All 9s, but...

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All 9s, but...

Post by dingo » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:06 pm

Hello everyone,I'm new to these forums. I joined Taxi around August 2007. I've submitted to a few listings and seem to be in a rut. No forwards.Most of the time, the screeners score my songs around 8. Sometimes a 9, sometimes a 7. But the complaints usually aren't consistent. Maybe because the type of listing I submit for has different criteria each time. It makes it very difficult to fix.My last submission scored all my songs as 9, except for 7s in production, musicianship, and engineering. They weren't forwarded because of that reason.I came to these forums to see if you always get high scores for songs, or if the screener will really let you know when you have a dud. I get frustrated when someone says the song is great but then not forward it. I know there are a lot of reasons why this can happen, but music is so subjective that I'm stuck running in circles.Maybe the problem is just the quality of the recording. Maybe they're interpreting less-than-stellar mixing and producing as various other problems?Anyway, could you have a listen and give me an idea? The songs I pretty much always submit are the top three here: http://www.soundclick.com/jasonallenI think I need a producer of some kind. Someone who can sit down and go over these with a fresh set of ears. I certainly don't have the money to spend thousands per song though. What do you do?Thanks,Jason

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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by arkjack » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:16 pm

If the scores are high in the other categories except production & engineering, that is a strong indication that you have really excellent material. What I've found is that the target is some times 10 feet wide from ten yards, and other times its 10 inches wide from 100 yards. What I mean to say is that listening briefly to your music which is very well done, its probably more a decision on the part of the screener that the piece submitted was just off the mark and not a perfect enough fit to the listing. Check your screener comments to see if that is the case. HTH I share your pain in having weak yet constantly improving production skills.ArkJack

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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by hummingbird » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:53 pm

Hey Dingo, welcome to forum. And you are not alone in your struggle to understand how to interpret the feedback.Best way we can help you is if you can post a specific listing, the entire Taxi review, and a link to the song. Then we can help you figure out what you need to do to take that song to the next level. cheersHummin'bird
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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by dingo » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:30 pm

Ice Age:This is a fantastic song with a great vocal performance, but may not be up to the high broadcast quality standards of this listing. I love the concept and lyrics of this song, but the overall mix and performance isn't quite there yet. The drums are mixed a bit too low, guitars slightly out of tune (extremely important to be in tune) and rhythmically out of pocket with drums.Status: ReturnAnyway:Great song with clever, visual lyrics, but not up to the broadcast quality that the listing demands. Nice vibe and good dynamics, just not sonically up to the standards.Status: ReturnAll Roads:Another great song with strong lycric content & musical concepts, just not executed well enough for the high bar of this listings broadcast standards. The overall groove of the song could be tighter, it doesn't feel like the instruments lock together very well.(All songs were rated 9 for everything except engineering, musicianship, and production which were 7.)Style:The style is on point, but not up to broadcast standards.Overall Comments:These are great songs, very well written. I love the concepts, musically and lyrically, however, the musical performance, production and mixing may not meet the specific needs of this listing. I would love to hear these songs recorded and produced on a higher level, with some stronger musicianship supporting these fine vocal performances. The drums, in particular, seem to be a bit out of time, displacing the other instruments and the guitars are slightly out of tune.Sound Quality:The overall mix does not translate these songs well enough for the listing.The main reason(s) you were or were not forwarded for this listing is:These songs were not forwarded because the production, engineering, mixing and overall musical performance may not be up to the very high broadcast quality requirements of this listing. You can listen to them here: http://www.soundclick.com/jasonallenI can't hear where the guitars are out of tune in Ice Age. I have very, very terrible acoustic guitars and I think it's probably an intonation problem. Not something I can fix other than re-recording the lot with electric guitar.Listing: S080208SS

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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by hummingbird » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:42 pm

I believe this would be the listing:Contemporary & commercial MALE SINGER-SONGWRITERS a la James Blunt, Daniel Powter, John Mayer, David Gray, Teddy Geiger, etc. are sought by President of successful Music Library/Publishing Company with extensive film and TV placements (Kill Bill 2, the Punisher, Las Vegas, the Shield, Bones, One Tree Hill, Van Wilder 2 + many more). He's not just looking for someone with one great song -- he wants artists with numerous place-able tracks so he can pitch them [songs & as an artist] to various film/TV/commercial projects. Catchy hooks & melodies and smart/clever lyrics are all essential. Make sure you have both clean and instrumental versions of your songs available upon request by the company. Broadcast quality needed [excellent sounding home recordings are OK]. Please submit two to three songs online or per CD, include lyrics/photo/bio. All submissions will be screened and critiqued by TAXI and must be received no later than Feb. 8, 2008.TAXI # S080208SS
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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by hummingbird » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:54 pm

Ice Age has a high squeal in the background. That is not acceptable for film/tv.Anyway - I'm not an expert producer but the mix doesn't sound clean and balanced to me. Again it sounds over compressed, squished.All Roads - sounded a little better when it's just you and the guitar, but when the drums come in the sound is mushy & sizzles, and competes with the vocals.I can see exactly what the screener is saying. Your songs & vocals are exceptional (and I don't say that lightly), but the production is shooting you down, which is too bad.So tell us, what is your recording set-up. Where are you recording, physically. Any sound proofing? IMHO you would be well advised to find a producer who could take your stuff to the next level. These demos aren't doing you justice.The other way to go at it is to do some acoustic demos only, with some of those lovely vocal harmonies, and pitch yourself as an artist to every label you can find.I'm sure the experts here will have much more to say, but I do agree with what the screener is telling you. Look at this way - lots of people have well-produced bad songs (heard a lot of them at the Rally). You have excellent songs & potential as an artist, but your production needs work. You are a mile ahead of them. cheersHummin'bird
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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by dingo » Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:54 pm

Hi,Thank you for taking the time to listen to them! I don't hear the high squeal in Ice Age -- but I wonder if it's the cricket field recording I put in there for atmosphere? One cricket sounds like a constant chirp while the other is intermittent.As for the other two, I'm sure you're dead on with those. I don't have the experience in production to know when I've squashed something too much, or when things are getting in the way. I really don't enjoy mixing or mastering and only do it out of necessity.I'm recording these in my back room. No sound-proofing. I have one microphone - a Behringer C3, two terrible acoustic guitars, and an electric. I use a FireBox to interface with a laptop. I also have a nice Novation MIDI controller that I use with a software sampler / synth.I'd love to find a producer that can turn these songs into something great, but I understand they generally work by the hour and I can't afford them. At least not the few that I've contacted in the past. Any suggestions?Quote:The other way to go at it is to do some acoustic demos only, with some of those lovely vocal harmonies, and pitch yourself as an artist to every label you can find.How do you find labels that accept non-solicited material? I think that's the greatest challenge to any artist (and the reason I joined Taxi) is to get your work to the right person.

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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by hummingbird » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:05 pm

Since you are a member of Taxi, instead of submitting to film/tv listings (for now), submit to artist listings and listings for songs, with simple, clean demos.I would definitely take the crickets out of Ice Age, I don't think they work.How about doing a clean recording in your space and post it raw with no effects and let's see if we can talk you through mixing it better. I don't know much about the equipment you mention, other folks here might be able to help with your set-up if that's the issue. I think you have a good mic.You can create a fairly decent vocal/mic booth for next to nothing. Get some curtain rods from walmart, close in a corner of the room, line the walls with blankets from salvation army, hang a couple of blankets on the curtain rod. get your mic set up in there. or, get a couple of chinese screens and hang blankets on the sides and one over the top for a roof & record in there.try using either the electric g, or plug in the acoustic, so that you get as little background noise as possible on those tracks. If your acoustics are terrible, don't use them. hang around and keep talking. the problems you are having can be resolved, and there are people here with the knowledge to help you succeed.cheersHummin'bird
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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by arkjack » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:42 am

Hey DingoLike I said I feel your pain. Even though you don't like the mixing and mastering part, unless you have a way to get it 'produced' within your budget, it is something that is worthwhile devoting your attention to over a period of time to improve your skills. I always say in music, 'knowledge is cumulative'. Another point to note is that they can get very picky about the guitars intonation and tuning being dead on. I have Martin acoustics and tricked out Ibanez and Fenders, and get them restrung and checked by a luthier every 4 to six months, and I often get the 'guitars out of tune' comment. Part of it is my playing style, being a very strong heavy fingered slow-hand player with a lot of bends. That's what makes it tough, because it actually sounds right to me and the way I heard it in my head. Sometimes that organic feel can work to your favor on the right listing, but seems they more often need a more pristine approach. You'll find ways to constantly improve your gear, your room, your engineering skills just as you grow in your musicianship and writing craft. Main thing is to stick with it and take the long term view.ArkJack

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Re: All 9s, but...

Post by rld » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:13 am

Hey D,I checked out a couple of your songs. Very nice.I don't think you are that far off.Very slight tuning issue...but to my ear, more of an inconsistent feel in the guitar playing,what the screener referred to as "out of the pocket". Nothing that couldn't be fixed.Soundproofing is often confused with acoustic treatment.The former is used to keep sound from entering or leaving your space, the latter is used to tame unwanted reflections or bass "boominess" often present in spare bedroom recording spaces.Vocals sound pretty good though, so maybe your room is not that bad.Acoustic guitars could sound better...whether thats a recording or instrument problem, I'm not sure.The cricket could sound more natural if it wasn't a constant repeat in time with the song, and maybe panned from side to side.As a "one man band" myself, I understand your concerns.You either have to keep working on perfecting your mix, and it can be a long and involved learning curve, or if that doesn't interest you, team up or pay someone for help. That can be expensive and not a guarantee of forwards or placements.

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