Marathon Runners Are 'Effing Insane 🏃🏼‍♂️

Have you ever wondered why the hell people run marathons?

I just found out that every year there’s over a million people that complete a marathon around the world. And some events are so popular that they have waiting lists just to race, just for people to put themselves through 26 miles of torture! This is my idea of hell LOL.

Oh, and guess how many people win each marathon race? 

.... One.

So, do the thousands of people that come across the finish line actually care if they were the 1st? No, nearly all of them do it for the race itself, and not because they need to be first.

They run marathons for the run itself. Because it's there, it's their community, it’s uncomfortable, it's a challenge, it brings out their best, it makes their bodies and minds sharper, it allows them to see their potential, etc.  Fun fact, most people signing up for these races are not professional, world classes competitors. They are moms and dads, college students, aunts and uncles, blue and white collared professionals.

The marathon is just like our practice of making music. 

Music making is our Marathon running.  

We do the work for the work itself. It’s not for the “client”, although it might make a client happy (and this is a great way to keep us on the hook). It’s not for the money, although the better we get the more people will pay us. And it’s not for the fame, even tho it could have that result if we keep at it.

The music itself is the client. We revere the craft and feel honored to take part making it with others, attempting something new and original. The practice of making new music calls us to work hard and to try our best. It calls us to show up and give something new to the world. 

I have a personal goal of working on making new music every single day. Seven days a week, without exception. This is one of the ways I keep myself on the hook, and to not fall out of practice.

In the second half of 2021 I was so preoccupied with other projects and personal life challenges that I fell out of practice. I wasn’t creating music, either by songwriting or producing. And if I were honest with myself, I would have to admit that during that time I was NOT an artist. 

We can only can call ourselves artists IF we are making art. Or put another way:

We don’t make music because we are artists, we are only artists BECAUSE we make music.

This is something I’ve learned the hard way, and recently had reiterated to me through Seth Godin’s book The Practice, that I highly recommend you read.

If you want to join myself and other like minded music makers who do the work FOR the work, and who make music like crazy marathon runners, I strongly suggest joining On the Hook. Each week we get together and make new music through playing games that I set out, under a limited amount of time. This has been extremely instrumental in helping us all get into the rhythm of making new music in a consistent fashion.

Join us, we have a new game starting tomorrow morning at 10am PST. Register here to get the zoom link and info:

I'd love to see you there.


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How 'Woo-Woo' Are You About Songwriting? (and is it helping?)

In his book, The Practice, Seth Godin mentions a story of how Bob Dylan wondered if his inspiration for songs came through some sort of ghost or supernatural circumstance. Seth goes into detail on how this sort of thinking is complete nonsense. 

Inspiration is fleeting. And oftentimes the best art and songs come out of just exercising our practice.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how often I've felt that same way as Dylan, especially when I was first starting to write songs. 

When we have that first moment of genius, we often are confused how we attained this gift. It's hard to wrap our heads around all the intuitive, conscious and subconscious thoughts pouring through our brains that allowed us to take our knowledge of melody, rhythm and chord progressions, and then create something that wasn't there.

It feels like magic. 

And I love magic, I mean who doesn't. But making music and creating songs is a discipline that you get better and better at the more you do it. 

Sure you'll have some days where you're in the flow, and songs fall into your DAW as smooth as butter. But waiting around for this to happen is crazy!  

Your capacity to write new music and create brilliance is so much bigger than you realize. And by practicing your craft weekly, if not daily, you are constantly in that flow. 

Sure it's hard sometimes. But that's why few people do it so regularly. 

It's time you joined us this Saturday for another game of On the Hook. This week we are going to be producing a fusion track that's a mix of latin and electronic genre. It's going to be crazy fun, and probably really challenging. 

.... this could be exactly what you need.

We are the crazies. The ones disciplining ourselves to The Practice of making music.  

And while most artists and songwriters are waiting for the Universe to speak into their brain directly, we will be busy writing and producing dozens of new songs.

You should consider being a crazy person like us.


Join us!






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Sorry, It's Not For You 🙃

One of the best lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and artist is to have these four words on the tip of my brain when I begin sharing my work. 

“It’s not for you.”

This doesn’t have to be in anger or some weird passive aggressive way. Rather, by knowing that sometimes what I’m making is not going to resonate with the majority of people is 100% totally ok!  In fact it would be really weird if I rarely said it!

When I first started off seeking to make a difference with my tunes and ideas, I approached it like you would making a lasagne. “What are the ingredients and flavors I need to inject into this recipe that appeals to the most people?”

When we do this we create mediocre lasagne. There’s nothing really special or significant about it. It tastes typical and totally expected. No one calls their mom and will tell her about your amazingly average lasagne.

When we seek to make change through our art or ideas we MUST come at it from a strong voice, or uniqueness that will get noticed. Some will be repelled by what we have done, but it’s not for them. 

But then others will love where you are going, the new take you provided, the new sound, rhythm, video, voice, effect… etc.  Those are the people that we have gained trust with, and will follow you, buy your music, and support your vision. It’s for them!

Being an artist is fucking scary. And if you’re currently undergoing the pressure cooker of “make music that appeals to the masses”, and you don’t want to. …. well…. You have my permission to stop that.

The world doesn’t need you to be Adele, Lady Gaga, Sia, Björk, Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger, or Ed Sheeran. It has all those amazing artists already.

But there’s only one of you. Be unique baby!

I urge you to use these internal words often while you bravely put out art into the world. Like, if you know what you’ve made is good, and you’re proud of it, there will likely be many others that will love it also.

And for the rest… well, just quietly tell them, “it’s not for you.”

And then show it to 100 more people.


PS: I have a weekly get together with other home music makers over Zoom every week called On the Hook. Each week I give people a game that involves them making music using their production tools, but they have to do it in less than an hour. Then we get together at the end of it and listen and encourage each other on how to grow and get better. Join us this week?

Click Here





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The Sting 🐝

This week I submitted a demo track over to a licensing agent that I had a lot of excitement about.

Her response was “I don’t even know what genre this is, or what I would do with this”.

Ouch, that was not what I expected. I thought it would blow her socks off, but instead she was just left confused and slightly repelled.

Suddenly, I was forced to see it through her eyes and ears. The stellar horn part I thought was badass sounded like “circus” music to her.

Yeah, I felt disappointed, sure. But honestly not for long.

Because she just gave me incredibly important feedback that I needed to hear. And she was totally right. I was so close to what I made that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

And this isn’t my first rodeo.

Within an hour or so I was laughing about it. And the reason I can laugh is because I know I can easily pivot and make something different, or better, or just start over.

I’m learning to Trust My Self.

Last week I wrote about learning to not need “reassurance” from others, because of your own trust and belief in your PRACTICE. The practice of making music regularly.

Not every song will be a home run. There will be a lot of ground balls and strike outs.

Learning to dance with this reality of making bad music (or art) consistently seems crazy. But it’s the only road I know that leads us to making really great music.

By submitting yourself to the Practice you no longer have to worry about the result after hitting SEND. because you’re going to give and submit so much more! Over and over you’re going to say, “Here, I made this”. And every time it will be slightly uncomfortable.

But your commitment to the Practice will be your lifeline. NOT, whether it’s accepted or loved or validated.

And that is how you take the “sting” out of hitting SEND.

I’m so passionate about getting into a rhythmic, consistent practice. This has literally changed my life. And one way I do this is to work with other passionate homebred music makers every Saturday in an activity called On the Hook.

We get together and play a Game that I’ve come up with, to be worked in less than an hour. It’s slightly uncomfortable because it requires a push ourselves, and quick decision making. But it’s sooooo fun.

This isn’t for everyone. Forcing yourself to stay within the practice of making music is hard.

But this might just be exactly what you’re looking for right now. Want to join us this week?


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Quickly Create Work For Hire Agreements, Using Airtable and Documint

Let me show you how I automatically create PDFs, like work-for-hire agreements, using my song database in Airtable along with Documint. With a little setup work on the front end, you can save yourself so much time whenever you need to pump out another PDF, by not starting from scratch.

Links in video:

Gareth's Video on setting this all up:


My Airtable Mini-Course:

Lofi Panda Music:



---- Raw Transcription of Video ---

I'm sure most of you have run into this issue where you've got to create a Work For Hire Agreement with somebody, maybe you hired a guitarist or pianist or a violinist or singer or something, and you don't really necessarily want them to have ownership of the song, but you want to pay them for their work. So the point of this video is to show you how you can do once you've got this set up, you can create Work For Hire documents or collaboration documents or whatever kind of documents you want really, really quickly. And it's something that has saved me a huge amount of time. And today I wanna talk just about that.

My name is Zion for those who don't know me, I am the founder of the Triple Threat Artist online producer course, myself and my friend, Josh Doyle, another producer - we teach students how to become a triple threat, a singer songwriter producer, and be able to command respect with the music production that they do from home. If that interests you, if you'd like to check out what we do, click the links below, we are open for enrollment. We'd love to see you. So let's dig into this.

I'm going to show you how I do this. A tool called AirTable, and it's working with a tool called Documint, but first let me just illustrate what I'm talking about. So for those who don't know, AirTable is kind of like Google docs or Excel. It's way better. It's like Google docs in 3D. It's very, very cool. And the scope of this video is not to show you all the ins and outs and how I created at all the formulas behind this. You have to learn AirTable to do that.

I just want to show you what's possible and then give you the resources. If you want to do that. I actually have a small 10 part Mini-course on how to use AirTable. And it's super cheap. If you'd like to check that out, it's below - that'll help you get started and creating formulas, but I just wanna show you what I'm doing here first of all.

I'm going to use this as an example. I'm the music director for the LoFi Panda Music channel on YouTube. I'll put the link below and we put out songs every single week. And so what I do is I curate songs from other producers and pay them for their time and for their work. And I put it all together and I either mix it myself or I have somebody else mix it, but I kind of run this channel.

Okay. So I've gotta pay my people. I gotta pay my producers, my mixers. So this AirTable sheet is actually how I do that. So let's take one of my guys, his name's Geno. He's an awesome producer. I create basically a new record in here. This is kind of like, this is the new invoice. I can kind of call it 25 and I'm gonna select the songs that I need to pay him for. Now I have this filtered so that I only see the songs I have not paid him yet for. And I'm gonna go ahead and add those in here. And when I add 'em, it disappears from the available list. And after I've got all those in there, I'm gonna come over and create a date for this. Let's say it's the 6th of December. And it's gonna put all the songs in here and I'm just gonna click this create agreement button.

Now what happens is I have an automation that's running in here, and that automation is going out to a program called Documint and it's creating an invoice for me. So now I can just click this. And the invoice was created for me. I've had it, the whole thing filled out. It's got the date, myself, my company, the work set, I call it the smorgasboard 25 is just my funny name for it. All the terms do not copy my text in here. This is proprietary. So this is not to be copied, but at the very end of it, I have my signature. I've got the date and I've got a place for him to sign and agree to and date. And then in the scheduled work, I have the rate I pay him for and the amount I'm gonna cut out a check for and all the songs listed as well at the very end.

And that's all done in Documint. So I've put this together. Documint is not very expensive. It's like $20 a month. And you can have up to like 200 documents a month that you're creating, but it's taking these variables from AirTable and taking whatever those variables are from this going back here from this AirTable workspace and or table, and it's filling it in, it's filling in all those little cells and then creating a document and then putting it into my AirTable.

Then I can actually go click send email, and it'll send him an email with this document. And then he signs it and sends it back. And then I pay him. It's pretty slick. And this has saved me a huge amount of time. Again, the scope of this video is not to show you all the nuts and bolts of how to do this.

The scope of this is to show you that you can do this, that this is possible. And with a little work, a little - you know, finessing and learning AirTable and learning Documint, and you can do this yourself. You can create this kind of template yourself.

I'm gonna put a link to AirTable below. I'm gonna put a link to my AirTable, a little course. It's a mini-course on how the whole thing kind of operates and how it works.

And I'll put a link to Documint and to couple other videos a buddy of mine named Gareth puts out great videos and he shows exactly how to set this up.

All right, guys, I hope that helps. I'll see you next week for another tutorial. In the meantime, if you have any questions, hit me back, hit reply to this email or put comments below in the YouTube video. See you guys.



This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service

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What Would You Like To Learn the Most?

This week I want to invite you to send me an email, or comment below in the YouTube video, with suggestions on what you'd like to learn in the coming weeks/months. Every now and then I like to check in with you guys and make sure I'm scratching the right itches. So let me know, send me an email, fax, or pigeon! I'm all ears.


---- Raw Transcription of Video ---

What's going on Triple Threats!

So this week is a little different. This week is me asking you: what can I do to help you?

Are there any subjects I can do to help you learn better music production from your home, audio recording, MIDI recording, synthesizers, drum production instruments, VST's, software, or maybe it's organization or motivation, distribution, you know, on the CDBaby and Distrokid, those kinds of things.

I want to find out what questions you guys have so that I can tailor my future videos more in line with the community, our Triple Threat community, you guys.

So if you will do me a favor and reply back to this email or comment in the YouTube video. If you're looking at this, just on YouTube, just comment in the YouTube video. What is something you would like to see more information about? What is something you've searched recently that I could research and do the legwork for you and help find the solutions and solve your problem in that area.

Or if you're on email, if you're getting us through email, please just reply back. I wanna hear from you guys. I wanna find out what I can do to help you. As you know myself, Zion and, hi, and my friend, Josh, who's an awesome producer, we have a little class called the Triple Threat Artist online production course, and it's open for an enrollment. If you guys would like to sign up, it's a subscription based service so that you can quit any time. You're never locked into like a long agreement and we have a sale going on.

So if that interests, you check out the links below. Otherwise, I can't wait to hear from you and I will talk to you next week.

Next week, I'm going to actually be talking about creating work for hire and PDF documents automatically so you, that doesn't take any more time from you and doing it from AirTable, which I'm really excited to show you. And it's something that I've been wanting to bring to you guys for a while. So if that interests, you make sure you tune in next week and check it out.

All right, until next week, I'll talk to you later.



This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service

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Turn On Your Phone's FOCUS Mode When You're Writing Music

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

What's up guys today. I want to talk about Focus.

I really believe what separates a lot of people from being successful at their hobbies or the career and being happy and making money and those that don't, is this one thing. And it's the ability to focus. It's not intelligence is being able to do one thing without constantly being interrupted and it really drilled down and get good at something.

And I think the people that are going to be successful tomorrow are the ones that can block out all the fricking noise that's going on right now. And this applies so much to musicians and artists.

Today. I want to show you how you can make your phone work for you and helping you stay on track, helping you stay focused by using the "Focus Modes". And it's going to look like this. I'm going to just show you real quick before we're going to dive into it.

This is my home screen. Got some apps on it. I'm on an iPhone obviously, but this applies to Android too. They have their own way of doing this. I can slide down from the right and they have all these different focus modes.

Now it used to be just do not disturb and then not do not disturb. But now there's all these focus modes. I've created different focus modes. I'm going to select music and go back to my home screen. And all I see on my screen is just music apps and widgets that I have told to be on there when I'm in this mode and I'm not going to get interrupted by people. I've got all my notifications turned off. I've got the little red badges turned off. I'm not going to see any emails pop up. I'm going to focus in on writing music.

So which apps do I use? I use these widgets at the top. I have something called "Just Press Record." Literally. You just hit the app and hit record and start making an idea. This is great. If you're trying to come up with a melody or a chorus line, or you have some thought in your head, I use this all the time. It's it also works on the apple watch and you just a button you hit and you can just start talking and recording syncs perfectly with it. Great, great app. They have their own widget, which is nice.

I also have "My Notes." I can click my notes. I've got tons of song ideas, all ready to go. And if I need some inspiration or some lyric ideas. I've got Spotify here in case I want to go in and check out some references. And then I've got a bunch of my studio apps.

I've got a metronome, I've got rhymes zone. If I want to pull that up and check out a rhyme. If I'm looking for rhymes on something, I've got a folder full of other apps that I use oftentimes when I'm working on a song.

So anyway, this can be custom made. However you want to do it, but this is absolutely critical for when I'm working on music because I don't want to be distracted. The reason I'm so passionate about the subject is I'm very easily distracted. I have a hard time focusing.

That's why I actually love books like this. This is one of my favorite books called "The One Thing." It really helps you figure out what you're supposed to be doing every day. I highly recommend this. I'm going to make another video on just this book at some point. But I have looked at thousands of productivity apps, not thousands … I've looked at dozens and dozens and checked out a lot of different ways of trying to be productive.

And this is one of my favorite things. This just came out in the last iOS update, this focus mode. And I want you guys to use it. It's unbelievably critical.

My name is Zion. And if you don't know me, I'm the founder of the Triple Threat Artist online producer course, myself and Josh Doyle, a friend, an amazing producer, together we support students who want to become a triple threat, a singer, songwriter, and producer so that they can command respect with their music.

When they sit down to record something, they get people's attention because it actually sounds good whether they take it to another producer or pitch it as a demo. It sounds good, if that interests you, if you want to check out what we're doing and be part of our community, click the links below, we would love to have you.

We also have a couple of freebies on our website - gifts for you. So check those out as well.

So how do I create this? How do I create this focus mode? I'm going to show you a couple of other ones real quick.

I've got another one here called Get Known Service. This is a business I run. And when I turned that on it just shows me the apps for that. There's email. There's a couple of different productivity apps, things I used to run my business.

And then I also have one for painting. I love to paint. It's my way of relaxing. I've got a YouTube widget that widget up there actually is created. YouTube actually doesn't have a widget right now. So I had to download a widget tool. There's a bunch of great tools.

There's also one called photo widget because the photos widget that's native to iOS sucks. It doesn't allow you to customize what you see right there. And I have this as inspiration so I can click it and see all my bunch of paintings from other people and photographs that inspire me.

I've got my podcasts, I've got Spotify, I've got audible. I can just click into those things. So when I'm painting I have something to listen to. I just, I love that. I love listening to something being absorbed in something and then painting as well. All right.

And then I have notifications turned off for those things for painting. I do allow certain people, certain people in my life to interrupt me. It's not that big of a deal to me. So I allow that and I do that by customizing it.

And then lastly, I created this other focus group called morning planning. I really love this one. This has a quote right at the top. I have an app called motivation. I strongly strongly suggest getting this app. It is awesome. There's a lot of very cheesy motivational apps. This is actually very solid and it uses some of the best motivational quotes. And you can customize it depending on what you're going through.

If you need to be inspired, if you're working through depression, quotes about love or breaking up or whatever, you can do all that.

I also have my calendar. I have this is stuff I want to see in the morning. So in the morning when I wake up, I really don't want to see messages. I don't want to see email. I to just focus on my day, start thinking about what I have to do and start planning. So I strongly suggest you use these focus modes, especially for when you're writing or producing music.

It'll really help you stay in the zone and not being interrupted by a thousand silly things that distract you. They say when your focus is broken, when you're in the zone, it can take up to two hours to get back in the zone after you've been interrupted. And that is actually science. There are studies that have shown that I didn't make that up. That's amazing. I wouldn't think it would be two hours, but that's what they say.

So it's very, very important, regardless that you stay in your zone of genius. And if that's writing, if that's producing, if that's collaborating, if that's just practicing your instrument, your craft, you need to stay in that.

To customize all these things. There's a video I'm going to put in the link below and the guy walks you through exactly how to do it. If I sat here and did it and walked you through it, you'd be bored out of your mind. He does a really good job. I just followed his video and customized my screens to do this exact same thing.

But before you watch that video, I would just kind of break it down into these steps. I would, first of all, figure out what focus groups you want. Make a short list. I would not have more than five because otherwise it'll get overwhelming.

Just start with one, make a focus group. I want to do this. I want to create content at 3:00 PM every day or whatever it is. And I want this focus group to just turn on by itself, which by the way, it really cool. And it works with Siri.

And then I want you to decide what your goal is for that focus group. Is it to create content? Is it to network? Is it to have fun? Is it to do a hobby? What is your goal? And then figure out what are the apps notifications and people that are going to support you in that, that you want to be interrupted by.

If a new something comes in, maybe a new email, maybe you're waiting on requests for somebody maybe you're networking or songwriting or whatever you're doing. And you want to hear from certain people, you don't want to be blocking them, figure out who those people are and make a list for that focus group.

Then when you're ready, you're going to watch the video below and he'll show you how to set up that focus group. I think you're going to be amazed by how helpful this is for you. Do whatever you can to help keep yourself in the zone of your genius.

Guys. I hope that helps you.

If it did, please hit the thumbs up button on the YouTube video and consider subscribing to this channel and send me a note back. I'd love to hear from you.

This is Zion.

I'm going to talk to you next week.

See ya.



Step by Step walk through of how to setup Focus Mode:

Purchase The One Thing Book here:


This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service

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How To Use 808s in Conversation, and Actually Know What You're Talking About


So you've probably talked about 808's many times in conversations. And in the back of your mind, you thought, I'm not really even sure what that is and if I'm even using it right.

Or maybe you've heard it referenced in songs and you're still not sure what in the world are 808's.

This is something that people talk about a lot and they have different definitions in their brains. And so today, I want to clarify what 808's are. And this is important because it was important to me to figure this out. So I thought I'd share it with you.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

My name is Zion and I'm the founder of the Triple Threat Artist online producer course, myself and Josh Doyle, a friend and an amazing producer. We teach a small group of students online about how to become a singer, songwriter, and a producer, a 'triple threat' we call it.

Somebody that can command respect with their music productions and get the sound out of their speakers that they're hearing in their head. If that interests you, come join us. It is a subscription and you can quit anytime. We've got 138 videos to learn from and all kinds of exercises, as well as in great online community.

We also have a few freebies on our website. So check those out. Those are gifts to you.

So what is the 808? Well, first of all, we got to do a quick history lesson. So Roland came out with a drum machine back in 1980, called the TR-808. And the TR-808 was built to make synthetic type sounding drums. And it sounds a lot like this. (Audio playing)

Now you've probably heard that many times before and you weren't really sure what that was from. It sounds kind of cheesy sounds kind of eighties. In fact, it didn't even sell well in the first three years. They only sold a couple thousand units of this and they discontinued it in 1983. But it kind of took on a life of its own.

A lot of producers started using it because they didn't have to hire a drummer and studio space for a full drum set. And they could use these, even though they were synthetic sounding, they could get a drum beat going really quickly. And so the 808 sort of took on a life of its own. But the 808, again, is a drum machine. It's not just a kick drum or a bass.

It's a drum machine with all kinds of sounds. It's got a kick, it's got a snare, it's got claps. And it's got a few other little bells and whistles that high hats are really famous now as well.

At some point, somebody took the kick drum from the 808 and elongated it and started making bass frequencies and pitched it up at different places and actually started tuning that 808 sound. And a lot of sounds were built off of that idea. So oftentimes, in a song when people refer to the 808's in the song, they're usually referring to low frequency sounds that are either kick drums or bass notes, synthetic bass notes, not a bass guitar that are, the primary rhythm in the song, but in the bass frequencies, it's a very generic term.

People often use the phrase 808, completely wrong. I've heard people just talk about the baseline of a song as an 808. I've heard people talk about just a kick drum, just a normal kick drum, as an 808, which is really not true.

But anyway, that's how people call it. So when you hear people start talking about, hey, put those 808's in the song, or let's dance when the 808's hit or whatever, they're just talking about the beat coming in, the kick, the driving sub frequencies.

Now, I want to show you a few examples of 808's and how I would use them and how other producers use them. And let's explore that just a little bit more.

Almost every DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] has a drum set within it that is built around the 808's and it might not be called exactly 808 for licensing reasons. This one happens to be called - this is in Ableton Live. It's called the 808 Core Kit. And again, it sounds like this. (Audio playing).

Sounds very familiar. You put something with that and it can sound decent. I don't know if it sounds great, but it sounds decent.

So there's a vintage guitar from native instruments. I like that electric guitar plug-in a lot. So anyway I've created a little hip hop beat here and let's play around with the 808's.

So first of all, I've got a beat that I'm doing here. Funny thing is the high hats to the 808 are actually almost all hip hop beats, still use the high hats taken from that 808 drum machine. And yet when people talk about 808's, they're never talking about the high hats, even though the high hats are almost used more than the original kick drum from the 808, which is really funny. But just a little fun fact for you. All right.

So we have our beat and then we're going to add the sample in that I found off of Splice. And I've got a couple other, I got some hayes here.

So I want to add in actually other 808's besides the kick that will give some flares, some bass notes. Instead of putting a bass guitar or bass synth, I'm putting these 808's in as the base and I've created them here and it's going to sound like this.

Now I've created those using a tool called Kick. Now Kick is one of my favorite plug-ins for kick drums, but it also is great for tonal kick drums or 808 type drums or 808 type sounds. And that's what I'm using it for right now. So I've got a sound up here, and I've connected it so that it moves around with the notes and I've tuned it to the drums. So now it's playing its own sort of baseline. These would be considered 808's. It's playing its own baseline in conjunction with the kick drum. It's not trying to take away the kick drum that the 808 kick drum in the actual drum set, it's doing its own thing.

So, in this example, I used kicks and 808's working together. The 808's don't have a lot of attack. They're more just sub heavy. And they've got a lot of those bass frequencies, which really stand out nicely. The kick drum has a lot of slap to it, right? It's got a lot of attack. You don't have to do that. You could actually just use 808's and tune the 808's.

In fact, Kanye does that a lot. Do you remember the song Women So Heartless by Kanye or Heartless I think it's called? Instead of having a kick and bass in that song, he just has 808's that are tuned for each time the chord changes, which I think that there's only two chords in the song. It's a really great way to do it.

So let's review. If you're a producer and your artist says, hey, let's drop some 808's in there. Make sure you're on the same page and ask them what they think that means. Because you want to make sure that what they're not saying is, hey, I want to add some 808 claps or 808 snares or 808 hi-hats they're probably talking about 808 kicks or sub frequencies, like I just showed you, but you need to be clear on that.

If you're writing lyrics in the song and you want to drop the word 808 in which a lot of artists do in their lyrics, it doesn't really matter to define it. Just drop it in. It's cool.

If you're a producer working with another producer, you probably know what 808's are and you probably know what each other means when you talk about it.

I strongly suggest checking out the article below about 808's and the history of it. It's really fascinating. And I strongly suggest checking out videos on YouTube about how to tweak 808's, make them stick out more drop them in, the sparsity of 808's and how that makes it sound better.

There's a lot of really great videos on that and I'll put some links below.

Okay. That is your 808 lesson.

If that helps you, will you subscribe to this YouTube channel? I'd really appreciate that and hit the like button.

Thanks guys.

I'll see you next week.



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Protect Your Time. Get Yourself a Recording Sign.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

One of the funniest little purchases I've ever made, that was unbelievably valuable to my productivity is a recording sign for my studio. I put it right outside my door and when I turn it on, everybody in the household knows I am not available for questions or unless it's an emergency, please don't interrupt me.

Now, I use this both for when I'm recording somebody, recording myself, or I'm deep into producing or in the zone on working on my businesses. Anything - it's just to keep people out of breaking my concentration. Not that my household has any vindictive reason for doing that. It's just oftentimes there's bills to be paid. There's somebody coming to the door. There's a question about a service. There's a phone call. There's the yard guy. There's so many things that when you work from home, cause a massive distraction. And so I decided I'm going to get a recording sign.

My name is Zion and I am the founder of the Triple Threat Artists, an online producer course with myself and my friend, Josh Doyle, who is an amazing producer. We teach students online to become singer songwriter, producers, a triple threat. If that interests you, if you could use some help in this, come join our community. It's a boutique small community where we help each other. Everybody knows each other. It's a lot of fun. It's really, really a lot of fun.

We have office hours every week where we meet and connect and help each other. And we have 130 videos on how to learn certain things about production. If that interests you click the link below. We'd love to see you there. We also have a couple of freebies check those out as well.

All right, let's get into this.

Now I picked this up from Amazon and I'll put the link below. I personally attached mine to a little switcher that you can control remotely. It's a wifi switcher that once you hook it up, you can control it through your phone app or you can control it through Alexa, you can actually say in fact, watch this:

Alexa, turn on the recording sign.

Alexa, turn off the recording sigh.

That makes it super easy to turn on and off. Also, I use something called a StreamDeck  on my desk, which is basically a little switch box with a bunch of physical buttons. This is made for gamers, but I decided to put it to use for my businesses. And I love it because I can control all my lights. I can control my recording sign. I can set the mood for a certain type of video I want to make, I can engage certain things. It's pretty stellar. I like automation a lot.

One thing I would definitely recommend if you get into home automation stuff and you start buying lights, stick with one brand, make sure it works with apple devices. So that's apple friendly. I think they call it home kit friendly. Make sure it works with Alexa. You never know when you might switch over to another platform.

So make sure it works really well with other different applications. But stick with one brand. I have worked with five or six different brands. And so my home automation app folder on my, my phone is just chaos with the amount of log-ins I have to do. So keep it simple.

I'll show you real quick how I set up my StreamDeck in case you get one. This is the little app that comes with it that you have on your desktop and you can have different pages. I have a smaller StreamDeck. A lot of these are lot bigger and you have a lot more buttons. I don't feel like I ever need very many buttons. In fact, I think I have almost too many, but I have my home screen allows me to go into the folder that has my lights. I can turn everything on and off really quickly.

This button here allows me to kill everything. And it puts my computer into sleep mode. So I can just hit one button and walk out of the room. This button here allows me to just turn on all the lights at once. So everything's very bright. So if I'm cleaning the room or just need a lot of light in the room. This one's kind of more of a work environment so the lights are a little bit lower.

This one is more for on camera. If I want to go on camera, I have a certain settings. I can have preset. This is the launch zoom. I've got other applications. This is just a computer. This is the let me know the CPU level of my computer. These buttons actually just control how bright my little StreamDeck screen is. So if you want to minimize that, you can do that.

But I created these two buttons that are record lights. So to do that, there's a lot of, I won't go into all the features of how to set up a StreamDeck, but for this feature, for this button I used what's called a web hook.

So I'm connecting to a URL. So when this button is hit, it actually goes out into the background and goes to a URL. And that URL I created with IFTTT, that is just an automation type service. It's kind of like Zapier, where you can connect applications together. And I put a ton of made a ton of different little, what they call applets, which are like little features. Like when I hit one button, my Phillips lights turn into the ocean color, the can lights work mode. I've got all these different settings. This took me a long time.

I set this up a while back. But one of them is the record sign on and off. So if I go into that and look at that it's on right now and I can see the activity and stuff. But if I go into the settings for this basically it's saying if I receive a web request, which is what is being sent for my StreamDeck, then connect - turn on the lights for SmartLife. So I set up the IFTTT, this app with SmartLife the home automation tool that you have to have on your phone for that plug.

So, yeah, I can see some of you rolling your eyes right now. Like this seems like a lot of work. Don't worry about it. Just go turn the light on if you want to use it that way.

But if you want to geek out and have things just automated, so you can just go into certain modes and certain things happen, just know that you can get one of those plugs that you can get from Amazon, I will put the link below, put your record sign in that, and then you can automate it so that everything turns on and off when you want it to. Then you don't have to get up to go turn on the light to say to everybody in the house 'I'm not available right now.' You can do it from your desk.

All right, guys, I hope that helps if you'd like to geek out on things like that, and you've come up with solutions. I'd love to hear from you.

Please send me a note back and definitely subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the like button.

All right, I'll see you next week.




Recording Sign on Amazon:

Stream Deck I Use:

Smart Life Plug:




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The Addiction Formula (the most important songwriting book you read this year)

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

10 overly complicated steps to writing a convoluted song.

1 - Start out with one element, let's say harmony.

2 - Add a melody that goes with the chords.

3 - Spend hours, trying to find lyrics that fit both your melody and harmony.

4 - Write parts for other instruments that fit everything you have so far.

5 - Write the next section of the song in the exact same fashion.

6 - Try to find musicians that go well with the songs and record them.

7 - Attempt to make all your different ideas in your song fit together through production.

8 - Put your song on SoundCloud.

9 - Be disappointed when no one listens to it.

10 - Die alone and without anyone ever hearing your song - and your cats don't count!

This book is what I'm going to talk about today. This is a little bit different than my other videos, but this book has just completely shifted my mindset on writing and producing songs.

It's called "The Addiction Formula" by Friedemann Findeisen. If I've pronounced that wrong, please, correct me. That's the best way I can pronounce it. I have the audio book of this. I started out listening to it, loved it, and quickly realized I need to get the hard copy  because there's some diagrams and graphs in it.

So today, I'm going to tell you about what I've learned from this book. Kind of review the book. I guess it's kind of my first book review. I've never done a book review before, and tell you why I think you should read it in its completion. It's easy, easy read. Yeah. So that's what we're going to do today.

My name is Zion and I am the founder of the Triple Threat Artist online producer course, which is an amazing course in community with some incredible musicians that are learning to become triple threats.

They are singer songwriters that are trying to also add that production to their title - singer songwriter producer. So that they're a Triple Threat. The advantage of this is that if they have an idea in their head, they can quickly get it into airwaves by making it, recording it, producing it. And even if they use another producer, they can command a lot of respect in the production and convey what they're trying to do in their songs before they work with a producer. So we love helping other students like this.

Myself and my friend, Josh Doyle, who is an amazing producer - together we lead this little class. It's a great online small boutique community. If you'd like to join us, you are more than welcome. The link is below. Come check us out. We also have a couple of free tools that you are welcome to use. Just click the links below.

One is a template - It's a PDF basically - of a guide. We call it the Red Zone Production Timeline, and it shows you just the steps you need to really think about in planning your producing of a song.

The other one is something I created called Gizmo, which uses AirTable to track all the metadata for your songs so that you don't lose stuff. And you can build reports really easily and it's free so you can download it below. All right. So let's get into this.

I am going to try to explain this book as best. I know how in one pass, I'm not going to do any edits on this video. I just want to convey what I know. I'm going to talk to you like a friend here. Oftentimes when I'm doing videos, I splice things together because I can't talk in one take very well, but I want to try to just explain this to you. Just like we're in Oprah's book club, right?

So Friedman, this guy that wrote this book, he has a YouTube channel called Holistic Songwriter. You've probably seen videos of it and you didn't even know. He wrote a book. Check out the book seriously - buy the paperback and support this guy. It Is an incredible book. Get the audio book too. I love audio books. He's got a really cool German accent.

So he basically proposes that in the last 10 - 20 years, the songs that really make it to be number one hits, the hit songs of today. He's not talking about like classical music. He Is talking about like top 40 hits all use a formula that he calls the addiction formula. Even if the writers and producers didn't know they're using the formula, the formula works. And that's what rises those songs up to the top. And very few people know about this.

So what is this formula? Well, he believes that it's all about telling a story without the lyrics, telling the story. He calls it lyric-less storytelling, basically. And it's conveying story and feeling through the production, the arrangement, the elements of the song, the voices, the frequencies used, the mix. It's all conveying a story to you that is moving in such a way that grabs you and pulls you in. And it's addictive to listen to it's addictive to keep listening to, and that you don't turn it off.

He breaks it into two areas. He calls it instead of tension and release. He breaks it into tension and gratification.

So gratification, just like if you were a heroin addict and gratification is when you get that shot, right? That needle, I've never been a heroin addict. Don't don't write me any emails about this. But, it's, the gratification is getting that drug, that dose of that dopamine hit of whatever's going on and you're getting gratified, but the tension keeps you wanting more. It keeps you coming back for more.

So he believes that songs actually use energy in the forms of gratification and tension at different - he calls them hype levels, hype levels, just as a level of energy in the song, everything from a Celine Dion song to a Rage Against the Machine song, to something way more obvious like an Ed Sheeran song or something like that, they all are using these levels of hype. So I'm going to use my iPad here for a second.

So hype levels are basically stages of a song that rise and fall and usually build toward courses. So hype levels are just basically these stages. Okay. And he calls them hype and the tension is what gets you there.

So the tension is the push and pull that comes off these platforms, if you think of platforms as hype levels. So you might start low, like in a verse, and then you're building toward a chorus through the pre-chorus and finally hitting the chorus. And then you can come back down to usually a second verse, and then you're building up again, usually going into a bridge, which goes lower then it comes back up and then it ends. That's a really terrible illustration. But I think you get the idea.

So his whole thing is that if you pay attention to the hype levels and you're actually telling a story and you can't tell what the story is just by looking at a hype level graph, it's just, this is just a way of conveying how the energy performs throughout your song. And if somebody can track your song using this, that means you probably did a good job and how you arranged the total song.

Now, what happens is most songwriters, we start off with an intro that has certain, usually a low level energy go into a verse, which has a certain energy, and then maybe a pre-chorus and then go into a chorus, which is our first gratification. Okay. And then we're going to drop back into a second verse. And most people come back to about the same level as that first verse.

He proposes, that's a bad idea, and that we actually need to come to a little bit higher than the second verse. And this is telling a story because things have changed if this were a Hollywood movie, and this was a story written in Hollywood, this person has changed by the time they get to the first chorus, they're coming back to a new world and they're starting anew.

He gets all into story, writing and film and how it actually relates to songwriting. It's really, really interesting, by the way. I kind of knew some of this, but he really puts it into a way that's fascinating. And it has to do a lot with the hero's journey, which is a formula that a lot of play writers and screenwriters use when they're writing movies and TV shows. Then you go to another chorus and then the, or a pre-chorus.

And then that second chorus is typically bigger. So this first chorus was about there. The second chorus is bigger, has a new element. Something's different about it. You're on top of the world. And then there's something that oftentimes in movies, as you go into the third act of a movie, there is something - definitely changes. Now, if … this is a pattern, so if you repeated this pattern here, you wouldn't want to repeat it again. It's just, there's something about human psychology that if you repeat something, if you repeat it again, the third time, it immediately becomes predictable and boring.

So a bridge or a breakdown, or a wrap or something in your song introduces a completely different hype level. Who knows where it is. It doesn't really matter some level here. And for the sake of this drawing, I'm going to just do like this here. And this is your bridge. It's usually something very different. Something's happened. Something has changed. There's a new… There's … if it were a story, there's a new situation. The hero has encountered, or maybe he suffered a defeat and he's got to slowly build back out of it. And that's where you slowly are building back into another pre-chorus. And then finally, a triumphant chorus at the end. And you're using these tensions to build yourself into this. And your ending, finishing strong, and then, POOF, you can either end low or high or whatever you want to do to end it.

But this third act is oftentimes different. It ends the same. There's still familiarity in that chorus, but it's different. And if this were a three act play, you're going to have, I'll change colors here. You're going to have three acts 1, 2, 3. Anyway, most songs use this formula because it really works, but he doesn't propose you have to use this formula. He just says, understand this formula really well so that you can write your own energy curve so that you understand, and that you're writing with intention.


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