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Below is an always-up-to-date listing of some of the most recent posts on this blog.

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*Age-rating Notice. - This blog is rated PG and is intended to be read only by teenagers and above. If you are aged 12 or less then the owner suggests that you obtain the guidance of a parent/guardian before viewing.

 

Post #1: Recording it Right


Recording a song or music isn’t as simple as you may think: There’s a bit more to it than pressing the record button. This article suggests some of the basics. Continue reading

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Post #2: Another One of the Good Dancing Songs for Christmas 2014


Rather than short-changing you , giving you a repeat last years recycled Xmas productions for 2014; Idol has something brand new waiting for you this Christmas. Continue reading

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Post #3: Idol Has Much More 4 U in 2014!


…I hope to be releasing my EP *Divine Social*. DS is a major milestone in my career, from a personal standpoint: It’s in a way an example of my growing maturity as an artist. Continue reading

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Post #4: *Tributes*: To Be Released September 2014


In September 2014, singer/songwriter/producer Sharron-Idol is to release her mini-album *Tributes*, consisting of 8 tracks. It isn’t packed full of tributes to various artists; nor is it cover-versions. It consists of tracks written in tribute to the success of 2 artists who are particularly unique.
Continue reading

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Post #5: Idol News: July 2014 Re-issue


A re-issue of yesterday’s copy of July 2014 Idol News – with amendments. This re-issue replaces the published original issue of 11.07 2014. Continue reading

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Post #6: Idol News: July 2014


What’s going on in Idolville in late Summer 2014? – Things appear a bit quiet recently. – Here is a message from Sharron-Idol herself. Continue reading

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Post #7: Paying Tribute to Talented Artists


Idol seems to have an inbuilt talent-radar, and she likes to pay tribute to those that she spots in terms of assistance if possible, and music. Continue reading

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Post #8: Becky Hill, My Inspiration, Is Rightfully At Number One!


Becky Hill, the artist who inspires me more than anyone else, has made it to Number 1. – Congratulations! Continue reading

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Recording it Right


cdrI’m writing about creating a tune, a song, music; but don’t think that after you’ve read this article you’ll instantly be able to create a No.1 hit sound. (I wrote this article, and I haven’t created a No.1 hit sound yet.) I’m still learning. – Yes I’m known to some extent – by name at least – in the music industry; but I’m not exactly ultra-famous yet by any means. I create tunes and songs myself… And I’m getting better at it.

If I were doing the singing only then I might – with a bit of luck – have managed to get into the UK Top 40 by now; but there is more to it for me than just singing: The process starts with an idea, that idea is turned into a song, and sometimes that song is released, either by itself as a single, by itself in various mixes or along with another song or 3 as an EP, or with a greater number of tunes in the form of an album. – You see I’m currently 100% indie (independent). I’m indie because I want to learn all about the music industry. As an indie artist I’m learning out of necessity; which in my books is the best way to learn, because the option is ‘pay attention and learn fast or fail’. – Failure, to me, is not an option. Failure may be a step or a number of steps on the ladder to success; but the endgame is success. – Failure is only a negative aspect of the journey to success.

Now I have an awesome imagination, and therefore I come up with some fairly awesome ideas too. The thing is that nobody can play or download ideas, and ideas generally don’t sell and pay the rent. – If that were in fact the case than I’d be a multi-millionairess by now. – So I have to translate my ideas and imaginings into recordings…

That sounds easy enough. – It isn’t: You see everyone else is trying to do this too. – Some people are coming up with some awesome ideas, others are creating some top-quality recordings. Your mission (‘Mine too.); if you want anyone to listen to you, is to do both. – Yes the conceptualisation and execution of the idea has to be unique, imaginative, and new, original. But even then it’s no good if the idea is the best ever but the recording sounds awful.

In this article I’m going to cover, very briefly, some basics of the steps involved in producing a quality recording. I can’t teach you imagination, I can’t teach you artistic flair or talent: You have to develop that within yourself. I can guide you towards it, maybe even help you to develop it. – If I do then I’ll do that another time. Right now; this: -

levelIf you’re very rich you could, having written a song, hire a band and a recording studio, perform the song over and over until you get it exactly right, then send the recordings to a top sound engineer to be attenuated, mastered, etc. Having ended up with a great recording at that point you have a lot more chance of people liking it, getting it into the charts with expensive promotional campaigns, and possibly reaching the top spot in the chart and achieving fame that way. The problem is that might cost you up to a million pounds UKP or more, and even if you manage to get a record contract after producing your awesome recording; the production alone, what with hiring studio time, a band, a sound engineer, etc., could run into tens of thousands if not more.

NOTE: I’m not saying that you’ll have to spend tens of thousands in order to get a record deal, but “free” really isn’t an option in this industry. Talent, dedication, perseverance, and hard graft, are some of the main factors of success in the music business. You can’t buy your way to success, but you can’t freeload your way to fame either.

That’s where having your own home studio helps a lot. – But that’s not free either: At some point you have to buy the equipment. If you’re qualified in electronics you might be able to build some of your equipment, but it’s usually about the same, cost wise, to buy professionally-built ready-made equipment. (At one time it was a little cheaper to design and build your own computer equipment. At time of writing it’s essentially no more expensive, though less labour-intensive, to buy in new computers and upgrade them to your own required specs.) Whichever route you take; it’s going to cost you something to produce an acceptable product. It can’t be done free. – Trust me on that. – If you try to do it free then people will notice and you’ll and up with, at best, a reputation as a freeloader. – And there is very little point in having a home studio if you don’t use it correctly anyway.

So if you’re not “very rich” then you’ll have to do a heck of a lot of it yourself – just like me – and you’ll have to learn as you go – again just like me. This is where your dedication to your career as a musician is tested with fire. Unless you learn and learn fast you’ll get nowhere fast. If you have doubts or simply just can’t be bothered to go on a very steep learning curve there is no point in embarking on it unless you only want to pursue music as a hobby.

This article isn’t about cost or saving money anyway: This article is about producing a quality sound recording. I’m not trying to show that I’m clever here: If I was clever I’d be No.1 in the charts. – I’m not No.1 in the charts nor have I ever been at time of writing; so I can’t be as clever as I’d like to be. I’m learning, as I said before, and as I learn I pass a lot of it on. – ‘Not always in graphic detail, but just enough to give readers some idea.

Let’s start recording then. – Whatever the product recorded raw in the studio; it’s not yet good enough to publish. There are several steps required to get your recording to the necessary standard… OK Yes you can publish “as is”; but you won’t get a very good reputation by doing so. I don’t advise that you do that.

scopeI can’t give you a step-by-step guide which will ensure you get the best quality recordings: The quality of the original recording will dictate which processes it needs to go through before it’s worthy of being published. What gives you a good quality original recording? Loads of things; such as studio dynamics, production techniques, even which type or types of microphone you use in what situation, and the settings of the individual mic-preamplifiers… I could spend a lifetime writing about all the individual aspects of creating a good recording and hardly scratch the surface. – But this is a rough guide.

In short there are 7 main stages, as I see it, in production: -

  1. Actually recording your performance in the studio.
  2. 1st mixing/editing stage.
  3. Pre-mastering attenuation.
  4. Initial mastering.
  5. 2nd mixing/editing stage.
  6. Post-mastering attenuation.
  7. Final mastering.

When you were in the studio you should have performed and recorded the act a number of times, as well as, if possible, recorded individual instruments: This doesn’t necessarily mean recording a separate track for every instrument played by itself, but whilst you were recording you should have recorded a track from every pick-up device, including each in-use microphone, guitar pick-up, etc. Having done so you move on to stage 2; the 1st mixing/editing stage. This stage is crucial and will have the biggest effect on your final product, so the more care you take in executing this stage the better. You want to end up with a stereo mix in which all of the instruments and microphones sound like they are in the exact position you want them to be in. If you’re a band imagine how you’d set up for your act on stage at a gig. – The objective is to make the listener think that your band has set up just like that, and that your listener is at your gig and hearing the mix so that they can guess the position of each instrument precisely and then relate it to the gig at which they first heard you perform the song and remember the set as it was on the day. If you’re a solo singer this isn’t quite so important with regard to the band; but you want the mix to emphasise your personal performance and to tell the listener exactly where you are on stage at any given time, and once again you want to trigger memories of when they first saw you perform the track. – The memory-trick is very important because your fans will love to be taken back to your gig and hear an almost identical performance as they walk with you down memory lane. Of course if you produce the recording before you perform it live at a gig you’ll need to remember where your instruments appear to be sound-wise in your recording, and emulate this with your setup on stage.

pop-cornWhile you’re creating the 3D-sounding stereo-mix you also want to make sure that every instrument sounds as near to the original instrument as is possible, and this is where stage 3 – pre-mastering attenuation – comes into effect. – Run each individual track through a digital graphic-equaliser processor to ensure that the resultant combination of frequencies are as spot-on as is humanly possible, with every instrument sounding as real as you can make it sound. This process can  use up a lot of RAM in a digital device, and is better done in a 64-bit environment to avoid the out-of-memory errors which may occur in a 32-bit environment where less than a total of 4GB of operative RAM are available for any given process. – In a 64-bit environment you can theoretically use up to several exabytes of RAM at a time, if you have enough space to install all the RAM sticks necessary to achieve that huge figure.

GraphicEqualiserHaving got your recording as near spot-on as mentioned above you’ll notice that all the levels aren’t quite as they should be, and some tracks just don’t properly synchronise with others. Mastering the recording as it stands will help here; but you may be factoring in a lot of unwanted harmonic mid-range frequency-distortion without even realising it if you were to go for mastering straight away at this point. As a final part of the pre-mastering attenuation you could try dropping the 450-550Hz and the 5 to 5.5KHz bands by around –0.5db. Try that; it might help. – You might find that dropping the level on the top-end of the lower frequency band mentioned here has the desired effect, and/or maybe on the lower-end of the 5KHz band. – Play around with the sound and attenuate for best results. When you get the best sound that you possibly can – without any harshness or distortion at increased volume – then it’s time to go for initial mastering.

Having mastered your recording thus far – or having had it mastered by an expert sound-engineer (Which I strongly recommend.) NOTE: I am not an expert sound engineer and I will not master your recordings for you. – You’ll find it might be a bit too long, or there are bits of the performance which you don’t really want to publish – such as maybe where the drummer messed up on an intro and swore, or something similar, and the piece was re-started. Anything you want to omit which got included by default – now is the time to edit it out in step 6. Also if there are tracks which you’d like to try dubbing in or omitting to see how the piece sounds with or without them, or with added waa on X track; whatever, now is the time. This is the point at which you can get really creative and record a masterpiece. This was the main point at which The Beatles decided the final sounding of the epic Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band which remains a classic to this day. Think big and add your dream sound if you like. I can’t tell you what to do here, nor can I suggest anything: It’s your sound; it’s how you want people to hear you.

DoobriesWhen you have everything as near perfection as you desire it’s time for step 7; the final mastering of your precious and awesome recording. Please don’t send me your recordings: I won’t master them or have them mastered for you, and I hardly get enough time to compose and sound-engineer my own work. If you’d like to collab with me then contact my agents/management/people initially.

Of course there are billions of other possible factors which you should consider, and it is indeed possible that you might end up sounding worse if you use this method; particularly if you’re giving it a try for the first time. I’m only suggesting the basic framework of a method which I’ve learned so far, which appears to work for me and has worked for some other artists, and which I’m working towards getting off to a tee in the case of my own recordings.

That’s all I’m saying for now. If you want a guidebook or a course on the subject then there are many such available online: Google is your friend. Many such guides/courses are created by experienced professionals in the music industry who are far more knowledgeable than I am. – Some others are absolute rubbish and are only there to separate you from your money so that some faker can make a quick buck. Some of what you’ve read here is the skeleton of knowledge that I’ve in some cases paid to learn from people who know what they’re on about, and which I’ve tried out myself with positive results. Some of it is also gleaned from my personal experience and may – or then again might not – be as applicable to you as it is to me; that’s for you to decide. – Like I said, this article won’t teach you how to create a No1 hit sound, and I’m telling you the bare bones of what I’ve learned – and I’m still learning. I hope this article helps you to create better sounding music, but I don’t guarantee that it will. If by any chance you follow this advice, probably along with other hints & tips, and end up creating a No.1 hit, then I’d be grateful if you’d give me a shoutout at some point. Let’s make some noise; and ‘best of luck in your career. Expect to invest money in your career if you want it to go anywhere. As in any industry there is good advice in the music industry that can be found for free and/or for not too much cost, and there is also crap dished out by sharks that costs a fortune and only helps you towards bankruptcy. Spend wisely and remember that all that glitters isn’t gold, despite the fact that the only free lunch is in a mousetrap. – This article was hardly a free snack by the way, just a few tips to point you in the right direction. On that note here endeth the article. Smile Peace.

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This is, in a way, an important article; and I want people to see it, read it, and take note – hence the reason I’m paying to promote it on Facebook; particularly via my Facebook fan page. I’ve tried not to ramble on too much, and to get to the point. If no-one reads it then it might, in a way, appear that I’m trying to disappear; which is in fact the last thing I want people to think.

I suppose I’d better start by saying that this is a difficult article to find the right kind of illustration to go with it. – So you’ll have to just read and not worry about the lack of pictures… Oh all right then, if you insist; but it has nothing to do with the subject material as such…

My photoshoot set in Idol City on Habbo Hotel... I did say it had nothing to do with the article didn't I?There was once a time, not long ago, when artists and other companies could stay in touch with their customers and fans without penalty of any kind on Facebook. Indeed Facebook became such a viable platform for doing so that it virtually killed MySpace and all the musicians and others migrated over to Facebook. As a result Facebook became huge and MySpace became, well, dead.

But Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook controllers noticed this and wondered how they could further commercialise this to their advantage. – That’s fair enough: It’s their business, and the objective of any business model is to provide product and to make money in doing so. A business either grows or it shrinks. Unless one can come up with new ideas and implement them successfully the business will die, or at least fade, as happened to MySpace. MySpace did react to their predicament, but it was all too little too late: If a ship is sinking and the passengers have evacuated into life rafts and maybe have been picked up by another ship; mending the damage on site of the near disaster and righting the vessel – even going as far as kitting it out with all the latest finery – won’t get the original passengers to return, come back on board, and finish their journey. – They will have sailed off into the sunset with whichever vessel picked them up, or drifted on the tides for ages until rescued. They won’t sit there waiting in a lifeboat a few hundred feet to the starboard of a vessel that is slowly sinking and listing to port just in case everything is put right eventually.

So Zuck and the Facebook crew came up with a way to get the new ‘passengers’ who had joined the Facebook ‘cruise’ to part with their buck and to pay their way – in the hope that they’d make Facebook richer in doing so: ‘Standard business practice. The problem is the way in which this new money-maker was implemented as well as the scheme itself: Coming up with the lame-duck excuse of

“[We’ve decided that] our users are getting bombarded with unwanted adverts; so to remedy this we’re going to charge advertisers to bombard people with unwanted adverts in order to alleviate this.”

- sounds like exactly what it is: -

  • A pointless scheme – from a customer perspective – that will do nothing but financially penalise advertisers and other users who RELY on the exposure they are currently getting from the spreading of their message.
  • A snide and badly presented scheme to part users with their buck in order to ensure that Facebook’s’ profits increase to cover the loss in company value incurred by their falling share price since flotation, one that smacks of scam and dishonesty due to the way it was presented.

And the upshot of all this is that the ‘passengers’ notice that the crew have created a weakness in the ‘hull of the Good Ship Facebook’ and consequentially they start jumping overboard and manning the life-rafts.

All this business-like-talk isn’t really getting to the point I’m trying to make here; but at least it’s set the scene: I’m sorry that I was rather long-winded in doing so.

The long and the short of it is this: Once upon a time I could advertise anything on Facebook and everyone would see it. Now I have to pay to advertise anything on Facebook, as when I just post something about 20 to 40 people actually see it. Why? Because Facebook withhold it until I pay them, and the more I pay Facebook the more  people see my post.

- Now the above is fine IF I am quite rich financially and if at least 1 in 10 people respond to my adverts by purchasing or reposting/’liking’ my post. This scenario throws up 2 problems though: -

  • I’m not “quite rich”; that was a while back and unfortunately for me it didn’t last.
  • A 1 in 10 response-rate is the very best response-rate anyone can hope for in a scenario such as this.

- So for Facebook’s new model to work fully in the customers’ favour the customer has to be both rich and lucky. – That’s me out on both counts: I DO pay a little for advertising though, and it does have some effect, although to a limited extent. As my fan-base grows I’ll have to pay more to reach all my fans, and unless every fan of mine on Facebook purchases every release I sell as a result, I’m just going to end up out of pocket; or with a large fan base and no money to live on.

So as you note I’ve seen the weakness in the hull of the Good Ship Facebook myself; but does that mean that I should start heading towards the life-rafts ready to abandon ship? No. To do so would be disadvantageous to me and disloyal to my followers. I have fans on Facebook who have indicated by becoming my fans that they want to hear from me, to listen to my releases, to read my spiel, etc.

The good thing is that there is another option: That smaller vessel which has been following us all the way from port is my blog; the very place in which you’re reading this article in full. On my blog I can post anything I want and have anyone I want read it, provided they are one of my ‘passengers’ or regulars. If the Good Ship Facebook starts sinking then there is room on my blog; The sharronidol.com, for all my fans and more. On my blog I’m the captain and I say what goes. – In this way I have a much better chance of creating a tailor-made positive experience for my followers, and it costs me what? Financially around $250 a year I would estimate. (Many hours annually in terms of time, but we’ll leave that out of the equation as it would be the same in terms of time if I were communicating solely via Facebook.) – I can reach ALL of my audience here for less than half of what I spend on Facebook to reach half of my audience. – In other words it costs me approximately 75% less to communicate via my blog – this website – than it does to communicate via Facebook.

There is one thing missing though: A lot of my fans are hanging out on Facebook only and never even visit this website. Possibly many of them don’t even know about it this website because I haven’t paid Facebook enough for my messages to reach them.

So here is what’s going to happen in future: I’ll be posting mainly on this website from now. I’ll be notifying my Facebook fans of my posts on here by means of Facebook, but the posts of these notifications will only appear on my page and in my feed. I won’t PAY for people to see them; so my fans are going to have to LOOK at my page and my feed sometimes – which they won’t mind doing if they truly are my fans. – Either that or be a ‘passenger’ on this ship as well as the Good Ship Facebook.

My ship is a commercial ship too; but the difference is I OFFER you the chance to purchase, rather than making it almost pointless being a ‘passenger’ if you don’t.

Music Trek - The Next DimensionOf course I want your money: I’m a business and I need to make an income; but if I realise that you don’t actually NEED my website any more than you actually NEED Facebook – You could always go elsewhere, there are plenty of places… – then I’ll have more chance of keeping you on board my ship than Facebook will. Facebook is too big anyway: It’ll eventually no longer be able to support buoyancy and sink under its own weight. – I’ll still be floating: I’m a much smaller vessel. I’m also not saboutaging myself by creating weaknesses in my hull.

I look forwards to welcoming you aboard.

If you feel that there are any improvements I could make, please feel free to let me know. Thank you for reading.

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