The Production Music Association hosted its third annual conference (PMC) on October 17th and 18th in Santa Monica, and Megatrax’s CEO and co-founder, Ron Mendelsohn, and Derek Jones, Megatrax’s Director of Creative Services/Producer/Chief Engineer, were on hand to moderate panels.
Derek’s panel, “Recording, Mixing and Mastering for Production Music,” featured panelists Daniel Holter (Partner, The License Lab, LLC), Mike Wells (Owner & Chief Engineer, Mike Wells Mastering), Doug Fenske (GRAMMY-Nominated, multi-platinum engineer/producer/mixer and Director of Education at Crē•8 Music Academy) and James T. Hill (Producer & Mixer, Jim Hill Productions, Inc.), delving “into the technical side of production music with library industry” and demonstrating “hands-on, live on stage, some handy techniques for recording, mixing and mastering music specifically for use in TV and Film licensing.”
Ron’s panel, “Production Music and Piracy: How to tell if your music is being pirated and what to do about it,” featured panelists Jessie Kuhn (General Counsel, TuneSat), Andrew Korn (Director of Operations, AdRev), Mike Pace (Senior Media Manager, Music and Sound Effects, Pond5) and Eric Kaye (Executive Creative Director/Co-Founder of the Diner Music Library and the Music Playground), and explored the issue of piracy and production music from multiple angles.
We asked both gentlemen to share the key take-aways from their panel experiences, as well as why the PMC is important to the production music industry, and here’s what they had to say.
Ron Mendelsohn: Over the course of four years, the PMC has grown from just an idea to the world’s preeminent meeting place for the production music industry. This year’s conference brought together over 400 attendees including composers, publishers, vendors and end users of production music from all over the world. In addition to renowned keynote speakers and insightful panels focusing on every aspect of the industry, the conference provided great meeting and networking opportunities.
(The highlights of my panel were:)
- A spirited discussion about whether royalty-free sites such as Pond 5 and AudioJungle are responsible for the content posted on their sites, or if they qualify under the DMCA safe harbor provision. It was the opinion of the legal expert on our panel, Jessie Kuhn, that these sites do not qualify for the safe harbor since they are in fact curating their content to a significant degree.
- Descriptions from Andrew Korn and Mike Pace about their quality control procedures and amusing tales of “fraudsters” who attempted to post commercial pop songs on their respective sites
- Eric Kaye’s description of how he uses TuneSat to track and monetize unauthorized usages on the Internet
- Advice from legal expert Jessie Kuhn on how to prosecute pirate sites operating out of Russia and China
- An overview of technologies available to help combat piracy on the Internet, including TuneSat, BMAT and Audible Magic.
Derek Jones: The PMC is important for several reasons. First and foremost would be for educational purposes. Sharing experiences and ideas helps keep the industry as a whole consistent and growing. Second the PMC is important because it helps advocacy for issues libraries have. If we never had a forum for all of us to get together and discuss the challenges we are facing, then we would never have a unified front in facing them. And lastly the PMC is great for connecting with new people within the industry. It’s a great place for us to find new composers and reconnect face to face with composers we’ve been using for years.
Our panel was unique in that we literally setup a small recording studio for demonstration purposes instead of trying to use PowerPoint slides and pre-recorded audio files. We tried to mimic what composers might have at home, so we used a small two in/two out audio interface with some moderately priced microphones and some acoustic panels setup to mimic what a composer might do in a corner of his/her room.
Doug Fenske, Grammy nominated multi-platinum sound engineer got up first to talk about recording and Megatrax’s Music Director, Dan Cross, got up to play guitar for Doug. Doug covered the basics of microphone position and mic choice but also touched on some advanced topics like using multiple microphones on a single instrument at once, things to look out for and things to avoid when doing so. Doug also talked about placement of acoustic treatments and why acoustic treatments are needed when recording in a home studio.
Next up was veteran score mixer James T. Hill to talk a little bit about mixing work flows. He discussed basics such as track layout and color coding to help speed up the mixing process and then dived into advanced techniques like mixing to stems and mixing to multiple alternate mixes simultaneously.
Lastly mastering engineer Mike Wells took the center stage to discuss some of the issues composers face when mastering music for TV and Film. The basic concepts of headroom, average level vs. peak level and “loud does not mean good” were covered before Mike delved into the more advanced topic of mastering from stems and why it is particularly useful for music libraries.
Throughout the panel Daniel Holter and I had colorful commentary adding additional “do’s” and “don’ts” for the audience. I guess the biggest highlight for the panel was that it was so packed there wasn’t even standing room only left. People were sitting on the floor between the tables and up against the walls; people were packed in so tightly you literally could not even get in the door when we started.
Learn more about the Production Music Association at pmamusic.com.