music studio

Considerations for Building a Soundproof In-Home Music Studio

There comes a time in every musician’s career when they consider building a soundproof in-home music studio. Having a soundproof in-home music studio makes it extremely easy and efficient to record music. But, how can you build the perfect music studio? So, here are four considerations to think about when building a soundproof in-home music studio!

  1. Light

Traditional soundproof in-home music studios are usually built in basements where there is little to no natural light. While basements are great locations for music studios, it’s important to consider natural light. Natural light is important for a variety of reasons. For example, natural light is important for overall health and energy. In addition to health and energy, natural light has proven to enhance creativity, which is extremely important when making music. So, think about adding at least one window to your music studio.

  1. Location

One of the most important things to consider when building a soundproof in-home music studio is where you’re going to build it. Like previously stated, your basement is a great location to build your music studio. If you don’t have a basement, or your basement isn’t an option, consider building your music studio in your garage or somewhere you have a lot of space. It’s important to note that you should build your home studio in a location that has maximum space to accommodate the room itself, and all of the required insulation and equipment.

  1. Air

You want your music studio to be as airtight as possible. But, you also want to make sure that you can easily breathe. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have at least one fan in the room. If you forget this aspect, you might find yourself feeling extremely fatigued, breathless, or even passed out after working in your music studio for a little bit.

  1. Power Placement

The last thing you should consider is where you’re going to place all of your power cables. Typically, power cables are placed behind walls. But when you want a soundproof room, it’s important that power cables are placed outside of the walls. This is because cables placed inside walls interfere with how much insulation space you have to make your room soundproof. So, don’t be afraid to use your power cables as a decorative element.

charlotte music venues

Top 5 Music Venues in Charlotte, NC

Since many people are enthusiastic about music in Charlotte, NC, it shouldn’t be surprising that the city has a ton of music venues. But, there’s obviously some music venues that are better than others. Here is a list of five of my favorite music venues in Charlotte, NC!

1.) Visulite Theatre

Located in the historic Elizabeth Community, the Visulite Theatre is one of the premier facilities for live music in Charlotte. Just browse through the Visulite Theatre’s upcoming shows and you’ll be able to see they host a variety of artists and genres. As for attending a show at this venue, it’s usually a great experience. Unlike some venues, the Visulite Theatre has a full service bar that actually has fast and friendly service. So, you won’t have to spend majority of your night trying to get a drink. Also, the tiered layout makes it easy and enjoyable to watch a performance from any angle.

2.) Neighborhood Theatre

Located in NoDa, the Neighborhood Theatre was originally a movie theatre known as the Astor Theatre until the 1970s. With a capacity of 956 and an open floor setup, it’s easy to enjoy a show from any location in this venue. Similarly to the Visulite Theatre, the Neighborhood Theatre has a full service bar. While the two theatres have their differences, the Neighborhood Theatre hosts a more eclectic acts.

3.) Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall

If you want a more authentic Charlotte music experience, check out the Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall. Located in uptown Charlotte, the Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall has the layout of a traditional beer garden and has over 91 local beers on tap to choose from. While you can occasionally catch national recording acts, majority of the bands that play at the Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall are local and regional acts.

4.) The Rabbit Hole

Located in Plaza Midwood, The Rabbit Hole offers a smaller, more intimate setting. With a full bar and an eclectic lineup, The Rabbit Hole is perfect for watching your favorite band or exploring different artists.

5.) The Evening Muse

Known as one of the best places to hear acoustic music in the NoDa Arts District, The Evening Muse is an intimate venue that has a capacity of 120. Many people have praised The Evening Muse’s use of architectural dynamics and sound engineer to ensure bands and concertgoers hear crisp and fine-tuned sounds. The Evening Muse hosts an array of artists, from alternative and rock, to country, pop, and even jazz. There’s something for everyone at The Evening Muse.

closed for business

Lessons I Learned from Running a Business That Failed

Yesterday will have been 8 years since the Garage Venue first opened its doors. I must say, I really miss running the joint.

But since we closed our doors, I’ve had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on my life and my business and wrap my head around everything that’s happened. There are many reasons why businesses fail. Though it was hard for me to examine ours from the inside out and admit my failures, doing so has grown me in a big way. So I just wanted to take some time to share some of the lessons I’ve learned since running an entertainment venue that wasn’t successful.

Lesson #1: Location is more important than you realize.

While I don’t blame our failure on our location, I definitely believe it played a part. There are certain cities in the U.S. that are known for their arts and entertainment scene, and unfortunately, my city just ain’t one of ’em.

Do some serious market research if you’re planning to open up a business in a certain city. Make sure the market is headed toward whatever trend you’re feeding. In some cases, competition can be a good thing. It indicates that the market is healthy. If you open up shop in a location that has no competition, just because it has no competition, you may wind up twiddling your thumbs every day while you wonder why you have no customers.

Lesson #2: Beware of overhead, and budget accordingly.

This is especially true if you’re running an entertainment venue like we were! If you’re going to pay your artists (and you should), then you need to be compensated to cover that cost. Whether that means charging a cover at the door, serving food or alcohol and marking up costs to cover entertainment, or paying your artists according to how many guests they bring in, it’s important to budget effectively.

I’ve had a few good friends who have struggled in that area. We all want to support good artists. But if you don’t have the budget worked in to do so, then you’ll have to get creative, or put the burden on the artists themselves, as hard as that may be.

Lesson #3: Diversify your investments.

A lot of businesses fail. That’s just the nature of the game, especially in a world where everyone thinks they have a good idea and wants to be an entrepreneur. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket like I did. If I had started this blog before the venue failed, and found a way to monetize it before we had to close our doors, then I would have been in a much better place when it happened. If you’re already investing in yourself, you’re doing great. Just make sure your diversify your portfolio.

sound board

Mr. Soundman … Bring Me a Dream!

I saw a meme on Facebook a few days ago that said, “it’s beginning to look a lot like f*** this!” And that’s exactly how I feel about the holidays, so of course I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit.

Walking through crowded shopping malls cringing every time I hear another dreadful Christmas song. Makes me want to scream. And seeing all those ridiculous Elves on their Shelves literally makes me want to  jump off a cliff … or a shelf … or throw one off the shelf into a pit of fire until it burns so bad it’s beyond recognition.

Seriously, the Christmas (or what I like to call the X-Mess) holiday breeds nothing but greed, envy, and selfishness. Especially in our increasingly entitled children. As if their new iPhones are not enough to keep them occupied. Now they’re demanding Louis Vuitton handbags for $4,000 a pop, and if you don’t get them one, they’ll call you the worst mom ever.

Thankfully, I don’t speak from personal experience, but I do speak from what I’ve seen and heard from my friends who have brat teenagers to raise in this messed up world.

I started thinking about all of this the other night when I was at a show, doing what I do best while running sound from the booth in the back: people watching.

Teenagers love to go to concerts. I guess it’s their way of getting away from mom and dad, and if their mom and dad could only see what I see on a nightly basis. This particular concert was a festive one. A jam band playing Christmas cover tunes, along with a few originals sprinkled in here and there. (That’s really the only way to get your original music heard in this joke of a city, since most people here don’t appreciate real art. They just want to drink and dance the night away to horrible renditions of classic rock songs that everyone’s been sick of hearing for two decades … but that’s another post for another day.)

As a sound engineer I have the pleasure of witnessing our depraved youth grow up once concert at a time. And on this particular night when I was people watching at a local music venue, the sound happened to go haywire. The reaction was not what I had expected, although, knowing the youth of today, I probably should have expected it. As soon as one of the speakers blew, a young boy turned around and started cursing at me like it was my fault. My manager came over to try and diffuse the situation, and he ended up being cursed at too. The kid was yelling at both of us, demanding a refund. All the while, the band kept playing like nothing had happened. Show must go on, right? I told the kid he should take a lesson from the people he came to see play, and he said “I didn’t even come here to watch this shitty band. I came here to get away with my friends and enjoy some time out, and you can’t even get the damn sound right!”

Ugh. Entitlement. It’s a curse this generation will never be able to shake.

As I was driving home in my car that night, the “Mr. Sandman” song came on. It was a nice break from shitty holiday music, and I started to sing along.

“Mr. Soundman … bring me a dream … ”

Seriously, please bring me a dream. I need a good night’s sleep after that mess. December 26 can’t come fast enough. Thanks for letting me rant.

A Review of The Fillmore Charlotte Music Venue

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Before you read on, I must begin with this disclaimer: it has been more than two years since I visited The Fillmore Charlotte, so things may have changed significantly since then. However, there’s a good reason why I haven’t been to this venue in two years, and it’s this:

I had a horrible experience that made me never want to go there again. 

As you can probably guess, this is not a positive review. I have been given no compensation to write it. I just wanted to give my honest opinion and offer some suggestions that all music venues in the queen city could stand to benefit from.

As a singer-songwriter, I love attending live concerts. I went to the Fillmore to see Lauryn Hill perform over two years ago. I was on a date with my husband, and it was the first concert I had been to in a while. I was also 8 months pregnant.

The tickets were pretty expensive. I don’t remember exactly how much they cost. I just remember that I thought we had overpaid, especially given the nature of the venue and the fact that Lauryn was super late to her own performance. I had heard that was typical for her though, and I know that’s not the venue’s fault. But still … her reputation for being late is no secret, and the tickets could have been priced accordingly.

We went to Cabo Fish Taco to eat dinner before going to the concert. We arrived about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to start, and the opening acts were horrible. The venue is standing room only, which was problem #1 since, again, I was 8 months pregnant. When you’re short and slender like me, and your belly is about the size of a balloon that’s about to pop, sitting down is pretty much a necessity.

Maybe I’m being high-maintenance here, but I think they should have offered me a chair. For free. There are chairs in the V.I.P. section, but we would have had to spend another $50 just to sit in them, and the section doesn’t even offer a good view of the stage. It’s off to the left side of the room and blocked by multiple columns. Why anyone would pay $25 to get a worse view of a performance is beyond me … unless you’re 8 months pregnant and desperately need to sit down, because you feel like all of your body’s organs are going to slip out of your vagina at any moment.

(#sorrynotsorry for the mental picture…)

No, pregnancy is not a handicap. As someone who had a home birth, I firmly believe that, even though hospitals try to rush you to the maternity ward in a wheelchair like you can’t walk when you’re in labor. But standing room only for a 3-hour concert when your water could break at any moment? Not cool, Fillmore. Not cool.

My husband ordered one alcoholic beverage. Pretty sure he spent like $16 on it. $20 if you count the tip. I guess that’s typical for most concert venues, but still a major disappointment, especially when we had already overpaid for tickets to attend a concert where the performer was late to her own show and couldn’t even sit our asses down in a chair.

In short, my visit to the Fillmore made me never want to go there again, and I haven’t been there since. I hear not much has changed, but I could be wrong. In any case, it did not meet my expectations as being comparable to the Fillmore in L.A. which appears to be amazing. Maybe if I ever make it out to the west coast, I’ll buy tickets to a concert and write another review for what has come to be known as one of the highest-esteemed music venues in the entire U.S.

Until then, I’ll stick to concerts at The Evening Muse.

Macklemore

Hey Pop Stars: Quit Selling Out!

This post is a bit of a rant. (I’ve been on a lot of those lately.)

I was on a long road trip a few weeks ago and decided to give listening to the radio another try. I typically don’t listen to the radio, especially on long road trips, for a few reasons:

  1. Most radio music sucks.
  2. When you’re driving through multiple cities, you frequently have to change stations to get a good signal which is a pain.
  3. My iPhone has a pretty good stock of better music, which I would much rather listen to.
  4. I actually totaled my first car because I was changing the radio station after a horrible boy-band song came on…

Occasionally, though, I like to flip through radio stations just to see what’s out there lately. What’s gaining in popularity and if it indicates a positive trend toward better music in the near future. I’m a 90s kid, so I love 90s music and tend to believe that just about everything created after 1999 is total garbage. (I know, I’m biased.) But seriously, when was the last time you turned on a pop radio station and actually heard good song?

[crickets]

Yep. That’s what I thought.

I was hoping for some indication of positive news when I flipped the radio on, but unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened. Just as I figured, it’s still garbage, and it seems to be getting worse. I didn’t think that was possible, but that’s what I’m hearing, so… yeah.

I remember when Jewel sold out. As I was listening to the popular junk that’s out there today, it totally brought me back to 2003 when I first heard her hit song, “Intuition”. I remember thinking, “why, Jewel? whyyyyyyyy would you stoop this low?” From the neon-colored clothes on her album cover to the totally overproduced sound of the album, it was a far cry from “Pieces of You”, which I loved. What a complete and total disappointment.

Since then, some of my favorite artists have followed suit:

John Mayer with his country album. Dave Matthews Band with their electric rock record. And O.A.R. Similar to DMB, they also came out with a boring pop record full of electric instruments that took them so far away from their original acoustic jam-band sound, I could cry…

These artists have one thing in common. For at least one LP, they ceased to be what made them so likeable… They ceased to be themselves. All of the characteristics that made them unique were sucked up by the greedy music industry capitalists in an effort to make a profit.

Was it worth it? Hell no.

Please, please, please, for the sake of our future, our kids’ futures, and their kids’ futures, STOP SELLING OUT! It doesn’t matter if you’re an independent artist or you’re at the top of the Billboard charts—be YOU. Don’t ever stop being YOU. No matter what anyone tells you. No matter how many dollar bills they wave in your face. I’ve got mad respect for artists like Macklemore. He hustled his way to the top, but he hasn’t stopped being what makes him unique—he hasn’t stopped being himself. As crazy as his latest video is, it’s that craziness that drew so many people to him when he produced Thrift Shop, and we see the same craziness today. I hope it never stops.

Not all radio is bad. In fact, it was Macklemore’s latest single that kept me listening when I was on my road trip a few weeks ago.

All I’m saying is, if you’re going to be an artist, then be an artist. Not everyone is going to love you, and that’s okay. As long as you stay true to yourself, you’ll be successful.

If you’ve yet to hear Macklemore’s newest, check out the video below. Rant: over.

street musician

Why Spotify Has Ruined the Music Industry

Okay, okay. It wasn’t Spotify. That’s just the one I like to pick on.

It was really Napster that ruined things for everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. Definitely for talented, independent artists though. (Not that mainstream artists aren’t talented… they just have a tendency to hide their talents behind a facade they created when they sold out. And I don’t mean sold out of concert tickets.)

Some would say my point is arguable. That streaming services like Spotify are actually changing the game for independent artists and enabling them to have a “chance” at getting discovered. Hate to break it to you, indies. You have a better chance of getting discovered by trying out for American idol. Actually, I’d recommend making really stupid videos and posting them on YouTube if you really want to become a musical sensation. You ever see that movie The Rocker? I’ve contemplated singing naked on several occasions…

By the way, if you haven’t seen that movie, I highly recommend it. Hilarious.

Anyway, if you’re tech-savvy and know how to game the system, I suppose you could figure out how to get famous by publishing your tunes on Spotify. But for the average Joe independent artist who spends his time writing great music and refuses to spend it figuring out how to get noticed, it’s nigh impossible. As an indie on Spotify, you’re Nemo. A little clownfish with a gimpy fin, drowning in a sea of sharks.

Pardon the seemingly random analogy. Finding Nemo is my daughter’s most recent obsession. If you can’t tell, we watch a lot of movies at my house.

But I digress…

Spotify has ruined the music industry because it has made mainstream artists with big budgets and tons of fame even more famous. They’re getting all the attention and all the money while the independent artists continue to starve. Playing for pennies in cheap bars that creepy menfolk frequent often. Mainstream artists don’t need Spotify’s help. They’ve got it made. They’re signed to major record labels with huge amounts of cash and lots of pull with the right people. It’s only the super rich and the super famous who get noticed on streaming platforms. And because those people have massive followings, those streaming platforms actually pay them a pretty decent amount. Unlike independent artists who have tiny followings and make a fraction of a penny per play.

Spotify has ruined the music industry because you can pay $10 or $15 a month and listen to whatever you want, whenever you want, as often as you want. You don’t have to buy records anymore. Which means that artists who actually want to make a living must travel and tour in order to survive. That means they can’t be with their families. They’re constantly on the road living out of a suitcase, which I guess is fine if you’re single, but for someone like me, it pretty much squashes all dreams of becoming a musician. For an independent artist, this is especially daunting, because your average ticket sales won’t come close to that of major mainstream artists. Which means you’re spending months away from home just to make an average income.

What’s the solution to this problem? I don’t have one as of now. If you do, please feel free to leave a comment and share. Meanwhile, I’m off to drown my sorrows with another glass of red. Have a good night. 🙂

The Best Indie Music Venues in Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina has a few good music venues for independent artists. Ever since the NoDa arts district came onto the scene, artists have seen a lot more opportunities to showcase their talents. This post highlights a few of our favorite spots in town.

evening-muse

1. The Evening Muse. This is a great intimate venue for small-time artists who are looking to break through the Charlotte music scene. You could pack a crowd of about 100 people, standing room only. I’ve seen a few bands play here, and it’s always an awesome experience. If you want an up close and personal experience, where you can see beads of sweat dripping from the drummer’s face, this is it.

2. Visulite Theater. Another great intimate venue, but significantly larger than The Evening Muse. A few years ago, we took a limousine to the Visulite to see a local band play and it was an awesome time.

3. The Neighborhood Theater. Once again, a NoDa favorite. What I love about the Neighborhood Theater is that the acoustics are amazing, no matter where you’re sitting. A few years ago a group of us went to see some folk artists take the stage. We started the night front and center, right near the stage, and we ended it in the back upper level area. Everything sounded phenomenal from both spots.

These are all great venues, and they all happen to be located in North Davidson. Not surprising, given the growth the area has experienced in recent years.

If you’re ever in the Charlotte area and going to a concert in NoDa, we highly recommend you start your night at one of the bars in the area. Revolution Pizza has an amazing selection of craft beers. Have a drink or two while waiting for a table to open up at Cabo Fish Taco, and then enjoy some Tavaru Tuna Tacos and jalopeno mashers before you finish the night at the music venue of your choice.

NoDa can be especially hard to navigate on the weekends, as parking is limited. If you have the budget for it, definitely rent a limo or party bus, and it’ll be much easier to get around.

Are there any venues you should stay away from? I don’t normally like to criticize, but I did have a less-than-favorable experience at the Fillmore, when going to see Lauryn Hill. Surprising, since the Fillmore in LA is so reputable. But for me, it was overpriced, and seating was limited to a VIP area that was all the way to the left of the stage – not worth paying the extra $25 just to get a chair. (It didn’t help that I was 8 months pregnant at the time, either.)

In short, if you’re going to see an independent or smaller-time artist in the Charlotte area, try to stick to the NoDa area. All of the venues are nice.