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…




Continue Reading...

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 !!!! 


xxx - Josh

Continue Reading...

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!




Continue Reading...

Fun with Metronomes (Part 4)

Today's talk is about metronomes -- playing with them and making them fun!

Welcome Back!

We're going to do something that's one of the more challenging things to do -- set your metronome to beat one.

Before we get there -- we're going to work our way up. We'll start with it set to beat one and three. And then, we'll remove beat three and just have beat one happening. So all you get is your downbeat!

I've set my metronome to 30 beats per minute, and I've got my eighth notes happening - so that's gonna give me the sound of beat one, and then beat three. Then I take my eighth notes out and that gives me a beat one here. You'll hear what I'm talking about.

So we're going to count this set as one, two, three, four....one, two, three, four. But instead of doing that, I'm gonna play my snares on two and four,


So now I've got the feel of it and I'm going to take out that beat three and only have my beat one. So....

All right, it took me a few measures to get there, but I started to feel more comfortable with it as it went.

Now, if we want to start adding in the things we talked about in our last lesson, where we started to introduce some of our drum fills and things like that. This is where it really starts to get challenging. So I'm going to go back to get my feel here. Then I'm gonna start to add drum fills on the one beat. So I'll do a 16th note drum fill on beat four and see if I can maintain that feel here.

One, two, three, four....one, two, three, four.

And now, I'll see if I can do a two beat. So beats three and four 16th though.

All right! We could keep building that up. We can throw in some triplets and and all kinds of different things. And then we can start to expand the number of beats that we do and things like that.

So jump into this! See how it goes for you. I would love to see some video replies on this.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes and share them. I certainly made mistakes and was not perfect in these demonstrations, but hopefully it shows you how I go about using the metronome to improve my time.

I especially do these in the songs that I'm about to play live, or that I need to prepare for, because I want to make sure that I have a really good sense of time in the studio . And then, I'm not relying on the metronome so much for everything. I want to feel like the drum fills and things that I do have their own momentum, their own time. And I don't feel timid when I approach the things that I'm wanting to do.

Good luck and have fun out there!



Continue Reading...

Fun with Metronomes (Part 3)

     This is part 3 of a 4 part video series on building your rhythmic confidence
                         by using a metronome in unconventional ways

All right! We're back for week three of our series on metronomes!

This time we're going to build on what we did last week with the one bar of 'click', and one bar of silence only.

Now, we're going to combine it with what we did in week one. where we're going to play those on the off beats on the ends. So it's going to sound like this..."one, two, three".

(Drums Playing)

Just like that. Now, to make it a little bit more interesting, I don't want you to jump into playing riffs and drum fills just yet. I want to see if you can just change the voicing of something that you're playing.

So, I'm going to play one of my toms. I'll just change the, 'and' of two and the 'and' of four. All right? I'm just gonna just change that. Maybe I'll take it off of my high hat and just put it on my Toms or something like that. So let's try that..."one, two, three".

(Drums Playing)

Alright, so that was me just improvising. But just those offbeats there. Now what we could - after you spend some time playing around with that, we can start to do just a little bit of improvisation. But I would say, just keep it to one beat. All right?

You could do one beat of triplets or 16th notes or eighth notes, whatever you want it. I'll just do 16th notes.

Let me reset this here. We're doing to do the same thing again. Just playing on the offbeat. So...one, two, three, four.

(Drums Playing).

There we go.

So now, we can build that up. Maybe here I'll try something a little bit different. Maybe I'll try doing a triplet just on beat four there. So..."one, two, three, four".

(Drums Playing)

All right! Now, I think that was a little bit more challenging -- because triplets to me feel like they're slowing down. Especially when you have the eighth note thing.

So it's a very interesting feel. And, you have to have a lot of confidence in your time. All right.

When you're doing that in your bar of silence. then, if you really want to take it to the next level --  you could do a bar of regular time with your click and then your bar of silence.  And, you could do that all eighth note, triplets. Let's see what that sounds like. Let's see if I can make it through. Okay, one..."two, three, four...".

(Drums Playing)

Oh! see I lost it there, but that's all right! I think that was kind of fun. I knew that I was throwing myself in the deep end on that one. It's been a while since I've done these kinds of tests with myself, but I think that's fine. So yeah, so those are going to be the challenges for this week. See what you can do. Really push yourself.

But don't go too fast. Do what I did at the beginning, where you just do one. If you're going to start doing your riffs and fills and stuff like that, just start with one beat in the silence. And then you can switch it around, like I just did with my 16th notes.

But before you go onto two beat drum fills and three beat riffs and things like that, really make sure that you 'can I do a drum frill on beat one and then go back to my beat. 'Can I do a drum fill on beat two? Can I do my riff on beat three?'

Make sure to test the waters all the way through before you start adding beats or fills and before you start pushing yourself too fast.

All right!

Good luck and have fun.




Continue Reading...

Fun with Metronomes (Part 2)

  "Playing along to a metronome with 1 bar of click
and then 1 bar of silence"

Part 2 of a 4 part video series

Hey everybody!

All right! In the second part of this series we're going to start by referencing a quote by Miles Davis,

‘it's not the notes that you play it's the notes that you don't play’

So what we're gonna do with the metronome today is, we'll have one bar of click and then one bar of silence. What this does is, make us rely on our own time for a short amount of time - for one bar. One bar of click to give us the the tempo to play with and then it's gonna go right into a bar of silence.

So this is what it sounds like: one-two-three-four.

Now, this is what its sounds like when I play along with it.  We're just doing the beat, no drum fills, no riffs, or anything like that.

(Music Playing)

There it is so. You could tell I had to hit my start button and jump into it. Most of the time I would have it programmed on my DAWs, so I could just have it looping - but you hear me making excuses for myself.

You do that for like five minutes straight - just have that loop and then the silence and you'll really start to settle into it. You'll start to really own your own time and start to feel real comfortable with it.

The other thing that you can do with this is to set it up, so that it's playing two bars of click and then two bars of silence. Then you can stretch it on to three bars of click and three bars of silence - four bars of click four bars of silence. I would challenge you to do that this week again with no drum fills - no rifts = no extra anything. Just set up something simple that you can enjoy playing for a while. And really own the time. Have fun with it!

Alright - see you guys next week!




Continue Reading...

Fun with Metronomes (Part 1)

 This is part 1 of a 4 part video series


Hey everybody - it’s Josh here!

This is gonna be the beginning of a series on playing with a metronome!

Most the time when I talk to somebody about playing with metronomes, I get a response of like “oh I hate playing with metronomes - they're so boring - they’re so restricting” - and I totally understand that because most of the time - we were all instructed to play with a metronome where it's just like the metronome is just clicking on the downbeats or on the quarter notes.

We're just told to just play right along with it something like this (beats) and and we're like ‘what am I supposed to do with it?’ It just seems very vague and just meant to be frustrating. So what we're gonna do is do something a little bit different! We're going to use the metronome to play on the silences between our phrases between the beats that we're playing or the riff that we're playing and in my case - I’m just playing a quarter note beat.

***See video for full tutorial***




Continue Reading...

Get Creative with Your Signal Chain! ⛓

Let's talk a little about the order of plug-ins and effects that we use.

*Full Transcription Below*

A question that I got recently was, what order should I put my EQ and compression in? And that's one of the early questions that you get when you start working on your own mixes in your own production. And generally the response is that you don't want to put a compressor after an EQ because a compressor by its nature is going to flatten out the audio for anything that you put in it to varying degrees.

So if you've cut out a little notch, say like a six DB notch with your EQ, and then you put a compressor under that, then it's going to reduce that EQ notch that you've cut out. And that's kind of undoing all the work that you just did. So generally you'll want your compressor, and then you'll EQ after that. But there are some times where you'll put compressors and EQ's in different orders and places that you wouldn't normally think. So let's talk a little bit about those instances.

So one instance could be putting an EQ after a reverb. This is a little unorthodox but not unheard of. So here's a reverb and a piano that I've got happening right here.

[Music Playing]

All right, so just to make it interesting, let's put a, an EQ after this plate reverb here. Where do you close that out? And let's make it so that our piano sounds full range, but the reverb that's happening after it is notched out a bit. So we're only hearing the high end from it. So something like this. All right, so this is my reverb here - and then after I put in an EQ. Close that.

[Music Playing]

So it sounds really 'skinny' after that. Or we could do the exact opposite and make it just very like a dark reverb. Like it's in some kind of dark sounding wood room or something like that. Let's hear what that sounds like.

[Music Playing]

That sounds kind of cool because then all the bright attack is happening on the main piano and you kind of have like this muffled reverb happening behind it. That's kind of cool. So that's like an instance of how you could EQ out your reverb there.

And then you could also do it, not so much in an effects kind of way, but sometimes you'll want a reverb. Let's go back and make our reverb a little bit longer. And sometimes it can just get, if you want like a big gymnasium sounding reverb, it can get kind of muddy sounding. So maybe there's something in that reverb that you want to notch out.

[Music Playing]

So you might've heard there, I was boosting the EQ to kind of see where the muddiness was happening and I kinda heard it right in there. So then I cut it and that seemed to help a little bit. So that's an instance where you could use an EQ after a reverb.

Let's go over to our delay here. So I'm going to mute the reverb and turn on our delay. And what I've done here is put a compressor after the delay. So let's listen. So here's our delay. I've muted the compressor. So we're just listening to the delay right now.

[Music Playing]

Okay. So we've got our piano hits, and then the delay happening after. And what I'm about to show you can be done a bunch of different ways. But for the sake of this, we are going to use a compressor after the delay. And the goal of this is to say that we want those delays to be a bit louder, a bit more upfront and part of the sound. So what we're going to do is we're going to compress only those delays that are happening, not the main piano, just the delays. And that's what this is going to sound like.

[Music Playing]

So I think that sounds kind of interesting to me. That sounds like something Beck would do. That sounds like a kind of a quirky way to process a delay on a piano.

So those are just a couple of ways to creatively think about how you use your EQ's and compressors before or after a source in the signal chain.

xxx - Josh

Continue Reading...

Do You Know the Three Basic Controls of Delay? 👨‍👦‍👦

All right. Today we're going to talk about delay.

*Full Transcript Below*

We're going to talk about one feature of delay that kind of gets overlooked when people break down the elements of what a typical delay does.

But first let's just start with the basics. Right here I've got a Sound Toys EchoBoy Jr pulled up, and we're not going to get into everything because there's plenty of tutorials on Youtube about all these plug-ins - like basically how to work a Sound Toys EchoBoy Jr. I just want to talk about the elements that are pretty much in every delay plug-in and that is the mix, the echo time, and the feedback.

The echo time - we're going to start there - is the easiest to grasp. This just tells you how much a delay is going to happen. So right now it's set to a note increment, so this is one-eighth note. So it's going to be delayed by one-eighth note. If I move it up, it'll be delayed by one quarter note and then a half note and so on. Then you can take it down to a 16th note, a 32nd note. So I'm going to take you back to an eighth note here. You can also set it to time, so that's like a 375 milliseconds. And things like that. The feedback tells you how long the a delay is going to send that signal back to itself.

And therefore, how long is that delay going to happen for one note. So if you've just got one note that just happens on, you know, just 'dhhhhh' - how long is that signal gonna keep on looping back to itself and trying to delay and eventually fade out. You'll hear examples of this as I get going here.

The knob that we're going to talk about that doesn't get talked about as much is this mix knob. And I'm gonna show examples of this. But what can happen is when you start getting creative with your delays, maybe you want to have a delay, say on the last word of a phrase, you know of a vocal, right? And it's like 'let it be' and you want the word 'Be' only to have a delay. So let it ‘Be’ 'be' 'be' 'be'' be'.

What can happen is if you have your mix NOT set to 100%, you are also going to let in the original audio source, which is gonna make it so that your word ‘Be' is going to sound louder because not only do you have the original, but now you've got the double coming from the delay happening at the exact same time. So what will happen is it'll sound like, 'let it BE' and then it will delay. So it'd be like, 'let it BE' 'be' 'be' 'be' 'be'. And you don't want that. You just want the vocal to sound normal up until the delay starts happening. So you just want it to be 'let it be be be be be'. I'll show you exactly what I mean here.

So right now we've just got a piano set up and I'm just going to play it with no effect.

[Music Playing]

And it just loops there. And then if we have the delay on, and I've set the delay to try to be as weird as possible so you can hear what the original sounds like and then what the delay is doing.

[Music Playing]

So right now you can hear that it's pretty much just giving one slap back. Now if I increase the feedback, you're going to hear that it lengthens the amount of time that the delay happens.

[Music Playing]

And you can hear it there when when it's trailing out, it's really extended.

[Music Playing]

Whereas if I just have it here and I do that same thing, [Music Playing] it just ends with just a single one.

So let's check out what I was talking about with the mix knob here. I just want a four bar phrase. Let's say that I just want to mute all of them. And let's say that I just want the last cord here to have a delay. All right, so let's listen to this.

[Music Playing]

All right, so that sounds cool. What I'm going to do is I'm going to turn down the output so that the delay isn't so loud.

[Music Playing]

Nice. That's better. So now the delay is a little bit quieter than the initial. Now if I turn the mix to say 50% that means that it's going to let in 50% of the original and blend that with 50% of the of the delay. So let's listen to that

[Music Playing]

All right. So let's take it from here and listen.

[Music Playing]

Now, if you're listening carefully, you'll hear that last chord was actually played louder. It actually sounded louder. And that's because we're getting double the amount of information on that one cord. So we want to set it to a hundred percent 'wet' so that you're only hearing the delay from the delay plug-in.

[Music Playing]

All right, and just to show you, if you set this to 100% 'dry' and you actually mute the original track, your actual piano track here, you will still hear the piano played through here. I'm going to set it so it's not muted there. You will actually still hear your piano even though it's muted because 100% of it is still going through the echo plug-in.

[Music Playing]

You see that? Your piano track is muted, but it's still sending that audio to your EchoBoy Jr here and it's set to 100% dry, so it's not giving you any echo. So that's what's causing the sounds to double up on each other.

So if we set it to 100% wet, that means that none of the original signal is being played as being passed through. And we're only hearing the echo.

[Music Playing]

So right there because our piano is muted, we're only hearing the echo, we're not hearing the actual main source. So if I unmute that now we'll hear the main source.

[Music Playing]

Here is just the echo.

[Music Playing]

So yeah, that was something that caused a lot of issues for me. I didn't realize it - because some of the pre-sets on here won't have the mix set to 100%. I don't really know why. But yeah, it was causing a lot of issues. All of a sudden I was like trying to figure out why one word was super loud when I was just trying to put delay on it.

It's that 'mix' knob that you need to watch out for!

xxx - Josh

Continue Reading...


Like a lot of people right now in 2019, I am obsessed with Billie Eilish and her productions.

Her productions are done mainly by her brother Finneas. I've been listening obsessively to interviews with him. One of the things that surprised me the most was when he is asked what his vocal chain is for his sister. He just says it's just the logic stock compressor and that's it. And then they send their songs off to a mixer.

I'm sure there's other things that are done afterwards, but while he's working, he just throws up a Logic stock compressor and just goes with it. He didn't say this, but I kind of think that part of why he does that is about having an uninterrupted flow, an uninterrupted creative flow. When he's working, he doesn't bog himself down with a really intricate vocal chain that is going to distract them from what is really important - the big picture of the song.

That's really the point that I want to make is try not to get bogged down too early in the details if they're not really essential to the big picture that you're working on. There is a time and a place to get into the weeds, into the details and really cut off the fat off of what you're working on. But most of the time - early on - that's not the time to be doing that and it can really get us all - including myself - sidetracked and really slow us down in our creative process.

The other thing that I wanted to say is pay attention to what your interests are at that moment. Like there's a lot of times where we make to do lists of like - gotta finish song - gotta finish writing lyrics - do the bridge - gotta comp vocals - gotta tune the vocals.

And those are two completely different mindsets. And a lot of times it can be really difficult to just call up that mindset, you know, just because your to do list says that you should. Pay attention to what your mindset is. If you're in one of those moods - and I get in this head space often where I feel like doing very analytical type things like tuning vocals or comping tracks or whatever those are, those are kind of tedious, but sometimes I kind of, they feel like putting together a little puzzle. Other times I just can't stand doing that. And I just want to be creative. I just want to write emotional lyrics or whatever I'm just feeling. Whatever it is that you're feeling, do it and do it 110%. Don't try and be bouncing back and forth and distracting yourself, doing a little bit of lyrics and a little bit of this other stuff. Just go in and just put yourself in that space and finish what it is that you set out to finish.

Have a great week.

xxx - Josh

Continue Reading...

50% Complete

Let's Stay Connected.

If you'd like to join our newsletter, just add your name and email here. We LOVE giving value to other like-minded producers and songwriters, and we will never sell your email address to the evil empires. 💚