Monthly Archives: August 2016

DIFFERENT APPROACH TO RECOVERY

Alta Centers opened in August 2015 to offer a highly specialized, professional recovery center specifically to meet the unique needs of the entertainment industry, particularly musicians and music industry professionals. As a successful Los Angeles DJ and lifelong music fan, Director of Operations Garrett Braukman knows first-hand about the challenges facing those working on recovering from addiction while still working in the industry.

“I know a lot of awesome sober musicians,” Braukman says. “And a lot of recovery theory says ‘you shouldn’t play shows.’ Alta Centers teaches the opposite—you should get out, and you can maintain your career while working on your sobriety.

Braukman is candid about his own first-hand experience with addiction and spent several years as a recovery counselor before founding Alta Centers. “We are a stand-alone center specific to the industry. There is a lack of understanding about the entertainment field [in the larger recovery programs.]” And while Braukman states that Alta Centers does not base its treatment on traditional 12-step teachings, the program is “12-step informed,” and does not discourage clients from any support group that they find helpful.

The outpatient-only programs are highly flexible, offering an Intensive Outpatient Program that runs three hours each day, as well as individualized daily and evening programs tailored to each individual client. “We have an emphasis on education, and also licensed therapists and case managers, as well as a consulting nutritionist. We encourage our clients, depending on their progress, to go out and have fun.” There are also organized offsite activities and aftercare programs.

“I don’t think I’d be alive without music,” he says. “Once I was in recovery, I found myself enjoying music so much more. I would read lyrics and they made sense to me; they spoke to me.”
Braukman hopes to bring this experience to others through Alta Centers. “Musicians are talking about addiction and recovery prevalently now.”

To get the word out, Alta Centers currently utilizes an “organic marketing campaign,” according to Braukman, which includes YouTube videos, word-of-mouth, approaching unions and other grassroots methods, capitalizing on Braukman’s connections in the industry and his exposure on the nightlife scene.

While the NARAS-funded MusicCares Foundation and Musicians Assistance Program (MAP) have provided addiction rehabilitation service to the music industry for many years, Braukman states that Alta Centers is different in that those organizations primarily serve as referral and financial assistance services, and while they are extremely helpful to musicians in need they don’t provide the stand-alone, dedicated programs that Alta Centers does.

“We truly want people to have fun in recovery, and not experience the stereotypical recovery program. We can be the generation that changes recovery—makes it cool. We want to be the punk rock summer camp for recovery!”

Alta Centers currently operates from one facility in Encino, with plans to add additional centers in Southern California. It accepts most major PPO health insurance companies.

PROFESSIONAL SOUND ON AFFORDABLE BUDGET

images-33The input chain of a project studio is of the utmost importance. Your music (read: product) doesn’t stand a chance if signal isn’t recorded at or above the professional threshold. Aside from a great source like an amazing vocal or instrumental performance, the first thing to address is the microphone.

If I were to select one affordable, versatile microphone for a project studio it would be an AKG C414 XLS. Priced at under $1,000, it has cardioid, super cardioid, hyper cardioid, figure 8 and omni-directional polar patterns, a frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz, three roll-offs and three different PAD options. The 414 flatters a number of common project studio sources, including pop vocals, acoustic guitar, guitar amps and hand percussion. It is a well-rounded, inexpensive option that will yield consistent, predictable results.

An option for those with an affinity for tube microphones (like me) is the Mojave MA-300. The detail, warmth and sensitivity of this microphone makes it a great option for any source that should sound thick and warm, especially vocals. The MA-300 features continuously variable polar pattern functionality, from omni to figure-8 and all patterns in between (including cardioid). Jensen transformers and JAN 5840 tubes make this microphone well worth the $1,300 investment, especially when paired with a quality mic pre and compressor.
The approach to selecting a mic pre and compressor for the input chain of a project studio can be approached one of two ways:

1.)  Maximum financial commitment to a mono chain
2.)  Split financial commitment to a stereo chain

Consider the objective of your project studio. If the sources are often vocals, guitars or other small, live instrumentation, it makes sense to allocate your remaining input chain budget (after the microphone purchase) to high quality, mono gear.

In the single-source and mono domain, professional engineers and producers have a deep affinity for the Neve 1073 mic pre. It has stood the test of time as at the go-to pre for great sounding gain and pleasing harmonics. However, vintage 1073’s and 1084’s can be expensive, hard to find and difficult to maintain. BAE Audio has modernized these classic Neve modules as a fantastic resource for producers and engineers who desire a professional, classic sound without the almost-certain downtime of a vintage 1073. The sonic texture of the BAE reissue holds up to their vintage counterpart and costs just over $3,000 (power supply included). Any mono source through a BAE 1073 will instantly become professional grade.

If your workspace includes a lot of stereo sources, such as keyboards and synth modules, it may be best to purchase two identical mic pres at a lower individual cost while still retaining as much quality as possible. This is also an efficient approach if your microphone schemes frequently include stereo techniques. TheAvalon M5 is a strong option for a mono mic pre. It provides professional-level gain with low noise. The M5 is priced around $1,700, so the purchase of two units for stereo tracking is equivalent to one 1073 for mono signals.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SONGS FOR AUDITIONS

1. It Must Be PERFECT
Always perform songs that you have honed to perfection. Do not choose songs that you can’t perform flawlessly. If you can play or sing the song at 98 percent, that’s still not good enough! Find a way to correct that two percent or choose something you can perform perfectly. For example, if that two percent is a higher note that is difficult to sing, then sing a lower alternate note that you can deliver perfectly.

However, if there’s another problem you can’t fix in time for the performance, choose a different song. Think about a time when you went to a show and the artist performed great up to a point, but then suddenly played or sang some bad notes. What did you remember about that show? The bad notes are more than likely what you remembered. Most people won’t say, “Well, let’s ignore all the flaws in that performance and only think about the good parts.” In the real world, it doesn’t work out that way. Obviously mistakes can happen during a live show, but if there’s a problem that you know about in advance, avoid showcasing until you’ve solved it by working out the issue(s).

2. Choose the Right Songs for the Audition
If you are instructed to perform only a single song, choose one that is up-tempo. If you are instructed to choose two songs, choose an up-tempo song and a moderate to slower tempo song. Perform the up-tempo song first, followed by the slower song. Often judges will have you perform the first verse and chorus of the song and make their decision based upon just that. Vocalists often think that singing a ballad is the best move. But they may not realize that the judges have been auditioning vocalists all day, or for days! And guess what the judges have been listening to all day long? Ballads. If you sing an up-tempo song, and you sound awesome, you will energize the atmosphere. Grabbing the judges’ attention immediately will help your performance stand out from the rest.

3. Choose the Right Songs for the Showcase
Normally a three song setlist is performed for a showcase event. Showcasing your songs with versatility is best. Your performance should include an up-tempo, slower-tempo and moderate-tempo song selection. Each song should represent your music genre. Sometimes bands/solo artists will play an original song that sounds like it belongs to another genre category. To a professional that will suggest the artists haven’t found their sound yet. It is best to prepare three of your best songs that represent your style and genre. You should also rehearse with segues from one song into another without interruption so that there is a smooth transition from song to song and that all songs are not in the same key. Without a segue, the dead space between each song can seem a bit awkward, especially since you’re only performing three songs. Prepare properly and rock your showcase with segues so you will appear to be a professional.

4. Choose the Right Songs for the Live Performance
Arrange your setlist so it has a dynamic musical flow. When selecting the order of the setlist, make sure that each song’s tempo/BPM (beats per minute) as well as the key signature vary from song to song. The first song and last song of the setlist should be an up-tempo song. It is also important that the first song is one that you can play and sing perfectly without exceptional monitors. Why? Usually during the first song of the set, the M.E. (monitor engineer) and the F.O.H. (front of house) are usually tweaking sound levels, so keep this in mind when selecting your first song. In between the first and last songs, choose those that have different tempos from one another. For example, add a few segues between songs and also allow space between songs for the lead vocalist to speak and interact with the audience. Arranging the song setlist in this order will ensure that your live performance has a dynamic flow.

5. You Must Put in the Time
It is imperative to maintain a regimented rehearsal schedule regardless of upcoming performances. Otherwise, cramming rehearsals will inevitably result in fatigue, which will create further problems. Record audio/ video during your rehearsals and then review and critique yourself. You will positively learn what you need to practice and perfect before your upcoming audition, showcase or live performance.

6. Deliver Pure Emotion
This is what performing is all about! To emote fully in performance, you must allow yourself to let go. “Letting go” means not worrying or doubting yourself. Focusing on what might go wrong prior to performing will vibe-slay the performance. If you fill your head with doubt and worry before getting on stage, the odds will be against you delivering a flawless performance. Instead, think of how much work you’ve put into preparing your songs and what inspired you to perform them. The objective here is to tap that original emotion, that place where you were when you were first inspired to play and sing. If you can tap that emotion, that special energy, you will feel confident and, as a result, stack the odds in favor of you delivering a spectacular performance!

LICENSING FOR A LIVING

Wenty Morris and D.A. Young formed Morris & Young over 10 years ago to provide a one-stop-shop for music licensing needs. Today the company employs songwriters to create music for film, television, video games, commercials and recording artists. Currently their catalog includes 20,000 titles and 90 genres, resulting in hundreds of placements in numerous projects, including major motion pictures, advertisements and TV programs. (Check their website for an impressive list of credits.)

Your company has really evolved and expanded.
At first we were just trying to connect the dots and represent our music. Then the industry changed and we changed with it. Now, we cover a lot more area.

What was the most significant change?
The advent of reality shows changed our focus and created a lot of new opportunities. Networks and production companies needed music for those shows, and we wanted to be their go-to source.

What changed your company for good?
We couldn’t keep up with the demand. We needed to open it up and bring more people in. It was no longer a two-person job––it was way bigger than that.

You deal with 90 genres–is versatility a plus?
It is for us. Naturally, quality is most important but quantity is also crucial. It allows us to pitch more projects. And, it keeps us from being pigeonholed and limited in our reach.

What’s the secret to securing an amazing number of placements?
You have to hustle every day. It comes down to hard work and grinding it out 24/7. Also, you have to do your homework, watch the shows and analyze the music. Our success comes from the fact that we know what they need before we pitch them.

You attach metadata to all your music. How important is that?
We’re anal about metadata. It supplies all the information a music supervisor or production company needs, including key words. They’re usually crunched for time, so we give them what they need to make their job easier.

What’s your opinion about retitling a placement to share royalties?
I’m not a big fan of it. We like to own our material. At first I didn’t see a problem, but then I noticed it caused confusion. Now, with new technology I believe it’s antiquated and short-sighted. If anyone is still doing that today, I would be worried.

Final advice?
Let your passion drive you. Develop new relationships every day. And when you finally get your music heard by millions of people, enjoy the feeling…because there’s nothing like it.