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By Elinor Actipis | Friday, February 03, 2012

Survival tips for artists and bands: A Q&A session with Bobby Owsinski

We recently held a live Q&A on Twitter with producer and music technology advisor Bobby Owsinski (@bobbyowsinski). Owsinski is the author of the lynda.com course Audio Mixing Bootcamp and many audio-related books. In this edited transcript, he shares his thoughts on NAMM 2012 and music industry trends.

MUSIC CAREERS AND THE BUSINESSlynda.com (@lyndadotcom): There’s a lot of doom and gloom about the music industry. What’s a bright spot?Bobby (@bobbyowsinski): The fact that artists and bands can do so much for themselves without a middleman. lyndadotcom: Can you give me an example or two? Bobby: Promotion via social media, direct marketing to the fan base, and engagement with the fan base.

David Franz (@undergroundsun):You wrote Music 3.0 about this very topic. What are a few key survival tips for artists? Bobby: Make your website the center of your online universe and maintain a single mailing list.

lynda Audio (@lyndaaudio): Any tips for people looking to break into the music business? Bobby: Do anything to work for the most important person in the part of the industry you want to be in. lynda Audio: Even if it means making coffee and copies? Bobby: Absolutely. You’re still learning while doing.

LEARNING AND TRAINING David: You have several new books out and an audio bootcamp course on lynda.com. Do you sleep? Bobby: Working on books is never work, it’s fun. Can’t wait to start if I’m not in the studio. David: What’s the main gist of your lynda.com course, Audio Mixing Bootcamp? Who’s the audience? Bobby: It’s mainly for musicians or young engineers who can’t seem to get their mixes to sound right.

lynda.com: How was it doing your first video course? You can demo concepts in way books don’t allow. For example, the Listening Position demo visually demonstrates how to find the correct position in the room for your monitors. Bobby: Loved the experience.

Simon Allardice (@allardice): With amateur home studios, what’s the usual weak link in the chain—the room? Monitors? Interface? Talent?  ; ) Bobby: Definitely the listening environment, but not having a reference point on what sounds good hurts too.

NAMM AND AUDIO GEAR lynda.com: How many times have you been to NAMM? Why do you go? Bobby: I’m afraid to say how many, but it’s lots and lots. I go for meetings and to see friends more than anything these days. lynda.com: Good point. People can scope gear and learn online, but conferences are still important for personal connections.

Rob Sommerfeldt (@robsommerfeldt): What was the most surprising thing you saw at NAMM this year? Bobby: The most surprising thing at NAMM was the large and enthusiastic crowd. I’d say the recession is over.

 Simon: Touchscreen control surfaces (Lemur, Neyrinck, Smithson-Martin) seem to be on the rise. Are you a fan? Bobby: Depends. Touchscreens can be hard on the elbow and cause a new sort of fatigue. Great graphically, though.

 lynda.com: You have some great NAMM-related posts. What was one guitar or amp you thought was cool? Bobby: The coolest amp was the Milbert GAGA with what they call “unique” circuitry.

David: What was the coolest piece of gear you saw at NAMM? Bobby: Definitely the UA Apollo interface in terms of audio. David: I agree! Finally a Thunderbolt interface, and using UA plugs too.

lynda Audio: You also made time to scope out the “odd and unusual” at NAMM. What were some highlights? Bobby: As for the unusual, I loved the Molecule drums, the stealth piano, and the stained-glass drum heads. lyndadotcom: Ah, the stealth piano that looks like a predator drone. Yes, of course!

Predator-drone styled stealth piano from NAMM 2012

Predator-drone styled stealth piano from NAMM 2012

Simon: Can everything be done ITB [in the box] now, or does hardware still have the edge in some areas? Bobby: For mixing, yes, ITB, although it’s still a matter of preference. More and more old timers are converting to ITB.

David: What is your deserted island piece of musical gear? Bobby: A stainless steel-guitar pick and a Corcedin* bottle for slide.

*A bit of history: In the late 1960s, guitarist Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band began using an empty glass Coricidin bottle as a guitar slide. Following Allman, other prominent slide guitarists began to adopt the Coricidin bottle technique. While the Coricidin bottle went out of production in the early 1980s, replicas have been produced since 1985.

Interested in more? • All audio courses on lynda.com • All courses from Bobby Owsinski on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Audio for Film and Video with Pro Tools 9Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing [with Get in the Mix exercise files] • Audio Mixing BootcampDigital Audio PrinciplesPro Tools 10 Essential Training

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