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Tune Up: The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects

Beyond artists, producers and bands, there is a group of music/sound creators that operate in completely  different facets. Sure, it’s easy to license popular music to use in movies, commercials, etc., but there is also a viable branch of the industry known as sound design. While there are teams of people in Hollywood trained to do their part in films and commercials, for smaller projects the more aspiring composers and designers have to wear many hats. Scoring a video or animation can be quite the daunting process since you not only need to come up with themes, but also score videos with fully arranged music and even find (or record), process and sync sound effects.

Every sound designer and editor has their own set of tricks, rules and techniques. However, everyone will agree on one thing: you need the proper collection of sounds. In fact, I’ll spend days at a time walking around with field recorders or setting up mic’s around the apartment just to collect cool sounds I hear for future projects. Even though there is nothing more fun for a sound designer then setting up 5 mic’s in a room and throwing around objects to create Foley effects (the reproduction of everyday sound used in film), your scores and sound effects will probably need that professional edge.

Enter: The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects Libraries.

While we’ve talked about loop libraries, we have several other libraries of sound. Aside from collections that can be personally created using field recorders, the Hollywood Edge effects are some of the best that we’ve ever used while scoring. We’re sure you’ve even heard them in action as they’ve graced numerous major motion pictures with their epic swells and powerful impacts. Even esteemed director Oliver Stone (The Doors, Any Given Sunday) swears by them.

So, if you’ve been asking yourself how you can get your soundtracks to have that real Hollywood sound, then it seems only natural to turn to the collection that Hollywood is actually using. The collections come in different themes, sizes and price ranges. However, the most famous is their complete sound effect collection. This multi-CD library comes with everything, from high-impact sounds for car crashes to heavily-processed gunshot sounds for space-age weapon emulation to low rumbles that are so common in horror movies and thrillers. They all come in extremely high quality, stereo wave files for use within any standard audio or video editing program. Whether you need ambient beds like their fluctuating, wind-sounding effects or a quick, shocking explosion, they’ve got you covered. After all, there are only so many realistic Foley effects you can make yourself. You can’t exactly record your own explosion.

The sounds speak for themselves. Check out a recent trailer for one of The Edge‘s collections to hear for yourself:

While the video gives you some great examples and is certainly a well-done montage, we’ve spent literally hours exploring the sounds on the collection we purchased. Sure, they have some electronic indexing and lists that come with the collections upon purchase. However, one minor con to the collection is these lists are a little hard to navigate, and because the collections are so extensive, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of effects. We can’t stress enough the value of being a true student of using your ears. No matter what the sound file is called, if we like it and think it can fit somewhere, we’ll use it.

Even though we’ve paid for the license to use these effects, it’s rare that we’ll stick one directly into a project. We typically use these effects (and those of any library, for that matter), as a simple starting point. The sounds have great character, epic punch and a rich spectrum, but more can always be done. Otherwise, we’d be using something everyone has access to. Therefore, in order to make it your own, we recommend any number of processing techniques to tweak the wave files. You’ll obviously need some pitch/time shifting in order to make it logistically fit into the video. However, you can use these in addition to reverb, EQ, reverse functions, etc. to give these sounds your own character. There’s really no limit.

The Hollywood Edge offers a wide array of collections for many different visual applications. Not just movies, but games and animations as well. We recommend heading over to their web site and seeing what works for your applications in your price range.

Judges Needed For Intel Superstars Competition

Calling all judges! Intel has partnered with Cakewalk and OurStage to bring you the Intel Superstars Competition, and now we need your help to find future superstars! The artist entries have been flooding in since July 1st and now the tracks are ready to be judged by YOU the fans. The Top 5 artists in the Aspiring Rock, Pop and Country Channels will win prize packages containing computers powered by Intel Core Processor technology and equipped with Cakewalk music software. In addition, the Top 20 finalists in each of the three channels will be entered to win a $10,000 cash prize, awarded by a panel of music industry experts.  The competition is being held on Facebook, so be sure to head over to Intel’s Facebook page and rank your favorite artist!  Judging ends on August 26th, so hurry over now to ensure your favorite artist finds a spot at the top.

Behind the Mic: Voice Care 101

From insufficient monitoring to lack of sleep to dehydration, there are many things that can hurt a singer’s voice.

A lot of vocalists practice with a PA system but, more often than not, they are straining to sing louder in order to hear themselves better. The same can be said about playing shows at venues with weak on-stage monitors. If you can’t hear yourself, you are more likely not only to sing off-key, but also to hurt your voice by forcing volume. The best fix to this problem is to invest in an in-ear monitor system, which will allow you to hear your voice through earbuds. Not only will you significantly lessen the damage to your voice, you’ll also be shocked by how much better you sing once you can really hear yourself.

A good night's sleep is necessary. for a good night's show!

Make sure you get plenty of rest on the nights before practices and shows. You know what your voice sounds like when you first wake up, and if you don’t get enough sleep, that croaky sound will stay throughout the day. Plus, it will be much harder to put on an an engaging performance if you’re running low on energy.

Keeping hydrated at all times is key to having a healthy voice, and downing a plastic bottle of water during your set is not enough!  Keeping your vocal cords wet will help them to vibrate, which they have to do quickly in order to speak or sing. Before a show, make sure to drink only room-temperature water because cold beverages will cause your vocal chords to contract.

If you happen to lose your voice, many people will tell you to drink hot tea with honey or lemon. But vocal coach Kevin Richards of Rock the Stage NYC claims that there is no truth behind this advice. According to Richards, the only cure for a sore voice is 24 hours of complete vocal rest ” no singing OR talking.

Treat your voice like an instrument; it's the only one you have.

Richards’ checklist for proper vocal care also includes: watching out for overly cold drafts or dry, heated hair; taking zinc to help heal a dry or scratchy throat; and drinking lukewarm caffeine-free hot tea in the winter in order to stay hydrated.

Vocal coaches like Richards are invaluable resources, especially if you are looking to pursue singing professionally. Your coach will be able to help you with breathing and warm-up exercises, as well as advise you on how to get a clean and powerful sound without doing damage to your voice. Seeing a vocal coach will allow you to learn proper singing techniques in order to maximize your vocal strength and quality.

It’s important to remember that a voice must be cared for as if it were an expensive piece of equipment. Practicing good vocal care habits will ensure that you keep a clean, dependable and strong voice for years to come.

Manic Impressive

The Black Rabbits

Jetson Black (badass name and 100% real) may sound pretty aloof when he sings, but make no mistake, there’s serious fire beneath the surface. As guitarist and lead vocalist for the Asheville, NC, band The Black Rabbits, Black delivers tightly wound vintage rock fueled by unrequited emotion. His brother, Skyler Black, keeps it rock steady behind the kit, while bassist Natalie Smallish and organist Kim Drake add feathery vocals to smooth out the rough edges. Hurry Hurry is a dark little rocker brimming with swag. Guitars strut and drums stomp as the urgency mounts. For Way Too Long Now feels more morose, with female backup acting as treacle to Black’s pent-up anxiety. For a break in the tension, skip to Emotion,  a kinetic, retro rock juggernaut complete with purring guitars, twinkling keys, handclaps and tambourines. One part Julian Casablancas, one part Jack White, Black hovers between unflappable cool and manic frenzy. Like a train that chugs along and suddenly threatens to go off the tracks, The Black Rabbits brooding, theatrical garage rock makes for an exciting ride.

Drake Winners Perform And Report In Toronto

Last weekend, we packed our bags and headed to Toronto to cover hip hop artist Drake’s first annual O.V.O.(October’s Very Own) Festival in support of OurStage “Thank Me Later” winning artist Lokz and backstage correspondent Megan Sumpton.  The widely anticipated O.V.O fest was best hyped by Drake himself who promised concertgoers a “magical night.” The excitement grew as Drake personally invited Megan on his tour bus where he admitted he regularly follows her on Twitter. During his interview, Drake spilled the beans to Sumpton that heavyweights Eminem and Jay-Z were going to be joining him during his set. When Drake finally hit the stage later that night, the crowds went wild.  The excitement of seeing Drake, Young Jeezy, Bun-B, Francis & The Lights and Lokz was enough to sell out the Molson Amphitheatre, but when Drake said he had some surprises up his sleeve, no one could have expected what was to come. When Jay-Z and Eminem took the stage for the respective performances, the audience twice erupted into a frenzy of screams and cheers. Of course, Drake’s performance stole the show and was the culmination of the day’s events for Lokz, Sumpton and 15,000 devoted fans.

Check out all the backstage video coverage here on OurStage.

Fan Diary: Carly Bosh Meets HANSON

When I first found out that HANSON was going to be partnering with OurStage to hold opening band contests for each stop on their “Shout it Out” tour, I thought, “Great!  I love getting to check out new music!”  I have loved HANSON since I was in fifth grade, and whenever they’re on tour I usually make it a point to see them at least a couple of times, so I knew I was going to be interested in the outcome.  I was already familiar with the way OurStage works, as I had judged other channels in the past, and I think it’s a really fair and effective way to determine the most talented and deserving artists within any given category.  Then, on top of that, when I found out that OurStage was ALSO giving away two tickets and a meet and greet session with the band for each show, I was all that much more excited to participate in the voting process.  Although I’m from Massachusetts, I had planned on going to see HANSON and A Rocket to the Moon in Sayreville, NJ, so I made sure to judge that channel all throughout the month of June.  Fortunately for me, all that listening paid off and I was selected as the fan winner for the show!  I was beyond thrilled!

I have been fortunate enough to briefly meet HANSON a few times over the course of my travels as a fan, but I had never met them in such an intimate setting before.  I was a little nervous but really excited on the day of the show.  My friend Michele and I arrived to the Starland Ballroom about an hour and a half before doors, and in addition to the two of us, there was also a group of HANSON fans who had won meet & greets through their fanclub, so we all waited around together until a little before doors opened when we were brought inside to meet HANSON!

The fan clubbers had some time with the band first, while Michele and I waited over to the side and watched them interact.  After a few minutes they had finished, and we had our time with Isaac, Taylor and Zac.  I have to say, every time I have had the chance to speak with any of the guys from HANSON, they have been more than welcoming.  HANSON’s music has had a huge influence on my life, so you would think it would be hard for me to even form words around the guys, but they are so down to earth that it feels more like talking to old friends than meeting my idols!  We took our group picture and then I asked the guys to sign a photobook that I had brought with me.  There was a little debate on whether they should sign the front or the inside, so they ended up signing both.  Haha!  We talked for a few minutes, and I put in a request for them to play their song “I Will Come to You” during the show that night.  The meet and greet ended with a round of hugs, and then Michele and I walked back through the venue to the stage.

OurStage Winning Artist Brightside Drive

Doors were already open by the time we were finished, but they must not have been open for long because the 2nd row over to the side was still open!  Free tickets, a meet & greet, AND a great spot for the show?  Incredible!  And then on top of all that, the whole show was fantastic!  The OurStage opener for Sayreville was called Brightside Drive and they were really talented.  They had a really upbeat pop/rock sound that was perfect for getting pumped for the rest of the night.  I definitely enjoyed their set and would encourage other people to check out their music.  A Rocket to the Moon went on next, and I was really excited to see them play.  I have not been able to stop listening to their album On Your Side since it came out last fall, and they performed quite a few songs from that record, including their song “Like We Used To” which is one of my favorites, so I was stoked.  They started things off with a stellar cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, too. I loved it.

Finally, HANSON came onstage.  At this point, I have been to over 30 HANSON concerts, and I think this one takes the cake for my favorite show and setlist.  They played quite a few songs from their newest album Shout it Out, in addition to a bunch of old favorites, plus a couple of rare songs and some great covers as well.  It was just an overall great, well-rounded show.  Highlights included “I Will Come to You” (which I had requested that they play during the meet and greet), Taylor’s solo “Never Let Go” (one of my favorite songs”this was my first time hearing it live), “More than Anything” (a rarely-performed ballad from back in the day), “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” (Hanson’s new single), “Penny & Me” (a fan favorite), and a cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Coming”.

It was an incredibly high-energy performance, enhanced by the crowd’s enthusiasm and singing along with every word.  HANSON ended the show with a cover of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)”.  Taylor jumped up on his piano right above where we were standing in the crowd, and then at the very end of the song both Zac and Taylor jumped off the drum kit.  It was absolutely amazing!  What a great way to end the night. I could not have imagined a better day, between the meet & greet, the awesome opening bands and HANSON’s incredible setlist and performance.  I don’t know that it will ever be topped. I have to send out a HUGE thank you to HANSON, and especially to OurStage.  You guys are the best!  Thank you so much for this opportunity!

-Carly Bosh

Q&A With Metric

The concept of a female-fronted band isn’t really old news. Most often, you’ll find these acts forging more of a straight up “rock” sound. Metric offer flavor all their own. The band presents memorable songs in energetic, jump-worthy packages. While many indie acts try to arrange “singer/songwriter-esque” tunes into a band setting, the members of Metric all add their own distinct stamp to their songs. Singer Emily Haines’ voice seems a natural fit for the synth-y, electronic arrangements and danceable grooves that have become synonymous with the name Metric.
OurStage got ahold of Metric  guitar player Jimmy Shaw to get a little more information about how Metric actually puts together a song. Check out his answers as well as his thoughts about their recent dates and even their work with film composer Howard Shore.
OS: The band has stated that Emily Haines writes “sad” songs that fit with “happy” arrangements by the rest of the band. How, then, does a typical Metric song come about?
JS: Well in that instance it’s usually a song that Emily will write on the piano that is slow or somber, and I will take it, speed it up and “metrify” it. Guitars, dance beats, loudness in general. We have found that juxtaposition to be a major part of Metric’s sound.
OS: We recently spoke with hip hop artist k-os who talked about a certain camaraderie and simultaneous competition between Canadian artists. Do you find that there is a connection/competition there?
JS: If there is a competition, I believe it’s a healthy one. I see it that we all wanna be there at the finish line. None of us will make it if we all don’t achieve greatness, but the trick is we all have to achieve greatness in order to succeed in the goal. I am not so interested in reaching the top of the mountain to find I’m the only one there, only to look down and see all my friends partying at base camp.
OS: This year, you worked with Howard Shore to write a song for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack. What was this like and how did you merge your songwriting process with Shore’s cinematic writing?
JS: This really was an amazing experience. Howard is a wonderful and incredibly talented man and musician. It actually came very naturally. He played us the scene along with the rough musical ideas that he had. We took those ideas and ran with them, writing a full scale pop song, going back and forth with Howard the whole time. He then took those melodies and implemented them throughout the movie score. For something I was so intimidated by at inception, it was actually quite smoothly achieved.
OS: Metric is a headliner on this year’s Lilith tour with Sarah McLachlan. Why is it important for you to support a tour like Lilith 2010?
JS: I don’t really see it as supporting the tour but just something that made sense at the time. I prefer not to think of things as symbols or gestures. As a great friend of mine once said, its just what happened on a Tuesday¦
OS: Later this year, you’re embarking on a much different tour with Muse. Will this be your first time transitioning from big outdoor festivals to rocking huge coliseums, or is this just business as usual?
JS: The only time we’ve played that type of arena is MSG with the Rolling Stones. That was uh, ok I guess. I’m excited to play all venues, big, small, outdoor, indoor. We have a mission to be the first band to play in space (you hear that Sir Branson? The name is METRIC).
OS: The band spends a lot of time touring between releases. Do you like life on the road, and what is your key to staying sane while touring?
Photo by Justin Broadbent
JS: I think the key is to give up trying to stay sane touring. Why fight the inevitable. Just feel weird. It’s ok, you wont die.
OS: After a smaller EP release and a few singles, is Metric planning to work on a new full-length album soon?
JS: Absolutely. We cant wait!! Aaaand GO!
Catch Metric at Lollapalooza this Saturday August 7th or on the following upcoming tour dates with Muse:
10/11 Cincinnati, OH- US Bank Arena
10/12 Columbus, OH- Schottenstein Center
10/21 Quebec, QC- Colisee Pepsi
10/23 Uniondale, NY- Nassau Coliseum
10/24 Newark, NJ- Prudential Center
10/26 Raleigh, NC- RBC Center
10/27 Charlottesville, VA- John Paul Jones Arena

New Music Biz 101: Facebook (Part 1)

This post will be the first in a mini-series about social media for musicians. Social media, as most musicians know, can be a powerful tool to create consistent engagement with your fan base. Everyone knows they should be using it, but not everyone knows exactly how to do it effectively. This mini-series will offer tips on how to best utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace to assist in creating an actual ROI (return on investment) on your time spent. Lets get started with Facebook!

#1 Create Engaging Content

It’s essential that you constantly do your best to engage your fans. You probably hear this advice a lot, but what does it really mean? It simply means to stay away from posts like Come buy our album, Buy tickets to our show, or Give us three grand to make our next album. Although you can fit in something similar to these posts once in a while, it’s more important that you post something that is going to grab your fans’ interest and get them involved. For example, Did anyone get any good pics at the concert last night? Upload them to Facebook and we’ll share them for everyone to see! Be sure to post great music and cool videos and to write about topics relevant to you and your genre of music. Take lots of pictures at your concerts (including some shots of the audience). Encourage your fans to tag themselves in these shots. (Hint: this is then posted on your fans’ walls, letting all of their friends know that they were tagged.) Also encourage fans to post their own concert shots to your wall, and credit people who take great shots.

#2 Form Strategic Alliances

One way to gain a stronger legitimate fan base is through creating strategic alliances with artists who play within a genre similar to your music. As a fan, it’s easy to be supportive of multiple music groups, so there is no disadvantage to sharing your fan base with others, especially when they find that they love the music you’ve recommended. Network with those who have a similar sound and exchange wall posts to encourage your users to like their page and their users to like your page! As everyone knows, this big game we call the Music Industry is all about networking.

#3 Don’t Forget Your Website

It’s important that you continue to keep up with your web presence by linking back to your website from your Facebook page whenever appropriate. The fact of the matter is that people haven’t adjusted to pulling out their credit cards on Facebook quite yet. It’s not a natural or typical motion for Facebook users to go through. Until it is, continue to send users to your website and have engaging material there for them to browse through.

Hopefully these three little tips are helpful in promoting your music on Facebook. A couple of great resources to learn more about social media are Hypebot and SocialMedia Examiner. Remember, social media is a constantly changing world and best practices change all the time. Do your best to stay up on it all, and remember to add your Facebook link to the links section of your OurStage profile!

Rock 'n' Roll Call: Forever the Fallen

You might not think that hardcore rock and positivity go hand-and-hand, but OurStage artists Forever the Fallen prove that it can be quite a powerful combination. The New Hampshire-based sextet provide a surprisingly hopeful message through screaming vocals and chugging guitars on their brand new full-length album, Narrations.

Musically, the band has consistently relied on the standard contemporary metalcore basics of double-bass pedal, high-pitched vocals and dynamic guitar parts, which made them a perfect fit to open for acts such as Our Last Night and We Came as Romans. On this release, though, they have filled out their sound with complimentary piano parts, gang vocals and programmed beats. “The Transparent” is especially impressive, as frontman Dante Marino’s and guitarist Tom McCallum’s voices soar over refreshingly bright, piano-driven melodies.

As an openly Christian act, Forever the Fallen’s lyrics are often centered around having courage, finding strength and keeping faith. The ten tracks of Narrations play like a concept album, connected through three repetitions of Marino screaming, “I’m still alive/my God, this is not the end/light the beacons, send the signals/let them know that I’m still alive.”

Narrations is now available through several online outlets, including Amazon and iTunes.

Announcing The Winner Of The Andre Harrell Superstar Soul Search

In June, OurStage partnered with Radio One Inc. and media mogul Andre Harrell to find the next big thing in R&B/Soul music with the Andre Harrell Superstar Soul Search Competition. Artists had the opportunity to enter their music in regional channels as well as one national channel for a shot at auditioning in front of Andre Harrell himself. In July, these auditions were held in cities across the country to narrow it down to the final few.  Ten artists were then chosen to compete at the finals, which were held in Atlanta this past weekend. All 10 artists performed in front of Andre Harrell and a panel of celebrity judges including Keith Sweat, Ann Nesby, DJ Eddie F and Dwight Eubanks.

"Mr. Ayers Wooing the Crowd."

After an “exciting and explosive” final competition, Louisiana native Mr. Ayers wowed the audience and judges alike and was chosen as the winner. Mr. Ayers won a career-making grand prize package including a check for $10,000, free online promotion from Radio One and a digital single deal with Andre Harrell Records/Atlantic Records. Stay tuned to the OurStage blog to read firsthand about his experience at the competition in our upcoming interview with Mr. Ayers!