presented by the DEPARTMENT of Recording Industry at MTSU
2020 Academy sessions have been cancelled
$500 per one-week session
($1000 for both sessions)
custom thumb drive for storing and transferring session files, lunch, and a personalized laminated session ID badge.
Final mastered mixes will be posted online for download/streaming
There are only 12 seats available per session, and registration closes as soon as those are reserved.
Bragg Recording Studios, MTSU
A week of comprehensive studio production, from setting up to tracking, editing, mixing and mastering.
Bragg Recording Studios, MTSU
Chris Young Cafe, MTSU
A week of hands-on experience running sound systems, mixing for audiences and artists, and exploring the concepts of modern large-scale conc...
Chris Young Cafe, MTSU
Hello producers! I hope you’re getting ready for the very first All Access Academy sessions that begin four weeks from today.
To help you prepare for camp, here is some big-picture information as well as details regarding the day to day program. Please note that this schedule is subject to change, depending on the needs of the artist and/or instructors as well as what we completed in the previous day's sessions.
As we have an ambitious production schedule this year, the days will be VERY full. This camp is all about learning by doing, and we’ll get to work right from the start!
Monday: Putting It Together
The All Access Academy will be held entirely in the College of Media & Entertainment on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. If you’re using a GPS to find us, enter “College of Media and Entertainment” or “Center for Popular Music” as your destination and it will guide you right to our door.
Registration opens at 8:00, and you are welcome to arrive any time between 8 and 9 am. If you requested a parking pass, come to the registration table, grab your pass, and then bring it out to your car. You'll need to place this pass somewhere visible on your dashboard or hang it from your rear view mirror all week so that the parking enforcement team knows you’re our guest.
At registration, you will receive a laminated ID badge, your lunch passes, and your personalized USB drive. While you’re waiting, you can talk with me and the counselors to help us get to know you better and answer any of your questions.
At 9:00, we’ll make our way to the first studio to have a look around, take a few minutes for introductions, and discuss what we’re going to do this week. We’ll take a tour through the facilities that we’re using this week, including Studios A and B, the Mix Lab, the Electronic Music Lab, and the Mastering Lab.
By 10:00, we’ll start to look at the roles in the studio, since we have a band coming in this afternoon and we need to get everything set up and tested before they arrive. EVERYONE will be doing hands-on work, and everyone gets a chance to try every role.
Next we’ll start setting up the two main areas: the control room, where we’ll work with the recording console, outboard gear, and the digital audio workstation (DAW); and the tracking room, where we’ll set up all of the instruments, the microphones, and the headphones for the cue (listening) system.
At noon, we’ll head over to McCallie Dining Hall for lunch. McCallie is buffet-style, with multiple stations featuring different kinds of food: pizza, burgers, salads, pasta, and a wide variety of choices, including vegan and gluten-free options. (There’s also an ice cream bar for those who are so inclined.) Of course, if you have specialized food requirements, please let us know in advance so we can arrange accordingly, and you are welcome to bring your lunch if you'd prefer.
At 1:00, we’ll return to Studio B to continue setting up. This includes making sure the mics, cables and headphones are routed and working as expected. Once these are online, we’ll perform a sound check to start getting sounds together.
At 3:00, the band is coming in to say hello, make any adjustments to their instruments as needed, and get levels and sounds for the first song. This will take us right up to the end of the first day at 4:30.
The last thing we will do every day is save our work, make backup copies for everyone, and prepare for the next day's session.
At 4:30, you’re free to go. If someone is picking you up, they can meet you by the front door, in the same place as drop off that morning.
Tuesday: Cutting Tracks
Tuesday is when we really dig in! Please arrive in time to get started at 9:00.
During the morning session, we’ll review the studio setups and make sure all of the lines are working as expected. We’ll check levels for everything and make sure the headphone cue mixes are working properly for all of the band members.
Next, we’ll listen to the demo versions of all of the songs we’re going to record, listening for interesting musical and lyrical choices and for how we can shape the song to be the best version we can produce.
Once everyone is in position, it's showtime! We’ll record the first take of the song, which can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. After the band has completed a successful pass, they’ll come into the control room to review their work, discuss what’s working, and determine what needs to be adjusted. We should be able to complete a master tracking pass of the first song before lunch.
Noon: lunch break @ McCallie
At 1:00, we’ll return to Studio B and listen with fresh ears to our work from the morning session. If needed, we may want to do some editing, piecing together different parts from different takes (performances) to build the final master of the arrangement.
Once the first song is on tape, we’ll start working on song #2, following the same process as the first song. Listen, then discuss, and then play, repeating as needed until the song is working. I will need you to focus during the entire process, since good ideas come from everywhere.
If there’s time available at the end, we may be able to record some overdubs or corrections. This allows musicians to replace sections of the song that they would like to improve or add additional parts to thicken up the overall sound of the arrangement.
At the end of the day, tired but happy, we’ll save everything, make backups, and clean up the studio to prepare for Wednesday's session.
During the morning session, we’ll record any instrumental overdubs needed to make the songs sound full and complete. This can be a time for experimentation to explore options to heighten the song’s emotional impact - we want to set it on fire! (…but in a good way.)
Once we have all of the instruments recorded and edited, we’ll start recording vocals. Although we will record a guide (scratch) vocal during the tracking session, we may need to repair or replace this track. Lead vocals are critically important elements in the song and they have to be right - some bands spend days or weeks capturing just the right vocal performances. Vocal tracking will likely take up us right up to the lunch break at noon.
At 1, we’ll come back and listen one more time to both songs to make sure we have all of the tracks we need. (This also gives us a chance to rest our ears, since relaxed ears and minds hear songs hear more clearly.) If needed, we can record any final overdubs as needed.
After we have all the tracks recorded, we’ll strike the studio setup. All the mics, cables, and headphones need to be cleaned up and put away properly so the next engineer and producers will find the studio ready to go. (Bonus: we’ll learn how to wrap mic cables like a pro!) We’ll also make backups of all of the session data to your USB drive.
Once the studio is cleaned up, we’ll move into the Electronic Music Lab (EM Lab) to add some programmed elements to the tracks. This can include vocal tuning using AutoTune or adding loops or beats using Pro Tools.
Once we’ve edited the tracks and added any groove elements, we’ll make backups and prepare sessions for mixing.
Thursday: Mixing in Stereo + Surround
Starting at 9:00, we’ll meet in the Mixing Lab to discuss the process of performing final mixes for our songs. We’ll explore some of the available processing options, like equalization (EQ), dynamics, and effects, that shape and polish tracks and make songs sound like finished masters.
You may choose to mix “in the box” working entirely in software or you can use the console and spread out the tracks across multiple faders. (Don't worry if you don't understand all of the terminology yet - you will!)
Once you know the goals for the day, we’ll divide into groups, with some mixing in Studio A, some in Studio B, and some in the Mixing Lab. You can choose which song you’d prefer to mix, and you can share programmed elements with each other if you’d like.
At noon, we’ll take a break for lunch and let our ears cool off before getting back to work at 1. When your mix is done for the day, we’ll print a reference mix for you to review at home overnight.
Since you will be mixing individually, you can either watch your fellow producers work and contribute to their process or you can keep working on your tracks in the EM Lab. Be sure to save your work regularly throughout the process.
At 3:30, we’ll all convene in Studio A for a hands-on demonstration of surround (5.1) mixing techniques.
Friday: Mastering + Playback
Starting at 9:00, we’ll listen to your mixes and make one last round of changes. This may require a few small adjustments or may be more involved if you want to dig deeper into the revision process. You will print your final master mix in preparation for mastering in the afternoon session.
At 11:00, we’ll have a guest speaker from Universal Music Group to answer your questions about record labels, including the roles and responsibilities of A&R Management, Sales, and Promotions.
After lunch, we’ll move to the Mastering Lab, where a mastering engineer will review your final mix and perform any changes in tonality or dynamics to make your mix radio-ready.
At 3:30, we’ll put all of the mixes together into a single folder and burn them to individual CDs. We will then have a playback session in the Mastering Lab. You are welcome to invite any guests you'd like to this session to show off your work from the week. The band will also attend this event to share your mixes and take photos or sign your CD.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask -- there are no bad questions! I’m around all summer and will be here for every minute of camp, including getting there early and staying late.
Although we will be using a lot of technologies this week, I'll ask that phones stay muted and put away during sessions. This is out of respect for the musicians, as well as to encourage you to be an active participant throughout camp.
One last thing: I plan to take a LOT of pictures during our sessions of everyone hard at work in the studio. Please let me know if you would prefer that your pictures not be posted online. (You can also tell me if you don't like how you're portrayed in any photo, no problem!)
Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you all soon!
Director, All Access Academy
(615) 898-2553 office