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What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

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What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby cyberdaniel82 » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:26 pm

Allow me to apologize in advance for the schizophrenic and multi-faceted nature of this post. I’ll number my various questions as they arise, so that it might be easier to respond to them. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you provide!

I’m at the end of my musical rope and desperate for advice, both general and specific. My new iMac has been sitting in a box for two months; I’ve been too discouraged and frustrated to mess with it.

I’m passionate about songwriting, and – unfortunately – one has to contend with technology in order to handle the recording and mixing side of the equation. I’m technologically challenged, to put it politely.

I’m pretty slick with either a guitar or a piano, though most of my friends don’t even know I’m musical; I haven’t played a single gig in my adult life. I quietly craft my pithy songs, wondering how I might eventually convert that into a career. There is some evidence to suggest that I have ample talent to make this happen, but I’m also on the wrong side of thirty and to date, my self-promotion has been non-existent.

A couple of years back, I researched and entered three of the most renowned songwriting contests I could find. I felt validated when I took first place in all three contests. In total, I won about two thousand dollars, a bunch of software I never bothered to download, and a free mastering package I never redeemed.

The real prize, I expected, would be the exposure. Surely, I’m on the musical radar now and industry professionals will seek me out and punch my ticket, right? Nope. I received only two calls. Both were from producers who wanted to buy my songs expressly for mainstream artists to record. I can work with that, I thought! I can parlay my songwriting credits into further opportunities. But… there was a deal-breaking catch: they wanted to release my songs and pretend that the performing artists had written them. I would have to sign a gag order agreeing to never claim authorship of my material. “No thanks,” I said. My phone didn’t ring anymore. I got discouraged and I quit writing for several months.

In 2018, I got to meet one of my personal heroes: legendary producer Geoff Emerick (in the 60s/70s, he produced an obscure pop group called “The Beatles.”) He was in town for a speaking engagement at Abbey Road on the River, a music festival I attend annually. For kicks, I handed him an appreciative letter I had prepared, along with a five-song demo CD. I didn’t expect to hear from him. Three months later, and much to my delight, he called me! He liked my songs so much, he volunteered to personally record and produce them at his studio. “You are an ingenious songwriter – the world needs more of you,” he told me. I was giddy. He was busy, he said, but promised to circle back around to make arrangements in two to three weeks’ time.

Two months elapsed without word, and I started to worry that Geoff had forgotten about me. When I decided to take some initiative and reach out to him, I discovered – wait for it – that he was dead. He succumbed to a heart attack at age 72. Losing a personal hero sucks. Losing a personal hero who seemingly was about to alchemize your wildest dreams into reality really, really sucks! Anyway, I was distraught and I quit writing for another few months.

1. How does an aspiring songwriter gain enough recognition to get paid for it? What I thought were my two lucky breaks have amounted to nothing.

I finally got motivated to record a new project… and then it happened: at long last, my 2010 Mac Pro was officially too old to handle the OS update I required. It was time to upgrade. Not a big deal, I thought! I bought an iMac, upgraded the RAM myself, and figured the switch-over between machines would be relatively painless. I even bought an external hard drive in preparation for dividing my applications and file storage.

Then I hit a slew of unexpected snags. First, I realized that my Tascam mixer – a firewire device -wouldn’t readily connect to my new iMac. No problem, I thought – I’d been meaning to remove that crappy mixer from my signal chain anyway. Given that I use standalone pres (FMR-RNP) and converters (RME ADI-2), the mixer really only functions as a control surface. I only keep it around because I like having a physical fader to manually automate things like envelopes and volume levels.

2. Is there a way to do this without having to retain a full-blown mixer in my audio chain?

I soon also realized that I couldn’t plug my trusty Studiologic SL-990 MIDI controller – which can only connect via a midi cable – into my iMac. I considered buying a MIDI to USB cable, but then I realized that I’d probably need to buy an audio interface anyway. And in that case, maybe I could simply get one with MIDI inputs. I started reading about the new Thunderbolt frontier. Owing to my technological ignorance, though, I began feeling overwhelmed with the options.

I decided that if I had to buy a new interface, I might as well equip myself with the ability to record drums (meaning I’d want to accommodate at least four mics). I mistakenly thought I’d need an audio interface with at least four mic pres. I’ve since learned that it is feasible, and even usual, to daisy chain, say, an external 8-channel preamp strip into an audio interface that perhaps only has two mic inputs. I don’t currently recall how this connection is accomplished; I only recall that it is typical and easy. And two MIDI inputs would be nice (unless it’s a better idea to simply replace all antiquated gear which requires a MIDI cable).

I also have a really cool and unusual piece of gear from Creation Audio Labs called an MW1. It’s a super-clean transformerless DI and re-amping box. I mostly use it for recording an electric guitar DI and then later re-amping it through various analog amps and pedals, when I can tinker with the tone obsessively. Or at least… that’s how I intend to use it when I get around to doing so regularly. It’s a complicated enough tool that I probably have no business owning it. In order to use it in my present setup, I have to switch around several cables in my signal chain and remember to hard pan my outgoing signal (the DI recording to be reamped) to only one side of my output, which I must route into the MW1. It’s a royal pain and it kills my workflow. I’d like my new setup to not involve this sort of headache.

3. Does that mean I need to get a patchbay? I watched a tutorial on patchbays once, and frankly, I’m intimidated by them. I do build my own cables, amusingly enough.

4. And if I got a patchbay, then I’d definitely need a rack, right? I should probably have one regardless. I don’t currently have a real rack for my gear (see sad picture of my mixer creatively bungeed above my converters and pres). Any suggestions?

5. And if I get a rack, will I need isolation transformers and/or power conditioning? I only vaguely understand those terms, too, and I know many people regard these topics as snake oil territory. I currently just use a couple of surge-protecting power strips plugged into a couple of standard outlets.

6. Most audio interfaces don’t seem to have two midi inputs, so I had to ask myself: do I rely on a cheap midi to USB cable to hook up my MIDI controllers? That seems dubious – I don’t want to do anything that might degrade my MIDI signal quality. Or should I just sell my current midi controllers and buy a new ones that can be connected more conveniently?


7. It seems that unlike preamps, converter quality is ever-improving. A rep from RME told me that my pricey standalone converters from last decade aren’t even as good as the converters they’re now putting into their budget-level interfaces. Is this true, or is he just trying to sell me something? Also, will I need more than two channels of conversion if I’m using more than two mics?

8. An important philosophical question: should I buy a top notch audio interface with great pres and great converters, or should I rely on quality external pres and external converters and only implement a cheaper audio interface as a necessary “this-to-that” connection facilitator?

I’m passionate about music, and I’m willing to spend thousands of dollars to continue chasing this rabbit. I think sometimes a person has to jump before they feel fully ready, and I suspect I’ll learn a lot more by doing precisely that. I guess I could use some gear suggestions so that I at least jump in a sensible direction with my purchases.

9. The setup I envision is still comparatively simple. I’d like to have two fantastic preamp/converter channels for recording a vocal and/or an acoustic guitar (99% of what I do only requires one or two mics). I would, however, also like to have 4-8 pretty good preamp/converter channels for the purpose of recording a drum kit. I envision myself using a full-size midi keyboard controller with Kontakt a whole lot. Maybe that involves the Studiologic controller I already own, or maybe it doesn’t. It would be cool to have some sort of midi controller/control surface that can modulate a software synth in real time (or at least afterwards via automation) using a tactile button/fader/slider/wheel/etc. to affect parameters like frequency filtering/volume/panning/etc. Is that doable, or am I asking for a degree of compatibility that doesn’t really exist between software synths and midi controllers?

10. Is this why people use keyboards with on-board sounds – so that they can more easily modulate them directly? In general, I don’t understand why people pay for and use expensive keyboards for recording when it seems cheaper and far more flexible to use a midi controller in conjunction with various software libraries. Am I missing something?

My current setup is as follows:
A two-channel FMR-RNP Preamp connects to RME ADI-2 converters via TRS cables.
The RME ADI-2 connects to a firewire Tascam mixer via coaxial cables.
The Tascam mixer connects via firewire to my ancient Mac Pro.
Also, the Tascam mixer connects to a Mackie Big Knob, which in turn feeds my monitors and/or an Avantone Mixcube (for monitoring in mono).

11. I’m terrified about moving my stuff over to a new computer. All of my projects were created using Logic Pro 8 and an old version of Kontakt. But now I own the newest Logic Pro and the newest Kontakt. What happens when my projects try to load up on my new system and several of the old plugins and synths have been supplanted by newer versions? Will I have to remix everything? Or will I have to retain all the old versions of the programs so that my old projects can still access them? What happens when the file directory pathways change from one computer to the next?

The need to replace my computer has unexpectedly turned into what feels like a comprehensive studio overhaul. After the past two months of feeling paralyzed, I think I need to either push through the adversity or else stop dabbling in audio entirely. When things work seamlessly and I get to focus on making music, I feel fulfilled. Lately, though, I’ve been prohibited from making music by these technological hurdles which stand squarely between me and doing what I love. I’m hoping that a few knowledgeable forum members might take pity on me and proffer some wisdom. I could use a ball of string to help me navigate my way out of the labyrinth. For the moment, my new iMac is in a box, on a shelf, gathering dust. Thanks a lot for reading this!

- Daniel
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:30 pm

I've only skimmed your post but there's one point that stuck out for me.

It seems that an OS update is the source of all your gear problems so why do you need to do an OS update? If your system is working, provided you keep it off the internet, there's no reason to think that it won't carry on working. If it isn't working then why not just buy a replacement of a similar vintage and carry on with the system that you know?

Currently the advice is to not update your Mac operating system to the newest version as most music software doesn't work with it at present.
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:08 am

I've read right through the post and that would be my first question too.

1, I can't answer this one.

2, Yes, buy a USB interface with midi and sufficient mic inputs for your needs FWIW I like Focusrite but, if the budget is there RME seems to be the most well regarded 'non-exotic' USB interface out there. That said the mic pre's in the Focusrite will be better than sufficient for you needs and, unless you have a professionally treated recording/mixing room, you are unlikely to hear the difference between them and 'boutique' kit if you are not looking for 'colour'.

3, Patchbays are pretty logical but you almost certainly don't need one.

4 & 5, You don't need a rack.

6, Midi is digital and very low bandwidth so you won't reduce the 'quality', with older devices there may be slight timing issues but not with a modern midi/audio interface. Assuming you only have two midi devices (is this the case?) just daisy chain them via the in/through sockets on the last device.

7, With a modern audio interface converter quality is going to make virtually no difference to your final results.

8, Yes

9, Your setup is personal and dependent on your preferred workflow but keep it as simple as possible to reduce the risk of it getting in the way of what you love, i.e. songwriting.

10, I don't know, I like hardware 'cos, while I'm pretty computer literate, I'm not much of a keyboard player (half-decent guitarist) so twist a knob, hit a key and go is my preferred method.

11, See James' answer.

If I were you I'd be following the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Short & Simple) WRT the gear, buy the minimum of decent kit and mice to get the job done then forget about it and make some music.

And, finally, is your room acoustically treated? If it is not then move heaven and earth to make it so, it will make more difference to your recorded output than all the gear put together.

P.S. if songwriting is your thing you don't actually need any of that stuff, a great song will make it's impact regardless, even a phone recording will get it.

HTH
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby jaminem » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:15 am

Hi there. I’m not gonna get into the “what gear should I get” debate. A simple setup is more than enough to get your songs into good enough shape to get them out there.

My comment is based entirely on how you are handling yourself personally. Now I appreciate that being in touch with your emotions is a huge asset to songwriting, but reading your post it seems that every time you hit adversity you stop. Everything seems to be a big thing that moves you away from doing what you love. Maybe trying to tackle your issues in a calmer more methodical way will help you? Take a step back, a few deep breaths and then ask yourself if this issue is really stopping you from doing what you want or if actually it’s just got a bit ‘big’ in your head and that a little mindfulness will get you past it.

Look at the words you use. Prohibited, distraught, terrified - this is supposed to be fun...

You mention that you stop and then don’t do things for several months, the people I know personally who have ‘made it’ in the music industry are relentless. They don’t stop when they hit a set back, they keep at it, and make it happen, usually by sheer force of will. And even though they have made a career out of it...they are still relentless.
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby CS70 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:50 pm

Boy, that was a post! True passion shines thru, so worth some thoughts.

cyberdaniel82 wrote:I’m pretty slick with either a guitar or a piano, though most of my friends don’t even know I’m musical; I haven’t played a single gig in my adult life. I quietly craft my pithy songs, wondering how I might eventually convert that into a career. There is some evidence to suggest that I have ample talent to make this happen, but I’m also on the wrong side of thirty and to date, my self-promotion has been non-existent.

Let me stop you right there. You're taking this all on the wrong side. A minimal amount of talent is useful to "make this happen", but it's far the most important thing. Mind me, if you have lots - as you say you do - it may allow you (under certain circumstances) to sustain a career much more easily than otherwise, but it doesn't do much for starting it.

To start it, you need to be at the right place at the right time. That means exactly the opposite of what you are doing - networking and be seen (and hopefully heard). I am not a fan of the old-time "gig everywhere in your city to get a following" idea as people nowadays are way too spoiled for choice in entertainment to go and watch the same band every month in the same city, and for us on the plus side of thirty there's no natural "starter" followup group - all our friends are usually in families with children, busy jobs etc and the sofa and Netflix is much more attractive on a Friday night than going out watch our band playing. On the other side, there's the internet. You can put your stuff out there and must market it heavily. And network, network, network! Go everywhere there's music playing, make friends, slip CDs, do anything to get your name out.

It's still a game of chance, and the "salesman" approach is something that doesn't come natural to many musicians.. but it is how it is. Once that job was done by actual music salesmen. Nowadays it's mostly yours.

To think that talent alone has a meaning is a bit like a kid looking at a car's speedometer, seeing that the max value is 150 mph and deducing that the car can go up to 150 mph. It means not understanding the relationship between talent and (commercial) success or a career.

Have a read at this, it's funny and instructive.

And remember: there are no recipes. In any business. Anyone who tells you that is either naive or self deluded (the latter are the ones who have achieved a degree of success or survival and are convinced that it's due to what they have done. Often they write books to the tell hopeful others..). There is the maximizing of your success probabilities (which is still very hard work!) but they are still probabilities, and chance is - like in any endeavor of this world - an inescapable factor.

But… there was a deal-breaking catch: they wanted to release my songs and pretend that the performing artists had written them.

As you have discovered, taking music as a "career" implies also a whole lot of unsavory compromises. You can't afford to be a purist if you want to eat (you can if you plan to kill yourself like many rockstars of yore)... this is not at all to say that you should have done otherwise but it's just a reality. Doors open doors.

These are the kind of doors that will open at start, so you have to think on who you are and what you want before thinking of a career in music. I probably would have said no myself to that kind of deal, but that's exactly part of the reason for which I'm not on top of the pops (excluding, obviously, a much lower talent than yours. Never won any songwriting competition :D).

And keep in mind that, of course, you can still be lucky. But it's just like a lottery - the probability are low.

By itself, music his its own reward. As a business, it can be pretty nasty.

Losing a personal hero who seemingly was about to alchemize your wildest dreams into reality really, really sucks! Anyway, I was distraught and I quit writing for another few months.

There you go - chance. Chance in meeting him (and of course you increased your probabilities by going there in the first place) and chance that he unfortunately passed away at the wrong moment (for you and, I trust, for him).

If you start seeing things in the lens of randomness, you will no longer be discouraged. Because what you have done once - maximizing your probabilities - you can do again. And that's all you can do.

Dogged determination in the face of difficulties is one of the most effective probability-increasing attitudes ever! If you really want something: fall, stand up and retry. You fail only if you stop.


1. How does an aspiring songwriter gain enough recognition to get paid for it? What I thought were my two lucky breaks have amounted to nothing.


Because they did. Because there are no breaks, unless you win the lottery. A songwriting competition has one and one only objective - make money for the organizers of the songwriting competition. That's what is designed for and what it generally does.

Recognition is a slow process of working with determination to market your product towards the right people: listeners for the music (not much money there nowadays, but still) or music libraries and of course live gigs (but you need to be known already to get valuable ones, so not a viable starting point); and networking, over time (long time) with people who are in whatever industry is left, and come to know you as someone worth spending time with because your products will *sell*.

I finally got motivated to record a new project… and then it happened: at long last, my 2010 Mac Pro was officially too old to handle the OS update I required. It was time to upgrade. Not a big deal, I thought! I bought an iMac, upgraded the RAM myself, and figured the switch-over between machines would be relatively painless. I even bought an external hard drive in preparation for dividing my applications and file storage.

Then I hit a slew of unexpected snags. First, I realized that my Tascam mixer – a firewire device -wouldn’t readily connect to my new iMac. No problem, I thought – I’d been meaning to remove that crappy mixer from my signal chain anyway. Given that I use standalone pres (FMR-RNP) and converters (RME ADI-2), the mixer really only functions as a control surface. I only keep it around because I like having a physical fader to manually automate things like envelopes and volume levels.

Well you found some snags and your attitude was right: "no problem, I'll fix it". Why change it? That's the only thing that must be in your mind. Discouragement simply doesn't have a place when you're trying to achieve something.

2. Is there a way to do this without having to retain a full-blown mixer in my audio chain?

Well you can use a control surface. But I suggest you don't, for starters. The main challenge of making music with a computer is that it's far less immediate than picking up a guitar and play. You really want to avoid unnecessarily complications between you and your objective - a piece of music that strangers will find worth listening to.

I get the "you like" - I do as well - but it's far from necessary and it simply gives you additional excuses to give up. Like we aren't good at making many already! :D

I decided that if I had to buy a new interface, I might as well equip myself with the ability to record drums (meaning I’d want to accommodate at least four mics). I mistakenly thought I’d need an audio interface with at least four mic pres. I’ve since learned that it is feasible, and even usual, to daisy chain, say, an external 8-channel preamp strip into an audio interface that perhaps only has two mic inputs. I don’t currently recall how this connection is accomplished; I only recall that it is typical and easy. And two MIDI inputs would be nice (unless it’s a better idea to simply replace all antiquated gear which requires a MIDI cable).

Honestly man, why are thinking all that stuff? Do you record drums? If you don't - don't spend a moment to worry about that. Make music instead :D Unless of course your intention is to impress people here at SOS forum and GS. :-D

I also have a really cool and unusual piece of gear

More of the same. Ditch it, at least for the moment. You don't need that stuff to make great music.

3. Does that mean I need to get a patchbay? I watched a tutorial on patchbays once, and frankly, I’m intimidated by them. I do build my own cables, amusingly enough.

No. At most buy yourself an interface with a lot of I/O and have it there. But, again, to make great music all you need is a guitar, a couple mic and perhaps a midi controller if you write also keys and drum parts - so an interface which supports that. And of course you need to learn how to record. Or simply go to a studio.

4. And if I got a patchbay, then I’d definitely need a rack, right?

If you did need a patchbay, it'd be convenient but you can put the bloody patchbay on your desk as well. Who cares? When you start making money from your stuff, you can get or build a nice rack.

But you don't need a patchbay anyways, so problem solved :D

5. And if I get a rack, will I need isolation transformers and/or power conditioning?

By this place, it looks like you cannot make your music unless you are in New York in front of Trump Tower with an Egyptian dancer moving her belly for you.

In other words, no.

6. Most audio interfaces don’t seem to have two midi inputs, so I had to ask myself: do I rely on a cheap midi to USB cable to hook up my MIDI controllers? That seems dubious – I don’t want to do anything that might degrade my MIDI signal quality. Or should I just sell my current midi controllers and buy a new ones that can be connected more conveniently?

Most midi controller these days have an onboard USB interface so you connect it directly to a USB port of the computer. Since you decided to complicate your life by buying a Mac :D it may be that you'll need a hub or a converter cable from USB to whatever Apple has decided wants to mount on their stuff this week.

If you want to use old style controllers, with midi cables, there are various technical solutions, but again, I'll just go the easy way. You want to make music, not become a MIDI specialist.


7. It seems that unlike preamps, converter quality is ever-improving. A rep from RME told me that my pricey standalone converters from last decade aren’t even as good as the converters they’re now putting into their budget-level interfaces. Is this true, or is he just trying to sell me something? Also, will I need more than two channels of conversion if I’m using more than two mics?

The keyword in your sentence is "rep". He's trying to sell you something. It's true that the best converters out there now are a bit better than they were but that's like saying a Ferrari 488 is a bit better than a 485. That might be, but you can go very fast with both.

Your music won't made or broken by your converters.

8. An important philosophical question: should I buy a top notch audio interface with great pres and great converters, or should I rely on quality external pres and external converters and only implement a cheaper audio interface as a necessary “this-to-that” connection facilitator?

Most likely not. In some situation, it can be beneficial. I wrote something on the matter a couple weeks ago, so I can just as well send you there: https://www.theaudioblog.org/post/do-i- ... er-preamps


I’m passionate about music, and I’m willing to spend thousands of dollars to continue chasing this rabbit. I think sometimes a person has to jump before they feel fully ready, and I suspect I’ll learn a lot more by doing precisely that. I guess I could use some gear suggestions so that I at least jump in a sensible direction with my purchases.

My impression is that it's your main problem. You think that passion translates to the will of spending thousands of dollars. If you have it, spending money is easy. And gives you satisfaction, the feel you have accomplished something.

Only you haven't.

Forget buying. What you need to do is to compose brilliant music and - if you decide to record it yourself - learn the ropes of proper recording (the first post in my blog above deals with exactly that). Or spend the money going to a studio instead if you don't.

9. The setup I envision is still comparatively simple. I’d like to have...

That was not simple, comparatively or not.

You want to record acoustic guitar? All the gear you need is a half-decent interface and a half-decent mic. Then you need amazing material and great recording and mixing skills (which implies a great room, great positioning of the mic etc). You can't buy any of that, but you can learn.

10. Is this why people use keyboards with on-board sounds – so that they can more easily modulate them directly? In general, I don’t understand why people pay for and use expensive keyboards for recording when it seems cheaper and far more flexible to use a midi controller in conjunction with various software libraries. Am I missing something?

Probably because, as you have discovered, it's maybe not so easier and there's no use of flexibility unless you need it (there's lots of practical reasons for practical cases, but then we need to go more in the specifics).

11. I’m terrified about moving my stuff over to a new computer. All of my projects were created using Logic Pro 8 and an old version of Kontakt. But now I own the newest Logic Pro and the newest Kontakt. What happens when my projects try to load up on my new system and several of the old plugins and synths have been supplanted by newer versions? Will I have to remix everything? Or will I have to retain all the old versions of the programs so that my old projects can still access them? What happens when the file directory pathways change from one computer to the next?

You may need, or may not. If you still have the old plugins, you can probably copy them in the new machine (desmond here together is a wizard with macs and can help with these kind of questions in a breeze).

But there's no denying it's gonna be work. Every single time I look at the back of my ever-growing collection of outboard and I want to repatch something I feel with you. It's how it is. It's either worth the result, or it's not - up to you to decide. :)

When things work seamlessly and I get to focus on making music, I feel fulfilled. Lately, though, I’ve been prohibited from making music by these technological hurdles which stand squarely between me and doing what I love.

Honestly, it seems to me that you would be much better of finding preparing/arranging/practicing your acoustic guitar material with nothing more than a handheld recorder (or your phone) and, when ready, find a nice little studio nearby and have them handling the recording.

Unless you *need* the computer because your music is inherently electronic, then you might want to hire a whizkid who can do all the tech stuff.

Recording and engineering are fun if you find it fun - otherwise, they're just boring work in the way of what you love, so if I were you I'd just jump the whole thing altogether.
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby MOF » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:57 pm

Have you put one or all of your winning compositions up on Sound Cloud, Youtube etc or tried something like Music X-Ray or joined a Songwriters association (BASCA in the UK, now called The Ivors Academy) for feedback/networking.
You could also self distribute through CD Baby etc.
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Re: What Gear Do I Need? I’m Hopelessly Stuck; Please Help!

Postby dpete » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:14 pm

I play with a group with about forty songs recorded over the years. We considered buying the gear and setting up our own ability to record (I like gear and software toys). But by the time we compared the cost of purchasing, setting up, having a decent space, learning how to actually use the stuff to produce quality results, the many small studio options looked like great bargains. Not only do we get to use high quality stuff, in a proper acoustical environment, we get the benefit of the owner/engineers experience and their connections into the music community. (Plus we don't have to wrap cables, clean up, or do maintenance). The connections with others in the music community have been valuable in helping us to understand our corner of the world and expanding our horizons, both for music and promotion.
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