One Man/Woman Productions - What Are the Biggest Things That

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radionowhere
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One Man/Woman Productions - What Are the Biggest Things That

Post by radionowhere » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:00 pm

Hey People:

I know there are a lot of jack-of-all-trades, one person operations out there who are writing, performing, recording and mixing their own music.

I spent today doing just that myself (again), bumping up against all the usual obstacles that either slow me down or call a complete halt to the proceedings, and it got me wondering what this process is like for other people.

For instance, on my tracks (basically pop/rock stuff), vocals and acoustic guitar are typically the only mix elements that actually involve moving air. I use virtual instruments for everything else, and I always have a hard time giving those instruments the realistic room sound that their real counterparts automatically generate when recorded with microphones.

Would love to hear from anyone else who does this - what do you struggle with? Groove? Vocals? Compression? Perspective? Let's hear it!
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curtiswyant
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Post by curtiswyant » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:36 pm

Obviously you can't record everything live at once ;)

The hardest part for me is getting sounds and monitoring. I can't listen through the monitors while I play a loud guitar amp or drums. I have good headphones but it's not the same. So I spend a lot of time tracking and listening back before I finally save a take. As far as performance goes, I don't have any problems.

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lyman
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Post by lyman » Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:49 pm

In no particular order: percussion/groove, using untreated living spaces for tracking and mixing, improper monitoring, vocals, time, money, motivation. Everything else is great though!
Last edited by lyman on Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by kslight » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:48 pm

Nah I like doing the solo thing. No one to disagree with. These days I work as a duo though. I usually involve a lot of real instruments. The biggest struggle is that it all sounds yourself, for better or worse... You never know what a real drummer would have played but here's whatever lazy beat you put on there...

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Post by E.Bennett » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:47 pm

try putting a mic in the room and record the virtual instruments playing back on your monitors. that should help put them in a similar space to the acoustic instruments.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:16 pm

To me the most important thing is the story.

A song ain't worth caca without that.

The rest is window dressing, and comes directly from the lyrics and the intention
behind the lyrics, if any.

If it is an instrumental, then I like to have something that the ear hooks onto at all times.
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Post by fossiltooth » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:19 pm

The biggest obstacle is probably the lack of allies.

I can't overstate that enough.

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Post by jgimbel » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:04 pm

There are two obstacles for me: one is allowing myself to believe a take is good enough. I like to push myself but sometimes focus into details that I wouldn't mind if it were someone else I was producing or tracking.

The other obstacle is playing live. I've been recording myself since long before I started recording other people, and I love working by myself. But for example I took a break from my own material for a couple years to focus on recording other bands, and now I got back into it. I've got an album pretty much wrapped up, and honestly I've been question even pursuing it at all because of how difficult it has been to get a band together. It's all scheduling, and it can be hard to get people to be invested in a project that they haven't written the parts for unless you're paying them, and it's hard to pay people regularly if you're not making money from it yourself. And I don't want to put out this album without having a bigger fan base and whatnot, and playing the songs out seems like a somewhat necessary part of the process, and I don't know that I can do that. It's hard to have your music career, or lack thereof, rely on something this.

Recording is the fun part!

(PS anyone in Philly that loves indie rock is open to being in a band, and wants to be the first to hear these songs? ha)
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Post by dfuruta » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:46 am

I work mostly by myself, sometimes getting friends to play various instruments I can't (often, drums). I don't use virtual instruments or anything like that. Even if some instrument isn't played very well, I still prefer the real thing to a synthesized version.

The biggest difficulty, for me, is the same as with any musical project: writing good songs and arrangements. The sound and even the performance don't matter as much.

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Post by vvv » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:37 am

The best part of working by myself is not having to listen to other's opinions of the material, process, results, and having speed/efficiency.

The worst part of working by myself is not having other's opinions of the material, process, results.

The best part of working with other's is having other's opinions of the material, process, results - sometimes.

The worst part of working with others is having to listen to other's opinions of the material, process, results, and lack of speed/efficiency - sometimes.
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Post by kung_fu_elvis » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:29 am

Flying 'solo' so to speak has become a necessary evil for me... With a 10 month old in the house, drum sessions are usually limited to a 20 minute window... which, makes it hard for me to schedule a 'competent' drummer.

I do enjoy that I can take my time...
All too often, when working with others I find a lot of 'soo, did you mix that yet?' inquiries.

The ability/luxury of sometimes putting a song aside for a month is precious for perspective, and occasionally will allow time for new parts to 'mentally develop'.

I will echo the difficulty when it's time to play things live, but, I always ensure no matter how outlandish a production gets, it can still stand on it's own as a solo acoustic/vocal piece.


-Mike

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Post by radionowhere » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:54 am

Cool responses, everybody - thanks for taking the time!

Interesting to see how many and which issues pop up for multiple people...and which ones don't. Like, I would never have guessed that "improper monitoring" was such a widespread issue.

Totally get the "lack of allies" and "finding time to track with a 10-month old in the house" things. I've been trying to bring allies into the project by hooking up with photographers and videographers, since it'd be insane to try to take those things on myself, and it's always good to have other people with skin in the game. And I've been dealing with the kid in the house issue by...just not recording as much music. Tough to get around that one.
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Post by vvv » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:55 pm

Another prob I have working by myself is that the talent is always getting drunk ...


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Snarl 12/8
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:10 pm

For me, the big challenge used to be being able to hold the finished sound in my head while I did all the tracking. That way I could play the drums to the bass part (even though it wasn't there) etc.

I've pretty much stopped making solo recorded music about 5 years ago, and I came to realize, after watching this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se8kcnU-uZw <-- or perhaps a non-TED talk version of it, I can't remember exactly) that my biggest obstacle is that I can't imagine a venue for my music any more. I simply can't imagine anyone other than myself listening to it, so I have no idea what needs to be created to fill the void that exists without my music there. The void is in a void, rendering my music null and void.

What certifies me as insane is that I can't seem to "put it down." I keep planning to build a room, buying TapeOp, buying gear, practicing, etc., etc. Just not much "hitting record" going on. I've been planning to record a series of covers to see if I can get my mojo/groove back, but I'm completely self taught on everything except drums. (And mostly self-taught there.) I don't know a single "real" chord on guitar, or scale on bass, etc. So, that makes it really, really slow going trying to cop other people's shit if it has the least bit of musicianship or compositional integrity to it.
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Post by vvv » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:35 pm

Snarl 12/8 wrote: I simply can't imagine anyone other than myself listening to it, ...
There are those who primarily create for the listener/audience, and those who primarily do for themselves.

Neither is better'n t'other.

And I've done the band thing, hopefully will again, but it's not any better, to me, than working alone, just a different way to get at the music.

FWIW, I like recording as an art-form in itself.

And sure, I like the idear someone has listened to what I've recorded and gotten something from it. But if no one ever does again, I'm still gonna play/write/record.

It's my art-form, how I get at the music.
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