Yesterday we headed down to Tobacco Dock, which is hosting BBC Introducing’s three-day music extravaganza geared towards aspiring professional musicians, audio engineers and those wishing to make a start in the music business.
There were many exciting sessions going on, and everywhere you walked was permeated with live music bouncing around the expansive Tobacco Dock warehouse. Here are some of the highlights:
In the morning, artists/producers and songwriters Novelist, Maverick Sabre and Rachel Furner participated in a songwriting masterclass hosted by Abbey Road Studios. They all agreed that it’s important to “always record”, no matter what it is, whether you’re just “talking gibberish to yourself”, as Novelist remarked, or jamming by yourself as home – you could be capturing something really special. Furner stated that in every professional songwriting session she does, she’ll hit record as soon as they walk into the room – “it’s nice to pick up all the conversations on the recording”.
They also highlighted the importance of writing everything down – thoughts, conversations, anything that you find inspiring – and taking in what’s around you, like what you see and hear on public transport.
Ultimately, a songwriting session is the most successful when you “get a great chorus”, so Furner said that she only starts with choruses now.
After that, we sat down to listen to a chat about where music is taking tech with DJ and radio presenter Bobby Friction, Melody VR and Abbey Road Red – represented by innovation manager Karim Fanous. Abbey Road Red has been focusing on using AI in “positive collaboration with humans”, helping companies and platforms develop their technologies, such as the intelligent mic, Vochlea, which translates what you’re singing to an output in real-time.
In another realm, Melody VR, a VR experience that enables users to experience a concert live in the comfort of their own home, is creating “a live experience that is unique and different”, giving those that perhaps don’t like being in a large crowd or can’t make it to the gig, the chance to be a part of a great live show.
Ultimately, technology is benefitting the music industry, according to Fanous, who said “the industry is on a rebound, revenues are growing”.
We then got a chance to hear from The Prodigy’s ex-FOH engineer, Jon Burton, who gave us a rundown of his top tips as a live sound engineer. Here are a few of our favourites:
First off, he said to “Always say ‘yes, probably'” to a gig, because it’s probably always going to be a great experience. Then, when on the job at FOH, “you always need to be able to hear the words, it’s the only complaint you’ll get” and because of that, he always starts a sound check with the vocals. He points out that you should remember the “stupidity of microphones” and place them where they sound good. Leave your mixing desk and go up on stage to hear for yourself, he emphasises. Ultimately, he says, “keep sound checks focused” as “the worst thing is when it turns into a rehearsal.”
For more, see the December issue of our mag and stay tuned for a round-up of today’s BBC Introducing Live agenda at Tobacco Dock.