Audio Chats – Interview with Marc Cholette – Winner of Fantasy Dwarf Music Gig1

Marc Cholette

Being an artist working in a crowdsoucring platform presents a series of challenges in addition to what normal industry professionals face. In order to help our talent stay at the cutting edge of delivering value in this new kind of marketplace, Audio Catch is engaged in reaching out to rising stars within our talent pool to help share their insights and values with other talents out there that want to lock in those Gigs. For our inaugural Audio Chat, we are lucky to interview Marc Cholette, winner of the highly competitive and creatively challenge Fantasy Dwarf Temple Gig

Audio Catch
Marc, first let’s talk about being an artist in the crowdsourcing arena. What would you say is the greatest challenge when working as an artist in a crowdsourcing context? How did you overcome it?

Marc Cholette
Getting lost in the crowd… Sometimes the project receives over a hundred demos and the client must sort through this giant stack of entries, hopefully noticing yours. Making a custom demo is one way to avoid instant elimination and I would say using your instincts is the other. Ask questions, contact the client or ask your question in the forum in order to really find out what they want. Sometimes they might say “rocky edge” and to you it means Metalica… to them it might mean Bob Seger. Knowledge is power and maybe even some money.

Audio Catch
You were able to blow the client away with your track despite the intense competition from some incredible artists, what do you think gave you the edge?

Marc Cholette
With the Dwarven Temple job, i felt that it needed an orchestral style combined with some dwarven vocalisation. I happen to like scoring orchestral music and I also sang the dwaven chants myself which i think might have given me the edge. I then doubled my vocal with EASTWEST’s Symphonic Choir and used the Wordbuilder tool to match my own vocal which in this case was singing “Moradin” The virtual choir was able to pronounce these syllables rather well and when matched with my own vocal and a rich orchestral score.. it sealed the deal!

Audio Catch
What is some advice that you can provide to your fellow artists in the Audio Catch community? (Technical, Career, etc.)

Marc Cholette
I often see jobs posted here at Audiocatch and other sites where the client is looking for a specific sound, acted part or musical composition. I can’t believe it when people just stick something there from their archives that doesn’t fit the bill, or simply post a voice demo of their previous work. Lazyness! My advice is to take the time to create a custom demo for each posted job that you choose to. Read and then re-read the job brief and be sure spend your time wisely to give the client exactly what you think they are looking for. Competition is tough out there but by creating custom demos,this you are uping your chances to resonate with the client.

Audio Catch
Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Marc Cholette
The world has changed in 30 years. All of my previous jobs were through direct contact with the clients: in-person meetings, phone calls, face to face contact. My personality was a big part of why people hired me. They liked working with me. Now I’m a name on a screen in a sea of applicants. Frankly, it’s harder than it ever was and unless it’s a very large job, the pay is probably worse. However, I can find new contacts myself and Audiocatch and others like it open up a world of opportunities that simply didn’t exist before. I like it, and I’m going to like doing much more of it in the future.

See you out there!
Thank you,

If you’d like to follow up on the career of Marc Cholette, please make sure to visit his Audio Catch profile!

Marc Cholette
Email Address – [email protected]
URL – www.majomamusic.com

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Audio Caught! Featured Music – Great Hall of Moradin

Talk to the Hand! Black BGAudio Caught! Is a new segment where we here at Audio Catch would like to spend some time to highlight auditions which deserve special attention and recognition. There are many more tracks other than the winner of a Gig that are simply amazing, having extraordinary composition, arrangement, creativity, and/or expertise.

Today, we would like to highlight another track from the ground-breaking Gig, Fantasy Gaming – Dwarf Temple/Religious Music. The audition, Great Hall of Moradin brought to us by artist Richard Daskas

The client for this Gig gave artists a great degree of creative license, looking for a “track [that] MUST SOUND DWARVEN and IT MUST SOUND REVERENT / RELIGIOUS.” This is by no means, an easy task as the client purposely left out specifics.

What clearly sets this piece apart is its complex composition, including thematic gregorian chanting which not only adds a very real sense of customization but immersion into the epic feel of the piece early on as it unfolds. To compliment this quickly rising epic feel, deep brass along with strings drive the emotion home accented by the thematic anvil strikes which from our understanding, critically plays into the feeling of what it means to be “dwarf”. Lastly, Richard doesn’t just make a custom piece of music, he takes the listener on an adventure, varying the energy and breaking up the piece which unfolds into mini-chapters of a story.

Richard is truly an amazing talent, able to dive into the source of a client’s needs and with some creative license, will surprise any client lucky enough to have him on board.

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Introducing Private Gigs! How do you get an invite to these exclusive Gigs?

Introducing Private Gigs! These are Invite Only opportunities for our artists where the auditions and the client are hidden from the general public except for those participating.

Clients running Private Gigs search through our artist database, reading through profiles and listening to demos within the Sample Slot space. Audio Catch also sends across suggestions based on artists with completed profiles. From there, clients can begin to send invites to selected artists to participate.

So, what can you do to improve your exposure and chances of being invited to a Private Gig? Quite simply fill out your Audio Catch artist profile completely and upload your best work to the Sample Slots. Make sure to TAG each of your demos too so that clients searching for something specific can find you.

In order to do this, login to Audio Catch and then go to “My Home.” From there click on the “Edit Profile” button and fill out all of your details. From there upload your best demos under your Sample Slots. We allocate 2 slots for free, but you can always purchase more in order highlight further breadth and variety.

We are excited for the additional opportunities that we can provide to our community and, of course, if you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

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Support the Audio Catch Community: Brad Dassey

 

One of our esteemed artists, Brad Dassey registered with Audio Catch as a voice talent when we first went live into Beta and won our Audio Catch ID Gig with an amazing impersonation of Beavis and Butthead.

He’s now in the process of auditioning his voice talent in Chicago Illinois on January 27th with Americas Got Talent.  We’d like to help him and send some encouragement his way. The simplest way to support Brad is to watch his video and share it with all your friends.  Check it out here.

And if you happen to see Brad on America’s Got Talent, please do vote for him. :)

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Music: How To Make Chiptune: Bringing 8-Bit Back To Life

By: Dj Cutman

Sounds from 20XX: 8-bit music, or Chiptune, is the art of creating new music with classic, nostalgia-inducing sounds found in antiquated video games and computer hardware, like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Gameboy. Originally restricted to almost exclusive use within video games, Chiptune music has now grown well beyond the cartage into its own unique style of electronic music.

The word Chiptune was affectionately applied to this sub-genre of electronic music in the 90′s, as communities of musicians around the globe began to assemble around the love of this classic sound. The word “Chiptune” was given because the music was primarily created on a system with a single hardware sound chip (much unlike modern computers and recording equipment) Now-a-days, there are many ways to create this type of music, from running homebrew software on a modified Gameboy, to downloading standalone software and plug-ins for modern Digital Audio Workstations (DAW).

In this post, I’ll take you through a few methods of creating Chiptunes, from the time-honored Tracker software, to modern emulation and sampling. But first, let’s listen to a classic and familiar Chiptune here.

Ah, the Super Mario theme. It would be a rare set of ears that this tune hasn’t graced in one form or another. This particular tune was programmed for the Nintendo Entertainment System’s 2A03 sound chip, with its nostalgic waveforms and noisy percussion.

1. HARDWARE

There are a plethora of hardware options to create Chiptune music, each noted for its signature sound chip.  I’ll go over one of the most popular for the modern day Chiptune composer, the Nintendo Gameboy. (For an extensive list of popular Chiptune hardware, visit Wikipedia)

a. Nintendo Gameboy (DMG-001)

Loved for its nostalgic, expressive, and noisy sounds, the Nintendo Gameboy is arguably the most popular method to create Chiptunes today. This rise in popularity is due largely in part to Johan Kotlinski’s homebrew software Little Sound Dj (LSDJ). The software is offered as a downloadable ROM that you can play on a computer’s emulator, or copy onto a USB Cart and play it on a regular ol’ gameboy. A lot of Chiptune musicians (myself included) started writing Chiptune music on an emulator, and later on invested in a Gameboy and a cart for live performances or for studio recordings. The downfall of emulating, is the sound produced isn’t as accurate as with a real Gameboy, and can sometimes sound thin, or less listenable. (when you start working with a gameboy, you’ll find making unlistenable music surprisingly easy ;)

If you’ve seen a live Chiptune show, you’ve probably noticed Gameboys modified with lights, knobs, wires and switches that Nintendo had nothing to do with. Groups like Modolith have made an enterprise of modifying and repurposing Gameboys with backlights, professional sounding outputs, and more hacks to make them a flexible live instrument.


Here’s a shot of mine, outfitted with a backlight, RCA outputs and a 1/4 instrument out for an amplifier.  Even with these modifications, the heart,  soul, and sound chip of the Gameboy remain in-tact.

2. SOFTWARE

a. Chiptune Trackers

Traditional Chiptunes are programmed on software called Audio Trackers, which allow for step-by-step programming of music. Popular trackers include MilkyTracker, FamiTracker (for producing music for the Nintendo Entertainment System AKA The Famicom), and Renoise. A comprehensive list of trackers can be found here. Trackers have a unique culture and workflow, and in the right hands can be a very powerful method of music composition.

Check out this MilkyTracker Chiptune created by Dj Odin

If you’re more of a fan of modern music composing, or have some experience with DAWs like Pro Tools, Live, Garageband, or FL Studio, there are many plug-ins that can create Chiptune waveforms. This will allow you to create a Chiptune sound with MIDI data, instead of having to learn new software like a tracker.

b. Chiptune Plug-ins

I use a plug-in by Japanese band YMCK called Magical 8bit Plug. It features five wave forms (square, triangle, 25%pulse, 12.5% pulse and noise), each with its own characteristic qualities. Magical 8bit also offers the basic synth controls (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, Sweep) and will run in any DAW that accepts VST plug-ins. I like its simplicity, and it uses a relativity low CPU load. I find Chiptune plug-ins usually require some amount of EQ , post-processing or mastering to sit well in a finished track..

Other plug-ins like Plogue’s Chipsounds offer much more comprehensive emulation of various Sound Chips, including two of my favorites, the 2A03 (NES) and the YM2615 (Sega Genesis). Plogue has nailed these sounds down to the detail, including options to limit range based on their original system specs, and other idiosyncrasies that make these sounds so nostalgic. Listen to a demo of Chipsounds.

c. Samples

There are a variety of 8-bit sample packs available online, like this one by Bucky. Sample packs offer recorded versions of Chiptune sounds and instruments. This eliminates the need for plug-ins, and can be used with trackers or other DAWs. Samples can be a great way to quickly gain access to Chiptune sounds, but you lose some creative flexibility by not being able to generate the sounds in real time. I like using Chiptune samples for remixes and instrumental works, such as for my GameChops remix series, which are almost entirely composed with samples.

3. COMMUNITY

Regular Chiptune events such as Philadelphia’s 8static, Baltimore’s Byte Nyte and international concert series BlipFestival and Chip-Con have been growing as a response to global interest in live Chiptune performance. YouTube channels such as the Chip Music Chronicle have been created to document these shows and the global Chiptune movement.

4. FREE MUSIC

One of the main reasons there has been such an explosion in the popularity of Chiptunes over the past few years is the growth of communities like 8bitcollective and 8bitpeoples, which offer a wealth of free Chiptune music for download. Artists from around the world can submit their music for critique and release through these channels. Netlables, like Berlin’s BleepStreet, distribute professionally produced Chiptune music by the world’s top artists.

5. ABOUT THE WRITER

I’ve been a fan of Chiptune music since my childhood,  I remember being a kid and plugging headphones into my Gameboy and turning the volume up all the way. My recent project, Dj CUTMAN, is a live-performance DJ act that features predominately Chiptunes through the lens of a DJ mixer. I offer free mixes, remixes of classic Video Game soundtracks, and even a few original Chiptune productions. If you’ve enjoyed my post, please check out my Audio Catch profile, add me on Facebook and Twitter, where I continuously post new and exciting Chiptune music. For more Chiptune music RIGHT NOW, visit my blog, VideoGameDJ.com

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Voice Overs: Recording on the Go Tips

By: Rachel F. Hirsch

Whether you are an actor or musician your career is bound to take you on the road from time to time. But when voice over work supplements your income, you can’t let your travel plans affect your ability to get in front of the mic. ALWAYS travel prepared. Here’s how: 

1. Bring your laptop. Of course any laptop with recording software will do, but my preference is my MacBook Air. Its light weight and slim frame make it perfect for both my home recording space (my closet) and travel.

2. Have a travel mic. Unlike the fragile condenser studio microphones that require an interface and various other pieces of equipment, a USB mic plugs directly into the computer and records from there. Recording with a USB mic isn’t ideal for sound, but when you are on the go there are some great options out there. Here are a few good places to start:

  • - Apogee’s One: This is a great tool because it’s actually an interface and a condenser mic in one. It’s made for use with laptops and is very compact with good quality sound production. You can read more about it here. (For Mac users only. Sorry PC guys).

  • - Blue Snowball: If you are really on a budget Blue is a great place to look in general. And their Snowball mic provides good bang for your buck (in this case your $99 bucks). It works for both Mac and PC.

  • - You can also check out Edge Studio’s Microphone Selector for more USB and travel options.

3. Set up the right environment. It doesn’t matter what the quality of your mic is if you can’t find a suitable space for recording. This part requires some creativity. Here are a few ideas:

  • - If you are staying in a hotel, request a room that is at the end of hallway, or on a corner, with a window that doesn’t face the street. (A room with a courtyard view is a good choice). You can usually outfit a closet space with towels and pillows to dampen the sound. The same can be done if you are staying in someone’s house. I recommend rigging up a towel behind your head and over the recording equipment. Almost like a tent. This acts as a good shield. And be sure to turn off the a/c in the room.
  • - Even better, if you are staying in a quiet neighborhood, a car can provide a great dead space. You can even cover all the windows with towels for added effect. (This is where a small, light laptop and a durable USB mic really come in handy).

Here I am on a trip to Alabama, recording an audition in my mother’s truck!
  • - If this all sounds like too much work you could always purchase a traveling recording booth. Harlan Hogan Makes a Portabooth that travels flat but unfolds into an insulated box shape. If you have some extra money to spend, and a little bit of extra room in your suitcase this could be very useful. It can also serve double duty by adding an extra layer of insulation for your home recording space.
  • - If you like the portable booth idea but don’t want to buy one, why not make your own? Glue in some insulation foam from the hardware store (the same kind you might see in a recording booth),but leave room for your mic and other equipment to fit inside when closed. The case can now serve double duty. Transport your recording equipment via the case while traveling. The insulation serves as a cushion and protective layer. When recording, set up your mic inside- the case is open at a right angle with one sideserving as an insulated base and the other serving as insulation for the back of the mic. This, paired with your outfitted closet or car, will serve as a great alternative to a traditional studio space.

4. The anytime pop filter. What about those pesky p’s? You don’t want to lug a pop filter on your trip too. Don’t fret! All you need is a knee-high or stocking and a wire hanger. You can easily spread the stocking over a bent wire hanger and voilà! You have your pop filter. The hook part of the hanger is also useful for positioning purposes.

What did I tell you? It’s easy to travel prepared for anything. If you have the barebones, a good travel mic and a laptop, you can make any space work in your favor. Don’t be afraid to get creative. And if you come up with some other ideas that you don’t see here…let me know!

For more information on why a home recording studio is valuable you can check out another one of my articles here.

Good Luck!

- Rachel F. Hirsch

Audio Catch Profile
Personal Site
I Hope I Get It – NY Voice Actors
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Music/Legals: Music Licensing Must Know Basics

By: Kyler McGillicuddy

Most of the time you hear music it is being licensed.  Radio, television shows, advertisements, movies, sports arenas, retail stores, and restaurants all license music to help their business.  But, music licensing is both a very profitable and very confusing area.  To help you get a better grasp on music licensing this article will walk you through some basic licenses and what they allow the license holder to do, or not do.

There are 4 often used licenses in the music industry today: Mechanical, Master Use (or Master Recording), Public Performance, and Synchronization (sync or synch).   The reason there are different licenses is to cover the different aspects of copyright protection.   To show you exactly what each license entails, let’s discuss each license separately.

First, we’ll define the most often used license, the Mechanical License.  A Mechanical License grants the ability to record and sell a song written by someone else.  Any time you hear a cover song, for one example, you are listening to a Mechanical License at work.    There are some limitations to a Mechanical License, however.  With a Mechanical License you cannot change the fundamental character or melody of a song.  This has to deal with the specific copyright it deals with.  We’ll get into exactly what copyright in another article.  Originally, you would have to track down the songwriter, or their publisher, and negotiate a price to use their song.  Nowadays, you can obtain a Mechanical License through agencies like Harry Fox.  You can even be granted a Mechanical License automatically without direct permission, called a Compulsory License.

Compulsory Licensing requires some specific circumstances.  One requirement, to obtain the license is to give the songwriter notice that you are going to use the work, and submit statutorily defined payment (9.1 cents per unit currently).  Another requirement is the songwriter must have recorded the song first before the compulsory component is allowed.  The last requirement is that the song be used privately; meaning that you can’t broadcast the song, only sell it.  The next most commonly used license is the Master Use, or Master Recording License.

The Master Use License grants the right to use a specific recording or performance.  For example, radio stations and any place that pipes in music uses a Master Use License.  This allows them to play songs performed by specific artists.  If you wanted to make a compilation CD of all the greatest pop music in the last 6 months called “Band Wagon Explosion 2011”, sung by the artists who made them famous, you would need a Master Use License.  In all of these examples you would still need a Mechanical License because a Master Use License only covers the specific performance, not the underlying musical composition.  These two licenses are often found together, as with Synchronization licensing.

The third license is the Public Performance license.  It doesn’t do quite what it sounds like it should.  The Public Performance License is required to have a piece of music played for the public.  For example, music played on the radio, in restaurants, bars, athletic clubs, stadiums, and retail stores are all ‘public’ performances and require this license.

Fourth, and finally, is the Synchronization (Sync) license.  Sync licensing is simply playing a piece of music in conjunction with images.  It works like a Mechanical License, except there is no compulsory component.  You have to negotiate the license fee with the songwriter.  Television shows, movies, and advertisements all use Sync licenses.  The Sync license also only includes the use of the lyric and melody of a piece of music.  The actual use of a recording (Master Use), and Public Performance license, if you are going to actually show the video to the public, must still be obtained as well.

Those are the 4 basic, and most often used, types of music licenses in use today.  If you know the basics of these 4 types you’ll have a firm start to understanding the complex mess that is music licensing.  In another article we’ll talk about some of the licenses more specifically, what copyright they are associated with, what to expect in an agreement, what to watch out for, and how much they can pay you.

- Kyler

Kyler McGillicuddy started as a classical guitarist, having attended the North Carolina School for the Arts summer program while in high school and later on Peabody Conservatory of Music before realizing performance wasn’t his calling.  Eventually his career path led him to law school and now he helps musicians and artists navigate the often difficult realm of contracts.  He has experience in all types of entertainment law and licensing contracts, including sync agreements for radio, television, and movies, publishing agreements, record label agreements, work for hire contracts, consignment agreements, and more.  He offers services in both the entertainment legal field and general music consulting.

Website: www.mcgillicuddylawfirm.com

Twitter: @artistmcgill

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Voice Overs: 5 Steps to Developing Accents

By: Rachel F. Hirsch

Having a knack for accents can help expand your voice over business. In order to begin developing this skill there are some points to keep in mind. 

1. What is the difference between accents and dialects?
Accent refers to sound and pronunciation while dialect refers to language. For example take the British word lift. I might speak in a perfect Standard America Accent, but when referring to an elevator I use the word lift. While my accent is American, here I would have incorporated a word into my speech directly from standard British dialect. Therefor my accent and dialect would not match. Knowing that accent refers only to pronunciation clues us in to the next point:

2. Where to start with accent development?
The first step to figuring out how to take on a new accent is observation. Pronunciation comes from tongue placement and lip shape. Next time you have a conversation watch the other person’s mouth. Where does her tongue go? Does she open her mouth wide when saying vowels or is there a lot of tension in her lips? Now think about how those movements and placement affect the way her words sound. The next step is to mimic those movements and create the same sound. Congratulations you’re on your way to learning a new accent!

3. The musicality of language
Cadence, or phrasing, is another big part of accent distinction. Some accents rise up in pitch at the end of each sentence while others employ a sort of monotone. Others still may generally speed through the middle of the sentence while stretching out certain words. When working on a particular accent it’s important to pay attention to these details.

4. The beauty of trigger words
Once you’ve successfully developed an accent you will want to be able to access it quickly. One great way to do this is to find a trigger word or phrase. Whenever I need to use a Russian accent I think of what the word hello sounds like in that accent. I say it out loud and voila! I’m suddenly Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Natasha. Your trigger word or phrase will probably be different for every accent you learn, but as you are developing them pay attention to the words that stick out in your mind as really emphasizing that sound.

5. Resources
There are so many free and easy ways to access worldwide accents. Here are a few:

- Make friends with people from all over the world. Start observing their speech, as we talked about before, and get feedback.
- YouTube. Find videos of people who speak in whatever accent you are trying to learn. Watch and listen. Mimic. Repeat. While this is not a video of native  accents, YouTube sensation Amy Walker can move through 21+ accents seamlessly and nearly flawlessly in 2 1/2 minutes. Watch her mouth. Listen to her. You will learn a lot. Check it out.
- Visit IDEA: International Dialects of English Archive. It’s the most comprehensive overview around of international accents applied to the English language. The only thing missing here are videos, but listen and read. The site is jam-packed with incredible information!
- Work with a coach. There are some great coaches out there, but I recommend Linda Jones at Edge Studio for an accent reduction/acquisition coach specifically for voice over.

6. You are a master at acquiring accents.
What now? Accent ability is useful for museum, animation and video game voice over. It can also come in handy for audio book recordings and even ESL programs.

Good luck!

- Rachel F. Hirsch

Audio Catch Profile
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I Hope I Get It – NY Voice Actors
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Music/Sound Design: How to Build a Basic Drum Loop

By Sean “Cheshyre” Hodges

I’ve found that creating drum loops is one of the most fun yet horribly challenging things I’ve had to learn. I mostly create drum loops for techno and electronic music and I use a program called Fruity Loops. In my opinion, it is the greatest music creating software out there.

1. The first thing you want to figure out is “what kind of feel do you want for your song”? Do you want a heart pounding club smashing house beat or would you rather focus on a slow, progressive, thought-provoking break beat? Whatever it is you’re looking to create, the beat you make will serve as the backbone to your song and is therefore, very important.

2.  The second most important part of ANY beat is picking the right sounds. You can have the most intricate beat in the world but it will sound like a 1981 Yamaha keyboard if you don’t have the right sounds.  In Fruity Loops there is a function called the piano roll. It has every note in every octave with a keyboard on the left side so that you can test the sound before you create the riff.

It also has the timing scale so that it’s easier to create riffs in the timing that works for you. I use the piano roll for everything because you can change the pitch, placement, shape, sound, and timing for every single sound in your song. Simply place a column in the desired section of each bar to create a beat.

3. Another huge part of electronic music is using effects. For those heart-pounding club smashing house beats, I find that adding a little distortion and reverb to the drum kick makes for a “full” house sound. Another good habit to get into is using some compressors for your kicks, snares and hats. A good compressor will keep your loop from sounding too “crowded” and it will stop it from clipping. Phasers, flangers, reverb, delays, distortion, panning, chorus… get used to these names and start using them as much as possible. You never know what an effect can do to your loop until you apply it. Songs will take on a whole new feel that you may have never thought of otherwise.

4. The combination of proper sounds, effects, and creating the right beat for the project, will increase your chances of success.

Above is a screenshot of the usual windows that I have open in Fruity Loops. Each sound has a pattern created in the piano roll so that I can visualize what the beat sounds like. The effects mixer is always open so that I can keep track of which effects I have going in each channel. I always create the basics first and then go back through and “fine tune” everything after. For example; I will put all of the snares, hats, and claps on mixer channel #2 and apply a compressor to manage the high peaks to that channel when I’ve got the rhythm down. I’ll add some reverb or distortion or extra bass to effects channel #3 for the kick to make it sound more full or hollow or just plain brutal. Then I’ll add another compressor/limiter to the mixer’s master channel so that all of the sounds together, including their separate effects, will go through a final “check” just to make sure that no “random” sounds get through to the final edition.

I hope that this very basic run through on making beats will help some of you to fine tune your sounds or even help some of you to get the songs you’re working on to sound just a little bit better. No matter what you do though, have fun!

Sean “Cheshyre” Hodges

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Voice Overs: Getting Work by Promoting More Than Yourself

By Andrew Romano

How many times does this scenario happen to you: you show up for an audition, sit around with 10-30 other people, get in the booth for a few minutes, and head back down the elevator replaying the entire episode, having next-to-zero clue whether you good, bad—or worse—indifferent.

There are too many commodities in this world; your voice does not need to be one.  So what am I talking about?

Take Starbucks as an example: they have four times as many locations as the next 10 largest chains combined.  Despite having a mediocre cup of coffee that costs more than a 2-liter bottle of soda, they continuously trounce their competition and continue to grow.

Why?

Well, they do a few things really well.  First, their coffee is pretty good.  It’s not great, but it’s not awful.  Second, you know what to expect (even your favorite local diner or street vendor may burn a pot every now and again).  Third, and probably most importantly, they seem to sell just about anything but their coffee.  Go to their website right now and see for yourself: as I type this there are 268 words on their initial splash page.  And yet, the word “coffee” only appears 10 times.  That’s less than 5%.  They have a human interest video that takes up almost half the page!  There are blog posts about how Barbra Streisand can make a mean pot roast.  When you pop onto their free Wi-Fi, your interim homepage is all about their free-song-of-the-week (every Tuesday).  And so on.

Starbucks has three primary keys to its success:

1) a good product,
2) consistency,
3) and (most importantly) the peripherals.

When you overspend for a decent cup of coffee, you are obviously buying more than just that cup.  You know exactly what you are going to get—flavor, temperature, timeliness—and you feel good about overspending because their stores are usually orderly, clean, and the exact opposite temperate of whatever it’s like outside.  Starbucks is successful because of everything they bring to the transaction other than their coffee.

What do you bring to the recording booth, other than your voice?  What are your peripherals?  These peripherals are your differentiators—that is, what makes you different than the 29 other voice actors in the room or the other 129 who have submitted demos alongside you online?

For some of us, it’s our pure presence and command of attention.  For others, it’s our infectious happiness.  For others, it’s the connections we have that may be advantageous to the producer, agent, or casting director.

So ask yourself: what makes me different?

There is no right answer to this question.  The right answer will only come once you’ve discerned what that is for you (look that word up, class).  If you don’t want to be “just another” resume, headshot, email address, or voice sitting in a pile somewhere, don’t be.  Make it clear from every introduction you make—and every interaction you have thereafter—what it is that makes you, you.

Different is not good or bad.  It’s just—different.

Just make sure when you ask yourself about what makes you different, you’re ready to take notes.

- Andrew
My Audio Catch Profile

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