Plugin Alliance is much more than a group of some of the world’s most renowned professional audio companies. It is also a community of audio professionals who will regularly share what they’ve learned through their decades of experience.
Plugin Alliance contributors include Grammy-winning producer/engineers, music and audio educators and industry experts who will help you learn more, not just about the products you buy, but the process of recording, mixing and mastering music. The Plugin Alliance Learn blog will be continually updated with new tips, tricks and even some philosophy and business advice, all designed to help you with your craft and career.
Please meet a few of the individuals who will be regular contributors to the Plugin Alliance community:
Craig Bauer is a two-time GRAMMY Album of the Year nominee and GRAMMY Award winning mixing engineer.
Bauer began his mixing career in 1993 when he opened HINGE studios in Chicago, Illinois. In the early 90’s, Bauer’s clients included many of the top contemporary jazz artists, including; Brian Culbertson, and Dave Koz, and Steve Cole.
In 1997, Bauer began working with an obscure rap group dubbed “The Go Getters”, which included a very young Kanye West. Several of the demos West recorded with Bauer were later built into tracks on the College Dropout album. Bauer later mixed “Heard ‘Em Say”, “Roses”, “Bring Me Down”, “Addiction” and “Late” on Kanye West’s Late Registration Album which was nominated for Album of the Year at the 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2006.
Bauer went on to mix Lupe Fiasco’s debut studio album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, which received four GRAMMY Award nominations at the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards, including a nomination for Best Rap Album. In 2007, Bauer mixed the majority of Fiasco’s second album, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, including the hit single “Superstar” which peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool was nominated in 4 categories at the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards.
In 2008 Bauer was again a nominee for Album of the Year for his contributions to Kanye West’s Graduation album. Bauer won a GRAMMY statue that year for mixing the Clark Sisters album Live: One Last Time.
In addition to GRAMMY nominated works, Bauer also mixed the SNL Digital Short Motherlover featuring Justin Timberlake and Andy Samdberg. In 2012 The Live Room by Warren Music filmed Ed Sheeran performing 4 songs at HINGE studios, Chicago. Ed Sheeran specifically requested to film with Bauer at HINGE as he was a massive fan of the Late Registration album.
In 2014 Bauer relocated HINGE studios to Los Angeles, California where he continues to produce and mix major label and independent artist projects in nearly every genre of music.
Dirk Ulrich was born in Cologne Germany in 1971. He is the owner of Brainworx (Germany) and Plugin Alliance (California).
After finishing school in 1990, and a 1-year civilian service, he studied business and law. While still studying, fostering and focusing his lifelong love of music, Dirk worked part-time in a professional music store and opened his first semi-professional recording studio where he recorded local metal and punk bands on 2" tape machines and analog consoles.
His studio business started picking up bigger acts and clients when he was offered a co-publishing deal with Warner Chappell and the opportunity to establish his own rock music label in the late 1990s. Which meant he stopped studying law to focus on his music career full time.
Brainworx Germany was founded in 2000 as a music production and multi-media company. Throughout the years Dirk worked as a music producer and mixing and mastering engineer for his own label as well as more established labels like Roadrunner, Sony, EMI, Warner. He worked with artists, bands and members of bands including Dream Theater, Toto, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Pro Pain, Jennifer Batten, and many European rock acts.
Dirk produced everything from local demos, CD and vinyl albums, live concert DVDs in Stereo and 5.1, to radio commercials and music to be used by the very successful soccer team of Dirk's German hometown, Leverkusen.
Dirk also wrote original music and played guitars in various rock bands he founded, which recorded albums and toured Europe in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2005, Dirk’s direct experience in audio production and mastering (which is and was his favorite part of the production process) led to the idea for what would become Brainworx’s first audio plugin product, bx_digital. While attending a mastering session for one of his projects, he was fascinated by what the mastering engineer was able to achieve with Mid/Side processing. Instantly seeing the power of M/S processing, Dirk dreamed up what he’d want in an M/S EQ and the end result was the first commercially available M/S (Mid/Side) Mastering EQ plugin - and the birth of Brainworx as a premier professional audio plugin developer.
Throughout the tremendous growth of Brainworx and the founding of the Plugin Alliance in 2011, Dirk has continued to work on productions in his Neve VXS 72 equipped studio in Leverkusen, Germany. He enjoys sharing his vast experience, as well as great products, with Brainworx and Plugin Alliance clients around the world.
Dirk is married to his lovely wife Marina since 2012, and together they have a son, über-cute little rocker Tim, who was born in 2014.
Greg Wurth is a Grammy Nominated, Gold & Platinum award winning producer, working as Manager and Chief Engineer at The Harmony Hut Studio and Patigonia Studio. His credits range from Steve Vai and Tony MacAlpine to Tracii Guns to Jim Florentine & Don Jamieson, 2Cellos and Mary J Blige. He has been Steve Vai’s Engineer for 10 years. A lot of his time is spent in the “Harmony Hut” studio in Encino, CA where they currently do all of Vai’s projects. As of 2015 Greg has launched two new ventures:“Inside The Studio With Greg Wurth”, a video channel created along with Lisamarie Costabile that offers fun and insightful learning videos as well as interviews with professionals in the industry. The other is “Greg Wurth Audio” which is a pro audio hardware company with the first offering being an all discrete 16 ch. summing mixer called “The Oracle”.
“I grew up in southern San Diego. My parents were big fans of music and introduced me to The Beatles and Led Zeppelin early on. I used to collect cassettes & CD’s in the early 90’s and eventually I became interested enough to play an instrument, so I bought a guitar. I took lessons for a few years and had some bands but I realized that it wasn’t a natural thing for me. I eventually figured out that I was meant to Produce and Engineer music.”
Kate Finan has been a post-production sound professional for over ten years and has garnered multiple MPSE Golden Reel Award nominations for Best Sound Editing and Music+Sound Award nominations for Best Sound Design.
Kate began her professional career as an assistant sound effects editor and over the next decade worked her way up to garnering a coveted position as a supervising sound editor at Warner Bros. Studios. There, she oversaw the post-production sound for numerous animated television series.
In 2015, Kate Finan and co-owner Jeff Shiffman founded Boom Box Post, a post-production sound studio located in Los Angeles, CA. Boom Box Post services high-profile animated television series and films such as Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Lion Guard, and The Loud House. Together, Kate and Jeff lead their teams to achieve a modern sound design aesthetic for their post-production clients as well as in the production of their Boom Box Post sound effect libraries.
Kate is passionate about being part of the world's sound design community and is proud to regularly share her knowledge, experience, and newly designed sounds via the Boom Box Post blog. She strongly believes that staying on the forefront of technology is the first step to great aural storytelling.
Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 20 years. He has released and remixed material with the world's leading record labels and has also produced music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and has been a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and AskAudio Mag.
There isn't a piece of music software that Mo isn't intimately familiar with and he lives happily on the cutting edge of music technology. This love of Music Tech has also led Mo into the world of training and over the last decade he has produced hundreds of hours of video content and created a strong online presence Mo is currently a Lead Trainer at MacProVideo.com, a Feature Writer for Future Music and is now looking forward to being part of the Plugin Alliance team.
Ronan Chris Murphy
If there is one word that sums up Ronan Chris Murphy’s musical career, it is diversity. Ranging from work with YouTube sensation Tay Zonday to over a dozen albums with progressive rock legends King Crimson, from Norwegian art metal pioneers Ulver to pop superstar Jamie Walters or iconic Greek vocalist Alexia (Vassiliou), Ronan’s work spans the globe both figuratively and literally.
He got his start playing in the early Washington, DC punk scene in a band called Freak Baby (which was also Dave Grohl’s first band who joined after Murphy left the band) and he went on to play in the 80’s scene that would later be dubbed grunge or alternative. He shared the stage with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Henry Rollins, Death Angel, Die Kreuzen, Iron Cross, Dinosuar Jr., All and GWAR.
By the beginning of the 90s, Ronan made the shift full time to production and engineering, working in Boston with a strong emphasis on hip-hop, electronic music and Americana, including studio work with the great Martin Sexton. While in Boston he also studied synthesis part-time at the Berklee College of Music, where he was the head of the Berklee student Digital Audio Group. A few years later he was invited to be a producer/engineer in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, focusing on jazz, classical and experimental music. While there he worked with artists such as Chucho Valdes y Groupo Irakere, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler, Joan Labarbara, The Banff Festival Orchestra and Kaija Saariaho. During this time Ronan was also one of the producers of the International Computer Music conference.
After leaving Banff, Ronan relocated to Seattle where he worked as an Audio Lead for the Microsoft Network, working on the team that helped pioneer synchronized audio, MIDI and animation on the Internet. After a year in the corporate world, he went back to music production and engineering and found himself immersed in the world of progressive rock and bouncing between the U.S. and England for several years. During this time Ronan worked on over a dozen albums with King Crimson, as well as albums with the likes of Steve Morse, Terry Bozzio, Steve Stevens, Nels Cline, Tony Levin and The California Guitar Trio, and working on the crew of the G3 tour with Robert Fripp Steve Vai and Joe Satriani (as a tech for Robert Fripp).
Having musical interests far beyond “prog,” he continues to work with artists from all around the globe in virtually all styles of music. Some highlights include producing “Rustic Living for Urbanites” for Pete Teo, which is widely considered one of the most important albums in the Malaysian singer/songwriter scene and spent 3 months in the top 10, recording tracks for legendary Greek singer Alexia, which reached #1 on the Greek jazz charts, and Icelandic art/pop band Soundspell, which was a top 20 album in Iceland. Ronan produces, mixes and masters for clients from around the globe at his Veneto West studio in Santa Monica, California, in addition to traveling to work with various artists around the world on a regular basis.
In addition to producing and engineering full time, Ronan has always been an avid educator. In 2003 he launched Recording Boot Camp®, which helped pioneer the concept of the “one week recording school,” presenting workshops around the U.S. and Europe, including the “Italian Villa Boot Camp” in a villa-based studio in North Italy. The business presents in-person Recording Boot Camps and Mixing Boot Camps, as well online courses and consulting.
He has been a lecturer or panelist at SXSW (South by Southwest), NXNW (North by Northwest), The Action Poetry Festival, the International Organ Festival, The Berklee College of Music, The TAXI Road Rally, The Musicians Institute, 2NMC, The Society of Composers and Lyricists, the International Computer Music Conference and many others.
In 2009, Ronan launched Ronan’s Recording Show, one of the first online shows about recording, which over the years has garnered millions of views.
Ronan’s consulting business has a wide range of international clients ranging from hobbyists in home studios, to major label artists with pro studios, as well as houses of worship, academic institutions, and pro audio manufacturers. Recordingbootcamp.com
The Blackbird Academy
The Blackbird Academy was started by recording and live sound engineer John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride. They created Blackbird Studio in 2002, which has grown to be a top production stop for recording artists like Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw and many more. When interviewing interns and employees for Blackbird Studio, John would ask various questions about production such as: “what is your favorite kick drum mic?.” The answers revealed that many graduates of audio programs had little hands-on time in a recording studio.
Another question whose answer shocked him was “how much did your education cost?” John quickly realized that not only did grads still have a lot to learn, but they were also saddled with debt.
After talking about the ideas they had regarding audio education, John and Martina founded The Blackbird Academy. John hired Mark Rubel and Kevin Becka, both longtime audio engineers, musicians and educators, and the three of them went to work creating the program.
The curriculum features access to Blackbird Studio’s gear and facilities – a top stop for award-winning artists, producers and engineers. Another feature is a mentor-driven, experience-based education. At The Blackbird Academy, you will be taught by a unique cast of professional instructors and award-winning guest mentors.
Any great education is centered in a hands-on environment, and at The Blackbird Academy you will have 350 hours in our 30-position classroom/lab, and 350 hours in the studio in groups of five students. The studios are the same rooms used every day to make hit records at Blackbird Studio. The classroom is itself a recording studio with an API console, patch bay, two iso booths, Pro Tools HD, three 65” flat screen TVs, and 30 student Pro Tools rigs driven by Universal Audio’s Apollo interface featuring every plugin in the UAD-2 collection.
There is no substitute for learning hands-on, from the best professional instructors, in rooms and on gear that is used to make top quality music every day. The lessons learned at The Blackbird Academy will help you find work in an industry that is competitive, challenging and rewarding.
Realize your potential by taking part in The Blackbird Academy experience!