The bottom line is, a lot of banks don’t know what to do with you if you’re a working-class songwriter. If you’re one of the few who has major hits on the radio right now with gold records and Grammys adorning your office, they’re a bit more comfortable loaning you money. But for the vast majority of us, it may be a struggle. So what can a songwriter in your position do? Based on my own experience, I’m here to help you with a few tips.
“Practice makes perfect” is a classic cliché — it contains elements of the truth but misses the whole story by a long shot. As musicians, we’ve all experienced times when we master a new concept in seconds, and other times when we’ve been working on the same song for years with seemingly no progress. What accounts for the difference?
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That said, Hein makes a great point that often the debate is not about current technology versus better technology. Rather, it’s a question of using technology either to achieve a result or to achieve nothing. He says, “If you’re some freshman in music school, usually the choice is not ‘shall I have a live string quartet play this or shall I have it be fake strings in Sibelius?’ No. It’s fake strings in Sibelius or nothing. And certainly when they get out of music school it’s fake strings or nothing.” So, having technology be there to help us along doesn’t take anything away, it enables us to do more. The role of education needs to be to empower students to make the most out of what’s available and not to mistake technology’s comforts for their own creative acumen.
Eventually, as digital audio formats became the preferred playback method, the primary function of mastering switched almost exclusively to the audio enhancement of the master output of the mix, often known as the “sweetening” step.
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Solution: Create criteria. One of the biggest mistakes ambitious musicians make is overbooking just for the sake of playing out. I constantly hear colleagues complaining about gigs their bandleaders probably shouldn’t have taken in the first place. A band member once made me promise I would only take gigs if I could answer “yes” to at least two of these questions: (1) Is it lucrative enough to ensure that no band member is losing money (including the pay they would sacrifice if they had to turn down another show because of this one)? (2) Will it give us real exposure or positively build the band’s identity? (3) Could it be the most fun we’ve had all year?
So you want to show off your brand new song to a record label or potential manager, or to book a string of upcoming gigs, or even your friends and family, but there isn’t a producer in sight who could do it on short notice and for less than a few grand. Well, the good thing is that this situation is exactly what Logic Pro is made for.
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Dr. Ericsson makes a similar point. Playing the same thing over and over again might feel good without ever really helping you improve at the parts that are giving you the most trouble or mastering how to approach a similar piece next time. This passage was particularly illustrative to me:
Whether it’s a live or studio recording environment, mixing is there to achieve balance and glue songs together, both on the microscopic level of individual guitar, drum, or vocal tracks, and on the macroscopic level of tying everything together.
“The Montreal-based nonprofit Yellow Bird Project has worked with an amazing range of indie rock musicians over the years to create unique T-shirt designs that benefit an array of charities. This first ever indie rock coloring book is a fitting tribute to the DIY spirit of the bands, featuring witty, hand-illustrated activity pages from artist Andy J. Miller. Music fans can keep themselves out of trouble for hours with mazes, connect-the-dot games, and coloring pages for the Shins, Devendra Banhart, Rilo Kiley, the National, and more than 20 artists. With all royalties going to charity, The Indie Rock Coloring Book is sure to warm even the coolest of hipster hearts.”
This mentored online course is the brainchild of composer, educator, and cultural diplomat Charles Burchell, and provides a deep, well-rounded understanding of the subtleties of hip-hop beat production. We cover areas of producing hip-hop such as: writing beats and bass lines from scratch, creative sampling techniques, arranging and songwriting, mixing, and more, with a specific eye to hip-hop’s many subgenres.
There were virtually no costs for “Here It Goes Again,” and it makes an excellent inspirational showcase for how creativity can be utilized to great effect to execute something memorable.