Top 5 Rules For Local Bands

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I have been mixing bands my entire professional career in the music industry, from a local youth venue, touring with bands on the east coast of Australia, club nights, in house positions, walk ins, filling in for other engineers, recorded shows, done countless location recordings, studio recordings and so on. I am currently the studio technician for a studio that is a part of a music store and am the venue manager for a 500 capacity venue with my own PA, lighting and back line hire business. I have mixed hundreds of shows and have started to promote my own shows and I have seen many patterns of behavior that many bands fall victim to that ruin their reputation, ability to earn money, how many people will come watch their shows, their longevity and their ability to expand out from their hometown.

#1 Play Often But Not Too Often

Far too often I see bands play their hometown far too often. It is not okay to play your hometown more than once a week. It is not a good idea to play your hometown more than twice or three times a month, less if your genre is more niche. Your ability to draw punters to your shows will plummet if they’re just seeing the same show again and again, week in week out. Punters only have so much disposable income and they plan their nights out carefully, so don’t be surprised when no one comes to your show if you are playing your home town again next week or worse the next day. Venues will usually have a clause that prohibits bands playing shows in the same area within a week either side of the show, some extend to two weeks or more to ensure your bands fans are actually going to come and see you perform and not to a competing venue the night before to see the same band.

#2 Promote Your Show

When you get put on a show, you need to do everything in your power to ensure your fans come, if they don’t your value as a band on the bill will plummet and the amount of money you can get from venues will never increase if no one wants to come and watch you. Venues are in the business of selling tickets and food and beverage sales. To put on a show costs a fair amount of money, venues need to cover production costs like sound and lighting equipment and operators, door staff, security, their overheads like power and rent, their own staff and so on. If they are hiring you to play a show then they are hiring you to bring your fans to eat, drink and pay admission. Don’t be surprised if you get paid nothing if no one is at the show watching your band. Where is the money going to come from? You need to be running a Facebook campaign, not just posting every now and then on your band page, you need a plan, what to post and when, on your band page, in groups, on other pages, on your personal page, you need videos, photos, links to your music to buy, links to the event page, links to pre-purchase tickets. You also need to be in Instagram and twitter doing the same thing. If your fans do not know about your show they cannot come to your show. You need to get a high quality version of the event poster, go to a printing company and get a run of posters printed, this is cheap to do by the way, and put them up in places where your fans or potential fans might see them. Cafes, street posts, university campus boards, anywhere you can think of without attracting a fine by the local council. You need to print off small flyers and go to similar shows in the month preceding the event and hand them out to everyone there, especially if the show is at the same venue. If it is at a different venue, ask politely to make sure it is okay to do so or you might get kicked out.

#3 Get Out Of Your Home Town

Far too many bands play enough outside their home town and eventually ended up breaking up without achieving anything significant. I have seen many bands start to build momentum and fall flat on their faces and break up over petty things that should have been taken care of when the band was formed, like copyright, songwriting and the rest of the business side of things. You need to play in major cities and regional centers where people have never seen you play. Develop relationships with bands from other places and tour with them, you will soon develop close friends in other cities that you can easily play a show with and crash at their places and return the favor when they come through town themselves. This has so many benefits, you will start to understand the national music scene a lot more and will learn who the big names are within your scene and who in touring and what shows are a good idea to try and get onto.

#4 Avoid Cancelling Shows

Nothing is more frustrating for venues when bands cancel their show at late notice with lame excuses. Dave Grohl famously fell offstage and broke his leg and continued playing the show in a chair whilst his leg was put into a brace. I have had committed bands still play a show without their drummer and with their songs playing in the background. Or turning the set into an acoustic set instead of progressive death metal. And if you definitely cannot play the show, give as much as possible and have a replacement band ready to go in your place. Apart from annoying venues, your fans will not appreciate it either. If they were going to your show they were most likely looking forward to seeing you perform. Do it often enough and you may well start to lose your fans.

#5 Be Organised At The Event

Most shows run to a strict time schedule and must be finished by certain times according to their license. Bands who play over time are extremely disrespectful to the venue and the other bands playing on the event when it eats into the other bands set times. When three the support bands play a 40 minute set instead of 30 minute sets, that is 30 minutes of time that will come out of the headliners set, or 30 minutes the venue will have to pay security, staff and production for that was previously arranged. This can snowball when that time gets charged as overtime, for example past midnight and onto a public holiday or Sunday rate. That 30 minutes can turn the night from being successful to being a loss. If may be the difference of your band getting paid and not. Drummers should have their drum kit setup in pieces ready to go so when the previous band finishes they can easily swap the kit out with endless adjusting or taking them out of bags on stage.15 minute changeovers are common and is enough time for the vast majority of bands to change over without stressing. When it comes to loading in before the event, make sure you arrive on time, bands loading in during another bands set is majorly insulting and looks extremely unprofessional. Venues stipulate a load in time for a reason. Parking arrangements may change after a certain hour, loading zones may become no parking after a certain hour, an area of the venue may turn into a restaurant and prevent the loading in of equipment. Sound check times are also set for a reason. Many venues have curfews for making noise, not just at the end of the night but before the show. Many venues will only start sound check after dinner service has finished or before it has started.

 

May 2015 Update

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It has been quiet yet very busy for RPM Audio lately. We recently took delivery of a large Yamaha Installation Series PA system and have installed it at the Newcastle District Tennis Club’s The Vault venue and auditorium.

The system consists of the following:
2x Yamaha IF3115/95 mid high speakers
2x Yamaha IF3115/64w mid high speakers
2x Yamaha IS1218w dual 18″ subeoofers
4x Yamaha IS1118 single 18″ subwoofers
2x Yamaha IF2115/95w 15″ speakers
6x Yamaha DSR112 12″ powered speakers
2x Yamaha T3n 3000w power amplifiers
4x Yamaha T5n 5000w power amplifiers
1x Yamaha P7000s 2200w power amplifier
1x Yamaha QL1 48 channel digital mixing console
2x Yamaha RIO1608D 16/8 digital stage box
1x Yamaha DME24N 24/24 system processor
1x Yamaha MY16-Dante expansion card for DME24N

Coupled with existing inventory, this system represents a major upgrade for RPM Audio and the quality and level of production we are able to provide for events.

The ‘A’ rig is now an actively driven four way system with a coverage pattern of up to 150 degrees per side and over 115dBspl at over 25m distance making it suitable for venues and outdoor areas requiring such coverage and volume for events. We anticipate the system will be suitable for over 800 patrons in spaces larger than 20m wide and 30m long at concert level coverage and volume.

We can also provide a comprehensive stage monitoring system with six powered speakers and six actively driven speakers suitable for drumfil and sidefill applications. We can provide a ten send monitor system whilst also being capable of handling a number of in ear monitor sends concurrently. Concurrent front of house and monitor system capabilities can include up to 8 sends of monitors plus in ears.

This system also allows us to provide production for side by side dual stages with minimal cross hire of production in most circumstances.

Variations of systems derived from the new inventory also allow us to stream line what we can offer for less production intensive events, from solo artists, cover bands, weddings, functions and so forth.

Update

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It has been a very busy time since I last updated the site with what has been happening in the RPM Audio camp.

Numerous live gigs, a few studio recordings, lots of new gear, revamped the venue and loads more.

The big project of the last few months has been redoing the production setup for The Vault, a concert venue at the Newcastle District Tennis Club in Broadmeadow.

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We revamped the lighting setup, rehanging all the lights, redoing all the cabling and power, putting the truss upright and getting rid of the winch up stands to save a lot of room. Overall we are really impressed with how it turned out.

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We also took delivery of a brand new digital mixing console, the Behringer X32. We parted ways with our venerable Yamaha LS9-16 to upgrade to the X32. We gained 32 full featured channels to mix, 6 aux channels for line inputs like iPods, two track playback, dedicated FX returns, totaling 40 inputs to mix. This allows us greater flexibility compared to the LS9 which required us to use external preamps to gain the additional 16 channels. The X32 has an expansion slot fitted with a USB/firewire card allowing 32 channel recording.

The X32 has built in AES50 networking allowing easy connection of digital multicore systems like the S16 multicore allowing one cable to be used to replace a traditional heavy analogue multicore making setup very easy and flexible. It also has a Ultranet P16 monitoring ethernet port which allows 16 channels to be transmitted to the P16 personal monitoring stations, making headphone monitoring applications super easy.

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Product Review: Babyface

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RME is a company who specialize in making incredibly reliable professional audio products such as interfaces, AD/DA converters and preamps. They have a long history in making some of the best audio interfaces in the world when it comes to reliability, stability, low latency and their ability to capture sources without coloration.

We use many RME products including their flagship audio interface the Fireface UFX which we use on location and in the studio as our main audio interface to capture different sources. We haven’t had a single issue in the years we have used the UFX and some of the features of the UFX have saved us time and money in the past when other equipment has let us down.

The RME Babyface is no different when it comes to the legendary stability, reliability and pristine capture of audio. The Babyface is a 10 input and 22 output audio interface and connects via USB2.0, shipped with a cable with a USB B port to connect to the unit and a double ended standard USB plug on the other end to connect to your computer, and with a recent update, it can be plugged into a USB power source to work in standalone mode or even plugged into an iPad with the Camera Connection Kit.

The Babyface was a little larger than I expected, but still a perfect size to sit on my desk within easy reach. It has a large jogwheel for main volume adjustment of the analogue outputs, headphone outputs and the analogue input gains. Below the jogwheel are two buttons, one which recalls the main output volume to a prefinied level and another button which can be programmed. Pushing the main jog wheel down will also dim the main output by a user defined level.

On the rear of the unit is a serial cable port that a supplied breakout cable is attached, providing two analogue inputs, two analogue outputs, a headphone output and MIDI in and out. Next to that is an ADAT in port and ADAT out port. Then the USB port and a DC power port, of which the adapter is an optional extra as the unit is bus powered.

On the side of the unit is a second headphone output jack and an instrument Hi-Z input jack. The Babyface is made of aluminum and finished with a blue finish on the top and silver on the sides and bottom. Above the jogwheel is a pair of LED metres and LED status lights that light as to the selected input or output level and shows where the master input and output level controls are as you turn the jogwheel.

All this together results in an attractive little desktop piece, perfect in size to easily reach over and adjust the volume of the speakers or your headphones or change the input gain for a microphone you are recording. RME provide similar devices designed as remote controls for the Babyface’s bigger brothers, the UCX and UFX, and you can tell why when using the Babyface. It provides a nice tactile interface to control your levels and the quality of the feel and finish speak volume of the quality of the unit.

The quality of the AD/DA converters are possibly the best you can get for under a thousand dollars. They are aimed at capturing and reproducing audio signals as cleanly as possible and accurately as possible, imparting no coloration to the signal, for better or worse. This is perfect for applications such as rehearsal recordings, pre-production demos, live two track stereo recordings, classical recordings, broadcast recordings, radio recordings and many more. Getting accurate and true representations of music has been a challenge many engineers have faced over many years.

The Babyface will allow me to listen accurately at home and on the move, on location with clients doing pre-production and the many situations where needing to monitor accurately is needed. I can unplug the unit with two cables, place it inside my backpack with a second breakout cable and go meet clients and do a variety of tasks, knowing that I won’t have issues with equipment failure, clicks, pops, distortion, crashes or poor quality.

RME make true professional grade products, designed to last. And every time I use one of their products, I am reminded of the fact. I won’t rely on any other manufacturer when it comes to audio interfaces and neither will my clients be exposed to any issues arising out of using other inferior products.

Grand piano recordings, international bands and strings!

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It’s been a very busy past few months for RPM Audio with some extremely busy few months expected to come. We have done a lot of events featuring some really great bands, some from overseas, we’ve recorded a few bands including tracking acoustic concert grand piano for The Virtue and live strings for a yet to be named project’s single release.

The Stuart and Sons Concert Grand Piano we tracked for The Virtue.

MEGAHERA all the way from Italy playing at Club LED Newcastle!

Matt Tomas tracking from drums for my friends final composition at the Conservatorium.

Warbringer from the USA!

The RME FireFace UFX and accompanying equipment doing a studio drum session!

Hanzel und Gretyl + Viral Millennium @ Club LED Newcastle and Fiend Fest

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RPM Audio have had a very big weekend of shows last weekend with Hanzel und Gretyl live at Club Led Newcastle an Fiend Fest in Sydney. Viral Millennium supported on both shows with Hocico from Mexico also headlining at Sydney along with a great selection of support acts incluing The Seer from Newcastle an Shiv’r from Syney.

We pulled out all our shots on Friday night, with the full PA rig in action with four QSC KW181 subs center clustered 2×2, QSC153 tops, four Yamaha MSR400 foldbacks, JBL JRX drumfill, Yamaha LS9 FOH and QSC KW122 surround speakers for the special surround content prepare by Viral Millennium for that event which exceeded all expectations on the night.

Lights In Production also had most of their inventory in action including their PR575 moving heads, mini led Moving heads, led washes, par cans and more.

We also had the pleasure of working with USA industrial band Hanzel und Gretyl for both of these shows building strong ties and a rapport with the duo with our iPad control doing monitors on stage.

Here is a clip from the event recorded using our Zoom Q3hd at front of house and GoPro hero2’s on stage. Editing by Greg from Vokta.

The Virtue + The Cavalcade Autumn Tour

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RPM Audio have begun a tour last weekend with two bands, The Virtue and The Cavalcade, stretching from local shows here in Newcastle and up to Brisbane over the period of two months.

RPM Audio are providing PA Systems for various shows as well as sound operation and tour support for the duration. We are also providing custom outboard racks for FOH compression, drive rack and FX as well as a custom in ear monitor rack that is completely isolated from in house sound systems.

Front Of House, side of stage at Singleton Skate Park during a skate comp. A Simple affair, a mix of Teenage Kicks and RPM Audio gear. JBL JRX FOH Dual 15″ mid/high, 18″ subs, Behringer 12″ Monitors, e945 vocal mics, D6 kick, M1 floor, redbox Cabsim guitars and DI keys. Allen & Heath Mixwizard 14:4:2 console, mixed outboard.

Artsy shot side of stage of the backline.

View from the crowd at GOATS Festival 2012. Just providing tech services for this one. KV2 VHD at FOH, KV2 monitors, Avid Profile at FOH. Short set, not worth taking over from the providers FOH mixer for such a short time.

More to come as the tour goes on. The Loft this Friday night and Cessnock Skateoark on Saturday.

Still Alive!

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I haven’t updated the site in a while so here’s an update as to what RPM Audio have been up to lately.

Club LED Newcastle
We continue to provide PA services for Club LED Newcastle on the last Friday of every month to healthy crowds and amazing bands. Coming up we have an International headliner appearing at Led which I am looking forward to.
We still continue to multitrack record and video every Club LED newcastle and most events we do, so if there’s an event you have played and might be interested in getting the files or a mix from us, please contact us and we’ll check and see if the session is in our archives.

LED Core Newcastle
This event kicked off last month at the Newcastle District Tennis club with 6 bands with 3 bands during an all ages time frame. This event has a lot of potential to become a very active and amazing spot for ‘core’ based bands in and coming through Newcastle. The Newcastle metal scene has reaped the benefits of this venue for over two years now, so it’s time for other fans of music to realize the venue’s potential to host amazing bands and to become a great place to go once a month with like minded people, see some great bands and make some friends.

Private Functions!
We have provided for a collection of private functions recently including a wedding and a birthday party with great success putting our new QSC KW122’s to great use showing that their smaller size still packs the quality and performance their bigger brothers bring to the table. RPM Audio can cover corporate functions, weddings, parties anything! Please contact us for a quote specific for your event and we will have something to suit.

Studio Recordings
We have been busy the last few months doing some work in the studio with Teenage Kicks. We started on the recording of the new single for local Maitland band The Cavalcade. We see great things for this single, to say it will grace the ears of people over the radio all over the country is an understatement in our opinion. We have also nearly finished We Built Atlantis’s latest single which is sounding amazing. These two projects will hopefully bring a new flavor to the local studio recording industry and show potential clients what we have to offer over the competition.

Website:
As you may have noticed, our website has been the victim of a hacking incident with our site and others on our server being redirected to a Russian site when accessed by google or any other forwarding site. Accessing the site directly through a browser still brings up the site. We are working on the fix which will involve a complete reload of the server so don’t panic if there is some downtime whilst we fix the issue.

Random metaphor

I’ve been watching a great youtube show called ‘Pensado’s Place’ which consists of Dave Pensado, a top mixing engineer based in Hollywood, California and his manager Herb talking mixing with in depth hands on demonstrations and incredible guests.

Pensado’s Place

Check it out, it has a lot of brilliant insights and handy hints.

The thing I want to expand upon exactly is a metaphor Dave used to explain mixing.

“Mixing is very much cooking.”

Now, let’s deconstruct the metaphor. With cooking you have a meal you are aiming to make. To get that meal you follow or create a recipe using the ingredients you have at home and the ones you go and buy (or grow). Now you use kitchen techniques and implements to prepare the food, cook the food and serve the food. Now based on all these components each one will dictate if the meal is what you were aiming for in terms of taste, color, texture, presentation, balance, the amount of food and how good the food is overall.

Now, we can liken this process to mixing, pretty much substituting mixing components straight up. You have a song you want to create by mixing it, you have that picture where you want to end up, you know how you want it to sound. There’s your recipe. Now you have your sound sources. You might use stock content like samples and prerecorded material. Sometimes you’ll be starting from scratch so you’ll go and record the source material, one could say you go and buy the ingredients etc. Now that you have your tracks (ingredients) you now need to prepare them through the editing process (preparing). Once you have the tracks trimmed up with edits and fades and gain staging (cutting, chopping, peeling, defrosting etc) you will need to start to mix them together. You can start by sorting out basic levels through your main fader’s (deciding upon the amounts you need and where), then you can start panning (mixing ingredients together), then you can start EQ’ing, compressing, limiting, effecting and so on. (This part could be liken to actually cooking what you have prepared.) Then once you have finished the mix you need to do your minute touches to get a nice balance across speaker systems. (Adding seasoning) Once you have your mix down, you will bounce it down to two track and prepare it for mastering (serving up your meal in a dish) Then your mix goes off to mastering or you might do it yourself. (You might clean up the plate and have a final taste to make sure the meal is complete taste and presentation wise.) Now you have your final product, off to distribution and then consumption. Exactly the same as when a meal gets served and eaten.

Now it kind of simplifies the whole mixing process but I think it’s a very close comparison.

You can’t cook a high quality meal if you have poor ingredients. You can only make poor quality ingredients into a certain level of meal but you’ll have to prepare it a lot more and use different ways to cook it to get it there. Sometimes people make their own recipes and when they don’t have a vision or plan it out the results may not be what they expect. You can easily burn a very good cut of meat. Too much of one meal can get boring. You can have the most expensive kitchen ever but if the cook using it can’t use it the meals will still come out as good as the cook can make them. Some people just don’t like certain foods. Some people like particular types of cooking. And it goes on and on. I think it’s such a great metaphor as pretty every single statement I can make about cooking it also applies to music once you put it into context.

If you can’t find the problem with a mix, maybe go through the cooking process and eliminate each stage. Might it be the overall recipe? (Producer/song?), are some of the ingredients off? (Are some of the instruments out of tune?), Were the ingredients prepared correctly? (Were the tracks edited to eliminate errant noise and tracks comped for the best performances), do you have the proportions of the ingredients correct? (Is something mixed too loud or soft?), Is something over or under cooked? (Have your effect or under effected something in the mix?), Is the presentation messy? (Is the final mix translating?), Are you serving the meals on time, in the correct location and to the right people? (Mastering problems? Distribution problems?), Are the people eating the meal enjoying it and has it met or exceeded their expectations? (Was the overall song good or bad?).

The thing is you can go on and on with the metaphor and it holds up which is so great. To be able to liken the entire process so other people can maybe understand something better is a great thing.

Russel Murton

 

Event: Club LED Newcastle 28/10/2011

Club LED Newcastle on the 28th of October was an absolute killer show! Above is the front of house view with the house lights on, I didn’t get many shots with the new camera, I need to get a new memory card for it so I have some more space to take more photos on the night! As you can see, hopefully, we have the LS9-16 at front of house with the lovely little LED music stand light I picked up from Muso’s Corner a few months back. On the right in the interface rack containing the RME UFX Fireface which is one of the most brilliant pieces of gear I have used in a long time. For a compute interface to provide 30 inputs and 30 outputs in a single one rack unit space is pretty intense in the first place, then add to the fact is has four high quality mic pres (And when I say high quality, I mean very high quality), which accept mic, line and Hi-Z(DI) inputs, as well as eight additional line inputs on the back and 16 channels of ADAT input and AES/EBU as well. Then all of this can be transmitted to a computer via USB or firewire. That makes one brilliant interface on it’s own, then add top notch drivers and an extremely extensive DSP mixer and control program. The icing on the cake is the direct to USB recording the unit offers. I can plug in an external HDD, the grey unit you see next to the laptop with the blue light, and recording directly from the interface, meaning the 16 channels from the LS9, the 8 lines from the  M-Audio 2626 below the UFX and the four mic pres on the front of the UFX can all be recorded without a computer. The computer makes it easy to setup the recording, but it can all be recorded from the front panel of the interface. It has been 100% rock solid thus far. You’ll see my Lenovo tablet PC on top of the interface rack to play background music between the bands, usually with the docking station to play CD’s for band intro’s but I forgot it this gig!, and to control the UFX recording and provide large meters always accessible at a glance for every channel.

You can’t really see it in the photo but I’m running four QSC KW181’s clustered 2×2 in the centre with two QSC KW153’s on stage raised a little with some milk crates to get above the audience. This FOH speaker combination is something very nice for this venue and the genre of music, metal in this case. The speakers are extremely clear and the RMS limiting is very clean and unobtrusive. The overall output of them also fits the bill for the gig, I haven’t used a proper db metre at taken a reading but I’m happy with the overall output and I’m not wanting any more volume.

The other thing you’ll see in the photo above is a wireless router. This aspect of the A rig is one I’m highly impressed with and has got many positive comments about from bands and crowd members thus far. The LS9-16 can be controlled wirelessly from a ipad using the Yamaha Stagemix application. This has allowed me to wander around the venue and listen where the members of the audience actually are and make changes on the fly. I can also jump up on stage during changeover and mix the bands monitors right next to them and actually hear what they are hearing. Like I said, very impressed thus far.

There’s two snaps from some of the bands, as I said before, I wish I had a memory card for my new camera so I could take a few more shots. As you can see the lighting on the night was top notch, with some new additions from Lights In Production including some new UV bars and some mini movers in wash with some spots to come.

The show also marked the first use of the Sennheiser EW500 G3 E945 wireless microphone in  a proper setting apart from simple speech. You can see Greg from Viral Millennium in the second picture.

I’m currently mixing Viral Millennium’s up coming album, we saw a sneak peak of two of the tracks from it at this show and how their sound is evolving. Some cool stuff is coming up.

Remember, Club LED is on the last Friday of every month at the Newcastle District Tennis Club in Broadmeadow. RPM Audio will always be handing the sound reinforcement for the show, so come and say Hi! if you are out and about!

Cheers,

Russel Murton

RPM Audio