Producing Music - Where to start

Producing Music - Where to start

Producing is the construction of music. You have to make choices about the project as a whole and this will include things like EQ, panning, compression, lengths of the delay, when to delay, when to chop up the vocals, when to add guitar solos, how the song begins and ends, and everything else that happens in between. This is not an easy task, but it does have huge rewards that are long-lasting if you do it right.

Plugins - An open discussion

There are way too many plugins out there and you may feel confused on which ones to buy and incorporate into your workflow. Here is an open discussion for you to ask questions and get insight for all those plugins. I'll regularly post any new releases or deals that I come across for those plugins that you should consider adding to your system.

Using Playlists in Pro Tools

Using Playlists in Pro Tools

Learn more about how to get the perfect take for your vocal recordings using the playlist feature. Get your sessions more organized and utilize your engineering powers to be more efficient in the studio. Click on the post title for the full article.

Podcasting 101 - How to start up a Podcast

Podcasting 101 - How to start up a Podcast

Podcasting is a great way to sharpen your audio production skills. You have opinions and podcasting is the perfect way to convey your thoughts in an engaging media. Here are some ideas and options for gear to get your podcasting career heading in the right direction. Click on the post title to view the entire article.

Recording vocals right the first time

Vocals are the most important part of a recording. Over the years, I've heard some bad recordings that are wildly popular. It boils down to the vocals. If the lyrics and the emotion is just right, than the song will be a success. Now you should spend some time working on the music. I'm not saying that all you have to do is produce vocals, but do give the vocals the most attention. 

Start by recording a very rough scratch track and than take a few moments to listen to the context of the vocals with the music. Does the feel of the track have the flare that you're seeking? Do the vocals sound like they carry the listener through the song?  In some cases, it may be good to re-write some of the lyrics to convey more emotion or to mold into the music a bit more. This is a golden opportunity to figure out how the delay and reverb will be used to treat the vocals. Sometimes, the style of delay may lead you to a different style of singing or even slimming down some of the lyrics. 

Now of course this technique is dependent upon the context of the song, yet I've used this approach on many tracks with great success. Next post I'll discuss more about mic placement and tracking scenarios. 

The effort it takes to run a recording studio

The dream has been achieved! I am living the life I've always wanted and it feels great to work in my own studio everyday. The rewards are tremendous and there is nothing I'd rather be doing with my time. Being so immersed in my work on a constant basis has given me the knowledge and experience that is required to work at a professional level in this industry. I know many of you are looking to attain the same goal, so let me share just a fraction of my awareness with you.

First, running your own business, regardless of what you do, is no easy task. There are quite a few things you need to consider before diving into starting up a recording studio. Consider this, you'll need to cover your overhead and start up costs before you see a dime of profit. The initial investment is what overwhelms most entrepreneurs and that is just the tip of the iceberg. You're going to need a computer that is powerful enough to handle the processing, a DAW software program, an interface, lots of cables, mics, mic stands, headphones, headphone mixers, racks for gear or road cases, power conditioners, external hard drives, and potentially a studio space. This is just the foundation, there are plenty of other bells and whistles that you'll need to pull off a professional studio.

Now that that idea is rattling around in your head, tackle this notion, you will need to budget for electricity, water and sewage, garbage service, insurance, a security system, and rent. So your budget on a monthly basis is around $2,000 just to keep the doors open. That's the cheap end of the spectrum, which will probably not be adequate enough to compete in the market.

Now if you've invested a large chunk of change into an education in audio production, owning your own studio is the ultimate goal. These startup and recurring monthly costs are just scratching the surface of what you need to consider for operating a steady and reliable studio business. I just wanted to get your mind in motion for all that needs to be considered. Check back in soon as my next few posts will dive deeper into the elbow grease that is needed to keep a studio running smoothly and having the stamina to build a solid reputation to keep the machine well oiled.

How to mix reverb on vocals

This is probably the #1 question that I get asked by many of the students. This is one question that has many different answers, but one underlying theme. You have to listen to the music and find the right balance for the reverb within the mix. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision of choosing the texture and depth of the reverb so that it is audible and felt, but not distracting. If the reverb is meant to be huge, use your judgement to make sure the space is the right fit for the mood of the music. Let me go over a few examples of what reverbs should do to add to the mix and not destroy them.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is does the track need reverb. Not all songs need to have reverb! This is something that gets overlooked by amateur engineers and producers. Just because it is there does not mean you need to use it. The simple test, if the mix sounds really good without reverb, then it does not need any reverb.

If you decide that the track could use some texture, depth, width, or space, then try a few different reverbs as a starting point. I usually set up about 4 - 5 different reverbs to give options, but it is not uncommon for me to use a blend of all the different reverbs. Sometimes all you need is one reverb to achieve the sound that is needed for the mix. When one is not enough, then it is time to start experimenting with the audible pleasures of multiple reverbs. Start with two and bring the levels down so the effect of the reverb is not audible. As the mix plays back, slowly bring in the first reverb until it is just barely noticeable. Then bring in the second reverb until they two compliment each other. You may need to adjust the size or predelay to get that silky smooth sound, but make small adjustments as you go along. Just go with your gut and let your ears tell you when the level of reverb is right.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the reverb is not the main focus of the song, so it should be in the background and enhance the song. Keep a modest amount of reverb in your mixes and your songs will start to get more attention. Music is organic and has life of its own. Be sure to let the music breathe and compliment it with the space of your reverbs. When in doubt, less reverb is what will work.

http://shineonstudios.com This video is a follow up video for mixing vocals. Here you'll learn how to add different effects to your vocal tracks to help them blend a little better into the mix. Engineer David Hughes takes a female vocal track and adds a reverb, 2 different delays, and a tube saturation track to blend the vocal a little more into the track.

Music Review | Never Look Back / Words

Music Review | Never Look Back / Words

Music can be a great way to convey emotion. PSy' Aviah has found a way to capture the idea and portray it through music. The album cover is a perfect representation of where the music is going to take you. Deep electronic rhythms resonate throughout this enigmatic music and transport the mind to another dimension of emotion.

Music Review | Dirty Tricks | I Feel Remix

New Music Monday is here and I'm moving all my reviews over to this blog address. I've got a good one for you today. Dirty Tricks has released a new remix featuring Sophia Stutchbury for the track, "I Feel." Go to my soundcloud.com page and listen to their music in my NEW MUSIC playlist.

The fusion of EDM, House, Hip Hop, Rap, and Symphonic Trance are all present in this new creation from the musicians that are creating waves in the industry. You will come across the enticing sounds of Dirty Tricks before long and you can get them in your digital sound library now.

Sophia's voice is angelic. The music has a rhythm that will get your hips in motion and bring you to a higher mental state. Music is the elixir that fuels the soul and this track has all the right ingredients to get you motivated to keep soaring.

Music Review | Red Martian "Ghost into the Fog"

Beatles & vintage rock enthusiasts get excited for the new album from Red Martian. The 13th commercial release from the band has finally arrived and is a masterpiece of modern recording while retaining the classic sound of the past decades of music. The new album, Ghost into the Fog, is a collection of songs that draws the ear in closer to the music as the album progresses. With the mesmerizing vocals that are reminiscent of the iconic band Oasis from the 90's, this album has a sound that will appeal to fans from all music genres.

The saturation of the guitars ranges from the grunge era of the early 90's to the modern contemporary rock sound of bands breaking ground in the music industry today. Yet, there is a dreamy tone to the melody of the music that brings back memories of the early days in the Beatles music. If you're a fan of the Beatles or the early 60's & 70's pop rock era and you've never heard of Red Martian, then you're in for a treat! This is a band that you can add to your music collection and fall in love with their songs just as you have with the music that you've known and heard for many years. The music has energy and will have you tapping your feet to the beat. Then they slow it down and sooth you with mellow tunes that will let you drift away in to a state of relaxation and contemplation.

Ghost into the Fog is an album that will be a nice addition to any music lover's collection. The band enjoyed working with the well-known producer, Gordon Raphael. Whom has produced bands like Strokes, Regina Spektor, & Sky Cries Mary just to name a few. You'll immediately hear the care and quality that went into every step of the recording process to make the album timeless and cherished by all that hear it's music. Take a moment to treat your ears to the sound of Red Martian, there's a song on the album that will resonate with you. 

Red Martian | Tracking in the Studio

album produced by Gordon Raphael

1/2" tape recorder

Red Martian | In the Studio

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 5

Now that you've done a load of leg work to get your music out in the public and build a strong web presence, you need to focus on your fans. Gathering fans is like a wildfire, it can spread quickly or burn out in the blink of an eye. You need to keep your fans engaged in what you're doing as a band. This requires some attention to your social media content and the pace at which you release music and music videos.

Be sure to announce when you are going to release music and videos. Just as you would promote a show, you need to promote your music releases. Record Labels and licensing firms like to see that you are supplementing your hard work with an effort to reach out to the public and let them know about what you've been doing. Get in the habit of taking photos at band rehearsal and at recording studios. Post them on your social media and keep your fans engaged in every step of the process that you're taking to compose and create music. When you have a consistent following, it will grow and spread like a wildfire throughout social media. If there is a buzz about your band, then people will hear about you and at least get some exposure to you and your music. If you think your music is just that good and people will find you anyway, you're in for a rude awakening.

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 4

Now that you have created a web presence, you need to get into the public eye. Promoting your website and your music starts with good press. Find someone who will write a professional press release for you and your music. The press release should exemplify the unique qualities of your band and music. Focus should be on the sound and style of the music to draw in readers. To draw attention to the music, draw ties to influences and similar artists. Just keep it short. About 300 words is all the attention a reader will give a press release, so get to the point.

Be smart about it and provide contact info and links back to your website. Possibly set up a show that the press release directs readers to attend. Break into the music scene with some gusto. Maybe throw a house party and play in your backyard or garage. Get a keg and invite folks over. People may not be familiar with your music, so it's a good idea to turn the event into a party.

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 3

The New Position | Hard Rock

The New Position | Hard Rock

You should have a good song and a well produced recording of the music at this point. Now we need to wrap it up and present it to the world. This is where your creative ideas can come to life. Get a few good photographs of yourself that exemplify the attitude and image that you want to associate with your music. This is really half of the success of your music and career in the music industry. You need to be able to captivate the listener and get them to feel the emotion that is embedded in the music. Record labels and movie producers will take you seriously if you appear to believe in your own music, so you need to create an image that they can market with the music.

You don't have to go way over the top like Lady Gaga or Marilyn Manson, but it is very obvious that they succeeded in the music industry because their music was good and they had an image that captivated people's attention. I don't think either of them would have been such a success story if they took photos in jeans and t-shirt hanging out in their backyard. Now you don't have to get crazy with the editing in Photoshop, but I'd suggest that you hire a professional photographer and get some shots that have good lighting and are framed with an interesting background. Black and white photos are always classy and have a sense of professionalism to them. That's why so many band photos are black and white that accompany a press kit.

Once you have a few good photos, you need to get some sort of web presence. You can get a free band account on many different websites. I'd highly recommend one that offers licensing opportunities. There are a bunch to choose from, but I'd suggest starting with sonicbids.com or musicclout.com. Both of these sites allow you to upload music and create an artist profile. If you have about $10 to spare per month, I'd highly recommend you build your own website and have control over the design and look of your online presence. You can easily build your own custom site with squarespace.com or wix.com for about $10/mo. Check out some of the websites built by our studio clients: The New Position & Justin Fawsitt. Both of these sites were constructed by the musicians and only took a few moments to setup and live on the web.

This is a step that you cannot afford to overlook. You need to believe in your music and developing your image will be the foundation for the career you are going to build. Just as you got feedback from your friends and family for your music, you should also get feedback on your image. If you want to accelerate your career, hire a producer that has experience in developing musicians in the public eye.

5 Steps to Getting Your Music Licensed | Step 2

Now that you have chosen the best song to market, you need to prepare it for presentation. This next step is definitely the most important, it's time to record your music. The "sound" of your music will be the foundation of your marketing campaign. So this is where you need to slow down and evaluate the best option for moving forward. You need to invest and believe in your music, so you need a quality recording with a producer that shares your vision. Cutting corners on recording your music will hinder the success of your efforts and only wind up costing you more money in the long run.

The main focus is to get a high quality recording to exemplify the ingenuity of your musical abilities. To achieve this, you need to make sure that you're recording is done right the first time. Saving a few bucks on a unprofessional recording will only add to the cost that you'll wind up investing when you go to a professional studio and get a higher quality recording. If you want to be the best at what you do, then you need to work with professionals who can give you top quality production. Project / budget studios are great for demos and hashing out ideas, but when it comes to making the final recording, you need to invest in quality. You will only get one chance to make an impression, so there is no time to waste on mediocre sound.

When you spend all your time trying to get licensed, the music has to be spectacular. If the recording is sub-par, it will reflect poorly on the content of your music. A good engineer / producer will have the skills and knowledge to ensure your music pops! Choose a studio with a proven track record and an engineer that has serious interest in your music. A good engineer will encourage you and support you along the way. Getting guidance from someone who has experience in the industry is a wise choice. This will help you avoid common pit-falls an maximize the efficiency of your production time.

Stay tuned for step 3. We'll cover the advantages of preparation and time management.

5 steps to getting your music licensed | Step 1

You want the world to hear your music. Thus, you need to get it licensed in a movie or TV show that reaches a large audience. This is the best way to get recognition and propel your music career into a full-time job with a stable income. Over the next five days I'm going to give you some insight into how you can go about getting your music licensed.

Step one: picking the right song to market to record labels and producers. It's good to have an arsenal of songs to choose from, but you need to focus on pushing one song. How do you choose the right song to market? Easy, ask your friends, family, and fans which song is their favorite. This simple poll will give you all the insight you need to make the choice. You can post a survey through email or your website and use the data to narrow down your most popular song.

It's crucial to let your fans make the choice because this is a sample pool of the potential listers that will hear your music. This is something that a marketing rep looks for when choosing music to license. Music in a movie or a TV show can be pivotal in the success of the production and popularity in the public eye. If the music is popular on its own, then it already has established success. This is a big deal to producers.

Once you have made the choice, it is important to make sure the song is ready for submitting to licensing opportunities. We'll cover this in the next posting. Please leave any questions or comments below.