The Law and Transferring Analog Cassette Tapes to Digital

April 24th, 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShould you convert your cassette tapes to digital formats?  This is a great topic that includes some areas that are debated daily by a lot of people.

Is this cassette a personal recording (family conversations or gatherings, etc.)?

Is this cassette a copyrighted recording?

If it is copyrighted, are you the holder of the copyright?

Is this cassette a professional recording of copyrighted material?

Here are few considerations when converting and the legality involved.  The following information also applies to all recorded material that you wish to copy like CD’s, Cassette’s, 8 Track tapes and vinyl records.

Copyrighted Material

You have a cassette tape of your favorite 70’s band that you want to be able to play on your MP3 player.  This is a copyrighted product and law prohibits you from making a copy in any format. So the correct answer in the United States is NO: you cannot copy that recording because you do not hold the copyright.

Now as a side bar, will the record companies or the artist track you down and prosecute you?  Not likely!

In some public statements record companies have said they don’t mind when someone who has purchased a tape makes an upgraded copy for themselves.  The record companies also have stated that they don’t mind if you make a CD back up of your legally purchased CD.

Now this does hit a gray area because you have to be very careful with what you do with this conversion or backup.  For instance, if you make more then one copy and give one to a friend or even a family member, that still constitutes as distribution (even if you didn’t sell it!).  This big violation currently has a penalty of $250,000 and up to five years behind bars.  Ouch!

Personal Recordings (Non-Copyrighted)

If you have a personal cassette or some other format that you want to make a digital copy of, you can do so as long as it is not copyrighted. In today’s world it is not very hard to do.  You can contact just about any recording studio and they can convert it for you, or you can acquire the tools and do it yourself.

You can look online and find production companies, transfer houses or recording studios that specialize in analog to digital transfer.

You may have the ability with your own computer to do it yourself.  Computers come with a basic audio program that will record audio and burn to CD or save as MP3 files. You can also go online and find free software programs and free trials that do this.

One of the differences between having it done by a professional house and doing it yourself is that the professional has trained audio engineers who can remove tape hiss and add noise reduction professionally to restore the sound to today’s standards.  Tape hiss is the steady airy type sound that you can hear in between songs or during pauses on the tape.

 

Professionals also will make sure that the levels meet the industry standard and the sound is restored professionally.  Pros have the tools to do it right and they know how to use those tools.  So if you would like your analog to digital recording to sound the best, look for a pro to help.  If it is just for you and you don’t mind spending the time, go ahead and do it yourself.

In the end, you can make a copy of an analog tape as long as the copy is for personal use and the law does not prohibit you from making a copy.  You can also copy your own material.  Use audio software or take advantage of professional services to restore the sound when transferring your analog tape to a digital format.

Product Ideas and Managing the Creative Process

April 20th, 2012

366216477_615c380b52_nThere are many different types of product you could create. If you are a professional speaker, you might want to create an audio series. Motivational or instructional audio programs are just two categories among many. How about something industry-specific that could better position you as an expert? Perhaps even get your clients involved in the production by interviewing them. I have had much success over the years conducting interviews as a method of discovering potential product content. Interview programs make good products. How about an audio business card or audio newsletter? Audio business cards have been very successful for marketing in the financial planning and insurance industries.

Lots of ways to create opportunity.

Audio newsletters have proven themselves over time. You could produce a different one for each of your industries. You can be very productive in the use of live video footage. First, you could lift clips out of the footage already shot to make a video brochure (if you’re in the speaking business) or a video sampler (if you are in music or comedy). Secondly, you could produce a full-length product by adding open and closing graphics and music. Lastly, you could lift the audio track off the video and create a separate or companion audio product.

Do what works.

In the training industry, it’s good to have a video. It is even better to complement it with an audio version to reinforce the material. In the speaking business, you can increase your bookings by accommodating your prospects with an audio of your video brochure. Accommodating your audience with a choice of mediums gives them every opportunity to take advantage of your message.

How about an interactive CD-ROM product?

A CD-ROM (or ECD) lets you do it all. You can put audio that will play anywhere (a car, computer or CD player), video and printed materials that are easy to access from a computer. A professional speaker, Connie Podesta, was one of the first professional speakers to put their video brochure on business card CD-ROM. She told me about an experience she had where this mini-CD got her a gig. She was flying in first-class when she got involved in a conversation with her seatmate. He asked what she did. Instead of just telling him, she pulled out a mini CD-ROM and gave it to him to play in his laptop. He was blown away. The gentleman ended up booking her for an upcoming conference.

Get advice from your audio/video professional.

Ask the audio/video professional with whom you have teamed up to help you figure out what will work best for you. How about a video if you are a musician or comedian? Is your material good enough to sell? You could hire a 2-camera crew for around $1,500 to $2,000. Add some titling and graphics and, voila, there’s your product.

Plan for success.

You can save yourself a lot of time and money, and avoid potential mistakes, by doing one thing: design a plan of execution. I have included sample questionnaires (see appendix) for you to use to help you design a business plan for your production. A business plan gives you the vision of the “preferred future,” as my friend Chuck Cote would say.

It allows you to begin with a clear idea of where you want to end up. It can include a budget, timeline and list of players or your production’s cast of characters, the “dream team.” If you are a musician, the dream team would consist of the musicians you want to play on the project. The questionnaires are to be used to help you focus when interviewing your prospective production professional or production company. They will also trigger other ideas and questions applicable to your production.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: Potsdamer Platz via photopin (license)

Are You Ready to Create a Product?

April 18th, 2012

Calgary Corporate Video Production CompanyFirst, let me say, if you are a performer, one way or another, you need a product. If you do not want to work full-time for the rest of your life you need a product. If you want to be the best at what you do then you need a product.

Now to see if you’re ready, ask yourself these questions:

1. Would you like additional bookings?

2. Do you believe that you have a message or song worth sharing with the world?

3. Do you want supplemental income?

4. Do you believe you are at your best performance level ever?

5. Do people come up to you after your performance and ask if you have a product available for purchase?

6. Would you like to be better positioned as an expert at your craft?

7. Do you wish to leave a legacy in your area of expertise?

8. Are you in a financial position to invest in product development?

9. Could your product benefit those who purchase it?

10. Are you willing to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone who purchases your product and is not satisfied?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you are ready to create a product. If you answered no to any of them, then you need to go back and determine what needs to be changed or improved in order for you to be ready.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

Five Benefits of Selling Your Product

April 11th, 2012

moneyYour products are a passive marketing tool for you; another way of marketing your performance when you are not there. Think about it like this: someone sees your show and enjoys it enough to buy your video or audio product. They take it home and share with their family, friends and co-workers. If they are trying to share your lessons on sales or time management, then your product becomes a vehicle for repetitive instruction. By offering a product, you raise your potential for incremental growth, in terms of income and your “brand” awareness.

Think of it as a secondary marketing campaign.

Nothing will work harder for you to build public awareness. Bands that make audio or videotaped product have a better potential for getting booked than the bands that have no product.

Some of my favorite music is by the Beatles. I have rewound those tapes a few thousand times, just like my favorite motivational tapes by Napoleon Hill, Your Right to be Rich, which contains excerpts from a lecture based on his book Think and Grow Rich. Those tapes have served me well by being so accommodating as a teacher. They allowed me to learn at my own speed.

I produced several videos for Professional Humor Being Steve Rizzo, which, to this day, are some of my best productions. They are about thirty minutes long and their main purpose was to get Steve more speaking engagements. It’s so good; people take it home to show their families. We heard about one lady who booked Steve because of the video, and took it to a family reunion! Do you think he gets great additional visibility as a result of this secondary market?

You can take it to the bank.

Your product will provide you with additional income stream for years to come. Once the initial production costs are amortized and recouped, then that product goes on to earn you passive income for years. In the music business, royalty checks are a sight for sore eyes to the artist that has not had a gig in ages. In the speaking and training business, catalogs are a great vehicle for moving product. Websites are another. After the live engagement, your product gives you the opportunity to walk away from the gig with extra cash in your pocket.

An investment in your posterity.

Think of the future benefits of having a product. This production will be around long after you’re retired from the business. Your product is your legacy! Throughout your career, your live performances will always be limited by the number of seats in your venue, and the number of minutes in your day. You can only reach so many people, no matter how packed your schedule may be.

But, through a video or CD, your venue is suddenly timeless and limitless. Products rip away any barriers to your ability to touch others. You could perform for thousands of people throughout the course of your performing years.

Take your art to a higher place.

Going through the recording and production process will also help you become a better performer. Similarly, in the music world, a singer in a studio working on a song experiences the same benefits of growth. They may have come to the studio with an idea or concept of how a song comes together but it’s the studio environment and the recording process that helps them develop it.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

Why Do You Want a Product, Anyway?

April 6th, 2012

3835564701_31f53d70bb_nThree important reasons to want a product: 1) to earn extra income, 2) self-promotion, and 3) to create higher perceived-value, based on your level of experience or expertise.

It’s a fact that experts earn more than novices do! Not just on product sales but on higher performance fees. Webster defines an expert as one who has knowledge or great skill; especially skilled or learned; an authority. Professionals with great knowledge and skill earn more income and recognition. A good product line, with a book, and video or audio products will go a long way to establish your authority in program offerings.

By offering a product, you also show your commitment to your particular area of expertise. Your belief in what you say comes through more energetically, with more passion. By creating a product, you’re saying to your audience this is important, vital information — important enough to put your blood, sweat and tears (and money!) into it.

Do you think the Beatles would have been as big as they were without products to sell? To illustrate my point, let’s review the Beatles product line: Fan club mailings, fan club records, stamps, magazines, school binders, lunch boxes, comic books, plastic guitars, wigs, several different dolls, bubblegum cards — and much more, but you see the point.

Next time you’re in downtown Chicago, check out the Hard Rock Cafe. They have a great display of what I consider to be one of the best marketing-driven product lines ever. Do you think Tony Robbins would be where he is today without products? Bill Cosby’s speedy rise to the top had a lot to do with the comedy record albums he made.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: The Gherkin via photopin (license)

The Production Budget: Your Return on Investment

April 4th, 2012

THE BUDGET: Getting all your bucks in a row.

935756569_18aac96892_nBefore beginning your production you should consider the entire cost of production so you can plan accordingly. There is nothing sadder than a project that has run out of money. And you’ll want to budget your time too. Let’s look at a sample budget and amortization schedule for a single audio-CD.

 

Studio:

Recording digital 2-track: 6 hours @ $95/hour……………………………………… $570

Load recording into computer for editing: 6 hours @ $100/hour ……………….. 600

Editing for content and formatting: 24 hours @ $100/ hour …………………… 2,400

Record introduction, professional announcer: 1⁄2 hour @ $100/hour …………. 50

Professional announcer fee:…………………………………………………………………… 100

Mix announcer, music for intro and ending: 1 hour @ $100/ hour……………… 100

Materials:

SUBTOTAL: ……………………………………………………………………………………… $75

DUPLICATION/REPLICATION ……………………………………………………… 3,895

(300) CDs replicated @ $1.75 each: ……………………………………………………… 525

4-color computer generated labels @ $.25 each:

SUBTOTAL:…………………………………………………………………. 75

PACKAGING: …………………………………………………………….. 600

Cover design: …………………………………………………………….. 350

Printing:……………………………………………………………………… 50

Insert art into covers — (300) units @ $.15 each: ……………………… 5

Shrink-wrap (300) units @ $.25 each:

SUBTOTAL: ……………………………………………………………………………………… 75

SUB TOTAL:………………………………………………………………………………….. $1,120

GRAND TOTAL:…………………………………………………………………………… $5,615

 

Now, using the previous example, if you sell all 300 units at $16 each, for example, you will gross $4,800. Do you want to amortize the entire cost of studio production over only 300 units? If so, you’ll come short of breaking even at the retail price at $16 each. Adjust the numbers until you end up where you want to be. Maybe you need to cut your production costs a little? If you lower your entire production cost below $4,800, keep your retail-selling price at $16 each, then all units you sell after the first 300 will have a higher profit margin because your production costs have already been recouped in the initial 300 units produced.

Shop the country for the right style and price.

In different metropolitan markets, prices will vary for the various services, production styles, and recording and production techniques as well as resources (for cover artwork design). In my opinion, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has the coolest studio rhythm sections in this country, as well as scenery.

Muscle Shoals has its own regional style of production just as do studios in L.A., New York or my hometown of Detroit. This uniqueness will result in a unique budget.

If you have a producer, they will supervise the recording process and keep the project in budget. If you’re acting as producer, try to meet with the production staff, recording engineer or whomever you are working with prior to the billed session, so you can discover their style and plan your budget accordingly. Evaluate them based on their experience with products similar to yours; ask how they did it and how much that project cost. They might even help you develop your budget. It’s in your best interest to go with the flow of the studio or production facility for your project. You’ll pay less in the long run than if you try to design a new process just for your project.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

photo credit: George is Keeping an Eye On You! via photopin (license)

Audio Vs. Video: Which is Right for Your Market?

March 30th, 2012

Floppy Disk Death DVD arrives 4 MGD©When determining which product format is right for your market, take several factors into account:

How does audio hold up as a product and/or marketing tool in your industry?

If you are a professional speaker, it’s best to use video for marketing, since your stage presence is such an integral part of your performance. However, occasionally you will find those who would prefer an audio brochure as a sample of your speaking ability. The same is true for the music industry. If you are a band trying to get gigs, a video will work best, but it’s nice to give your prospect the option to listen to audio. These days the audio tracks on video can sound excellent—it used to be the opposite when video was first coming into use. Don’t sacrifice quality in your marketing materials and always accommodate your audience.

Do people in your industry actually listen to audio demos?

An audio demo could be your whole performance, or just a portion of it. It could be a slick compilation of your best material. I know for a fact that audio brochures do their job. People do listen to them, especially if you’re creative with the packaging.

Should you use video, audio or CD-ROMs in your product line?

The answer lies in the nature of product. If it’s a training product, my experience is that all three formats should be considered to give your customers options. You want the information to be as easily accessible as possible. Videos can be watched during corporate training sessions. Audio can be listened to passively while exercising, driving or housecleaning. CD-ROMs or enhanced CDs (ECD) can be used for individual workstation training and stored on the company server for easy access. Employees can then take the training by watching the video portion of the CD-ROM and take the test or complete a study guide also programmed on the CD-ROM. In fact, a web site link could also be available to take the student to your web site for additional products or programs, tests and other accountability checks.

Video CDs or DVDs?

Both serve their purpose, but DVDs are where the industry and the standard are today. You have an optional second side of storage on a DVD, which allows you to create longer products that have more perceived-value. Video CDs or MPEG1s are becoming more and more obsolete.

What’s your investment comfort zone?

An important consideration in choosing the best format for your product is the financial investment. Audio products cost less to produce than video. As a rule of thumb, single audios cost about $3,500 to $4,500 (start to finish) for a quantity of 100 to 200 professionally edited and packaged copies. The cost could go down considerably if mixing and editing are minimal. Professional videos cost about $5,000 to $10,000 (start to finish) for a quantity of 100 to 200 DVD copies when using a professional from beginning to end.

Think about the nature of each medium.

People generally listen passively while doing other things. This is both good and bad, depending on your program material. Will your audience be able to take in the message through audio-only? An audio recording will generally require more repetition to get the message across. On the plus side, audio recordings are more flexible—people can listen to them while driving.

Videos, on the other hand, capture more attention since they must be watched. Whether you’re a professional speaker or a musician, your material is probably going to hit home harder, because you’re using body gestures and facial expressions to dramatize your communication. Generally, the more of your audiences’ senses you can engage, the more powerfully you will come across. Plus, video offers more creative opportunity. You can use graphics, such as superimposed text or live-action footage to further underscore your main points. You do not necessarily have to be on-camera. On the downside, repeated viewings are less likely, unless you do outstanding stand-up or unless you’ve created a masterpiece on par with Gone With the Wind.

Or you can do both video and audio.

You could lift the audio-track off the videotape and create a bonus audio product. Pay particular attention to the effectiveness of the audio without the video. Make sure people can get the message without the visuals. Music can be enjoyed without seeing the performers. Needless to say, if you’re a dancer, audio won’t work.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon  or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords.

Your Performance Is Recorded-Now What?

March 28th, 2012

4547483498_086b709089_nAfter your performance has been recorded, you have two more steps to complete before selling your product.

Next stop, the editing suite.

Once the footage is shot or the audio has been recorded, find a good studio to edit and mix (if it’s audio) and design graphics and titling (if it’s video). The editing house does not necessarily have to be the same company that did the recording, but there are obvious advantages to working with one company. When different companies are used, you have to budget more for the edit, to account for the learning curve of the editing house. By using a single company you can streamline the production process since they are familiar with the project and know exactly what you’re looking for by the time you go into the editing suite.

This type of full-service facility is called a production company. My company, Primeau Productions, LLC, is that type of facility. I designed the company this way on purpose because I am a producer. Once a job or production has been assigned to us, I follow a system to execute it. When you use several companies to execute a production, you often end up with a lot of Indians and no chief, or even worse, a lot of chiefs and no Indians.

Develop a marketing plan.

Once the product is complete and you have them sitting in your garage, you need a marketing and promotion plan to sell them. If you perform on a regular basis, back-of-the-room sales might be all you need. Ask yourself what type of retail stores might take your product on consignment.

Consignment is when you give the store owner or manager your product to sell in good faith and they pay you as they sell them. If you go this route, always get something in writing from the store owner or manager that spells out the consignment arrangement. Either they can draft a document or you can. Just make it a simple contract naming the terms: retail price, wholesale price, payment time frames and method of payment. Then, you both should sign it and keep copies. Many of the retail chains have their own consignment contract, saving you from creating your own.

Interested in learning more about professional media services like audio/video? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096739967X/ref=sc_pgp__m_A37OD7TI15D03E_2?ie=UTF8&m=A37OD7TI15D03E&n=&s=&v=glance or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/16020.

photo credit: Day 182, Project 365 – 4.23.10 via photopin (license)

The Scouting Approach to Getting Great Video Footage Every Time

March 22nd, 2012

file1241259603377People often ask me what is the best format to ask for when getting a copy of a keynote speech or CEO’s presentation.  Anyone who is video recorded while giving presentations can use the following tips to prepare for getting great footage. Take the scouting approach to acquiring great video every time: always be prepared!

In a perfect world, a professional speaker should carry two external hard drives: one formatted for Mac and another formatted for PC.  Most field crews are Mac based, especially in Vegas.  Hand the hard drive to the video engineer or ask the technical director if it is okay if the video engineer copies the digital video files over when you are done speaking.

You always want to ask for the full quality digital video files.  We can work with any format here at Primeau Productions and many video production companies can convert and edit just about any format.  In fact, we can format the external hard drives for you as well.

We are finding that when an audio visual crew provides a DVD, they usually make an error on the aspect ratio and the video image gets distorted.  This is due to the fact that we are on the fence technologically between wide screen and 4 x 3 formats. The projection system that an audio visual company uses for image magnification is different from their format for recording video.

A speaker’s crew should be recording all video to a DVR (digital video recorder) and not just a DVD. If you are prepared with a hard drive, you will be all set.  It will take them about 30 minutes per camera to copy the digital video files to your hard drive.

How many cameras are they shooting?  Ask in advance if you can have the hot switch (or “director’s cut” that shifts the video from camera to camera) as well as camera ISO records. (An ISO is a digital multi-camera video recording in which each camera is recorded separately.)

Please call us if you have any questions since this is the new frontier of acquiring digital video footage for your video production.

800.647.4281

Get Ready to Produce a Great Product

March 21st, 2012

13885876624_51f737675e_nREADINESS: How close to perfect can you get?

Perhaps you already have a raw recording sitting around (music or spoken word) or video footage (single- or multiple-camera) and you want to release it to the public. Or, perhaps you’ve just confirmed the event of a lifetime that has the makings of a great video or CD. The actual recording is the foundation of your product. Everything else revolves around this part of it, so be sure to do it right!

There is a basic process for producing a perfect product:

-Perfect the performance or presentation before you record it

-Hire a pro to record it

-Schedule time in a studio or editing suite of find a producer to edit and finalize the recording

-Design the packaging

-Duplicate copies of the master

-Develop a marketing plan for product sales and distribution

If you are going to create a product, be sure that it is your best stuff. Why make a product that could have been better? Rehearse it until you are consistently doing your best. Also gauge your performance by audience response. And, definitely do not record if you are trying out a new presentation or performance, unless it’s to critique yourself — which brings up good point: Record yourself first, so you can see how you sound. You can get feedback from peers, friends and mentors and decide for yourself if your performance needs a little more work.

Before you record, also consider the venue where you will be performing. Is the show sold out? Are you the opening act? If so, take into consideration that people may be walking in after you’ve started your program.

Professional speaker/humorist Steve Rizzo does a great routine for those who come in late. He says, “Hi, glad you could make it! Can I get you anything — like a watch?”

Record the audience at their best too.

Also, always record the audience — audience reaction is crucial for any recording; ask the audience members to turn off all cell phones, beepers and turn up the pacemakers — let them know you are recording. If it’s comfortable, jazz the audience up a bit so they’re more reactive during your performance. Sometimes you will have rude people talking during your performance, whispering to each other while you are speaking.

I can’t help but share another Steve Rizzo moment: When someone is talking loudly in the audience, Steve simply stops and stares at them until he has their attention, and then asks, “Where did you learn to whisper, in a helicopter?”

Interested in learning more about professional audio/video services? Contact me at 800-647-4281.

This information is taken from my book The Art of Production, which you can purchase from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096739967X/ref=sc_pgp__m_A37OD7TI15D03E_2?ie=UTF8&m=A37OD7TI15D03E&n=&s=&v=glance or you can purchase an e-book version from SmashWords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/16020.

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