So you’ve just recorded a great tune into Garageband (or whatever), put the cheap but effective Chinese condenser mic back in it’s box, moved a few faders, patched in a few very professional presets and hey presto! – something so good that you want the rest of the world to hear it. This is happening in bedrooms right now all over the world and is going to be the source of the vast majority of all music that consumers will be hearing (if not paying for) in the future.
It’s great. It renders obsolete almost the entire music industry with its monolithic structures, lumbering speed of response and enormous overheads. Almost!
SmallfishRecordings believes that amongst all of this upheaval, there is one aspect of music that will not change and that is – Quality.
Even the lowest of lo-fi productions has to meet basic sonic standards if it is to satisfy anyone other then the bloke that recorded it straight to cassette tape. And even the best digital creation needs to carry with it the fingerprints of analogue distortion if it is to be truly satisfying.
It’s very often the case that great musical ideas are stifled because the creative, intuitive skills of the artist don’t carry over into the more logical arena of the mixing or mastering process, and it’s here that SmallfishRecordings finds it’s niche.
The SmallfishRecordings Project is determinedly small, client focused and somewhat selective. Jon (Mr Smallfish himself) works on projects that he mostly discovers himself but increasingly, is taking in commercial projects to keep the wheels turning - and not falling off! Clients upload their material to the studio and can take advantage of a range of services including:
Mastering: You should try this even if it’s only once – you might be surprised what can be done to improve a straight stereo file with the right processing.
Mixing: Taking advantage of a combination of good ears, experience and some high-end processing solutions can really add depth, clarity, dynamics and a balanced soundstage to even the muddiest of mixes.
Improvement: Having access to a wide variety of sound sources and engineering tools, SmallfishRecordings can replace, re-enforce or add to the original content.
Jon has invested very carefully to make sure that while overheads are kept to the bare minimum, some of the best possible processing tools are in place including products from TC Electronic, URS, Izotope, IK Multimedia and others.
What all this adds up to is this… Commercial quality production within the reach of the dedicated amateur.
Why should you even consider asking someone else to mess around with your masterpieces?
We make decisions in life based on comparisons – your preferred brand of cheese will be based on years of trial and error. If you never hear an alternative translation of your music, you will never really know where it stands in terms of levels, tonality, dynamics, texture etc. Even if you send your mix out and it comes back worse, then you’re someway further down the track to understanding your own music.
SmallfishRecordings understands that the potential client base for the project are not likely to be seasoned professionals, so put a lot of effort into helping each one through the process, explaining what each change; fader move, EQ shift or compression treatment is there for so that the artist gains some new insight into these aspects, and can then improve their own skills used in the front end of the process. If you visit the SmallfishRecordings website and read through some of the examples, you’ll get the idea.
The SmallfishRecordings Label
Late in 2010, the first commercial release will take place on the SmallfishRecordings label. Jon has found that some of his clients are so exciting musically that all studio fees are waived in favour of an agreement to co-release the final product through this new experimental label.
Having asked the question "Why Label?" the only reasonable justification left is to provide a focal point for a specific collection of artistic creativity, so that people finding a resonance with it, know where to go to find it. There will be no advances, no big promotion budgets, but there will be the chance to become part of a very special community which can position each artist in the best possible place to move onto the next step – few risks, great fun and great music. Jon has a formula that goes like this:
(Little Cost X Let’s Have a Musical Adventure)/World Wide Audience = Why Not?
One of the important benefits of being a web-based service is that the organisation is growing a world-wide network of clients and partners, some of which will become the mutual "distributed distribution" framework for artists joining the project.
Not only do the masses now have the means of production, they also have the means of distribution.