Tell us a bit more about “LA/NY”
“LA/NY” is a new song off my latest album, Outlier. It is a bit of a different direction for me, because I wanted to put forth a killer pop tune that also shined a light on my love of a fuzzy guitar solo.
Outlier is an album built on exquisite tension: like an endless push-and-pull between desire and resistance, determination and self-sabotage, the instinctive need to belong and the urge to strike out on your own. My songs were produced by Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age and Mini Mansions) and it’s an album full of guitar-drenched sounds that’s wildly unpredictable and immediately magnetic.
What amp/pedals did you use for “LA/NY”?
It was all done within Studio One, using the PreSonus Ampire plug-in. Specifically, I used the Wild Drive, Demolition Drive, Equalizer and Delay pedals running into the Blackface Twin model amp paired with a 2×12 American Cabinet.
(NOTE: if you’re a PreSonus Sphere Member, you can download her exact Ampire Preset here)
How did you first discover PreSonus?
I first discovered PreSonus while working at a music shop in Austin, TX. They sold audio recording equipment from all different brands, but I noticed that PreSonus had the most intuitive software (Studio One Artist) included, as well as the best price point.
What was your first PreSonus product?
It was the Studio 1810c audio interface, but I have since upgraded to a Studio 1824c. I’ve got the FaderPort to the right of my computer keyboard. I also now have their Revelator io24 that you see me using in the video above, of course!
How long have you used Studio One?
About three years now.
What are your Top three favorite features about Studio One?
My favorite aspect of Studio One is how easy it is to use. The drag & drop aspect helps me work really quickly and efficiently. I also really love using Impact for drum sounds, Presence for sample-based instrument sounds, the Mai Tai polyphonic synthesizer, and Ampire for pedal FX and amp modeling.
I am from Guangzhou, China, a metropolitan city close to Hong Kong where many imports and exports occur. As a child, I didn’t have the luxury of accessing music at the touch of my fingertips, like I do now. I remember going to secret spots on the weekends to pick out records among piles and piles of CDs with broken cases, which were smuggled in from overseas and were damaged by the customs. My mom had a Sony stereo set with a CD player and two cassette slots… it was pretty fancy in the ’90s. I was obsessed with recording my favorite songs to the cassette tapes. And then my mom bought a Walkman with recording ability through its built-in mic—I figured out how to play music in the background with my mom’s stereo and record bedtime stories I wrote. I paid for all of those CDs, but none of the profits went to the creators.
My family wanted me to follow in their footsteps and become a visual artist or a designer, but I was already obsessed with music. I always wanted to play the piano. So at the age of 16, I decided to pursue music secretly. I found two incredible music teachers on the Internet and started taking lessons, unbeknownst to my family. I learned how to read, play, and study music with strict and intense classical training. It was really difficult at the time because I didn’t know if anything would come from it, and I had to make money on the side to pay for the lessons. Looking back, I’m glad I took that risk. It was totally worth it. A year later, I was accepted to the Communication University of China, the best music and technology program in China, to study music. My music career began.
The next part of my journey called for a relocation to the states, so I moved to Los Angeles after college. I started at Paramount Recording Studios and climbed the career ladder there. The learning never stops in Los Angeles; every day I pick up something new and practice until it becomes a habit. I am so inspired by the music culture in L.A., everyone I meet is just so talented, driven and inspiring. You don’t have to learn how to read music to be able to create music. How it sounds and how it connects with people is the most important part of the business.
The PreSonus audio products that I’ve been using are the StudioLive 16.0.2 digital mixer and their award-winning Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software Studio One Professional, which I mostly use for producing.
Its ease of use, flexibility and Macros are among the top features that led me to choose working creatively in this environment. Other DAWs usually require third-party software to program Macros, whereas with Studio One it is integrated natively as part of the DAW workflow itself.
Another particularly useful feature about Studio One that I find useful is the ARA integration (with Melodyne pitch correction) to the Studio One software engine. It saves so much time and I can edit vocal audio clips in real time at any stage of the process.
I love the quick-nudge capability inside of an audio clip. It’s a fast workflow and I don’t have to clean up the edit point or cross-fades every time I make an edit.
In short, Studio One flows really well, it’s quick and intuitive. No downtime for creativity. Truly amazing!
Nineteen year-old Anna Clark works as a Grammy-nominated vinyl mastering engineer at Welcome to 1979 Industries. Nine years ago, she founded 501(c)(3) organization Guitars 4 Gifts, which has given over 1,000 youths access to their first musical instrument.
As a lifelong singer/songwriter/musician, Anna has performed live on Lightning 100 (Nashville’s premier independent radio station), she holds a Certificate in Music Business from the Berklee College of Music and is currently on track to graduate from Belmont University in 2022.
When not working on one of her passion projects, Anna loves to spend time with her dogs or attend concerts with her friends and family.
Let’s find out more about how she’s been navigating through and actualizing all of these different creative sonic environments!
What hardware and software tools help you with your audio work at home these days?
I currently use a StudioLive 16 mixer, a Central Station Plus, HP4 headphone amp, a pair of Sceptre S6 monitors, and Studio One DAW software.
Originally, a friend introduced me to your monitors and I basically fell in love with using them. Because I work in many different areas of audio engineering, I needed products that I could use for any area that I was working in, so that I wouldn’t have to have different setups.
I use my StudioLive mixer pretty much every day. It is great because I save different scenes so that if I am recording a guitar/vocal demo, I have some EQ and compression settings saved, and I can bring them up super easily. I love that I can A/B EQ settings using the A/B button, and I also love the vintage EQ and tube compressor. I also have scenes saved for full band sessions, piano/vocal sessions, and more. The StudioLive mixer makes it super convenient for me to walk up and start working. I will also say that I carry it with me everywhere to run sound for live shows and recordings, and have even used it for a live broadcast of a show. It has never let me down and has always been very easy to set up! Because I am able to save settings from my recording sessions, it makes it even easier to set up for a live show.
Basically, I have various synths, mics, instruments, etc. that I leave set up so that I can record an idea at any time and they go directly into the mixer. From there, I use the Central Station which outputs to my Sceptre monitors along with other monitors and a PreSonus HP4.
We’re curious about your work as a vinyl mastering engineer… can you tell us about that sound-world?
The first thing I do when I’m mastering a project for vinyl is look at all of the files and create a session for them. I then check the length of both of the sides. For each speed and size of disk, there are certain limits for how long the side can be. Next, I typically adjust the overall level of the project. Usually, the project is too loud, even if it hasn’t been mastered before. The louder the project is, the wider the grooves are. If the grooves are too wide and take up too much space, the project won’t be able to fit on the lacquer (the type of disk I cut on to make a vinyl master). I then mono the low end and use an EQ to filter out any frequencies that may give me problems. Sometimes if the vocal has too much sibilance it can cause issues, especially if there are also a lot of hi-hats/cymbals. I then run the project down to make sure it will fit and also to make sure there won’t be any trouble areas. If everything looks good, I’ll cut the project after that! Before I cut a lacquer, though, I have to use a microscope to look at a couple test cuts and make sure the stylus is working properly and that there is enough space in between the grooves.
Moving back to your home studio working environment; tell us more about how you’ve been using Studio One and what led you to our DAW?
For producing, tracking, mixing, and mastering. I will also occasionally use it for live recordings with my StudioLive 16 mixer. It has been a very helpful tool!
One of the main factors that lead me to it was when I was producing, being able to bounce between ideas easily and combine ideas from different files. I tend to either work with an “engineer” mindset or a “creative” mindset. Because of how easy Studio One is to use, I am able to start tracking a song while I am writing it, and I am able to keep my “creative” mindset. It helped me when I would be writing and producing at the same time, because it allowed me to be able to keep my creative hat on while still being able to engineer a track.
It is very quick and easy to use, which is helpful when recording live shows. It makes the show go a lot smoother when you’re not having to worry about having to spend a lot of time setting up a session, etc. I also love how well all of the PreSonus gear works together; it is extremely nice to have products that all communicate together so that I’m not wasting time trying to fix something. If I have an idea, I can walk right into my studio and know that I’ll be able to get everything down fast.
This was especially helpful when I was just getting started as an engineer, because everything was very straightforward when I was setting it up.
All of the PreSonus products work in many different settings. For example, I originally purchased my StudioLive board for live events, but I use it in a studio setting as well and love it there, too!
Finally, let’s talk about you as a creative musical artist!
My main influences for my own music are artists like Maggie Rogers, Florence and the Machine, and St. Vincent. I have a love for analog synths and was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple for this project. I used a Roland Juno 6 and a MOOG Sub Phatty for most of the songs, and then had a drummer/guitarist/bassist add parts to each of the songs as well. I love using basic tools like EQ and reverb to make new sounds that I haven’t heard before. Typically, I will use the Pro EQ plugin that comes with Studio One to take out certain frequencies. The majority of EQ’ing I do is subtractive, because I like to make sure that every instrument has its own space in my songs. A lot of my time is spent experimenting with lots of different effects to try to get the sounds that I can hear in my head. I love the depth that an analog synth and live instruments can bring to a session, but I also love being able to edit a project easily. Even though I’ll record a lot of different instruments, I like to be able to edit each of the parts so that you can feel the song “build up” from each of the verses to the chorus. Studio One makes it really easy for me to audition different parts and figure out what I like. I am also known for creating a bunch of different versions of the same song, and Studio One is able to make my workflow seamlessly. I use the Scratchpad function because I typically write a song while I am also recording it, so I am able to try out different ideas without having to commit. That is one of the things that Studio One does best, is it works for Engineers, but also Songwriters, Artists and Producers of creative content these days online.
I feel very lucky that I found your products because it has really helped me grow my studio and career. Thank you, PreSonus!
Heartcast Media is a dedicated full-service studio in Washington, D.C. that works with clients to create high quality, authentic podcast content that inspires, educates and connects. Molly Ruland and her team specialize in working with entrepreneurs, visionaries, and businesses of all sizes who have an impactful point-of-view.
Woman-owned Heartcast Media is the vision of Molly Ruland who is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations bring their authentic, original content to life through podcasts. A sister-company to One Love Massive, Heartcast Media clients range from go-go bands to conservative political commentators.
They’re also PreSonus users—and have recorded 85 bands and 150 podcasts in the past 11 months alone!
We think Molly’s business idea is genius, and of course we’re glad that they’ve chosen the StudioLive 16 for their time-sensitive workflow. From the Heartcast website:
We have fully embraced technology and have figured out how to eliminate post production with real time video editing and audio mastering. We deliver all files within 48 hours of recording, typically within 3-4.
We’re proud to be a part of their process, so we wanted to hear more about how this whole operation works. Read all about Molly and Heartcast Media….
Tell us about your background. How long have you been in the audio industry?
I have owned and operated a multimedia company for the last 20 years. I was primarily focused on artist bookings and events. Creating an aesthetic has always been my passion.
How has the audio industry changed since your early days?
Everything is so streamlined now, and the gatekeepers have been removed. I love the idea of accessibility and practicality. Information is readily available which has opened doors for people who weren’t always welcome at the table, and I think that’s great.
How did Heartcast Media come about?
After recording 85 bands and 150 podcasts in 11 months, I realized that my passion and vision align perfectly through podcast production. I love amplifying voices, I always have. I saw a need in the market for high-quality turnkey podcast production, so I created the business to solve that problem. We do things differently—we embrace technology, and by doing so we are able to eliminate the need for a lot of post-production. This saves people time and money and our clients love that.
What’s your favorite podcast right now? Are you allowed to have a favorite?
Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory. No question, hands down. Game changer for me.
Tell us about your podcast. Where did the idea for your podcast come from? How does your first podcast compare to your most recent?
I have just launched The Lower Third Podcast because I know so many amazing people whom I garner so much inspiration from, and I wanted to interview and talk to them about mindset and passion. It’s a work in progress. I am looking forward to producing more episodes. However, my passion is producing other people’s podcast and helping them be successful.
There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out?
Having a plan for your podcast is imperative. Every podcaster should examine how and if their podcast is providing value. If there isn’t a clear answer, you don’t have a podcast yet.
What challenges do you face recording a podcast?
I am positive that most people don’t understand how much work goes into creating and producing a podcast. It’s a lot of work. It’s not cheap either, and anyone who tells you can start a podcast for $100 is delusional. If you are going to start a podcast you have to have a lot of resilience and a strong sense of self, because it will be a heavy rock to push uphill until you get momentum. It will not happen overnight.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a podcast?
Have a plan, understand the workload, and always be open to being wrong.
How did you first hear of PreSonus?
I learned about PreSonus through Adam Levin at Chuck Levin’s Music Center in Wheaton, Maryland. It’s legendary.
I have the StudioLive 16 in my studio, and we love it. It’s a little more than we need for podcasts, but we also produce live music events so it’s great to have a board that can do both. It’s a solid piece of equipment with really great features that fit our needs. It’s a beautiful board, what’s not to love?
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
My goal is to produce the best podcasts coming out of the East Coast by elevating and amplifying voices in my community that will make the world a better place, one conversation at a time. Every city should have a Heartcast Media.
Up first is Alex Medina! She’s in charge of making sure everything gets paid for here at PreSonus. She’s also in charge of baking up all kinds of tasty treats for the office. We are coworkers but we’re also her certified taste testers and let’s just say, Betty Crocker WHO?!
Here’s more on Alex and her favorite PreSonus product the Eris 3.5s!
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
What’s your official job title?
Accounts Receivable and Credit Manager.
What do you love about your job?
I love the people I work with. Also, I pretty much get to talk to everyone we do business with and its awesome when they share the latest things they are working on with our products or tell me stories about how our products made their lives easier. I enjoy checking out the youtube links they send. I get introduced to all kinds of new music.
What was the first 8 track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?
Salt-N-Pepa “Push It.” Odd choice maybe but I heard it in a movie and it just stuck so I downloaded it same day. Remember when ring back tones were a thing? This was totally mine.
Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
When that happens I turn on Spotify and listen to the new releases. You never know what you will come across.
What’s your go to Karaoke song?
Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?
I’m in the Air National Guard so sometimes I’m working there., or I’m off on some new adventure with my son. Toddlers are never boring!
What instruments do you play?
I dabble in rock band… the drums… on easy. Plus it’s color coded so…
Why did you choose the Eris 3.5s as your favorite?
They are very satisfying for the size and price. I just needed some small speakers that wouldn’t clutter my desk and these work great. Almost too well, the sound is crystal clear no matter how high I turn them up, which usually isn’t the case with speakers this size. I feel people always like to talk about the big flashy and fancy products, so I wanted to give the little guys some love too!
Anything else you want to share?
Ummm PreSonus rocks and GEAUX SAINTS! #WHODAT
Jason Klein, bassist of the Butcher Babies, tells us about how the band is using the PreSonus CS18AI & RM32AI systems for both their in-ear monitoring system as well as multi-track recording of their live shows via Capture and Studio One—all happening at Ozzfest Meets Knotfest 2016.
Learn more about the StudioLive Mix Systems here!
PreSonus Product Manager and Queen of All Things Technical Wesley Smith was recently featured in AVNetwork’s Chicks Rule; Honoring Women in AV article. Congrats to Wesley for being selected! Wesley has been kicking butt at PreSonus for eight years; recognition well-earned. Obligatory pull-quote follows:
“Men tend to question how women in audio learned their skills or became interested in the industry, as if it must be a very different experience from their own. This is still one of the biggest differences I find in my experience versus those of my friends in other industries.”
Click here to read the article in its entirety, replete with more Wesley-wisdom and additional interviews with other righteous gals. On a related note, click here to check out our Women in Pro Audio blog series from a while ago.
[Terri founded WAM in 2003 while she was a tenured Professor and Director of the Sound Recording Arts Program at City College of San Francisco from 2001-2011. Her love of music and the recording arts spans 25 years as a songwriter, composer, recording engineer, and producer. Winston was signed as a recording artist, engineer and producer by Polygram and BMG subsidiaries, and has shared the stage with such acts as P.J. Harvey, Pixies, Throwing Muses, Flaming Lips, Fugazi, Cake, and Third Eye Blind. She has collaborated with Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group and Greg Hawkes of The Cars and worked as a recording artist and producer for MainMan whose roster also included David Bowie, John Mellencamp, Lou Reed, & Iggy Pop. Winston has composed and produced theme music for KRON-TV’s “First Cut” series, Banana Republic and for various films that have shown on BRAVO’s Independent Film Channel, French Television’s Cine Cinemas and major festivals all over the world. She is a founding member of the seminal San Francisco band Her Majesty the Baby, a two-time National Lilith Fair Tour finalist, has received numerous awards including an ASCAP songwriting award, Boston Music Award and Bay Area Music Award nominations, is a voting member of the National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences and is active in the Producers and Engineers wing. Winston has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.]
According to this article, women account for 5% of producers and engineers—why do you feel this is?
As I said in that article, I think 5% is actually generous, but I also feel like this is slowly changing. I believe this imbalance is largely due to differences in the way men and women are socialized around technology from a young age and if this is addressed we could see significant change. At Women’s Audio Mission, we try to demystify science, technology, engineering and math at an early age with our youth program, Girls on the Mic, which offers free training for girls ages 8-18 in the recording arts. We especially like to work with girls in middle school, as we find that’s a particularly formative time for young women in developing confidence, and discovering interests in technology. They pick up audio technology very easily at this age. We train over 450 girls a year in the recording arts and hope that the confidence they gain in creating their own media projects will create a wave of future music producers and recording engineers.
What inspired you to start WAM?
I started Women’s Audio Mission back in 2003 when I was a professor of sound recording at City College of San Francisco and I was tasked with getting more women into the classes. After I got the average up to about 43%, the largest in the country, I formed WAM to as a central place to share the best practices in addressing the gender imbalance. One of the most important methods, besides having more women professors, is in using balanced training materials such as the ones we provide in our online training library at SoundChannel.org.
What do you feel are some of the best resources, online and otherwise, for women to get encouragement and support in the field? [Of course WAM is your favorite, but who else? :)]
To be honest, Women’s Audio Mission is the only organization focused on advancing women in all disciplines of audio. We not only offer high quality education, but also career support, networking opportunities and loads of resources. We train over 600 women and girls in the recording arts a year in our professional studio located in San Francisco, which was actually selected for a “Best of the Bay” award in the San Francisco Bay Guardian last year. We also provide SoundChannel.org , an online library of animated, interactive audio e-textbooks, to over 6,500 men and women a year from all over the world. We have an exclusive jobs board for members where we post internships and jobs in the industry and we also offer our own internship program in which interns get hands-on experience in sessions. We recently had interns sit in on multiple sessions with internationally acclaimed clients like the GRAMMY-winning Kronos Quartet and the author Salman Rushdie.
We exhibit at the Audio Engineering Society Convention each year, increasing women’s visibility in the industry and providing networking opportunities for women at our booth and through our events, including the WAM Happy Hour party we throw every other year at AES in San Francisco and panels like the “Women of Professional Concert Sound” panel we hosted last year at AES. We’ve received enormous support and encouragement from the audio industry, and we are happy to report that they want to welcome women into audio career paths.
Within the aforementioned 5%, do you see more women in production roles than engineering roles? What about when it comes to mastering? Arranging? Songwriting? Session musicians?
We’re seeing an increase in general across the board with women entering different positions throughout the audio industry. We’ve placed over 200 women in internships and jobs since we started the organization in 2003—these positions range from live sound positions to video game sound production jobs. The video game industry is a sector where we’re seeing a lot of growth in jobs and potential—We’ve already placed two women in jobs in this sector over the past year.
What’s your take on the idea that even addressing this situation—through a blog series such as this—is a step in the wrong direction? It can be argued that discussing women in audio as if it’s some sort of big deal further cements the troubling idea that men are normal, and women are different.
I think that media exposure for women in audio amplifies the number of positive role models for women and inspires young women thinking about entering audio as a career. There are so few of us that sometimes that’s the only way we find out about each other. The more examples of women in audio we can showcase, the more normalized the idea of women in the recording arts will become for young women starting to enter the field. We also feel that it is important to note differences, rather than ignore them. Women and men are socialized differently and we believe that increasing the diversity in the industry is a very good thing—it includes and improves the representation of women’s ideas and perspectives in our culture.
WAM’s been very lucky to be featured in many media outlets, ABC 7 News, NPR, CNET, USA Today, The Huffington Post as well as the audio trade publications such as Pro Sound News, Electronic Musician and Mix, including the article you just sited. We feel it’s incredibly important to show positive representations of women in the field and let aspiring female audio professionals know that we’re here to support them.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We have an awesome and quickly growing community of over 9,000 audio folks happening on our social media networks where we share 6-8 audio tips and education sources every day. We hope everyone comes and joins the conversation. We love to hear what everyone is working on.
[Olesya Star is a 26-year-old UK singer, songwriter and record producer. In 2010, she co-founded the independent record label Graffiti Records, purely to release her own material. All work on Olesya Star has been done through Graffiti Records to date – including all self-produced videos, recordings, production, photography, artwork, social media and general music management.]
Perhaps it’s a lack of interest in the subject. To be perfectly honest, I got into all this “record and produce myself” affair because I couldn’t afford to pay good studios for all those hours, and pay their producers for every song I wrote. Besides, I wanted unlimited access to recording any crazy idea I got in the middle of the night, be it a song or a beat. I wanted to experiment with my sonic identity. But it is only now that I’m into record production, that I get excited discussing the benefits of a particular piece of gear. Speaking of gear… I must say, I still think that men get more irrationally excited about all the hardware, all the knobs and faders, and the look of a console with its industrial design and funky lights… I, personally get more excited about what it does to my vocals! I care more about the end result than all the reasons and logic behind third level harmonics that tape produces.
It also seems to me that most girls lack confidence, probably because of men, because of all the jokes that men make about women… Could that be one of the reasons why there are not more females in audio engineering? I read somewhere that many female scientists submit their works under a male pseudonym. Food for thought? Are they afraid of prejudice and being judged?
It could be a cultural thing too, as traditionally it’s a male-dominated field. And many girls think, “Oh god, I’m not going into all this technical wizardry…. boys ‘n their toys, etc.” Our society, unfortunately, still has many gender stereotypes, and it’s very slow to change. How many women are there as fighter pilots? Or train engineers?
Girls are highly capable of understanding sound engineering. They’re quite often better at math than guys. Us girls have a knack for multi-tasking. But then again, maybe, the male ability to concentrate on one thing solely, like the harsh frequencies around 2 kHz is a good thing. The smallest gain changes, harmonics and sub-bass frequencies that I hear often differ from the sounds a guy will hear, and vice versa, so I think that you need both sexes to make a truly awesome mix. Like most girls, I tune in to the top end easily—guys will always opt for more bass, often way too much in the mids, and then struggle to find ‘air’ in the mix. This is where you need the female ear!
I think, however, it’d be a good thing if more girls got into record production. Nice, clear mixes that aren’t over-compressed, lifeless and flat—that’s the goal! And girls really get that. I think educating people on the differences between being a producer and a sound engineer would help. Sometimes you don’t need to be the latter to be able to accomplish the former.
[With more than 20 years in the music industry, Cookie Marenco’s creative and technical skills have touched almost every aspect of the music and audio business. She is widely known for the quality of her audio engineering skills and for drawing out passionate performances from the artists she produces. Marenco is an advocate of using analog tape for recording while pioneering digital delivery to consumers using DSD digital audio.]
You know, it’s a question I never think about. I chose to be a recording engineer and producer because it was something I liked doing and people paid me to do. There are many other work areas dominated by men… notably entrepreneurship, auto racing, plumbing, construction, politics. Have you ever seen a female meat butcher? I did once. I stared at her it was so odd. She did a good job. 🙂
Then there are other fields dominated by women like nursing, fashion, elementary school teachers, publicists. I’m not an expert in those fields, but it seems that there are more women than men.
What could be an interesting study is the similarities of characteristics present in fields dominated by a gender. I don’t believe it’s a crime to have an industry dominated by a gender unless the opposite gender is willfully kept out and their contributions minimized.
I have never felt left out of engineering or producing because I was a woman. I read the article you’re linked to and am sad for the women who had so many problems getting into this field. My opinions and experiences more closely match those of Trina Shoemaker.
If you’ve worked at a lot of studios, you’ll notice a certain personality type being more successful than others in the recording environment. Producing has a little more variety of personalities depending on the producer’s background, skills, financial backing and ability to manage a budget and deadline.
My label, Blue Coast Records, has been well received by the audiophile community. I don’t announce the fact I’m a woman, but I don’t hide it. On the forums, many think I’m a man. I find it amusing when they meet me for the first time. 🙂
Good question… I started playing the piano at four, before I could read. Studied violin at ten(to get out of class), asked to play the oboe at 13, and at 14 was teaching piano. Up to that point, I wanted to be an astronaut. 🙂
My father loved his stereo and bought me a 4″ reel-to-reel tape deck from Sears when I was in 5th grade. We had a lot of fun with it. But I believe his greatest contribution was teaching me to play baseball and how to be competitive.
We all follow a path where we get the most positive reinforcement. Eventually, for me, that was music. Playing the oboe (and being competent) opened a lot of doors, along with having 60 piano students when I was 18. At 16, I changed my career focus to being a musician and composer.
At 19, I had a very influential teacher, Art Lande, who encouraged me follow my bliss. I left college (as a music student), joined several bands playing electronic keyboards. I was fascinated by sound, overtones and temperments used by various cultures—especially North Indian Classical—I studied the sitar for 3 years with Krishna Bhatt.
One of my band mates, Dino (JA Deane to those that know experimental music) suggested our rehearsal facility would make a great recording studio. He pointed to me as the ‘obvious’ choice of who’s going to learn to engineer (partly because I was out of town during the installation and this was his form of revenge for my absence—I say this lovingly.)
Formal training to be an engineer didn’t exist in the schools. We researched, bought gear and spent every day in the studio learning how to use the tools. Realistically, that’s 10% of the job. Understanding the needs of the artist is 90% of the job. A happy customer gives referrals.
The skills I attribute most to success was my history as a piano teacher/ entrepreneur. If people are going to spend their hard earned cash, you have to deliver confidence in what you do and deliver the best service you can offer. Being a musician myself, I could understand their needs. Give customers what they want, they’ll pay you. Pretty simple.
After 20 years, I was very skilled at recording but found the artists were more inclined to rely on protools and less on great performances performances. The job of engineer was like becoming a janitor and the music less exciting to me so, I took 3 years off in search of what to do next.
Eventually, I returned to analog tape and DSD (one bit recording that is the closest sound to analog tape.) I started Blue Coast Records and found a whole new set of customers—the end listener and music lover who appreciates high quality recording.
I still record and produce as a hired gun, have a crew of engineers, run an intern program with students from around the world and operate a commercial studio– all to analog tape and DSD. We also have a mastering facility to prep PCM and DSD masters—CD, DSD and WAV downloads, and Internet audio. To these, we’ve added a division for creating websites for musicians that cater to the unique needs of musicians and labels.
I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve had in all my businesses. While I’ve been founder in several, I couldn’t do it without the help of hundreds of women and men from interns and high powered advisers to the crew who works with me daily.
In 2010 my label, Blue Coast Records, became the first to deliver DSD downloads through the internet to customers around the world. These one bit files are 40x the size of .MP3s and now close to 100 companies supporting consumer playback. Our goal is to add value in quality, and give the consumer reason to pay more for a download.
This is a business of relationships. Don’t be afraid to contact people for advice both men and women. Seek those people you admire. Become friendly with your sales/equipment dealers. Hire people to learn from. You’ll keep these friendships for life as people change and move between companies.
Terri Winston’s WAM (Women’s Audio Mission) is a great resource for both women and men to learn from.
Rule of thumb: follow your success and the people that like what you do—forget the rest. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that’s okay. If you’re a woman and don’t get ‘the’ gig, it’s more likely you didn’t get the gig because you weren’t the right person… not because you’re a woman. Learn from it and make yourself the right person for the next gig.
I’m not holding my breath for gender changing percentages in producing and engineering. The career path as an engineer is practically non-existent unless you’re an entrepreneur.
That being said, I do see more roles available for both genders in the web and internet audio fields. Even as a hobby, fewer women produce music at home, although, I see more women asking questions about recording in their home studio.
Organization, management, hearing, listening, nurturing, taking care of business, multi-tasking—I do think women are better suited for studio work as a gender. But, I believe that the money is such a struggle that people are moving away from recording as career choice. Large studio systems are going away. If you’re a risk taker, ready to invest and start your own business, there are opportunities.
Well, I have to say I’m torn. I’d prefer to talk about what I do other than being a woman. I’d prefer to set an example by doing, not talking about being a woman.
It’s interesting that men tend to want to write about what it’s like being a woman in the business… not women. I’d prefer my legacy be my work in the techniques and brands I’ve innovated… not a string of articles about being a woman and how hard it was to overcome. I find being a woman is an asset not a liability.
Ryan, what’s it like being a man in this industry? I’ve never been one, so I don’t know. 🙂 Thanks for contacting me. I’m eager to do more articles not on this subject.
[Ryan’s response: “I will hit you up for more articles for certain! Being a guy in this industry feels quite… one-sided.”]