Bob Skeens’ Champion Building now on Audible

Champion Building, a best-selling book by Bob Skeens, is now available on all your favourite platforms as an audiobook.  Narrated by Bob himself and produced here at the The Other Operation, Champion Building is that rare thing – a book on selling which actually sheds new light and introduces genuinely new ideas for enterprise selling.  You can check it out here:


Digitise your cassettes? Oh all right then

People keep asking me to turn their old cassettes into CDs, and I keep saying no.  It’s not because I don’t have the means – it’s just that there are so many outfits already offering to digitise LPs, cassettes, VHS tapes and so forth, and prices are ridiculously low – so low it just isn’t worth the effort.

And it’s not like this work is new to me – I spent several years digitising Jon Hiseman’s tape archive over at Temple Music, working with 2 inch 24-track, 1/4 inch half-track, DAT, cassette, DDS, you name it.  Even a rare Audio & Design modified Sony PCM-F1 system.

And I worked with Jon when he created the CD-R versions of several classic Barbara Thompson/Paraphernalia albums that had previously only been released on vinyl (by playing in up to six unused LPs for each album and amalgamating them to produce the ‘perfect’ transfer).

I also produced the digital master for Art Of Life Records’ CD release of the Peter Lemer album Jet Yellow, from the original (and somewhat dilapidated) 1/4 inch analogue masters, which had to be baked twice and have all their leaders and splices replaced.

The transfers I did for Jon and Peter were scrupulous, painstaking – pedantic, even – exercises in preserving historic recordings for posterity, squeezing the absolute most out of the material and the equipment.  Seeing people offering to transfer from analogue to digital for twenty quid “including return postage” seems faintly ridiculous in comparison.

But… just because I can’t do it cheap, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it at all.  I can, after all, do it well.  I suppose I should stop saying no.

I might even plug up my turntable… maybe not…

(Yet) Another little private job…

Pip Burley has been back in the studio with another song…  This time, the vocalist was Aoife Kenny.

Pip and I built up the arrangement during April, and brought in the truly wonderful Emma McPhilemy to perform a sax part.  Subsequently, our rough bass line was replaced for us by towering bass talent Phil Mulford.

A good time was had by all, and Pip was very pleased with the resulting mix.

COVID-19 and The Other Operation

We’ve been keeping in close contact the the MPG (Music Producer’s Guild), who have been liaising with the UK government regarding the status of recording studios and production houses in these difficult times.

In common with other facilities, The Other Operation remains open for business and we’re still accepting new work.  We have a a continually-updated risk assessment in place, staff have been trained in special procedures, we’re registered with NHS Test & Trace and in general doing everything possible to protect ourselves and our clients.

Health and safety is our prime concern.  We continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.  Stay safe!

Update: see this, from Music Week.

The Other Operation to produce “Walking A Tightrope”

We’re delighted to announce that The Other Operation will be producing the audio version of Olivia Cox-Fill’s extraordinary book “Walking A Tightrope – Memories of Wu Jieping, Personal Physician to China’s Leaders”.

When Dr Wu Jieping was selected by Chinese Premier Zhou En lai as his personal physician, he had little choice in the matter though it transformed his life, not always in a positive way. Olivia Cox-Fill got to know Dr Wu Jieping following the death of Zhou En Lai and while Mao’s wife was still in prison. He had attended several of China’s leaders, including Premier Zhou En Lai, Chairman Mao, Liu Shao Chi and Madame Mao. Over a period of three years, Olivia Cox-Fill interviewed Dr Wu and gathered vivid and unique recollections of his contacts with the Chinese leadership. But Wu specified that none of these memories should be published until after his death, which occurred in 2011, since its frank revelations would lead to state repercussions. The memoir reveals the appalling conditions in China as experienced by one of its most famous doctors, who carried out research into TB and kidney cancer while attending to the health of the country’s leaders. It also shows what it took to survive in Communist China at a time when most leading intellectuals were expelled to the countryside, imprisoned or beaten to death.

The book will be narrated by the author, and we expect to deliver the final masters by the end of December, 2020.

Home booths – The Pendulum Swings Back?

Audiobook publishers have been courting narrators with their own home recording facilities for some time.  The reason is obvious – it’s cheaper.  Even paying the reader a ‘premium’ for using their own booth still saves money compared with hiring a real studio with an engineer/producer at the helm.

Home booth productions can also have tighter deadlines, because narrators will sit up all night in their cupboard under the stairs, attic or converted study to get the work done.

But there are signs that the tide is turning.  Publishers are seeing negative comments being left by reviewers on audible and other sites about background noise, intelligibility and ‘tone’.  Editors are complaining about having to spend more time than they can afford ‘fixing up’ problems with the recording.  And we’re seeing proof-readers actually turning down work from self-read authors.

And we’ve noticed that the big operators we work with are going back to being a lot more picky about audio quality than they’ve been of late.

Of course, not all “home booths” are the same.  Well-known long-standing ‘high end’ professional narrators sometimes install pro-quality facilities at home and benefit from the convenience and extra revenue this gives them.  But these are the exception.

Audiobook production isn’t the same as podcasting, for example, and sticking a USB microphone on the dining table is increasingly being seen as not good enough.  Furthermore, working solo is much harder than it might seem – and being guided by an experienced professional engineer/producer is more than worth the extra production cost.


Two More Lisa Kleypas Projects

Starting this week, we’ve got 12 days booked in to record two Lisa Kleypas novels.  As ever, Roz Landor will be doing the narration.  Justin Hill will direct Married By Morning; Neil Rosser of Spools Out will direct Love In The Afternoon.  Both will be edited and mastered by Justin Hill.

These books are the fourth and fifth volumes of New York Times bestselling author Keypas’ popular ‘Hathaways’ series – historical romances centred around the Hathaway family among London’s aristocracy in the 19th century.  We recorded the first three volumes, Mine Till Midnight, Seduce Me At Sunrise and Tempt Me At Twilight at Temple Music earlier this year.

These recordings are for Deyan Audio.

Another little private job…

The Other Operation’s inaugural session took place on 11th and 12th August.  The live room wasn’t finished, the door didn’t shut properly, none of the fabric covers had been fitted, there was building work going on just down the road and the temperature was in the mid 30s – but all went swimmingly well.  Ian Hoare (Lettuceheads) gave a typically smooth performance singing a short piece composed by Pip Burley to lyrics by Bob Justice.  Apart from Ian, everything was virtual (Ivory for the piano, and multiple tracks of East West Hollywood Strings Gold)