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Audio Toyes #1 - Engineers

Brian Toye
January 04, 2011

A note from the editor:

We have a new writer joining our team this week. We are looking forward to his weekly articles on topics ranging from songwriting to studio recording and everything in between. Please welcome author and producer/engineer Brian Toye and his weekly “Audio Toyes” column to our GamePlanPros roster. Brian started out as a classical guitar player with a background in theory and composition. He, like many from Niagara, formed and joined dozens of bands over his teenage years playing local bars and recording demo's to send into record labels. After completing a degree in an unrelated field (Biochemistry) at Brock University he decided to attend college for audio engineering. One year later he was interning at some of the biggest studios in Toronto. He was mentored by 5 time Juno award winning engineer “Kevin Doyle” (Black Velvet, Alanah Miles). He was beginning to get phone calls from indie labels to produce/engineer their bands albums. This kept Brian pretty busy through most 2004-2007. A spur of the moment, late night recording session with friend and fellow engineer Marc Charbonneau spawned a new band “FYI”. 6 months and 5 recordings later they had compiled the “FYI” lineup and submitted demo's to 97.7 HTZ FM ROCKSEARCH. They were chosen out of hundreds of submissions to perform in the showcase along side soon to be friends “My Darkest Days” and 4 other bands. FYI was awarded 1st place and enjoyed radio play for the following year with their single “Into The Outer Place” (self produced and recorded). Brian soaked in all he could and learned the in's and out's of the music industry from band managers, record labels, A & R representatives, studio owners and other artists. After 2 years of touring with acts such as Thornly, Sloan, The Trews, My Darkest Days, Rides Again and Mariana's Trench the band parted ways to pursue different avenues of the music industry. Brian now resides in the Niagara region and has set up his own production company/Record Label ( He often ships out his work to record labels and friends in the industry. He will be writing articles for GamePlanPros in order to share his tips with bands and musician/songwriters in the Niagara area.

- Dan Langevin -

For all the young musicians and bands out there in Niagara. I would like to take this opportunity to share some insight into the role an engineer/producer plays in your recordings. It surprises me to no end the time and money musicians spend on instruments/amplifiers, microphones and touring (which is great!!) but when it comes to recording, they cut corners and try and do it themselves on their home computer. Home recording is a fantastic tool for arranging and writing your songs. Its great for laying down ideas to revisit at later dates. Its no good, however, if you want an A & R representative from Sony/BMG, Universal, Hollywood Records, EMI etc.. to listen to your submission for more than 10 seconds. I know personally and speak with professionals from Universal Records, Hollywood records on a constant basis. I want to share with you what I wish I would have known ten years ago when I was doing the band thing. That is what this series of articles will focus on. Teaching you, the songwriter/musician, how to go about taking your talents to the next level and showcasing them on the world stage.

So if you save up and spend 2k on a new amp head you can and should (if your serious) save up and spend 2k on a solid 3 song demo. Oh, and since there are a few members in your band you will be splitting the price. So your really only paying $250 - $350 for your three songs.

What should you get for this price. You will get a producer/engineer with connections into the studio world. Someone who has an in at local studios and gets low rates for recording over night. If your unaware, using a studio between 9am and 6pm can run anywhere from $500 - $1500 a day. If your drummer happens to be having an “off” day then there is a lot of money down the drain! A lot of producers/engineers have accumulated their own recording gear over the years and no longer need to go into large format studios to engineer professional recordings. They have adapted thier gear in a home studio setting. Producers like Goldfinger's John Feldmann has worked from home producing albums for GOOD CHARLOTTE, THE USED, STORY OF THE YEAR, ASHLEE SIMPSON, HILARY DUFF, GOLDFINGER, ATREYU and PANIC AT THE DISCO. Don't be fooled, a proper acoustically treated room, pristine microphones, mic per-amplifiers and a professional recording medium can produce pro records. You don’t always need the big studios. Just don’t think you can spend 3 grand on gear and do it at home yourself. You need at least ten grand worth just to start. Don't forget you as a musician are supposed to be focusing on songwriting and being the best performer you can be. Leave all the technical details to the recording engineer. Let the producer be your extra band member for the duration of the recording. Remain open to his or her ideas on songwriting, arrangements and production. After all, he/she has worked with a lot of bands. He/she talks with indi labels and major labels and hears daily what they are looking for. So put trust into your producer and let them mold your sound, an unbiased opinion. That's one of the reasons you hire them.

Bottom Line. I wish I had hired a producer back in my band days rather than buying a Roland DAW and a few mics. I wish I had realized the importance of a solid recording so instead of asking for a second guitar or amp for Christmas/Birthdays I would have known to ask for financial assistance towards hiring a professional producer/engineer. Something to think about :)

Brian Toye