Steve Lukather has some comments on the state of the recording business today. Steve was a founding member of Toto, has released solo LP’s and is one of the most successful studio guitarists in history. He has been involved in thousands of records (if a Michael Jackson song has a guitar on it, it’s Steve). Here is what he wrote:

“I just want to know something. ALL this pontificating about how Spotify and the like are the ’ answer ’ and how ’ the artists get paid’ etc. How much? Really? WHO keeps tabs and accounting?
Maybe I just don’t know. I don’t see any money and have A LOT of stuff out there over 35 years of making records.

Have you done the breakdown on what an artist get PER tune on iTunes? Pitiful. Now IF you are with a label its even worse cause they take a huge share of that. The breakdown after all is said and done for most it’s pennies.

TOO many people can make records. Period. No catalog artists are made these days. One hit wonders galore. Sad really.

Now record companies don’t give budgets like the old days when the great records were made cause they cost MONEY!! They want to make money for nothing and own you for life and a piece of EVERYTHING an artist does. You can sell a million and still OWE them! My 25 year old son has buddies who have platinum records living in a one room studio apartment…Broke.

Of course back ‘then’ rec. companies cared about MUSIC and nurturing artists for a LONG term career and long term money.
Sure they got the Lions share but then they invested, believed and promoted it so there was SOME justification.

Now its ’ Beats’ and how many facebook hits or Youtube hits you get .. ALL which either make NO money or short term dog-shit money with no real way to account for it and truly suck for the most part.

What the fuck ? People want to be famous NOT good! It is TOO easy to play ‘pretend pop star’ now. With all the fakery and auto tune-time correction -cut and paste etc.. fuck most young people don’t know how to play a song from top to bottom in a studio in tune and in time and with feeling?? Rare.
I am in the studios all the time and hear the stories from the producers and engineers.. and yet NO ONE cares that ’ so and so’ who sold a shit load of records ( how much IS that these days? ) cant sing or play. They make ‘McRecords’ for people who don’t even really listen. It’s background music for people to either find a mate or shake their heads while texting or skyping or doing other things. Environmental noise for the multi-tasker.

Gone are the days of loving , dissecting, discussing the inner workings of ’AN ALBUM”… sitting in silence while it plays.. looking at the liner notes and the few photo’s IN the studio .. imagining what a magic place it music be to make such music…Gone. You need a fucking jewelers eye to read the credits IF one even cares. Most don’t. So if you keep blaming the ‘old antiquated artists’ who are the only REAL ones left.. who MAY make a great record once in awhile but may be overlooked cause the media chooses to care more about who is super gluing meat to their bodies and other ridiculous HYPE and bullshit to get attention rather than LISTENING hard to the music being made we might be in a different place.

When we were kids ( yes I will be 108 this year) there were only a handful or artists and they WERE great cause they HAD to be.
You could choose not to like some but outside the teenage fodder most deserved their success and NO ONE sounded alike ! No one!
We live in a McWorld that moves way too fast and now even the drugs suck. I mean when I was young and got high I never got naked foaming at the mouth and tried to eat someone’s face off.

Time to put on Dark Side of the Moon and chill. Have a nice day and may real music come back and fill our ears. ( there IS some great stuff but you know what I mean ..)
REAL music played by REAL musicians. They ARE out there.
They just don’t get a lot of press anymore, or at all.”

Luke
(Steve Lukather)

So, I’ve just finished my first “Ambeo” stereo mix. What’s that, you ask? It’s a process that allows for some degree of 360 deg directionalality to be perceived by the listener using stereo headphones. In this situation, I’ve gone with the only immersive plugin that seems to work for me, the Ambeo Orbit from Sennheiser.

From experience, I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to insert Orbit onto too many tracks in a DAW session, and from a dear friend at Abbey Road Institute in Amsterdam, I’ve learned that these types of hrtf effects plugins basicall will only work well on tracks containing high-frequencies. As such, I inserted Orbit onto about 4 tracks to provide a bit of immersive spread. It’s interesting that I tried monitoring over my 64 Audio in-ear monitors and my studio monitors. I was surprised to hear that the results were a bit drastic from each other, so I opted to listen to the headphone plugins over stereo speakers. I was pleasantly surprised that you could actually hear rear-end directionality coming from the speakers, but given the relative success of SRS Circle Surround, I halfway expected this.

I have to say that this first try was a relative success … given that these types of surround headphone mix encoders are a bit gimmicky and are in their infancy.

A few days ago, I ran into an amazing young man of about 23 who is a photographer. Not just your standard photographer … one who’s every shot is totally different than any that I’ve seen. This guy is truly an artist. So, I ask him if he’s trying to become a professional photographer and he answers back that he has no interest in doing his art for $$$. For him, he said that the $$$ aspect screws with his art and any relationships that he might have with friends and others.

In many ways, as a musician/producer, I totally empathize with what he’s saying. I’ve been lucky enough to be an author of a top book in my industry (back in the day when that really meant something) and to have saved and invested enough to not have to worry about the next paycheck. Even as a young man, I was smart enough to financially look out for myself and my family in the future. In short … this strategy has translated into artistic freedom. The freedom to do my music in the ways that I see fit.

Recently, I’ve made several decisions that seem to make sense to me:

1. For better or for worse, I’m going to keep my music close to home, by staying “indy” and putting all of my production “wares” on Bandcamp. Here, I can offer up my stereo projects in hi-res mp3 and flac formats. Unlike with streaming, 85% of the revenues goes directly to me (the artist).

2. I’ve decided to do something stupid (again) and go back and remix/remaster my 5.1 files as surround flac files that can be sold as direct download “merch” on bandcamp. Although this has meant taking several weeks to revisit all of my major projects, it also means that I can again present them in the best possible sounding light. In short, something that I can be proud of.

3. As always, I have to sing Bandcamps praises, by saying that it is a music download distribution site that’s fair to the artist, offers high-quality mp3/flac downloads and (perhaps most importantly) has a coded website that is totally rock-solid, allowing me to have complete control over soundfile and info updates at any time.

At this time, like the young photographer, I’m doing my art for me. I know that I’ll have to work hard with a buddy of mine who knows marketing way better than I do … but I’ve decided not to make sales my total priority … I’d just like to be conformable with making the best music productions that I possibly can. This might or might not resonate with you at this point in your life, but I wanted to share my view-point none-the-less.

post script: I know that all of this is an extreme over-simplification. Of course, I’d like to get my stuff out. Several decades ago (in the old brick-n-mortar distribution days), I had the good fortune of having sever projects out that sold over the million mark. Once that plug was pulled, I never again attained that level of mass appeal … which can leave a mark.

All the best,

DMH

Recently, I wanted a new laptop that was capable of doing both USB-C and Thunderbolt (since I’m a Universal Audio user, this was my main reason). After lots of research, I ended up buying the HP Septre 360 13″ 2018 laptop, which has 2 USB-C/TB ports and 1 standard USB3 port. So far, so loving it …

Recently, on a trip to Berlin, I made the mistake of setting a BIG glass of sparkling water on my workdesk and, yes, I proceeded to knock it all over the table … spilling the water on my USB-C hub, USB hub and the side of my laptop …Bummer! One USB-C port that had nothing connected to it stopped working, and since there can be up 60 Watts of power on that connector, I knew that something blew and I was in the middle of learning a big lesson (rule #1: no water or food on the workdesk).

Even though I had one port still working, I was now facing the prospect of sending the laptop in for repair. However, taking the cue from one of my best buddies, I started to research the problem and found this article. The article directions said to power down and press the power button for 30 seconds This would reset all of the laptop ports … IT WORKED!

The moral of this story is that computer hardware is getting smarter and better at protecting itself, especially when up to 60W can be running through the cables. Do your research … if you do have a problem … It “might” be fixable with the touch of a button. Just remember … no water around a USB-C port!

David Miles Huber is a four-time Grammy-nominated producer and author of the industry-standard text “Modern Recording Techniques.” His latest music and collaborations can be heard at davidmileshuber.com.

A truly important aspect of a project (be it stereo or immersive) is the overall room ambiance within a mix. In short, it could be the difference between a standard mix and one that adds depth to put you “there”, within the overall experience.

The first tool that an engineer can have is the use of miking distance. This hip-pocket tool is often overloked in the modern studio. In short, it is the understanding of how distance can effect the ration between the source and the room sound (be it actual or manufactured in nature). It was said best in a magazine article … “if you want to get a Motown sound, just back the mic off of the source by a foot”.

Capturing the Actual Room Sound

When getting a sound, particularly if it’s during an overdub or a re-amp session, I’ll actually place multiple mics within the studio:

– One (or a stereo pair) for the direct pickup
– A stereo pair (often XY) at a semi-distant position (say 1-2 meters)
– A stereo room pair (often Blumlein) at 4 or more meters

These tracks are then individually recorded to the DAW for later use in the mix. The advantages to having the option to mix various distances together during mixdown is HUGE … and if the mix ends up being in surround or immersive audio, you’ll have the option of placing the room mics within the immersive soundfield. It’s that simple and effective!

Convolution Room Sound

None of this is sacred. Within the mix, if the room doesn’t match your needs, you can opt to add a simulated room sound into the mix. May favorite being the Ocean Way Studios plug-in from Universal Audio.

With this plug-in (or another convolution room/verb plugin), you can change the room sound or merge it with the originally-recorded room tracks to make your drums, guitars or overall mix sound much larger.

Here are tracks from my latest project – Gamma. These tracks incorporate many of the above acoustic and plugin ambiance elements:

David Miles Huber is a four-time Grammy-nominated producer and author of the industry-standard text “Modern Recording Techniques.” His latest music and collaborations can be heard at davidmileshuber.com.

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Whenever I’m in Berlin, I always go onto Kindle and download a good music industry-related autobiography for the u-bahn trips across town. Being a friend of Al’s and knowing that his book “On the Record” finally made it onto Kindle … I had to give it a spin.

At the beginning was the usual background info on his early beginnings into the recording studio and the music biz. This not only gives us a glimpse into the world of the early stages of music production, but Al brings it all to life by introducing us to his early musical and production mentors and how they instilled in him the foundations that make up his personal work ethic.

As we walk with him through his mid-life journey at RCA Records in LA and his work with the Jefferson Airplane, Sam Cooke and countless other artists, he begins to go much further. Now, he begins to move past the technology (which he goes into with just the right amount of depth) and into his relationships with his closest friends, clients and co-workers within the biz.

It was towards the end of the book that he goes into detail about his closest friendships and artists that he worked with from his beginnings at Capitol Records in Hollywood to the present-day. I truly loved the fact that he is open to sharing his production secrets (actually, he doesn’t keep things secret, preferring to pass them on to others and to the next generation) adding his own insights, style and choice of tools and toys in the studio.

The next highlight was his openness to talking about his dealings with sobriety and matters relating to personal relationships. Dealing with these topics don’t often come easy for those who are in the arts and are so dedicated to their work. It’s often their personal life that suffers … to those, he offers up guiding tips as to how he navigated (and continues to navigate) the more difficult waters in his own life. This is what a really good read is made of.

Lastly, knowing his collaborator, Maureen Droney (an excellent engineer/producer in her own right) … I have to believe that she also helped to bring the story to life … In my mind, I could hear her asking the questions and guiding Al in a way that help to make it the awesome book that it is.

For anyone who is interested in pursuing a life in the music industry … I would not only recommend this book, I’d say that it should be required reading. Having it all down on paper will ensure that his personal experiences, insights and his approach to his art will continue to touch present and future generations.

David Miles Huber is a four-time Grammy-nominated producer and author of the industry-standard text “Modern Recording Techniques.” His latest music and collaborations can be heard at davidmileshuber.com.

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