Dec Cluskey was honoured as one the the top
ten most influential people of the past
forty years in the Music Industry by
Marshall Amplification. He was presented
with a gold plated Marshall Amp covered in
white Connolly leather by Jaguar Cars "
- Could he help your music
Minute With Dec'
is the widest read Music Ezine on the Net and can be
yours each Sunday for FREE....
"Lou has [yesterday] got herself reading the news, weather reports and on the spot outdoor news interviews, plus voice overs and her own late night 'love-in' three hours on Sovereign Radio and Arrow Radio...all through talking with me and following my advice precisely and exactly with NO VARIATIONS. Is she happy? And she sealed all that in one day! She looked stunning, talked stunning, her interview skills were stunning, she had the right demos with her [stunning!]." - Louis Amor
This original, first,
Q&A started it all - a long time ago.....Dec
Cluskey answers real questions from real music
makers. The answers are not revised to keep
up to date and represent the relative answer at
the time - thus they provide an accurate history
of progress in our music game:
Reference: check the questions, could answer a
major worry in your mind.....
(2) "Do you know of any
venues I could contact for gigs? Go on, just a
(3) "Recording vocals
& guitars on P.C.?"
(4) "Do you have to
have a Potential Hit song before having good
(5) "Midi leads - worth
soldering your own?"
(6) "R & B, Hip Hop
- what is it?"
(7) "Producers - what
do they really earn?"
a CD to you today with one ditty on
it - I would not have written something
like this prior to joining 'The
Serious Writers Guild'
the material is sinking in I'm behaving
differently in alot of ways.
particular song is by FRISCO which
is Helen and I. This is the demo version
it needs editing and producing and I
intend to do two further remixes. I'm
going back next Thursday to continue work
on it if you would be kind enough to give
me your views before then I would be
A couple of
points to IMPROVE and get the most
out of your talent:
* You have
to remember a *toon* is a hit in the first
ten seconds......this has a great first
five seconds (good sounds but a very
boring, heard a million times before 808
* You have
to decide whether you are creating a chart
*toon* hit or a dance hall hit...a chart
hit MUST NOT be more than 3.30 [and
there is not even an argument there!].
There is no
time to *develop* ideas, the track has to
grab you by the throat in ten seconds and
keep grabbing you for the 3.30 with
not a split second of anything mundane,
usual, or boring. This track is neither
one thing nor the other. YOU CANNOT MIX
THE TWO GENRES.
other hand the *sounds* are too *all heard
before* (except the very start) for a
dance hall hit. It's not *hard* enough,
the sounds have got to be *evil* in the
extreme, they have to cut your ears off
with *hardness*. When you do a filter
sweep (as you have on this track) it has
to be EXTREME, not apologetic.
Affect on a voice has got to be totally
*over the top* to gain attention. The
track has got to be *outragious* to be a
Hit. *Nice* and *pretty* doesn't make it
have got to be more *bare* [no rhythm at
times] for dance and also the lead vocal
should be much more *affected*. I would
take that vocal and sample it at say 3,000
hz so it sounds like a crappy sample from
an old 45rpm record. You need to make the
vocal much more agressive. It all just
sounds too nice to be a dance hit. More
*balls*...more *screaming*, more
*aggression*. Much more *movement* in the
* For a
*toon* hit you just have to have a huge
vocal arrangement. There is ZERO on
this track. First sign of an *amateur*,
*self produced* track.
isn't a great vocal hook line....so
important for a dance hit..."What
she gonna look like with a chimbly on
her?" "King of my Castle" sort
of line. The sort of line you can repeat
and repeat...check out any dance
hit....there are two, three differing
lines maximum....yours sounds like poetry
put to music with not one memorable line!
(sorry to be blunt!)
way of ensuring there is a hook is to play
the track to anyone for thirty seconds and
ask them the title. If they can't answer,
or give the wrong answer, then you haven't
got a hook line....simple?
****** You MUST HAVE
more hooks than a pirate convention
For a dance
hit you have to have memorable
instrumental melody lines....lines that
are simple, repetitive and when heard, are
instant floor fillers. Best recent example
to explain this easily is : "The
Launch" (DJ Dean) an instantly
memorable sound (now so copied) with a
great huge melodic hook.
You have a
great talent.....but you have to *learn*
and then *observe* the rules that make
Hits. Dance Hits are not just rhythm and a
bit of a vocal.....they are carefully
constructed, artistic, commercial, Million
sellers....just as Beethoven was the dance
guy of his day, so you have got to think
that way today. Be a Tchaikovsky, a
Dvorak, an Aaron Copeland.
other hand if it's a top Three Chart
*toon* Hit you are aiming at, you must
*study* the Top three in great detail, and
again *observe* the rules. The rule book
is repeated every Sunday at 4pm on almost
every radio station in the world.
"Why create mediocrity when you
can copy genius?"
the spending! Also, next time you send a CD
to ANYONE please put all your
contact details on...just like the
cassettes of old, they get chucked on a
table, a chair, a car seat....get mixed up
with all the other unlabeled stuff, then
when the guy wants to play his latest
*find* to his head of A & R he
can't find the CD.....make sense?
don't go down the road of: Sung by ME,
played by ME, written by ME, produced by
ME, copyright held by ME, published by ME,
floor swept by ME, coffee made by ME,
studio painted by ME....get what I mean?
Simple is best...and you will get mighty,
professional, successful ideas on labeling
Serious Writers Guild'
"where the 'lil guy gets the same
chance as the big guy"
for your advice. I'll get on it. Do
you know of any venues I could contact
for gigs? Or is this another part of
just a couple names..please!
sort of Gigs I deal with are main
stream big venues. Theatres,
start your career I always advise
using the 'free sample'
technique....if you are good live, and
well rehearsed, it works with a
vengeance (it's all in my releases).
But first you need 'an act', something
that is going to get you rebooked and
tour of your 'local' vicinity, meaning
the area you can cover with your
'band' with the transport available.
And by that I mean reliable transport
[no booker likes bands who break down
and don't turn up].
out the wine bars, pubs, discos, small
venues that can handle your band at
this stage of your delelopment. Chose
a quiet time. I.E. a time when the
boss is there, when he can spare you
five minutes to talk.
your 'sales pitch'. It will be nerve
wracking the first time you do it, but
like s*x it gets better every time you
basic thing you are selling is this:
"Let me bring in my band, we will
do half hour for free. If you like it
then we can negotiate and we can do
say another hour. Usually we can do
three half hours/two 45 minutes/ two
hours with a break....we can also have
disco stuff with our own DJ as an extra
It's a great night's
contained, cost effective because
everywhere we play we build up a
following. Within three weeks you
won't be able to move in this place.
You will have queues down the street
every night we play here".
a CD together as fast as you
can for merchandising (NOT TO SEND TO
RECORD COMPANIES). Then posters,
10X8' pictures, brochures. Again all
the tricks for merchandising you learn
from the releases and talking to me
....how much did I take at our two
concerts last night and night before?
(it would frighten you!)
merchandise gives the opportunity for
your band guys and yourself to sign
autographs, have a good rapport with
your audience and get their
addresses....don't even bother to get
them to write to an address you give 'em...they
won't do it. You have to be proactive.
Get their addresses, enter them on a
computer database (I use Word Data
merchandising will make a ton of dosh
to upgrade equipment, transport,
enlarge lighting rig, smoke, lasers. NOT
TO WASTE IN STUDIOS.
fanbase. 'Toploader' had 38,000
database when they went to Sony for a
deal. A guy I know currently has
47,000 and hasn't a deal yet (his
material is ill advised and un
Companies LOVE database.
new CD you make will
automatically sell to your fan
first venue builds and builds...other
venues come on line...pretty soon you
are selling and selling, database
coming out of your ears, queues down
the street...the buzz in your
immediate district is electric....fly
posting for the bigger venues...you
are huge county wide...then you get an
agent (I will advise on this) then
maybe a manager (a minefield if you
don't follow what I say).
demos are better and more tuned to
what an audience wants.....cos' you
can test them on the audience ['Artful
Dodger' have this technique worked to
a fine art].
IT'S PIG EASY TO GET A RECORD COMPANY
INTERESTED....record deal? They
would be mad not to!
venues, bigger gigs, festivals, Radio
One roadshow as newcomers.....HUGE
fanbase, venues packed...you have to
have security....record deal...Top of
the Pops....FORTUNES! You learn
all the 'business' side from 'The
Serious Writers Guild' so
when you make serious money you don't get
WOULD YOU DO IT?
all the stuff I teach and advise...it
is not theory...this is how the
Industry works....the way no one will
tell you, except me! 'The
Serious Writers Guild'
releases tell you all this in great
detail.....but you have to do
it...every bit of it. songwriting?
Record contract? Writing a hit record?
Is it easy!
"where the 'lil guy gets the same
chance as the big guy"
I've been attempting to record
music using a $7 PC microphone and
various music software packages.
Listening to most people's
contributions on this group, using 4
or 8 tracks and guitars, midis, etc.,
everything seems to have a much better
a lot of money to spend, what would be
the best way to record an electric
guitar through my PC. Would a pre amp
be sufficient, or is there something
else. Thanks for your help. Rick
my members report having nightmares
with the sort of set up you seem to
have. Cubase VST?
two guys who get reasonable results
but can't get around the fact that all
comes out as a two part left / right
image. One however has started to only
put the 'live' stuff i.e. guitars,
vocals etc. on the computer and then
runs all the other stuff, synths and
all midi driven music through his
analogue mixing desk.
doesn't use any sounds at all from
cards etc. driven by the computer. He
also tries to limit his use of
'onboard' effects for the live stuff.
Prefers to use effects available from
his effects modules abvailable on the
boils down to this:
record everything on the VST
and mix everything on the VST
then it will always sound 'small'. You
get the 'size' from using the most
number of separate sound modules and
most importanly the most number of
instance, I would use on back vocals
three tracks of each line...so in a
four part vocal arrangement I woul use
twelve tracks of vocals....I would
then use Roland RSS (Roland Surround
sound) to give me that extreme
LEFT/RIGHT and also a double of
the vocal sound...can you feel how HUGE
this sound is getting already?.
then use a Lexicon tailored to give
maximum 'life' without losing that 'in
yer face' and 'up to your nose' six
feet in front of the speakers sound
which is so exciting. Now a repetive
echo which just, sort of sits there,
and you only hear in a break...this is
thickening the vocal arrangement even
final two effects are a 'vocal
enhancement' which you just have to
use and use and use over and over to
really get to know what can be
achieved with it. Hard to describe but
what I am looking for is for the
vocals to sound 'unaffected' but be so
exciting (Destiny's Child, Honeyz). Of
course before all the effects I will
use a bog standard compressor/limiter
(maybe a behringer composer on
automatic). I will look to get the
whole vocal so aggresive in sound and
so hard and 'CLOSE'.
I'm getting carried away here....
the question...a $7 PC mic.....NAAAAAH!
Depending on what suits the ambient
sound of your studio (it's that that
makes or breaks any live sound) use a
bog standard Shure SM58...you can pick
em up in discount music stores for
maybe $50. Don't even bother to buy a
second hand one...and always service
the grill and the pop foam on a
monthly basis (nobody ever does...it
makes a h*ck of a difference). Just
wash the foam carefully and dry it.
Clean the grill with a dry toothbrush.
module for your guitar (electric?) If
you want to record acoustic join my 'The
Serious Writers Guild'
...I record the best acoustic sounds
in the world based on tricks learned
from 30 years of the best players in
current module is the Marshall JMP
1, still the best around...don't
even try to get that b*ll breaking
sound from your Fender Twin
Reverb...It'll break your heart! Yep,
Jim Marshall's JMP 1 through an
excellent effects unit or two or three
(as the vocals) will give you that
'killer' sound you have dreamed
of....you WILL get that sticky
feeling in your jockeys!
lecture over...can you tell I like
people learn from their own mistakes
Brilliant people learn from
other people's mistakes"
about a few contacts? I will leave it
totally up to you.
all is well - we have just signed 3
songs for albums in Canada and and to
USA - so things are moving slowly but
surely in the right direction.
to you soon
do come up with 'the goods' then I
will be more than pleased to bring it
to my 'contacts'.. I have some very
heavy duty guys who are pals of
mine...my problem in life is that I
forget who I am sometimes and then
wonder how these guys want my company!
Make sense? For instance, Judith
Chalmers wouldn't leave me alone the
other night at a birthday party of a
mutual friend....I don't know the
woman! I do now, however! (not that
problem I always have is that I am
actually a PRODUCER of Hit
material. So it is extremely hard to
impress me with a demo...just like it
is extremely hard to impress a head of
A&R of a major...exactly the
same...we went to the same
school....we can spot talent,
attitude, flair, ability....and
provided the youth and the looks are
there, we can certainly make stars....
then when a Hit song comes along...WOW!
It smacks you between the eyes! I get
thirty/forty demos a week...all tired
15 years too late stuff that is really
nothing to do with the charts today! I
am steeped in the charts....because I
have to be and also I love it.... I
have just been commissioned to produce
a new two boy outfit...got the first
demo ....WOW! Now that's what I
call a potential Hit demo.
repeat Chrissy, if you feel you have
got one that slots straight in between
the Number one this week and the
Number three let me have it...I'll
certainly get action on it! The
Industry NEEDS Hit songs and
Hit recordings...or didn't you notice?
kisses....(oh no, not Judith Chalmers
Subject: Re: Midi DIY guy?
My first question is, I wanted to take
a male midi cable cut-off the plug
from one end,
add 2 female midi plugs to the cut
side then, solder the green to green,
red to red etc., should this make a
I've noticed the female midi jacks
don't have the easy red, green,etc.
coloring, how will I know what point
to solder to on the female midi jack?
merge is like black magic and it's not
even worth while bothering to
understand it...better use your time
to write a Hit song! Soldering
like that will only make your whole
system unreliable. The last thing you
want when you are 'flying' with ideas
is a solder joint to let you down.
is a Company here in the UK called
Philip Reece who make every
conceivable combination of plug in
midi stuff..one in, two out...... two
in eight out, and every combination is
switchable....another handy box is the
Nexus Plus midi merger...I'm looking
at one now!
I will mount a midi splitter in the
back of each rack box so that all the
modules get the best midi signal...so
no failures (I daren't have failures
on a huge Hit mix!) Also, I have a
spare midi merge box connected in line
for a visiting session musician or
musicians....it then is pig easy to
just plug in and away we go....
Marcus, not worth the effort soldering
and worrying....write a hit song and
you won't have to worry about the
expense....they're dirt cheap
anyway.....'one in three outs' are
sometimes given away free with UK
Music Magazines! That's how cheap they
Subject: RE: hardcore hip hop
you must be sick of me...
you say R&B do mean the sort of
Craig David / Artful Dodger stuff that
fuses it with dance or garage, I mean
that I could do, and hip hop beats I
can do in my sleep I was hip hop mad
when I was kid.
wanna get started so you can eat your
B covers a multitude today, the edges
have become totally blurred...for
instance the last Mel C track became R
& B just because Lisa Left Eye was
on it....the last R Kelly became R
& B just because it was R Kelly
(it was really an 'Unchained Melody'
type ballad) the DJ's got round that
by calling it retro R & B. So yes
Artful Dodger could be...although it
didn't figure in the R & B
charts....who knows anymore? It's a
flavour more than a genre now....Jay
Kay gets on that chart just because
he's not totally white...as I have
said I put Beggy (my black rapper) on
everything I do now just for that
flavour....and it works!
Do you mind me asking how a
producer earns his wedge is it just a
fee or do you get a royalty on the
tune as well? Are you employed by a
label i.e EMI or someone? If you are
able to help me an I write a hit song
how does it work? I mean I'd rather
just sell the song to an artsist or
publisher. I always hear the figure
30k? do you get royalties for
broadcast as well or do I lose my
rights to it if I sell it? I know a
mate of a mate's mate who does that he
sells stuff alot to Germany it's
dancey sort of stuff. My mate said he
get's 30k a track an I've seen the
Porsche to prove it. James
lot of question at once...I’ll try
to get through them...I would suggest
for a more in depth go to the Q &
A’s of this www.makehits.co.uk site
where I talk about the relationship of
a producer to making hit records,
writing hit records, record deals,
performing and making money from
off a reputable producer may just
charge a ‘one off’ fee.
Particularly if he does not know the
product or more to the point has no
faith in the product. Get me? In other
words he is earning a fee for an
amount of work done.
is excited by the act then will want a
fee up front and a percentage, in
other words 'advance against
you employed by a label i.e EMI or
freelance, thus can be contracted to
any Record Company, Production
Company, Artiste. The Record Companies
do have ‘in house’ producers, but
I would much rather have an outside
freelance Producer who is genuinely
interested in the Project and excited
with the prospects. An ‘in house’
guy is doing it ‘cos he ‘has
you are able to help me and I write a
hit song how does it work? I mean I'd
rather just sell the song to an artist
that from every new writer when they
join my ‘Serious Writers Guild’
first. If that was the real way it
works we could all swan off to The
Carribean, laze on the beach while
some dude sells our songs and we just
pick up the mail with the checks in!
Nice world eh?
about it....almost every band/artiste
in the Record Business writes. So why
should they want your songs? And
don’t even mention the acts that
don’t write....you would be 367th in
the queue behind all the great writers
who are tried and tested and deliver
the Hit Songs every time!
always hear the figure 30k? Do I get
royalties for broadcast as well or do
I lose my rights to it if I sell
what? If that is a ‘buy out’, in
other words, a Publishing Company will
buy your title lock stock and barrel.
Then that is a mighty amount of money!
I don’t know any Publisher that
would risk paying that money to an
unknown..do you? If you do let us all
know the name...we’ll all rush
around there tomorrow. It is normal
nowadays for a TV Company to buy
outright the rights to a theme tune
written for a show or series. They
were bitten very badly years ago by
somne of the big theme tunes
(Coronation Street in the UK, ‘Only
fools and Horse’ etc.)
royalties if you sell:”
completely on the deal you do...I have
heard stories of bands getting a
£30,000 advance against royalties
(advances ALWAYS are recouped by the
Company before they pay out anothe
cent...a point totally misunderstood
extreme case of a stunning new band
coming along and a ‘bidding war’
starting between Publishing Companies,
then there could be a straight
‘signing fee’. This can also
happen when a current Star writer
comes to the end of a contract period
then he/she may go to another company
at a heck of a signing fee. However
most writers in this position would
start their own company. So:
it outright - no more royalties 2.
Advance against royalties, you still
eventually pick up royalties when the
advance is recouped by the Company 3.
Signing fee...you get the fee plus all
know a mate of a mate's mate who does
that. He sells stuff a lot to Germany,
it's dancey sort of stuff. My mate
said he get's 30k a track an I've seen
the Porsche to prove it.”
know how many times I’ve heard that?
Again I say: can you find out who is
paying this £30,000 a track...we’ll
all form a queue at his door!
Porche...do you know how many drug
dealers have Porches?
realistic ‘purchase’ of a track
would be in a ‘non-exclusive’
deal, in other words, the maker of the
track still retains the right to sell
it elsewhere according to the
limitations of the contract. The usual
price at time of writing is around
£1,000. If you are lucky, you might
get 5% as well, although my advice
would be to not depend on seeing the
royalties!. This price is completely
dependent on the reputaion of the
writer and performer of the
these tracks end up on obscure
compilations. The guys who put them
together want the best product at the
cheapest price...and there are
thousands of bedroom produced dance
tracks around....£1,000? You’d be
extremely lucky to get that.
I will send you a brilliant
extra book that will amaze you: "So
You're Thinking of Mastering"
..... the book that tells the secrets of making
your demo sound like a finished, shop bought,
You can't lose by
signing up for THE
SERIOUS WRITERS GUILD - at the very worst you
just get your money back AND you get to keep all
the valuable course materials I've given you. In
fact, it's completely RISK FREE - with all the
materials I'm going to give you, you can ONLY
benefit in your music career.
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also at denton road, meads in the UK.
Also at: Il Cortes Del Golf, El Paraiso, Benavista, Costa