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Label Worx Recommends Universal Audio Hardware & Plugins.
Posted By : Alex Powell
|
Posted Date : December 3rd, 2018
Founded in 1958 by Bill Putnam Sr., Universal Audio has been synonymous with innovative recording products since its inception. A favourite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, UA was re-founded in 1999 with two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analogue recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analogue technology. As a result, UA has become a go-to manufacturer of both analogue hardware & premium quality plugins used in electronic music production, with their range boasting some of the most authentic analogue emulation plug-ins in the industry.

As Label Worx's in-house engineers, Matt Abbott and Alex Powell are long-time devotees of Universal Audio's extensive range of production kit. Here, they share their thoughts on what makes them the stand-out choice for producers, regardless of experience.

Who are Universal Audio?

Universal Audio are legendary. They have been producing some of the finest compressors, pre amps and other bits of amazing gear since the 60's. Most professional studios have pieces of their equipment as they have made so many timeless classics like the 1176 compressor. In the last 10 years they have shifted a lot of their focus in to making DSP based plugins that run from hardware processors. We have built the Label Worx studio around the UAD platform ever since we shifted from Creamware years ago.

What makes them stand-out?

UAD plugins are arguably some of the most accurate reproductions of very expensive, vintage & new hardware. A lot of other companies have attempted to capture the flavour from old gear and not quite got it as good as Universal Audio with their UAD plugins. The fact that their plugins run seamlessly from hardware DSP processors also frees up memory on your machine. Even using the latest Mac Pro with nothing but onboard plugins can be tasking on the CPU. The UAD system allows you to free up a lot of the power on your machine, while giving you the best sounding plugins you can buy.

What UA kit do you currently use?

Currently and for the last three or four years, our whole mastering chain is built up with UAD plugins with the Apollo audio interface & a UAD Satellite at the heart of it all. We use a mixture of the more clinical, precision plugins with some vintage classics to add the colour and tone of analogue mastering while maintaining a noise free signal path, using only UAD plugins.

What are some of your favourite plugins?

Pultec EQ's - These are the best sounding models we have ever heard. We use this in the mixdown stage to add colour to the track. There is something super silky about the Pultec EQ which makes this our favourite EQ for adding weight to something. The Pultec also works differently than any other EQ. You can boost & cut the same frequency which gives you this insane laminated sound. If you're not using it, you should be.

Ocean Ways Studios - This is absolutely insane for bringing vocals to life: perfect modelling of the recording setup with mic emulation at Ocean Ways Studios. You can use this as a reverb or just for adding spatial texture to a vocal. Flat, dull vocals all of a sudden have this incredible space and depth. We actually tried this out by accident and now it is one of our favourite plugins.

Oxford Dynamic EQ - For when multiband compression is just not right, multiband EQ with a threshold. Perfect for tidying up and taming tracks or parts that are a little messy. It is a super clinical EQ that can also add a great level of lamination to your sounds. We use this in mixdowns and mastering.

Everything SSL or Neve - To put it simply, anything Neve or SSL is the bomb. Both very different colours to work with but as powerful as each other. From compression to EQ. .These are the most powerful tools you can use in a mixdown (in our opinion).

EL-8 Labs Distressor - We previously used a real pair of these on a some projects a few years back and couldn't get over how good they are if used as a parallel compressor on drums, bass and even a full mix, providing you have a super clean mixdown. UAD have made the only perfect software replica we have ever heard and we're so pleased we can now use this in our setup, without paying a fortune for a real pair. Hand on heart we think this is the best modelled UAD plugin they have ever created.

Which tracks have you worked on that use UA gear?

All of our Label Worx Mixdowns & Masters are done using UAD plugins and hardware. We have mixed records down that have been released on Sony, Warner, Universal and some of the world's biggest dance music labels including Do Not Sleep, Toolroom, CUFF, Revealed, Spinnin and a whole lot more. Every order that leaves our studio is jam packed with UAD goodness.

Who would you recommend UA to? Beginners, experienced pros, etc?

I would recommend UAD plugins and hardware to everyone. Get on board and learn each plugin you buy inside out. Each plugin comes with a comprehensive manual that gives you a little history on the plugin and the best ways to use it, how to set it up and yield the best results. I never read such intuitive instruction to ever come with a plugin. UAD plugins are the closest thing you can get to having a studio worth hundreds of thousands of pounds but at a fraction of the price. Some of the worlds best mix engineers use UAD because they are so close to the real thing, and you can't take racks of gear on the road with you.

Interested in finding out more about Universal Audio products? Head to their home page.

For more information on Label Worx Mixing & Mastering. Check out our website.

 

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Industry News   /   January 29th, 2019

How to make more money from your label.

We understand that running a label is a passion for most people - after all, you wouldn't put all that work into something you hated, would you? It takes commitment to make a record label work and despite what everyone says, a record label in 2019 CAN generate money for you. 'But, how?' we hear you cry. Well, once again label Worx has some solid advice for you. The first thing you need to do is lose the 'nobody buys records any more, therefore, labels can't make money' mentality. Yes, it's true that physical sales of music have for the most part fallen, but with technology comes a multitude of other ways to turn your music into money. If you're using Label Worx to distribute your releases, you'll already know how many platforms are available to you - Beatport, Traxsource, iTunes. Amazon Music, Google Play. If your music isn't featured, nobody is going to buy it. And then you've got the big one: streaming. It can be a touchy subject in the music industry, but streaming is here to stay whether you like it or not, so you might as well embrace it. Platforms like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music are used by billions of people, so once again - if your music isn't featured, nobody is going to listen to it. If you can get all your channels in line, branded, linked and running in unison, there is no reason why you can't turn streaming into your main source of income. You'd be surprised by how much you can make from streaming if you do it properly - that means promoting your releases effectively and efficiently on social media (don't spam people with links, nobody needs that) or with a good PR campaign. YouTube, in particular, is a platform which can be heavily monetised if you grow and develop it properly, it can easily become your main source of income if you get it right. Streaming and stores might be the most obvious source of income, but don't forget that you need to make sure your music is properly registered for publishing, mechanicals and neighbouring rights as a label - there's a lot of money to be made behind the scenes with radio plays and syncs, but if you aren't registered, you can't collect it. If this side of the business is a bit daunting, get in touch - our sister company, LimeBlue, handles Neighbouring Rights for some of the industry's biggest names including Fedde Le Grand, Lane 8, Viper Recordings and more. Of course, none of that is relevant if nobody is interested in your product. Be consistent, be selective with the music you sign - make your brand work for you as much as the product. Successful labels do well because they understand what their audience wants and provide them with a high-quality product every time. Once you've got all that right, then you can start thinking about merchandise and expanding your brand. It's easy to start getting carried away with all the different things running a label allows you to do, but if you haven't got the core foundations sorted, you'll miss out on a lot of money from the start. if you have any questions on ways Label Worx can help you earn more from your label. Contact our label team today.

Beatport CEO: Streaming feels like 'the dawn of a new DJ experience'.

Industry News   /   January 29th, 2019

Beatport CEO: Streaming feels like 'the dawn of a new DJ experience'.

Last year, there were a few significant developments around streaming and DJing - we covered it in our feature 'Streaming in Coming to the Booth', and almost everyone had a take on how DJ streaming wars would play out. We talked about the impact on royalties, technology, analytics and DJ creativity, as well as how the inevitable march towards cloud DJing could divide the DJ community once again. Since then, Beatport clarified comments they made at last year's IMS, where they claimed they hoped to be able to 'stream Beatport's entire catalogue intro DJ software by 2019'. Well, 2019 has arrived and with it, we've seen SoundCloud announce their intentions to stream into Traktor, Serato, Virtual DJ and more. With the conversation gathering pace, but with plenty of questions still to be answered, we spoke to Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels to get his take on the integration of streaming into DJ software, their acquisition of Pulselocker and how it's going to impact the DJ community as a whole. Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels 'Recent enthusiasm, both publicly and privately, by several large digital music platforms and leading DJ equipment manufacturers for the integration of these two worlds is certainly welcomed by many music fans, especially those immersed in DJ culture. For many reasons, it feels like the dawn of a new DJ experience is upon us, and streaming will become an established format for DJing, with Digital Lockers providing the offline reliability that professional DJs need. However, the prospects of a fully-integrated music access model for DJs raises many questions not previously considered, and it appears that some may be letting their enthusiasm blind them to real-world challenges. 'Early in 2018, Beatport purchased the assets of Pulselocker, including the patents and technology for their digital locker that integrates a digital retail store into DJ performance software and tracks the plays - as well as the track order, duration of song performance, cue points and other important metadata elements - in online and offline mode. 'It's important to dig deeper into the technical details of integrating a digital retail store into DJ performance software applications. While offline mode playback and tracking is common in today's music market, with companies like SoundCloud and Spotify allowing their users to do so as part of their subscription, this functionality is only enabled within their own apps. 'This is the key difference when contemplating offline playback within a third-party DJ application such as Rekordbox, Traktor or Serato DJ; the songs are actually performed at the direction of those applications and not the host digital retail store. This seamless, interoperable experience, particularly in offline mode - which is an obvious imperative for any serious DJ playing a live set - is what Beatport's new technology enables.' Beatport 'Which brings up another very important difference in this newly proposed DJ paradigm: the moral obligation to protect the economic interests of our global DJ community and the legal rights to allow the commercial exploitation of music being played through DJ performance software. For Beatport's 15-year history, we have focused solely on serving professional DJs with the best electronic music for the primary purpose of publicly performing that music in front of thousands of fans. A download from Beatport means so much more than a download on iTunes or a thousand streams on Spotify because our customers are the world's music tastemakers, and expose a massive audience to whatever they play in their set. 'Simply put, Beatport is primarily a B2B service, focused on professional DJs, or those aspiring to get paid for their talents. However, most digital music retailers are limited by their existing license agreements with labels and publishers that only permit 'personal use' of the music on the platform. By integrating with DJ performance software companies, there can be no doubt that these retailers will knowingly be providing access to their catalogues primarily for commercial or professional use. 'For example, when a DJ will play a set accessing music from the Beatport store, we will know what they played, where they played it and how long they played it for. This opens up a world of possibilities to empower the creative community with more data to improve the collection of royalties owed and fans reached, but it also comes with a set of legal and moral responsibilities for digital music platforms. 'Pulselocker was way ahead of its time in bringing their digital locker for DJ performance software to market, but now it seems the rest of the industry is ready for this next leap in the evolution of DJing. As we have said previously, Beatport is planning to launch with all major DJ performance software companies in 2019 and we look forward to leading the way for the independent music community. The access model for DJs will open up a wealth of opportunities to obtain more real-time metrics and reports to raise the tide for everyone. We take this responsibility very seriously and want to ensure that all participants in our ecosystem are fairly represented and compensated.'

The four types of music subscription models in 2019.

Industry News   /   January 28th, 2019

The four types of music subscription models in 2019.

There's a widespread perception that paid streaming subscriptions have become recorded music's lifeline, restoring the sector to a state of growth and driving its ongoing global expansion. In fact, the influence of paid music streaming is so powerful that the word 'Spotify' now serves as a shorthand across several industries for a supposedly more convenient, streamlined user experience built on content aggregation: think 'Spotify for news', 'Spotify for audiobooks', even 'Spotify for comics'. Capitalizing on this positive association, both Universal Music Group and Sony Music Japan are also reportedly building their own streaming products, part of which is likely to revolve around individual artists. But while a subscription model might be the new table stakes for staying competitive, it's certainly not sufficient for success - and the music industry presents an exemplary case study. Consider how Spotify and Apple Music continue to grow at an accelerating pace, but the likes of YouTube Music and Tidal are falling far behind. Or how major labels have repeatedly tried to launch and maintain their own shared streaming services over the past few decades, to no avail (remember Pressplay and MusicNet?). Or how even the biggest celebrities with tens of millions of followers have difficulties maintaining their own branded subscription apps. In all of the above examples, companies either mischaracterize the kind of work that goes into running a subscription business or wrongly assume that the brand value and user loyalty of a company like Spotify or Napster is easily transferable merely by stealing their business model. In reality, taking on a subscription model in music will work only if the added benefits align with the core value that the product in question has already been delivering to its most loyal users. With this approach in mind, there is a diversity of subscription services that can thrive in the music industry in 2019, beyond just the all-you-can-eat, pro-rata-payment Spotify model - with the proper execution. We can divide this emerging landscape of subscriptions into a four-tiered pyramid, pictured below: The boundaries of these four categories are permeable and imperfect, but the most important takeaway is that moving up and down the pyramid means making tradeoffs on metrics. Subscription services further up the pyramid attract relatively smaller audiences with a higher degree of loyalty to a given artist. In contrast, those further down the pyramid attract much larger audiences but tend to face more fleeting attention spans and listening habits from consumers. Head to Music Business Week to read more about each, individual streaming service.

 

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