Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

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RPaul
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Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:04 pm

I'm trying to remix (actually, partly remake) one of my recordings for the listing pasted below. I'd be very grateful for any production-type feedback on this first attempt at a final mix:

http://www.taxi.com/RickPaulMusic, song is "Love Holds On (AC Ballad Remix) (EDIT: This is now my final version after comments from Cass.)

I'm going for something in the general wheelhouse of the Fogelberg reference.

Here is the listing info:

ORIGINAL CLASSIC ADULT CONTEMPORARY SONGS with Male or Female Vocals are needed QUICKLY for a NON-Exclusive, Direct-to-Music Supervisor Placement in an Indie Feature Film.
NOTE: TAXI normally doesn't take requests for music for indie films unless there is a sync fee paid to the music creators. This request was made early in the film's production, hence the sync fees haven't been defined yet. If there are any, they will likely be on the smaller side, with most of the income earned via P.R.O. royalties paid down the road. However, this request comes from an excellent Music Supervisor who uses music from TAXI's members. We think this is a great chance to (possibly) make some money upfront, and maybe more importantly, it's an opportunity for this extremely busy Music Supervisor to get to know you and your music (and at the very least, make some performance income).
They’re looking for Songs in All Tempos that would fit in the general stylistic wheelhouse of the following references:
"Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts
“You Needed Me" by Anne Murray
“Leader of the band" by Dan Fogelberg
“Midnight Blue” by Melissa Manchester
Please send them original A/C songs that have a genuine '70s-'80s sound and style. If you are creating Songs for this request, having era-appropriate sounds and production will likely work in your favor! Please be sure your vocals are well performed from start to finish, with solid, CLASSIC-style deliveries. The more authentic your Songs sound to the era, the better!
NOTE: Your submissions can be actual vintage masters recorded in the '70s or '80s, or they can be Songs recently recorded and just inspired by those eras.
Lyric themes can vary, but should be something you might have heard on the A/C Charts in the 1970s or 1980s. You’d be smart to avoid references to brands, places, profanity, and specific names for this request. Do not copy the referenced acts or Songs in any way, shape, or form. Use them only as a general guide for tempo, tone, and overall vibe. Era-appropriate Broadcast Quality is needed.
These will be Non-Exclusive, Direct-to-Music Supervisor placements, so you’ll get 100% of the Sync Fee (if applicable), you’ll keep 100% of your Publishing and Master ownership, and you’ll also get 100% of any applicable performance royalties. No Publisher splits!
You must own or control the Master and Copyright to pitch for this opportunity. Please submit as many Songs as you’d like, online or per CD. All submissions will be screened on a Yes/No basis - Short critiques only. Submissions must be received no later than 11:59PM (PST) on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019. TAXI #Y191120AC

Thanks!

Rick
Last edited by RPaul on Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by cassmcentee » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:52 pm

The mix sounds good to my ears.
I do believe the vocal isn't going to cut it though...
Seemed to be quite pitchy and not Strong enough, out of breath at the tails?
Robert "Cass" McEntee
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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:26 pm

Thanks for the quick reply, Cass.

Hmm, vocal shouldn't be pitchy as I'm pretty sure it's one that was manually autotuned some years back (and, in fact, I'm pretty sure I heard one artifact from that early in the song -- the vocals on this should be the tuned ones from an album I put out in 2009; I ended up replacing all the other tracks as they were not right for this pitch). However, that is something I can easily double check after rehearsal tonight and tweak if need be. Definitely won't have time to replace the vocals between now and the deadline, though. I'll have to look into the out of breath part to see if I am hearing anything, and, if so, if I can do anything quickly enough.

Thanks again.

Rick

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:52 am

cassmcentee wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:52 pm
The mix sounds good to my ears.
I do believe the vocal isn't going to cut it though...
Seemed to be quite pitchy and not Strong enough, out of breath at the tails?
Thanks, again, Cass. Your ears were obviously working better than mine! My other conclusion is that I was nowhere near as good with graphical Autotune back in 2007 as I am now with Melodyne. :)

I've now done a second mix (URL below) to do a better job on tuning the lead vocal. As for out of breath tails, that's a bit harder to deal with, but I messed around with some clip gain automation to disguise those as much as feasible.

URL to the new version is:

http://www.taxi.com/RickPaulMusic, song is "Love Holds On (AC Ballad Remix) (EDIT: This is now my final version after comments from Cass.)

I'll be deleting the earlier one shortly.

Rick
Last edited by RPaul on Thu Nov 21, 2019 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by cassmcentee » Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:04 am

Cool Rick!
Listening now...
At 0:31/32 the word after "consumes..." stands out as too pitchy still
Right after that the "from" after "Rising" needs help
I hope this helps
Cheers,
Cass
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https://soundcloud.com/robert-cass-mcentee
https://www.taxi.com/members/DosPalmasRecordings

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by sherrylynnlee » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:38 pm

Hi Rick,

You have such a unique and beautiful tone! Apart from he pitch issues that Cass mentioned, it sounds good to me.
I did notice that arrangement-wise, I it was closer to Anne Murray's "You Needed Me". The piano makes this song very sweet and clean while the Dan Fogelberg one is more raw.
If you really want to be closer to the latter, you could consider removing the piano for the most part and making the harmony vocals louder and ganged. But I don't think you have to do that.
Hope that helps!
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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:53 pm

cassmcentee wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:04 am
Cool Rick!
Listening now...
At 0:31/32 the word after "consumes..." stands out as too pitchy still
Right after that the "from" after "Rising" needs help
I hope this helps
Cheers,
Cass
Thanks, Cass. Not sure how you heard that level of detail. I had to look really closely in Melodyne.

On the word after "consumes", which is "us", it turned out the issue wasn't actually on "us", but the end of "consumes" itself. On the "from", that was kind of a judgment call in that I was sliding up, sort of grace note style, from a lower pitch. That is something I do (intentionally) a fair bit, and it probably was intentional here. However, I tried tweaking it to just hit the final target note, and that worked well enough, so I'll went on the safe side with that since it obviously caught your attention and thus might catch someone else's.

Final mix (already submitted) is now on my TAXI profile at http://www.taxi.com/RickPaulMusic under the title "Love Holds On (AC Ballad Remix)".

I've previously released two versions of the song, one being the one that had the vocals for this one, and the other a very different up-tempo, (mostly) loop-based pop mix. I'd totally forgotten that I'd started trying to do a remix along these lines the first time I was a TAXI member, back in 2011 -- even pitched it and got a return. When I was getting ready to set up for trying for this opportunity,

I found those files, but I ended out tossing most of the tracks (piano, bass, mandolin) and heavily tweaking the strings, which were from my first release (on an album of the same title), just keeping the vocals. I decided to try to get something in the general wheelhouse of "Leader of the Band", so I added the (virtual) guitar, redid the piano (to make it fit better with the guitar part, simplifying a bit), and both tweaked the strings arrangement and totally replaced the virtual instruments. Funnily enough, though, this version is actually the closest to my original vision for the song. The other two evolved from producing a version for an American Idol semi-finalist's artist demo and an earlier experiment with loop-based production.

Rick

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:09 pm

sherrylynnlee wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:38 pm
You have such a unique and beautiful tone! Apart from he pitch issues that Cass mentioned, it sounds good to me.
I did notice that arrangement-wise, I it was closer to Anne Murray's "You Needed Me". The piano makes this song very sweet and clean while the Dan Fogelberg one is more raw.
If you really want to be closer to the latter, you could consider removing the piano for the most part and making the harmony vocals louder and ganged. But I don't think you have to do that.
Hope that helps!
Thanks Sherry-Lynn.

My mention of "Leader of the Band" wasn't so much about instrumentation, though I did add the guitar after listening to that, but rather on the combination of where I took the vocal ambience after listening closely to it (I even had it as a track in my DAW to refer to from time to time to help keep me grounded), bringing up the vocal harmonies(two doubled parts) in the mix compared to my original, and then stripping out other elements I'd had in my previous attempt at remixing this song (I'd already stripped out the drums, a dobro, and maybe a few other things I'm forgetting, but I also stripped out the mandolin and bass here, and a fair amount of the original strings arrangement, not only in song sections but also cutting down on the notes in the parts I kept). While I kept a piano (but simplified it somewhat from the original part -- I actually just replayed so I could react to the guitar, which is from NI's Session Guitarist Picked Acoustic), it was partly "just me" (I'm mainly a piano player on the instrumental front), and partly because the guitar by itself wasn't sounding full enough. (I think Fogelberg is actually using two guitars, but, not being a guitar player, getting good guitar parts quickly tends to be tough, and I was already running low on time for the deadline.) I could probably have simplified the piano more still, but it seemed to work well enough, and there was the time pressure. (Partly I'd original been hoping to remix a few more songs for this since I have a number in the ballpark, but just with current recordings that aren't close enough, and partly due to scheduling conflicts with a Climate Change event I'm performing at tonight and preparations for that yesterday. Unfortunately, I ran out of time on the former.)

I understand what you mean on "You Needed Me", but that also has bass and drums (and strings of the more syrupy type), so I considered that more of a full arrangement. (One of two of the other songs I'd had in mind for remixing for this would have actually been considerably closer to that, but the amount of work in getting them close enough on the production side made them unlikely to be able to finish in time for this listing. The other one I've pulled up, but am highly unlikely to be able to finish in time is closer to this one, with just vocals, piano, and a string quartet. The big issue on that one is the strings, and I'm skeptical on my potential to get them sounding good enough quickly enough. And I have to figure out my logistics for tonight's show before I even start on it.)

Rick

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by Casey H » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:04 am

Hi Rick
Very pretty song and it is in the requested style.

I'm listening on laptop speakers so keep that in mind. The lead vocal doesn't work for me as there's something about the enunciation that makes it hard to make out the words. Not sure about the pitch, my ears are not that good for that. I'm not sure if the lyrics need some re-write to make the words flow better (maybe simpler) or it just needs a different vocalist... or both.

This one would be perfect for collaboration with another Taxi member who could really make it shine. So much good there! :D Even if you don't make THIS deadline, there is always opportunity out there for songs of this style/era, especially if produced authentic & faithful to the era.

Best of luck!
:D Casey

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Re: Feedback on Original Classic Adult Contemporary Songs

Post by RPaul » Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:23 am

Thanks, for the feedback, Casey. I did submit this (final version on my TAXI profile) to the listing yesterday afternoon. I also had a few car listens to it on the way to and from a show last night, and it held up for me there.

That said, independent of results on this listing, I'm always open to other singers' doing my songs and would love to have others do this one, be it in this style (even with my tracks) or otherwise. It is a song that a number of independent artists either recorded on their artist demos, or had been strongly considering recording for demos or putting out independently, some years back (starting in the late 90s, maybe through the mid-to-late 2000s). However, none actually ended up releasing it, so the only releases thus far have been two versions I've done, one of which, an up-tempo, loop-based pop version, strangely started getting a decent (but decidedly not huge) amount of traction on Spotify a few months back for some unknown reason (specifically with male listeners, initially mainly fairly young ones, such as under 30, but then expanding to a broader range of ages). It was particularly strange in that it was coming from Spotify's APIs, rather than the platform itself. I have yet to figure out where it came from, or why it suddenly started after a few years of being out there with just "crickets". This remix (which uses only the vocal and parts of the strings arrangement from a version on my first album) is my third (i.e. other than the initial work demo), but also the closest to my original vision for the song.

With respect to the song and lyrics, this is one that, in the most repeated phrase of one or two of the panels at the Rally, "is what it is." The lyric was written by a collaborator, Rebecca Hanneman, back in the late 90s. I think we only ended up changing one line in the chorus from the original version of the lyric I saw, after some feedback from Steve Seskin in a one-on-one session at a songwriting conference. I know it is not the sort of conversational lyric that fits most markets for outside songs. But that is also part of what made it so special to me when I agreed to write the music -- there was something about it that simply felt "perfect" to me, perhaps in some philosophical way (I ended up using it in that sense as the underlying theme of my first album). And the music just flowed out. The song has now just reached legal drinking age, :) and, though I recognize certain limitations of it for commercial purposes, it is one of those that I feel is what it is supposed to be at the raw song level.

Rick

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