Hello friends, I’m working on the master but, in the meantime, I need to make sure the song is registered. First is my Performing Rights Organization or PROS. I’m with ASCAP and so is my publishing company. I registered the song before it’s release so that I would know the ISWC number to include it in the data that I will upload to my publishing admin company and my distribution company. Today I enrolled in SoundExchange, which is a sound recording PRO in order to collect royalties from non interactive streaming services throughout the world. That could include webcasts and subscription services. If you want to know more about what the ISWC is and how you really want one, I recommend watching this video created by MBME on YouTube. In regards to the publishing admin company, I had done a bit of research and totally knew I would not be able to track royalties and/or usage of any of my songs in this global internet based life we live in. So I enrolled at Songtrust because the fees are reasonable, to me, and they handle YouTube as well. There is just so much to track! My digital distribution company is Distrokid because you pay one flat rate per year and your music goes where it needs to. They also collect monies on your behalf when your songs are listened to or downloaded. Once my master is complete, it will be uploaded to Distrokid, I’ll fill in the information needed on Songtrust and register the song with SoundExchange. Other than that…there is nothing to do! Stay well!

Hi there. I know I wrote in my last post about what I am doing in order to master my song…but, there are some very important steps to know before you release your song. Now, I will presume that you will copyright your finished sound recording using the SR form. It is cheaper and faster using the Library of Congress Eco system and uploading your song file. I will be doing this once “Sleeping Alone Again” is mastered, having my LLC as the claimant with all the metadata embedded. I will also register the song with my PRO, in my case ASCAP before the song is released, so that I can get the ISWC code or International Musical Work Code.

Then there is metadata. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is simply the information about the song that ends up embedded in the song file. When sending out MP3s, you can embed what is called ID3 tags. I did some research on free ways to get it done. I will be sending WAV files to my digital distribution company, so I needed that work around as well. Not all information embedded will show up in all platforms. WAV files are not supported so well in iTunes, so you need to add the info. again within iTunes. The information that usually goes in the metadata is the Title, Artist, Album, Date, Genre, Composer, ISRC, maybe Lyrics and Album Art. Again, not all software do the same things. Now, you could have your digital distribution company auto fill your information based on what you input and they can generate ISRC and UPC numbers (if needed) as well.

I chose to have my LLC be able to generate ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) numbers, as it is a publishing company and recording entity. You could go to the ISRC website and do the same. The fee was $80 four years ago. Just to clarify…the ISWC number is to track the composition and stays with the song no matter how many versions are created. The ISRC keeps track of the sound recordings of that composition. Each version would have its own ISRC number.

Now to some links to help you create your metadata… I use Mac OS so, you may need to fish some more if using Windows.

Audacity Does not support Album Art

Kid3 – Audio Tagger

Sonoris ISRC Editor Used for WAV files

All the best with completing your projects!

A couple of weeks ago we were able to get the video shot for “Sleeping Alone Again”. I got to play Director for a day…of course, I was the actor as well and the lighting person! Since then I have trimmed the clips and I also edited some photos of me in the studio doing the recording. I plan on using those shots closer to the end of the video. I will be using Final Cut Pro to create the video and sync it to the soundtrack. I have added some third party effects, generators, titles, and transitions in my Final Cut Pro X. I have paid for a few, but if you are into doing your own videos and need tips, insights, and some teaching moments, I’m going to suggest to you that you check out Ryan Nangle. He is a young man making his mark! He offers free products as well as paid bundles. He also does tutorials. Cool stuff. The other gentleman who has been helpful in my learning curve with Final Cut Pro and Motion is Israel Hyman, or as he is known on the web, Izzy Video. He too offers tutorials, some free stuff and “stuff” you may have to pay for. Both guys have been well worth visiting. I am in the process of learning the mastering end of my song. I’ll go into how I’m tackling that one in my next post. In the meantime, all the best and stay well! Sue

I spent about 4 to 4 1/2 hours completing the album cover. I used Gimp 2.10 which is an open source free photo editing program. Since I had never merged two photos before in this software, I had to use YouTube as a resource a few times. Ok…quite a few times! I do have limited experience with Photoshop, but that software is on a laptop and I prefer a bigger screen and a mouse instead of a trackpad. I had used Gimp to create my LLC’s watermark…tedious detailed work because of my logo. Well, this project was also very detailed in areas but, it’s done. We will start shooting the video this Saturday and see where that takes us…

Album design by Sue Larsen

I hope all is well on your end. I received the feedback needed in regards to my final mix of “Sleeping Alone Again”. I did not hear the same “stuff” from everyone but, there was one improvement needed that half the people heard. So, that’s not bad. I corrected it and the final mix is done! Now I need to learn how to master it and get that done.

I had a photo session over the weekend to get a headshot for the album art. For now, the album art will just be for the single. I plan on releasing 3 – 4 singles before creating an album. But, this album cover and whatever else is needed will be used throughout the first 10 songs I release. At least, that is my plan…until it gets changed! Anyway, I was able to included a couple of these newer photos into my Electronic Press Kit (EPK) on my website…so, that’s cool. I also have my headshot for the artwork on the proposed album cover. I say that, because I haven’t created it yet! Now of course, I have to put this together…have to learn that too… All the Best!!

First shooting for the video is supposed to happen this upcoming Saturday…we’ll see…

Hey, “Sleeping Alone Again” is finally mixed to the point that I can hear or feel it needs to be done. I sent it off to 6 folks. Four of them have extensive knowledge and experience in music. So, that leaves 2 folks that listen to multiple genres of music and are in and around music, but not creators of music themselves. I chose this 6 pack of people because I know they will be honest with me and will not be afraid to say what needs to be said. So, I just need to give them some time. I hope within a week I will get some needed feedback.

In the process I did learn how to automate the master fade and learned how to bounce the tracks to multiple audio files. It all happens at the same time so, no converting files is needed. I also learned the “latch” method to turn plugins on and off as the song plays. I look forward to learning the mastering process next. That’s an assignment that starts tomorrow! Keep moving forward…

I hope you are well! I have been spending quite a bit of time doing “gain automation” in Logic Pro X on the background vocals. After adding the effects, there was distortion in passages. This “stuff” is fixable, but time consuming and tedious if you do it too long. For me, that is about 60 to 90 minutes. Now, I had recorded each vocal track (6) with a little compression on an “outboard” piece of equipment (dbx) and utilized the noise gate in the unit as well to keep the tracks as “clean” as possible. I did not record the tracks “too hot”. I had read that tracks should be recorded at -18db using a DAW and I thought at the time, that sounds crazy low. Well, trust this now…it isn’t. Each effect or plug-in can significantly change the volume and push the sound into a distorted zone. Gain is on entry side or it is the sound level before it goes to any effects. Volume is the level after all the effects. Whenever I record moving forward, I will be carefully checking and correcting any “gain” issues before I spend time on the tonal qualities. Use a compressor before and after any EQing…that made a huge difference in the clarity of the vocals and the natural sound of them. I have used the “Pitch Flex” tool also in regards to “smoothing out” a vocal. In sustaining a note, you may hear a fluttering in the pitch. Now, performing live, one may not even notice the variance and it happens so fast its done before it would even register being an issue. But, in a DAW environment, when you are listening to the track on its own…when you really do critical listening…these variances maybe something you may want to fix. In the Flex Pitch mode you can use the scissor tool and create sections of the problem areas, which may only be a second of sound. Then each section can be corrected as needed. I would have never thought these things would be needed…but, we are human and no matter how good of a singer you are…you are not a machine…thankfully. Stay well!

Hey, I hope all is good on your end. I am still mixing “Sleeping Alone Again”. A little unbelievable but, I have received more feedback from trusted musician friends so, the process continues. It was suggested to me that the background vocals during the chorus need to “pop” so to speak. So, I increased the volume and played around with a long reflection reverb and I believe those vocals are solid. There is also a short reflection reverb in there to add tonal warmth. My lead vocal was sounding distorted because I was trying to create more of a presence with that throughout the song. Through the process of elimination…by turning the plugins on and off…I deducted it was my compressor settings. I am using two in the channel strip. So, I went on a hunt for some good guidance on setting compressors and where to insert them in this digital set up. This is so not an analog world…there is no forgiveness…no headroom so, the compressors need to be set on the less aggressive side, in increments to avoid unwanted coloring. I found a wonderful website that explains vocal compression beautifully. On Musician on a Mission you will find a wealth of resources. They also offer courses and workshops. But, back to vocal compression…click HERE to go to Musician on a Mission – Vocal Compression: Learn How to Mix Like the Pros. I followed the advice given and although I tonally want to change my lead vocal with more tweaking of the effects…I am satisfied with the volume and lack of distortion! Keep learning!!

I hope all is as well as it can be for you. I am still working on mixing “Sleeping Alone Again”. I watched on YouTube the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Logic Pro Master Class Part 1 and approximately one half of Part 2, when the instructor started working on the edits of a vocal part that was just recorded. He started using Flex Pitch or what could be called pitch correction and then started to show and demonstrate the other parameters one could control, such as vibrato and note length. Well, I knew I could correct at least 2 notes that I had recorded in my lead vocal. So, I somehow managed to get to the editor that the instructor went to, and I say somehow because if you asked me now how I got there…I couldn’t tell you. I ended up “fixing” 6 notes but not entirely because I wanted the vocal part to be real and not perfect. The amount of correction is adjustable. Then I started to think that with so many options, tools, and parameters available, in the process of mixing you could “correct” everything. Drum tracks can be quantized, beats manipulated, guitar parts changed… either the rhythm or the notes. You could change the melody line, add virtual instruments, change sounds on the fly, and add effects anywhere. I know folks are recording very cool stuff without knowing a lick of music theory or knowing how to play an instrument. It just all makes me pause and think about what is art? What makes something humanly created? I did figure out some volume “automation” on a cello part I recorded on keyboards and that was very cool because it was a “trial by error” process. I hadn’t learned it by video yet. I’m used to faders. Apparently, I can use my iPad as a remote controller….but, that is just more to learn. I’ll get to that later. Be well!

With all the social distancing going on, it took a long while to have another pair of ears listen to what I had done with “Sleeping Alone Again”. Thankfully, I believe I’m on the right path because my colleague/friend, who has performed, conducted, and taught music for 30+ years, simply said it sounded great. That’s a relief because I must have listened to the song 500 times…and your mix can sound deceiving if you mix too long in one day or too often. Resting your ears is critical because they get “tired” just like your brain gets fatigued by listening to the same passage over and over. Do your best to take a break every 30 minutes. I haven’t always followed that advice because I get caught up in adjusting a section or part and 30 minutes turns into an hour and a half! At the 2 hour mark I just leave the whole song alone and save it.

I find it remarkable that everything was recorded in three days and not even a whole day on any of those days. I recorded 6 different vocal parts, 5 different guitar parts, one bass part, one stereo drum track, and 5 keyboard or synth parts all in real time. The mixing…that’s a different story for sure! Stay well and healthy. Sue