Tag Archives: remix

Three common problems and fixes when editing or mixing music

clean_music_by_fatihakgungorI love helping dance teachers and choreographers have the most outstanding, powerful, and impactful music possible. It’s an honor that so many dance teachers and studio owners entrust me to fix and clean the mixes they create. When DTs send me mixes, I hear three problems most often. They are relatively easily avoided. Here they are with their easy fixes:

  1. Problem — Timing hiccups
  2. Problem — Volume drops
  3. Problem — Poor audio quality

 

  1. Fix for Timing Hiccups — Determine the tempo of every song and align your work to the tempo grid. That means all cutting, moving, etc, is done precisely rather than via guesswork
  2. Fix for Volume Drops — One reason I receive many song edits or mixes with a reduced volume is that when the audio file is created during the Export process, the “Normalize” option is turned on by default. When there are internal peaks in a song that is bounced down with the Normalize option turned on, this results in the ENTIRE mix being reduced in volume. Do not leave the Normalize option turned on! Instead, make sure Normalize is turned off. To avoid digital distortion in these cases, put a peak limiter on your output bus. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, because in most cases, a short digital over will not be very noticeable on most sound systems.
  3. Fix for Poor Audio Quality — Use only original sources. Never import an mp3 into your audio program since an mp3 is a reduction in quality. Always save your mixes at at least 256k bit rate mp3, because to go less than that also results in an audible drop off in quality.

Hope these tips and fixes help you as you put together your edits and mixes! Please feel free to ask me any question about any of this since I truly love to help you have the best music you can possibly have for your amazing choreo!

Control for Me Lately – Janet Jackson

janet-jackson-in-concertDuring a recent presidential debate, one candidate described the other as a “such a nasty woman.” This is not necessarily a bad thing as Janet Jackson fans can attest. With renewed interest in Janet Jackson, Squirrel Trench Audio brings you the newest Janet remix, an intertwining of Control with What Have You Done For Me Lately. Take a listen!

Another Janet Jackson remix from Squirrel Trench Audio is Janet Rhythm Cat:

And Make Me is an edit of that excellent and fun Janet Jackson song:

Squirrel Trench also has an original remix of Rhythm Nation, spiced up specifically for an outstanding dance routine:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Sia’s Elastic Heart Remixed

ive got thick skin and an elastic heartSia’s Elastic Heart is full of passion and heart-pounding drama. And Squirrel Trench Audio is proud to announce an exciting new remix of this amazing song. Full of twists and turns, this 2:59 rendition starts with a lonely heart beat and evolves from a delicate piano into a whirlwind of synth electronics, bass drops, and sharp outbursts, perfect for passionate choreography. If you have a contemporary or lyrical soloist or group, you’ll want to take a listen:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Castle by Halsey

halsey castleHalsey has a haunting and beautiful song out called Castle. Get the official Squirrel Trench 2:51 or 2:21 edited version, for your next jazz or contemporary routine. Editing has been carefully done to provide the best possible foundation for your choreography. Squirrel Trench Audio is your source for clean edits and remixes created specifically for dance routines.

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Prince tribute for dance studios

Purple-RainIt is with great sadness to learn that the amazing musician and talented artist, Prince, has passed away. For many of us, his music is an integral part of the soundtrack of our lives.

It has been my honor to edit and remix some of his amazing music for dance studios and dance teachers. If you are interested in using a Prince song for a dance routine, here is an edited version of one of his songs that has amazing funk, yet is not very well known. It’s popular with the kids these days to say “Werk it!” but more than 30 years ago, Prince was already singing “Let’s Work!”. Enjoy this edit!

Here is Let’s Go Crazy from the movie Purple Rain. This version has all objectionable lyrics omitted, has been remastered, and edited specifically to be optimized for a jazz or tap dance routine:

And for dance studios interested in a mix that pays homage to “The Purple One”, we are pleased to present this 3 minute mix that includes five of Prince’s more popular hits:

This 4:55 production mix starts with Let’s Go Crazy, and includes Let’s Work:

This 4:45 production mix is similar but starts with Purple Rain:

You can get ALL of these Prince edits and remixes for an amazing bargain price in this album:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Revealing the Royals – Desiree’s Dancers

Choreographer/teacher Desiree Johnson runs Desiree’s Dancers in David City, Nebraska, a subsidiary of Barb’s School of Dance in Columbus, Nebraska. Desiree contacted me about a year ago to craft a custom remix for her production called Revealing the Royals. Assistant choreographers for this routine were Melinda Allen, Becky Brandenburg, and Kayla Hollatz. Here is a video of this four-minute masterpiece. Congratulations to Desiree and all of her dancers on a spectacular creation!

Rafaela Montanaro – Pole Sports champion

I am extremely honored to have been chosen to create an original remix for international pole sports champion Rafaela Montanaro. This remix incorporates a classic performance of Le Cygne, combined with an original techno orchestration for part of the piece. Last night, Rafaela competed her original routine at the U.S. Pole Championships in New Orleans, and took second place. This award qualifies her entry into the World Championship in London in July. Congratulations Rafaela!

How to avoid taking a financial loss on music at your dance studio

piano keyboard money billsMusic is a part of every dance studio. Music is used in just about every dance routine. Therefore, it’s important to have a good understanding of the costs of music in your studio, and how to charge appropriately for it, so that you don’t take a loss on your studio’s music expenses.

There are two major expense areas associated with music in the dance studio, Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) licensing fees, and music editing and remixing costs. In addition to these two costs, there are potentially other expenses if you have a competitive studio and audio CDs must be created for competitions. Also, if students expect to receive rehearsal CDs, there is a cost associated with that as well. However, for this article, I will ignore CD-creation costs since today there are online options for sharing music privately with students, and many competitions accept music uploads or submission via iPod or flashdrive.

To find out dance studio’s Performing Rights Organization costs, I contacted the two primary PROs in North America, ASCAP and BMI, and found their published annual fees for different sized dance studios. (Size is determined by total number of students.) I ignored SESAC licensing fees since the number of music artists they represent is a very small fraction of the other two major music PROs, and many dance studios don’t use any music represented by SESAC.

This leaves us with the last major expense in music for a studio; editing or remixing music to optimize it for dance routines. No matter what avenue you use to get your dance studio’s music edited or remixed, whether it’s done yourself, left up to each dance teacher, or if you hire a professional, there is a value associated with music editing that should never be absorbed by the studio nor the choreographer. In my experience, $29 is an average value for editing a song optimally for dance routines. In addition to editing a song, many popular songs today need to be cleaned of inappropriate lyrics, which requires skill and time to do. Also, competitive studios may benefit from having unique remixes created for group routines, especially high-calibre or “elite” teams. These unique remixes can be created at an average price of $99.

I have prepared a spreadsheet, below, showing the total music costs using average studio sizes shared by members of the Facebook group, Dance Teachers’ Network. I have divided the spreadsheet up into three typical studio sizes; a smaller studio with 130 recreational students and no company students; a medium studio with 352 students of which 77 are competitive; and a large studio with 690 students of which 115 compete.

Dance studio music financials 2015

The important thing to note is that in order not to have a loss on the studio’s music costs, these example studios charge a modest annual music fee per student. For many studios, $19 per student will cover all music expenses, and create positive cash flow for the studio, an extra $800 for the small studio example. However, each studio is unique, and will have a slightly different cost structure. After analysis, you may discover that you have a high number of routines per student (such as the Medium-sized studio in this example), and if that’s the case, the annual music fee you charge might have to be $24 or $29 per year in order not to take a loss.

Bear in mind that every studio is different in its approach, in terms of number of students and number of routines performed, and therefore the annual music fee needed to result in a profit and not a loss for each studio is different as well. The important thing is to run the numbers for YOUR studio, so that you come out ahead, or at the very least, break even. (It’s best to build in a small profit cushion to guard against unexpected expenses that always seem to crop up.)

If your studio has never charged an annual music fee before, you may have some dance parents question this new charge (even if it’s pretty small). Keep your explanation simple and straightforward; that this small annual fee covers all of their student’s dance music expenses for the year, including obtaining the license to use the music in their routines from the relevant Performing Rights Organizations, as well as all editing and remixing costs.

Alternatively, in your studio’s market, it just may not be feasible to have an annual music fee to be competitive with other studios in your area. If that’s the case, the music fee of approximately $19 could be added to your regular annual registration fee.

In the spreadsheet above, I have shown two different options (out of many) that a studio could choose in order to create positive revenue associated with the studio’s music. In Plan A of the spreadsheet, the same annual music fee is charged to both Recreational and Company students. However, it’s reasonable to charge Company students a slightly higher music fee since they often perform in more routines, especially solos, or in elite groups which have more expensive custom remixes. Therefore, in Plan B of the spreadsheet, I show the studio’s net music profit if Company students are charged an additional $10 over what Recreational students are charged.

In all cases, this spreadsheet shows how smart dance studios cover their music costs (and even have a few dollars left over). Conversely, studios that don’t charge an annual music fee wind up having to absorb their music expenses from other studio revenue.

If you are a dance studio owner, and have any questions about properly handling music income and expenses for your studio, please feel free to send me an email at morriss@squirreltrenchaudio.com. I’d be happy to provide you with a modification to this spreadsheet using your studio’s exact number of students and routines.

As always, if you have music editing or remixing that you’d like to have done flawlessly and professionally, please email me, visit my Legitmix library, or use this online Request Form.

Happy dancing!

DIY’ers: You should be charging for editing music

It’s a fact, dance teachers and choreographers need to use edited music in their routines. Some choreographers edit their music themselves, others ask a friend or family member to do it, and others send it out to a professional. No matter how you do it, whether it’s yourself, or hiring out a professional to get it done, you should be charging your students (or your studio) when you edit or remix music for the routines that you choreograph.

music-moneyMusic editing and remixing is not free. It takes time, effort and skill. Your dance studio wouldn’t dream of giving away choreography or costumes for free, why would the time and energy to work music into shape for a routine be any different?

Your time as a dance teacher/choreographer is valuable. You charge students (or your studio) for your time in developing choreography and then teaching it to your students. You are paid for that service. When you devote time to creating or editing your music, that’s valuable time you are taking away from other activities, no matter whether that’s family time, time at another job, or time you could be spending creating even more choreography.

If you hire a professional to have your music edited, normally you would not absorb that cost; you should be passing it on to your customers, which in the case of a dance studio, are your students. Therefore, when you do the music yourself, you should still be charging appropriately for the service. If you don’t, you are short-changing yourself.

A good starting point for determining how much you should charge is to take note of the average time it takes you to edit a song. Say it takes half an hour to edit a song, and you charge your studio $50 an hour for teaching dance or creating choreography. In that case, you should charge the studio $25 for the song editing service. If you spend, say, two hours creating a complex song medley for a competitive group routine, then it would be appropriate to charge $100 for the music for that group.

If you are also the studio owner, you should be charging a music fee to cover not only the costs of getting the music into shape for the routines, but also to cover your ASCAP/BMI/SESAC fees. Smart business owners charge a mark-up on services purchased on behalf of their customers to cover the employee time and expense involved in procuring the goods. Studios do this as normal business practice for procuring costumes.  The same should be true for procuring quality music. Say your studio has 100 students, and you pay $600/year in ASCAP, BMI and SESAC fees. This means that the base cost of providing the music licenses to your studio is $6 per student per year. If the studio then charges $9 per student per year as a music usage rights fee, then the studio is covering the cost, plus making a few extra dollars as well.

The same concept applies no matter if you edit your own music or send out a remix to a professional. If you spend $199 to create an exciting and original remix for a group routine with 15 students in it, that works out to $13.33 per student. If the studio charges $15 per student as a music remix fee for the routine, then not only does the studio cover the cost of the exciting remix, the studio is also making a small profit. Here’s an article explaining how to cover all your music costs.

The bottom line is: Don’t sell yourself short.

And when you need a professional to get your music right, Squirrel Trench Audio is at your service. We are thrilled to have helped hundreds of dancers around the US and all over the world, have spectacular music for their routines. And since we understand that cost is often an issue, and costs need to be kept to a minimum in most situations, we have a catalog of music that has already been edited or remixed, and is available for immediate purchase at a price far less than custom editing or remixing.