dreamer,” just
because we really liked it.
Jake Kelly—Yes, it is the same Jake Kelly
whose byline appears in Singer&Musician. And
no, he didn’t get a free pass. His new album
is traditional country/rockabilly with a straight
forward, genuine approach, but with lyrics that
are slightly askew. Our pick, “It Must Be Love,”
is a ballad with a twist of Jimmy Buffett and a
splash of ‘50s flair.
KC Clifford—We almost took a pass on KC’s
“Teeth-Marks On My Tongue”—not because it
isn’t good, but because it sounded like so many
other acoustic female singer/songwriters. That
is, until we hit track seven, “Yellow Haired
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s i nger&musician
June
2007
Girl.” It was at that point that we realized that
KC has one of the most sweet yet powerful rock
voices awaiting discovery. She sounds good no
matter what she sings, but when she cuts loose,
she sounds great. Rated X for X-plosive!
Shawn Hlookoff (say Ha-Loo-Koff)—This
22-year-old Canadian has come out of the
gate with a mix of well-crafted, acoustic and
electric pop tunes, and ballads that are,to say
the least, addictive. His lyrics are often thoughtprovoking, and delivered with a voice that is
dynamic and very genuine. Very well done.
The Red Button—Recording a CD of new
material with an authentic ‘60’s sound has the
potential to be a disaster. Had these guys missed
the mark by even a nanopickle, this project
would have been nothing more than a laughable
embarrassment. But (whew!), they didn’t. In
fact, if you shuffle this CD into the player with
Herman Hermits, Peter & Gordon, The Beatles,
or Chad & Jeremy discs, I doubt anyone born
after 1970 would notice. Hum-able choruses,
reverse tape loops, Rhodes piano runs, a little
“sha-la-la”… it’s got it all. There’s even go-go
boots on the cover. We went with the title cut
“She’s About To Cross My Mind.”
Mad Agnes—Mark, Margo and Adrienne
(collectively, Mad Agnes) always give you
more than you expect and their new CD,
Revenants, stays true to that tradition. Fourteen
tracks in all with an excellent balance between
instrumentation and lyric lines where both get
plenty of room to shine. It’s new millennium
folk at its very best: songs written and sung
from the heart with great harmonies and tight
playing. In addition, the included color booklet
has all the lyrics, a short description of each
tune and some fun pix. It’s always nice to give
back, but in a marketing sense, this is a far better
way for your audience to get to know you better
one-on-one. Oh, Track #1, “Chocolate,” was
our pick for iRadio.
Samplers and Compilations
New Arrivals—This sampler from mpress
records not only overflows with very mpressive
music, but 100% of the proceeds go to the
Artists Against Hunger & Poverty charity. Most
everything on this CD is strong, so to introduce
it to the iRadio audience we selected the five
tracks. “Stronger” by Miela Paula stands out with
a passionate in-your-face vocal backed by a killer
band. “Sail The Sea,” by Gregory Douglas, is a
poppy, piano driven ditty that’s hard to get out of
your head. On “Dark Stranger,” Kristy Krueger’s
intensely interesting and not-so-innocent voice
draws you in and traps you like a web. Listening
to The Divine MAGgees, “Little Black Crow,”
is like a long walk on glorious spring day—it’s
something that you feel as much as hear. And,
Todd Car’s, “Photograph” is a magical rhythmic
mix of solo guitar with an excellent vocal track.
For more information on this sampler, visit www.
mpressrecords.com
Falcon Ridge Production
We picked up a copy of this Artist Sampler
at Folk Alliance in Memphis and were instantly
taken by the exceptional talent and diversity
under the Falcon Ridge banner. Here are two
examples:
“Modern Man”—If you’re serious about
Folk music, you’re talkin’ to the wrong man.
This is the stuff that keeps that mighty wind
blowin’ and reminds us that some of the genre’s
most time-proven hits were on the sillier side.
“Like A River” is prime example.
Dust Poets—“I Married A Magician,”
features a whimsical storyline poetically told
over a background that sounds like a melted
down variation of Bluegrass. The vocals are
sweet as cotton candy and the story is fun.
These irreverent musicians from Canada have
that “period piece” thing down pat.
That’s it for now. Remember, the iRadio
playlist constantly evolves, if you keep listening,
we’ll keep doing our part to help Indie Artists
get the exposure they deserve. sm
“Are You Still
There?”
As you’ve probably read in this issue, the
Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has issued
the significantly higher new royalty rates
for Internet radio for the 2006-2010 period
(see the article by Jake Kelly in this issue,
and to see how these new rulings will effect
stations like iRadio and visit www.live365.
com/choice/musicians.html). As the new
rates are based on the number of listeners
per song, our streaming service (Live 365)
will send periodic “Are You Still There”
prompts. If you’re not, and the prompt is
ignored, your broadcast will stop and you’ll
need to relaunch when you return. It’s not
unlike your dad turning off the lights when
you’re not in your room, except sometimes
you’re still in the room and have to say “hey,
I’m here!” w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
19
Son g B yr d
“Welcome to Star
School, Dawg!”
By R.A. Lindquist
R
egardless of how you
perceive American Idol, it
has become one of those
television phenoms that gets
far more attention than any TV
show deserves. It has spawned
countless Web sites (good, bad
and ugly) and been poked at by
numerous comedians and talk
show hosts (If you don’t like
it—turn the channel!).
While most fans of the show are quite content to
restrict their attention to watching the show, and then
chatting about it at the water cooler the next morning,
others just can’t seem to get enough of it. While there’s
a certain point where you have to draw the line and
say “Hey, get a life”, the fact remains that the show’s
formula works and works very well.
Reality Show or Singing Contest?
How you perceive American Idol is a matter of
which side of the camera you are on. To Simon, Randy
and Paula, it is a singing contest, and they do a great
job of selling it as such. To others, and I include myself
in this group, it’s a reality show. Some argue that the
selection process is flawed and that many of the best
singers never even make it to the audition. In the real
world, people—even high paid producers—don’t
always get it right. Reality sometimes, well, sucks.
Others accuse the show’s producers of exploiting the
contestants by sealing them into airtight contracts and
stealing their first years’ earnings. Again, a shot of
reality—I doubt there’s a single struggling artist who
reads this publication who wouldn’t gladly give up
a good chunk of their early earnings to get the kind
of long-term career boost that exposure on American
Idol offers.
(How do you feel about this? Would you give up
half your earnings for up to five years to to perform
on stage in front of millions of people in over 100
countries – simultaneously? – Vote now – go to Bill’s
Blog at www.iLiveToPlay.net!)
But this is not as much an article about American
Idol as it is about what one of the key, behind the
scenes, people has to do with it’s success.
Meet Byrd
If it has anything to do with singing or performing,
Debra Byrd (known as “Byrd”) has done it (her full
bio is at www.debrabyrd.com) With a natural gift for
vocal artistry, Byrd brings American Idol and Canadian
Idol hopefuls a vast knowledge of musical expression
and performing experience. Just as American Idol was
entering its “Final 12” phase in the sixth season, I had
a chance to chat with Byrd and get a better sense of
the transformation process as these everyday, average
“kids” become “American Idols.”
RAL: Your credentials and accomplishments speak
for themselves but in this business, there’s a lot of
“right place-right time” opportunities and sometimes
it’s just a matter of luck. How did you get the gig with
American Idol?
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s i nger&musician
June
2007
S on g Byrd
Byrd: The first season’s music director, Kevin
Bassinson, phoned me while I was coming back
from doing a demo for Diane Schurr’s CD with
Barry Manilow and said “I’m working on a new
TV show and they need a vocal coach.” He kept
saying, “You won’t be performing, but coaching
people on TV.” At the time I was working on
a book called Vocal Help Now!, which came
about after the last Broadway show I did (Bring
Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk), which had been
so vocally taxing that I said ‘I need to write all
this stuff down.’ So I thought, well, this gig will
be good and I’ll get some new things to add to
the book.’ So I said to him, “I don’t know what
American Idol is, but count me in.”
RAL: At the beginning of each season, the
focus is on the selection process—the judges
RAL: Obviously, the contestants receive
substantial training on television etiquette, such
as keeping the mic away from their faces and
playing to the camera. But what will happen
when they get out on to a live concert stage
and have to deal with sound techs screaming
for them to the exact opposite?
Byrd: I say to them, “Know where you
are when you perform.” Television has one
sensibility—one of the things that threw
me as a performer of concerts was that the
microphone was so far away and it really
bothered me—it made me physically want to
hunch my shoulders to lean over. When you’re
singing live, you can get closer to it and there’s
not that visual restriction. It’s all about being
aware of where you are when you perform. It’s
where your next blessing will come from. The
world is watching.
RAL: What are the most common vocal
problems you encounter when working the
contestants on Idol or your established clients?
BYRD: Overuse – dehydration – lack
of technique – they’ve learned how to sing
incorrectly and I have to steer them toward
“right singing.” We all have basically the same
vocal problems—none of us want to do any
vocal damage so we seek out and people who
can help preserve our livelihoods.
RAL: Do you deal with these problems on
the Vocal Help Now DVD?
Byrd: Yes, and I also deal with nerves and
stress. I met this young lady who had been here
in L.A. auditioning for about one month. I asked
What people don’t understand is that little kids find their favorites and
little kids vote forever and ever, but adults won’t do it.
set up shop in major cities and audition the
contestants for the competition, but there are
thousands of contestants and very few ever
even get into audition—what does it take to
get to first base?
Byrd: I look at it like Broadway show
auditions—when you show up for a Broadway
show, they sort of know what they are looking
for. I’ve never been to an audition, but it’s my
understanding that those hoards you see on
television go through a screening process where
they sing in small groups for the producers, and
then are put through to Ken Warwick and Nigel
Lythgoe, the executive producers, who have the
final say on who gets to go before Paula, Randy
and Simon.
RAL: What are some of the initial things
you work on with the contestants?
Byrd: When you see them in groups of
three is when we (Byrd and Michael Orland)
start working with them so they can continue
the auditioning process, and we stay involved
all the way through the finale. The contestants
select what they want to sing from a “cleared”
list. We then have to figure out what key they
are going to sing it in and we have to cut it
down to their length of a minute thirty. We
cannot choose the song for them– they have to
choose their own songs.
People used to stop me on the street and
say, “This show is fixed, so-and-so should not be
moving forward,” and they’d be very passionate
about it and I would say to the passionate
person who stopped me, “Did you
vote?” and they always would
say “No.” How can you
say it’s fixed, if you don’t
vote? What people
don’t understand is
that little kids find
their favorites and
little kids vote
forever and ever,
but adults won’t
do it.
a lot to learn—I tell them ‘Welcome to ‘Star
School’ and part of Star School is learning how
to perform in different venues.
RAL: How do you teach them to deal with
Stage Fright?
Byrd: These people don’t have stage
fright—there is a courage that comes with
being critiqued in front of millions of people
that is absolutely amazing. For someone to tell
you that you’re not good in front of millions of
people—that’s hard, it’s just hard.
RAL: When a contestant realizes that
they’ve made it about as far as they are going
to, how do you keep them up—keep them
doing their best?
Byrd: The phrase I use is “There is life after
American Idol.” I want them to be mindful of
how they present themselves to the planet—
American Idol is shown all over the world —in
100 countries, or so I’m told—offers come from
all around the planet. You just never know
her to be on the DVD and present herself as if
she was auditioning. She showed up to do this
on camera and auditioned a song she knows
backwards and forwards. So she gets on front
of the camera and can’t, for the life of her,
remember the words—she kept saying “I’m so
nervous, I’m so nervous.” I said, ‘Okay, let’s
deal with your nerves and stress.’ It freaked her
out because she knew the song, and we see this
on American Idol all the time—You see it on
camera. I said to her, “Did you even prepare
in the car? Did you sing before you got here?
She said “No, because I know this song.” I deal
with how you prepare to present yourself to
people. How you prepare for the audition. I talk
about what you do before the audition, what
you do at the audition and what you do after
your audition. People don’t even think in terms
of that. You don’t just show up, there are things
you have to do before you get there. sm
Byrd with American Idol Executive Producers,
Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
21
feat u r e s t o ry
Paying Up and
Getting Paid
continued from page 17
nominated album by the band Sex Mob, but
was unable to get a sizable amount of airtime
on commercial radio.
The airtime that radio will now give
independent labels and artists, pending
approval by FCC panel of commissioners, will
be between the more listened to hours of 6 a.m.
and midnight rather than the late night and
Sunday evening hours the stations had set aside
for independent music in the past.
But the very next day a dark cloud
moved over the briefly sunny landscape of the
independent artist.
The Copyright Royality Board made a
ruling, as petitioned by SoundExchange, to
retroactively increase the rates paid to artist and
labels for streaming music on line back to 2006.
It also ends the discounted fee for small Internet
broadcasters. SoundExchange is a branch
of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association
of America), whose members are the major
record labels. They, among other things, lobby
Washington to protect their member’s interest,
their investor’s investments, and supposedly the
interest of the artists signed to their label.
22
s i nger&musician
June
2007
At first glance, artists being paid for
play (a reversal!) might seem like a boon to
the independent artists. Unfortunately, the
additional fees are likely to shut down some
smaller outlets which are already running on a
shoestring. According to the Radio And Internet
Newsletter (RAIN), the ruling also affects the
larger, more profitable broadcasters that stream
content over the Internet as well.
According to Jake Ward, a spokesperson
for the SaveNetRadio campaign (www.
SaveNetRadio.org), “The CRB’s ill informed
decision to increase royalty fees to this
unjustifiable level will quite simply bankrupt
most webcasters and destroy Internet radio,—
Radio on the Internet is not a passing fad or for
a niche audience. It is an enormously popular
medium that offers unprecedented diversity for
its more than 70 million listeners and for artists.
Particularly for independent artists, Internet
radio has the ability to reach millions of fans
across the country who would otherwise never
hear their music. Net radio has changed the
way people listen to, buy, promote and market
music and we cannot afford to let it die.”
But the difference lies in how much
money the stations bring in. Giants like Clear
Channel, which will also pay the higher fees,
which are based on the average number of
listeners. Smaller Internet stations bring in a tiny
percentage of ad profits of what a streaming and
conventional radio station might bring in.
It should be noted that Internet radio
(when done legally, like the iLivetoPlay
Network’s iRadio) pays fees to the songwriters
and publishers and to the labels and artists.
Commercial radio does not pay royalties to
labels or artists. Commercial radio has been
exempt from paying these performance fees
claiming that airplay is free promotion for the
record. This ruling addresses only Internet
radio, and not commercial broadcast radio.
“The CRB’s ill informed
decision to increase
royalty fees to this
unjustifiable level will
quite simply bankrupt
most Webcasters and
destroy Internet radio”
What’s It All About?
Could it be that the labels, facing decreasing
profits as CD sales continue to plummet and
down loading—both legal and not— is on the
rise (Apple just announced they had sold 100
million iPods and are closing in on two billion
songs downloaded from its iTunes Music Store
and the New York Times recently reported that
music-buying habits have changed to the point
that individual song purchases outnumber album
sales by 19-to-1), are looking at increasing the fee
on Internet radio as a way to open the door and
start imposing these fees on broadcast radio?
The Copyright board rejected ideas of
a “metric” or a revenue-based flat rate (one
of 5% was suggested at the hearing by Kurt
Hanson of AccuRadio, LLC on behalf of small
commercial Web-casters), but went with the
RIAA recommendation of pays per spin (per
listener). The comparison being electricity costs
the same for all business regardless of how small
or big they are.
Quoting Jake Ward, “The CRB’s failure to
reconsider its ill-informed and flawed March
2nd royalty rate increase for webcasters will
devastate Internet radio. The panel’s ruling was
certainly disappointing, though unfortunately
not surprising. By casually dismissing the
importance of better understanding the impact
of their ruling, the CRB reaffirmed the need
for immediate Congressional action. The
SaveNetRadio campaign will now take the
fight for the future of Internet radio and music
diversity on the Internet to Capitol Hill and with
the support of millions of listeners, hundreds
of thousands of artists and tens of thousands
of Webcasters, we believe our message will be
heard and Net radio saved.”
All this comes at a time when the idea
of global wi-fi is a few short years away, and
cellular coverage is already here. When Internet
radio can be picked up in your car as you’re
driving across the country with no signal loss,
the line between conventional broadcast
radio and Internet streaming becomes thin or
disappears altogether. sm
24/7studio
The Magic of Monitoring
A
very important
part of your home
studio is the monitor
system—speakers, power
amp and room acoustics.
This system tells you what
your end listener will hear.
Ideally, it lets you accurately
hear what you’re doing to
the recorded sound.
The power amp strengthens your mixer
signal to drive the monitor speakers, and the
speakers convert the power amp’s electrical
signal into sound. Your room acoustics affect
the sound from the speakers.
A quality monitor system is a must if you
want your mixes to sound good. According to
what you hear, you adjust the mix and judge
your mic techniques. Clearly, the monitor
by Bruce Bartlett
system affects the settings of many controls on
your mixer, as well as your mic selection and
placement. And all those settings affect the
sound you’re recording. So, using inadequate
monitors can result in poor-sounding mixes
coming out of your studio.
For example, if your monitors are weak in
the bass, you will tend to boost the bass in the
mix until it sounds right over those monitors.
But when that mix is played over speakers
that have adequate bass, the mix will sound
too bassy because you boosted the bass on
your mixer. So, using monitors with weak bass
results in bassy recordings; using monitors with
exaggerated treble results in dull recordings, and
so on. In general, colorations in the monitors
will be inverted in your recorded mixes.
That’s why it’s so important to use an
accurate monitor system -- one with a wide,
smooth frequency response. Such a system lets
you hear exactly what you recorded. Look for
a frequency response of at least 70 Hz to 15
kHz +/- 3 dB. A response lower than 70 Hz and
higher than 15 kHz is even better, and a response
deviation less than +/- 3 dB is also better.
Low distortion is necessary because it lets
you listen to the speaker for a long time without
your ears hurting. A good spec might be: Total
harmonic distortion under 3% from 70 Hz to 20
kHz at 90 dB SPL.
NEARFIELD MONITORS
A nearfield monitor (Figure 1) is a small,
wide-range speaker typically using an 8” or 6”
woofer and a dome tweeter. You place a pair
of them about 3 or 4 feet apart, on stands just
behind the mixer, about 3 or 4 feet from you.
Because the speakers are close to your ears,
you hear more of the speakers’ sound and less of
the room acoustics. Plus, nearfield monitors sound
very clear and provide sharp stereo imaging.
Most nearfield monitors have enough
bass to sound full when placed far from walls.
Although most nearfields lack deep bass, they
can be supplemented with a subwoofer. Or
you can check the mix occasionally with
headphones that have deep bass, such as the
Sony MDR-7506.
Some nearfields are in a satellite-subwoofer
format. The two satellite speakers are small
units, typically including a 4-inch woofer
and 3/4-inch dome tweeter. The satellites are
too small to produce deep
bass, but that is handled by
Figure 1: A nearfield monitor speaker. the subwoofer. It is a single
cabinet with one or two large
woofer cones. Typically, the
subwoofer (sub) produces
frequencies from 100 Hz
down to 40 Hz or below.
Since we do not localize
sounds below about 100 Hz,
all the sound seems to come
from the satellite speakers.
The sub-satellite system is
more complicated to set up
than two larger speakers, but
offers deeper bass.
POWERED (ACTIVE)
MONITORS
Many nearfield monitors
have a power amplifier built
in. You feed them a linelevel signal (labeled Monitor
Out) from your mixer. Most
powered monitors are biamplified: they have one
amplifier for the woofer
and another for the tweeter.
Compared to passive monitors
with a separate power amp,
active monitors tend to sound
louder and clearer, and have
a flatter frequency response.
THE POWER AMPLIFIER
If your monitor speakers
are not powered, you need a
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
23
24/ 7s t u d i o
Figure 2: A power amplifier. power amplifier (Figure 2). It boosts your mixer’s
line-level signal to a higher power in order to
drive the speakers.
A power amp of 50 watts per channel
continuous is about the minimum for nearfield
monitors; 150 watts is better. Too much power is
better than too little because an underpowered
system is likely to clip or distort. This creates
high frequencies that can damage tweeters.
A good monitor power amp has distortion
under 0.05% at full rated power. It should have a
high damping factor -- at least 100 -- to keep the
bass tight. The amp should be reliable. Look for
separate level controls for left and right channels.
The amplifier should have a clip or peak light
that flashes when the amp is distorting.
SPEAKER CABLES AND POLARITY
When you connect the power amp to the
speakers, use short, thick speaker cable or lamp
cord—at least 16 gauge. The low resistance of
these cables helps the power amplifier to control
the speaker motion and tighten the bass.
If you wire the two speakers in opposite
polarity, one speaker’s cone moves out while the
other speaker’s cone moves in. This causes vague
stereo imaging, weak bass, and a strange sense of
pressure on your ears. Be sure to wire the speakers
in the same polarity as follows: In both channels,
connect the amplifier positive (+ or red) terminal
to the speaker positive (+ or red) terminal.
ROOM ACOUSTICS
The acoustics of the control room affect the
sound of the speakers. If your room has bare,
hard walls, sound waves from the speakers
reflect off those surfaces. That can muddy the
sound and smear the stereo imaging.
Get a 4 ft. x 4 ft. piece of convoluted
(bumpy) acoustic foam, and attach it to the wall
behind the speakers to absorb sound. Spread
some more 4x8 pieces around the walls, starting
with a pair on the side walls, halfway between
the speakers and your listening position. The
foam absorbs mid-to-high frequencies. You
also need some “bass traps” to absorb the low
frequencies. For a cheap bass trap, get some
rolls of fiberglass insulation (factory-covered in
plastic) and stack them from floor to ceiling in
each corner of the room.
Some suppliers of studio acoustic
absorbers are tubetrap.com, realtraps.com,
24
s i nger&musician
June
2007
acousticalsolutions.com,
primacoustic.com,
auralex.com, acousticsfirst.com, wallmate.
net, illbruck-sonex.com, rpginc.com, and
fstechnologies.com. Also check out www.
ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html.
In most home or project studios, the control
room is the same room as the studio. You can
monitor with headphones while recording, and
monitor with speakers during playback and
mixdown.
a good tonal balance sounds like. Listen to the
amount of bass, midrange, and treble, and try to
match those in your mixes. Use CDs with the same
musical genre and instrumentation as your mix.
You’ll mix the tracks to sound good on
your accurate monitors. But also check the mix
on small inexpensive speakers to see whether
anything is missing or whether the mix changes
drastically. Make sure that bass instruments are
recorded with enough edge or midrange to be
audible on the smaller speakers. It’s a good idea
to make a cassette or CD copy of the mix for
listening in a car, boom box, or compact stereo.
SPEAKER PLACEMENT
Mount your speakers on stands at ear
height so the mixer doesn’t block
their sound. For best stereo
imaging, align the speaker
drivers vertically and mount
the speakers symmetrically with
respect to the side walls. Place
the two speakers as far apart as
you’re sitting from them; aim
them toward you, and sit exactly
between them (Figure 3).
To get the smoothest lowfrequency response, put the
speakers along the shorter wall,
at least 2 feet from the wall, and
sit forward of the halfway point
in the room. The closer to the
wall the monitors are, the more
Figure 3:
bass you hear. In small rooms
Recommended
you might have to place the
monitor placement
monitors against the wall, which
for best stereo
will exaggerate the bass. Some
imaging.
monitors have switches that
vary the amount of lows (bass)
and highs (treble). That’s a good feature because CONCLUSION
it partly compensates for speaker placement and
Ultimately, what you hear from the monitors
room acoustics.
influences your recording techniques and affects
the quality of your recordings. So work on your
USING THE MONITORS
control-room acoustics, choose and place the
When you do a mixdown, try to listen at speakers carefully, monitor at proper levels and
a moderate level around 85 dB SPL. You can listen on several systems. You’ll be rewarded with
measure SPL (Sound Pressure Level) with a Radio a monitor system you can trust. sm
Shack SPL meter. If you mix a program while
monitoring loudly, say, 100 dB SPL, the same
program will sound weak in the bass and treble Bruce Bartlett is an audio journalist and
when heard at a lower listening level -- which is recording engineer. His latest books are
likely in the home. Another reason to avoid loud Recording Music On Location and Practical
monitoring is to protect your hearing.
Recording Techniques 4th Edition published by
Before doing a mix, play some commercial Focal Press.
CDs over your monitors to remind yourself what
24/7studio
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
25
26
s i nger&musician
June
2007
bu y er’sguide
Powered Speakers
P
owered speakers have
been around since at
least the early ‘70s
but really started to come
into vogue about a decade
ago. What do we mean
by powered speakers? We
mean speaker cabinets that
have the amp or amps built
into the same enclosure as
the drivers. You do not hook
them up to the output of an
amp, they connect directly
to the output of a mixer.
But, Why?
Anytime you introduce or change a variable
in the signal chain, you create a potential for
changing the sound quality. The sound of a
speaker can change subtly depending on the
kind of cable you use to hook it up as can the
length of said cable (the longer the cable the
more energy is lost before it reaches the driver).
Changing amps can make a very audible
difference. In a multi-way system, where you
set the crossover is crucial. By putting all of that
into one box and purpose-building it to work
together you eliminate variables. When you
put everything together you get a powered or
“active” enclosure.
Speaker makers who are fanatical about
sound quality and—especially consistency
of sound from one cabinet to another—have
been doing powered enclosures for a long
time. Highest on this list is probably Meyer
Sound followed directly by Spain’s D.A.S. In
the past decade pretty much everyone has
come out with some kind of powered speaker
but they have been at it all along. Having said
that, the company that made powered speakers
the norm among many working musicians and
small soundcos was Mackie with the SRM 450.
You have seen these ubiquitous gray boxes
everywhere and I don’t know of a sound guy
anywhere who has not owned at least one pair
at some point in time. And once their popularity
was set, JBL made the EON which grew into MPro and most recently the VP series. E-V made
powered Eliminator models. FBT moved in from
Italy and ISP came out of Michigan with some
new amp technology that made boatloads of
difference in sound quality. Indeed, it is tough
today to think of a company that makes speakers
for the MI market that does not do powered at
least as an option.
So, Why Not?
Some sound guys will point to a loss of
flexibility. These pros know how one speaker
sounds with a certain amp and mix and match
to get the sound they are looking for. Having
crossover and delay (not delay as in echo, this
is about getting the sound from different drivers
in a multi-way system to reach the listener at
the same time) set inside the cabinet takes away
the ability to tweak what the manufacturer
recommends and I know people who make a
good living traveling around to soundcos and
venues and measuring various aspects of their
sound then tweaking the crossover and delay
setting to optimize the audio quality. The
setting used after the critical measurement are
often quite different from those suggested by the
manufacturer.
Next con is weight. A cabinet with speakers
and an amp inside is going to weigh significantly
more than a passive speaker cabinet, there is
really no way around it. Lugging powered
speakers can be a chore. The other thing some
opponents to the active approach point to is
the ability to access a problem amp in a flown
system. When you are using an active cabinet
By Bill Evans
and everything is up in the air and one amp in
one cabinet fails, you are looking at a nightmare
of lowering everything, troubleshooting it and
then getting it back in the air as opposed to just
switching out an amp on the ground. But the
truth here is that if you are flying speakers then
you are probably reading the magazine I edit
as my day gig, not Singer&Musician. Putting
hundreds of pounds of electronics above the
heads of an audience is an activity best left to
real pros.
What To Look For
First there is a move afoot to add digital
processing and networking to powered
speakers. This charge is currently being led
by Renkus-Heinz who has announced that
all future models of their enclosures will
include their DSP/networking package dubbed
RHAON. Remember, the audio world is getting
increasingly digital—even at the musician
level. So this is something to consider if you
are hoping your new powered speakers will
maintain their value over a reasonable period
of time.
The next big thing to look for is accuracy of
the sound. Just like a Shure SM58 mic has that
well-known “presence bump” in the midrange,
many active speakers are “tuned” (or use some
form of processing or EQ) so that they sound
good in the music store. Always audition any
speakers using your own input—be that a CD
or an iPod or whatever. Listen to something you
are very familiar with and see if it sounds like
you expect it to. If it doesn’t then your show
won’t sound like you think it should either. At
least not until you take the processing magic
into account.
Turn the page to see a rundown of some of
the units available on the market today.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
27
bu ye r ’ sg u i d e
COMPANY
WEB
MODEL
DRIVERS
B-52 Professional
www.B-52Pro.com
Matrix-1000V2
2 x 10 mids,1 Titanium HF driver on Elliptical Wave Guide 1 x 15”
subwoofer
B-52 Professional
www.B-52Pro.com
Matrix-2000
18” Sub, 12”Satellite mids, Titanium HF Driver
BEHRINGER
www.behringer.com
EUROLIVE
B415DSP
15” woofer and a 1.75” titanium driver
DS-115A
Neodymium magnet 15” low frequency speaker with a 3” voice coil.
Neodymium 1” exit compression driver with 1.75” titanium diaphragm,
coupled to a constant directivity horn that is integral to the enclosure
baffle
D.A.S. Audio s.a.
www.dasaudio.com
D.A.S. Audio s.a.
www.dasaudio.com
COMPACT-2
All the transducers in the system feature Neodymium magnets for
low weight. LF: 15” low frequency speaker with 4” voice coil. MF: 10”
horn-loaded cone loudspeaker, HF: 1.5” exit compression driver with
4” titanium diaphragm, coupled to a constant directivity horn which is
mounted coaxially to the woofer.
D.A.S. Audio s.a.
www.dasaudio.com
SM-12A
12” LF with a 3” voice coil. Neodymium compression driver with1.5”
exit and 3” titanium diaphragm coupled to a narrow dispersion horn.
D.A.S. Audio s.a.
www.dasaudio.com
SML-15A
LF: 15” speaker with a 3” voice coil and neodymium magnet structure.
HF:Neodymium compression driver with 1.5” exit and 3” titanium
diaphragm coupled to a 60º x 40º rotateable horn.
Danley Sound Labs
www.danleysoundlabs.com
SH-100
Full Range Loudspeaker Drivers: Single 8” coaxial
Dynacord
www.dynacord.com
AM 12
12” LF 1” HF
Electro-Voice
www.electrovoice.com
SxA 250
15-inch two-way powered system.
FBT
www.fbt.it
FBT Maxx 6a
15” B&C Neodymium Magnet woofer, w/ 3” VC. 2.5” B&C HF driver
coupled to a 90 x 60 Horn w/ 2” exit
ISP Technologies LLC
www.isptechnologies.com
HDM 210
3 Way cabinet: Lows-two 10” neo woofers Mids-two 2” compression
drivers Highs-one 1.75” neo compression driver
ISP Technologies LLC
www.isptechnologies.com
HDM 112
3-Way Cabinet Lows-1 12” Neo woofer Mids-2 2” Compression drivers
Highs-1 1.75” Neo Compression driver
JBL Profesional
www.jblpro.com
EON15 G2
15” LF driver with neodymium magent. 1.75” Titanium diaphragm highfrequency compression driver
JBL Professional
www.jblpro.com
PRX512M
12-inch 2-way
Mackie
www.mackie.com
SRM450
12” 2-way
Mackie
www.mackie.com
SRM350
10” 2-way
QSC Audio
www.qscaudio.com
HPR122i
1.4” diaphragm neodymium compression driver; HF 12” neodymium
woofer with 3” voice coil; LF
Renkus-Heinz
http://www.renkus-heinz.com
CFM121
1 x 12-inch woofer, 1 x 2-inch titanium compression driver
Samson Technologies
www.samsontech.com
dB300a
12 inch woofer and 1.75 inch titanium compression driver.
Tapco
www.tapcoworld.com
TH-15s (THUMP)
1” compression driver (HF) 15” high-precision LF driver
Yamaha
www.yamaha.com
MSR100
8” woofer and 1” titanum compression driver
Yamaha
www.yamaha.com
MSR400
12” woofer 1.75” titanium compression driver
28
s i nger&musician
June
2007
bu y er’sguide
POWER
I/O
CABINET CONSTRUCTION
WEIGHT
PRICE (MSRP)
700W subwoofer
400W Satellite
N/R
13-ply Baltic birch
180 lbs - total
$1,699.98
1000W subwoofer;
500W Satellite
N/R
3-ply Baltic birch
244 lbs - total
$2,999.98
600W
XLR and 1/4 TRS
High impact resin
TBA
$739.99
LF 300W - HF 100W
XLR
Mineral-loaded polypropylene cabinet of a
very high density with minimum vibration.
49 lbs
$999.00
LF 500W - MF/HF 500W
XLR
Birch plywood finished with catalyzed polyurethane paint.
153 lbs
$4,612.00
LF 500W - HF 100W
XLR
Birch plywood finished witha durable black
paint.
64 lbs
$2147.00
LF 500W - HF 100W
XLR
Birch plywood finished with a durable black
paint.
63 lbs
$2,503.00
DSP- 1000 AMP
2- NL4MP
Baltic Birch
45 lbs
$2,270.00
300W LF, 60W HF
Seperate Mic, Line, Stereo
Aux, and speaker output for
connection to M 12 passive
mate
1.18” Mediapan wood composite
46 lbs
$1,500.00
350W LF, 80W HF. LF and
HF shelving equalization.
Two mic/line inputs with mix
capability.Line output for
cascading signal to additional
speakers.
Enclosure is built of 18 mm plywood and
finished in Futura, a sprayed-on polyurethane
finish
48.94 lbs
$935.00
700W woofer,
200W HF driver
Neutrik Balanced XLR/ combo
jacks
Gas Injection molded Polypropylene cabinet
64 lbs
$1,729.00
900W
N/R
Void free baltic birch with a rubberized polyurethane covering; custom paint available
73 lbs
$2,270.00
500W
N/R
Void free Baltic birch with a rubberized polyurethane covering
68 lbs
$1,650.00
300 watts LF/100 watts HF
3 inputs (1 x female XLR, 2 x
1/4” phone (balanced). 1 x XLR
male output
Rugged light weight co-polymer rear enclosure, single cast-aluminium baffle integrating
woofer frame.
46 lbs
$899.00
500W Continuous/
1000W Peak
XLR line and 1/4”
Plywood coated in DuraFlex finish.
40 lbs
$899.00
LF 450W. HF 100 W
XLR Input, XLR “thru”
Polypropylene
51 lbs
$899.99
LF 165W, HF 35 W
Mic/Line input (Combo), XLR
“thru” output
Polypropylene
32 lbs
$699.99
100W Class AB+B HF;
400W Class H LF
XLR Balanced Line Level in
with Loop Through
Multi-ply Birch cabinet with indutrial black
paint finish
60 lbs
$1,199.00
200W RMS, 300W peak
Looping XLR
13-ply hardwood
50.6 lbs
$1,150.00
300W
Balanced mic and line inputs.
Polypropylene
54 lbs
$599.99
LF) 180 w / (HF) 60 w
XLR Mic/Line input and pass
thru
Polypropylene
36 Ibs
$349.99
100W
3 inputs(1XLR, 2 1/4”), 1 output
Polypropylene
23 lbs
$479.00
LF- 300W, HF- 100W
XLR and 1/4” input; XLR output
Propylene
48 lbs
$699.00
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
29
tool s —
theg o o d i es& t h eg a d g e t s
Simplified
Harmonies
DigiTech introduces the world’s
first processors that automatically
generate live multi-part vocal harmony
by analyzing guitar chord progressions.
The Vocalist Live 2 and Vocalist Live
4 use musIQ™ technology to directly
analyze the output of any electric or
pre-amplified acoustic guitar (no special
MIDI guitars or hex-outputs needed).
They then generate the correct vocal
harmony. For example, if you’re singing an A over the chords that are
generally found in the key of G, Vocalist will harmonize with a C. But, if
you then play an A major, Vocalist will shift to the C#...because like any
good harmony singer, it listens to the guitar! With musIQ, you can forget
about the technology – just sing and play! See
the demo at www.digitech.com
The Beat Is Right
On, Man
Beatnik Rhythmic Analyzers from
OnBoard research will help you improve your
rhythmic accuracy by providing the immediate
timing feedback needed to learn complex figures.
After you set the desired rhythm on the built-in
metronome, simply start the playback and hammer out a
groove on the touch sensitive parcatice pad. The unit’s
display shows a visual representation of each stroke in real time, showing
with accuracy to the nearest 512th note where your strokes occured in
relation to the actual beat. MSRP: $189.95. www.tuners.com
getting
better all
the time
Soloists, duets and small
bands can avoid audio
overkill with the new
small format analog MG
Mixers from Yamaha. The
four redesigned models
are engineered and built
to fill the most demanding
requirements for production
and
sound
reinforcement applications. New features include
single-knob compression on two inputs, switch-able monitor mix
routing, upgraded components and enhanced cosmetics. “The MG line
of analog mixers has been successful beyond our most optimistic
expectations,” said Wayne Hrabak, marketing manager, Live
Sound, Yamaha Pro Audio & Combo Division. “This new generation
of models is designed to build on this already
strong level of acceptance.” The line includes
the MG124CX (MSRP: $379), MG124C
(MSRP: $299), MG82CX (MSRP: $219) and
MG102C (MSRP: $149) www.yamaha.com/
proaudio.
Cool Stool
The “Cool Stool” from SHS International
which combines a players stool and a
guitar stand into one unit. The stool’s
guitar cradle folds down completely out
of sight under the seat when not in use.
www.shsaudio.com/coolstool.htm
30
s i nger&musician
June
2007
Little But
Loaded
Mackie’s new SRM150
Compact
Active
PA
System is a versatile and
expandable
solution
for a variety of sound
reinforcement
needs.
With 150 watts and the
5.25”
EAW-designed,
full-range neodymium driver, the
SRM150 delivers higher sound pressure levels (SPL) than any
competitive product. The built-in 3-channel mixer features two combo
XLR/Line inputs (with 48V phantom power and a hi-Z instrument input), a
stereo channel for CD/MP3 players, and Mackie’s musical 3-band active
EQ. The SRM150 can even be mounted on a mic stand, making it the ideal
personal monitor. MSRP $389.99 www.Mackie.com
Virtual
Vocalists
With
TC-Helicon’s
Harmony4 plug-in for Pro
Tools|HD,
producers,
engineers and songwriters are
free to explore all creative
possibilities. Harmony4 can
be used to generate new 1to 4-part harmonies, fatten
existing harmony tracks and
even create memorable
vocal special effects after the singer has
left the studio. Up to four virtual singers with individual
gender, vibrato, levels and various humanization controls can be created
from a single vocal track. The interface of the Harmony4 plug-in offers
several schemes to simplify the choice of harmony—from automatic
scale-based harmony that intelligently follows melismatic singing, to MIDI
note control allowing any possible melody to compliment the lead vocal.
MSRP:$995 www.tc-helicon.com
Built For the Road
Community’s new SONUS line of portable loudspeaker systems is
designed specifically with you in mind. The line includes four full-range
models and two subwoofers with low distortion, high-impact sonic
capability, ease of transport, and durable construction to withstand the
rigors of the road. SONUS full-range models start with the SONUS-1296,
a two-way system comprising a 12” cone driver and a 1” horn-loaded
high frequency driver, housed in a multi-angle enclosure for use as a
FOH system or a floor monitor. The trapezoidal SONUS-1596 is a 15”/1”
two-way system with a well defined 90º x 60º polar pattern. The larger
SONUS-3294 makes the leap to a full three-way system employing a 12”
LF cone driver, a 6.5” horn-loaded MF cone driver, and a 1” horn loaded
HF compression driver. The SONUS-3594, comprises a 15” cone driver
with the same Mid/Hi section as the SONUS-3294. All models can be
switched between active bi-amped and passive single-amped operation,
to readily accommodate the needs of the user. A music/voice Presence
Switch is provided as a quick means of altering the upper mid-range to
suit the acoustical conditions of the
venue.
www.
Loudspeakers.net
singer& musician university
P roviding t h e k n o wled ge y o u need t o rea c h y o u r g oal o f v o cal & m u s i c al s u c c ess …
T
he Australian garage
rock band Jet, hailing
from Melbourne with
dreams of making it big, did
just that in a very short time. After a deal with Elektra in 2003 and an
opening slot for the Rolling Stones, “Are You
Gonna Be My Girl?” became a radio favorite
worldwide, pushing sales for their debut release
near the four million mark. This single harkens
back to the heyday of classic rock, the 1970s.
“Are you gonna be my girl” starts with
a very simple but powerful tambourine 8th
note pattern, joined by a bass riff in A, very
reminiscent of Iggy Pop’s, ‘Lust for Life’. The
drums enter with a very ‘Lust for Life’ groove.
The band breaks as the guitar enters with a
pentatonic fill. The lead vocalist shrieks and
the song explodes into full swing. The guitars
do the same fill again before the band breaks
for the vocalist, utilizing his greatest rock and
roll classic lead singer vibe explaining how he
wants to make the girl he sees come with him
because she looks so fine. The breaking for the
vocal line sounds a little like The Who’s ‘My
Generation’, but is indeed a common move in
the blues idiom. I really love the hum of the
guitar amps under the vocalist adding to the
natural, live, but explosive effectiveness of this
track. The band continues to break for all the
lyrics in the verse. The before mentioned guitar
riff comes back setting up the B section. Starting
on the D chord, the band plays the punches
with the vocal line as his describes his love
interest. This occurs four times. At the chorus,
the rhythm section plays the same feel as the
harmonies climb for the A chord going up the
minor 3rd to the C, then the D and back to the A.
Hand claps on 2 and 4 are added. The vocalist
SONG:
Are You Going
To Be My Girl
ARTIST: JET
jumps up into the stratosphere as his sees the
ubür-chick of his dreams leave with some other
dolt. This repeats twice, then up to the E and G,
where the band pauses in a pregnant fashion as
our hero asks the all-important question: “Are
you going to be my girl?”
The band continues with the original
groove, playing the guitar riff on the 7th and 8th
bars. Then it is back into the 2nd verse which
with the guitar solo/riffing continuing. The
chorus extends for a few more bars, then ending
on the D chord, with a ‘yea’ from the singer and
the band clapping for itself. How fun.
The lyrics outline a classic rock and roll
love story: boy sees hot girl, boy wants hot
girl, boy sees girl leave with other guy, boy, in
a last ditch effort, asks girl to go home with him
while she is walking out the door, the boy is
Why It Works
•
Simple blues/rock form harkens back to the classic rock days: the seventies.
•
Vocal lines explode with energy.
•
Simple boy
sees girl,
boy almost
loses, but
gets girl
lyric line.
is-surprise-same
as
the first. Yes, this
song only has one
verse of lyrics.
After the second
chorus, the band
breaks, while the
guitar continues with
claps on 2 and 4.
This continues for 4
bars, the whole band comes in, drums riding on
the toms. A guitar solo ensues, over the chorus
chords. The vocalist sings ‘oh yea’ in a very
Mick Jagger fashion. The next chorus begins
triumphant, we assume. With it’s incredibly
simple and catchy framework, classic rock
singing and performance, this song may become
a hard rock standard.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
31
sing e r&m u s i c i a nu n i v e r s it y
Greg Kihn on Song Writing
Do Your Songs Have Soul?
...are they “real”?
things to you. Watch out for slick operators and
jive artists who just want your money. If you are
pure of heart, and you treat people with respect,
you won’t make any enemies. Remember, the
people that you meet on the way up, are also
there waiting for you on the way down. Any bad
mojo that you cause will come back to haunt
you. I know this for a fact.
Sure, there are jerks in
the music business... but
not at the beginner stage.
Who is Greg Kihn? While his credits are too numerous to
mention, here are few highlights: Greg was a rock star in the ‘80s
who had a #1 worldwide hit with “Jeopardy” and a slew of other
hits including “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘em Like That
Anymore)”, “Lucky,” “Reunited,” and “Remember;” He made
15 albums; appeared on Saturday Night Live and opened for the
Stones; He was a staple on early MTV and VH1; plus he’s written
and published five novels and many short stories. For the past 11
years he’s been doing the morning show on 98.5 KFOX radio in
San Jose, Ca. But, what’s all this got to do with you? After all, this
is all about you and your song writing, right?
A
fter a lifetime of rock and roll, I’ve discovered some basic truisms that might be valuable to
the erstwhile singer-songwriter. I should point out that most of the lessons I have learned
were gleaned from mistakes. In other words, I screwed it up once and fixed it before it
happened again. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll be doomed to repeat them again and
again.
I might as well start by painting, with some very wide brush strokes, some extremely basic rules
that to even a begin a career in music, you must master. Forgive me for being so blunt.
1. Don’t be a jerk. This is a people business. You’ll have to network, you’ll need friends,
sometimes you’ll have to count on other people’s help, and you’ll have to learn as you go. Sure,
there are jerks in the music business, but not at the beginner stage. If you want people to take your
calls, you’re going to have to learn to be pleasant, even if it kills you.
2. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. You’d think this one would be an automatic, but people still try
pull the wool over somebody’s eyes everyday. The converse is also true: don’t let them do those
32
s i nger&musician
June
2007
3. Guard your intellectual property. It’s
maddening to let slip some great riff or lyric
idea and see it pop up in somebody else’s song.
It happens all the time. I never listen to other
people’s demos because I might subconsciously
rip it off later. You’ve got to be intellectually
honest.
4. Stay true to yourself. All the great
songwriters put a little piece of themselves
in every composition. In fiction and in song
writing, they tell you to write what you know.
In the coming issues I will talk about the nuts
and bolts of song writing, but the underlying
issue will always be soul. Do your songs have
soul? Are they honest? Are they real?
5. Keep writing, no matter what, even if
it sucks. Through periods of writer’s block, it’s
important that you continue to write. You’ve got
to keep the pilot light lit. Otherwise you won’t
be ready when the next “You’ve Lost That Lovin’
Feelin’” comes floating through the ether. In my
career it’s been the songs that wrote themselves
that became my biggest hits. “Jeopardy” was
written in fifteen minutes. “The Breakup Song”
was written in ten minutes. Dylan once said
that when he’s writing a song, he feels like he’s
literarily snatching it out of the air. That’s the
way it should feel.
In the coming issues I’ll tell you how to go
about the actual writing of the songs, step by step.
I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned over the last
30 years about the creative process. It’s gonna
be a lot of fun, so plan on checking in with me
periodically, OK? I guarantee that your song
writing will improve dramatically.
See ya next time!
For more info about Greg Kihn, check out his
site at www.gregkihn.com
singer&musicianuniversi ty
Sound
Check
Q
By Bob Gibson
My band is pretty new, and we think
we’re ready to start playing around
town. We have a little bit of sound
equipment that we use to practice with, but
nothing like real concert stuff. What can we
do to help make us ready to play in bars and
clubs? We’ve heard some real horror stories
about some of the soundmen around here.
A
Good question. Most young bands are
more excited about the chance to get out
and play, and never seem to have the
foresight to ask this type of question.
I guess the first place I would start is, once
you land a gig, try to check out the venue before
the actual night you are to play. Watch how
things seem to work on that particular stage.
The house may have a sound system and a
house engineer, or they may not. You’ll need
to find that out in advance (some of the smaller
bars and clubs expect the band to bring their
own sound gear and to run it themselves).
Assuming that the venue does have a house
system and engineer, it never hurts to go and
introduce yourselves (providing they are not
busy), and just sort of get the lay of the land.
The majority of young acts have very basic
and simple sound needs (drums, bass, keys, a
couple guitars, tracks, vocals, etc.), and most
venues can cover these needs.
On show night, have your act together
BEFORE you show up at the venue. Every house
has their own way of doing things, and it will pay
huge dividends if you show up with a very fluid
frame of mind. For instance: never get married
to the idea of a sound check. Many times, it will
only be the “Headliner” who gets the luxury of a
sound check. Should you find yourselves in the
situation where you are sandwiched between
acts, you’ll be expected to get your equipment
on the stage very quickly, play your set, then
strike your gear just a quickly.
If you should get a sound check, be ready
for it. Have all your tones and patches worked
out in rehearsal. Listen to the soundman; he’ll
have his own style and order on how to run
the sound check. Know what you want to play
before you start. Select songs that will include
every instrument you’ll be using, as well as all
the different vocalists and harmonies your set
will include that night.
Learn to be flexible; every venue is different.
Monitor systems will vary between dedicated
mixes for each player to no monitors at all. Get
If you should get a sound check, be ready for it.
Have all your tones and patches worked out in
rehearsal. Listen to the soundman; he’ll have his
own style and order on how to run the sound check.
Know what you want to play before you start.
Select songs that will include every instrument you’ll
be using, as well as all the different vocalists and
harmonies your set will include that night.
used to fact that no stage is going to sound like
your rehearsal space.
Watch your stage volume. If the soundman
asks you to bring it down, do it. Excessive stage
volume can ruin a mix in the house and wash
out the stage, so let the monitor and PA systems
do their jobs
Finally, show up on time! I once had a band
show up 15 minutes before their scheduled 10
o’clock set. They were a local band and had
no real excuse for showing up so close to
showtime. They were also the first of three acts
that night, and I had a 1 A.M. cut off time which
was strictly enforced by the club management.
When I told the band to hurry and set up (the
club also strictly enforced the 10 o’clock start
time), their response was that it would take them
at least a half hour just to set up their drums. I
told them that regardless of how long they took
to set up, their set would still be over at 10:45.
Of course, they went ballistic, and after some
back and forth discussion between myself,
the entire band, and angry club management,
the band walked. I’m sure they thought that I
was being the jerk: one of those “horror story”
soundmen. But it was their bad attitude and
lack of professionalism that fueled the situation.
The result? They didn’t play, didn’t get paid,
and were never booked by the club again.
So, good luck with the band. If you show
up to every gig with an open, positive, and
professional attitude, you’ll have fewer “horror
stories”, and more time to devote to your music.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
33
sing e r&m u s i c i a nu n i v e r s i ty
Playing in the Real World
Dealing with
Band Members
and Mercenaries
W
By Ry Kihn
hile stardom and fame can be considered a
fantastical pursuit, which I won’t ever try to
dissuade you from pursuing, earning a good
living as a career musician is not a bad fallback position
should your aspirations for superstardom not pan out. A career in music is not an unobtainable goal. With
hard work, perseverance, education, and – most of all –
common sense, you stand a far better chance in a lifetime music career, instead of entirely
throwing in the towel – as most musicians do - if your dreams of superstardom don’t come
to fruition. The goal of my advice is to make you a better working musician so you remain
successfully and consistently employed and employable.
For many years, I have earned a living doing
what I love the most—playing guitar. Growing
up with a driven and inspiring Rock and Roll
father as a role model, combined with taking
lessons from Dad’s lead guitarist, Joe Satriani,
ingrained a passion for music in my soul very
early on. Always wanting to learn more, I went
to the Berklee College of Music and then the
California Institute of the Arts, from where I
graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
in Jazz Guitar. Currently, I sing lead, play
lead guitar, and write all the music for my alloriginal Ry Kihn Band. My cover band, Big Fun,
performs at everything from corporate gigs to
casinos. I also play lead guitar for Luna Angel,
a young, up and coming female singer and I
play in a jazz instrumental trio… that keeps me
sane. I also play lead guitar in the Greg Kihn
Band, performing eight to ten arena and festival
gigs annually. I love doing session work, and I
recently recorded some demos with ORGY lead
vocalist, Jay Gordon. Oh, yeah, and I teach 50
guitar students per week.
When working with such a diverse range of
musicians, from all different musical genres, you
really have to be a chameleon in the personality
department. You have to get in tune with
everyone’s personalities quickly in order to be
sure every working situation will run smoothly.
Play Everything. During and for five years
after college, I was an LA session player, playing
34
s i nger&musician
June
2007
everything from Heavy Metal to Bebop to
Blues and Jazz. Learn the lingo of each musical
genre in order to best communicate in every
situation. Other musicians and, especially
musical directors, will take you seriously, even
considering you professional, if you’re literate in
the language of music.
Learn Everything about the music business
—It’s called ‘Music Business’ for a reason,
so learn about marketing, promotion, digital
downloading, copyrights, licensing and, well,
everything. There are more books about the
music business available today then at any
point in history, from Berklee Press to Backbeat
Books.
People like those who are like themselves
—In a new musical situation, try to quickly
learn as much about the musical backgrounds
of your fellow musicians as quickly as possible.
In case you haven’t noticed, many musicians
love to talk about themselves. If you want
to know something, just ask. The flip side to
the aforementioned piece of advice is don’t
always feel the need to get hung up on musical
terminology if you’re working with musicians
that may be at your skill level, but are not as
versed as you in verbalizing music theory. Some
of the best musicians in the world—incredible
self-taught players—are functionally illiterate
when it comes reading and writing music and
music theory. They might not always admit such
a fact, therefore; it’s up to you to find out in order
to communicate effectively in a language they’re
used to.
Be clear, yet diplomatic—Just don’t blurt out
“THAT SUCKS/DO THIS” instructions that could
be misconstrued as dictatorial demands from a
music degree-holding snob. First, compliment
the musician for what you like, build on that,
and then offer your suggestion in a collaborative
tone, such as ‘let’s leave that part for now and try
something else.’ Another great way to institute the
development of a musical passage is, after setting
your ego aside, to make enough hints that as the
change comes into being, the musician you’re
working with considers the change his idea.
Nothing builds moral better than a bandleader
that allows others to take credit for something.
I also like using subtle terms like, ‘that’s not
setting me on fire’ or ‘I’m not feeling any goose
bumps,’ as opposed to ‘blunt force’ comments,
like, ‘I don’t like what you’re playing.’
Never be condescending to a reliable
mercenary musician. If he’s punctual and plays
what you want, be respectful. Mercenaries
usually know and play with a lot other musicians.
If you’re a tyrant, your bad reputation travels
faster and farther on the wings of a mercenary
then by any other method.
Always remember: a reputation is a terrible
thing to waste.
askthecoach
By Breck Allan
How to Warm Up and
Care for Your OverUsed Voice
Q
I sing in a local band in Kansas City.
I really push my range vocally, and
am afraid sometimes that I might
really be doing damage singing too hard and
too high for too long. I have been doing some
vocal exercises to warm up before shows and
am wondering how high and how low I should
take the exercises?
—Mike, Kansas City, Kansas
A
It seems like such a
simple concept “the
vocal warm-up,” but
that’s not always the case.
The first principle in warming
up is “warm up to the level at
which you wish to sing.” So in
your case, you need to make
sure you let your warm up
really get you warm enough
to handle the difficult singing
you do. Start softly and gently
and try to get your body and
voice as relaxed as possible
while you’re gently singing. It
makes a lot of difference that
you work on relaxation during
singing and not just for a few
seconds before you begin.
You asked “how high and how
low in your range to do your
exercises? Ultimately try to
touch the very top and the very
bottom of your singing range
during the warm up session.
But be careful to keep nudging
your voice a little higher bit
by bit. When you start feeling
your voice have difficulty
or getting strained, turn the
exercises back downward and warm up a bit
more in the middle of your range. Then when
you start heading back up into your upper range
you should notice it gets easier with each pass.
As far as singing hard and loud, you should
gently build your warm-ups until they take you
to the vocal territory that you cover in your
performance material. This will help you avoid
any big trauma and shock to your voice during
a performance.
Another thing that can be of great service
to singers who sing exceptionally hard material
is to warm down your voice after high-energy
performances and rehearsals. This will help
cool down the throat and disperse blood in that
area so that it doesn’t cause any muscle stiffness
that will affect you the next day in singing. To
warm down your voice go back to the early
very gentle warm-ups that you normally use at
the beginning of your warm-up and do those for
a few minutes. Using your hands to massage
your face and throat area is very helpful here
just as it is during the warm-up.
Pace your shows. Stagger your material in
terms of difficulty level. Don’t put one voice
exhausting song after the next. This approach is
also good from a listener’s perspective. Pound
them over the head, draw them in, pound them
over the head some more,
draw them in some more etc.
Push/pull, tension/release, that
whole thing.
Other than that, follow
the basic principles that, as
a singer, your body is your
instrument and try to take care
of it. Get lots of sleep, drink
lots of water, eat decent food,
etc. All these things will of
course affect your consistency
and vocal health.
Pace your
shows.
Stagger your
material
in terms of
difficulty level.
Don’t put
one voiceSinging with
exhausting
a Pierced
song after
Tongue
the next.
I was wondering if
you could tell me
This approach
how singing with
is also good my tongue pierced affects
my range, tone, and general
from a listener’s singing abilities? I know you
have not heard me sing but I
perspective. want to pursue this seriously
Q
and I want to know if I should
ditch the tongue bar?
—Holly H., Sunnyvale, CA -
A
If it affects anything, it will mostly be
in the area of articulation. That might
in turn create some tension that could
transfer into your throat and tighten things up
a bit. Usually like with all tension if you can
identify it, you can learn to release it. So I’m
sure it’s probably a workable piece of hardware
if you have the patience to find the right touch
for it. If after awhile it still seems to be in your
way then yes, ditch the tongue bar.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
35
36
s i nger&musician
June
2007
singer&musicianuniversi ty
Pitch Correction
Dear Lis,
I’m having a problem with pitch. People
tell me I’m off but I don’t hear it. How can I fix
it if I don’t know I’m doing it?
—Carl
Dear Carl,
Right, that’s impossible. You need to get some
input so you start to hear the difference between
right and wrong. The easiest way is to ask a band
mate or a musician friend to work with you. They
can play a note on the piano and then you sing
it; they can then tell you to move up or down
to come into tune with it. Another option if you
have a Mac computer is an inexpensive software
program called Vocal Lab, www.rustykat.com. It
plays a pitch that you can see on a chart; then
you sing into the mic on your computer and try
to match it. I haven’t found a good, inexpensive
program like this for the PC unfortunately. Finally
you can buy a guitar tuner with a built-in mic.
Play a note on the guitar or keyboard and then
sing the note into the tuner. This is difficult to
accomplish because the tuner’s needle jumps
around a lot. It expects to hear a note played by
an instrument that can produce a steady pitch.
The human voice tends to move more than a
guitar string. Still it can help.
Crowd Control
Rock Solid
Dear Lis,
I’ve been trained in musical theater and
now I want to sing rock music. Is there a
difference in the technique?
—Sarah
Dear Sarah,
Imagine an opera singer singing a rock
song and you’ll get an idea of why there is a
difference in technique. The basic principles
for singing all styles of music are the same: you
should have accurate pitch, breath control,
excellent timing, and good tone with lots of
variety and as little tension as possible. But
the sound you make for every style is different
even within pop styles. An R&B singer sounds
nothing like a rock singer. Partly it’s the tone
of the voice and partly it’s conventions of the
style like how much vibrato you use or when
would you slide or do runs. There are sounds
you would make singing a rock song that you
would never make in musical theater. Too often
a singer who is trained in musical theater will
throw their technique out altogether in order to
sound like a rock singer. Find a good teacher
who understands rock technique and will help
you understand the conventions of the style.
Dear Lis,
What do you do when there’s hardly anyone
in the audience? I feed off the audience and
can’t get any energy unless there’s a crowd.
­­—Roger
Dear Roger,
It isn’t the audience’s job to feed your
energy. It’s your job to give them a great show.
That makes them want to give you energy back
in return. It doesn’t matter how many people are
there. They came out to hear you and deserve all
you’ve got even if there’s only one person in the
room. Once you step on stage you’re saying ‘I’m
worthy of your attention’. So you’d better be.
Strength Training
Dear Lis,
How much am I supposed to practice? Is
there such a thing as too much?
—Edward
Dear Edward,
There’s definitely such a thing as too much.
The only way to gauge it is to notice how your
voice feels while you’re singing. If you start to
feel tight or like you have a ‘knot’ in your throat,
stop and rest. Your voice, like any set of muscles,
needs to be strengthened gradually. Start with
15 or 20 minutes of exercises followed by the
same amount of singing songs. Gradually build
up to 45 minutes to an hour of exercises and
several hours of singing. That, of course, would
happen over many months or even years. If
you are going to have to sing in the studio for
four or five hours, you want to have built your
endurance gradually.
Split Personality
Dear Lis,
Everyone loves my singing but they don’t
like my talking between songs. They say I’m too
‘Valley Girl”. What can I do?
—Kimberlie
Dear Kimberlie,
I’ve seen your show and I know what
they mean. When you sing you are complex
and intense. Your lyrics are dark and moody.
But when you talk you are giggly and girlish.
Of course that’s part of your personality but it
doesn’t make sense in the context of the show.
The audience should see a consistent persona.
Look at your lyrics and think about what type of
person is singing those songs. The same person
should be speaking as well.
Lis Lewis is a vocal coach in Los Angeles. Her
website http://www.TheSingersWorkshop.com has
all the information a pop singer needs to further
their career. Her clients include the Pussycat Dolls,
Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Jack Black, Jimmy
Eat World, the All-American Rejects and all of the
rockers on “Rock Star: Supernova”.
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
37
gea rr e v i ew
Future Sonics Atrio Series model
m5 Professional Earphones
By Bill Evans
M
y first experience
with personal
monitors came
about six years ago as a
performer when me and my
pack were the house band
at the Industry Jam at Pro
Production in San Diego.
And, unlike some, I had no
problem adjusting to them.
In fact, I loved the fact
that—perhaps for the first
time since I started playing
out in ’76—I could actually
hear the entire band.
Since that time I have gotten most of my
band to migrate to PMs but it has not been a
totally smooth process. The complaints I get are
always the same two things. First is the sense
of isolation inherent in most PMs (Although
there are some ambient products out there and
more on the way—anyway that problem can be
pretty-well solved with a couple
of well-placed audience mics).
The second is that some users
say that PMs sound thin and
lack bass which is harder
to combat because A) some
models do lack bass and B)
when it comes to PMs, fit
is everything and some folks
just can’t get the hang of the
foam sleeves. And a bad fit/seal
will guarantee a perceived lack
of low-end. It’s hard to tell a
struggling musician that the PMs
will sound a lot better if he spends
$600+ on a pair of real, pro, custom-fit
PMs when he is unimpressed with the
universal fit unit he is trying to work
with.
It was about 2 1/2 years ago that
I first heard a prototype of a new
driver developed by
38
s i nger&musician
June
2007
Future Sonics and I was totally blown away. I
have both FS and Westone custom fit pieces and
these Atrio Series universals sounded as good as
either of those much more expensive models.
Future Sonics ended up first doing a
consumer version with the new driver and
aiming it at the iPod market. I use mine all the
time when running or working out. I have used
them on-stage as well but there are a couple of
things that I don’t like about them for pro use
including the lightweight and too-short cable.
One thing the FS-1 did get right was a newly
designed silicon sleeve that really fit and really
sealed. I used them when I ran the 1/2 marathon
in Vegas and they stayed in my ears, sealed and
sounding great for the entire 13 miles.
What It Is
The Atrio Series are pro version universal
fit products that use an updated version of the
Future Sonics proprietary dynamic driver in the
FS1. There are two versions available the m5 and
the m8 the only difference being the color (5 is
black with a cobalt blue ring and 8 is all cobalt
blue with a black ring). They incorporate some
features that make them much more suitable for
pro use including a longer and much beefier
cable that terminates in a gold-plated mini-plug.
Most pro PMs incorporate a plastic sleeve of some
kind where the cord joins the actual earpiece that
you can bend into shape when you run the cable
over your ears but the sleeve on the Atrio has a
piece of bendable metal inside so once
you get them in the right position,
they will stay there. A little thing
but very nice.
As far as specs go, Future
Sonics claims a full 20 Hz to
20 kHz response which
we didn’t test
but it sounds
about right.
Impedance is
32 ohms and
they ship
in a cool little leather case with a cleaning tool,
four sets of ComfortFit foam sleeves and three
sets of the silicon EarFill sleeves.
How It Works
I took them to a rehearsal with my band and
planned on passing them around. Something
like an earpiece is incredibly subjective when it
comes to sound quality so I always have several
people try them and tell me what they think
before I write them up. In this case they were
used by a singing drummer and a bass player
(two of the hardest folks to get into PMs) as well
as two female singers.
Only the bass player had any issues and
his was only isolation (as this was a rehearsal,
we did not use any room mics). He ended up
playing with only one side in but still said he
liked how they sounded. Note that this was his
very first experience with PMs and I know I will
not have to talk him into using them again and
that eventually he will use both sides.
The two girls fought over who got to
use them and the drummer who is a “golden
ear” studio guy raved about the accuracy of
the sound. That is one of the big differences
between these new MG5 dynamic drivers and
pretty much every other unit I have tried. They
sound—for lack of a better term—“real.” (In
fact on the consumer version in the manual it
says to use them with any EQ on your player
switched off. And they sound best when run
flat.) The m5 model required almost
no EQ and still had enough lowend to keep a bass player and
drummer happy and were
clear and present enough in
the midrange for a couple of
singers who suffer from major
“more me” syndrome.
The best news is that the
Atrios Series products are very
affordable. Less than two bills
and you can get custom sleeves
for another $135 which means
that custom-fit ears just dropped in
price by a good third. If you prefer
a real custom job, Future Sonics Atrio Series
models, with or without SofterWear
custom sleeves are now available. And
at $199, real, pro PMs have just dropped
in price by two-thirds. That’s wicked
cool. www.futuresonics.com sm
gear revie w
Peavey 32FX
G
Roddy Pahl
reetings! I’m Roddy Pahl, sound engineer of
20 years. I have done everything from duos to
orchestras, rock to country, punk to jazz, fullon production shows to my daughter’s 2nd grade school
production and 10 years of touring. I am currently the lead
audio engineer for the Fremont Street Experience and 3rd
Street Stage, and I am an audio tech for the New York New
York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Since this is the first
time I have written for Singer&Musician, I thought I oughta
clue you in and let you know who I am.
What It Is
Peavey’s FX mixer series
is available in 16-, 24- and 32channel formats. The 32FX
features a three-band EQ
section with one mid sweep on
each of the mono inputs, along
with a 75Hz HPF. The two
independent DSP engines built
into the console have a lot of
different effects, along with some
signal processing such as comps,
gates and limiters. There are a ton
of parameters on each effect that
you can choose for fine-tuning to
your specific needs. The large LCD
display also has some parameters you
can adjust for easy viewing. There are a
total of six aux sends. Auxes one through
four could be set up for monitor mixes and
are set at pre-fader and post-EQ (an internal
jumper switch allows you to change them to
pre-EQ) while five and six can be either FX
sends or more mix sends. There is a four-bus
assignment section, along with straight-to-L&R
assignment, for easy grouping of inputs in the
master section. Signal can be monitored at the
input stage, the group stage or at the main output
with a bright LED in the master section activated
by the PFL/AFL buttons along the signal path.
The console also features dual USB ports for
connecting with a laptop or other USB device
for direct recording or playback. And, yes “other
USB
device can
mean a $10 USB stick
from Walmart. Phantom power on all
mono inputs, as well as mutes for channels,
groups and returns, along with the two BNC
lamp jacks, top off this console.
The rear of the console has 1⁄4-inch and
XLR balanced L&R outputs, of which all four
can be used at the same time for the PA and a
possible house mix for stage, or an additional
recording or press feed. Mic and line mono
inputs also have inserts along with groups one
through four. The groups and aux sends all
have balanced 1⁄4-inch outputs. There is more
that there is just not enough space to get into
but suffice to say that it includes digital output
processing, dual 1/3rd octave graphic EQs or 5
band parametrics with Feedback Ferret. There’s
also a delay line so you can align your backline
amps to your FOH speakers, an output limiter
so you don’t clip your amps and an electronic
crossover for subwoofer output.
How It Works
Fremont Street is an outside venue where
we provide live entertainment five nights a
week during the season, along with many
different special events. I was able to use the
Peavey 32FX for the 2006 Las Vegas Marathon.
I had a four-piece jazz band during the event,
coupled with emcees and press.
The 32FX worked very well for everyone. I
used auxes one through three for band mixes,
aux four into a multi box for a press feed and
auxes five and six for FX sends. Being an
engineer who loves to play with FX, this console
had it all built in with no additional outboard FX
needed for the gig.
I did patch in some outboard comps and
gates for vocals and drums, though. I found a
nice and warm ‘verb and a delay that, with a
little tweaking, sounded really
good. The parameters available
on each program were great and
stored into the user section easily,
where you can actually put a
password on your program to keep
all your tweaking safe from being
altered by others. The metering on
inputs, groups and returns
are good and bite for
easy viewing. I liked
the USB feature in
the rear of the
console with
the
RCA
inputs. (If
you’re
in a
pinch
for
adaptors, to go 1⁄4-inch
in from a CD player, etc. You can also
plug your iPod directly into the USB B port for
digital playback for break/background music).
The EQ section is nice; you can actually
hear a 2-3 dB cut at a given frequency where in
other similar consoles it may take a 3-5 dB cut
to hear. One more mid sweep in the EQ section
would have been great, though. The pre-amps
are warm and quiet, until around the 1:00
position where they start getting a little noisy,
but in a live show situation, you would never
notice it.
I have to say that at $1499 for a 32 channel
board with these features, I think Peavey did a
great job on this console and will give all their
competitors a run for your buck. Web site:
www.peavey.com sm
w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
39
Singer&M us i c i a n ’ s
M all Cl assif i e d s
Singer & Musician Mall
READ BY 65,000 Singers & Musicians
who actively perform and record!
40
s i nger&musician
June
2007
Advertise
in the Singer&Musician Mall
for as little as $35 per column inch
(width-2.25”)
Contact Jake Kelly - jake@ilivetoplay.net
Singer&MuSi c iA n ’S
MA ll cl ASSi f i e dS
advertiser’s index
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of Body Singing—— bodysinging.com—
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Independent Musician— — iLiveToPlay.net/websites— ——— 11
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Indie-Music.com
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has been
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advertiser’s index
Yamaha— ——————— yamaha.com— ———————— 5
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Advertiser:——————— www.———————————— Pg
Acoustics First—
———— acousticsfirst.com— —————
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Singers & Musicians who
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40
35
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Contact
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- jake@ilivetoplay.net
Emery
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19
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40
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Instant Info!!
P
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arade
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Independent Musician—
— iLiveToPlay.net/websites—
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OnBoard———————
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on Country, Blues, Pop, R&B and all types of
Parade Of Stars————— paradeofstars.com— ————— 41
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April
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w w w. i L i v e To P l a y. n e t
41
MYb a ckpa g e
Married to
the Band
By Jake Kelly
B
eing in a band is like
being married to four
or five people at the
same time. At first, when you
meet, you (and they) are on
your best behavior. They’re
pleasant. They get the door
for you. They shower. They
tell you how good you look. They tell you how good you
sound. They tell you they
are so glad they met you. So you rehearse a few times. Perhaps they
ask you if you’d like to go out for a drink. Finally
one utters the words that you have been longing
to hear for so long.
“Will you go on the road with us!”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
And it is great. For the first little bit anyway.
Then you realize you might have made the
biggest mistake of your life. What could you
have been thinking? They chew with their
mouths open. Noodle between songs. They
don’t pick up their clothes. They leave their
hair in the shower along with some funk and
you don’t even want to know what that is. You
thought you were on the same page, but you
don’t even share the same influences. They
never even heard of Freedy Johnson!
Fear not. I can help you get out of this
band without
having to work
up the courage
to say “I quit.”
Play
loud.
Play so loud that
you can’t even
hear them when
they ask you to
turn down. If the
band turns up
to match your
volume recognize
42
s i nger&musician
June
2007
that for the challenge that it is. What’s the worst
thing that could happen?
Show up late. This works well, too. Always
include the word “man” in your apology, it
makes it sound more mockingly sincere. Then
you can add, “Dude, since we’re (make sure you
say “we’re) running so late, could you carry in
my amp?”
Date an ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend) of
another band member. Remember, you only
need to do this for as long as you have the gig.
Shouldn’t be long.
Drink/do drugs. I know, I know...it’s rock
‘n’ roll, and there’s an image that must be kept
up. But heavy drinking and drug use also has
a time-honored tradition of getting people fired
even in the heaviest of rock bands. Of course,
heavy drinking and drug use can also kill you;
but hey...you wanted out of the band.
Don’t prepare; not for a rehearsal, not for a
gig. You know that your raw talent
will get you through the ordeal
better than they could with all the
rehearsal in the world. But then,
the objective is to get fired, so you
are going to have to “act” like you’re
not prepared. Saying thing such as “I
forgot my charts,” “I didn’t know we
were going to do that song” and
“Can we listen to the disc” will
help.
Talk. Talk much, talk often.
Don’t feel like you need to hold
back. Say the things your band
mates told you in confidence. Tell the
club owner the bass player is a substitute.
Tell the substitute what the other band members
are getting paid for the gig . The more graphic
you are, the better.
General not caring. It’s general, it’s vague,
so you’re going to have to do it a lot. Don’t
dress for the gig. Don’t help with the gear (try
“Do I look like a roadie?”), don’t pay your tab
(personal fav.), Don’t participate in anything.
This malaise needs to build up over time before
it’ll take effect, but when it does, you’ll be out of
the band as quick a cork on a bottle of Andres’
on New Year’s Eve.
I’m sure that there is more that I missed, but
if any one of these things don’t work, you can
always try to mix and match. Good luck, and I
hope I’m never in a band with you. sm
STAGEPAS 500… Yamaha’s newest
ultra-compact PA system follows closely
in the footsteps of its smaller, marketleading counterpart, STAGEPAS 300.
The differences, you ask? Higher power,
more channels, additional features, and
even greater sonic performance, for those
more demanding applications.
Get the biggest possible sound out of the
smallest possible system. Take STAGEPAS 500
along for the ride and lets go places together.
– 10-input stereo powered mixer
– Dual 250W amplifiers
– 10” two-way loudspeakers
– Titanium high-frequency drivers
– Two input compressor/limiters
– Phantom power
– System weight under 57lbs
©2007 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.
www.yamaha.com
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