area 52 studios console for gig gab 258 with Dave Cook

Dave Cook: Streaming Sound Advice, Love Shack, Carly Simon, and More — Gig Gab 258

Dave Cook, long-time audio engineer and owner of Area 52 Studios joins your two favorite weekend warriors today with stories, advice, and more.

Dave shares how he “accidentally” wound up engineering “Love Shack” as well as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, what rules Bernard Purdie laid down (before he laid down the grooves!), how he started his road career with Carly Simon, and more.

Dave also brings decades of advice to help guide us all with our live streaming setups, discussing different ways of getting that pristine sound, as well as that not-so-pristine sound… depending upon what you’re after!

Listen, along with your hosts Paul Kent and Dave Hamilton, as Dave Cook weaves all these stories and tips together for you all. Press play and enjoy!

Image of lighting cans on ceiling with text Lighting, Ranting, & Planning Your Next Show — Gig Gab 257

Lighting, Ranting, & Planning Your Next Show — Gig Gab 257

We know you want to play. We all do! What does that next gig look like? How will it work? When will you—and your band—be comfortable playing together again? Does that happen indoors in a rehearsal space or outdoors for a show?

These are the seeds planted in the minds of Dave and Paul as they dive into this week’s episode. Listen as your two favorite weekend warriors talk through all of this and how they’re approaching it.

Then send in your feedback to feedback@giggabpodcast.com: we want to hear from you!

In the meantime, those livestreams keep happening, those quarantine purchases keep accumulating, and that means it’s time for another gear gab segment! Audio gear is featured, but lighting gear (and techniques) are important, too.

Listen, learn, and then share your feedback with the Gig Gab family!

Image of iPhone with Streaming, money, Payscale, Music Licensing and Toys. Gig Gab 256

Payscale, Licensing, and Toys – Gig Gab 256

Have you had YouTube or Facebook mute the songs on your stream because of copyright claims? There might be something you can do about it! Paul and Dave talk through their experiences with navigating these waters, and even share how you can make money playing your own songs from the various rights management companies, too!

What are your thoughts about playing out this summer? Are you—and your bandmates—going to experiment with any socially-distanced gigs? What’s that going to look like?

And finally: toys. Your two favorite weekend warriors are cooped up just like you are, and they’ve been upping their game (and expenditures!) all in the interest of serving you, dear listener. Listen as they talk about–and through!—some of the new hardware and software they’re testing and learning.

Press play, enjoy, and always be performing!

Brad Madix, Front of House for Rush, Queensryche, Jane's Addiction, and more on Gig Gab 255

Brad Madix: Stories from Front of House with Rush, Queensrÿche, Jane’s Addiction, and More – Gig Gab 255

Brad Madix, Front-of-House Engineer for Rush, Bruce Hornsby, Shania Twain, Shakira, Queensrÿche, Jane’s Addiction, Mr. Big, and more joins Paul and Dave today to chat sound, mixing, stories, and Gig Gab!

Brad’s tales and advice are endless – and endlessly valuable! Listen to hear Brad share stories about finding himself behind the console in an arena for the first time, tweaking Geddy Lee’s bass sound, taking the stage with Queensrÿche, and so much more.

Brad also shares his tips and advice about getting the sound right in clubs, large and small, trusting your ears, and protecting your hearing in the process.

A man who happily says that he has “years of practice” in the space tells us all why we should “never runs towards a fire.”

Press play and enjoy, folks. This is a good one!

  • 00:00:00 Gig Gab 255 – Monday, May 4, 2020
  • Brad Madix – FOH Sound, Diablo Digital, And More
  • John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, Rush, Bruce Hornsby, Shania Twain, Shakira, Jane’s Addiction, Mr. Big, and More.
  • The Early Years
  • The Rush Trust Equation
      • Tweaking Geddy Lee’s Bass Sound
      • Four inputs: clean, gritty, and massively distorted (times two!)
  • Strings on a Rock Stage
  • Mr. Big’s friends showed up.
  • Live: condensers vs. dynamics
    • “Years of Practice”
  • Game-Changing Live Sound Tech
  • Tips:
    • Mix the First Song In Your Head
    • It starts with the drummer!
  • Club Tips!
    • Vocals have to win
    • Guitar Solos need to be heard
    • Don’t cut everything from the EQ!
    • Live with What you Have: the PA in the Room
  • Hearing Protection Tips
    • Manage your volume over time
    • Measure your SPLs
      • Target 97dB
    • Manage your headphone volume (keep it low!)
    • Buy quality earplugs
      • But test with foam, because that’s what the audience is hearing!
  • When do we tour again?
  • Diablo Digital
    • Recording and archiving multi-track recordings of live shows
  • Brad Madix, jazz piano interlude, Queensryche, Here in the Now Frontier Tour
  • 01:03:30 GG 255 Outtro
Gear Gab with picture of microphones in a case

Gear Gab – Gig Gab 254

Today it’s time to talk gear. And gain staging. And effects. And audio interfaces. And Microphones. Oh, wait, those last two are gear, too, aren’t they? And effects… that can be gear? Are effects considered “gear” if it’s a digital plugin versus a piece of outboard equipment?

Oh the questions you have! Well, Paul and Dave have questions, too… and a few answers. Really, though, it’s all about just learning how to make yourself sound great. And is there a better thing to work on during quarantine? Join in the fun and press play!

Managing–and Learning–Your Fans’ Expectations – Gig Gab 253

How do your fans feel? Do you know? If not, what can you do to find out? Well, Paul and Dave talk through all of this and more. The good news is you can be a fan now, too, and learn what it feels like when someone asks you to tip or share or visit or more. And you can apply that compassion to crafting your own fan environment. Are tips the right answer? Or are subscriptions a better model? Listen as your two favorite weekend warriors talk this through.

The bookends to this weeks show are tech tips, first about recording techniques, lastly about streaming. Listen as Paul and Dave share the new things they’ve learned about this week. Remember, always be performing!

  • 00:00:00 Gig Gab 253 – Monday, April 20, 2020
  • 00:00:51 Spending time in the studio, recording, mixing, and learning!
  • 00:11:52 Managing fans’ expectations: streams, tipping, engagement
    • Tips vs. Subscriptions
    • Artists are fans, too, now.
    • We can experience, but we can learn.
    • Sam Eigen – https://www.facebook.com/sam.eigen.14
  • 00:42:54 When will it be normal? (as if we know!)
  • 00:44:00 Live Streaming Tech Support
  • 00:49:14 GG 253 Outtro
Band on stage from top view

Thinking of the Stage – Gig Gab 252

Paul and Dave start today’s show with a detour about… playing live! Sure, we can’t do this right now, but that means now is a great time to stop and think about some of the more overlooked aspects of your live show and setup. We’re out of the grind of playing every week (or every night), sure, and that allows us the gift of perspective. What things about our live shows can we change? What can we work on right now? Dave has a few ideas that he and Paul talk through.

Then it’s time to talk about mixing your streams, and whether streaming is the right thing for you versus record-and-release.

Listen as your two favorite weekend warriors talk about how they played this weekend and what they did!

Music (and musicians) in the Time of COVID-19 Live Streaming – Part 1

Most of the United States, and indeed much of the world, is sheltering in place due to the Coronavirus. Live music gigs from club dates to national tours have been canceled globally. Musicians all over the world are turning to streaming as a means to express themselves creatively, stay in touch with their fan bases, and often as a source of income. After a month of sheltering in place I’ve watched many musicians take to live streaming. In all likelihood, music fans aren’t going to feel comfortable standing elbow-to-elbow with strangers, enjoying live performances for quite some time. Since it’s going to be awhile before we can get back to playing onstage, I’m publishing tips and insights for musicians who are new to live-streaming.

Giving some thought to how, why, and what you will stream can help you keep your brand represented in the light you desire, and possibly create a revenue stream to replace all or part of your gig earnings.

The Big Picture:

Once you decide to enter the world of streaming, you are now wearing three hats: Producer, Technical Director, and Artist. Understanding streaming through the lens of these three roles is fundamentally useful to achieving online success. Taken together they help you answer:

Why you stream – Thinking through your goals and the strategic decisions of how best to represent your brand and reach your audience.

How you stream – Implementing all of the technical decisions involved with getting the stream out. Cameraman, Lighting Director, Set Designer, Internet Engineer, Streaming tools expert, Analytics, Motion graphics expert. The tech role can be as simple as pressing “Go  Live”, or as complicated as producing a multi-shot multimedia extravaganza.

What you stream – The fun part, the actual performance.

You are likely already thinking in terms of these roles now without knowing it. Let’s take a deeper look at each function.

Producer

In your role as producer you will be thinking about the strategic and business considerations of streaming and how taking your craft in front of the camera can best represent your brand and achieve your goals.

The first question to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to stream?” Some musicians are online busking to try and replace gig revenue, relying on tips in exchange for performance. Others are doing online benefits for venues that they have relationships with as an expression of goodwill, and, frankly, self-preservation in the hopes that the venues will still be in business once the distancing requirements are relaxed. Other musicians are trying to find an audience for their material. Many are just trying to grow their fan base and will figure out how to monetize the audience later.

Once you are clear on why you want to stream, you can dive into a host of decisions to support your goals. Some things to consider with your Producer hat on (I’ll revisit and amend this list often):

  • Frequency: How many times a week is optimal to stream. Some goals support every day, others once a week, or once a month.
  • Logistics: What day of the week is best? What time of day?
  • Platform: What service is best? Facebook Live!, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and other services offer streaming content that you can be a part of. Where (what service) are your current fans?  Where are your target fans?
  • Duration: How long should your show be? It seems like 1-hour shows are a sweet spot right now. People are tuning in to music streaming events and putting them up on their TVs. Are you good enough to keep their attention for more than an hour?
  • Presence: How does your onstage charm translate to a streaming event. What can you do to interact with your audience in a live streaming format, and what can you do with your content to make the viewing experience stand out.
  • Aesthetics: What should your “set” look like to best facilitate your music. Decor and Lighting are all a part of this.

The idea here is to be clear about what you want to accomplish by streaming and then do things that support that decision.

Cover Band Central’s Steve Witschel joined us on Gig Gab 251 where we talked quite a bit about the production element.

Technical Director

The technical part of your streaming approach deals with the actual tools to get your stream seen. The options are many and can range from simple (hitting “Go Live” on your mobile phone or computer) to very complex (managing multi-camera, multi-source productions with beautiful graphics). Understanding the options and choosing the best ones that help you achieve your goals is the new essential toolkit for DIY musicians.

In your as technical director you will be considering:

  • Streaming platforms: How they work, the media formats they support, and how other tools you may want to use integrate with them.
  • Camera: How do you look and fit in the frame when videoing? A smartphone or a webcam can get it done, but DSLRs offer quality and framing options.
  • Lights: Which lighting setup is best for you? Lighting is an art, but the basic skill of making sure you are illuminated clearly when seen on camera can be learned easily. Lighting can be the difference between a polished or amateur look.
  • Set Design: What else does your viewer see when viewing your stream? How does that support what you are performing?
  • Streaming Gear: What other tools will help you create the look, feel, and sound you need for a great show? There are a plethora of free and paid tools that can help you operate a virtual TV studio. These tools allow you to have—and select between—multiple cameras and camera angles, or put graphics and scrolling information on the screen over you or behind you. Some of these tools can send your stream to multiple sites (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch) simultaneously to get you greater exposure.
  • Video Editing: Do you want to incorporate pre-produced video? Being competent with tools like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, or Premier will help produce videos ready to stream.

For more of the technical specifics, check out Gig Gab Podcast episode 250 where we talked about OBS, mimoLive, and others.

Artist

Finally – the performing. The thing that you love to do most. The craft that you’ve spent so many hours perfecting. Streaming in a time of social distancing is a unique experience. There’s no audience to draw energy from. There’s usually not even a camera person that you can get feedback from. It’s often just you and then camera. Personally, I find streaming to be a very unforgiving medium. While you are performing – you have in the back of your mind that your mistakes are being recorded for all of history. Your ability to focus on emoting your music is key to communicating your art.

A few tips and lessons I have learned and observed from my own early attempts at streaming:

  • Be Rehearsed. I can’t stress this enough – know your material cold. The best streaming performances are the ones where the music and emotion just flow and your vibe is communicated via the stream to your listeners. This is hard to do in this sterile environment of just you and the camera. It is hard enough to have one eye on the livestream tech stuff and still get into your zone to perform at a high level. Take as many variables out of the equation as possible and make sure the music you are performing just flows and you’re not guessing at the changes or form or lyrics. I have some friends who are taking the unique approach of doing request formats as a way to differentiate their streaming presence and drive tips or donations. If you are the type of performer who can do that with low stress and have fun with the requests—and you feel like the inevitable stumbles that will come if reading charts off an iPad in real-time are fine for your brand—vaya con Dios. Just be real about what performing unrehearsed, unperfected material might mean for your brand and think about how it will be perceived when there are 200 pro, polished, rehearsed performers streaming at the same time. You know your audience and what they can tolerate. It might be useful to think about how a new audience will perceive spontaneous content. The “realness” and intimacy of these early days of streaming may be a little more forgiving today, but as time goes on and streams are a constant and pervasive form of entertainment, the scrutiny on everything – production – tech – performance – will be more intense. As you compete for people’s time, eyeballs, and tip money, the focus on quality entertainment will be increasingly important
  • Set up your vibe. Decorate your “set” so you feel comfortable, and create the environment that will support your musical message. Dark drape background with candles? Couch or chair? Use a green screen to project the backdrop of a pro recording studio, forest, ocean scene? Remember – this is a visual medium as much as it is an aural medium. You are creating a “world” and inviting listeners/viewers in. A world that facilitates your best performance is worth designing.
  • Work at it. No matter how good you are at this when you start, you will get better at this the more you do it. Some of your onstage chops will translate – do you tell stories to introduce songs? Do you do interludes in your songs to set up sections of the songs lyrically? You actually do have some immediate feedback and interaction in the comments that come in in real-time as you perform that you can address in between songs. I find that acknowledging the people I see entering the stream makes me feel connected to my viewers and they certainly get a kick out of a shout out in this format. Using the platform to make announcements of things going on in your life (professional or private as you see appropriate), things going on in your community, causes that you support are great bridges between songs. Finally, accept that the art form of performing music for a streaming audience is a skillset that you need to develop. You will get better at making.

I’ll dive deeper into each of these roles in future articles. For now, if you understand the big picture of what getting in to live streaming entails, you’ll make better – and more cohesive – decisions that can help you achieve your goals. This is a new medium and we are all learning as we go along. Join me in this series where I’ll explore these roles in my own new live-streaming practice share more tips and techniques that I observe as effective.

The quality of streaming endeavors is all over the map right now. The longer we are sheltered in place, and the more artists take to streaming, the more competition there will be for viewers. I’m definitely not advocating that big, multi-camera, highly produced productions are the only way to go. Casual, informal vibes can be intimate and compelling. You need to be honest with yourself whether choosing to wear sweat pants and streaming from your kitchen is the best thing for your brand. Thinking hard about all the ways to make your stream a great “product” that represents and communicates your brand as effectively as possible will be a differentiator when competing for viewers.

Until next time, especially when streaming, “Always Be Performing”.

Headshot of Steve Witschel from Cover Band Central on Gig Gab Podcast 251

Cover Band Central’s Steve Witschel on Live Streaming and More – Gig Gab 251

Steve Witschel returns to Gig Gab after four years to talk about the evolution of his Cover Band Central site and Facebook groups. Things have grown quite a bit for CBC since Steve chatted with your two favorite weekend warriors, and they go through that evolution together.

Steve’s also spent quite a bit of time perfecting – and teaching – the nuances of live-streaming. He, Paul, and Dave talk through all of this, too, offering you a ton of great tips and tricks to make your live streams even more successful for you and your audiences.

Live Streaming Tech and Trusting The Muse – Gig Gab 250

As promised, Paul and Dave talk through what they know and have learned about setting yourself up to live stream from your house or studio. There are definitely some tips and tricks, and your two favorite weekend warriors share as many of them as they’ve found.

Then it’s on to embracing the muse. Dave had an epiphany moment this past weekend when he broke through his sadness of sequester and started tracking drums, only to find that there was an even better drum part for a new FLING song waiting right around the corner. Listen as he dissects these two and compares live in the show.

Have fun, experiment, and remember: always be performing!