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Posts Tagged ‘recording’

Music company Pro Soul officially launches in Beijing, China

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Chinese flag

I have some big news. I have merged my music production work with my music marketing and promotion company, Pro Soul Alliance.
And I’m excited to officially announce something we’ve been working on for over 2 years now, launching Pro Soul Alliance in China.

China is a huge, emerging market for the music industry, but currently in it’s infancy, and immature. Professional assistance is desperately needed due to crippling discouragement for artists attributed to the pervasive downloading of music. There is also a huge lack of ‘official’ presence for foreign artists who are becoming very popular in China. That means huge opportunity for those willing to support, develop and nurture this challenging market.

At the end of 2011, Pro Soul announced a new world class recording and production studio in Beijing as our first step. Now we are offering promotion, marketing, sales and distribution both within China and outside to our existing artists and Chinese artists through our local office in Beijing. Unlike other companies offering music services in China, we are based within China, and our local office is staffed with bilingual locals who know the market and culture, and have experience working with Chinese and international artists here.
Pro Soul has been legally registered as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China under the name ‘敬真堂(北京)文化咨询有限公司’ Which translates to ‘Respect Truth (Beijing) Culture Consultancy Co. Ltd.’ (This was as close as we could get to our english name given the language and cultural differences. We kind of like how depending on the translation of our Chinese name, it can mean ‘Church of Truth’)

Because China is a complex and daunting market for a foreign company, we are starting out with the following basic range of services:

For Chinese artists:

 

  • Focusing on getting Chinese artists who are ready exposure internationally
  • Getting international distribution and sales for Chinese music (iTunes, Spotify, Nokia)
  • Promotion and marketing for Chinese artists overseas by connecting with interested markets and fans

 

For International Artists:

  • Digital distribution for international artists in China (including essential mobile stores China Mobile, Unicom, Telecom)
  • Promotion and marketing in China focusing on key social networking sites like Weibo, Douban, Youku
  • Collaboration with Chinese artists and recording traditional Chinese instruments with local professionals

As Pro Soul continues researching the industry and experimenting with new techniques for promotion and marketing music in China, we will also be offering licensing for Chinese music internationally in Film, TV, and online, expanding their revenue sources. We will also assist Chinese artists who are ready create their own business and develop music career in China to maximize their profit and control. Of course we will also be able to assist international artists book shows and organize tours in China in future.

Pro Soul has already begun assisting international artists Elika Mahony, and Hart as well as Chinese artist Abominati get exposure in China.

You can sign up right now for promotion, marketing and  distribution in China with the ‘Professional Artist Management and Consulting Asia’ option on our Get Started page.
For artists within China, we have a new website entirely in Chinese with a helpful blog focused on the local market.

For more information, please contact our China artist services manager BeiBei Lei

This means you will see less posts on my blog about music business, promotion and marketing, and music production as more of those posts will be featured on the Pro Soul Alliance blog so please check it out and subscribe for some great information like how to earn money licensing music on youtube, and my latest news and projects!

Recording for Cheng Lin’s new Chinese release “Greater Than Gold”

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Over the last year since I set up a studio in Beijing, I’ve had the privilege of working with one of China’s most respected and well loved artists, Cheng Lin on songs for her new album, ‘Greater Than Gold’. Although not all the songs we worked on have been included in this release, I am happy to have been able to help with the project in some way.
I blogged about a song that we worked on which I also produced and arranged, Only One Earth which won a Green China award.
One track in particular, Ray of Light, was the final vocal recording for the album before Cheng Lin decided it was time to get this album out.

Cheng Lin 'Greater Than Gold' Album cover

Having sold more than 25 million albums through her career Cheng Lin is no stranger to album releases. What’s unique with this launch is that it’s her first album release in 15 years and it marks both and ending and a new starting point of her career.

The album covers remixes of some of her biggest hits throughout her career as well as brand new material inspired by western and multicultural rhythms and melodies. The result is a unique music style, produced by three time Grammy Award winner KC Porter.

It was a pleasure to collaborate on Cheng Lin’s album with a producer who’s catalog of music and productions includes artists such as Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Carlo Santana, and Beyonce.

It was very cool to see Lin performing songs from the new album to a full house  in one of Beijing’s largest theatres, and hear a live band performing my arrangement of one of her songs, and hear the audience singing along with her hits!
You can listen to some of Cheng Lin’s new album ‘Greater Than Gold’ and purchase it here in North America.

Cheng Lin Green T House, Beijing

Live recording of DAO in the Beijing Forbidden City Hall

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Last Sunday, June 12th, I had a took on a job to do a live recording of a unique and diverse performance in the Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall for conductor Nick Smith of the Peking Sinfonietta and International Festival Choir, with guests on Percussion Claviers de Lyon from France.

Forbidden City Music Hall
Not only was the line up of performers unique, but the material itself, with Creation by Gérard Lecointe Rapsodie Espagnole by Maurice Ravel, and the world-premiere of a new specially-commissioned work – DAO – from renowned Chinese composer He Shaoying. Described by the composer as a musical manifestation of Chinese philosophical thought, the work included many special effects to realize his vision

The gamut of instruments was impressive and a bit of a challenge to record live accurately given the dynamics of the performance which ranged from a literal whisper of the choir to thunder of massive bass drum and gongs. There was quite a range of tuned percussion, xylophone, marimba, bells, vocals, grand piano, and other instruments I didn’t recognize. Not only were the instruments diverse, but how they were played in extended manner, striking piano strings with hand, and bowing the marimba rather than playing with the mallet.
I guess when musically representing the ‘creation of the universe according to DAO’ then these techniques are necessary.
I used a simple stereo mic setup in the front row, recording through a firewire interface into my Macbook Pro laptop:

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup with first movement, only 4 performers

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup for first movement, only 4 performers

It was Presented by China International Culture Exchange Center and China International Cultural and Arts Company.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo with the full orchestra, but from my seat I couldn’t see it all.

I don’t imagine the recording will be released to the public, but if you come by the studio sometime you can have a listen, it’s quite something.

 

New Beijing music sound studio now completed!

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

I blogged recently about the construction of a new studio in Beijing after an electrical fire destroyed the building my first studio here was in.
I didn’t think it would take so long to get it done properly as I hired the best I could find to do it. But the standards I aspire to for things just aren’t commonly understood in China, so not only have I had to supervise and hand hold at every step of the way, I had to get the contractors to redo the entrance door to the studio to get the soundproofing required (the nice door in the construction photos in the blog link above had to go…).
Now I am quite pleased with the result, and although I am still working out a few minor details and wiring up some of the non essential analog outboard gear, the studio is finally ready and I’ve been doing a lot of work in it to catch up, and get used to it, including recording with Miss Melody, and Elika Mahony who blogged about the experience in the new studio.

Here’s a photo of the control room:

New Beijing sound music Studio control room

Here’s the recording booth. It’s professionally built to completely isolated from outside sound, and is large enough to fit a full live band:

New Beijing sound music studio recording booth

recording booth with new Neumann mic

Since the studio is in a renovated traditional Chinese courtyard building, I was determined to keep the feeling that was originally there, which was quite a challenge acoustically as there is a lot of glass including a glass roof! But whatever wasn’t perfected in design, I was able to compensate for with sophisticated software that corrects anomalies and imperfections in the room for my monitors.
This has allowed me to create what I feel is one of the most unique studios in China if not the world!
I felt my previous studio in Beijing was quite impressive, but everyone who has visited both say this new one is a vast improvement, so I am very pleased. Take a look:

new Beijing courtyard sound studio entrance

new Beijing courtyard sound studio entrance


new Beijing sound studio entance

new Beijing sound studio before construction

studio building courtyard before construction

new Beijing sound studio rear

new studio rear after construction

new Beijing sound studio recording boothjarome in the new studio mixing room

 

I’m not one to boast about equipment I use, but I will at least say that all the equipment has been imported into China for the best possible quality, no fakes or imitations! Just the real thing, Apple, Neve, JoeMeek, Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, RME, Mackie, Alesis, Tannoy with Mogami cabling and Neutrik connectors all the way! This is driven by Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic with Waves, Audio Ease, Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, East West software to name a few.
Many of these are recent additions to my existing range of classic analog and cutting edge digital equipment, making this new studio in Beijing the most powerful, highest quality studio I’ve had in my 20 years as a music producer and audio engineer.

I’ve put a huge amount of time, trouble and great expense to make this one of the best, top quality music and sound design studios in Beijing.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of many wonderful friends and clients in China, you know who you are, Thank you so much!

I am getting very booked in advance, so please contact me now if you want to work on a project.
I’ll be posting a blog about an open house this month very soon.

I hope you get to visit the studio in the near future! Please contact me for more info.

 

New Beijing sound studio nearing completion

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Since I had to abandon my first studio in Beijing due to the building being damaged from electrical fire, I’ve had to build a new studio.
I’ve chosen the location where I originally planned to set up the studio when I first decided to open one in Beijing, Real Life at Hegezhuang village.
It’s an amazing idea that China would do well to support more. They are taking traditional Chinese courtyard homes and modernizing them by renovating the inside. I’ve chosen to add a soundproofed booth and control room to the courtyard area of mine and luckily have found a great acoustic design company in Beijing to help me do it. Thanks Wayne from Snipersounds for the referral.

This studio will be unlike any I’ve ever heard of. It will have a traditional yet modern feel, with lots of light, and glass skylight which would usually be impossible acoustically, but I’m determined to break new ground and do away with the studio in a box idea. This is possible due to the latest in acoustic materials,  software and hardware to tune the control room (no more cheezy egg carton foam!). Maybe I’ll elaborate more in future once it’s all done.
The recording room is a double walled room within a room of course to ensure quiet but comfortable recording of even a full live band.
You can get more of a sense of the space and cool vibe this place has going on from these photos:

 

Studio entrance with courtyard skylight visible

Studio entrance with courtyard skylight visible

Recording room entrance (second sound proof door is missing)

Recording room entrance (second sound proof door is missing)

View of the control room from the adjacent room

View of the control room from the adjacent room

 

first wall goes up inside the recording room

Front door looking into open control room door

Front door looking into open control room door

The place will also have a kitchen and lounge, and a few bedrooms so we can live there and I won’t have to commute. There’s even a little guest room if you want to come visit.

I’ve never built a studio to this level before, but thanks to affordability of Chinese labor and materials, here, it’s possible.
Thanks to the many people assisting me to make it all happen, without them and a few miracles, it would never have been possible.
A few more weeks to go and I think we’ll have one of the coolest sound studios in Beijing!

Moving the studio

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

That’s right, after 3 great years, I’m moving my studio to my home next week. I had planned to blog about it much earlier, but then we were suddenly told to drop everything and go to Vietnam to adopt a baby (An update on that & what has happened in my next blog…).

Because I will be doing a lot more work overseas next year, I decided it didn’t make sense to have a separate studio here that is costing me when I won’t even be here! So I’m moving the studio to my home and will be working with a friends studio locally when recording is necessary in Vancouver.Jarome Studio 2006

It was a hard decision, as this was definitely the best sounding studio I’ve had, interesting as it was quite a simple setup, but there was something about the sound in there that gave this lovely air when mixing, and it had a comfy homey feeling when recording.
Had some fantastic times in there working with amazing artists like Elika Mahony, Heather Dore, Laura Harley, and Bahiyyih.

We custom built the studio as a double walled enclosure, and acoustically treated the walls, and put in wood flooring.

It seems every time I build a studio, the time I actually get to use it before something happens becomes less and less… Hopefully my next studio will last more than 3 years! I really thought I would be there and use the space for a lot longer than I did, but life changes.

In terms of how this will affect my work, things will be continuing as usual as far as what I can do and the quality of my work. I’ve made sure those things won’t be affected. What will change is my availability in Vancouver. If you want to work together on a project, make sure you schedule it now, because my time here next year will be limited!

In going through everything I have to prepare to move, I found some pretty amazing memorabilia from my music past… Im going to post some of those things in future blogs, so keep an eye out.

I’m also selling some vintage analog gear as I part with things I don’t use as much to make room for new additions that I need more now with my work and the way technology changes. If your interested in an Emax 2 sampler, Korg SDD-1000 delay fx, Behringer MX 2642A Mixer, or a Symetrix 528 vocal processor/preamp channel strip, then let me know.

I have to say, I’m really looking forward to all the time I’ll be saving not having to commute, and the money that will be saved as well. This has been a really tough year, and I really need a break and to make some major changes in the way I work, badly.

Improving vocal performance

Monday, September 14th, 2009

An important part of my role as a music producer is to get the best possible performance from artists in the studio both technically and emotionally.

I find I often fall short in this area though because unless they are professionals who have done large live performances for many years, most vocalists are often unable to deliver to their full potential. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t give great performances, it just means they could have done even better.

This is usually because the vocalist is not in optimal physical shape. Your health and physical fitness level has a huge impact on your vocal performances in the studio, and of course live. Sure, how comfortable you are with letting go and giving your all emotionally in the studio is also very important.  But to get a great performance, you really need to have a lot of power to deliver strong, clean vocal phrases. Without this power and energy, your performances will sound weak and shaky, quivering, particularly on the ends of longer words or sustained melodies and this drastically reduces the quality and impact of the performance.

Studio tools and tricks can rarely correct these problems effectively, so that’s why it’s so important for singers to keep in top physical shape if they want to give the best performance they’re capable of live and in the studio. Eat healthy food that gives you lots of energy, and adopt a regular cardio exercise routine at least 4 times a week.

Another recommendation, in addition to warming up properly before a performance and singing regularly in a choir, is opera training, or a great vocal coach such as Brennan Barrett, to help you get as much power as you can without exerting yourself more than you have to, and to assisting with effective breathing techniques that will give you better phrasing and power in the right places.

A producer can only do so much, and in my case, I can work a lot of miracles to make you sound great no matter what, but ultimately, I can only use the best you give me! Make sure that really is your best, as you never know who will hear your finished performance, or how far it will spread.
Recording vocals in studio

Music production in Beijing

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I just got back last week from another trip to Beijing, my longest one yet as I had 3 projects to work on and a number of meetings…

I was working with artist Elika Mahony as usual, she has just released a new album on the theme of Love, ‘Birds of Love’ that we were consulting about the promotion for, and developing a limited edition version of. We were also recording new material for an upcoming new age style progressive pop album as well as her instrumental album.

Those alone were very exciting projects and it was amazing to work in person with Elika, she accomplished what I feel are her best vocal performances yet on this trip… But I was also working on a Chinese spiritual CD with some local Chinese artists including Chinese pop music legend, Cheng Lin that I will talk more about in the future.

A new project I was working on there, and one of my most unique and culturally diverse was an ambient instrumental relaxation album for Green T. Living owner, Jin R, who is also a very talented artist and performer of the beautiful Yang Qin, which I think is my new favorite instrument.
There are so many talented artists in China playing traditional instruments in new ways, You can have all the experience in the world, or a degree from a music production school, but finding and working with undiscovered talent like this is one of the most rewarding things for a producer.

Jin R had quite an ambitious and creative concept for her new album, one that would provide a soundtrack for guests of her new bath house. The concept was ‘A journey with a cup of tea’, one that you would take without leaving the relaxing confines of the bath house, so I helped her develop the album so that it went from traditional ancient Chinese roots using such ancient instruments as the Gu Qin (over 2000 years old, to the Yang Qin, to the flute and synthesizer with various sound ambiances and real world elements.

I used a Rode NT-4 stereo mic to capture the natural ambience of some of these instruments.
It’s really quite something, you may have to take a trip to Beijing to get a copy though…

For the first time, brought the mobile equivalent of my entire studio setup to work on these projects, but ran into a few challenges when I forgot that China is on 220 power! Luckily, some of my equipment such as an external hard drive with all my sound libraries, and USB hub with all my software licenses were able to run on 220 without a converter. A very good thing, as I plugged them in without thinking about it in my excitement… Not a good thing for the preamp I wanted to add to Elika’s studio. We got it fixed very quickly there, but it never quite sounded the same.

www.flickr.com/photos/jaromematthew/sets/72157615008213764/

More about the music industry related aspects of my trip are on the Pro Soul Alliance blog.

Poor Quality Sound: Now Standard!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

In my last post I talked about how the quality and natural dynamics of music is being destroyed through digital software technology that allows unnatural processing of audio.

But there is a much greater threat to the quality of audio that has been the subject of my thoughts for some time now: The way we listen to sound.

Back in the 1970’s the quality of sound recording technology, production techniques and playback systems reached a pinnacle with some of the most incredible music and sound humanity had ever known, and this became further fine tuned in the 1980’s. Brilliant, rich full spectrum sound that went beyond the range of human hearing, but influenced the richness of the sound through frequency harmonics that enhanced what we could hear with our ears.
Two things initiated the downward spiral that has led us to where we are today: The Walkman and the CD.
Very briefly, the walkman influenced music lovers to listen to music on crappy little earphones, and the CD chopped off audio at 20kHz without researching the influence of harmonics above that hearing range on sound we do hear. This is why vinyl records really are better sounding than CD’s in many ways.
From there, the convenience of sound gave way to clarity, and quality until we come to the present day world, of massively widespread use by the majority of music and audio listeners of terrible sounding MP3’s played on the worst possible sound producing devices humanity has ever experienced: earbud iPod headphones, computer laptop speakers, and cel phones! And this doesn’t even begin to cover the music and production tools and techniques prevalent with the trend of do it yourself computer production.

To a producer like myself who has spent over a decade mastering the subtle art of trying to perfect music and sound, this trend is devastating to say the least. And if you ever compared how music sounds on a really nice hi fi stereo system (you know like the ones they used in the 70’s) with a computer laptop speaker, it would make you nauseous. You lose something like 80% of the sound! But that introduces another problem- people don’t really know what sounds good and what doesn’t, maybe because they have become so used to listening to terribly reproduced sound, in my humble opinion and experience.
(Just as a benchmark, and cost is by no means an accurate measure, if your speakers cost less than $500, they are probably cheap garbage that sounds terrible!)

This has brought up all kinds of questions for me with regard to what I do as a profession… Why create great sounding 24 bit 96kHz audio if it is going to end up at 80% of what you created? For the 20% of people that like good sound?
My only answer is to become more involved in the film industry side of audio production as a sound designer, since at least sound is formatted and reproduced in higher fidelity than with music. So that is what I have gradually been doing. A film I worked on last year is hitting the theatres in September here…

I truly feel for the future of music in an environment where it is so under appreciated. It makes me wonder what the future holds for someone in a profession like myself and wether or not there will even be the need for professional producers and engineers if no one can really appreciate or notice their efforts.

For those of you reading this who don’t really know what I’m talking about, you don’t know what your missing!

The way audio was meant to be heard...