My Awesome Friend Chris Longwood

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014

Watching artists get better over time is something I really enjoy. Today I’d like to write about Audio Engineer Chris Longwood. I first met Chris in 2009 when Runaway Sun won an 8-hour block of recording time at SugarHill Studios in a raffle. This was the first time we had ever recorded in a big studio. Fast forward to 2014, and this week Chris is the Mastering Engineer for the new AndyRoo and the AndyRooniverse album, my sixth major release and the first album I have recorded and mixed by myself without entering a big studio. It feels like graduation. Chris has not only gone from being an Audio Engineer to also a top notch Mastering Engineer, he also teaches aspiring Audio Engineers the courses he used to take, and he has worked with George Clinton, Jandek, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Mariachi Vargas, Bobby Lyle and The Autumn Defense. He has also recorded bands (and gigged!) in Japan. Follow me down memory lane for a minute, before all this happened five short years ago. It has been quite a half-decade working together: In 2009 Runaway Sun showed up prepared for that free recording session at SugarHill, and so did Chris, and we tracked the whole 10-song album The Bridge in that eight hours. Chris mixed that album in the following months, and I sat there and watched him work, trying to learn everything I could. It was really fascinating. In 2010 I returned to SugarHill to record my Film Noir solo album. We tracked close to twenty songs over several days and kept thirteen for the album. He was there for the first time I ever worked with session musicians, and in one day we recorded banjo, mandolin, violin, and pedal steel with time to spare. We also recorded cello at my friend’s house, this really cool place that Clark Gable used to live in. This was the first time I had ever done any kind of location recording. Chris borrowed a really nice Mojave mic from Dan Workman at SugarHill, and a neighborhood cat wandered in and watched while we worked. It was a great time. Chris mixed that album at SugarHill, and there I was once again, trying to learn what I could. In 2011 we teamed up again at SugarHill. This time we were recording the first AndyRoo and the AndyRooniverse album. It was the first time I...

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DIY Music PR – Part 1: Build Your Media Contact List

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013

DIY Music PR – Part 1: Build Your Media Contact List

You’re in a great band. You have a great live show and a great new album. Great! It’s time to let the world know! It’s time to contact the media. You don’t have a publicist, and you don’t know how to afford one or where find a good one. How about a DIY approach? Where do you start? Let’s start with building a media contact list. 1)   Build a media contact list. Here is a sample excel sheet that I use that will help you get started: http://bit.ly/DIYMediaContact Print Media, Online Media, Music Blogs, TV Shows, Radio (I would suggest a separate contact list for radio). Get online and research who writes about bands in your genre and /or who reviews shows at the venues where you perform. Are you playing your hometown or a different city? If you’re from Texas and playing in New York, make sure the music writers you contact write about touring artists. 2)   Follow submission guidelines. Most sites state where and how to submit materials. CD or mp3? Dropbox or Soundcloud? Things like that. 3)   Personalize your submission. Avoid the ease of sending out a mass email. 4)   Give them time. Print media works a month to several months in advance, and online media outlets need at least a couple of weeks to review your materials. 5)   Follow up via email or phone, depending on the contact’s preference. If you don’t follow up, you won’t get any coverage. Media contacts are very busy creating content, and they receive story requests every day, all day. They will forget about you. They’re human beings. Follow up. 6)   Have a story. Bands underestimate their role in crafting their own reviews. “Hi, we’re a new band putting out a new album and it sounds awesome” isn’t a great story. Maybe you recorded your awesome sounding album in an abandoned tire plant and that’s why it’s titled Rubber Factory. That’s interesting. What did it smell like in there?  What was the strangest thing that happened during the recording process? Why did you decide on that location?   If you can intrigue a media contact with a great story, then they might write about you. You need to give them a starting point. If they are interested, they’ll ask you questions and the story takes shape. Rubber Factory was the third first Black Keys record, and the first one to make the...

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My Pedals

Posted by on May 23, 2013

When you go to a show, you might notice that the guitar players have these pedals at their feet, used to make different sound effects. Some guitarists have an entire spaceship. My rig is pretty simple. I just mounted everything on some plywood with industrial strength Velcro over the weekend, it was much cheaper than buying an actual pedal board and it gets the job done. These are my pedals: Danelectro Reel Echo Tape Delay pedal – I mostly use this delay pedal to add a little slap back to the signal and lo-fi surf rock tones, but it can also create infinite echo/ outer space noises. Boss Tuner Pedal – Stay in tune! Vox wah pedal – I only use the wah pedal sometimes, mostly in drawn out ways to create filter sweeping effect. There are a million wah pedals out there, I like the Vox because is has a warm, round tone. Boss DS-1 distortion pedal – super cheap and great distortion. It worked for Kurt Cobain! Boss Tremolo – I love tremolo, and this pedal is really easy to use. Zvex Fuzz Factory – I am still trying to figure out how to tame this beast. A very cool fuzz pedal, but I think it is more suited for lead guitar work. Sounds really cool along with the wah pedal.        ...

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DIY Touring: Solo vs. Full band

Posted by on Feb 21, 2013

I have done a couple of very different DIY tours and a bunch of two-show weekends, and I thought it might be helpful to pass on some advice to musicians who have yet to get out of their local music scene. Megabus solo tour I did a solo tour from NYC-Boston-Cleveland-Chicago using the Megabus, and it was very inexpensive. If you book shows at venues with a PA system, all you need is a guitar, and this makes Megabus a good option for travel. There is a map on their web site to help you chart a tour. Travel as light as possible (I brought too much merchandise on my tour, and I dragged the excess around for 10 days). If you’re playing small clubs and you’re not well-known, then you’re not going to sell a bunch of merchandise. What I saved in transportation on this tour I spent in food and lodging. Finding a free place to stay for the night is great, especially in NYC. I have a bunch of friends in Cleveland and Chicago so I had those towns covered, but NYC and Boston were expensive because I had to rent rooms for the night. Full band van touring If your band is playing out of town one weekend a month, rent a van. If you’re playing out of town more often than that, buy one. If you’re a four-piece band and you can’t fit in a mini van, your gear is too big. If you have two reliable cars and you’re touring within a 6 hour radius of your home town, don’t bother with a van. It is nice to ride to the show together in the same vehicle, but after a while touring boils down to (1) Getting there (2) Playing the show (3) Getting back. Touring is fun, but it’s mostly  travel/killing time. When your band gets into a rhythm hitting the road, you won’t even think about the drive anymore, so don’t let two-car travel be a concern. You are driving to a different city/state to play to a small crowd and crash on someone’s floor or at a Motel 6. There is nothing glamorous about it, but it’s always an adventure. Resources: Merch Person -never tour without one! Google Maps – chart distances, check against your vehicle’s mpg to get the transportation cost. (Add 10% of the total miles to give...

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It’s Hip to Be Square: Free Credit Card Reader for Bands

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011

With all of the cloud-based music platforms popping up this year, the music industry is taking another interesting turn.  I’m very curious how this is going to turn out for the musicians.  We’re going to be compensated based on the number of times our songs are streamed, so it’s very important for musicians to distribute their music on as many platforms as possible and to have it accurately registered and labeled so that SoundExchange can track the number of plays, collect money and give it to musicians.  Fractions of a penny for each time a song is streamed will add up after enough plays, and how do we get more plays?  With more fans acquired through online, print and street promotion, and through touring.  Touring will always be imperative, and it presents the opportunity to create and sell really cool merchandise.  Accepting credit cards on tour has been a challenge to bands in the past, but not anymore. Any band with access to an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android phone during their gigs can use a Square to accept credit card payments for merchandise.  I just did an AndyRoo show at Ruta Maya in Austin, and we used the Square for transactions on my new album.  It works great, the fans get a kick out of signing on the phone with their finger. Thank you, Square.  No more renting bulky credit card terminals or saying “there’s an ATM over there that will charge you an extra $3 to buy my...

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