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7 Tips for Building a Website for Your Music

Keyboard Hug

Simply having a website is not enough . . .

Music fans expect to quickly and easily figure out what you’re about and what you sound like before they make a decision to buy.  Here are 7 essential elements every music or band website should have.

1. Sample Tracks

Let them listen. People don’t usually buy music unless they’ve heard it first. This means you should make at least 2 or 3 full-length tracks available to stream. Music videos are also a good way to allow friends and fans to sample your music before they buy. This is also important so that bloggers and journalists can easily listen to your tunes for reviewing purposes.

2. Purchase Options

Believe it or not, your fans want to support you. Make it easy to buy your CDs, MP3s and merch. Give your fans multiple purchase options. Use the CD Baby music store widget and link to iTunes and Amazon so that fans can choose their preferred method.
How to Pick a Recording Studio

3. A Description of Your Music

Give your site visitors an easy way to describe your music and they may just recommend it to a friend using those same terms.

Can you describe your music in just a few sentences? In just a few words? If not, it’s time to start practicing. Ask your friends and fans to write down their own description of your music. Here are some tips on describing your music.

4. A Story

Yep. You read that right. Good stories are engaging. They’re viral. If you can condense the story of your music project into a few action-packed paragraphs, chances are that story will be retold. Here are some tips for crafting your story or Bio.

5. Photos and Video

Show your fans who you are. Take advantage of the brief time that a visitor spends on your site to show them your personality in as many ways as you can.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video is worth a thousand pictures.

Interview your bandmates. Interview yourself. Check out this tutorial on band photography.

And here’s some great advice on creating music videos.

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6. Social Media Buttons

Make sure your fans can “like,” “follow” and “share” your content online. This will allow you to further engage with them down the road.

If you are a HostBaby client, make sure to enable your share buttons on your settings page.

7. Event Calendar

I’ll excuse those of you that never play live, but if you play concerts or events–it’s essential that you have an up-to-date concert calendar on your site.

Even if you don’t play live, announcing album release dates and other happenings will make your site appear current and give fans reason to come back to your site.

Do you have all of the above on your website? What do you think is essential content on a musician site? Answer in the comments below.

(via blog.hostbaby.com)

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Good Studio Techniques And Tips

Recording Studio Essential

Good vocal recording techniques can help you in many ways. They can speed up the time you spend in the recording booth, and make your whole project much easier to execute.

One of the best vocal recording techniques is learning how to relax in the studio. There’s nothing to be nervous about, the studio engineer is there to help you, not judge your music. Feel free to try out new things, even if not very conventional. When recording your vocals it’s only you in the recording booth, you have complete creative control and the final say. So relax and do whatever you want, and remember, YOU’RE IN CHARGE.

Find a Recording Studio in Los Angeles

A tip is to always bring water or your required liquid into the recording booth with you. Throats often get dry once you’re been recording vocals for a long period of time, and without liquid there’s not much you can do about it. This will of course affect your vocals, which may come out more croaky or stop you from being able to record altogether. So keep a bottle handy and give yourself more staying power.

Another good studio tip is to keep one eye on the clock. There’s nothing worse then running out of time when you’ve still got work to do, so always be aware of how long you’ve got, and record the most important things first. Then if you’ve got any spare time at the end, use it to achieve your secondary goals such as non album tunes or skits.

When you’re actually in the recording booth recording your vocals, it’s a good idea to regularly listen back to at least a section of what you’ve recorded. This way you can hear if everything’s coming out the way you want it to, and change anything that’s not straight away. If you record the whole song without listening back then find you don’t like the way you recorded the base vocal, you may have to record everything again and have wasted a good amount of time. And remember, time is money…

(via independentmusicadvice.com)

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How to Get a Job in a Recording Studio

Where You Want To Be.

The first quality any recording studio looks for in an employee is hearing. By hearing, I don’t mean the ability to make out aural sounds. Rather, it is the ability to hear what others do not: the small spaces between words and notes, the odd noise or the imbalance between the bass and the guitar. I worked in radio for decades and spent many hours in recording studios watching people we called “engineers” cock their heads and re-mix or re-record something that sounded perfectly fine to me. If you do not have a sensitive ear, you will not succeed in a recording studio. You must know what to listen for.

The second quality is a willingness to work long hours for low pay with people who can be, shall we say, sensitive but difficult. Throwing things and shouting are not uncommon in long sessions and the guy or gal working the board can not be involved or the situation will quickly descend in to a nightmare. Are you capable to watching as others lose it? Can you sit back and wait for the storm to pass? An even temperament is an asset.

Recording Studio Prices

Third, can you get it right the first time? Musicians and even announcers make mistakes and want to retake things and it is accepted as part of the work, but if the recording engineer makes a mistake and needs a retake, everyone gets mad. Know your job.

Know the equipment and how it works. Good recording engineers get there early, are set and ready before everyone else, get it done within the specified time frame, and make everyone else sound better than they really are.

Studio time is expensive and bands, announcers and others will demand that the studio be ready when they are and will be unforgiving about technical mistakes and equipment breakdowns. Be on time.

Recording studios are not like other professional venues. The people who work in them are not marking time until something better comes along. Many engineers and mixers are musicians and are highly skilled in musical arts. Some have college-level training in sound engineering.

Mixing Tips and Tricks

If you have no training and are only beginning to learn about studio mixing, consider working for a local band and develop your skills – and contacts – by helping the band produce a better sound.

Recording studios are looking for people who make magic. If you think you can do it, be willing to take anything to get in the door, even sweeping the floors and dusting equipment. You will soon find that the best engineers and mixers see it as a calling, a gift, and would do it for free if they had to. Is that you?

(via helium.com)

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5 Priceless Composition Tips for the Young Composer

For me, composition is one of the most rewarding events I can partake in.  However, getting comfortable with the language takes a very long time and only a select percentage of people actually turn that dream into a reality.

So I’ve written down these 5 tips for the young composer.  It doesn’t matter what style, what level, or how far you truly want to take it… from hobbyist to professional, these 5 tips will greatly improve your composition ability.

1. Write Something Every Day

Often overlooked, it’s important to realize that practicing our craft as often as possible is necessary for growth.  Just like an athlete lifts weights to become stronger and perform better, we must write consistently to more effectively and accurately bring forth our thoughts/emotions/etc. in the music we write.

This doesn’t mean we have to write an entirely new piece every day, but you should at least practice composing a section of music or developing a motif.  Whether than means you will compose completely by ear today with your guitar and then practice writing for a string quartet tomorrow, doesn’t matter.  Just make sure that what you practice the most directly correlates with your goals.

As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of listening to and learning from other styles of music.  However, when I write, I make sure to focus the majority of my time on music that I like.  Every now and then I’ll compose a tune in a different style to learn from it, but not nearly as often as I spend time writing music that ultimately caters to my end goals.

2. Define the Form

What I mean by this, is that’s it’s always nice to know where you’re going to end up before you start moving.  Sure, sometimes you’ll just get in your car and drive around.  However, most of the time we have a place in mind that we would like to visit when we get in our car.  The same goes for music composition.

It’s much easier to compose a piece of music (and a lot less overwhelming!) when you specifically chart out the length of the piece from beginning to end.  Once you’ve done this, it’s good to figure out where the sections will split.  Perhaps you will have an 8 bar intro and your first chorus will only last 16 measures this time, but the second time it comes around it lasts for 32 measures.  It really doesn’t matter what you decide, but it’s always helpful to chart out a rough idea of what you would like to accomplish before you go about accomplishing it (even if you eventually stray away from your parameters).

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3. Be Modest with New Ideas

It’s very tempting when you’re a young composer to throw in everything you’ve just learned into your latest composition (I know from experience!).  Mixing Funk, Swing, and Death Metal sounds great in concept, but you’ll soon learn that it’s much easier said than done.

So I recommend choosing only 1 or maybe 2 new ideas that you haven’t composed with yet and then mix them into a style you’re comfortable with.

Haven’t composed for 4 voices yet in a traditional classical/counterpoint style and would like to; but you are more familiar with rock music?

Great! Compose something you like for voices first and then take your expertise of rock music and apply it as appropriate.  Sure, you’ll change the vocal parts a bit as you progress, but you’ll also learn new innovative ways of fusing your rock music together with this uniquely different style.  Perhaps you’ll find that a rock type lead guitar solo doesn’t work in this situation, but a unique way of playing arpeggios or chord melody works perfect!

4. Give it Space!

Have you ever wondered why rock guitarists always play power chords and octaves (besides the fact that they sound cool)?

It’s because Octaves and Perfect Fifths sound best in the lower range of any instrument and since the guitar transposes down an octave, guitarists tend to play voicing’s that start with a Perfect fifth or Octave on the lowest 2 strings (E & A).

It’s very important to remember this, as a sturdy foundation in the lower range is essential to most every style of music.  Sure, you can play thirds in the lower range but more likely than not it will be too muddy to recognize.  So as a rule of thumb, any chord starting below the middle line in the bass clef should be written with a perfect 5th or Octave on bottom.

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5. Support that Melody!

Last but surely not least, if you’ve written a very important melody that is at it’s absolute climax and you want for it to come across strongly, then you must support it!  Don’t expect the violins alone to carry that super high melody (even if there are 20 of them).  If you want it to come across strongly, then you must support it in some way.

Usually if it’s over the 2nd or 3rd ledger line above the treble staff, you want to support by doubling (sometimes tripling) the melody an octave below in another instrument (perhaps viola, or another guitar for rock).  This will come across much more clearly without detracting from the integrity of your melody.

If it’s under these ledger lines and still feels a bit weak, than I recommend supporting your mainly melody by 6ths.  This is a very commonly used technique and can even give you some unique harmonies that you may not have ever thought of using before.

So, here are your 5 Composition Tips.  I hope that you found these useful, but if you practice them frequently then I can guarantee they will be!

(via cyberfret.com)

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11 Music Production Tips For Newbie Producers…


The Produce Section

The music production tips you’ll discover below contain a mix of practical and psychological suggestions to help you advance your music production.

1. The Producer, Not The Gear, Makes The Music


A producer who doesn’t know what he’s doing cannot produce golden sound, even with the best gear on the planet. Give a great producer even just decent gear and he’ll still manage to produce quality results.

The point? New gear won’t make you better. Work on your super-ninja production skillz first! Learn how to use the gear you have, learn and use different mic techniques, study the basics of acoustics, computer recording and mixing. Apply this knowledge and refine it as you go along.


2. Crapola In, Crapola Out


You’ve probably heard of the fix-it-in-the-mix mentality by now and you also know you should avoid that line from ever entering your mind. Heaping on the effects or compressing the living life out of a track during the mixing stage won’t give you the fat sound you lust after.

A low-level recorded or weak signal will be much closer to your noise-floor. Adding compression to this weak signal during mixing will pull up the noise along with the signal.

The same goes for out-of-time-or-out-of-rhythm instrumentalists. Headache to fix in the mix.

The point? Always aim to get the best possible signal down while recording. Don’t settle for less-than-great takes unless you’re absolutely pressured to do so.


3. Monkey See, Monkey Do


You learn the most valuable things by watching and talking to other producers. Advancement by osmosis!

Manuals and text-books are good maps, though they don’t always show you the actual territory. This is where seeing producers at work can pay huge dividends for your own music production progress.

Luckily, you can now also watch other producers, even some of the pros, provide music production tips on YouTube and other video sites. Music production forums also give you the opportunity to connect with other producers.

The point? Connect with other producers and talk craft. This is always where you’ll get the best music production tips. Watch how others do it and learn faster. Easy.

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4. S.O.S (Save Obsessively Silly!)


Computer music production is great, no doubt. Computers and software however like to sometimes crash.

It sucks to get a mix just right, crash and then realize the last half-hour of your work has vanished into the abyss where all non-saved work dwells.

The point? Develop the save often habit into a compulsion. You may find yourself hitting the save shortcut (Ctrl+S) even while browsing the web! That’s fine. At least your work will be captured. This is one of those music production tips you don’t want to learn from experience.


5. Close Your Eyes To Open Your Ears


The visual sense takes priority with most of us which means that while your eyes are open the ears are pushed to second place.

The visual aspect of computer-based DAWs makes music production much more of a visual activity, often at the expense of good sound.

The point? Close your eyes to make your ears into the top priority sense. Trust your ears when hunting for a good sound. If it sounds good to you, it probably is good.


6. Record Dry, Add Effects Later


This one’s simple: You can add all the effects you want in post-production. Removing effects is much harder.

The point? Keep your recordings clean on the way in and the mixing stage will offer many more possibilities for creative work.

 Become a Better Singer

7. Order Is Freedom


As an artist you may draw inspiration from chaotic environments. This changes the moment you put on your producer cap.

Tidiness, whether it be in your studio, your computer file-system or your DAW session, will allow you to be creative.

The point? Keep things tidy so you won’t get overwhelmed or bogged-down with technical issues or searching for files when you want to be creative or productive.


8. Inspiration Comes While You Work


Pros sit their behinds down every day and work. This is what makes them pro. They don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike.

What you focus on grows. So, when you focus on music production the inspiration will arise in that area. Ideas will flow and things will happen.

The point? Work your craft daily and the Muse will visit you often. Waiting for inspiration is a fool’s game.


9. Give Me a Break!


Your ears and brain need a little R&R or they cross over a threshold where they start to shut out incoming signals. No, I’ve not scientifically verified this. I’m sure the papers must be out there in some academic journal.

The point? Take regular breaks every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid brain-fry and cloth-ears, especially when mixing. This will save your ears, give you more perspective and boost your output.


10. The Many Paths To The Grail


A great final mix is all that matters to a good music producer. It’s what you work towards at every step of the music production process. How you get to the holy grail is up to you.

The point? Rules are for robots. You’ll develop your own techniques and work-flow. Use what you have to produce an excellent track and it won’t matter how you did it. What matters is only what it sounds like when you press play.


11. The Hump Turns Into A Snowball


You’ll reach stages where you’ll feel stuck and like you’re making no progress. You’ll see other producers make it look easy and doubt your own ability to ever do it well.

This is natural. Most producers go through this process. The ones who make it are the ones who ignore their doubts and fears and push on.

(via renagadeproducer.com)

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Basic Music Technology Definitions

How many times have you smiled and nodded when somebody used a music term you knew you should have known? Make sure you familiarize yourself with these basic terms…

Fun with terms!

Channels –

In music technology, each instrument must be set to a different channel in order for you to hear individual instruments. General MIDI allows for 16 MIDI channels. Only the instruments set to a channel will be able to receive the messages assigned to that channel.

Controller –
A device which allows you to enter or change events into a computer or other digital device. (wind controller, percussion controller, keyboard-synthesizer, keyboard-computer, mouse).

Drum Machine –
A device with buttons that correspond to percussion sounds stored in computer memory. Patterns may be recorded into the memory and played back, or patterns may be played back through a computer.

Reverb Tips Here

Dynamics –
The students played the music louder and softer, as indicated by the dynamics written on the music.

Keyboard  –
An electronic musical device, similar to a piano. A MIDI keyboard can be connected to a computer to record or play music.

Metronome – The ‘click’ generated using a sound on the keyboard or sound module that defines the tempo or speed of a sequence. The metronome can be turned on or off for sequencing and playback, and can also be set to sound a number of beats before a sequence begins.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a standard between manufacturers that allows MIDI products to communicate with computers and other MIDI devices. General MIDI Sounds – The standard number of General MIDI sounds is 128, although many keyboards and computers can play many more sounds than this number.

Mixer –
A hardware machine that combines audio signals from different devices and outputs (mixes) them together in mono or stereo. Mixers come in different sizes and the number of channels and audio inputs/outputs available.

Pan –
An audio signal that changes direction to the left or right speaker in a stereo. More advanced notation or sequencers allow one to set and change the panning direction.

Pitch Bend –
A controller which is applied to a synthesized note, raising or lowering the pitch as one moves the joystick or wheel up and down.

Podcast – (Ms. Garrett’s definition…)
An online audio or video broadcast available for download by a subscriber or visitor to a website.

Quantize –
A process in sequencing that corrects rhythmic inaccuracy in a musical track. The process ’rounds’ the note to the next nearest rhythmic value specified, such as an eighth or sixteenth note. This is especially helpful when recording in ‘real-time’ mode.

Real-Time Recording  –
The music records at the same time as you play it into the computer.

Record – To play (record) information on a track in real time, replacing any previously recorded data.

Retrograde –
Playing the music backwards, beginning with the last note and ending with the first.

Sampler –
A synthesizer which records sounds from actual external sounds such as instruments or non-musical sounds. The recorded sounds may be edited and used as sounds effects.

Sequencer –
A music sequencer is similar to a tape recorder, because it can play, record, fast-forward and rewind music on separate tracks.

Step-Time Mode –
Recording the music into the computer one note at a time.

Synthesizer – an instrument that generates sound by the creation and manipulation of artificial waveforms.

Tone Generator –
A device that can generate tones (sounds) without a piano keyboard. Using a tone generator can add more sounds to your music while saving space and expense of additional keyboards. Newer tone generators are quite portable. Tone generators can also be used with controllers, such as the wind and percussion controllers.

Track –
A musical part in a sequence, such as the flute track, or the piano track.

Velocity – the force in which a note is pressed or played (attacked) and released. (i.e., the harder the note is pressed, the louder it will sound.) The range of velocities is 0-127. Some keyboards feature ‘velocity sensitive keys’ and some drum machines and percussion controllers may feature ‘velocity sensitive pads’. Velocity on wind controllers may be controlled by the amount of air stream produced into the instrument.

Vocoder –A vocoder is an audio processor that captures the characteristic elements of an an audio signal and then uses this characteristic signal to affect other audio signals. The technology behind the vocoder effect was initially used in attempts to synthesize speech. The effect called vocoding can be recognized on records as a “talking synthesizer”, made popular by artists such as Stevie Wonder. The basic component extracted during the vocoder analysis is called the formant. The formant describes the fundamental frequency of a sound and its associated noise components.
The vocoder works like this: The input signal (your voice saying “Hello, my name is Fred”) is fed into the vocoder’s input. This audio signal is sent through a series of parallel signal filters that create a signature of the input signal, based on the frequency content and level of the frequency components. The signal to be processed (a synthesized string sound, for example) is fed into another input on the vocoder. The filter signature created above during the analysis of your voice is used to filter the synthesized sound. The audio output of the vocoder contains the synthesized sound modulated by the filter created by your voice. You hear a synthesized sound that pulses to the tempo of your voice input with the tonal characteristics of your voice added to it.

Wave – (Waveform) – The shape of a sound produced by an oscillator that determines the timbre of the sound. Waveforms include sine, pulse, sawtooth, square and triangle waves.
(Sound Wave) – the shape of a sound, which can be described by showing it on a graph. When something vibrates, variations in air pressure create vibrations and are transmitted as a sound wave. Different sounds have different shaped waves.

Learn How to Record Vocals

Wind Controller –
An instrument which is like a woodwind or brass instrument in fingerings. The air stream blown into the controller triggers sounds from a tone generator or synthesizer. Many wind controllers do not produce sounds of their own, and therefore MIDI is used to connect to the tone generating device.

(via musictechteacher.com)


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