How to Take Your Home Studio Worldwide
Internet recording production is shaking up the music world. A new book by pro musician and Meadows student Derrick Horne provides a definitive guide to online music collaboration.
Technology is reshaping the music landscape faster than the tempo in Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
On the upside, YouTube, iTunes, SoundCloud and dozens of other websites make it possible for musicians to share their music with the world. But at the same time, audiences are embracing the new habit of listening to music for free. Musicians everywhere are wondering: With all these changes, are there new ways for an accomplished musician to earn a living doing recordings?
Absolutely, says Meadows student Derrick Horne (Bachelor of Music in Composition, ’14). Horne, a 30-year veteran of the music industry with over 250 songwriter credits to his name, has just released the book How to Take Your Home Studio Worldwide. In it, Horne shows musicians how to tap in to Internet recording production (IRP), build a new income channel and be at the forefront of emerging recording practices.
For those new to the concept, think of IRP as several musicians collaborating on one song, except parts of the song are recorded in separate locations. For example, the drum tracks might be laid down in a studio in Dallas; bass lines by a different musician in Seattle; and vocals by yet another musician based in London. To be successful, and before any recording begins, participants communicate with each other about certain aspects of the song: artistic vision, tempo, feel, deadlines, re-dos, payments, etc., all of which Horne explores in detail in his book.
How to Take Your Home Studio Worldwide is more than a “how-to” manual. It’s a “how to get in and stay in the game” atlas. It doesn’t get bogged down in deep technical discourse, but instead gives the reader an insider’s look at how IRP works in the music industry and how a musician needs to conduct himself or herself in order to stay in demand.
The first section of the book leads off with an unexpected bit of advice: Get over yourself.
“People get tired of working with jerks, even if the musician is a really good performer or producer or engineer,” says Horne. He confesses to having learned this the hard way. A musical prodigy who started his recording career at age 13, Horne says in his early days he’d often go into the studio with a chip on his shoulder. He made the recordings about himself, focusing on his own skills and interpretation of the song, not the song itself and certainly not on what the producer hired him to play. His reputation suffered as a result.
“I came off arrogant a lot because I was arrogant,” he says. “After not getting my calls returned after some sessions, I finally figured out that being nice to people and caring about their needs and losing the arrogance goes a lot farther sometimes than the skill that you may have. If you’re a jerk, people get tired of working with you. They’ll hire others who are not as skilled as you are, but better to work with.”
The book describes miking techniques, room acoustics, IRP workflow, even details such as best practices for clearly naming files, a good tip for when it’s time to hand off your recording to the next person in the IRP line. The pages are chock-full of tips and advice from a musician who has been through it all. Musicians with recording experience will find themselves nodding in recognition; neophytes will be delighted that they are receiving the keys to the castle.
The foreword to the book is written by Robert Frank, Coordinator of Composition Studies and Associate Professor of Music Composition at Meadows School of the Arts. “Derrick is one of those few people who have a real gift, the work ethic to turn that gift into talent, the heart to want to share it and, more importantly, the wisdom to see the world from a long-term perspective that separates those we call a ‘visionary’ from those who follow,” says Frank. Frank adds that the timing of the book’s release couldn’t be better. “There is real and rapid change in the way technology is reshaping the production path in the music business,” he says. “As Internet speed and bandwidth increase, more and more people will be asked – and expected– to make music where they are and have a basic mastery of simple recording and transfer techniques.”
A “non-traditional” student who came to Meadows at age 46 while still in the middle of an already-long music career, Horne has hundreds of credits on produced songs as an arranger, guitarist, pianist, bassist, organist, percussionist, vocalist, producer and more. He plays a wide variety of genres, including R&B, jazz, funk, pop Christian and country. He has collaborated on 12 Grammy-nominated records. He also wrote music and played on the Grandad Turner smooth jazz album My Friends My Fam, popular on iTunes in 2011. Horne has released nine records as a solo artist and has performed or recorded with numerous artists, such as Lalah Hathaway, Frank McComb, Kirk Whalum, Chris Tomlin and Fred Hammond, among others. In 2004 he produced and performed music for the Summer Olympics with George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic.
He had never before attended a university. He knew he would learn at Meadows, but he hadn’t expected to learn so much.
“The biggest thing for me was the quality of education here,” he says. “I was not expecting to be inundated. I knew it would be a challenge and I was looking for a lot, but I didn’t expect this!”
Horne has made the honor roll every semester while here on a full tuition scholarship. At the time of this writing, Horne hopes to graduate magna cum laude in May 2014.
“I’m definitely leaving a more well-rounded musician than I was when I got here,” he says. “I know more opportunities will come, because now, instead of just playing on and producing records, I can do my own orchestrations and record pieces that I composed. There’s so much good I can say about my experience here. I never ceased to think that my professors cared about my education. It’s been wonderful.”
As to why he decided to write a book about Internet recording production, Horne says his job for the book was to empower musicians and teach them to record well. “The lack of funds or opportunities shouldn’t be a hindrance,” he says. “It was my intent to paint a picture of hope.”
How to Take Your Home Studio Worldwide is available in paperback through Amazon for $17 plus $4 for shipping or in the e-book Kindle version for $3.99; it’s also available on iTunes for $9.99.
Read more about the SMU Meadows School Division of Music B.A. in Composition and M.M. in Composition; keep up with Derrick Horne on Facebook.