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Two Track Nation
Old 12th September 2004
  #1
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Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

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Two Track Nation

More charting songs than ever before are starting life as 2-track instrumental beats intended as songwriting templates for artists & writers. This has influenced the music business at every level.

Questions:

1) Are there any related problems/issues which crop up repeatedly in files (which begin life this way) delivered to you for mixing?

2) Do you see this trend expanding, or do you foresee a resurgence in audience demand for song-specific (as opposed to beat-oriented) production?

3) Do you feel this trend is more driven by market forces (i.e.: audience demand changing over the years) or industry forces (i.e.: continued consolidations within the industry forcing A & R's to look for the closest thing to a "sure bet"). Or has digital technology pushed this M.O. to the forefront? Or perhaps has this process allowed writer/artists to keep control of more publishing income?

4) Which artists are particularly good at seeing the masterpiece song within a 2-track beat? Which beat producers are leading the craft right now?

5) How much muting of parts and other alterations are typically left to the mixing stage? Which artists are more thorough, and which leave more leeway toward the end of the creative process?

6) This is an open-ended question, but do you think that, with production, digital mix/remix production, and mixing being more important to the marketplace viability of music than ever before, should there be a reevaluation of legal matters and income streams within the industry, particularly publishing income?

7) What is/should be the role of music education and traditionally educated musicians in this new music economy? Do you think colleges and higher learning facilities (4-year colleges, specialty schools such as MI and Full Sail, etc.) are teaching the right "bag of tricks?"

8) If a young individual has a given skill set including instrumental, arranging, and engineering abilities as well as a creative passion for music and (hypothetically) equal talent & potential within, say, beat/track production & creation, live-oriented artist production, composition for film/TV/licensing, songwriting, and mixing, in which pursuit would he/she be likely to find the greatest chance of long-term industry payoff, particularly creative (opportunities with top artists) and financial? Please, if possible, avoid the "follow your muse" answer -- it is important to many of us "up-and-comers" to know where the greatest opportunities are and how to stack the deck in our favor!
Let's face it: if we were following our muses, many of us would be strapping on guitars seeking world tours instead of hooking up mics seeking producer points. Or perhaps many (including me!) of us who make a living in music and have our craft together (i.e.: are routinely making well-distributed and/or release-worthy product) just wanna do it all but need the financial/industry momentum to be more than just a "blip" on the industry's radar screen.
Old 14th September 2004
  #2
Guest Moderator - September 08
 
Dave Pensado's Avatar
 

Greg!!???

Do you mean songs that come to me with a two track instrumental and vocals? In other words the track is not split out into its various individual components? I am seeing a lot more of this. Let me know and I will attempt to answer your question.
Old 14th September 2004
  #3
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Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

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No, I didn't necessarily mean two-track as delivered to you,
hence question #2 -- the "beat oriented" vs. "song-specific" production question....I assumed that most of 'em are "broken down" and multitracked by the time they get to you. I meant the music business's current "beat economy," in which producers interest artist/writers in 2-track instrumentals, get them to write to 'em, and sort out the details later (i.e.: track breakdowns and publishing, etc.) depending on which beats they liked. To me, the increased prevalence of this M.O. is one of the two or three quantum shifts within the industry over the last ten years. I've actually seen two different artists (one signed with major distribution, the other previously signed with major distribution) get the same beat and write/record to it -- in this particular instance, one artist ended up with a radio hit on Power 106, and the other ended up with his investor trying to get his $$$ back from the beat producer...one cell phone call cancelled the rest of the session (long story).

Of course, I'd like to know how well broken-down the files are by the time they reach you. How about that story about the (nameless) artist who time-compressed and key-changed her 2-track -- then the (original key & tempo) breakdown was delivered to you for mixdown...edit-o-rama!

While we're at it -- do people hire you on to mix 2 track & vocal with no separate tracking on the instrumental?

Anyone else -- feel free to jump in!
Old 21st September 2004
  #4
Guest Moderator - September 08
 
Dave Pensado's Avatar
 

Greg

I have kinda answered these questions all over this forum. Greg, PM me your phone number if you need more answers and I will call you. Thanks
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Old 21st September 2004
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Re: Greg

I am cracking up right now. Great answer Dave. It was either that or a ten-pager. I don't type well enough to do that either.

Steve
Old 22nd September 2004
  #6
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Thanks, Dave -- I've been following this forum routinely, and I really value all of the posts. It's interesting that a lot of the two-track stuff came up along the way in different topic discussions (as this foreboding eight-part post was sitting here all alone ) I even used the splitting-out the 2-track mix trick from the other forum (EQ'ing one mult for lows...).

Steve "Extreme" -- sorry, man, I do take for granted that I type faster than most -- yeah, I kinda realized later that I stuck a LOT of questions in this one post. I guess the "gain" knob on my brain was turned to "11" that day (as it is most days, if you know me)...I knock that kind of stuff out in a coffee break. I do the engineering/production column in a small (50,000 circ.) music magazine, too, when I'm not actually strapped into my Aeron chair in front of the PT rig...

In fact, Dave, if y'all need a typist in Studio "C" 'The Cabin' lemme know.heh

I am interested to hear about the trends & business aspects -- that's really what affects my day-to-day existence. Questions #2 and #3 really address this. Of course, at the end of the day, good music makes its own friends, and there's always room at the top, so I'll quit typing and get back to work...
Old 22nd September 2004
  #7
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I have to admit I find this two track trend peculiar. As someone who writes "beats" for rappers, I have to admit that if a beat I had done was going to end up being released by one of the majors I would ensure that the engineer at least got stems of the drums, bass, keys etc on sep tracks so my beat sounded as good as possible. In fact I have just begun a relationship with a rapper from Texas and when i send him a beat, I send him not only the beat on a stereo track but also the components of the beat on sep tracks but I guess many of these producers don't care as long as they get paid!
Old 23rd September 2004
  #8
Gear nut
 

2 track beats

I definatly like when a artist gives me a two track to work with. It saves me alot of time. Now I can refrence it to make shure the final product reflects there perspective on how the elements should interreact.
The only thing with this "trend" is when you have a guy that wants to save some bucks it's hard to explain the need to mix with all the elements on seperate tracks. Alot of my clients still think of mixing in terms of volume as opposed to placement.
Old 23rd September 2004
  #9
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Quote:
I definatly like when a artist gives me a two track to work with
Quote:
The only thing with this "trend" is when you have a guy that wants to save some bucks it's hard to explain the need to mix with all the elements on seperate tracks.
gpcramseyoral- you appear to be making two entirely different points here.
Old 24th September 2004
  #10
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Thread Starter
I think gpcram is referring to the 2-track rough mix in the first half of his post. Yeah, it's definitely cool to put a rough mix in with any separate tracking you're delivering -- the NARAS Pro Tools delivery guidelines suggest this, and Jack Joseph Puig said in interview that he gives recording engineers his personal PT delivery guidelines (for projects he's mixing), and they require a rough mix built into the actual PT session as well.

Second "save some bucks" half -- I've had artists tell me to "bring out" the snare (or whatever) on the 2-track they're rapping to (or rough mixing). As if I could pull it out of my ass!..."well, can't you just EQ it a bit?" No problem -- we'll do what we can do, knowhutImean? -- of course, if you wanna fetch me a burrito & some coffee, I'll fly that sample in under the 2-track for ya, just pay the studio fee when we're done...

Any other good 2-track war stories??? Anyone??? Anyone??? Bueller???
Old 24th September 2004
  #11
Gear nut
 

2 track v2

Yes I am making two points.

One that I think the two track ruff mix right out of a synth gives you the best idea of an artist perspective. To elaborate a little. Some times there can be so many elements that It becomes unceartin what is most important. Also not only what is most important but what's the relationship between say the melody bass line and snare track (or tracks). Then you have situations where there is a track (or tracks) that augments something or works in tandem. By having the two track you don't have to constantly ask the client what they think you can just do what you hear.
This has had many advantages. One the client feels at ease because they can here themselves in what your doing. Two when you constantly ask someone what they thing I've found it slows things down. This is commonly for two reasons IMO. They begin to come up with new ideas and go back into pre production mode. This may be ok with you but when someone is on the clock my goal is to get the best results as fast as possible. The second scenario they begin asking your opinion. For me that is the last thing I want. If i'm not the producer then I want no liability for the amout of time it may take to impliment my suggustions. Especially if it's not someone i'm close with. Because in the end if they don't like it then it's like "oh well can you knock off that last hour".

My second point is that when you have guy's that wants to do the two tracks and then vocals it can be a challenge to convince them to lay all the tracks separate.
Old 1st October 2004
  #12
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Oh, boy, I had fun last night

Soooooooo...longtime clients roll in -- they FINALLY get the beat producer who did about 5 beats to bring his rig. Turns out Mr. Gregg "Control Freak" Sartiano wasn't happy with the two-tracks -- crazy amounts of bottom, weird synthy reverbs (built in to patches, of course). And there was this weird, phasey thing happening on a couple of 'em. Over-recording is a way of life for this crew, so there's always a very significant chance any given beat/rap is gonna be relegated to the "learning experience" I mean the, uhh, "trash" heap (I get my fee either way), but it had been decided that these songs were going in the direction of "finished product."

We set up the Triton and the rack (using a Mo' Phatt and a Planet Phatt) -- by the way, I'm one of those Motif/MPC people, in case anyone wondered! -- and the producer starts pulling out floppies.

Floppies!

And a memo pad with patch numbers/names...

Wow. That REALLY brought me back to my college Electronic Music Lab days.

I got the Triton (also the sequencer in this setup) to receive sync, and it was off to the races!

Of course, every time I hit "Play" (or "Record") on PT/Triton, it zeroed all of the panning (as well as the volume -- sometimes!?!) on the Mo' Phatt/Planet Phatt! And the Mo' Phatt didn't have any individual outs! Also, these were sequences (internally looped) with drops built in -- I couldn't just track a 4-bar or 8-bar, do mutes, and overdub. And it took them 2 weeks to get these guys to the studio (who were actually very cordial & professional dudes). On top of that, we were already overtime -- no big deal, but I'd been up since 5:30 AM and was about to fall over. You know, I was in that "hit record, nod off, wake up, hit stop, change patches/mutes, repeat" stage.

So I start doing the multitracks, and the dang 2-tracks sounded different! One had a different kick pattern in the Mo' Phatt loop!!! Maybe the patches were edited when they were originally done...

Now I'm in a situation where I'm gonna have to do digital remix production on each song before mixing -- I already did a couple of K/S/HH lineup jobs in the sessions. Good thing the beat producer is open and trusting of my judgment -- could you imagine if he was one of those "THAT'S not what I recorded!" types???

******
ALSO: If anyone wants to take a whack at #6, I think it's a really good question & I'd like to hear some opinions.
Old 1st October 2004
  #13
Quote:
Originally posted by Gregg Sartiano
******
ALSO: If anyone wants to take a whack at #6, I think it's a really good question & I'd like to hear some opinions.


#6 what?
Old 1st October 2004
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor


#6 what?
6) This is an open-ended question, but do you think that, with production, digital mix/remix production, and mixing being more important to the marketplace viability of music than ever before, should there be a reevaluation of legal matters and income streams within the industry, particularly publishing income?


That is what I ASSume he's talking about.
Old 1st October 2004
  #15
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Yeah, #6 the question. Teacher ASSumed correctly.
Old 1st October 2004
  #16
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Exmun's Avatar
 

I think the reevaluation that needs to take place is for "beat producers" to stand up for themselves and assert rights as a copyright owner. Beat producers need to ask to share in the copyright in their negotiations with artists/producers. Justification?? sample clearance is quite "normal" these days. A recent court has stated unequivocally that all samples, regardless of length or place in the foreground must be cleared. In some cases, certain important samples are so much a part of the song that the sample owners request and receive ownership share in the song. (e.g. Will Smith's Men In Black). It's been sort of a court-created doctrine that the "beats" are not part of the melody... so drummers and many times bassists have not been able to claim a piece of the copyright pie... unless their bandmates allowed it "for the sake of peace in the band."

But in today's music world it's at least clear to me that with a lot of today's minimalist productions, the "beats" are clearly some of the more "original expression" of copyright. The beats themselves are driving the creation of the lyrical material, its tone and sometimes internal rhythmn. Here I think the basslines have the strongest claim as being "original" and getting a piece of the copyright pie.

As far as mixers getting a piece of the copyright... I don't believe there is a legal basis to share in the copyright of the work (melody, lyrics)... or a need for reevaluation of the current scheme. Even among the best of mixers, they're not (to my knowledge) recording new original melodic material... There is quite a bit of rearranging, multing, sample selection, and manipulation. But paying high fees and (in certain situations) paying "points" from the record is probably the most appropriate way to handle this.

Remixers?? It's clear under copyright law that a derivative work has been created. But the law is also clear that the owners of the original copyright has the right to mandate the nature of ownership in the derivate work's copyright. So the big labels/publishers have all right to demand a pay-for-service scheme to remixers for the "priviledge" of remixing their tracks. Hey, don't feel bad... a lot of remixers on the major label level are receiving a king's ransom for their services.
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