Thursday, December 2, 2010

From The Basement To The Boardroom

Have you ever wondered how record producers got their start in the music business? Were they musicians or did they intern at a record label or at a recording studio? Who did they look up to and what kind of barriers did they face? I was always fascinated by this and over the course of 10 years the music industry changed course drastically. Producers are in demand more than ever and are sometimes expected to deviate from making music to suit the artist and his or her management. Record producers can end up as executives overseeing a label. What about A&R's? Can they be considered producers today? I mean they pick the songs that make a project so why not. I'm still debating as to how much an A&R contributes to an album. How can someone determine what's good for a seasoned artist without their approval? The bottom line is talent counts and you had to know what you were doing. This wasn't for the faint of heart.

Being that technology has made it easier to find talent on a larger scale, I feel part of the magic has disappeared from the music. Perhaps its because most of the scouting is done on line as opposed to having street teams. It seems that so much more was done with so much less. A while ago people who knew music knew their place. No one ever questioned the artist because the artist was the face behind the music, the team and maybe even the record label. Record producers understood music and conveyed that knowledge and skill throughout their craft. For the most part the producer's word was law. Can today's music producer and A&R have a similar  impact?

I grew up in an era where drum machines and outboard synthesizers were the norm. Not many people had them and the ones that did had to be talented or so you think. I feel not much credit is given to the producer of today partly because of today's tools. I don't think that is fair because many of the producers using MPCs and ASRs have graduated to using computers and DAWs. No one gives them grief for it. I think it can be said that if a veteran producer relied solely on computers to produce no one would really question his or her decision.

Do people find that talent comes from the individual or the machinery? I've owned a few outboard samplers and found them very difficult to use. I remember being at Sam Ash and the sales rep told me that I could sound like Dr. Dre within a week of using this gear. One thing he forgot to mention was that Dr. Dre had about 15 years of experience under his belt. Needless to say I wasn't Dr. Dre. I sold the gear shortly after buying it and quickly gravitated towards computers. I find them much easier to work with as do many people and quality music has been created with them. I do however have a profound respect for anyone that can do the same with an MPC. Do you think that if computers were readily available back then would popular music sound the same? Would not having the tactile control matter to them? Would there be as many producers?

Many old school record producers end up becoming record executives. Was this the natural progression for them? Is there hope for the bedroom beatmaker? I guess this is the sign of the times. Everything is changing, maybe for the better. Perhaps going independent to secure a brighter future is the way to go.

To be continued...

By F.J.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Shiest Bubz

Coming to a city near you. Click here for Tour Dates 

Me: Welcome Shiest. Tell us about "The Smokers Club" tour, your new mixtape "Everydaze My Birthday" and new video "Sensless World".

Shiest Bubz:

Me: How is it working with Araab Muzik ?
Shiest Bubz:
Me: What is your method for picking beats and creating songs ? Do you write with no music or do you play a track to fuel inspiration for a song ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What is your favorite collabo and why ?
Shiest Bubz:
Me: What is Shiest Bubz listening to right now ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What's your take on the music industry today ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: How do you keep a level head with the music industry constantly changing ? Does it affect your craft ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What are some advantages to being on an independent record label ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me:Is there a different mind set to being a CEO and an artist and how do you juggle between the two ? Does it affect your relationships within the "Purple City" camp ?
Shiest Bubz:
Me: How was it being mentored by Cam'ron ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What is the driving force behind "Purple City" ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What is in store for Shiest Bubz and "Purple City" in the future ?
Shiest Bubz:

Me: What plans does Shiest Bubz have once "The Smokers Club" tour is completed ?
Shiest Bubz:

Click here to purchase at iTunes store

Follow Shiest Bubz on Twitter

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sound Quality Part 1

Sound quality comes in various shapes and sizes but what I'm referring to are the sonics involved in a song. How the mix translates not only to speakers and headphones but other mediums as well.  I read an article regarding how some people preferred the mp3 sound over cds and at first I was surprised.  I come from what's considered the "old school" where vinyl was king and cassettes came second but cds for me was something cool yet foreign.  The technology was in it's infancy stage so as converters and mastering techniques evolved, so did the quality.  I always thought cds sounded great but veterans felt otherwise.  I guess the same way older folks felt about cds is how I feel about mp3s today.

Not all mp3's sound like crap.  The codecs used in the iTunes software is great but there is something lacking.  Something that doesn't keep me glued to the music.  Maybe it's just more to get used to.  If kids today were to see a walkman or disc player in action they would probably think the individual using the device could not afford an iPod.  I don't think that's the case. You need a computer to use an iPod and a descent sized hard drive to store all of the music that you rip from the cds.  Then you get something that in my opinion doesn't sound as good yet you spend more money for it.  Granted a computer is being used for more than just a music library.  I can't help but wonder how today's mixing and mastering engineers feel about the technology.  Do they feel that a sense of tradition in mixing should be preserved for the sake of the music art form?  How about the "Loudness Wars" epidemic? When did we feel it was necessary to make everything louder?  How does this make the material sound better?

I've have been mixing hip hop music for a little while and I often get the stereo mix or 2 track of the beat with the vocal multitrack when dealing with rappers.  I know producers are concerned about someone stealing their work and yes those fears can out weigh the overall sonics of a track.  That's cool because I would feel the same way if someone else were to mix a Right Bros. session.  Why does this trend occur within the music industry on a major label scale even after the track has been purchased?  Another thing that bugs me out is when the hook and the beat are not separated.  It's when the producer sends a "TV mix" of the track.  I had a tough time with a session where the vocals were recorded so poorly that I told the artist's manager I would not be mixing the song unless the vocals were separated.  Needless to say the song was mixed despite not receiving the "Pro Tools" file the way I asked for.

There was another session in particular where the quality was so appalling  I needed to use the "Waves X Noise"plug in on the vocal tracks.  Thats something you breakout if you are doing forensics.  It was as if though the artist was not in an isolation booth and the air conditioner in the control room was on full blast.  That bothers me not because of the work required but because the people responsible for the recording appeared to be so careless.  The persons involved  were most likely friends and not recording engineers so technicalities went out the window.  So I ask you this...  How in the world can something like that be mixed without affecting the spectrum of the song as a whole?  Seriously how do people have the nerve to send something like that to an engineer?  WTF!!!!!

I am still learning how to better my self as a music producer and mixing engineer daily.  What helps is knowing how guys like Tom Dowd Bruce Swedien and Eddie Sancho painstakingly crafted classic records especially during a time when computers let alone digital equipment didn't exist.

To be continued....

By F.J.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Hello and welcome to The Right Bros. production duo Blogspot page.  The reason for starting this page was to give our fans, supporters and followers a window into our minds as we pursue a career in the highly competitive music industry as aspiring producers.  As already stated we are a duo that consist of myself, I.O. and my production and business partner F.J.  In early 2002 we attended the prestigious Institute of Audio Research in New York City and both graduated with a 4.0 GPA  and worked various gigs cutting our teeth and honing our skills as audio techs.

One day during the spring of 2005 I went to F.J.'s house and within minutes a track was created using nothing more than a no frills sampler and an old low performance computer.  The chemistry was evident and although I moved to Charlotte in 2006 F.J and I would still work regularly on beats via file sharing. Since then we have made countless tracks and in Aug of 2006 The Right Bros. was officially formed.

by I.O.

My Thoughts

I was reminiscing about the time when I used to buy music as a kid.  I would shop at The Wiz in Queens and during those times buying records felt like an event.  I remember when The Fugees "The Score" Album came out and I ran to the store during a storm to buy it and a day later I had the flu.  It didn't matter because I had the album and I would do it again today if the music being released made me feel the same.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think music sucks entirely but there was a true purpose to buying tapes and cds and because there were no Ipods you really had to think about what you were going to listen to.  I think Ipods are great but you can put anything on it because of storage.  Very little thought goes into choosing songs and that to me was part of the fun.  The listening experience doesn't feel as personal and because of the way music is obtained today, I feel less connected to the artist.  It used to be cool to have a cd player and pick what music to take with you.  Downloading and file sharing wasn't available then and even though piracy was around, money was still spent on bootlegs.  Those were the days.

I felt that the music back then was created during a golden age where nothing was spared, everyone had guts and the impact it had on the youth let alone the hip hop culture was evident.  You lived your life to it.  As an aspiring record producer I would love to recapture that feeling again.  I know it's gonna take more than just beats.  How can we gain the consumer's trust again?  Why are we afraid of change?

I cant blame piracy only on the people seeding the files but music just isn't what it used to be.  I truly believe that's the real problem with record sales.  No one pushes the envelope anymore.  No one takes any risks.  Everything sounds alike.  It's all cookie cutter.  Many of you may not feel the same way and that's cool.  These are just my thoughts.  Thanks for listening.


by F.J.