Tag Archives: bluehouserec

Recording Tips: Vocals

A good vocal booth is crucial to any mix, but we home studio engineers don’t always have access to the kind of super quiet, controlled, soundproof rooms that you find in the high priced studios. We at Blue House Records would like to give you an example of how easy it can be to create a make shift vocal booth, with a little backstory for context.

Alexa (artist) and I were nearly finished with the final mix of a ripping alternative rock track—all the pieces were in place, guitars and drums were just right, but we couldn’t get the vocal to sit in the mix. We spent days fiddling with several different equalizers, compressors, gates, noise reduction plugins, and other processors—we decided that the problem had to be the raw vocal track. The vocal performance was stellar, but the dynamic of the track sounded a bit washed out and muddy, with lots of overtones and reflections that prevented the vocal from finding it’s place in the mix. I then broke the bad news to the artist, “I think we have to re-track the vocals.”

The setup for recording vocals worked well on previous songs. We simply set a condenser microphone in the middle of an isolated room, threw on a pop blocker and went to work. However, this track was a rocker, and Alexa would be singing much louder than in previous recordings. As Alexa let her voice open up, the louder sound bounced around the large room creating unwanted noise.

Alexa tracking vocals

Tracking vocals in larger room

To correct the issue, I asked Alexa to bring some heavy blankets to our next vocal session. We then found a smaller room, propped up a few microphone stands, clothing racks—whatever we could find, draped the blankets over the stands, and placed some larger couch pillows around the room for dampening. It took us 5 minutes to set this up, and the result was a much tighter, cleaner vocal that easily sits in the mix on a very guitar and drum heavy track.

Makeshift vocal booth working wonders

Makeshift vocal booth working wonders

Comparison tracks
The following are excerpts from the alt rock track we’re working on.

This first sample was recorded in the larger room with no dampening.

This second sample was recorded in a small room with soundproofing and improved microphone positioning.

And here’s a snippet of the final product.

Free Internet Services = Little Customer Value?

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This recent billboard article written by Glenn Peoples discusses the status of music streaming services, and internet companies in general, stating that most registered user accounts (in some cases over 70%) go inactive.  Problem – free internet services (even Facebook & Twitter) are having trouble converting consumers into customers.

We love free internet services.  Spotify free is great, comes with all the music we need, is easy to use, operates a satisfactory radio service, and social connectivity with Facebook is a breeze.  Many vouch for the paid service to skip out on ads and listen offline, many do not because they are cheap like us and don’t care about that annoying Spotify jingle.  However, paid subscribers only account for small portion (approx. 20%) of Spotify users, creating a challenge to build revenue, hence the advertising.  The advertising is targeted towards the 80% that are using Spotify free, which is great, because there are gazillions (not actual number) of Spotify free registered users out there.  The problem is that over 70% of these users sign up and never look at the Spotify app again.  Might have something to do with the old analogy that free stuff means no value or too good to be true.  Lessons learned from the free back rub offer on craigslist…

So the question is:  do you focus on growing your advertising revenue or do you focus on growing brand loyalty with your 20%?  Can you effectively do both?

Peoples states that “The paying customer is a far stronger driver of a music service’s revenue than advertisements that target the free customer”.  If this is true, one scenario could be a loyalty rewards program, either by reducing costs of a membership over time for the most active subscribers to hold on to users.  Or maybe a reduced rate for referrals where new subscribers can list those who referred them to the service, allowing the referrer to receive a discount on music downloads, merchandise, donkey rides, what have you.  Referrer. (needed to type it 1 more time)

Just a few ideas.  Feel free to pay us directly once these ideas are implemented.  Cool thanks.

Keep it funky,

TAT