Panels and Performances; Cakewalk at CMJ 2010

New York City, NY ~

It seems like just yesterday when Cakewalk/Roland endorser Andrew W.K. delivered his keynote speech to a packed auditorium at New York University during CMJ 2009. As the year went by fast, so did this year’s blistering 5 day event which took place last week in the same location at NYU. This year at CMJ 2010, Cakewalk’s own Steve Thomas and Jimmy Landry were selected to speak on different panels addressing the state of the industry for digitally recorded music, while many other Cakewalk users were sprinkled throughout the convention (Shayna Zaid and the Catch, Tony Black – Producer/Mixer/Songwriter (Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Method Man, Lil Kim, Michael Jackson), Producer/Songwriter Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Hillary Duff), and Vinny Valentino, to name a few.

On Wednesday, Steve Thomas moderated a star studded panel titled “Taking It from the Home Studio to the Next Level” which dove into many relevant topics of modern recording techniques. Panelists Tony Black, NYC Producer Kyle Kelso (Parachute), and song writing team Jane’t “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic and Angela Hunte (best known for their recent massive hit “Empire State of Mind”) all candidly conversed about real world practical experiences in songwriting and recording. Those early enough to find a seat or a spot standing in the back of the room got an ear-full of advice from these experienced panelists, but it also seemed that there was a common thread throughout the panel; there’s no one magic bullet for a successful recording.

While Kyle Kelso gave some sound advice on room dampening, Tony Black also made a great point that most of Bono’s recordings were done on a trusty SM58. With those two points taken in stride by the audience, we also found out that some of Jane’t “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic and Angela Hunte’s most successful songs were written in cars. One point that everyone seemed to agree upon however was that we are in a period of time where “the artist” has never been more empowered to take control of their destiny in terms of recording great music on an affordable budget. The fact that a musician with enough drive can quickly learn a program like SONAR X1 and then upload the files to a top notch mixing engineer and be on the radio in 30 days is truly significant.

Thursday brought more panels including “The Zeros and Ones of Music Creation” which featured Tim O’Heir(All American Rejects, Hot Rod Circuit, Superdrag), jazz guitarist/songwriter (and SONAR X1 user) Vinny Valentino, producer/composer/musician Bryan Abreu (Keyshia Cole), NYC producer/songwriter  Aaron “Ming” Albano and moderated by Cakewalk’s Artist Relations Manager and producer/engineer/songwriter Jimmy Landry.  This panel dove into the technical aspects behind successful modern recording techniques.  The room full of panel-goers got a good taste of tricks and techniques from the cast of panelists including favorite cost-effective microphones. preamps and Digital Audio Workstations.  Tim O’Heir discussed how he gets some of his massive guitar tones while Jimmy Landry spoke a bit about mixing drums using parallel compression in the new SONAR X1 to get a more dynamic and punchy mix.

Thursday night was the CMJ Panelist and Moderator Party at The Norwood where many industry professionals gathered to mingle, share some laughs and compare notes after a long day of panels and meetings.  They were also indulged by a few quick but great sets by the artists Lady Danville from LA as well as Cyndi Harvell.

Friday was another day of about 20 more panels and some of the highlights include a great series from who brought a respected program to the table.  “Mix Reconstruction” and “Rough to Refined: Exploring Recording from Demo to the Finished Product” were very informative panels which both gave the audience a birds-eye view in the trenches of mixing and finishing a real-deal product.  Another highlight of the day was the panel “Follow The Spot; The Music Industry’s Madmen” where Dimension Pro and Rapture user Joel Dean spoke about his experiences working at one of New York Cities most successful post houses; The Lodge.  If you have turned on the TV lately you have heard his work along with his tailored sounds using Cakewalk’s virtual instruments.

SONAR users Shayna Zaid and the Catch had an amazing set on Friday night to a packed house at The Alphabet Lounge which was covered by  Shayna herself was also on the panel “The Sync Is Clogged” where she discussed the band’s current success on the new [international] Ford Edge commercial and how her drummer Christopher Heinz utilized a test-drive of SONAR X1 for the spot.  Shayna is currently in the studio recording her new record which will be out later this year.

In a year where the economy has hindered the spirit of many, it didn’t seem to reflect on the CMJ vibe; and on the contrary, this year’s CMJ festival seemed to leave many inspired and rejuvenated.   For more information on CMJ please visit