Monthly Archives: June 2017

The recording business looks robust of The chainsmokers

Music Connection’s annual Recording Studio Survey collects data regarding trends and activities at commercial recording studios in the United States. We survey studio owners and managers across the country, including those from major music towns. This year, almost 90 studios responded to our survey, with most reporting great news for 2017. In fact, the recording business looks robust. Indeed, the tumultuous years many studios endured appear to be over.

STUDIO BUSINESS LOOKS GREAT FOR 2017
After years of struggle, the recording studio business began picking up a few years ago and now, in 2017, it is thriving. Indeed, 66% of all the studios that responded reported an increase in business. That is the biggest increase we’ve seen since Music Connection started doing this survey.
Although recording budgets don’t match the heady days of the ‘80s and ‘90s, they are picking up and getting close to what they used to be. In fact, for the second year in a row our survey respondents noted that recording budgets are increasing! That’s a godsend for studios, especially those that rely on label work. Additionally, major labels are booking more time, while independent projects have increased, surpassing indie label work.
Due to the tremendous amount of competition in the marketplace, the need for professional and polished productions continues to be at an all-time high. Artists and producers have learned that high-quality productions get the deals, and the only way to get the quality you need to compete is in a professional setting.
Our survey shows how the turnaround that began a few years ago is gaining momentum. In fact, only a few (.04%) small studios reported a downturn in business. Overall, this year’s survey indicates that the studio business is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

LIGHTING UP WITH A NUMBER ONE DUO

This is high season for the Chainsmokers. The duo of Alex Pall and Andrew “Drew” Taggart is steamrolling through a vastly successful tour complete with a massive stage set––12 trucks, seven busses, 100,000 lbs. of lighting fixtures and an elevator with a DJ booth. The 2017 Grammy winners, whose ”Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Daya took honors for Best Dance Recording, are ruling the airwaves with singles like “Closer” and “Paris” from their No. 1 collection Memories…Do Not Open.

On this afternoon, one day after the duo took home Billboard Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Artist, Top Dance Song, Hot 100 Song and Collaboration (for “Closer”)––in addition to performing “Young” on the show––Andrew “Drew” Taggart sounds energized and effortless as he calls in for this exclusive Music Connection interview. He begins by expressing his appreciation for an opportunity to talk to a music publication on the subject of music. “Sometimes,” he wryly notes, “people want to talk about other things.”

Music Connection: We have been reading reviews from the different cities you are visiting on this epic Memories…Do Not Open Tour that is taking you across the U.S. and around the world. It sounds as if audiences are really getting off on the spectacle that you are presenting.

Andrew “Drew” Taggart: We’re having a great time––it’s a very fulfilling show for us to put on. We brought on a band, but we still maintain the DJ set and vibe. It’s something very unique andan honor to be able to bring this sound and experience into Des Moines, IA and Louisville, KY, cities that probably don’t have a dance scene at all. I remember when other artists did that for me. It feels like we’re the first kind of dance music experience some of these people are having, and that’s cool.

MC: With the massive popularity that you’ve achieved this year, has there ever been any backlash from fans who might feel that your success with a wider audience has taken you away from them?

Taggart: I’m sure some people feel that way. I remember feeling that way about artists when I had discovered them through their earlier stuff. Now I’m in that position as an artist. We’ve been lucky enough to have fans for a couple of years, and in those couple of years we’ve changed. You have to respect your fans and where you come from, but you can’t let it hinder you or be imprisoned by what they think about you. I feel like every artist has to grow.

MC: You have a live band with you on tour, correct?

Taggart: It’s about 50/50 between the live instruments and DJing. We have a drummer, and we use a lot of synth and piano, because those are the instruments we use in the studio.

MC: Are you still using Ableton as your go-to digital audio workstation (DAW) program?

Taggart: Yes, some people work on Logic or ProTools or other DAW’s. I only know Ableton. It’s funny how it’s influenced how I create music.

TAKES TO WRITE A HIT SONG

An industry veteran––a songwriting mentor who has had years of experience grooming and handling multiplatinum-selling talent––gives you specific instructions about the art & craft of hit songwriting.

1. Be up front with your story.

Look at the first two lines of your lyric. Imagine someone came up to you and read just those two lines. How much has the, “who, what, where, why, and how” of the story been communicated? If you’re still lost after hearing those first two lines (i.e., you don’t know what’s happening to the protagonist or have any idea what the song is about), then a record executive, producer or casual listener will likely be uninterested in hearing more.

2. Make every line count.

Go to any of your lines. Read just that one out loud. Does it make sense? Could it stand on its own without the support of the preceding and subsequent lines? It should. Every line should present a complete and independent picture for your listeners. Every line should also ultimately speak to the title of your song. Your title is your theme, and good writing never strays from its theme.

3. Vary the length of your lines.

Type your lyric flush left on a sheet of paper (by the way, if your lyric doesn’t fit on one sheet, you’re in trouble). Can your draw a neat box around your lyric? How about your chorus or bridge? Do most of the lines hit the right side of the box? If this is true, then your song will likely sound monotonous. You need variety in the lengths of lines and patterns of lyrics. Look for a really ragged right edge as a sign that your lyrics are conversational and rhythmically interesting.

4. Vary the number of lines between chorus and verse.

Count the number of lines in each of your verses. Now, count the lines in your chorus. If they’re exactly the same (e.g., 4-line verse and a 4-line chorus), then you’re probably not contrasting enough between the two sections. That contrast helps the song feel fresh and exciting when played.

5. Match the beat between verses.

Count the number of beats in the lyric of verse 1, line 1. Now, count the number of beats in verse 2, line 2. Do they match? What we often see is something like 8 beats in verse 1, line 2, and 13 beats in verse 2, line 2. No way those extra 5 beats are going to fit comfortably on the melody you worked so hard to establish in the first verse.

6. Give yourself a title of power.

The position of your title tells the listener what your main point is. There are certain power positions in a song, all dependent on the structure you set up. Is it a verse/bridge structure (A,A,B,A)? Then your title will be in the first or last line of the verse. Think of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Exceptions are rare, and require strong melodic emphasis to counteract the weaker positioning.

For a verse/chorus structure, the power positions are at the beginning or end of the chorus. Pick one for your title. Keep in mind that repetition of the title can work here. Think, “Yellow Submarine,” by the Beatles.