During the three days of the Musician's Hotel, many notable guests appeared in the Q&A room. Here are some of the highlights.
The Q&A sessions started off with bang when Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn stopped by for a chat. Hearn was in Austin for a SXSW performance by his solo band, Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle. Hearn not only talked about his latest solo CD Night Light, but also about how he incorporates his Pro Tools LE setup (an Mbox system) into the songwriting process for Barenaked Ladies. When they're off the road, he and the other band members trade audio files as they flesh out songs and tweak arrangements.
EM's Mike Levine (L) and Barenaked Ladies' Kevin Hearn (R).
photo: Dave Vann
Among other highlights of the first day was an appearance by Kamran V, a new-media specialist from Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records. He discussed the emerging market for ring tones, which have become a viable new income stream for established artists. Different from the MIDI-file-based ring tones that were initially on the market, the newest crop of ring tones are audio files (usually recorded at a 8 kHz sampling rate).
V said that an artist like 50-Cent sells about one ring tone for every ten CDs he sells. (Ring tones typically sell for $2.50 apiece.) According to V, it isn't yet viable for independent artists to offer their own ring tones, but he thinks that's coming. One of the barriers at the moment is the large numbers of audio-file formats–both for different phones and different carriers-that a ring tone must be converted to before it can be put on the market.
Producer/engineer Will Masisak talked about the importance of making artists comfortable so they can play more naturally when they're recording. He also stressed that one shouldn't overuse such corrective tools as Antares Auto-Tune and the Beat Detective feature in Pro Tools. Masisak reminisced about the gamut of production techniques he's employed over his career, including one session in which he miked an entire band using a single Shure SM57.
AMD's Charlie Boswell (L) with Mix's Tom Kenny (R).
photo: Dave Vann
Charlie Boswell, the marketing director of the chip-maker AMD (Advanced Musical Devices) spoke of the importance of his company's 64-bit technology in improving the quality of music production. He complained about how so many music files today are EQed with too much midrange emphasis and made too loud.
Barry DeVorzon, a songwriter, former label-owner, and the developer of the MasterWriter software for songwriters, spoke of how independent labels once were king in the music business, but have now been gobbled up by the majors. He attributed much of this change to the death of independent radio. He predicted that the Internet will help rejuvenate the importance of independent music. DeVorzon also demoed MasterWriter, which features a suite of utilities for songwriters including a very deep rhyming dictionary, an alliteration dictionary, a 2-track hard disk recorder for getting ideas down, a song registration service, and much more.
Day one also included a discussion with Jason Khademi and Becky Fimbres of the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, which has two locations, in Tempe and Gilbert Arizona. They discussed the school's programs, which teach audio-production skills and feature an internship at a major facility for each student.