Columns

The columns below represent the staples of our work and industry. They touch on the topics that can’t be ignored by successful musicians, but may be intimidating and overwhelming. Let our columnists simplify and share the info you need in an easily accessible manner so you can focus on your passion. Dig into specific columns in the top menu or view all of the most recent posts below.

       

Songs for Sale: How the Music Industry Creates Pop Stars From Thin Air

Updated: Careers & Marketing
songs for sale

This isn't news to the old-timers. We remember the days when artists all covered each other's songs and wrote for one another. The thing is, they were all capable and proved it time and again. That's not the case today. And it seems the big wigs would like to sweep that little secret under the rug. People are becoming wise to the game though. There's […]

What is Dithering in Audio & What Does it Do? (An Easy Explanation!)

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
dither

My goal here is to cut through the fog and give it to you plain. We're going to define dither, talk about what it actually is in the context of digital audio (as opposed to printing images or processing video, though we'll mention this), and tell you when and how to use it. What's funny is we've all seen and heard this technique applied in […]

How to Create a Music Marketing Plan Like a Pro

Updated: Careers & Marketing
how to create a music marketing plan like a pro

I won't sugarcoat it, not even a little bit: the music business is hard. Exceptionally hard. But since the rewards for those who make it to the top are stupendous, it's only fitting that climb itself be difficult. This, of course, isn't news to you. Even the most starry-eyed musicians understand that making it as a professional artist requires talent, dedication, and more than a […]

Guitar Pedal Order Matters! - The Signal Chain & Effects Loop Guide

Updated: Guitar Guru
effects pedal order matters

This nightmare question gets asked once per musician, they spend a couple days tormenting themselves over it, then it finally all clicks into place. That question? "What's the best order for my guitar pedals?" The problem arises from realizing you may be using as many as six or even 12 pedals, and even more on a pedalboard. The number of various ways you can mix […]

Microphone Basics: The Beginner's Guide Stuff You Need to Know

Updated: Studio Recording
mic basics

Let me give you the low down. You can read some really in-depth information about microphones on the internet that's simply not reality based. You don't need to know how every piece of an engine works to be able to drive a car. Even seasoned recording studio engineers couldn't reel off a list of all the types of microphones, because we don't use or even […]

How to Build Your Reputation as a Beat Producer

Updated: Careers & Marketing
beat producer reputation

There are as many worthless lyricists out there as there are people pumping out horrid beats in their bedrooms and filling up SoundCloud and YouTube. Let them work together. You are the one high quality producer out of the thousand that has any lick of musical talent. The problem is that nobody knows you're there. They don't make their way to your music profiles to […]

Types of Guitar Pedals: 23 Must Have Effects That Define Your Style

Updated: Guitar Guru
guitar pedal types

We all have heard that tone starts in the hands of the guitarist. Different players can play thru the exact same amp and guitar rig and produce sounds on opposite ends of the spectrum. I like to refer to this base sonic level as the DNA of a player. Thanks to mad scientists tinkering in their evil laboratories of sound, we now have the ability […]

High-Level Song Arrangement Tips: From 'Meh' to Masterpiece

Updated: Music Theory
song arrangement tips

So you've written a great song. Now what? Most songs call for more than simply the original skeleton of voice and piano or guitar. But just how do you arrange when you're starting with these bare bones? What do you add to the orchestration and where do you add this to the song? Here we'll offer some tips to help you create a quality song […]

Managing Stage Fright: Does Practice Make Perfect?

Updated: Gigs & Live Performance
performance anxiety

Anxious music students and seasoned performers are often asked, “How long do you practice every day?” Having treated many performers with stage fright, it is important to take a closer look at this question. The answer is not a simple number of hours (or, in some cases, minutes) that one practices, or even how carefully one practices. Yes, careful and mindful practice is important. Nervousness […]

Beginner Jazz Guitar for Non-Jazz Guitarists

Updated: Guitar Guru
learn to play jazz guitar

Learning to play jazz guitar might seem like rocket science to some, and while there is a world of information and approaches out there, taking things in small steps will yield the best results. Remember that music is not a competition. It is art for its own sake. In this lesson, I'll attempt to give a general overview of the basics while being as comprehensive […]

How to Soundproof a Room for Studio Quality Recordings

Updated: Studio Recording
soundproof rooms

With advances in technology driving the cost of music recording microphones, interfaces, and computers down, everyone is building their own home recording studios. Why not, right? Why pay $500 for a 5 hour time block in your local studio when you can buy a really nice mic for the same price? Double that and you've got nearly everything you need to record vocals, guitar, keyboard, […]

Fletcher Munson Curve: The Equal Loudness Contour of Human Hearing

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
the fletcher munson curve

Working with studio headphones and monitors that feature the flattest frequency responses is important. They reduce the possible variation our listener's will hear due to their own stereo systems, equalization preferences, and the influence of their listening rooms. Untold hours and billions of dollars have been spent in research and development in these industries alone. Then two physicists stepped into the game and changed everything. […]

How to Build Guitar Calluses: Take Care of Your Fingers!

Updated: Guitar Guru
guitar callus

Forget about the tall tales, the marketing schemes, and the urban legends. Nobody wants their fingertips raw and wounded from playing guitar. Mainly because that means you have to stop playing until you heal. As a beginner, it's bad enough to need to restrict your practice time because your fingertips are tender and squishy. You might only play for 30 minutes but the next day […]

EQ Cheat Sheet? Frequency Charts for Mixing Hurt More Than Help!

Updated: Mixing & Mastering
frequency response charts

They're designed well and make nice posters for a school classroom. They get a lot of re-pins on Pinterest. Halfway interested amateurs pass them around because they seem profound and packed full of useful information. Except they aren't. Your first clue that these abominations suck are the instrument frequency charts that purport to show the fundamental frequency ranges as well as the harmonics of every […]

What's the Difference Between Mixing and Mastering?

Updated: Studio Recording
mixing and mastering difference

We've all heard the difference between an amateur recording captured in your buddy's garage and a professional recording tracked in a recording studio equipped with all of the best gear available. But that only affects the clarity of the song in general. Those differences in recording environments and access to gear is like the difference between working with a puzzle where the pieces were cut […]

What is Guitar Tone? Understanding & Dialing In Your Sound

Updated: Guitar Guru
guitar tone

Depending on who you're talking to, you'll get various definitions on what tone is and where it comes from. Many purists will even tell you where it should come from, too. The reality is that various genres of music and guitar playing are accepting of more and more layers of signal processing and effects, and the more that they use regularly the more forgiving and […]

DIY Studio Desk Plans - Custom Fit For Your Needs

Updated: Studio Recording
studio desk plans

What you'll discover as you browse the internet is that there's a whole ton of people who have built their own studio desks, but very few ever documented the process meticulously in terms of isometric engineering sketches or even your typical carpentry blueprints on a dirty napkin. This is the same conundrum we face in the world of computer desks and essentially every other kind. […]

How to Achieve Low Audio Latency While Recording

Updated: Studio Recording
low latency audio

Let's say you're an accomplished guitarist who has been playing live for nearly a decade, ripping improvised solos alongside your band mates in your city's most celebrated cover band. You realize you don't want to pretend to be a member of Talking Heads for the rest of your life, so you bring it up to your crew and they all confess the same. But rather […]

How to Sell Beats Online & Work Your Way Up to Pro Placements

Updated: Beat Production
sell beats online

By virtue of being able to make beats, the instrumentalist in the rap and R&B community brings a boatload of skills to the table that provide a sharp advantage to being seen and earning an on-going passive income. The producer must do everything the vocalist does in order to gain success, but they get the compounding benefit of the vocalist doing it a second time […]

Go Global! Distribute Your Music Online

Updated: Careers & Marketing
distribute music online

Most musicians want an audience, and many people would love to hear their music (if only they knew it existed). Classically, that's where music distribution came into play, but in the new millennium, that means digital distribution across the internet. Let's look at reasons every musician should be distributing music online. Online distribution is easy to do: It's shockingly affordable It can make you money […]