Standing Up to the Man

This musically fructiferous week has yielded yet another productive recording session with Tess and Tim.  We discussed post-production needs and recorded lead vocals and integrated colorful harmonies to “I Bought You a Coat”

 

During this session promotional needs were addressed, such as the imagery and visual art style to be employed on the artwork of the upcoming EP.  I also recorded supplemental audiovisual material in the studio: photos and video footage of the recording as well as an interview about the artist’s musical project.

Tess 2

On the bright side, *ba dum psh* having access to the university lighting equipment effectively and drastically enhanced the quality of the promotional materials.

 

The legal aspect of the practicum has suffered a more conflictive week, since several weeks into the recording process, Berklee has proposed a new contract that contradicts several key items that were established at the very beginning. This poses a significant challenge for the legal team, to protect the interests of all stakeholders involved while moving within Berklee’s legislation, particularly the artists.

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Post-Fallas Hangover

The sculptures and firecrackers are gone, and our merry and highly pyrotechnic Fallas vacation has concluded, ushering in a new era dominated by a constant game of catch-up.  For this reason, we have managed to accomplish many goals within the A&R department, lately directing our focus onto recording.

As a team, we have reviewed Tess’s compositions, selecting the ideal tracks to be included in the compilation album, and finally deciding on the following four in particular:

  •       Feather Friend
  •       If I Wander the Night
  •       I bought you a Coat
  •       Growing Pains

In accordance with our objective, we have developed a tight schedule and adhered to it, immediately networking Tess and Tim, and establishing recording and post-production sessions.

This week alone, I have attended two studio sessions, one on Monday and another on Wednesday. Depicted below are the photographic accounts of the Wednesday session with our colleagues Tim and Carlitos contributing ideas and suggestions with respect to the songs’ structure and the production process.

Studio 1

Studio 2

Cameras and Practicum

Cameras and Practicum

 

Another productive and fast-paced week with little sleep. Many group meetings, an improvised trip to Madrid for my birthday, video editing at ridiculous hours and a fun experimental video class with multiple cameras, tripods, and the recently acquired lighting equipment.

You can also check out my video for last week’s class here, starring film stars of the echelon of Aalap and Alejandra!

“The Real World”

 

The practicum activities have been spread over the last four days. On the legal side, some issues needed to be addressed, such as the research of the procedure to add a logo to the already submitted “Disruption Records” trademark. I quickly phoned the OEPM and received specific directions and the corresponding fees to conduct the process if deemed necessary.

 

Artists Contracts have been further revised by the whole legal branch of both labels, and will be soon explained and presented to artists for signing, after final approval is granted by Berklee’s lawyers in the following days.

 

On the A&R side, individual meetings have been scheduled with Tess and Avila in order to listen to their plans, proposals and requests.  Hopefully studio recordings will commence next week, as we tread through the midterms before a more than well-deserved holiday break during Fallas.

Masks and Legalese

We have just emerged from an intensive and highly fruitful week!  Through the duration of the tumult and productivity, I have personally been involved with two departments in particular:

On the legal front, we researched the registration of trademarks with respect to the labels in all its ambits: payment methods, fees, registration processes, applicable class, and form fulfilment.  Upon the receipt of Berklee’s approbation and the necessary tools and information to carry out such a procedure, the trademark was registered and finalized last Tuesday.  Compiling individual research with resources acquired in the classroom, a contractual agreement has been drafted between the artists involved in the project and the record label.

Concerning the A&R department, I made an evening of realizing a meticulous review of each artist’s interview.  Upon analyzing the information, I selected the four artists that I believed would foster the most synergic relationship with the label, composing a report to qualify and quantify the specific reasons for my selections.  On Wednesday, the class met as a whole to review and compile the collective results of our analyses.  A final decision was taken regarding the number of artists with whom we will collaborate, the division of artists between both division of the label, and we discussed the final product that would be released.  We reached a final consensus that each individual artist would contribute between three and five tracks to the final project, which will be released digitally and ideally compiled to be published as a physical vinyl.

My ventures in video production have become progressively more challenging, albeit rewarding.  Thursday was invested in the recording of my latest project, a music video of The Real World by local artist Kyle Schieffer.  The lyrical content of the song is a stinging diatribe against consumerism and collectivism, inspiring a thorough storytelling of vivid imagery and dystopian themes.  We captured this theme using masks and dystopian imagery in stark contrast against the protagonist, the individual.  This collaboration between myself, Kyle, several other Berklee students, and auxiliary cameraman Miguel López lasted the duration of the whole day, and yielded promising results.

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On a final note, this coming Monday, March 3rd, the team will be hosting a Mini TEDx Application Conference in the Berklee Library at 6PM.  The event itself will showcase potential TEDx speakers who will be presenting the material they wish to present at the event in June. This event is open to everyone who is interested in attending, so mark your calendars. We look forward to seeing you there!

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A very slow recap

Excuse me for taking so long to start writing here, but I must say I feel last weeks have moved slowly in a directional but not clear motion.  Little can I say so far about my personal experience within our record label, as decisions have laid more on the structural than on the pragmatic side of the project.  Now I am aware that this is a characteristic that always repeats when shaping a real live project, but is truly not a motivating factor. 

During the last weeks, we attended some interesting meetings during our stay in Cannes, had fun while doing so and got exposed to the dynamics of the wheels of the music industry. I found particularly appealing the process and challenge of listening to our fellow students music and taking decisions in a time constraint period.

Now, with my career interests lying on the artist management side, I am really looking forward next Friday, when few pre-selected artists will have the opportunity to present their projects.  The selection of artists will start moving the project forward and giving our label a purpose to both exist and hopefully, some motivation.

Music as a Muse: “The Last Waltz”

last waltz

November 25, 1976.  Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco.  Rock group, The Band, is preparing to make their swan song.  Their farewell concert in the same venue in which they made their debut, The Winterland Ballroom.  Martin Scorsese was there recording the whole thing as an A list of musical stars take the stage to join The Band in their final performance as, well, The Band.

When I say the A list, I mean a truly all-star cast including (but not even closed to limited to) Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond and Eric Clapton, just to name a handful accompanying The Band, horn section and choir.


The Band ft Bob Dylan – Forever Young

The film also shares some insightful interviews with the band members.  A tidbit from an interview with Robbie Robertson that I found notable was that they were are one of the few bands of the era that simply retired.  There was no tragic drug overdose killing the frontman–although drug use was rampant.  The producers had to edit out a glob of cocaine that was.hanging from Neil Young’s nose. (Freep.com)  There was no power struggle and Yoko incited breakup.  They didn’t milk their fame playing concerts at geriatric homes forty years past their prime.  They simply retired upon the realization that they had been on the road for 16 years and were ready to do something new, nothing more.  They went out with a bang, and that was what this concert was all about.

Over thirty years later, this film is widely recognized as one of the greatest music documentaries of all time.  However, Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist of The Band, expresses reservations about it in his biography, saying that Scorsese made Robertson the protagonist of the film and did not portray the synergy of the group. (Chicagotribune.com)

I shall conclude this series with an epic guitar battle between Robbie Robertson and Eric Clapton.  Enjoy.

Music as a Muse: “Stop Making Sense”

stop making sense

This documentary, Stop Making Sense, puts The Talking Heads at the foreground.  It was filmed during the promotional tour for their then recent album, Speaking in Tongues, shot during three nights’ performances in the Pantage Theater in Hollywood. The title comes from the Talking Heads song, “Girlfriend is Better”.


As we get older and stop making sense, you won’t find her waiting long

Notably, the films entire budget was raised by the band themselves and with that budget, they managed to create a film that pioneered the genre of film documentary in many innovative ways:

  • It is the first movie ever to be made entirely with digital audio techniques.
  • It contains very fiew shots of the audience and minimizes the sound of cheering as much as possible.  According to David Byrne’s commentary in the bonus features, this was made as not to influence the viewer and allow them to form their own opinion of the performance.
  • The performances make no use of quick-cut editing techniques.  Many of the peformances are one continuous shot without close-ups.  This was intended to highlight the onstage interaction between all of the musicianship instead of protagonizing David Byrne the entire concert.
  • The film makes no use of colored light on the stage.  This imposed limitation results in some unorthodox methods of illumination, such as a lamp in “Naive Melody” (which he later uses as a dance partner)

The film has received raving reviews among critics and fans, and it is widely regarded as being among the finest examples of the music documentary genre.  (Imdb.com) It maintains a score of 97% “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.  The sound track spent over two years on the Billboard Top 200 and landed itself in slot number 345 of Rolling Stones 500 best albums of all time. (Rollingstone.com)

Music as a Muse: “When You’re Strange”

strange

The Doors are a band that live in a past shrouded with legend due to the outrageous stage personality, exorbitant drug use, and untimely (though realistically foreseeable) death of their frontman, singer and lyricist Jim Morrison at their height.  In 1991, Oliver Stone released a film, The Doors, a dramatization of the career of The Doors, rather than a factual documentary, which further fostered this exaltation of the band without a strict adherence to the true story.  Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist of The Doors, is credited for calling, When You’re Strange “the anti-Oliver Stone”, commenting that it would be “the true story of the Doors.” (Billboard.com)

It was released as part of the series, American Masters, which is a 27 season running documentary series that highlights the contributions of American artists, actors and writers who have left a substantial impact on popular culture syndicated by PBS.  (Imdb.com)

The film was nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding nonfiction series, and then subsequently it won for a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video.  (Tomdicillo.com)

The soundtrack to the motion picture compiles an eclectic mix of studio recordings, performances as guests on the Ed Sullivan Show and concerts around the world, and John Morrison’s poetry as narrated by Johnny Depp, who also narrates the film.  (Allmusic.com)


When the Music’s Over and a clip from the film

Part of the appeal of this film was not only the accuracy of the storytelling concerning the lives of The Doors, but many other factors.  The Oliver Stone film for example protagonizes Jim Morrison almost the entire movie, excluding the crucial roles that the other three members played. (Billboard.com) Also appealing is the treasure trove of previously unreleased footage and material from The Doors.  Music, video, even remastered clips of Jim Morrison’s otherwise unreleased film, HWY: An American Pastoral. (Imdb.com)


Bootleg clip of Morrison’s Unreleased Film

Music as a Muse: “This Is It”

THISISIT

Directed by Kenny Ortega, “This Is It” documents the preparation and rehearsal that was invested in the King of Pop’s swan song.  Michael Jackson was scheduled to perform 10 (which, due to overwhelming demand, was increased to 50) sold out shows in London as a farewell to performing before going into retirement.  Some speculate that the concert was Michael Jackson’s means of putting a dent in his sizeable debts, though he announced that the purpose of the concert was to give his children an opportunity to see him perform since they were born after the height of his popularity.  (Dailymail.co.uk). It was planned to begin on July 13, 2009, however the dream was tragically smashed by the untimely and tragic death of Michael Jackson less than a month before the debut.


The Way You Make Me Feel

 The film incited controversy across the board between Jackson’s ample fan base and his relationships.  From the front of his audience, the producers were pressured so much that they even released the documentary early to satisfy public demand.  Conversely, the film was criticized as an attempt to turn a profit on Michael Jackson’s misfortune.  His family pressured the filmmakers to cancel its production, albeit unsuccessfully.  Sony paid $50,000,000 for the rights to produce the documentary.  AEG President Tim Leiweke publically retorted:

“Some of the things that people have said about us, which are so untrue, this movie’s going to restore his legacy, and prove that we, in fact, gave Michael a second chance here. And an opportunity to make the kind of comeback he was dreaming of. And that we created an environment for him that was probably the best environment that the guy had the last 10 or 15 years of his life. And I’m very proud of the way we treated Michael, and very proud of the partnership that we had with him. And this movie is an opportunity to celebrate that, and we could get past all of the gossip and all of the innuendo.” (Theguardian.com)

President Tim Leiweke

In spite of the criticism, it proved to be an enormous commercial and critical success, breaking world records before the film was even released:

  • The soundtrack entered the market at number one in the United States.
  • 700,000 tickets were sold in the first four hours
  • The movie set a Guiness World Record (later broken) for the largest promotional poster in the world (Worldrecordacademy.com)
  • At $250,000,000, This Is It is the highest grossing concert film and documentary film of all time.
  • It set a record for breaking $100 million in ticket sales worldwide in its firt five days.(Usatoday.com)
  • After his death, Michael Jackson became to make 2 million posthumous sales in a week. (Nytimes.com)