Part 1: Brighton to London
Our trip began in Brighton where we arrived for the Great Escape Festival. The event began with conferences about trending topics in music business. Among the lectures highlighted was a series on issues facing YouTube, including the “safe harbors” controversy, Content ID and copyright.
Technology seen at the festival included the latest in live sound gear as well as performance tools such as Akai track pads, a Roland SPD-SX, laptops running Abelton, guitar pedals, and so much more.
Performers, panelists, and engineers were happy to speak with our students, who took advantage of many opportunities to network.
Nick Calafato of Last.fm joined us took time out to join us for a chat. They have been around since 2002 and are at the forefront of online music communities. Their platform is amazingly effective for marketing because they can provide data to festival promoters about musical preferences in nearby cities.
Solid State Logic is in Oxfordshire, England. We were treated to the tour of the factory and got to see the “cousins” of our own SSL console (the SSL AWD 924). As a bit of foreshadowing, we learned the history of the SSL 4000 and 5000, which happened to be used in our session a couple of days later. The company is owned by Peter Gabriel, whose picture is featured prominently in the lobby.
A tour to the British Library was next, which features an impressive collection of legal documents connected to the Beatles and other famous British music acts. Next door was a punk rock exhibit. Later in the afternoon, students got to see a musical re-telling of The Kinks’ rise to fame in “Sunny Afternoon. In this photo, students pose outside of the Rolling Stones exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery, “Exhibitionism”. The exhibit spanned two floors and several thousand square feet. Highlights included a recreation of their recording studio and interactive iPads where visitors could remix hit songs such as “Miss You” and “Start Me Up” using faders for each instrument (drums, bass, vocals, brass, etc.) Students are pictured here posing outside of the exhibit.
Later that afternoon, mastering engineer Mandy Parnell (Björk, Glass Animals, Snoop Dog) gave some straight talk to students about breaking in to the business, and demonstrated a lathe which she uses to cut acetate “dub plates” used as test pressings for vinyl records. Lots of yummy equipment in her studio, including Sadie, Sequouia, and Samplitude which you can hear her talk about in this video.
Here, Mandy poses for a group picture after the talk.
…which brings us to our latest adventure, the recording session at Livingston Studio with engineer Matt Foster (Jamiroquai, The Gorillaz). The band Audio Death Threat talked with students about their instruments, favorite tones and timbres. Students got to see new microphone techniques and vintage microphones as well as a professional recording process. The band were gracious enough to let our students have the raw tracks to do their own remixes.
As of this writing, the students have just arrived in Liverpool for the next adventure, Liverpool Sound City. The impact of the trip can already be felt: Hunter is inspired to write and has his guitar with him. Davis is networking with a DJ he met at the recording session who invited him to stay in touch, and is getting lots of ideas for new and ongoing projects. Kelly was invited to perform a track on the recording and is envisioning ways to break into the festival promotion industry. The professionals who we meet with are incredulous at this opportunity that our students have to network and see a side of the music industry they wouldn’t normally see in school, or in the US.