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Attended sessions are when you are here in the studio with me. Unattended sessions are when I am working alone in the studio on your project when you are not here, following your instructions as to what work you want to be done.
To get started, be prepared to send a deposit of $180 to book a session date, which is 3 hours of studio time paid upfront. This guarantees that we are going to get to work. For unattended sessions, the same applies, as I need a retainer before I can start working on your project. Some static tasks like tape transfers can be estimated exactly. Music production that is being directed by the artist cannot be accurately estimated, e.g. I don’t know how many takes of your vocal you will need to do until you like it.
Billable time starts when you arrive, or 15 minutes after our scheduled start time, whichever comes first. This generous policy is a courtesy to avoid anxiety about unexpected delays in arriving at your session that sometimes happen. Please endeavor to be on time for your session. I will be looking for you and calling during that 30 minutes. If you need to postpone, please do that at least 24 hours in advance.
At the end of the session, you are expected to pay the balance due before leaving the studio. If we are working on a big project continuously every day, I typically will take initial payment, installments every week, and final payment.
Session files and high-resolution mixes cannot be released until the balance due is paid.
Unattended sessions/working remotely:
I will work on the list of things you request, be it mix revisions, editing changes, etc. All work performed is work billed, carefully logged. Payment due for work performed is not contingent upon which work you use or prefer vs ideas that are rejected. While I am working efficiently by the hour to meet your satisfaction, my submissions to you are not an audition, it is billable time. If we wrap the session, stop the clock, and you leave, the session is considered ended. If you need further work done and request new files or changes after you leave, then that will start a new unattended session, billable in fractions of an hour against your balance.
Digital Assets a/k/a Your Files:
Files can be sent before the session but will be downloaded and input into the recording session at the start of the session. All files take time to upload and transfer and need to be transferred on the clock whether it is to a hard drive or to a cloud drive.
I normally record and mix in Pro Tools. If you need to go back and forth with a studio that has a specific DAW, let me know so I can work in the right program. If you have a sample rate preference, tell me from the start. I will usually record on WAV files at 24-bit, 88.2kHz unless there’s a technical reason that requires another resolution and speed.
I keep a backup or two of all the project files and recordings while we are actively working on your project. I try to keep a backup of your files forever, as I am often the first person asked for backups. That said, you should also have a full backup of all the session files on your own hard drives. Bring your own hard drive or flash drive, 128GB or larger to be safe. If years have gone by and I need the space your files may be deleted.
I will make rough mixes of the progress of ongoing work. Ideally, I will run off a mix before we move on to the next song, so that when we’ve wrapped our session, the mixes are done as well. For roughs and final mixing, the files are clearly marked with the version number and the date, so we can keep track of everything.
Most clients prefer the convenience of having a high-quality mp3 of their mixes uploaded to a private cloud folder, and I send a link where you can download the files or stream them on your phone. Currently, I am using Dropbox. Once a song is done, full-resolution files can be uploaded or copied to a hard drive for wherever they need to go. Mind you the links are not permanent! If you have a sound file that you listen to repeatedly on the link I’ve sent, please download that file rather than a stream, as I periodically purge the archives of non-active work.
The link to your client folder will be the same if you are an ongoing client. If I upload new files, the link remains the same. However, you may need to refresh your browser in order to see the new files. Some browsers that appear stubborn need more than a refresh; you may need to open a new window and visit the link there. If I have deleted your folder, then you should get a 404 error. I am happy to upload your files again, but please remember to download them if you want to keep them.
Sending Files to Oxiliary:
Send uncompressed or zipped files via Dropbox, Google Drive or any similar service to [email protected]
Getting Session files vs Stems:
A session file is the project file opened by the Digital Audio Workstation, like Cubase or Pro Tools. It’s a relatively small file with all the mixer settings, and then the sound files are in a separate folder. The sound files themselves typically are an unmanageable mess without the project file to put everything in the right place. Session files need to be opened in the same DAW they were tracked in with all the same plugins. The DAW session has all the faders, plug-in, effects, and so on, and is completely recalled when you open the file.
Stems are sub-mixes of individual instrument groups, with their mix treatments permanently applied, so they are mostly unchangeable once rendered. A stem can also be of one channel rendered out. The idea is that when you play all the stems together at the same level, it will sound the same as the final mix. In music production, having stems provides a way of being able to edit the song or change a mix a little even if you don’t have the original session with the DAW software, plugins, settings, and whatever else is in the original session file. Additionally, a simple bounce or “consolidated” copy of each audio track can be rendered in order to initiate an entirely new mix of the untreated files.
Stems are rendered out however you like, either in a few stereo pairs of instrument groups or can be of each track. A new batch of audio files is made. All the rendered files start at the same point in time so they line up in sync.
Hint: A session file is like a Powerpoint document with different fonts and photos in it, and making stems is akin to printing it out on paper.
Getting the session files to take away is a matter of a cloud upload or copying files to a hard drive, which can be done as a background task. Making stems requires some work, and therefore incurs billable session time. Rendering stems for bigger sessions may require more steps, so each song can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to parse out into stems and organize the files.
Note that the word “stems” used here is a general term for rendered files, not the new open-source 4-track file format called Stems.
Oxiliary, it’s a small place. I can record bands with 4-5 members, which can get crowded if everyone comes into the control room to listen. The control room is a comfortable working environment for four, five people, including me. I have had 9 people in there, and that was a party, not a session. In my tracking room, I can comfortably accommodate 3-4 people when there’s a drum set and guitar players, etc., and once more through the glass in the control room with me.
Most projects are 1-2 people doing overdubs or mixing. I would recommend having friends pop by for break time only.
Oxiliary Studios has some space to hang, like the back alley, the common area by the kitchen, the benches in the hall outside the mix room. You’re welcome to make yourself comfortable there if space inside my studio is limited.
Oxiliary Studios has one bathroom, a mini kitchen, a french press, a kettle, a microwave oven, and a refrigerator. I will make coffee or tea for you anytime. Get food delivered, of course. There are many restaurants and bars as well as a couple of markets.
Oxiliary Studios has been configured in a way that allows flexibility in the recording setup to accommodate your needs. Oxiliary is a more traditional setup where everything is set up and struck at the end of every session, so there is naturally more time needed to get everything wired up and mic’d, headphones, set up drums, amps, baffles, and so on. This keeps all the gear in great condition.
Oxiliary Studios is a business since 2012 that currently operates one studio on-site, Studio One. The other mix room is rented from Oxiliary by sole proprietors running their own businesses, like Oxiliary. We generally keep to ourselves, but it’s possible musicians coming in for sessions will run into other musicians they know in the other mix room and spontaneous collaboration and a sense of community is kept alive.
The studio is in the industrial park of Sisters, OR, and looks a bit gritty but harmless. Inside the studio, you are in another world immersed in good vibes.