Going Vinyl in the Digital Age

Do We Reach Home, 45 rpm double LP, by Jerry Jean

I released my LP, Do We Reach Home, in a digital age where streaming music is king. I use Spotify as much as anyone else, and yet pressing good ‘ol analog records – the antithesis to music stored as 1s and 0s – has long intrigued me. I decided to take the plunge this year. While I haven’t written a super detailed or technical look (that article would be many pages long), I hope this overview will be of interest to the curious reader, or to other musicians who want to issue a vinyl release.

Why even press vinyl when it’s expensive and most people don’t even own record players? A huge part was that I simply craved something physical and tangible for my music in an age where everything lives in the cloud. Additional considerations:

• bigger art / nostalgia / cool factor
• uniqueness of the vinyl sound
• archiving – the ability to seed deluxe physical copies around the world (if digital servers ever crash, there would be beautiful in-the-flesh copies in many locations)

When pressing vinyl, there are several routes an artist can take, including utilizing one-stop shops that handle everything for you once you deliver your digital masters. This approach, while economical and simple, seemed like a black box to me. I wanted to be involved and in the loop each step of the way. Utmost quality was my priority, and I enlisted vinyl expert Scott Hull (owner of world-renown Masterdisk to guide me through the process. I highly recommend reading Scott’s interview in TapeOp Magazine to study some of his in-depth thoughts on vinyl creation here.

Scott and I had met a few times at NYC’s SAE Institute during IMSTA FESTA, an annual music software trade association gathering. Scott was a regular guest speaker, and we had the chance to chat music and technical matters in person prior to cutting vinyl. Another point of connection was that one of the musicians who played on my album, bassist Kevin Jacoby, was already working with Scott on his own record.

Just prior to cutting vinyl, I was fortunate to have the legend Bob Ludwig master my album at Gateway Mastering. His final delivery included 5 digital master sets: Hi-res digital master (highest fidelity), standard digital master (used for most sites including Spotify, Amazon), MFiT master (mastered for iTunes), CD DDP (for compact disc replication), and finally, the vinyl specific master. Scott would use Bob’s vinyl specific master to begin the actual vinyl creation process. Incidentally, Scott actually had a history of working with Bob dating back to the 80s when he assisted Bob at Masterdisk.

I initially envisioned my record on a single disc with 6 songs per side. However, due to the song lengths and the bass-heavy, dense sonics on my album, we would not be able fit all the material without compromising audio quality. There’s only so much groove space available on vinyl, and bass frequencies take up tons of room. I decided to spread the album over 2 discs (4 sides) to maximize vinyl real estate. This, of course, essentially doubled the manufacturing cost of my vinyl record! In further consultation with Bob and Scott, I also decided to eschew the common 33 rpm for 45 rpm which would yield superior playback response.

Scott proceeded to cut reference discs that I could play on my turntable. The references sounded excellent, and he made the master lacquers next. Cutting was done on a Neumann VMS-82 lathe using the BMW of cutter heads, the SX-74. Having an expert cut my record using one of the most desired vinyl cutting systems in the world was very reassuring for a detail freak like myself! The master lacquers were then sent to GGR (Gotta Groove Records in Ohio) to be pressed. I had a terrific experience with them, and here’s an insightful video about the company and their factory.

Keeping with an audiophile theme, I chose 180 gram heavyweight vinyl when placing my order with GGR. The heavier vinyl feels more solid in hand and also resists vinyl warping. I worked with Charlene Kaye of Sunqueen Designs to bring the vision of my album packaging to life. Charlene created a gorgeous layout with tasteful gold touches. We wanted to maintain the classic, minimalist aesthetic of the CD packaging, yet implement unique art and layout elements for the vinyl. There was certainly a learning curve. The scale and templates are significantly different than those for CD. I chose a gatefold design with a durable, elegant black matte material. Nothing flimsy. The thematic and sonic gravitas of the record demanded equally compelling packaging. Again, going for quality first would drive up costs. Being a deluxe double LP product with a relatively small pressing, my cost per unit soared above $20/unit, which informed my eventual pricing of $30 per copy.

Song lyrics printed on the LP’s inner gatefold

Many steps ensued in the meantime, including electroplating the master lacquers in order to make metal stampers for my record. This was done by NiproOptics in California. GGR then created 5 sets of test pressings and mailed them to me and Scott. Listening to these test pressings was both nerve-wracking and thrilling! The sound was wonderful with it’s own distinct, lush color. After approving the tests on both my turntable and Scott’s, the album was finally ready to officially press.

One of the metal stampers used to press the record

From the time I initiated the creation of my vinyl record to receiving finished product was 4-5 months. This obviously required some logistical foresight in order to have my vinyl records, CDs, and digital album release simultaneously. Luckily, I built in adequate time to accommodate all the moving parts, and pulled off a unified launch.

Conclusion? I’m thrilled and proud of the results and wouldn’t change the way I went about making the records. I’ve received fantastic feedback from fans and industry alike. The wow factor of a well-made vinyl record is unique in an age when many albums are exclusively digital. My records are sold in several NYC record shops including Academy Records and Westsider Records, and available signed directly through my website. They also ship internationally here.

If your goal is to create something with lasting quality, be prepared to budget time and resources accordingly. With sufficient planning and the right team, it has been incredibly fulfilling (for me as well as my listeners) to create a record of enduring craftsmanship.

Do We Reach Home at Westsider Records in NYC

 

2017 Honors for Do We Reach Home

Incredibly grateful. My 2017 album, Do We Reach Homehas now received a total of 9 music awards / nominations from 4 different organizations including:

Hollywood Music in Media Awards
Global Peace Song Awards
International Songwriting Competition
Global Music Awards

Thrilled that folks continue to enjoy the music  🙏

2017 Global Peace Song Awards

So honored to receive 2 nominations in the 2017 Global Peace Song Awards.
• “Do We Reach Home” for Music Video
• “Future” for Rock/Pop
These songs explore the search for home and belonging amidst today’s fragmentation of truth.  Full list of finalists here

Watch “Do We Reach Home”

Listen to “Future”

The New Album – DO WE REACH HOME – Out Today

I’m so happy to release my full-length album, Do We Reach Home, to the world today. This was a monumental project for me, involving many classical musicians, a dizzying number of recorded tracks, continual wordsmithing, much reflection and simplification to arrive at these final songs. Rigorous yet joyful. So grateful to everyone involved in creating this record, and to listeners familiar and new from across the 🌏!

Choose your format below:


Order Signed Vinyl $30

Order Signed CD $15

Order Digital Album $10

 

Jerry’s 2017 full-length solo album, Do We Reach Home, explores the strains of modern living, human connection, and renewal. Cinematic and grand, Jerry weaves together haunting melodies and searching lyrics over live strings and a warm, piano-driven backdrop for a classic, chamber pop sound. The songs revolve around the search for home in a chaotic modern world. Do We Reach Home is an everyman’s journey through longing, disillusionment, and hope.

Top conservatory-trained NYC musicians from both the classical and rock worlds round out Jerry’s vocals and piano. Extensive layering techniques involving microphone and instrument swapping were utilized with 8 string players to achieve a lush orchestral blend. John O’Reilly, Jr. (fun., The Format) anchors the rhythm section. Jerry produced and arranged the album, Bryan Cook (One Republic, Train) mixed, and 11-time Grammy winner Bob Ludwig mastered. Vinyl was cut by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, and the album is available as a 180 gram double LP at 45rpm for optimum analog sound. The single-take music video for the title track, “Do We Reach Home,” features Jerry and an enigmatic modern dancer against a post-industrial backdrop. It has been viewed over 1 million times on Facebook.

Purchasing through my website with the above links is the most direct way to support an independent artist (iTunes, Amazon, etc., take large commissions). However, please feel free to use your service of choice. Direct links to my album on various platforms below:

Spotify | iTunes | Apple Music | Google Play | Amazon
International Shipping:  CD | Vinyl

Album Overview

ALBUM PERSONNEL

Lead vocals: Jerry Jean
Piano: Jerry Jean
Drums: John O’Reilly Jr.
Percussion: John O’Reilly Jr.
Acoustic guitar: Adam Stoler
Electric guitar: Adam Stoler
Programming: Jerry Jean
Rhodes: Jerry Jean
Acoustic bass: Matt Scharfglass
Electric bass: Kevin Jacoby, Matt Scharfglass
Violin: Brendan Speltz, Juliette Jones, Claudia Chopek
Viola: Celia Hatton, Rose Hashimoto
Cello: Ben Larson, Aliah Rosenthal, Eru Matsumoto
Trumpet: Rebecca Steinberg
French horn: Erin A. Paul
BG vocals: Crystal Monee Hall, Elle Winston, Jerry Jean

Recording engineer: Jerry Jean
Assistant recording engineer: M.P. Kuo
Drums & percussion engineer: John O’Reilly Jr.
Mixing engineer: Bryan Cook
2nd mix engineer: Will Kennedy
Assistant mix engineer: James Berish
Mastering engineer: Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering

Photography: Shervin Lainez
Art design: Charlene Kaye

Recorded at Jerry Jean Music, Harlem, NYC,
Boom Crash Studio, Bucks County, PA,
StolerMusic Sound, Queens, NYC

All songs © & ℗ Jerry Jean / Jerry Jean Music (ASCAP)
Album produced & arranged by Jerry Jean

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Jerry Jean – Do We Reach Home (Official Music Video)

Thrilled to ring in the new year with the release of the music video for Do We Reach Home, the title track from my forthcoming album. Filmed in a single take, it explores the elusiveness of home, pairing a musician and a dancer against a post-industrial backdrop.

Album releases 2/24/17
Choose your format below (Vinyl & CDs now shipping):


Order Signed Vinyl $30

Order Signed CD $15

Order Digital Album $10

 

VIDEO CREDITS
Producer/Musician: Jerry Jean
Dancer/Choreographer: Chloe Noelle Crade
Director/DP: José Andrés Cardona

Assistant Director: Hunt Beaty
Assistant Camera: Shaun Malkovich
Steadicam: Matthew Fleischmann
Gaffer: Jonathan Stevens
Key Grip: Garrett Doermann
Swing: Alexander Crowe
Color & Edit: Juan Salvo | The Color Space
Hair & Makeup: Gabriella Tipsa Bruun
Assistant Hair Stylist: Sayo Takegami
Jewelry: Emquies-Holstein
Production Assistants: Mandie Black, Cadence Owensby

Special Thanks: Cory Choy | Silver Sound, Alex Resnikoff | Hand Held Films, Matthew Patterson Curry | Chemistry Creative, Erik Kandefer

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New Album – Do We Reach Home

Pleased to announce the launch of my debut full-length album, Do We Reach Home.

It is now available for pre-order at Pledgemusic HERE.

12 songs explore the strains of modern living, human connection, and renewal. Cinematic and grand, the album features honest vocals and an expansive piano-driven backdrop adorned with lush strings. The LP was recorded with all live instruments for an organic, chamber pop sound. Do We Reach Home is an everyman’s journey through longing, disillusionment, and hope.

Produced and arranged by Jerry Jean in NYC, mixed in Los Angeles by Bryan Cook (Train, One Republic), and mastered in Portland, Maine by Bob Ludwig, the album was engineered to stand the test of time. It is available on CD, vinyl, and in digital format.

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Mixing Time

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Screenshots of the LogicPro sessions for my album in the works. 12 songs, 1541 total tracks in use, summed down to 682. All color coded to prevent cerebral hemorrhaging. These arrangements have been carefully exported and sent to LA to be mixed by Bryan Cook (One Republic, Train). The initial mixes I’ve received back are simply breathtaking. Can’t wait to share this music 🎶🎶🎶”