Recording and Production in the News
The unexpected bonus of attending a Mic To Master weekendCambridge, UK: Mic to Master, a series of weekend events that Prism Sound/SADiE is running in conjunction with JAMES, have already yielded positive results for three people who attended the first weekend at Deep Blue Sound in Plymouth.
Dan Fagg, Paul Fletcher and Patrick Sturrock
Patrick Sturrock and Paul Fletcher, who write library music and music for film, TV and video games, went along with the intention of brushing up on their recording skills by learning from working producers such as Tony Platt, Al Stone and Simon Heyworth. By the time they left the event they had not only learned a few tricks of the trade but had also found themselves a vocalist and potential song writing partner in the shape of Deep Blue Sound student Dan Fagg.
"The event was really useful and we enjoyed the producer sessions and masterclasses," says Sturrock. "But in terms of networking it was even better - we'd been looking for a vocalist for some time and to meet up with someone as versatile and talented as Dan was a real bonus."
Sturrock and Fletcher have already teamed up with Fagg on a project for KPM, which is part of EMI Publishing. They are now exploring other avenues of collaboration, including more library music projects and possibly other projects that will help Fagg develop his skills as a lyricist and songwriter.
"We are all benefiting from this introduction," Sturrock says. "Paul and I have been partners for some years. We used to be based in London but it became apparent that the type of work we were doing could just as easily be done from a studio away from the capital. As we both have young families, we decided to move to Cornwall, which is where I'm originally from, and run our business in a nicer environment. However, since moving here we've struggled to find competent vocalists - something that we increasingly need now that publishing companies demand such polished end results. Much of the material we are writing has a vocal element and despite searching high and low, we had to rely on vocalists from much further afield. This meant recording them over the internet, which wasn't ideal."
The composers met Dan Fagg during a listening session hosted by Producer and MPG director Tony Platt's listening session. This gave participants a chance to play their own material and receive professional feedback.
Fagg, who is studying for a BTEC in Creative Sound Engineering and Music Technology, says: "I took along a song I'd written and recorded at home and I was very nervous about playing it to a professional. But Tony was really helpful and after the session Patrick and Paul approached me and said they were interested in working with me as a vocalist. I couldn't believe it when I discovered they lived just six miles from my home. I would never have guessed that two composers were living so close to me - and I would never have found them if it hadn't been for the Mic To Master event."
All three are delighted with the added benefits that the weekend brought.
"I found the sessions really helpful and it was great getting professional feedback on my work," says Fagg. "Even if I hadn't bumped into Patrick and Paul I would have felt it was worth the effort - and I can only encourage other people to give it a try."
Sturrock adds: "From my point of view it was great to meet working producers, especially Tony as I'm a huge fan of his. I love the way he approaches recording music and the results speak for themselves - he was truly inspirational. Like Dan, I really can't recommend these events highly enough. The music business is very fragmented these days and having an opportunity to meet likeminded people is a huge added bonus."
Producer and MPG director Tony Platt, who suggested the three got together after his session, says: "Following on the heels of what has become an annual event that JAMES has staged for the last four years with Deep Blue Sound, this first collaboration with Prism Sound was a great success. Once again Prism Sound has shown its foresight, innovation and imagination as a manufacturer by supporting this initiative to widen the scope of the industry/education relationship."
Positive feedback from the first Mic To Master weekend event was also given by Nick Trussler, Quality and Training Manager a Deep Blue Sound. The College of Music Technology runs sound and music related courses from BTEC to FdA level and has achieved national acclaim for the standard of its facilities and teaching staff.
Commenting on Mic To Master, Trussler says: "What a great opportunity for our students. They not only had the advantage of eminent UK producers talking about their work, but also top quality manufacturers explaining the detail of working at a high level with their product lines. One of my many favourite moments was sitting in a lecture listening to Simon Hayworth talking in person about mastering the 5.1 version of Tubular Bells whilst glorying in the sweet spot of five massive superb quality ATC monitors. To say the hair rose on the back of my neck was an understatement! Well done Prism Sound and thanks!"
Mic to Master weekends are the brain child of Prism Sound/SADiE and JAMES, the education arm of the Music Producers Guild (MPG), the Association of Professional Recording Services (APRS), and the UK Screen Association.
Throughout the weekends, participants attend seminars and masterclasses delivered by industry professionals, all of whom have a wealth of experience as producer and/or engineers.
Participants also attend manufacturer sessions, which highlight the latest cutting edge technology and include practical demonstrations to show how technology can solve problems. There are also forums where participants can fire questions at producers and manufacturing experts and listening sessions with producers where those attending played some of their own work and discussed techniques to overcome specific problems.
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