VLOG #5: Decades of Reverb, Royalties & Matt McQueen

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VLOG #5: Decades of Reverb, Royalties & Matt McQueen

Hey folks, Matthew Weiss here, welcome to
the Wednesday show.

Yes, I’m still rocking these glasses, yes,
they do make me look like Bernard from West

World, yes, we’re going to be talking about
Mixing With Reverb today, and in celebration

of that, we’re going to be discussing different
classic reverb sounds through the different

eras of music, and I’m going to be shining
that spotlight on Matt McQueen.

He is the owner, operator of Gem City Studios
in Tennessee, but before we get to that, first

some music news.

Vulture recently reported that Lil Uzi Vert
XO Tour Life 3 has hit 1.3 billion streams,

and from that, his record label, Atlantic,
has recouped 4.5 million, of which he will

receive $900,000, and there’s been some controversy
along this, because people are seeing this

$900,000 figure going to the artist, while
the other 3.6 million is going off to the

record label.

People are saying that is robbery.

Well, let’s break all of this down so we can
really understand what these numbers mean.

First of all, let’s talk about 1.3 billion
streams going into 4.5 million dollars.

That roughly equates to 0.35 cents per stream.

Now, all of these streams are dictated by
what’s called a mechanical royalty.

A mechanical royalty is what represents the
“physical” sale of the record, and when

you’re talking about a voluntary stream, meaning
somebody sees the record and clicks it, most

of the revenue is going to come from a mechanical.

It’s as if the person who is listening has
effectively purchased the opportunity to listen

to that song.

So Spotify reports that 0.6 cents to 0.8 cents
gets paid out over every stream, so that does

leave a lot of money unaccounted for.

The other money that could be getting paid
out could be either in publishing, which would

go to the performance royalty, meaning the
intellectual ownership of the song, which

is traditionally a lot smaller than the mechanical
royalty, or it’s going to some form of shrink,

meaning somewhere along the lines, collectors,
taxes, whatever else may be, is accounting

for this discrepancy between what Spotify
says they pay, and what Spotify is apparently

actually paying out.

However, I don’t have all of the figures,
I don’t have all of the information, so I

don’t know what is really going into all of

So let’s move all of that aside for a moment.

Now let’s talk about the 4.5 million dollars
that’s gone to Atlantic.

That is in mechanical royalties.

Now, traditionally, in a record deal, it is
actually more common to see a mechanical share

go to the artist that is roughly ten percent.

Something — actually, most starting artists,
it’s usually around 9, 9.2.

Some of the better deals throughout the 90’s
and early 2000’s, we saw numbers going up

to 11, maybe even as high as 13.

However, when we do the math here, we see
that 900,000 going into 4.5 million is roughly


Now, a 17% mechanical split from the label
is actually very, very good.

So while people are saying that the artist
is getting ganked, and this is not good, this

speaks to the music business, actually, what
it’s saying is that things are going in a

better direction — that artists are getting
a higher share.

And remember, Lil Uzi is pretty new to the
scene overall.

He is a recent signee to Atlantic, and most
of the time, new signees are the ones who

get the worst deals.

What does this really mean at the end of the

It means that record labels are bidding for

They’re saying, “I can give you more.”

Which is great for people who are aspiring
to come up in the music business.

So instead of getting mad at the labels, I
would say, let’s take this as a good thing.

It’s a good payout, and it’s actually showing
that there’s competitiveness in terms of getting

an artist who’s hot.

Also, shoutout to Lil Uzi Vert, because he’s
from Philly, I’m from Philly, always good

to see someone from the hometown winning.

But now I want to turn this over to you.

What do you think?

Do you think that 17% is actually a really
fair number for a label to be cutting out

an artist, or do you think that 17% is still
remarkably low, considering it’s the artist

who is basically carrying the torch?

Keeping in mind that there are a lot of things
that go into this in terms of promotion, in

terms of production, in terms of the label
advancing money, in terms of the immense risk

the artist takes in even pursuing music to
begin with.

The fact is it’s not a simple issue, and there’s
a reason why a lot of people are not even

looking to labels anymore in 2017.

What are your thoughts?

Alright, it’s spotlight time, and I’m going
to be talking about Matt McQueen.

I met Matt through Warren Huart and Produce
Like a Pro.

I’ve done a few collaborations with that channel,
and Warren is a good friend of The Pro Audio


So Matt was working on some editing, as well
as helping out with some tracking.

We got to talking, I listened to his reel,
and I was really impressed.

The guy is super talented, and he owns a really
cool studio.

It’s in the town of Jellico, Tennessee, which
is maybe about an hour north of Knoxville,

hour and a half south of Lexington, maybe
about three and a half hours east of Nashville,

just to give you an idea.

So before getting into how Matt got started
and everything like that, I just want to play

you something.

This is something that he both recorded and
mixed at his studio.


Now, I have to say, traditionally, I’m not
a metal guy, but that was cool.

There’s so many things I like about that record.

I don’t even really know where to start, but
I’m going to start with the drums, because

I like to start with the drums.

The drums sound fantastic.

Usually, when I hear metal records, one of
the things that really turns me off personally

is that the drums, even when they are real,
tend to sound fake, because of the way that

they’re processed.

They’re processed in a way that hyper articulates
the attack, specifically in the kick, and

tends to cut away all of the tonal things
that are happening in the mid-range.

This is doing exactly the opposite.

We hear plenty of attack and plenty of batter
on that kick, but it sounds like an actual


The snare, we have plenty of high end, we
have plenty of snare band, but it sounds like

an actual snare.


It’s all real.

This is actually the drummer playing the drums.

The guitars sound really high gain-y and very
pushed and forced, but without and real additional

help from the mix.

They’re kind of just living as they are, and
the vocal sounds like a vocalist with space,

and it creates this world in which the more
you turn it up, the more it brings you in.

I can blast it and it’s not cutting my head

Instead, it’s just making me feel like I could
lift up a truck.

So that band is Gravel Switch, the song is
called House of Cards, and the recordist and

mixer is Matt.

He did it out of Gem City Studios, which I
want you to take a look at.

You can go to gemcitystudios.com, because
here’s the thing.

As musicians that are aspiring to do bigger
shows, create amazing records, sometimes it

can be really challenging to get into studios
that have an amazing sound, without paying

an arm and a leg, but because this studio
is located a little off the beaten path, there’s

less overhead, so it is a more affordable
studio, with no sacrifice to quality.

It just requires taking a little bit of a
trip if you don’t happen to be located near

Jellico to begin with.

Okay, let’s talk a little bit about Matt real

I think that the reason why Matt is so good
at what he does is because he was in bands

and was a touring musician for a long time,
and he experienced what worked with the crowd.

I feel like on an innate level, you have to
understand the music that you’re making in

order to make it sound great, and because
Matt has lived it, he is able to reproduce

that feeling when he is recording and mixing.

So gemcitystudios.com.

Go ahead, check it out, contact Matt, book
that studio time.

Alright, so now I want to talk about the use
of reverb in music from a historic perspective.

I’m going to start with the very beginnings,
where we didn’t really hear any augmented

reverb at all.

[Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”]

So in early recordings, before the 50’s, we
were hearing basically just what they were

giving us.

At the times, that was one mic put in front
of the vocals, an orchestra in the back, so

we hear instruments with reverb, because it
is the actual room tone.

We hear the vocalist very dry, which can be
really effective, actually.

When you listen to Billie Holiday’s Strange
Fruit, and you listen to Gloomy Sunday, those

songs are painstaking to listen to, because
they are so stark, and it becomes evocative.

Now, if we fast forward to the late 50’s and
the early 60’s, we start hearing the use of

echo chambers much more commonly.

[Frank Sinatra, “Luck Be a Lady”]

Now, there’s a very clear extra tail that’s
being tucked underneath Sinatra’s vocal here,

and that’s a dedicated room with a speaker
in it and a microphone in it, where his vocal

is being ported to, and then redubbed underneath.

This is the famous Capital Records echo chamber
that we’re hearing here.

That was a very dominant sound in the late
50’s to basically up until the 70’s.

Now, once we get to the 70’s, that’s when
things start getting really interesting.

This is where Psychedelic Rock starts really
coming into play, and we start hearing reverb

being used as its own musical tool, not just
something that exists on the instruments.

[Led Zeppelin, “When the Levee Breaks”]

Now, this famous example, When the Levee Breaks,
is the natural ambience.

It is the sound of Headley Grange, there is
a large stairwell and a stereo pair of ribbons

was placed at the top to pick up the drums,
and that’s the primary sound that we’re hearing,

but what we’re hearing as well is an acknowledgment
of how big space can emotionally affect us

and deliver power and intensity.

Now, let’s listen to probably the quintessential
Psychedelic Rock, Pink Floyd.

[Pink Floyd, “The Great Gig in the Sky]

Once we get into the early 70’s, about 1972,
1973, we start hearing a lot more presence

of plate reverb being used, because the advent
of solid state amplification allowed for a

more reliable circuit, and therefore, a less
expensive creation of the EMT 140, and so

what we’re hearing on this record here is
an EMT stereo 140 on basically everything,

and that’s that quintessential, shiny sounding
reverb that we then hear for basically the

next ten years, pretty frequently.

Then, we get to the 80’s, where digital reverb
starts really taking over.

[Tears for Fears, “Mad World”]

So what we’re hearing in this song, Tears
for Fears, “Mad World,” is what I believe

is a Neve RMX 16, which is an early digital
reverb, and it’s being gated, meaning it’s

going through a device that truncates the
tail, which is what gives it that burst, stop

kind of a feel, and this was everywhere on
the 80’s, and I’m going to now play probably

the most 80’s song that ever 80’s-ed.

[Bon Jovi, “You Give Love a Bad Name”]

So there, we’re hearing a whole bunch of different

We’re hearing the actual natural sound of
the studio, which is very large, and then

we’re also hearing a Lex 480-L, the digital
plate, which is also being very hard gated

on that snare again, because 80’s.

You know.

Anyway, let’s fast forward now to the modern

Here’s a reverb that I’ve been listening to
again and again.

I have it semi-reverse engineered, but I haven’t
totally picked it out.

[Katy Perry, “Rise”]

So here’s what I theorized it to be.

Basically, this is now using reverbs in a
very creative and artful way, which we’re

hearing a lot these days.

What we hear is a hall reverb, what I believe
is a convolution in Altiverb, and I think

it’s an impulse of the Bricasti M7, and we
hear it on both the bass synth, and we hear

it on that filtered kick drum, which creates
this very big, scopic stadium sound, but it’s

like — it’s like a forever stadium sound.

The lack of high end makes the drums feel
like, humongous somehow.

Then we hear Katy Perry’s voice, and I believe
what’s happening is that her voice has that

same Hall reverb on it, and then there’s also
a delay that is being ridden in and out on

a fader, and that delay is going directly
into the Hall reverb as well.

So if you really listen to the tails of the
voice, you hear this like, “uh uh uh”

thing that’s happening inside the reverb.

[Katy Perry, “Rise”]

You hear a delay inside of it, and that I
believe is what’s creating this very scopic

sound, in addition to a very long pre-delay
on these very, very reverberant vocals.

Alright, so the idea of this is not to necessarily
give you information that you’re going to

copy, but maybe to give you a playlist of
some records that I think you should listen

to as study, and also to give you some ideas
as to how different reverbs were being used.

You know, get the ball rolling and doing some
research, and can you reverse engineer all

of it?

Can you recreate all of it in the box?

It’s pretty tough to do that, but what you
can do is use it to inspire your own creativity,

and then when you make a humongous record
with a brilliant sounding reverb on it, then

you can let people 20 years, 30 years, 40
years down the line try and figure out what

you did, when in fact what you were trying
to do is just something that you innovated

yourself in attempting to do something else.

Alright folks, you know what the story is.

If you dig this video, I need you to hit that
like button.

That’s going to give me that inspiration and
motivation to keep doing what I’m doing, and

if you want to get that information sent to
you in your e-mail or whatever it may be,

you’re going to need to hit that subscribe
button too.

Those subscriptions help keep this channel
going, so please click it.

And of course, Mixing With Reverb is out.

The link to that is in the description.

I touched on reverb a little bit here talking
about it in general terms, but I get really,

really detailed, really specific, and really
under the hood for reverbs in that particular

tutorial, so I hope that you check it out.

Alright guys, until next time.

VLOG #5: Decades of Reverb, Royalties & Matt McQueen

Mixing with Reverb: http://mixingwithreverb.com
Matt McQueen: http://www.gemcitystudios.com/

About The Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

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