Do you want to produce professional-quality
a cappella recordings and release them on
Spotify, YouTube, and social media yourself?
Are you a member of an a cappella group at university or beyond, who want to release a single, album, or smarten up their social media with quality recordings?
Do you want to learn to make money recording other a cappella groups or multitrack performances with yourself or friends from around the world?
Have you always wanted to know how groups like Pentatonix, The Swingles, Accent, and other professional groups get "that sound" on their records? Or maybe you're looking to create a new, distinctive sound for your group?
Or do you want to make your own music from your bedroom and sound like "the pros" but had no idea where to start?
In this 4-day course in August 2021, run by three of the UK’s top a cappella professionals out of a purpose-built studio in Hammersmith, you’ll learn all this - and much more! Making a good recording isn't just about the technical aspects; it starts well before you first see a microphone and can draw on for months afterwards. You might have already tried to record but been disappointed by the results, or overwhelmed by the decisions to make, or burned by the politics of dealing with lots of people with different ideas. In just under 4 days, we'll teach you the tips and tricks (learned the hard way so you don't have to!) to approach recording a single or album, alter live arrangements for the studio, navigate pre-production, create guide tracks, record block parts and vocal percussion, get a great solo performance, through to working with other professionals to mix, master, press and sell your recordings. The information we'll teach you can save you thousands of pounds in wasted time (and lost friendships)!
Feedback from last year’s graduates:
I’ve been on a couple general music production courses before - this was 100% more fun, wholesome and actually engaging (in that we actually got to do HANDS ON stuff). Being under the direction of these three was a blessing: they have knowledge, creativity, and hands-on experience spilling out of their ears. The studio was awesome, and I came away feeling much more confident and positive about my future in music production!”G-Lo2020 course graduate
Loved: informative & friendly vibe, endless snacks, lots of detail on editing and us all being able to get stuck in on that and have a go! You guys are all geniuses too so it was awesome to be able to work with you all and ask you all the questions our hearts desired!Sara2020 course graduate
thank you SO much for the course. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.Ollie2020 course graduate
I absolutely loved every moment of the Spit ‘n Polish course, from making friends with incredible people and musicians to learning so much about the processes of recording, mixing and mastering. Max, James and Matt are amazing, I learnt so much from them throughout the weekend, from being able to explore the roles of producer, musical director and recording engineer with them by our sides, to sitting in Max’s beautiful studio exploring Melodyne! If I had one comment to make about this course, I wish it had been a bit longer, I didn’t want to leave! TMiranda2020 course graduate
In four days, with no prior knowledge needed, you’ll learn how to:
You’ll be taught by three of the world’s top a cappella specialists, who have decades of experience recording, arranging, and working with collegiate, school and top-tier professional a cappella groups between them! They’re all independent and unaffiliated with any of the big a cappella companies in the US, so they’re fantastically-placed to offer impartial advice about the pros and cons of different creatives and companies. There’ll be a lot of “off the record” chat!
Matt is a graduate of the 2012 “Soup to Nuts” course in recorded A Cappella, run by Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) and Grammy award-winning producer Bill Hare. Since then he has worked as producer and tracking engineer a number of award-winning singles and albums for groups including the Techtonics, Out of the Blue, Afterparty and the Alleycats, and led recording workshops for Voice Festival UK. As a performer (Baritone/VP) he has appeared on ITV, BBC 1 (Last Choir Standing) and Sky 1 (Ultimate A Cappella) in a variety of college and professional groups.
Matt’s teaching at spit+polish will focus on how to save hours, and thousands of pounds, by getting the nitty-gritty of the production process right, such as timetabling, pre-studio preparation and giving feedback to your producers. A qualified lawyer, he’ll also explain how to ensure that your releases are properly licensed and legal!
Max's teaching at spit+polish will focus on the technical and audio skills needed to produce a killer a cappella track.
Where and when is it?
The four-day course will be based out of a purpose-built studio at Max's house in Hammersmith, West London, just a 40-minute ride from Heathrow. It’s excellently sited on the Piccadilly, District, Hammersmith and City & Circle lines, and on the Night Tube. Street parking is plentiful and cheap; and hotels are available nearby!
The course will be from Friday 27 August (starting at 1pm) to Monday 30 August, 2021 (ending around 1pm, though there'll be informal discussion and we'll all go out for lunch afterwards until the early evening). Much of the course will be held in the studio itself; there will be breakout and discussion sessions in the living room and, weather permitting, lessons around a barbecue in the garden outdoors!
How many places are there?
We're limiting this course to 7 attendees so we can make sure you get the best tuition: sign up quick before it sells out!
What will we be learning?
By Monday, you'll have arranged, produced and recorded a track yourselves which you'll release on Spotify and other streaming platforms! The course is heavily practical - so you'll all get hands-on experience of recording and singing (if you want!) yourselves. In addition to this, there'll be a lot of discussion sessions where your instructors will provide a lot of real-world experience and advice, including:
- Planning a recording: well before you set foot in a studio.
- Logistics and scheduling / time management
- Arranging / modifying live arrangements for studio
- Preparing a session: from Sibelius to REAPER
- Tracking and tracking methods (software choices, choosing an interface and microphone, trade-offs between close-mics, area mics, live recordings, gain structure, mic technique / proximity effect, monitoring, latency, room acoustics, etc)
- Getting the best out of your best (and worst!) singers
- Choosing an editor / mix / mastering engineer and understanding their roles in the process
- Ensuring that said other creatives don’t want to kill you
- Introduction to edit / mix / mastering (what do these things do? When and why should I get somebody else to do these)
- Releasing! Album art, videos, timing, EPs vs singles, social media, etc.
- Doing it all yourself – leave with the knowledge of what equipment to buy, and how to use software and interfaces / hardware to record an album affordably yourself at a professional level in your bedroom.
- Budgeting – how much will it cost? How can you save up?
- Legal and administrative issues to releasing recordings of originals or cover songs; dealing with royalties, paying group members, mechanical licenses, and all that fun!
- How to approach and manage recording a group – whether you’re singing with them or not.
- Mix/master overview – watch James and Max go over a track and provide a brief overview of the process.
Where can I stay?
If you're not from London, there are plenty of hotels nearby; the house is excellently sited on the Piccadilly, District, Hammersmith and City & Circle lines, and on the Night Tube. The course begins at 1pm on Friday to give you time to get in from outside London, and you'll be free to go home from early afternoon on Monday, so you'd only need to find a place to stay on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights! (Sunday night will likely be a late or all-night session where all the attendees will produce and record an entire track overnight to be mixed by us in the morning. Breakfast on Monday provided, and beanbags to snooze if you're not an all-night person!)
If you live in London and could potentially host another attendee from outside London, please let us know! Likewise, if you're in need of somewhere to stay, please let us know and we'll try pair you up.
Do I need to bring anything or know anything in advance?
Nothing! This is open to anyone, of any skillset. We’ll walk you through the technical steps to getting a world-class recording, but if you’ve already got a grasp of digital audio workstations, there’ll still be plenty to learn!
If you have a laptop to bring along, feel free (we'll be mostly using the free software REAPER so you'll be able to install it and use it for your own breakout sessions on Sunday evening, and if you have an interface, feel free to bring that along, too, but neither is at all necessary!)
I already know how to use a DAW – is this course for me?
Absolutely! Using a computer and recording with a microphone is the easy bit. Much harder is everything that comes around it - everything from song choice, to release schedules (should you make a music video? Should you release on Spotify? Should you release an album or a single, or just a short Instagram clip?) to the politics and business of dealing with groups, to motivating under-confident and anxious performers to deliver fantastic performances, to navigating the minefield of editing, mixing and mastering options around. There's a lot more to learn than the technical aspect.
The course will be taught in a fairly DAW-agnostic manner; if you already have Logic, ProTools, Ableton Live, Cubase, or any other DAW, there'll still be plenty of take-homes. We'll also talk about the pros and cons and tradeoffs of major bits of software and how to work with different people using different software to you.
How much does it cost?
Earlybird tickets, by Saturday 31 July (limited to 2 places): £495 SOLD OUT!
Regular tickets (limited to 7 places, total): £650
While this might seem expensive, similar courses in the US (Soup2Nuts, Next Level, etc) are around double this price so you're getting a bargain in comparison. Typically, you'd expect to pay over £2000 for someone to produce and record a full-length collegiate album commercially, so this course will easily pay itself off (and more!) if you decide to record your own group's album.
I’d love to come learn, but I can’t afford to pay the course fees. Can I get a grant or discount?
Yes! We're offering a subsidy of one free course place to someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend, or a 50% subsidy to two people; we'd particularly love to encourage people from backgrounds who are underrepresented in music production! We sadly can't help with travel or lodging expenses, but we can try and pair you up with someone on the course to stay with if you need accommodation, and there'll be plenty of snacks and soft drinks kicking around throughout the course!
If you'd like to apply for the subsidy, please fill out the fields at the bottom of the form. The deadline for applying is midnight on Monday 2 July, and we'll be in touch shortly afterwards.
What are you doing about the COVID-19 situation?
If Track & Trace tells you to self-isolate, or government policy changes and we need to postpone the course until a later date, we'll give you a full refund of the course fees, of course, and first dibs on the new dates.