Businesses use Zoom to stay connected, Hilton Scott Tele-Tracks to record new music
While it’s certainly nice to have the convenience of a Home Recording Studio (and I use the term loosely) to track song ideas and develop quality demo tracks, the ability to track, mix, and even master songs from virtually anywhere has become a recent necessity given the current social distancing and safety measures currently in place across the country. The casual collaborations and stopping by to jam with old friends have been put on hold while we instead hunker down in place and stick to our own bubble. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the creative process doesn’t take such breaks, and the music industry and songwriting communities have been left to adapt to the current reality of life under social distancing. Enter Tele-Tracking.
Tele-Tracking is a concept that’s likely been around since song recording first went mainstream, but it’s not something that the average songwriter or home recording enthusiast probably spends a lot of time thinking about... at least until recently. For most of us, part of the joy in songwriting and collaborating is sitting down and meeting fellow artists and musicians to discuss song ideas and start working through the ins and outs of an upcoming project. I can personally say that there are few cooler experiences out there then hearing a really good vocalist belt out the first few lines of a song and melody that I wrote and really bring the song idea to life. This is especially thrilling for a guy who can’t sing himself or play any number of instruments that I still want to be part of the song. Fortunately, with today’s affordable home recording software and a personal computer, I’ve been able to keep the dream alive and still maintain my distance. But what’s really cool, is how simple it is. Process---I have no doubts that books could be (and have been) written on the subject, but I’m going to keep the basic idea as simple as I can. If you are interested in a more detailed or technologically advanced summary, feel free to send in any questions you have. That being said, here is a short list of things you absolutely need to make this work: 1.Some type of music recording software and a computer
2. Ability to listen to and record a WAV file
3. The ability to import a WAV file into your recording software
If you have these capabilities, you are all set to go. The steps are then as follows:
1. Record track(s) you want the other person to work off of and convert them to a WAV file
2. Send your collaboration partner, singer, guitarist, pianist, etc the WAV file
3. Once the partner receives WAV file, they import the track(s) into their recording software (doesn’t even matter if it’s a different software program)
4. Partner records their tracks---vocals, guitar, clarinet, etc.. to the imported track (I’ve been itching for some cowbell as of late)
5. Partner converts their tracks to WAV file and sends them back to you.
6. Import partner’s WAV file into same session as original recordings
7. Make the magic happen as you normally would.
In seven steps (albeit dumbed-down a bit), you’re suddenly able to get every member of the songwriting/recording/engineering/singing/musician team recording their own tracks and then working to mix and master them as you would a normal session.
Before I list a couple pros and cons of this simple back and forth process, I’d like to say a few words about my own experience recording “My Blue Heaven” in this manner. As I said above, there’s nothing like sitting down with new singers and collaborators to discuss new ideas and projects, but without that possibility at the moment, this was the next best thing. (Full disclosure—this particular song worked out this way not only due to social distancing, but also the fact that the vocalist I worked with, Chuck, lives in a different city and is on the road a lot).
That being said, as I start off any collaboration project, I sent Chuck the song with some scratch vocal tracks in place to give him an idea of the melody I had in mind.
As can always be expected, there were some back and forth emails and phone calls discussing some minor phrasing issues and word cuts, but all very minor. Within a few weeks, Chuck was able to send back not only his lead vocal track to us in a WAV file, but also additional background and harmony tracks he recorded as well. At that point, all I had to do was import the WAV files he had recorded and set them in the original mix. After a few days of normal mixing and a few more emails back and forth, we had our final product finished and ready for consumption. And although this is a very brief summary of the process, it’s really all it took. Chuck was incredibly professional to work with, and despite having never met with him face to face, we managed to walk away with an end product we were all really proud of.
Pros---Record from anywhere, cuts down on scheduling conflicts, opens up the globe for collaboration, allows professionals who rather sing in their own studio to do so from their own home without having to come into Hilton’s dungeon
Cons—slows the momentum and excitement having to wait between emails or phone calls to discuss progress, loss of spontaneity, miss out on that live performance element of being in the same room together
And with that, in only a few weeks, we came out with the latest single “My Blue Heaven.” Make sure to give the new song a listen and tell me what you think. Also, please take a few seconds to answer the survey on the Facebook Page (link).
As always, I’d love to hear any feedback or questions you have about the Tele-Tracking process or the blog in general, but I’d also love to hear what other songwriters, collaborators, and musicians are doing to keep pumping out the hits? If you found this article interesting, or know other musicians or songwriters that would, please share the website and this article.
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