Visualize Your Mix To Elevate Your Productions

What's up guys,

If you're looking for a way of getting your head around the space that you can use and what's available to you for when you're producing and mixing, then this tutorial is for you today. I'm going to go over how to visualize the mix in your productions and then how to take advantage of that to elevate your productions.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Hey, I'm Zion, and I am the founder and one of the co-owners of the Triple Threat Artists online production course, where we teach singer songwriters how to become a producer also, so that they're a triple threat when they're making music. If you haven't done so, check out our website where you can see a whole list of our courses and the offers.

We have things like setting up your vocal chain. If you're a singer and working with other producers, keeping track of all your metadata. Getting integrated into a community with like-minded music makers and of course, a full on production course.

Okay. Now let's get into today's Video.

I want you to start thinking of songs as this big three-dimensional box. Right now, this is two-dimensional, but if I'm visualizing it, you can have elements on this side. You can have elements on this side. You can have elements up here. This would be higher frequencies. And these would be lower frequencies. So your bass usually sits down here. It sort of finds its home. It's typically kind of in the middle and it's usually in its lower frequencies. Now base, if it was all low frequencies, that's usually called a sub. But base actually has other little frequencies that kind of come up in here that give it sort of the attack. Those higher frequencies give it sort of the punch.

In general, let's just think of bass as low. Your kick drum is going to be low. Also your voice is typically somewhere in here and it can spread all over it. You know, these are very general terms, but these are things that are typically in the center.

Your guitars often spread pretty wide and oftentimes spread over a large frequency spectrum, but you oftentimes want to get them out of the way of the voice. So you could split them and make them really quite wide. And so they're way over on the left and way over on the right. Or you can put them just to the left and right of the voice, but you give room for the voice.

What you want to focus on here is giving room for things - you want to have everything in the mix to have some separation. One of the things that I get a lot of compliments on is how clean my production is. And it's because I'm working harder and harder to give everything some space.

Now, some people, they will use an EQ on the voice and EQ the voice to be just in this spot and they don't let it bleed into any other area. And the kick is just in this spot. And I feel like there's a lot of people that overdo this concept. I would just do this in general terms. So if you don't know where to put something, just get it out of the way of the voice. The top line of the voice always needs to be in the middle. Harmonies can be a little out here if you want. They don't have to be right in the middle.

Improvs - background vocals, you definitely want out here. You want to get some space with those things, think of everything in a box, think of left and right as your panning. And think of the top of the box is higher frequencies. So really high frequencies, like 10,000 Hz and low frequencies, like 80 Hz. Don't let the Hz throw you off or push you away. Just start getting used to hearing things spoken in frequency ranges. So anyway, this is kind of how you visualize it.

Now we're going to talk about in a second, the 3D-ness of a mix. Let's say this is the front of the box. This panel right here is the front of the box. This is the front of the mix. This is how close it is to the listeners ears. Here's a listener.

This is the back. This means it's far off from them. This would be the right over on this side. This would be the left over on this side. And they're listening into this box. This box is the mix. Your bass might be like right here - this blob here.

And vocals, yada yada, and you've got all these other instruments. One of the things you're going to start realizing is using reverb and delay can make things sound way off in the distance. So you can put background vocals like way back there. So instead of just left and right, and high frequencies and low frequencies, you can throw things like a cool little effect. There's an effect that's way back there in the back. And one of the great things about learning to produce is learning to use a variation. You may have all your instruments in this area here, and you want your mix to be pretty close to the listener. And it's all right up close, all the different elements. But if you do something like suddenly throw a little element, that's way back here in the back, it doesn't have to be all the time, but just every once in a while, it's amazing what how that legitimizes the total production. It's kind of like saying, Hey, I'm a producer and I'm choosing to keep all these instruments right there.

But I know that I have all this other space to play with. I'm just choosing not to use It. And I can prove it by shooting something maybe way up in there, where it's real interesting, strange guitar solo way, kind of in the background. And it just comes in one little spot. And then the rest of the mix lives in this area upfront.

But you're basically proving to the listener that I know the space. I know that there's other areas in which my music can fall. So one of the things I love to do is regardless of where this big clump of most of my instruments lay, I like to throw an element somewhere in the mix every once in a while, somewhere to show the listener that there is space.

It's a really interesting concept. I've never actually heard anybody talk about this, but I think it is very effective. And I hear it all the time on songs produced on the radio or whatever. A lot of hip hop now, they don't have a lot of bass in it. The bass is held for a long time, and most of the mix stays above the bass range. And then suddenly in one specific spot in the chorus, boom, you'll have a big bass note down here.

And it just sort of says to the listener, Hey, we knew that was there this whole time, but we've chosen to just keep it for now. We're saving that little spot for just this moment. And then we're going to take it away. And you're not going to hear it again for a long time, but you'll know the listener knows subconsciously that this producer and this song knows about these other areas. They're just choosing not to go to them. It's kind of a bad-ass way of producing.

So I recorded this illustration a couple of years ago and I found this the other day and I thought I'd bring it back up because it really still applies. But I want to also make an emphasis that I didn't make then, which is the opposite is true. If you take all the elements in your mix and everything is very, let's say sounding very close, like it's in a very small room, or maybe it's all distorted or put through like high pass, low pass filter. So it sounds very kind of 'megaphony' - the whole mix does, and nothing ever comes out of that. And even though that may be very intentional subconsciously, what that can do is tell the listener that you actually don't know how to mix, because you don't know how to get out of that. Maybe that's the only way, you know how to mix is in this tight, little bubble, but by doing something, even if most of the song is in this one area, by doing something that's outside of that every once in a while, by getting outside of that every once in a while, just showing the listener that you know, that there's other areas of the production mix, whether it's a panning thing, a distant thing, a frequency thing that, you know, there's other space in your mix that you're just choosing not to use it really validates and elevates your mix to the listener.

It's a very subconscious thing, but it's really important. So even if you decide to make your mix, maybe it's super wet, very washy, eighties, song sound, maybe take one element and make it really dry and show that you know how to do that.

Maybe it's just an effect. Maybe it's a snare drum. Maybe it's a shaker. Maybe it's a tambourine. Maybe it's a vocal thing. It could be something like that. Or maybe your mix is extremely like indie rock and has a lot of dirt and distortion in it. If one part of your mix actually has something very clean or simple and clean, it shows the listener that you know how to actually take advantage of the entire spectrum of the box, the mix box. I hope that's helpful to you today. If you have any questions about that, or if you have something to add to that, please either email me back or send it in the comments.

I'll see you next week.



This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service

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How I Upload Metadata in Disco

(Please excuse my super hoarse voice, not sure what that's about... LOL)

Many musicians and artists I know use Disco for sharing their music with other artists, and just tracking their catalog. But as you know Disco has its own way of requiring metadata. 

Today I was sending music to a Licensing Agent, and needed to update a playlist that they asked for. So as always, I started from my GIZMO tool, and grabbed sets of metadata for each song. 

This used to be a process I loathed, but now with the GIZMO tool, it is so much easier, and drastically reduced errors.

Now I admit, my way of doing this is probably overkill, but I'm ok with that.

In this video I just walk you through my process, to show you how I go about it. 

Of course, there might be tricks I haven't thought of, so if you think of something, please leave it in the Facebook comments below. 



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How to Use Multi-Mono Delays

Multi-Mono Delays in Action

Hey, it's Josh Doyle from the Triple Threat Artist.

Today, we are going to be talking about delay and we're going to be digging into some advanced concepts in how to set up different types of delays. We're going to be talking about multi mono versus just a regular stereo AUX bus and what the pros and cons are to each one of those. So if that sounds like a bunch of jibberish right there, just stick with me. I think this is going to get really interesting and going to be a lot of fun. So check out this guitar that I've got recorded right here without any effects without any delay, this is just dry.

(Audio Playing)

Okay. Super simple. Just (audio) right. And what I was thinking when I was working on this idea is that there are times where I want to be able to play something that maybe I just don't physically have the technique to do. Right? So at this tempo, if I wanted it to be like a galloping rhythm on that, that part, it would be pretty fast. It would be (audio) right? And it's going to take a lot of fast technique to be able to pull that off, physically playing that on guitar.

So I was thinking there's multiple ways that you could go about achieving that sound if you can't physically do it. But one of the ways I wanted to try was using delay. So if I've got just these notes happening on just one, two, three, four, I want to get that galloping sound. That rhythm is one and a two and a three. So I need a delay that's going to hit on and-a. Right? So I've got one and then and-a one and (audio).

Right. So what I've got is I set up a one delay channel or one AUX bus, and I've got that called guitar delay one, and I just set it to zero and that's this right here. So if I soloed this, now, this is what it's going to sound like.


That's basically what I wanted, right. I, that was a bit too fast for me to play. So what I did was I do achieve that sound. I pulled up echo boy by sound toys. And I set it to duel echo right down here. And on one of these dual echo means that now it's got two echoes built into one interface, one plugin. And so on echo one, I've got the eighth note and the echo two is the dotted eighth note. And those together, the eighth note would just be the, 'and', and then the dotted eighth note will be the 'a' so we're getting the and-a.

Make sure that when you set this up, that your mix is all the way set to 'wet' on this. Otherwise you're going to be getting your actual beat one in there too. So we only want to be hearing the echo parts on this, and that's what the mix set to 'wet' does. So we'll see that right here.


Okay. So that's one, one way to just like, get the core idea. The other thing I was thinking though, as I was listening to this, is it sounds a little bit not natural in a way. And I was missing the beat 'E', so in a 16th note phrase, you've got one-E and-a two-E and-a.... And I thought it would be cool to have that third note in there, even if it was just kinda quiet, just really ghosting back there.

So what I did is I set up a second guitar delay, right? Just like I did the first one. And on this one, I've said it to just be a 16th note. So that's just going to be the one-E one-E of the one-E and-a. And so all of those together, if I just play that it'll sound like one-E two-E three-E so it'll sound like this. (Audio).

All right. And what I did there as we were playing through is I just turned up the output cause I had had it set kind of low because I didn't want it to be super prominent. I still wanted that Gallup sound of the one and-a two. But I wanted that 'E' in there just to be a little bridge between those two. So when I had that, that 'E' ducked in there now with the rest of them, now, it sounds like this.


So that's two different delays happening one delay is the dual handling. The, and and then the second delay is just doing the ease. So that's, this is one way to, to achieve that sound, right. We could either have just the one and then the, and like this, That he, and they're just a little bit to kind of make it sound more.

So this is where things kind of get interesting. There are versions of your plugins when you choose a plugin where you can choose between multi-channel plugin and multi-mono plugin. And maybe for some of you out there, you might not know what the differences, and we are going to dig into that right now.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to bring this multi-monitor track that I made right up here. And again, it's just an AUX bus. We're going to make these buses inactive, take this off. Now we're going to turn this on. (See Video) So we're just dealing with our main guitar track and this one, multi-mono AUX bus. The AUX bus is exactly the same as these two down here, we're just going to put a multimodal plugin on it.

Okay. So what I did is I went to create sends and I made one mono send a motto left and a mono right. And we're just going to be sending one channel at a time instead of a stereo channel to this. So we're getting two copies of this one, electric guitar phrase, two duplicate copies just to the left channel and then the right. But because this is a mono guitar, it's the exact same thing just twice.

So what we do to achieve this is instead of choosing a multi-channel plugin, we choose a multi mono plugin. And we go down here and this might be off of your screen a little bit, but we would choose our sound toys and we would choose our echo boy. And that brings up this one. And it looks exactly the same, except for right up here, you see a little 'L' and then this little infinity sign, which is a master link button.

And so if I toggle between the one that we were looking at, this one, it's not there, right. Because that's the multi-channel plugin version. And this is the multi-mono plug-in version. And the cool thing about this is that this multi-mono actually has two copies, like two versions of this one plugin inside it. So you'll see here, I've got it set to an and-a preset that I made. And then if I go to my right channel, it switches to the 'E' preset that I made. So in this one plugin, without actually changing any instance of this plugin, we can access just the right channel of it and the left channel. And it lets us do presets to each side of the multi-mono - it's unique setting. So you can go through and just change your left side and just change your right.

The one thing that you want to make sure, is at least in Pro Tools, the master link button is on by default. And that means that anything that you do to one side is to get a copy over to the other, you know, if you change something in your left channel and then you toggle over to your right, it's just going to be the exact same. And we didn't want that because I wanted to be able to control the and-a on the left channel and just have the 'E' hitting on the right.

So, because we've got those set up and now sounds pretty similar to what we had before.

(Audio Playing).

Okay, so that's a little bit different. So let's go and troubleshoot that. What I'm going to do is I'm going to bypass (mute) the 'E's and just have it play the and-a which as you can see here, you're able to actually bypass one channel. So I just bypass my right channel and I'm going to go over here to my left.

(Audio Playing)

So it looks like my output is a little bit loud on this. Let's bring that back.

So now let's go back over to our right and see what's happening there. Let's un-bypass that.

(Audio Playing)

What was happening is that I had been playing with the panning earlier, and I had put everything in this multi-mono bus, pretty close to the center. You see, I've got it at 14 and 14. If we make this panhard right and left, you'll hear it like this now.

(Audio Playing)

And this is where the CON comes in on doing it with a multi-mono version of this. Because it's multi-mono and you're controlling your left channel and your right channel separately. That means that the delay for the,and-a is going to be on one channel and just the 'E' is going to be on the other. And my main beat one, two, three, and four from the main guitar track that was recorded is going to be in the center.

So this is going to mean that the delay is going to be bouncing all over the place. It's going to be like one-E and then a and-a (audio) and it's going to be kind of bouncing all around, and the only way - in this incidence of what I'm trying to get to happen - to make that not sound like it's bouncing all over your ears is to just bring it back to the center a little bit. So that's why I had it closer to the 14. I couldn't have it just be straight up the middle here.

(Audio Playing)

The pros for this multi-mono is that if you set this up, you can have it just on one track and be able to do some cool things by having individual control over just your left channel and just your right channel. But the cons are that if you wanted one performance to sound like a cohesive thing you're going to be limited a little bit on being able to do panning and what you can do with your stereo field.

There are ways around it, there are solutions to all this, but these are just things to consider.

All right. So hopefully this opens up a whole new world for you guys to explore. Get out there and have some fun with it!





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Let Music Blogs and Spotify Playlist Curators Promote Your Music

So you've positioned your song to be released on a certain day. Maybe it's DistroKid or CD Baby, or one of those distribution services. Maybe you're doing it yourself, but you're going to have a release date and you're trying to figure out what can I do next?

Well, here's a really easy thing to do. Get your song blogged about by people that blog about music on the internet or some website, (I don't think they do magazines much anymore). This will give you a lot of credibility for your artists' brand and show people that you're a legit artist.

The tool I'm going to show you is called SubmitHub,  and it's super easy to use. Anybody can use it! There is a little bit of a charge, but it's totally worth the money in my opinion. And it's a way of getting your music into playlists like a Spotify playlist, YouTube, that kind of thing. Check it out.

I use a service - a website called SubmitHub - and the link is here. You start your account, upload your artistry and your songs into it. From there, you can easily submit your songs to curators.

On the list of curators are people that basically put together playlists for Spotify or YouTube or Pandora or Apple music, things like that. Also, some of these curators are record labels. And some of them are just influencers, like people that just have a lot of influence on Instagram or TikTok.

These people are connected to Spotify. And the reason why they are connected is because they make a little bit of money every time they review songs. When they take your songs and blog about it, that kind of thing.

And this whole site is changing constantly. So what I tell you right now could be a little different when you start to do this, but in theory, this is a hub - SubmitHub is a hub for you to get your music into the hands of people that are looking for your music.

I like to use it to get my music blogged about or to get it into Spotify playlists. The first thing you do is you buy credits. Credits, there's a whole scale of how to get them. For example, if you buy five it's six bucks. It's essentially about a buck a piece per credit.

The more you buy, the more of a discount you get. So if you buy a hundred credits, it's $80 bucks. Now this is going to be some of the best money you'll ever spend on your song, but only do this if you're really sure about your songs.

If you are just putting together a demo, you may be just wasting money by using this. But I strongly suggest using this as a super easy way to get attention to your song.

I'm going to show you what I do with this now. I've already submitted this song to different to five campaigns that I've built with this. You can see the campaign results down here. I've had 11 approvals and a bunch of people have passed on it. And that's actually normal. Eleven approvals is actually pretty good!

Most of the time you're going to submit to people and they're going to say, 'Hey, this is great, but it's not really what we're looking for because they're looking for a specific type of song or sound.'.

That is totally normal. You need to get used hearing the word 'no' and moving forward and not letting it get you down. So we're going to submit this again.

Now, since I've already uploaded this song, I don't have to upload it again, but we're going to do "Curators". Note that there are different groups. You can send it to record labels, influencers (like TikTok) and things like that, or to curators. For this example, we're going to send it to curators.

Now it asks me 'what kind of credits do you want to use?' I like to use premium credits. It costs a little bit of money, but again, if you pay for the credits, you get better results. SubmitHub allows you to easily send your music to curators using either standard or premium "credits." Each curator requests between 1 and 3 credits.

If you use premium credits, you can expect a decision within 48 hours. For a curator to earn your credits, they will need to listen to at least 20 seconds of your song, and if they don't like it they'll need to explain why.

If a curator decides that they like your song, they'll let you know when and how they plan to share it. You'll be able to chat with them about the release, and share any information you think they might need for their coverage.

The current approval rate is 20% for premium submissions and 4% for standard submissions. If you don't want to pay anything, you can send your stuff using the standard way and it's completely free. I suggest using the premium credits.

It then asks 'do you want feedback or don't want feedback'. I like the input, and I always ask for feedback. The reason why is it helps me know that there's somebody listening to it. If they have to write something about the song, that means they really have to analyze whether or not they want it or not want it. They can't just click through it really fast.

Next, you indicate if you want them to monetize your song. For example, if they have a channel or something like that on YouTube, and you want to allow them to monetize it - you can let them monetize it. I always put the "cannot" because I work in sync licensing in a different route with licensing agents.

Next, you indicate what genre you want indicated, and you hit 'next'.

Now I've already filled this out before, so it's going to retrieve the previous data. I don't have to submit all that information each time. And this is where you're going to pick what kind of curators you're looking for right off the bat.

I like to find curators that are bloggers and in Spotify. So I'm going to click bloggers here because I like bloggers. And I want it into Spotify playlists. If you want, you can say response rate above 80%. That means they're really good at responding.

Then I hide outlets in 'weekend' mode. If you didn't have this checked, a response might just say it might say 'Hey, I'm out on vacation" or something. It's just a waste of your time and money in that situation. So I suggest selecting the weekend option.

Next, you go through and you find bloggers. This is a blogger and they have done a ton of folk and indie songs. That's what they're looking for. You can see what they are looking for here. "Highlighted the finest of underrated music, curated by journalist musicians, quality content, and proper play listing." So I liked that one, and i'm going to go ahead and click that.

As you scroll through the curators, you can see various pieces of data, for example, what country the curator is based in, along with other bits of information. Scroll through and decide to include or exclude in your submission.

This one, "The Review" I'm going to click that one. "Looking for music that's non-commercial and avoids the repetitive cookie cutter approach." I think I've already submitted here. I don't know about that one, but I'm going go ahead and click this one. And this is 'one looking for strong vocal hooks' my song has a very strong vocal hooks. Click. We'll do this one, and I think I've already done that.

So let's say I'm good to go. I've found some people that I want to send to. They have a playlist. They're good bloggers. And I'm going to hit submit. Next, you get to add a little bit of information to include. For example, "I put several ear hooks in this song to take note of, it's written to give a little hope to my friends around the world who are struggling with COVID challenges."

It also gives suggestions - "This is a third new song." "If you blog about it, we'll send it to our fans" - whatever you want to say, but just a quick line of information that makes it a little more personal. Put your email in and then just click submit and you're done.

You're going to start getting emails back with yes or no. So let's take a look at some of the responses I've gotten back for this song. These are from the last campaign I did.

A total of 21 responses. Two of them refunded because they they just never respond. They only have a few days to check out your song when you submit to them. And if they don't, you will get your credits back, which is really cool.

So let's just look at the approved. This was approved by four different people in this campaign, and this person put it in a Spotify playlist. This one as well, this one also, etc. Someone the other day actually blogged about it. I can't remember which campaign it was in. So that's fun!

It's always fun when people write up your song, it's just really fun to share that with your fan base and say, 'Hey, our song was recognized on this blog,' which is really cool. Send them the link!

It's easy as that!

I'm telling you, this is so fun to do! I really, really enjoy sending my song to curators and bloggers and seeing what happens - and creating a little buzz. This doesn't have to be a brand new released song. This can be songs from your past that you want to see if somebody will blog about, or just get it into other playlists and bring new life to some of your old music.

I strongly suggest doing this with music that you know is of good quality that would fit in somebody's playlist. Get ready to receive a ton of, 'Hey, this isn't right for us.' And 'no, this is just not what we're looking for.' That happens constantly. It's okay. In fact, you can turn off the emails that are declining the song so that you're not bombarded with receiving 'No, we don't want it. No, we don't want it.' Because that can kind of get a little old, you'll only get the emails that say, 'Hey, we love it! We'd love to put it into our playlist!'. And then you can share it on social media.

So this is a great way for any artists, small indie artists - to create buzz about their brand and about their new releases. To bring credibility to your website so that when you are actually going to have an interview or get invited to a podcast or trying to get a gig somewhere, you have credibility that people have written about your songs and your songs have been shared across different platforms.

Plus if it gets into a lot of Spotify playlist,...

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Not Another "Things I'm Thankful For" Video 🙄

Hey guys, it's Thanksgiving, 2020, (the most wonderful year of all years).

And I know you're probably thinking, "Josh, are you really going to do one of those 'what I'm grateful for' videos???

Yes. Yes I am.

Click Video To Continue...

Everybody have a great Thanksgiving if you're here in the States. And if you're outside of the United States, then just have a great regular week!

Stay safe and I'll talk to you next time. :)

- Josh


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No, You Do Not Need Anymore Plugins

Ok, true confession time... I have about 150 external plugins in my DAW, but have only used about 25% of them in the last 2 years.
And the sad thing is, I'm not alone.
Most home producers get super amped-up this time of year to buy new software and studio gear. I get it, it's fun to buy new stuff. And every now and then you really find something really sweet to elevate your production.  (ok very rarely)
But another plugin is most likely NOT what you need.
I think you might already know this.
Knowing HOW to work your production gear is far more valuable than bringing on another one. There's really no substitute for acquiring the skills for knowing how to manipulate reverb, compression, vocal tuning, dynamic EQ's, etc.
This is what separates successful music makers from the amateurs. The production disciplines needed to create the sounds and music ideas coming out of their brains.
The pros aren't worried about another discount for a plugin they'll use once in a blue moon. The pros are busy working their next project, their next creation, unhampered by the flash and buzz of a shiny new piece of gear to add to their collection.
If I could do it all over again, I would spend more of my money on education and knowledge, rather than the software and random specialized mics collecting dust in my closet.
No amount of expensive gear will make you sound better if you don't know how to use it. It can actually be embarrassing for those looking on.
Instead of putting your money into another piece of gear, consider joining our Producer Course over at The Triple Threat Artist.
Our online course is self-paced, and packed with tons of video tutorials on how to understand and learn the essentials tools that are already on your DAW.
Most DAWs (Logic, Ableton, Protools, Garageband, FL Studio, etc) have a crap-ton of fantastic plugins built right into them, that if utilized correctly can make your music command attention!
Ask yourself, are your vocals sounding raw and amateur, or do that command respect in your productions? Are your mixes too quiet and/or balanced incorrectly? Does anyone actually listen to your songs again and again, or are they put off by the production value?
All of these concerns can be addressed with KNOWLEDGE and skill, in your DAW, most likely just how it is. Why not invest in that knowledge and those disciplines before adding another variable (a shiny new plugin) to your studio this Black Friday?
Our "triple threat" students are constantly elevating their productions, in all genres, by taking the necessary time to elevate their productions. They are triple threats because they have added that third dimension to their music creation: production.  (singer, songwriter, producer)
The amount of freedom and collaborations that become available when doing this can lead you to making music fun again. It's an amazing feeling, and I want you to experience that.
This week Josh and I doing a sale to get you grandfathered in at a lower monthly price. Instead of $97/month, we are giving you guys access for $49/month.
And you can stay as long as you want. There's no contracts or agreements. No bullshit.
Come and learn with us. Involve yourself in our weekly online meetups. Grow and make better music.
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Breaking the Rules of Sync Songwriting

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Pablo Picasso. It is “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

I think about that quote all the time when I'm making music. I feel like if I'm not pushing the envelope or breaking the rules or bending the rules just a little bit, then I'm either bored with what I'm creating, or I feel like the people that I'm going to be sharing this music with are going to be bored.

That's really what it comes down to for me. I feel like everybody needs something that they're doing for themselves, even if they are making music for other people, like for sync, like I do a lot. Or whether you're just trying to write music for your fan base, or whatever it may be. So for me, this quote is the one that I most identify with and I kind of carry with me no matter what music I'm making and who I'm making it for.

So I'm going to share three rules for sync and how I go about bending them, breaking them, or taking them out of context to make the music more interesting.

Rule #1

One of the first rules that you often hear for sync is don't use nouns, don't use person place or thing names, right? One of the themes that you're going to see as I go through these rules is don't do this unless you mean to. And that's the key part of it.

If you're going to break the rule, make it obvious that you're breaking the rule, do it on purpose. So, for example here - don't use nouns, don't use a person's name. It makes sense in general, for sync. You don't want to be singing about some person named Tim? It's if the characters are on the screen or in the film, and none of the characters are named "Tim", then why are you singing about this person?

And if one these people are named "Tim", then it ends up being kind of too 'on the nose' and the song just feels weird. So what you could do instead, is to kind of bend this rule a little bit. What if you wrote a song and used a non-traditional name, but you wrote it as if that word is a name.

You could imagine a blues or rock song or something, like a gritty blues song where they say, my name is "Trouble", right? So it's kind of a nickname. Or they call me "Sin", and then it's like a metaphor for this other thing. You're not really focusing on what the name is of the character though. You could get away with doing something like that. I think that it could be kind fun to write a song like that.

Rule #2

A second sync rule is don't use 'he' or 'she' pronouns. That divides up the opportunities that you have to sync that song. So if you're writing a song and it's all about 'she this' and 'she that', then that's going to mean that those sync opportunities have to be from a female perspective. It can't be for a male character on the screen or in an ad or whatever.

Those are generally good rules if you're trying to maximize the opportunities for your song. However, one of the most common sync requests are for 'female empowerment' songs. There's a bunch of other ones, but female empowerment is a big one.

In those cases, you really want to lean into the 'she' and the female, the feminine aspects of the language that you're using in the song. Those are situations where if you hear that rule or someone on a panel saying 'you know, don't use nouns and don't use he or she, and all these other things', then it's like, yes, but if I want to, then you can. As long as you do it well, then that's all that matters.

Rule #3

The last rule that I'm going to share with you is don't use cheap sounding instruments, right? We hear that all the time. Don't use cheap sounding virtual instruments. Your midi sound is dated. Or it sounds cheap, or you need to update your sounds. Again, that's true, unless you are doing something on purpose, right?

So if you listen to "The Postal Service", there's a couple of songs where they use string pads in the back of their songs. If you listen to those, those strings don't sound great. Like if you just took them out and tried to make like an orchestral string arrangement using those string sounds, it would sound horrible.

But the whole thing about The Postal Service that I heard an interview with one the of The Postal Service band that they used just one (I think it was a Yamaha) keyboard for all the sounds on those albums. And it totally works because they're playing off of the fact that things sound very lo-fi in that style of production.

If you listen to the band "Cake", man, pretty much any song, if you listen to the guitars, the guitars sounds so bad! I've heard it in an interview where they purposely use a super cheap guitar that barely stays in tune. It's just part of the sound, right?

If you listened to "Bone Lovers" "Skinny Love", the guitar on that sounds horrible! It's like out of tune the vocals - he's a great singer, but the vocals are doubled and tripled and they kind of clash in places, but it's part of that sound, and he's doing it on purpose.

He's not trying to write a Celine Dion monster ballad and using like a crappy guitar and vocals that are doubled and kind of out of tune in parts. He's doing this particular thing, and he's meaning to do it, and it is on purpose. And that's kind of what makes it interesting, right?

So that's what I want to leave you with for this week. If you're going to break the rules, know why you're breaking them, and do it ON purpose. Do it WITH purpose.




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Protect Your Heart This Week 💙

Hey guys,

This is for all my artists friends, who have sensitive hearts, and feel things deeply.

More than any other week this year, I believe we need to really protect our hearts and your minds.

I think you know this,

With the election chaos, it might get kinda  crazy. There might be some rioting and maybe some violence here in the US. And it's hard to know how to prepare to it emotionally.

I want to talk to all the artists out there like myself, music artists, but artists of any medium that might be kind of sensitive and feeling a sense of dread and fear right now. I want to speak to that and I want to ask you, and petition you, to really protect yourself.

I'm going to give you a couple tips.

First of all, I want to talk about the concept of fear. There is a really great book called "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers. She talks about how the underlying fear of all fears is this concept of not being able to handle the situation. Whether you're approaching your car breaking down, or losing a job, or a relationship issue, or you're afraid of a health issue, the fear of not being able to handle it is usually the fundamental fear that's actually underneath everything.

I haven't explored this enough to really know how true that is. But I do think that resonates right now, with this concept that you're afraid of what might happen with the government, whether it's local, or national, the federal government, and you're afraid of the election results. You're afraid of rioting that hasn't happened yet. You're actually maybe afraid of not being able to handle it, not being able to handle the results of whatever happens in this election.

I'm asking you to do a couple of things to help you.

Number one, I want you to look into doing something in the morning. The first thing you do when you wake up, Whether that's 5:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 5:00 PM, whenever you wake up, I think you should do two things. My two things are to go for a walk. I do it right off the bat. And then I also meditate. I go through a meditation, and I use an app called "Oak" that you can buy for a couple bucks for your phone, and it walks you through meditation. It helps you recenter. And that is so good for me. Now that may not be your thing. Maybe you would rather play with your animals and, call your mom, go for a run or play an instrument, or do some music production, whatever you're going to do. That's totally fine too.

But I want to ask you, I want to challenge you, to get into a habit this week of doing two things before you look at any kind of news. Before you look at the world and have to do your other things, just do two things that are helping you recenter. Okay.

Number two is I want you to limit your time with the news and social media this week. If you've already voted, if you've already argued your stance on things, it's probably not going to do much this week to keep arguing and fighting, right? So I urge you to stay away from those kinds of conversations. Stay away from arguments with your in-laws and fights about who you support. Just take the time to limit your social media contact, your posts, your comments, to less than an hour a day. Okay?

Even if you can do less than that, I encourage that as well. Social media right now is going to blow up in so many ways. And it's going to be very tempting to tune in like it's a reality show. You don't really need to.

Guess what? The world's going to keep going. Whether you're looking at it or not, you might as well take care of yourself so that you're in a better position for the next couple of months. And you're in a better position for the holidays and how to take care of your family through a pandemic and how to go forward.

Lastly, I want to urge you to do something you love doing. So right now, I'm really loving making lo-fi hip hop music producing and mixing, and we've got a channel I'm working on and I'm really loving that process. So I'm going to just do a lot of that this week, because I really enjoy it, but I'm not going to put a lot of pressure on myself. I just got to do it because I love it!

Now, let's talk about three 'do not do's'.

Number one, don't hide right now. There's a temptation for a lot of very sensitive people and artists to stick their head in the sand and just hide and wait for this whole thing to kind of blow over. I wouldn't suggest hiding because you're going to miss out on certain amount of engagement, but again, limiting yourself to the engagement, protecting yourself, but not hiding.

There's a big difference between, totally engaging in something and just moderating yourself. So again, an hour a day of news and media, but not hiding. It's good to be with friends right now. It's good to talk with people you love. It's good to laugh. It's good to enjoy things. Watch a movie, play a game. Those types of things.

Number two is, do not try to make something profound this week. You don't need to. What you're going to do is you're going to end up putting on yourself a lot of pressure right now. There's this temptation to say 'Hey, we're going through a crisis. I want to try to capture lightning in a bottle with all the emotions people are feeling and my thoughts and feelings'. You can do that next week. You can do that the week after - you can do that the month after. You don't need to do it this week. This week might be really, really difficult. I urge you to just take care of yourself and your emotions.

And lastly, I would say, do not do anything drastic. Don't move. Don't make any big decisions this week because we're going to all be a little emotional and it's going to be a little bit crazy.

Just relax.

If you feel like this video resonated with you, please consider sending it to some of your friends. Let's get through together!




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Writer's Block


Hey, I want to talk a bit about writer's block.

Is there anything that stifles creativity more than feeling like all of your ideas are just horrible? I don't think that there is!

I actually don't really believe in writer's block in terms of what most people think of (as in that there's something blocking your creativity or your ability to create).

I think that we can always create. I think what writer's block really is this feeling that all of the ideas that we've got are just bad or that we've done them all before, and we're really just bored with the ideas that we are coming up with.

What I have are a couple of different 'hacks' for getting out of writer's block.

One of them is doing some self analysis and actually going back and listening to some of the songs that I've written in the past, mainly recent. Then I do some analysis of them. I analyze the ideas that I have had recently with the song that I'm having the writer's block on. I try to figure out what it is about those ideas that I don't like. Why are they not working? And I get really specific about it.

When you go back and listen to the other songs that you've recently done, try to listen for what your habits are. And the reason that I'm talking about this is because maybe some of the things that we are feeling writer's block about what it is we are creating now, is because they're very similar to ideas that we've already had, or very similar to approaches that we've taken in the past.

And so I tried to figure out what some of those habits are, those those crutches that we always lean on. And one of those things for me, was when I get to my chorus. I was always trying to hit my highest note on the very first beat of the chorus. I just was trying to hit them with my money note right away.

And so when I realized that, I did a lot of listening to my own stuff and to other songs that I respected. I realized not every song has to do that! You know, like big surprise. Right?

I use that as a challenge to get out of my own writer's block and made it so like, okay, what happens if I don't hit my money, note on the first beat of the chorus. What if I save it for the second beat or even like halfway through or something like that.

It's that kind of self analysis that I'm talking about, where we figure out what it is that is getting in our own way.

Another thing is simplifying. Like sometimes our ideas - we're just trying to put too much into our song.

We've got too many goals and we're not simplifying and refining what the one message is that we're trying to get across. Look at those ideas that you've got and see if there's any nuggets of gold and maybe there's just too much stuff getting in the way of that. Maybe you need to just take some of that stuff out.

The other thing that I like personally doing, because I come from a drumming background, is I like thinking rhythmically and just seeing if rhythmically, where's my intuition at with this? Am I digging that? Am I liking where it's at? Or am I kind of bored with it? I tend to ebb and flow in different directions depending on what my mood is.

Sometimes I'm all about the downbeat. And in a lot of dance songs and happy songs, we'll have that kind of driving downbeat thing. And then sometimes, I'm just bored with that. I want to do something different, I want to do something unexpected. So I start things in rhythmic places where you wouldn't expect them to be started.

Sometimes, I like to combine the two, you know, like maybe my instruments will be very downbeat driven, but my melody will be very syncopated and phrasing in ways that you wouldn't expect.

So try some of these hacks and see if they work for you. Please post a reply if you have some thoughts on this! 



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Your Single, Most Important Studio Skill

Over the 20 years I've been producing, there have been these moments that have been these big "AHA!" moments. Moments that have elevated me from point A to point B, and then from point B to point C. Times when I’ve really increased in knowledge, and my music has been really elevated!

One of those moments was when I stopped everything I was doing and learned how to produce vocals. And producing vocals starts with great recordings, learning how to really record vocals well. Then, even if you're not doing the recording, getting the vocal files, comping them, stacking them, timing them, tuning them, EQ'ing them, getting them to fit into the mix just right, learning how to use effects, and learning what compression is.

All of these things are so, so important.

This is one of the techniques and disciplines that I see lacking in most beginning producers and the reason why they're not getting better and they're not commanding attention with their productions.

It's because they don't want to stop and really learn this. They think, well, “I'll just kind of get by because my voice is really good.” Even if you've got a great voice, it really isn't going to be featured if you don't know how to produce the voice.

Let me show you a quick demonstration of what I mean.

This is a song called "Rise Again" that I released this summer with the amazing Lauren Light. And I'm gonna show you the raw track versus how it came out in the final mix.

(Music Playing - pre-production).

And now let's hear it in the mix with the production on it.

(Music Playing - Post production)

So the point is, if we take a vocal that's very raw, and it's recorded pretty decently well (I think she used an SM7B in her apartment where she recorded). She lives over on the East coast and I'm over near the West coast and we've sent files back and forth to each other. I was able to grab it, and I was able to tune just the little parts of it that needed tuning without losing the flavor of her voice.

I used some tools like Nectar, Isotopes Nectar to sweeten the voice up a little bit, put some saturation into it. There's also a little bit of reverb. And then there's more vocals that get stacked underneath it into that chorus B section.

And all of this stuff is doable! This is the kind of stuff that you need to learn how to do, because it will elevate your music significantly.

One of the best things I ever did was to stop singing myself and allow other people to sing. That was a very big thing for me, because I had taken vocal lessons for a year. I realized for me to actually achieve the levels that I need to achieve - that I wanted to achieve, I had to let people who have a better instrument in their voice do the singing, instead of myself. So that's why I recruit people like Lauren Light to sing for me, and to collaborate with her on tracks like this.

If you are interested in learning how to produce your vocals a little bit better, come join our producer course over at the Triple Threat Artist. I'll give you a discount code (FALL2020) that will give you an extra $40 off per month, and you are welcome to join us and hang out with us.

We, we meet every single week. We go over each other's tracks. I've got about 138 videos that my co-producer Josh and I have put together for you guys. It covers all kinds of topics, including drums, recording, production, mixing, all kinds of different elements. One of the big sections is recording vocals, recording and producing vocals. If that interests you, click below.

Let's do this! I'll see you on the other side.

Let’s make better music,


use coupon code FALL2020 for $40 off per month

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