Santa Monica, Calif. (MAY 26, 2020) — On Friday, May 8, 2020, The Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® hosted a Zoom Webinar titled "Keeping The Music Playing!" The all-star conversation, which ran an hour and a half, featured top engineers and GRAMMY® winners Serban Ghenea (The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Pink, Bruno Mars), Gimel "Young Guru" Keaton (Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Beyoncé, Rihanna), Manny Marroquin (Bruno Mars, The Rolling Stones, Lizzo, Lady Gaga) and Ann Mincieli (Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Drake, Mariah Carey, Usher), and was moderated by GRAMMY-nominated producer/songwriter/engineer Ivan Barias (Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Justin Timberlake). Barias is also a Recording Academy Trustee, and both Barias and Mincieli are co-chairs of the Producers & Engineers Wing Steering Committee. Due to overwhelming response, "Keeping The Music Playing!" was then posted on Facebook and can currently be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=294231221737838.
Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director of the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing, welcomed the viewing audience and then turned the program over to Ivan Barias, who set the tone for the session. "Today is a conversation amongst friends, people that have known each other a long time. What we're doing today is in the spirit of sharing a glimpse of what our journey has been like so far in the industry, and also providing some insight and inspiration during these trying times," said Barias. Throughout the session, the panelists shared spirited exchanges and presented a wide array of expertise as they relayed their experiences in recording and mixing. While they confronted many of the difficult issues facing artists, engineers, and producers right now, they also conveyed positive messages that can help us all adjust to the circumstances brought about by the current health crisis.
Highlights included Mincieli discussing how to keep the creative momentum going, the real-world considerations of setting up a recording and streaming facility in a rental house, and how to get the most out of the gear you have with you. Keaton addressed the challenges of recording collaboratively during the pandemic and shared that he teaches his students the guidelines for proper recording, but then urges them to break the rules. Marroquin stressed the importance of learning your gear thoroughly so that you can maximize it, and stated that it doesn't require a lot of plugins to get a great sound. He also shared an anecdote about an artist who sent him a recording to mix with a lot of headphone bleed that Marroquin planned to mute. After learning the artist liked the leakage, calling it "part of the charm of the song," Marroquin left it in, pointing out the lesson that mistakes sometimes add personality in the overall production of a track.
Ghenea voiced his opinion that while some recordings might be technically correct, the magic is in how the track feels. He also mentioned the elements of production and engineering that have been lost because of today’s ability to use an unlimited amount of tracks and avoid making choices in the production process, leaving mixers to sort out the result.
While acknowledging the difficult times we are in, each of the engineers had no doubt that music is unstoppable, and that it will continue to be created and inspiring regardless of the state of the world. Keaton said, "Music is the thing that motivates us. It is the thing that we go to in troubling times. We express ourselves so much through the music; we go to that door during trying times … and these are trying times."
Ghenea echoed Keaton's thoughts: "For me, music is an escape and it always has been. It's the one thing that keeps people moving even when things get really hard."
"When COVID-19 hit, all of a sudden the value of music came back up," stated Mincieli. "I think music gets people from point A to the point B of their lives now more than ever."
Marroquin summed it up: "The music will never go away. You don't need that big console. It's all about your gut and your heart and how you feel. You put a little piece of your heart into every mix. My advice in these times: Music can get us through anything. It's the only art form that will transport you anywhere."
"Keeping The Music Playing!" is the first of what will be an ongoing series of up-close, informative webinars from the Producers & Engineers Wing. Other webinars will be announced shortly.
Photo file: PE_KeepingTheMusic.JPG
Photo caption: A screen shot from "Keeping The Music Playing!," hosted by the Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® and originally streamed on Friday, May 8, 2020. Pictured L-R: Top row: Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director of the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing; Ivan Barias, Recording Academy Trustee and co-chair of the Producers & Engineers Wing Steering Committee; and Ann Mincieli, co-chair of the Producers & Engineers Wing Steering Committee. Bottom row: Gimel "Young Guru" Keaton; Serban Ghenea; and Manny Marroquin. Courtesy of the Recording Academy®.
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