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How Do I Record My Own Music? The Recording Academy's Brand-New "Remote (Controlled)" Series Is Here To Help
Remote (Controlled) Pt. 1

Courtesy of The Recording Academy on Facebook

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How Do I Record My Own Music? The Recording Academy's Brand-New "Remote (Controlled)" Series Is Here To Help

In the first installment of our three-part webinar series, "Remote (Controlled)," studio professionals break down what you'll need to record at home—from preamps to pop filters to the best set of headphones

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2021 - 04:00 am

​If you're a budding musician or producer, there will come a day when you realize it's time to step up your game. When you've poured thousands of hours into your craft, substandard audio won't cut it. To transfer your creations to a stranger's ears cleanly, you're going to need quality, affordable gear and a little bit of know-how.

That's where our brand-new "Remote (Controlled)" series is here to help. Launching today, the three-part virtual webinar series from the Recording Academy's Membership team reveals the ins-and-outs of home recording. Our first episode, premiering below, consists of two conversations with our Producers & Engineers Wing members. P&E Senior Managing Director Maureen Droney introduces the series; Washington, D.C. Chapter P&E Committee co-chairs Dan Merceruio and Carolyn Malachi lead the conversations.

In the first half of the hour-long clip, recording engineer Jake Vicious and multi-instrumentalist/producer Asha Santee discuss how to record acoustic percussion instruments, such as Cajon, bongos, and shaker. Helpfully, the pair doesn't bombard the viewer with technical jargon but rather starts with the basics: Get yourself a decent interface, microphone, cables, mic stand, a MIDI keyboard (if you need one) and a DAW (digital audio workstation) such as Logic Pro X or Pro Tools.

Whether you're an absolute beginner or already know a thing or two about recording, the discussion abounds with helpful tips, from measuring mic distance by making a hang-ten symbol to the differences between dynamic and condenser mics. (Bonus: The tips and tricks featured in the video also apply to audio for podcasting.) Because it's a lighthearted chat between friends rather than a dry dissertation, the pair illuminates and clarifies what can be a confusing subject.

"I think it's really awesome for artists to understand what happens with sound and the equipment that they use inside of studios—just so they're aware," Santee remarks at one point while adjusting a noisy condenser mic. "When situations like this happen, we know what to do."

The second half consists of an exchange between singer/songwriter and Howard University student Samiyah Muhammad and producer-engineer Marcus Marshall. While Vicious and Santee are seasoned professionals, Muhammad has a bare-bones setup—VTech headphones, a Blue Yeti USB mic and a MacBook Air loaded up with GarageBand.

Read More: Remote (Controlled): The Recording Academy’s Guide To Making Your Livestreams Look And Sound Good

With a breezy, supportive air, Marshall encourages her to research more advanced DAWs on the market. "I always suggest for people that are getting into recording to kind of try all of them and see which one works best for you," he explains. "For the most part, all of them will get you to your end result. It really just depends on what you like, what you prefer, and what some of the workflows are." Marshall also offers tips about using pop filters, eliminating background noise, and communicating with engineers to avoid headaches during the mixing and mastering processes.

"Remote (Controlled)" teaches everyday people to explore the tools at their disposal and make what might seem like a tedious act a creative opportunity. "This is great; this is great!" Santee exclaims at one point while pointing a cardioid mic at a pair of bongos. "I already feel empowered and like I'm going to get a better sound this time. Let's give it another shot!"

See below for a resource guide containing every device and system mentioned in this week's episode of "Remote (Controlled)."

Equipment Checklist

  • Microphone(s)
    <ul>
        <li>e.g. Neumann TLM 103, Sony C100, Manley Reference Cardioid, Peluso 22 251, etc.</li>
        <li>Budget-friendly Recs: Shure SM58, Aston Spirit, Aston Origin, Rode NT1-A, Blue Microphones, Sennheiser MK</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><strong>Pop Filter (Optional, but highly recommended for recording vocals)</strong>
    <ul>
        <li>Especially for condenser mics</li>
        <li>e.g. Stedman Proscreen XL</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><b>Audio Interface&nbsp;</b>
    <ul>
        <li>e.g. Universal Audio Apollo Twin, M-Audio Fast Track, etc.</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><b>Headphones</b>
    <ul>
        <li><b>​</b>Recommended: Closed-back headphones (rather than open-back), especially ones made for studio recording (rather than for listening experience, which may be EQ'd differently)</li>
        <li>Look to companies like Shure, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, AKG etc.</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><b>Studio Monitors (Optional)</b></li>
    <li><b>Cables</b>
    <ul>
        <li>e.g. XLR cables, 1/4-inch cables, etc.</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><b>DAW (Digital Audio Workstations)</b>
    <ul>
        <li>​e.g. Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Presonus Studio One 5 Prime (free), etc.</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    <li><b>VST Plugins (Optional)</b>
    <ul>
        <li><b>​</b>e.g. Native Instruments Komplete, etc.</li>
    </ul>
    </li>
    

Best Practices

  1. Make yourself comfortable in your space: That is how you will get your best work
  2. Find the sound sweet spot in your room. (If possible, have somebody play while you listen around the room for the best sound.)
  3. Know what kind of mic you're using and what it is typically used for; this could affect how you choose to position your mic. (Mic types: Condenser, Cardioid, Omnidirectional, etc.)
  4. Spend time with mic placement: If you don't like what you hear, move the mic—placement is key
  5. Name your tracks before you record
  6. Name your sessions in a way that gives you or somebody else a lot of information (find suggested naming conventions in the Producers & Engineers Wing's "Recommendation for Delivery of Recorded Music Projects") 
  7. Identify and eliminate environmental noise (AC, heater, television, maybe even loud jewelry, etc.) while recording

Room Treatments

  1. The biggest problems in your studio are sources of reflection (parallel walls)
  2. What can help:
    • Foam panels (cost-effective)
    • Diffusers

Delivery

  • Best session notes are detailed
    • Mic/instrument/placement (i.e. "Track 1-TLM 103, Cajon, front")
  • Know your engineer's specifications (what their sample rates are)
  • Send .wav files, don't send MP3s

TRUST YOUR EAR!

  • Do a rough mix so the engineer has a sense of how you want it to sound

Remote (Controlled): The Recording Academy’s Guide To Recording Music Remotely With A Producer & Engineer

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

Mumu Fresh On What She Learned From Working With The Roots, Rhyming & More

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Apple IPad Sells 300K

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Apple IPad Sells 300K
Apple announced first-day sales of more than 300,000 iPads for April 3, down from an estimated first-day sales figure of between 600,000 and 700,000 iPads by investment firm Piper Jaffray. IPad users downloaded more than 1 million apps and 250,000 eBooks during the first day. (4/5)

BMI Promotes Senior Executives
BMI has announced promotions for a trio of senior executives. Richard Conlon, formerly VP of new media and strategic development, is now senior VP of corporate strategy, communications and new media. BMI CFO Bruce Esworthy adds duties as senior VP finance and administration, and Michael O'Neill, previously senior VP of licensing, is now senior VP of repertoire and licensing. All three executives will report to BMI President & CEO Del Bryant. (4/5)
 

ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"

Ant Clemons

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ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"

Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home

GRAMMYs/Jun 15, 2021 - 08:13 pm

Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?

Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?

Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible

In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.

Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.

Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.

ReImagined At Home: Keedron Bryant Powerfully Interprets John Legend's Love Song "Ordinary People"

 

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

Will Smith at the 1999 GRAMMYs

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith"

GRAMMYs/Sep 25, 2020 - 11:17 pm

Today, Sept. 25, we celebrate the birthday of the coolest dad—who else? Will Smith! For the latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the Fresh Prince's 1999 GRAMMY win for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."

In the below video, watch rappers Missy Elliott—donning white leather—and Foxy Brown present the GRAMMY to a stoked Smith, who also opted for an all-leather look. In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith." He dedicates the award to his eldest son, Trey Smith, joking that Trey's teacher said he (then just six years old) could improve his rhyming skills.

Watch Another GRAMMY Rewind: Ludacris Dedicates Best Rap Album Win To His Dad At The 2007 GRAMMYs

The classic '90s track is from his 1997 debut studio album, Big Willie Style, which also features "Miami" and 1998 GRAMMY winner "Men In Black," from the film of the same name. The "Está Rico" rapper has won four GRAMMYs to date, earning his first back in 1989 GRAMMYs for "Parents Just Don't Understand," when he was 20 years old.

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, J. Lo & Jada Pinkett Smith Open The 2019 GRAMMYs