Custom Production Work? Here's 3 Tips!

Hey guys, this is Zion from the Triple Threat Artist and I'm at the beach in Oregon and it is beautiful here. The smoke has dissipated quite a bit. It's actually very, very, very nice and I'm on vacation! But today I wanted to talk to you guys about custom work.

Now and then as a producer, you're going to have opportunities to do a piece of custom work for somebody. So what do I mean by that? That means somebody's going to come to you and say, Hey, instead of pitching me something you've already made, would you be interested in actually creating a piece of content, a song, or producing something, or writing something for a spot. That might be a brief, that might be a commercial, that might be whatever it is.

And so now and then that happens - and it all depends on the price. It depends on whether or not I think I could do it for me to even go after it, but sometimes I do. And this weekend I got approached about creating a piece of music for a podcast, which is really interesting. I've never had that before. So they need something for the beginning of a podcast and then little stingers in the in-between, and then an outro as well. So I had to create a piece of music.

They gave a bunch of references. They gave different songs. And one of the songs is by an artist named Michael. He's an incredible artist - he is one of the best artists right now. I'll put the link in the description, but I'm gonna just call him Michael. If you're familiar with the show, Big Little Lies. He did the song that is the intro for that show. I don't think that was a custom piece of work. I think that song was already out, and that show chose that song as their intro. And it's a fantastic song. I think this guy is one of the best artists right now - of all time. I think he's phenomenal. And again, I'll put the link below,.

They had referenced a couple of songs of his as what they're kind of looking for. So I wanted to talk to you guys about three lessons or tips for doing custom work that might be helpful to you.

Number one is capturing the emotion. Oftentimes when a client says, Hey, we like this song. What they're saying is we like the emotion of the song. We liked the way the song makes us feel. And that is vitally important because it doesn't necessarily mean they want the exact instruments or the exact tempo or exact whatever. They're looking for the emotion. And trying to identify what that emotion is, can very hard. It's very difficult. And sometimes I nail it and sometimes I really miss the mark, but that's one of the first things I do is I try to figure out what it is they're actually asking.

Number two is having the humility to make edits. When you do custom work, you're going to send the piece of work back and say, what do you think? And guaranteed, they're going to have changes, or they're going to say, I like this, but I don't like this. And that's actually a good thing.

If they didn't say any of that, they probably just don't like it. And they're like, eh, this isn't working. But if they come back with edits, that is a good thing. Listened to those edits! Have the humility to make those changes! Because you're on the right path - you might have a chance of hitting the mark! So that's a big one. A lot of producers, songwriters, creative music makers, other creatives - have a difficult time with that one. They don't like to be humble because they think everything they do is awesome or they're afraid they can't make those changes correctly. And here's the deal: you may not be able to, but a professional tries! They give it a shot, right?

Number three is understand the medium in which people are going to be listening to it. Now, one of the weird things about what I'm doing right now is I'm doing this is for a podcast, which means the song is going to be played back in mano. I don't know if you guys listen to podcasts or audio books, but whenever they have music in it, it's in mono and it sounds terrible. So I have to know that going into it, that whatever I do, I need to mix it, such that it sounds decent in mono. And which means it can't have any phase issues. That's a little bit difficult and hopefully I can make that work. There's utility plugins in your DAW that usually allow you to listen to whatever you're listening to in mono. So that's going to be the final phase. If they like what I'm doing and they're liking the direction I'm going, I'm going to put it in mono and try to mix it that way. So that it sounds the best I can with that limitation.

So again, just knowing what medium, what way in which your audience is going to be listening to it is really, really important. If the custom piece of music is for a commercial, you want to know how it needs to start right away, right? Because commercials, they don't have much time. If it's to be played in a club or something like that, you want to make sure that bass is really nice and round and works really well on subwoofers, just knowing the kind of medium that your audience is going to be listening to is super important.

Again, as a recap, the first one was knowing the emotion of the track you're going after for a custom piece of music. The second one was having the humility to make edits. And the third one is knowing the medium in which it's going to be played back on.

Those are my tips for a custom piece of content. This is Zion at Triple Threat Artists. I'm going to be posting videos like this that are just talking about the philosophy and my thoughts about making music. Myself and Josh, Josh Doyle, who is my collaborator and Co-business partner over at the Triple Threat Artists. We're going to be making more videos like this. I hope you like it. And if you have any questions, put it in the comments below and come check us out at the Triple Threat Artist.

All right. Signing off. Bye.

Zion

 

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Layering Sounds in Battery 🔋

Hello! It's Josh Doyle from Triple Threat Artists!

Today we are going to be talking about Battery, which is a drum sampling plugin from Native Instruments. We are just going to be covering some of the features that I use the most. These are going to be basic and beginner features like layering sounds.

So, you'll see here that we've got a bunch of kits to choose from. And I've got two funk kits loaded up right here and I have a beat that I had programmed. So we'll just listen to that really quick.

(Beat Plays).

Nice and simple. And you see which sounds are being triggered when they light up here when the beat plays. So you see I've got the kick and then a rim shot for kind of an offbeat and then a snare drum sound, right? So that's cool and everything. But what if you wanted to layer a sound? That's what we're going to be talking about today.

So let's say that this snare drum is a bit too skinny, too skinny for my taste, and I wanted to layer it with this.

(Beat Plays).

All right? I didn't like either one of them by themselves, but together I really like how it sounds so I could just play them at the same time on the keyboard, you know, or I could just layer them together so that they both trigger when I just hit one key, and you'll see right down here. Right now I've got this open hi-hat funk sample selected and it triggers with the key range of C sharp one to C sharp one. So anytime that I hit C sharp one, it's going to trigger that sound. And then over here, this snare funk one gets triggered by key D one. So if I wanted to layer those, I could take either one of these and change it so that this D one, if I'm just dragging down now gets triggered by anything between C sharp one and D one. So now when I hit, see how they both light up and you can hear.

So let's suppose that this one right here is just a bit too loud. When I hit these together, I can just lower the level of just that one by dragging this down. Now let's listen.

(Beat plays).

That's a little bit better. Let me bring it back up just for a reference really quick.

(Beat plays).

Actually, I was selecting the wrong one here, so let's bring this back up. You need to make sure that you're selecting the right one and we'll bring this back up.

(Beat plays).

All right, and let's say a that I like it, but I'd like it just to be a little bit more high pitch. We can actually tune it up a little bit.

(Beat plays).

And now that's what those two sound like together when with this yellow snare funk one pitched up.

(Beat plays).

All right, so that's how you layer sounds. You basically pick one and another and you just make sure that at least one of those has the same key range. So this one has E two and this one has D sharp too. So I can just take this one and just drag it down to D sharp too. And now they'll both trick.

(Beat plays).

There you go. And you can do that for as many samples as you like. You can get them all to trigger at the same time. Have fun!

Cheers!

Josh

https://www.thetriplethreatartist.com/

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4 Things Musicians Should Be Doing During Lockdown



Four things I think you should be doing as a music artist right now, during this COVID-19 lockdown.

 Join the Production Playground  (Begins April 20th)

Number one, social distancing should mean physical distancing, but not social isolation. You can socialize through the web, through Skype, through zoom, through all kinds of different programs, Facebook, live, FaceTime, whatever. You should be doing that every day. You should be collaborating and connecting with other musicians, even if you're not working on a song, just reaching out and connecting.

 Join the Production Playground  (Begins April 20th)

Number two, you should be writing music every day. Spend a little bit of time writing some music, especially about your feelings during this time. This is a moment we will probably never live through again, hopefully, and it would be amazing if you came out of this experience with some incredible expression that would never come unless you'd gone through it.

 Join the Production Playground  (Begins April 20th)

Number three, if you have the means, try to do Facebook live and YouTube Live performances.

If you're singer sing, with your guitar, or your piano or your instrument of choice and go live. The world needs to hear your music and this is a wonderful time to share that a lot of people have the ability to just turn on your performance or your concert while they're cooking or while they're eating and doing other things, and you could really build your fan base during this time.

 Join the Production Playground  (Begins April 20th)

Number four is you should be increasing your education in music production. Why? Because no matter whether or not you ever want to be a producer, if you want to become an artist, a songwriter, a singer, etc... if you know some stuff about how to capture that, your sounds and your songs via your computer, your phone, your iPad, whatever, you are going to be dangerous, you're going to command a lot more attention and you can move a lot faster.

This is a perfect time to grow in your production skills.

 Join the Production Playground  (Begins April 20th)

So myself and my friend Josh are putting on a free one week workshop to help anybody that wants to learn how to use their DAW, whether that's Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic, Studio One, whatever. And we're going to show you some really cool tricks in guitar production, drum production, vocal production, synthesizers, and mixing.

We would love, love, love to have you there!

xxx - Zion

Join the Production Playground 
(Begins April 20th)

 

 

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Crossfades (Quick Tips)

 

Hey, it's Josh Doyle from Triple Threat Artists!

Today I want to talk about Crossfades - and when you would want to use a narrow crossfade versus a wide crossfade, and how it can impact some of the creative edits and creative choices that you want to make.

I'm going to start here with a simple vocal just by itself. And let's check this out - and we're going to make some some creative edits to this. We're going to change it up. So let's take a listen here.

(Audio Plays)

Okay, so let's let's take the ending first. Let's suppose that I wanted to extend how long she holds this very last long note here. So let's find where she kind of settles on that long note.

(Audio Plays)

So it's right around here.

(Audio Plays)

All right, so let's say that I wanted the vocal to last twice as long on that note here. So good to do a command 'D' to duplicate. All right, and now I'm going to zoom in here and make sure we've got a little crossfade leftover. So let's just listen to what we have here.

(Audio Plays)

Okay, so we have that little pop happening, right? Now, let's do this. Let's first take this section and just bring it back over a little bit. So we have a bit of audio from both sides to crossfade with, and now I'm just going to do a small crossfade on this like that. So it's something really small. You can barely see it when I zoom out. And now let's listen.

(Audio Plays)

Okay, so that got rid of the pop, but you can still kinda hear the point where the edit happens, right? So in a case like this, when I've got long notes that I'm trying to make a seamless transition, I will do a wider crossfade something maybe like this. And now let's try this and see what this sounds like.

(Audio Plays)

All right, and we're getting just a little bit of of the previous note in there. So now let's listen. I just nudged it back over so we're we're getting kind of a cleaner transition.

(Audio Plays)

Okay, so now you hear that. Now you can still hear a little bit of the point, but it's not such a drastic point, right? Kind of a smoother transition

(Audio Plays)

And especially in the music - that's gonna just blend right in.

So now, let's now let's take a listen to a section where we might want to use a small crossfade. So let's see. Let's start here.

(Audio Plays)

Okay, so let's suppose that we wanted to duplicate or maybe extend this beginning section here. Let's do something like that. I'm going to duplicate this and let's hear what it sounds like now.

(Audio Plays)

All right, so we've got those pops in there, but let's suppose that we generally like that idea. So I'm going to select both crossfades, do the command 'F' in Pro Tools, and now that is going to automatically create, let's see, a 10 millisecond crossfade automatically on both of those. So that's what just happened there, right? So now we've got crossfades on both of these. So now let's listen

(Audio Plays)

So that's okay. You know, this isn't going to be perfect because it's still gonna sound like an edit, but let's see if we can just make this a little bit smoother. Let's drag this out a little bit and see what that sounds like.

(Audio Plays)

All right, we're, we're kind of getting there, right? We're, we're smoothing this out a little bit. Sometimes it takes a little finessing.

(Audio Plays)

Bring that back just a little bit more.

(Audio Plays)

All right, and maybe let's make this crossfade a little bit wider.

(Audio Plays)

Let's just bring it back. Maybe something like this.

(Audio Plays)

All right, so now we're getting a little bit closer.

(Audio Plays)

So there's still a little bit more finessing that I would do with this, but you can hear how where you place the crossfades at the edit point, and how wide of a crossfade you choose, can really impact how the edit sounds.

So give this a little consideration next time you're editing pieces of audio together. All right. Have fun!

Cheers!

Josh

https://www.thetriplethreatartist.com/

 

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Create Harmony Using a Melody Track

Hey this is Josh from Triple Threat Artist! 

I've got something really cool to show you! I made a harmony out of just one vocal track! I'm just gonna jump right in here and show you exactly what I did. This is the full thing right here.

(See video for full explanation and demonstration)

Cheers!

Josh

https://www.thetriplethreatartist.com/

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Pitching Plugin of the Pros: WAVES SoundShifter

 

Hey it's Josh from the Triple Threat Artist!

I just wanted to jump on here real quick and share this new plugin that I recently found. I hear that this one is really popular in the EDM and dance producers world! They've known about this for a while but I just recently found out about it and I'm super impressed with it. The sound quality is amazing for what it does and it's really simple to use.

It's called SoundShifter and it's made by Waves (see note below for purchase information) and what I've done here is I've just thrown this on an acoustic guitar buss and it basically just shifts the pitch up or down however you want. You can see here that I've drawn in some automation so it's gonna go up and then back down. Just listen to the quality of this!

(See video for complete information!)

The SoundShifter plugin will have full functionality for ProTools users, but other platforms can benefit from the sound shifting capability.

Let me know in the comments what you guys think about this one!

Cheers,

- Josh

Here's a link to purchase SoundShifter - contact our friend Kyle Malone ([email protected]). Kyle is our go to man at Sweetwater. Let him know you're a student with the Triple Threat Artist! No guarantee he can offer any consideration, but worth it.

 

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Tricks for Recording Troublesome Vocals 🎙



Hey everybody, it's Josh from The Triple Threat Artist again to talk about troubleshooting difficult singing situations. Or.... You could say it another way. Troubleshooting difficult singers!

Sometimes we get a singer that we're working with. It might be ourselves, or perhaps it's somebody else. We might just have a really difficult situation with 'sibilance'. Sibilance refers to, for example, S's - the over pronunciation or exaggerated S's in our performances.

I would like to talk about that and then discuss 'plosives'. These are the hard P's and B's. Plosives are a consonant that is produced by stopping the airflow using the lips, teeth, or palate, followed by a sudden release of air. The most common are the P, D, G, and B. They can jump out in certain phrases.

I'm going to talk about different ways to troubleshoot these two issues. I've got a little prop here. We're going to use this fun little mic!

Sibilance:

One of the first things that I do when I've got a sibilance issue, I will angle the mic up or down from where the singer's mouth is. A lot of times we'll just have the mic right in front of their mouth or something like this. And you'll find that if you make an S sound with your mouth and move your jaw - the sibilance - the S sound - can actually be directional.

*See video for full information including demonstration*

Cheers,

Josh

https://www.thetriplethreatartist.com/

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What You Need To Know About Mixes and Stems

Hey everybody! Its Josh from The Triple Threat Artist!

Today I'm going to talk about stems, and the final files that you're going to need, or that I recommend that you have, whenever you're finishing up a song.

A lot of times people just bounce their final mix, and maybe an instrumental mix, but I recommend that you actually do stems also, even if they're not immediately requested.

It's great for archiving your song, and if there's ever a time where you need to go back - you know, several years later - five to ten years later to redo a mix or something like that - having the stems is a great way to save your place. Especially when plug-in manufacturers might not keep their plugins updated.

Opening old DAW session files can be a big pain - so this is a great way to archive your session.

So the very first thing that I do is I will pick my start point and my end point and I will just do a bounce of the mix…

...

Cheers,

Josh

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The 2-Track Challenge (walk-through)

*Partial Transcript Follows - See Video for Full Information*

Hey everybody! Late last week I put out a new challenge for the Triple Threat Artist group and I want to go through what that challenge might look like.

In your session - when you go after it - basically the outline is that I want you to create a piece of music - something really simple. It's not really about the music in this challenge - it's about how good you can make the music sound using only two instruments - two sounds - really.

So let's say that in my example here I've got a bass drum and an acoustic guitar. These are going to be the two sounds that I'm using. For each one of these you can double it so you can have two acoustic guitar tracks - but I want them playing the exact same thing so we're really just using it as a thickener effect .

I use a closed mic on the bass drum and then one room mic. Those are my two bass drum tracks that I can use to kind of thicken up the bass drum sound.

Then, with that, you can bus those two tracks of each instrument - each to their own aux track and to their own bus, and then you can process them there. Then you can send them to your master bus and process it there - but the only plugins that we're using is our compression and EQ.

We can then use two effects - so a reverb and a delay if we want. In this instance, I'm just using a little bit of reverb on the acoustic guitar. We'll go through how this is all laid out here.

(See video for the remainder)

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with. Happy Producing !!!! 

Cheers,

xxx - Josh

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1% Improvements

Hey everybody!

Today's little nugget of inspiration comes from James Clear. He's an author who wrote the book "Atomic Habits" (it's the book I'm reading right now).

He's got a little section in there that talks about "1% improvements" and about how we think that we need to be making these big leaps and bounds in the process and the progress that we make. And how, everybody, no matter what you're doing, gets frustrated when we don't see improvements every day we're working on something.

He has a couple of stories about this. One is the British cycling team that was notoriously horrible for decades. So much so that a bicycle manufacturer didn't want to sell them bicycles because they didn't want to be associated with the British team. They were that bad! They didn't want the British team to be seen riding their bikes.

They got a new coach and this coach was all about these 1% improvements. These little micro improvements that everybody else ignored. He believed that if you keep adding up these 1% improvements, you eventually get to significant improvements! And have advantages that other people wouldn't have.

He also uses the metaphor of ice freezing or rather ice melting. Ice melts at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, zero degrees Celsius, and if you're making these little one degree improvements, you might not see anything happening. So, if ice melts at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and you're starting at 20 degrees - you move from 20 to 21, nothing  happens.

21, 22, nothing happens. 23, 24, 25, til you're all the way there and you're thinking nothing is happening!  Until... you get to that 32 degrees, and the ice melts! You're like, oh!! It seems like magic! But really, it's all of those degrees that you had to go through to get to 32 degrees before anything happened.

What we need to remember is that as long as we're making progress, as long as we're moving forward, these progresses are adding up. It's all accumulative.

All right, so remember that and keep moving forward!

Cheers,

Josh

https://www.thetriplethreatartist.com/

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