Studio Management

Billing, scheduling, collections, fee raising, and other related topics.

Many musicians finds themselves in a tough spot where they are told what to do and they a deprived of their creativity to an extense that everything begins to fall apart in terms of emotions and aspirations, but some artists have managed to cut ties with these devils of the music industry and made their way into an honest succesful career, one of the most recent is Poppy.

Poppy

Poppy’s career went from being an internet pop star meme, to an honest artist that looks back happy of not being tied to a persona anymore.

She says:

I’m leaving it for the listener to decide what genre it is. [When] we went into the process of making the album, we just wanted ultimate freedom and no rules. I feel like we accomplished that.

Poppy

That is what is the most gratifying thing for Poppy during the making of this album, as if it were the first piece of music that was purely satisfying her creative demands and nothing more.

When asked about her previous team’s opinions on her creative decisions she said:

I think they didn’t understand [the art], but they pretended to understand it because they thought it was cool. But they actually didn’t understand that they were the exact things I was talking about. As far as the [music] industry as a whole goes, I don’t want to give it too much credit, but it definitely inspires a lot of what Titanic and I create. I think from past experiences with past teams that I have worked with, I found a lot of inspiration for this record. Specifically, my song “BLOODMONEY” was like an 11th hour song.

Poppy

However it ended up being more than just some people she worked with. Not long ago she parted ways with Titanic Sinclair, which was her partner in her music career, and made a strong statement in which she claimed that he was very “manipulative patterns”. “I was trapped in a mess that I needed to dig my way out of – and like I always do, I figured out how to handle it,”

In the end the album is a very interesting proposal that comes from very strong feelings, and it makes us wonder, how many more artists are bound to a world where they don’t belong?

The album as a whole is just about not stepping to anyone and disagreeing with people in positions of power and not accepting “no” for an answer or “you can’t.” And sometimes when people tell you [that], or at least when I’m told that I can’t, it makes me want to have it more. It’s all about burning down the music industry in a way and stepping out of any box that anyone might have tried to lock me up inside. The message is empowerment, not gender specific. Just empowerment.

Poppy Mirroring Black Mirror

There is an episode in the Netflix’s Series “Black Mirror” that tackles this issue about the music industry exploiting an artist, and it’s impossible not to see some similarities with real artists such as Poppy. In the episode, Ashley O played by Miley Cyrus is a very famous pop singer that is only being used for the purpuses of other people, up to a point where the people behind her career believe they no longer need her as a person, just her mind in order to use her compositions and make the necessary adjustments for a pop audience.

Ashley O’s real personality is much more honest and sad than her ideal look that is being sold. While it’s very literal and on the nose, it’s very real.

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In music there is a lot of structure and melodies, all of these fall into place thanks to the tempo set for the piece.This not only gives order and structure to the overall sound, it also sets the tone for what is trying to be expressed, for example, sadness is usually slow, happiness is fast, and angry is somwhere in between.

There are different categories of tempo, however these are mostly used in classical music.

  • Larghissimo—very, very slow (20 BPM and below)
  • Grave—slow and solemn (20–40 BPM)
  • Lento—slowly (40–60 BPM)
  • Largo—the most common “slow” tempo (40–60 BPM)
  • Larghetto—broad, and quite slow (60–66 BPM)
  • Adagio—another popular slow tempo, which means “at ease” (66–76 BPM)
  • Adagietto—rather slow (70–80 BPM)
  • Andante moderato—a bit slower than andante
  • Andante—a popular tempo which means “at a walking pace” (76–108 BPM)
  • Andantino—slightly faster than andante
  • Moderato—moderately (108–120 BPM)
  • Allegretto—moderately fast (but less so than allegro)
  • Allegro moderato—moderately quick (112–124 BPM)
  • Allegro—the most frequently used tempo marking (120–168 BPM, which includes the “heartbeat tempo” sweet spot)
  • Vivace—lively and fast (typically around 168-176 BPM)
  • Vivacissimo—very fast and lively, even faster than vivace
  • Allegrissimo—very fast
  • Presto—the most popular way to write “very fast” and a common tempo in fast movements of symphonies (ranges from 168–200 BPM)
  • Prestissimo—extremely fast (more than 200 BPM)

However now, there is a more casual way to refer to tempo, for example in jazz they use terms such as such as “fast,” “slow,” “lazily,” “relaxed,” and “moderate”. In electronic music they use BPM which stands for beats per minute, and it actually reflects more of a traditional way of calculating tempo. In electronic music this is very important since its sub genres are determined by its bpm.

Anything that ranges from 60 to 90 bpm can be considered dub, from 60 to 100 bpm it can be hip hop, 115 to 130, house, 120 to 140 techno/trance, 135 ti 145 bpm is dubstep and 160 to 180 drum and bass. Of course as any other art, this can be mixed and slightly changed, but if there is need for a chart, this is the one.

Tempo and Vibrations

Tempo is also a very impactful aspect of live performances, in the sense that it’s easy to notice a change in the audience as it can be felt not only through hearing but the vibrations in the chest. This gives some sort of impulse to follow the mood of the music, that’s why we are used to seeing crowds slowly move from left to right during a slow paced song and jump during a very fast song.

Of course this does not happen very often in classical music as there is a different behaviour in these performances as spectator. In other genres such as rock, hip hop and electronic music, the crowd is a part of the show, and just like the other band mates, the crowd, knowingly and unknowingly follows the rhythm of the drums and the bass.

The Big Mistake

tempo

One of the worst mistakes in music is to let go of the ties that binds the melodies with the tempo.Losing the rhythm makes avery sound come as a dissorder to the person who listens to the music. That’s why metronomes are such important tools, as every musician, beginner and experienced must keep this order, It’s actually even better to just miss a note or play the wrong one, but the rhythm means order, and order in music is the part that makes the translation from composer to listener, even more than melodies.

As music history shows us, there has been a lot of experimentation with uncommon melodies and harmonies, even playing with sounds that appear to be out of tune, but the rhythm is never lost, because if that part is ok everything else will follow.

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A musical film is not just a film with music accompanying the story, is a film where dialogues and story are intertwined with music and in many occasions dancing. There is a very theatrical feel about these movies, sometimes resembling operas and old plays but there was a big boom in Hollywood which started around the 1930s and 1950s which saw the birth of many classics and the genre as we know it.

The Jazz Singer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIaj7FNHnjQ
It’s interesting that this genre was responsible of making the leap from silent movies to the audiovisual greatness that it is today. “The Jazz Singer” a musical from the 1920s was the first to feature synchronized recorded music score and lip-synchronous singing and speech in isolated sequences. While there were some films with sound before The Jazz Singer, it was this film that really mastered the art of sound for the first time, and it was a purely musical film.

The Sound of Music

After the golden age of musical films, there was somewhat of a silver age, where films started to have a certain level of complexity, but musicals were still a success. Most musicals in the 60s such as the Sound of Music were adaptations from original stage musicals. In this case, The Sound of Music was a drama that occurred during the events of world war two and managed to be one of the best written American written musicals, being based on a true story and providing an incredible soundtrack to really make it shine.

Grease

The 70s was not the age of musicals anymore, cinema in general was starting to take a more realistic turn, films were taking an approach that most of the times didn’t welcome singing dancing people. However there were some amazing exceptions like Grease.

Footloose

Footlose from the 80s was mainly about dancing, and the soundtrack really makes that happen. The movie is based on the story of Hennepin, a small town in Oklahoma where dancing was prohibited for a while. It’s interesting to know that some scenes of the movie that were originally going to be fight scenes, ended up being dance scenes, which made the movie more musical and had a lighter tone. Musicals were hits and in a way they were coming back to their old glory days.

Aladdin

In the 90s Disney animated movies had already gained a lot of popularity and had experience with animated musicals and Aladdin was proof that after decades, Disney always found a way to make things better. Of course the main man, “The Genie” played by Robin Williams, had a lot to do with that success with amazing scenes.

8 Mile

As times changed, musicals changed, this opened the possibility to make different approaches to the way musicals tell their stories and break the usual content, which is the case with Eminem’s 8 Mile. This is a movie that some may not even consider to be a musical, but it is in many ways a musical drama. The strange thing about 8 Mile is obviously that Hip Hop is the main genre of this musical, and that is a big departure from the usual jazz, ballads or light hearted dancing songs.

La La Land

In 2016 La La Land came out, and it was a huge success due to its incredible repertoire of music and outstanding performances, however there are some interesting aspects of this movie that really stand out. First of all the movie is set in a fictional Los Angeles which sometimes seems like it’s set in the 50s and other times in modern day, as if it were timeless. This serves an interesting purpose which is to bring back what made musicals so great in Hollywood with Jazz and balladss and a story that revolves around a young actress and a musician both pursuing their dreams and falling in love. Today musical films are not as big as they once were, but there is no doubt that there is still room for more than just admiring the past.
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