Uncategorized

Christmas and New Year – 2017

21/12/2017

Hi everyone!

As we do every year, Birnam will be closing our doors for a couple of weeks over the festive period so we can all take a collective breath and enjoy both Christmas and the New Year Celebrations.

Our final day of 2017 will be Friday the 22nd of December and we will re-open at 9:00am on Thursday the 4th of January.

We hope you all have a great time over the holidays and we look forward to working with you all in 2018.

Best wishes,

The Birnam Team

Live Music Music

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2017

12/12/2017

Now in its 15th year, the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, this year held in Paisley, once again presented an incredible selection of wonderful performances from a wide range of hugely talented artists. The event itself was held in the Paisley Lagoon Centre which, along with the very impressive lighting and sound, provided a spectacular, glitzy venue for the evening.

The event kicked off with a powerful performance by The Shee Big Band, on great form with beautiful harmonies in their opening song followed by a foot-stompin’ instrumental set.

 

Lori Watson, with a stunning vocal performance, confirmed just why her imminent new album “Yarrow Valley Sessions” is so eagerly anticipated (it’s in production now and will be available soon – honest!!).

 

It was lovely to see the enthusiasm and talent shining from all the young folk of Fèis Phàislig who earned a highly enthusiastic ovation from the crowd in the hall.

 

Ross Ainslie was the only solo act to take to the stage on the night, but his performance was every bit as powerful as the other acts on show  – and made all the more powerful by the skilful and dramatic stage lighting.

 

Considering the number of awards she has now won, Scots singer of the year Siobhan Miller must surely be in the market for a bigger mantelpiece these days. Her performance towards the end of the night showed just why she is so acclaimed, and her rendition of Andy M. Stewart’s classic “Rambling Rover” certainly had the entire assembly find its voice.

 

 

The evening finished with a set by Inverness quintet Elephant Sessions, rounding off what has been an outstanding year for the band by getting the audience up on their feet to bring a great end to a truly special night.

 

Thanks and congratulations to Simon Thoumire and the Hands Up for Trad team for once again putting together an incredible line up for the awards ceremony and well done to all of the nominees who made it to the final lists.

 

2017 Winners

Album of the year ‘All We Have is Now’ by Elephant Sessions

Community Project of the Year – Tiree Songbook

Composer of the Year – Adam Sutherland

Live Act of the Year – Skippinnish

Scots Singer of the Year – Siobhan Miller

Up and Coming Artist – Ho-ro

Music Tutor – Emma Tomlinson

Gaelic Singer of the Year – Robert Robertson

Folk Band of the Year – Talisk

Dance Band of the Year – Duncan Black Band

Scottish Pipe Band of the Year – Inverary & District Pipe Band

Club of the Year – Edinburgh Folk Club

Instrumentalist of the Year – Gary Innes

Event of the Year – A Night For Angus (Shooglenifty at Celtic Connections)

Trad Music in the Media – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

Venue of the Year – Tolbooth (Stirling)

Live Music Music

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

21/12/2016

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We’re closed from Friday 23rd December and open on Wednesday 4th January 2017.

If you’re looking for things to do in January then check out Celtic Connections in Glasgow which starts on 19th January and runs through until the 5th February. It’s the largest annual winter music festival of it’s kind and we’ll be posting about it when we come back in January but in the meantime, have a look at the Celtic Connections website to see the great line up of musicians and gigs. Hope to catch up with some of you at the many, great events.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year.

Live Music Music

MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2016

09/12/2016

The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2016

What a fantastic night we all had at the Scots Trad Music Awards this year. Hosted by Dundee’s Caird Hall for the second year in a row, the event is justifiably touted as one of traditional music’s biggest highlights. This year did plenty to retain that sentiment; wonderful performances from a variety of Scotland’s homegrown talent, moving speeches from some of the most renowned voices on the scene and, of course, and great craic.

The ceremony launched with a thunderous performance by the Scott Wood Band, backed by an impressive accompaniment of guest musicians. Passers-by on the street from outside the scene could be forgiven for thinking they were overhearing a roaring rock’n’roll performance, for you’d be hard-pressed to find more energy in a performance across any genre.

As ever, the awards were hosted by Mary Ann Kennedy and Tony Kearney, who did a great job of keeping things moving along at a good pace, with one notable (but very understandable) exception. When BBC Radio Scotland’s Take The Floor claimed Trad Music in the Media, and Robbie Shepherd (who this year retired from the show) took to the stage to collect the award alongside his successor Gary Innes and the rest of the team from the show, the audience couldn’t wait to jump to their feet and offer the longest standing ovation of the night. Given how much Robbie has contributed to our traditional music scene over the years, the comperes certainly can not be held to account for the time this show of admiration went on.

With the Scott Wood Band kicking things off with such a high-octane set, one might have wondered if that would set the tone for the rest of the evening. However, the other acts that were brought out to play really demonstrated the wealth and breadth of the Scottish folk scene. Dallahan brought their far-reaching brand of music to the stage, blending traditional Scottish elements with material from across Europe. Songs of Separation, which combines the talents of many of the most respected and recognised women in Scottish and English music, delighted with their beautiful harmonies and moving arrangements. Abercraig, a collection of very talented youngsters local to the area, reminded everyone that traditional music is alive and well in the next generation. Talisk, featuring BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year Mohsen Amini, got the feet moving with their compelling music. The Halton Quartet injected a little jazz into the evening, the Robbie Shepherd Tribute Band brought along some fantastic dance music, and as if all that wasn’t enough, the crowd were also treated to performances by Tryst and Wilma Kennedy with Finlay Wells.

To round off this post, Birnam CD would like to reiterate not only our sincere congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, but also special congratulations to all of our clients who took home awards: Skerryvore (Live Act of the Year), Feis Roise Life Long Learning Project (Community Project of the Year), Piping Live! (Event of the Year), Ellen MacDonald (Gaelic Singer of the Year), Rachel Newton (Instrumentalist of the Year), Lori Watson (Scots Singer of the Year), Trail West (Dance Band of the Year), and Kris Drever (Composer of the Year).

Thanks to Simon and the team at Hands Up For Trad for another great evening. We look forward to seeing everyone in Paisley next year for the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2017!

Music

ISRC

12/07/2016

 

International Standard Recording Code

ISRC codes are only necessary for the final version of the recording – if the recording is purely for personal use, a rough mix or a rehearsal recording then you won’t need an ISRC code at that stage.

ISRC which stands for International Standard Recording Codes is an international system which allocates a unique code which is encoded into any music recording – unique ISRCs identify any music recordings for payment.

ISRCs consist of 4 parts:
·         Country Code: 2 letters which represent the country in which the registrant is based, for example, UK for United Kingdom.
·         Registrant Code: 2 alpha-numerical digits, which, when used with the Country Code is unique to the registrant.
·         Year of Reference: the last 2 digits of the year in which an ISRC code is allocated.
·         Designation Code: 5 digits which are unique to each track.

ISRCs for CDs – the ISRCs are encoded during the disc mastering process. ISRCs must be encoded for each track in the pre-master stage. Remember, ISRCs are important as they enable payments to be made for any music recordings or music videos.
The ISRC code for any music recording/music video stays the same no matter how many albums the track is on. A new ISRC is only required if there are any changes to the original recording for example, the track is re-mixed or the track length is change.
ISRC codes and Bar Codes are different – ISRC codes identifies individual tracks and the Bar Code  or Universal Product Code (UPC) identifies the complete album.
To find out more information please visit:  isrc.ifpi.org

We can supply both ISRCs and Bar codes so give us a call if you need these.

 

 

Creative Music

Audio mastering for replication

30/05/2016

 

Audio Mastering for Replication

In the recording process, audio mastering is the stage after mixing. The purpose of mastering is to improve the audio quality of your music and to ensure that it will sound its best whatever it is played on – a state of the art sound system, portable radio, iPod, in-car stereo or your computer. Put simply, it will make your recording sound better.
To achieve this, the tracks are processed using a series of audio enhancement tools and effects including tonal adjustments, limiting, compression / expansion, equalisation, noise reduction, harmonic excitement and signal restoration. The relative volume between tracks is levelled out and any extraneous noises (pops, clicks and bumps) are removed.
The tracks are put into the correct sequence, with fade-ins, fade-outs or cross-fades applied and the spacings between tracks set. Additional information such as CD text (with the artist name, album and track titles), ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codes) and the product barcode can be added.

A production master is created – it’s important that you always listen to and approve the final master.  The mastering engineer should also supply a PQ sheet, which is used as a reference by the pre-mastering engineer when preparing the glass master.

Production masters can be supplied electronically as DDP filesets or physically as PQ encoded (Red Book) Audio discs.

DDP FILESETS – DDP is short for Disc Description Protocol – producing audio masters as DDP filesets is now widely recognised as standard practice across the industry. When producing a DDP it’s important that an MD5 checksum is created for each file – an MD5 checksum is like an electronic fingerprint. Once the DDP has been downloaded at the pressing plant a further set of MD5 checksums is created and compared to the original sums. If both sets match, then the receiver can be certain that what has been downloaded is exactly what was uploaded, that there has been no corruption in transmission and the files can safely be used for production of the CDs.
It’s also important that all files (including the MD5 checksums list) are compressed and saved into a single zipped folder which should be named with the Product Catalogue Number and / or the Artist Name and Project Title.

RED BOOK AUDIO DISCS – Ask your engineer to include a PQ sheet or, at the very least, a track list with titles and timings. If you are sending red book audio discs always keep a back up copy – do NOT send us your only copy.
Masters for Duplication – for short run duplication (under 500 CDs), we can also accept WAVs. Please note, we do not accept WAVs for CD replication (500 CDs upwards).

CD Replication and Duplication

 – The difference between compact disc (CD) replication and duplication is that replication is a professional process that creates a CD by moulding the disc to be an exact copy of the original master. Data cannot be added or changed. 
Duplication refers to burning data to a disc – the master is copied directly onto recordable discs, as is done in home computing. Short-run duplication is ideal for small runs but if you are intending to sell CDs or use them for promotional purposes we would suggest that you go for CD Replication which is the industry standard.

With replication (pressing) the digital data from your master is processed to create a glass master. Glass mastering is undertaken in an exceptionally clean environment as even very small dust or dirt particles can affect the finished quality of a CD glass master. A metal stamper is made from the glass master and this is then used to press the finished copies. Each disc, which is a clone of the master, is then lacquer coated for protection. The discs are printed using screen or litho print methods, depending on the nature of the design – screen printing is generally more suitable for designs with solid blocks of colour, while litho printing achieves superb results for full colour picture discs. For replication orders, the packaging is always produced using offset litho printing, the professional standard.

 

 

Music

Birnam CD: Pressing Matters

15/10/2015

Birnam CD: Pressing Matters

Martin was invited to contribute a guest article for the Traditional Music Forum blog. In the article he discussed what we at Birnam have found over recent years – that many musicians are choosing to release music themselves. With so many artists opting to release music independently, we wanted to share the article here to highlight that Birnam are ready to help them (you) every step of the way.

Birnam CD offers a comprehensive support service for musicians from CD pressing to digital delivery to PR and design.  Managing Director Martin Hadden tells us more.

I found the title of an article in last month’s newsletter depressingly downbeat – ‘Ian Green and the Legacy of the Folk Label’. For me, the word ‘legacy’ suggests something which belongs in the past or, at the very least, something with not much of a future ahead of it.

Ian describes the impact on Greentrax Recordings of the recent downturn in CD sales in straightforward, honest terms. I would expect no less from a man whose reputation for honesty and integrity is second to none in the Scottish music scene. However, though I could certainly empathise with many of Ian’s comments, I also found some of his observations to be at odds with our own current experiences here at Birnam CD.

You see, as the record labels have been forced to cut back on the number of albums they release, an increasing number of artists have turned to releasing their albums independently. The vast majority of the artists we work for do this.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Whether they have previously been with a label or not, most are taking on the task for the first time and it is a steep learning curve. There’s an awful lot to be done once the recording is finished – designing the packaging, getting the albums pressed, registering the tracks to ensure payment is received for any airplay, securing the airplay in the first place, getting reviews, making sure that the albums are easy for folks to find and buy both physically and digitally.

The list is extensive and consists of all the things that any record label worth its salt would do for an artist to support a new album release.

In response to this, we have added to the range of what we can do for artists beyond designing, pressing and delivering the finished CDs. We’ve been doing that for a couple of decades now, but for the past few years we have also been offering media promotion, downloads and streaming, online sales via Amazon etc., physical distribution and any sort of promotional materials we are asked to produce.

The difference between us and a record company is that we ask for no rights to the recordings or to the music itself. All of those rights remain the property of the artists.

And as more folks have turned to us to help to make their music more widely available, our buying power with the CD pressing plants has increased. This, in turn, has allowed us to buck recent trends and significantly lower our prices for pressing CDs – which attracts more artists to come to us to get their albums pressed and to take us up on the other services we offer. For us, it’s proving to be a productive treadmill.

Here’s just one current example to illustrate how this trend is impacting on the scene:
The ‘long list’ of nominations for the 2015 ‘Album of the Year’ award at this year’s Trad Music Awards has just been announced. We produced nine of the twenty albums listed, and eight of these are independently released by the artists themselves. Being signed to a label is clearly no longer the perceived necessity it once was in order for creative musicians to succeed and to be recognised for their work.

I wonder if things are drifting back towards how they were a few decades ago. Getting a record deal is not so easy any more. Record labels, particularly the ‘specialist music’ labels, have to be a lot more careful these days about which albums they choose to release. The current habits of the music-buying public dictate that they can’t afford to take a chance on a new, upcoming artist as the investment required in doing so could take years to recoup – in fact, may never be recouped at all. It may be that artists will soon find themselves signing a record deal only when their music sales reach a point at which it becomes unmanageable for them to handle their recorded output on their own. Having reached that point, they are likely to find that they need the support of an established and experienced label to take on the administration and to handle the tasks required to keep on top of things.

In that sense, the act of securing a record deal may soon regain some of its former prestige and value as artists won’t be offered a contract unless, or until, they have clearly established a profile significant enough to offer the realistic prospect of selling an awful lot of albums across a range of different formats.

When I joined Silly Wizard in 1976, the band was already in the throes of disentangling itself from an existing record deal. In the following 12 years, until we split in 1988, we signed deals with 4 more labels in England and the USA. We were young, we were ill-advised and we made some poor decisions. People often contact me to ask how they can get hold of our earlier albums. Although I am now in the perfect position to make them available, there is little that I, or the rest of the band, can do about it as neither the albums, nor the music we created and committed to them, belong to us in any physical sense. We’re the Bay City Rollers of the folk scene.

If we had known then what we know now…Or if Ian Green had founded Greentrax about 5 or 6 years earlier than he did, we would have signed with Ian in a second and would never have regretted doing so.  Of that, I am certain.

Wishful thinking aside, I think it is important that the current issues affecting the record labels should not be misinterpreted as necessarily being trouble for the music itself in the wider sense.  People always have, and always will, make music – great music. The current Scottish music scene is in rude health. It’s bursting at the seams with some of the most skilful and innovative young performers and composers I have ever heard. In my opinion, having been involved in it for forty plus years now, the scene itself is more exciting, vibrant, inclusive and uplifting than ever before.

And, however it is released, the music is being more widely heard than ever before.

As with so many matters these days, being independent seems to be the sensible way forward.