Category: Producing & Recording

Is It Time To Abandon 44.1kHz?

 

Ever since the release of compact disc in 1982, we’ve had 44.1kHz. Most of the music which has ever been released in a digital format has used this sample rate; millions of albums, both on CD and more recently as MP3 and AAC downloads. 44.1kHz has been with us for a long time but the question is, do we still need it in the modern world and why was it chosen as a sample rate in the first place?

44.1kHz Origins

During the development of CD, one of the requirements was that the format must be able to reproduce the entire audible frequency spectrum. This is generally quoted as being roughly 20Hz to 20kHz for human hearing. It was known from Nyquist’s Theorem that in order to reproduce any given audio frequency, the sample rate had to be at least double the highest frequency you wanted to reproduce. This meant that CD had to sample at a rate of 40kHz or higher in order to cover the audible frequency spectrum. In the early days of digital audio, storing the equivalent of a CD album worth of digital data on a hard drive wasn’t possible because the drives of the time simply didn’t have sufficient capacity. Video recorders were therefore re-purposed to store audio samples as black and white video signals. In the US, these video recorders ran at 30 frames per second and had 490 useable lines per frame (excluding blanking lines). It was decided that 3 audio samples should be stored per line of video.

3 samples per line X 490 lines X 30 frames per second. This gives us a total of 44,100.

In the UK, video recorders operated at a slightly different resolution and frame rate. Once again though, if you store 3 audio samples per line of video, the maths still works out:

3 samples per line X 588 lines X 25 frames per second. Again, we get 44,100.

As you can only store a whole number of samples per line (1,2,3,4,5 etc), 44.1kHz was the minimum sample rate possible in order to fulfil the nyquist requirement and also to allow for CD masters to be stored on video tapes.

The Two Families Of Sample Rates

By contrast, TV production and modern digital video workflows have always used 48kHz as their standard sample rate. Multiples of both 44.1kHz and 48kHz are also now fairly widely used. In certain workflows, higher sample rates can be of use. The two common sets of sample rates today are:

CD derived rates:

  • 44.1kHz
  • 88.2kHz
  • 176.4kHz

Video derived rates:

  • 48kHz
  • 96kHz
  • 192kHz

Why Do We Need So Many Sample Rates?

It’s evident that 44.1kHz was borne purely out of the technical constraints at the time of the development of CD. Its derivatives, 88.2 and 176.4kHz only exist because they’re mathematical multiples of it. As we move away from physical formats and into an era where most content is delivered electronically, is there really any reason to keep 44.1kHz? Obviously, we’ll need to retain the ability to work with legacy content at that sample rate and to be able to produce CD masters for as long as the format still exists, but shouldn’t we now just move to 48, 96 and (where required) 192kHz? I’m very interested to hear your viewpoints on this.

25 Top Guitar Tips from 25 Top Guitar Stars

Even if you’re locked away in a basement for eight hours a day with a metronome and a torturous practice book that is equal parts Mel Bay/Guantanomo Bay, you’re still not assured of transcendent six-string skills. Sure, you may get stenographer-like dexterity and harmonic book-smarts up the f-hole, but playing soul-shaking music often requires a more diverse skill set. But this doesn’t mean that attaining the level of expression produced by someone like Jeff Beck necessitates a life of guitar monk-dom.

First, don’t worry about the transcendent and unattainable talent of Jeff Beck. That’s just silly. What you need to do is ensure that whatever you play makes the hair on your arms stand up and quiver with bliss and excitement.
Here at Guitar Player, we figure that if you’re going to expand and maximize your talents, you may as well learn from the best. So we offer these 25 tips from cats who know their stuff—from rock royalty to jazz patriarchs to any-and-all top-of-their-game bad-asses.
Hopefully, you’ll find something in these cosmic, practical, and musical nuggets of wisdom that will kick that rut-raddled mind of yours into higher gears of inspiration.
1. Joe Satriani 
Renew!

“Moving into uncharted territory is a key ingredient to making your practice sessions a success. Playing the same stuff over and over will only take you so far. Introduce a new set of chord voicings, tunings, or scale patterns to your routine every week. It’s not necessary to know how to implement the stuff right away, just make your fingers go to new places, and let the musicality follow naturally.”

2. Carlos Santana 
 Find You

“A good way to crave your individuality is to get a tape recorder and get into a room that’s kind of dark—where you don’t have interruptions—and then just play with a rhythm machine. After a while, it’s like a deck of cards on the table, and you can begin to see the riffs that came from this guy, the riffs that came from that guy, and then the two or three riffs that are yours. Then you start concentrating on your riffs until you develop an individual sound.”

3. Steve Lukather 
Relax

“The most important thing to remember when you’re attempting to increase your speed is to relax. Don’t push your muscles beyond what they can give. Practice for about a half hour, and then take a break. You can always resume after a few minutes. This is especially important when you’re trying to get seriously twisted patterns under your fingers. I used to sit in from of the TV when I was a kid, and alternate-pick scales very lightly. I wasn’t really paying attention, and it actually helped that I wasn’t concentrating so much, because I stayed relaxed, and yet I was able to build up my technique and stamina. But never keep playing if you start to feel pain. Ever. Tendonitis is no joke.”

4. Jerry Garcia 

Dynamics
“To work on picking dynamics, plug into a practice amp and turn your guitar all the way up. Then play arpeggios—very quietly at the beginning, and then gradually louder by adjusting your touch. The goal is to vary your dynamics, but not change the position of your hands. Many guitarists change the way they hold their hands when changing dynamics. As a result, they end up with a ‘light-touch’ group of licks—the very fast stuff—but they don’t develop any power. What you want to achieve is continually making those conversions back and forth from quiet to loud picking.”

5. Rusty Cooley 

Get High
“Wherever your guitar is when you’re sitting and practicing is where it should be when you’re standing. I discovered this the hard way. Years ago, I’d practice my solos sitting down—and I’d nail them—only to go to rehearsal and blow it because my right- and left-hand positioning was completely different when I stood up. Now, most players think it looks uncool to wear your guitar up high, but I think it’s cooler to sound kick ass than it is to look cool and suck! Zakk Wylde slings his Les Paul really low, but as soon as a solo comes up, he’ll put his foot on a stage monitor to raise his guitar up. Hell, Tom Morello wears his guitar so high that he says it sometimes hits him in the chin. So, for the sake of killer guitar playing, raise ’em up!”

6. Barney Kessel 

Stay Hot

“Keep your guitar out of the case and handy. Practice short periods—anywhere from five to 45 minutes—many times throughout the day, rather than for one prolonged period. Often times, five minutes is enough time to work on a technique or musical passage. The whole idea of practice is to get your reflexes working like a gunfighter’s, so you can pull out that gun and be instantly hot.”
7. Nels Cline 
Seek Truth
“Don’t listen to unimaginative naysayers when it comes to personal creative expression. At some point, there will no doubt emerge a conflict between the rules of instrumental mastery, and the need to follow one’s own intuition. Be strong! The only so-called advancements in art—forget about commerce—have come about when someone has either boldly modified or completely disregarded the norm. Those who deviate must stay true to themselves.”
8. Dave Wronski   
Pickup Balance
“To balance your pickups, plug your guitar into something with level meters, such as a 4-track recorder. Play each string individually, and adjust the pickup height until the level of each string hits the same point on the meters. Typically, you’ll have to lower the bass side of the pickup. If your guitar’s overall output is quieter than what you had, simply turn up your amp to compensate. The benefit here is string-to-string clarity.”
9. Jimmy Page 
Room Miking
“There’s a very old recording maxim that goes, ‘Distance makes depth.’ I’ve used that a hell of a lot—whether it’s tracking guitars or the whole band. People are used to close-miking amps, but I’d have a mic out around the back, as well, and then balance the two. Also, you shouldn’t have to use EQ in the studio if the instruments sound right. You should be able to get the right tones simply with the science of microphone placement.”
10. James Hetfield  
Get Down
“For heavy rhythm, it has to be downpicking. It’s absolutely key. It’s tighter sounding, and a lot chunkier.”
11. Oz Noy  
Moving In Stereo
“Try using two amps and some stereo effects to get a bigger sound onstage. A ping-pong delay sounds huge when you stand between both amps, and any type of stereo chorus, flanger, phaser, or, in my case, a Leslie simulator, creates the illusion of an even wider sound. Panning your signal from side-to-side is a cool effect. I do it using a stereo Ernie Ball volume pedal. I like the amps to be almost identical, while others—including Stevie Ray Vaughan—prefer two amps that have different sounds that compensate for each other. Finally, it’s important to understand that unless both of your amps are miked, and panned left and right in the house, nobody except you will hear the stereo effect.”
12. Jeff Beck 
Moderation
“Over-indulgence in anything is wrong—whether it’s practicing 50 hours a day, or eating too much food. There’s a balance with me, as there should be with everything and everybody. I’ve tried to keep it so that I’m able to execute the ideas that come out, but practicing too much depresses me. I get good speed, but then I start playing nonsense because I’m not thinking. A good layoff makes me think a lot. It helps me get both things together—the creativity and the speed.”
13. Al Di Meola   
Alternate Picking
“A good way to work on alternate picking is to choose three or four notes, and work on those. Too often, players who are trying to improve their right hand dexterity get hung up by trying to play too many notes with the left hand. I hear a lot of players running whole scales from the sixth string to the first, and playing them really sloppy. Keeping it very basic—using only a few notes—and playing slowly with perfect rhythm is a task in itself.”
14. Marty Stuart   
Embrace History
“The greatest musicians are knowledgeable about music’s roots. Experience provides authenticity for the music we create. Eric Clapton and Keith Richards can teach you a mess of blues, but it’s good to find out about the original artists whose tunes they covered, such as Robert Johnson. It’s like the old saying: ‘How can you know where you are going, if you don’t understand where you’ve been?’”
15. Deke Dickerson   
The Pinkie
“Use your pinkie! When I first started playing, an older country musician told me to keep practicing with my left-hand pinkie—even though it felt awkward—until it was second nature. That was the best advice I ever got. You were born with five fingers—don’t forget to use ’em all!”
16. Stevie Ray Vaughan  
Go Big
“Use big strings. I like a set with a .013 E string, but I’ve gone as high as a .018-.074 set. They’ll eat your hands, your tuning pegs, and your amp, but they sound great.”
17. Wes Montgomery   
Hang in There

“It takes time to develop every aspect of your technique. A lot of people don’t realize the crises you’ve got to go through. I used to get headaches when I started doing the octave thing, but, over time, I was fine. All it takes is to hear a little improvement in your playing, and that little bit of inspiration is often enough to push you even further.”
18. Eric Johnson   
Be Aware
“Remind yourself that you’re free to feel great instead of reserved or insecure. When you’re feeling good, you’re more apt to take chances onstage, and if you make a bunch of mistakes, it won’t matter. It’s almost like you’re the instrument, and the music is flowing through you like electricity. Like John Coltrane said—the paramount aspect of being a musician is to try to get more in touch and in tune with yourself. When you do that, its like returning to the center and everything emanates from there. You automatically become a better musician in becoming a more aware individual.”
19. Dickey Betts   
Damp
“Learn to damp notes to control feedback and noise when playing slide at high volumes. Many people play slide with a pick, and then use the heel of the hand or something to control the sound. The style I got from Duane Allman is to use the thumb and the first two fingers without a pick. If you have glass or steel on your left hand, and a plastic pick in your right, you are completely isolated from your instrument. What you have to learn to do is to strike a note, then stop the note with the fingers before you strike another one, so only one note sounds at a time. It works kind of like a damper pedal on a piano.”
20. Joe Pass   
Un-Straight Eights
“Practicing eighth-note lines with a triplet feel is very helpful for improving one’s rhythmic feel for jazz. Of course, the best way to get a jazz feel is to play with records or with a group. It’s something you’ve got to inherently feel. A lot of rock players have such a straight-eight feel that they can’t play jazz. They’re too stiff.”
21. Steve Vai   
Separation
“Try to separate yourself from what your fingers are doing and listen to the amp.”
22. Allan Holdsworth   
Legato Levels
“When playing legato, try to make all of the notes come out at a consistent volume. To achieve even more control, practice accenting the notes that aren’t picked.”
23. Pete Townshend   
Acoustic Solos
“For an electric guitarist to solo effectively on an acoustic guitar you need to develop tricks to avoid the expectation of sustain that comes from playing electrics. Try cascades, for example. Drop arpeggios over open strings, and let the open strings sing as you pick with your fingers. It’s kind of a country style of playing, but it works very well in-between heavily strummed parts and fingered lead lines.”
24. David Gilmour   
Melodic Delays
“A bit of delay can smooth out the unpleasant, raw frequencies you get from a fuzz box. I have two units, and I have different echo settings on both. There are times when I have both running at the same time for certain effects. During solos, I usually try to set the delays to have some rhythmic time signature in common with the tune. I usually set them to a triplet—the notes all intertwine, so it doesn’t really matter anyway, but I find that a triplet delay is very melodic.”
25. Eric Clapton   
Restraint

“Don’t play every lick you know before the end of the set, because then you’re screwed. You’ll just end up repeating yourself. But it’s a very youthful thing to jam—it’s like sowing wild oats. But as grow older, you become interested in doing something more lasting. You have to settle down and make everything count—make sure what you do is worthy of being heard again. I’ve become more devoted to the song, and I feel that jamming, unless it has a goal at the end of it, is pretty much a waste of time.”

How To Get Songs Placed On TV And In Movies

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By Ari Herstand

Last weekend at the ASCAP Music Expo at the Loews Hollywood Hotel I attended the Music Supervisor panel containing 5 music supervisors who actively place music in film and television.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had about 30 TV placements (20 in the last year from my new record). I’ve gotten songs placed on high profile shows that are known for their music, like One Tree Hill and shows you’ve never heard of, where music is very much “background,” like Friendzone. And everything in between.

And I’ve also been 1 week away from having a song on So You Think You Can Dance. Contracts were signed. The only problem was, the contestant who was going to dance to my song got bumped. Balls.

There is no one way to get music placed on TV (or in film). In addition to how I’ve gone about it, I’ve spoken with many of my musician friends who make livings on song placements about this.

Music Supervisor

According to the Guild of Music Supervisors, the definition/role of a music supervisor is defined as:

“A qualified professional who oversees all music related aspects of film, television, advertising, video games and any other existing or emerging visual media platforms as required.”

Music supervisors are the actual people who take the cues from the producers and director when the “picture is locked” and underscore the picture with songs. The composer underscores the picture with original, scored compositions written specifically for that scene.

Sometimes (most of the time) music supervisors use the instrumental version and most of the time it’s just a small snippet of the song (however, now I have to brag a bit, One Tree Hill used all 3:43 of my song – words and music. But that’s very rare).

On the ASCAP panel sat Rebecca Rienks, who currently places music for E! (you know those promo montage spots that always seem to have Ryan Seacrest looking… Seacresty); Holly Hung, who primarily places music in film trailers; Jeff Gray just finished a feature film; Lindsay Wolfington (who placed me in One Tree Hill), mostly works on TV shows; and the moderator, Jason Kramer, is a music supervisor at Elias Arts, a music production company that specializes in original music composition and sound design for TV, films and commercials. Kramer is also a host on Los Angeles’ KCRW.

musicsupervisorpanel

They rapped for just over an hour about what types of music they look for, day to day challenges (mainly dealing with producers who say stuff like “can you make this more purple?”) and showed us some of the spots they’ve placed music in.

“As long as it fits and tonally hits everything that it needs to hit, it doesn’t matter if it’s an indie band, somebody not signed, somebody just dropped, if it works it works.” – Holly Hung, Music Supervisor

Hung told a story about working on a trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  She said they had a Coldplay song as temp music and she spent 3 weeks looking for a replacement for it. She scoured iTunes and found a band who had just gotten dropped by their label and the singer was currently working at Starbucks. She used the song and the band got $80,000 for the placement.

Getting Music To The Music Supervisors

As you can imagine, music supervisors get inundated with emails from people wanting their music placed. Be it musicians, licensing companies, publishing companies, managers or just fans of the supe (that’s short for music supervisor – and yes they have fans), supes can get overwhelmed and are very picky about HOW they will take submissions.

DO NOT ATTACH MP3s

There’s no correct way to get music placed, but there are a few incorrect ways. All supes on the panel said do not attach mp3s to an email. It clutters up their inbox and will go directly to the trash (and your email will probably get blocked).

How To Get Your Email Opened

Hung said to put who you sound like in the subject line. Like “Sounds like Coldplay.” Keep the body short and to the point and only send the songs that make sense for the project that supe is working on. So, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Do not send your tear-jerker ballad to Rienks who needs upbeat, fun, exciting music for her E! spots.

How To Get Your Song Listened To

In the email, include links to where the song can be quickly listened to (without having to be downloaded) where there is ALSO an option to download it if they want to use it. Also, directly below the song, include a link to the instrumental.

Wolfington mentioned that she loves Box.com. Box.com (unlike Dropbox) will open a window with a player and it has a download link in the upper right hand corner. Very convenient.

Do not include links to ALL of your music. Send the best 1-3 songs that will work for that supe’s current project.

If the supe wants more of your music, she’ll ask.

In the email, it may help to list a couple distinctive adjectives below each song or key lyrics. Like:

“Cold Water”
epic, explosion at end,
key lyrics: “I will find the artist inside me”
full wav: link to box.com
instrumental wav: link to box.com

And yes, always upload .wavs. Not mp3s. If the supe wants to experiment with your song in the spot, she isn’t going to want to have to REEDIT in the wav once she realizes it’s a low-quality mp3.

Licensing Companies

If you don’t have a publishing company, there are companies out there who solely pitch music to music supervisors. Unlike publishing companies, they do not own any part of your song. Similarly, though, they will not go hunt down your mechanical royalties around the world for you (like publishing companies will).

Some will take a back-end percentage of your performance royalties (like from ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN), and others won’t. Some will work with you non-exclusively and others (the more established ones) will require you to work exclusively with them.

Typically licensing companies will take about 30-50% of the total sync fee and 30-50% of the back-end performance royalties.

Getting Paid

All network TV shows have a budget for music. Most higher profile cable TV shows have a budget for music. Most reality shows have a very tiny budget for music and will not pay you for the placement unless they have to.

Network TV shows will typically pay $3,000+ (depending on the spot and your level of clout). Cable TV shows will typically pay $750+ and reality shows on cable mostly pay indie artists nothing. Movies, trailers and commercials typically pay the most: $20,000+.

But these are very loose numbers. I’ve heard of major label artists getting $30,000 for a cable show and indie bands making $80,000 for a trailer.

Before you breakout the pitchforks for the reality TV show producers, you won’t NOT get paid EVER for these spots, you just won’t get paid up front. Meaning, many of these shows will ask you for the rights to place your music for free, knowing that you’ll make back-end songwriter/publisher performance royalties from your PRO (Performing Rights Organization – ASCAP, BMI, etc). If you get a bunch of these kinds of placements, they can really add up. It just takes about 9-18 months to see that check, though. These shows also (to compensate for their lack of payment) do a decent job of maximizing the band’s exposure. Most shows have an entire music section on their websites that list all music from each episode with links to iTunes and Spotify and to the bands’ websites. The Real World also puts the name of the song and the artist on the screen while the song is playing.

So, it’s not completely free. It can be pretty decent exposure.

And hey, if you don’t want to let them use your song for free, there is no one forcing you to.

Also worth noting, you don’t make any performance royalties when the movies are shown in theaters. There’s no legitimate reason why. It’s one of those messed up parts of the music business.

Pay To Submit Companies

There are companies like MusicXray.com, Sonicbids.com and Taxi.com who charge you to submit to music supervisors (oh you also have pay to become a member) for consideration. Taxi.com openly admits that only 6% of their artists get some kind of deal (who knows how many paid submissions they already submitted). But one of the music supervisors on the panel (I’ll withhold who) when asked about these companies, said, “it’s bad business.”

I’ve never actually heard of anyone getting a placement through these services. If you have PLEASE post it in the comments.

You have to see it from the supe’s perspective. They want music from people they trust, like licensing companies, publishing companies and musicians who they have a relationship with. Not some service that pushes out music where the only barrier for entry is a fee.

How To Get In The Door

Now that you know HOW to submit, how do you know WHO to submit to? Well, simple, do your research. The first handful of placements I got were from watching TV shows, noting the kind of music they used, looking at who the music supervisor was (they’re always listed in the ending credits – or on IMDB), Googling a bit to find their email, and cold emailing. Actually, I tweeted Lindsay Wolfington my song for One Tree Hill.

They’re all mostly on Twitter too.

Above all DO NOT SPAM them. This is a quick way to get blacklisted and blocked. Be polite and respectful. Make sure your emails are short and to the point.

If you don’t get a response don’t think they’re not interested. Wolfington mentioned that she puts all of these emails in a folder and when she’s looking for music, she sifts through the folder. So make sure your links don’t expire.

If you want to find a licensing company, there are a ton out there. Google around for a bit. Ask your friends who have gotten placements who they use. Check the credits of films to see who the song is “Courtesy of” – if it’s not a label, it’s most likely the licensing or publishing company.

I get asked all the time who are some good licensing companies out there, and the fact is, I don’t know all of them. I don’t know most of them. I’ve worked with a handful of them and have a few now who pitch me (non-exclusively), but it’s pointless for me to share this information because then the few licensing companies I know would get flooded by your emails. Do your research and find the company that’s the best fit for you.

Getting songs placed on TV shows and in movies is a highly sought after part of the music industry. Some musicians make their entire income off of it. Many companies do exclusively this. Like any avenue in the music industry, if you want to do well, you must put in the time necessary to master it. You can’t blast out 50 emails to 50 music supervisors and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. It takes years of building up relationships, networking and trial and error. And again, DO NOT send out music that is not right for the show (or underdeveloped). That gives a bad name to all self-pitching artists. Every time a supe gets an email from an artist with shitty music or music that is completely different from what she places, she is less likely to open another email in the future. Don’t hurt your fellow independent musicians. Be respectful and be professional.

 

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take.

5 Lyrical Clichés That Can Ruin a Song

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Mac DeMarco’s “Salad Days” uses a cliché theme in a fresh way. (Photo by Coley Brown)

How do we define cheesy? What separates a lyrical motif from a cringe-worthy cliché? And is there any way that these songwriting taboos can actually work in your favor?

The answer to the latter question is simpler than defining the errors. If you’re aware of the tropes you’re tripping over, the work can be understood as satire, irony, or camp. Another option: pair familiar lyrical lines with an otherwise unconventional song. None of those suggestions are foolproof, and it’s not a guarantee that your use of cheesy or cliché wording will make your music unlistenable. Figuring out what works in any particular situation, as always, is ultimately up to you.

Here are some of the most commonly relied-upon songwriting clichés, and why they’re mistakes – plus instances in which they were successful.

Read more: 5 Lyrical Clichés That Can Ruin a Song

5 Exercises That Will Make You A Better Songwriter

songwriting become a better songwriter

There is a false assumption about songwriting that some magical moment of inspiration will suddenly strike a person sitting in a room with a guitar, causing them to give birth to a small piece of artistic brilliance and until that happens, it’s not worth picking up a pen and a piece of paper.

It’s true that inspiration can come from a variety of places, but the hard reality is that just like playing an instrument, great songwriters become great by practicing.  It’s especially important to remember that early results are almost never that promising. It’s okay to write a crappy song. The key is figuring out what about the song wasn’t so great and what needs to be done to improve it.

In the meantime, there are exercises you can do on a daily and weekly basis that will strengthen your writing muscle and make you a better songwriter. Some of these are tried and true techniques, some are a little bit outside of the box. Some of them may work wonders for you, some may not. Every writer learns to find what processes work best for them.

Learn, Play, and Diagram Your Favorite Songs

Influences are a big part of every songwriter’s individual sound. The hard part is figuring out how to absorb your favorite writers and let their influence seep into your own creative process without copying them outright. Learning to play and perform a song that someone else wrote is one way to learn from the inside out what it feels like to sing from that writer’s perspective. The reality is, you will never be able to perform it the same way they do, so take liberty in interpreting their song with your own voice. Memorize the lyrics, practice and learn it as if you were preparing to perform it. Really let it sink in.

Freestyle Write and Record It

Freestyle, stream of consciousness writing is deceptively simple. Training your mind to spit out new ideas without stopping is a discipline in and of itself. Whether your playing guitar, DJing in Ableton, singing and playing piano or whatever medium you prefer to write in, freestyle writing can not only be a discovery tool for new ideas, but can also reveal crutches and patterns that you lean on too often. Make sure and record yourself and listen back, you might be surprised as to what you hear.

Write With Someone Else

It’s always a good idea to try out writing with another writer, whether or not they are more or less experienced that you are. There are always methods you could pick up, but more than anything writing with someone else forces you to put ideas to paper. Writing alone can often include distractions, but when you have a set aside time in front of someone else there is more of a sense of urgency to create something. Don’t expect every co-writing session to be fruitful, remember that a lot of these are exercises to make you better . You might not end up with a great song at the end, but the process can teach you a lot.

Point/Counterpoint Excercise

A complicated song with multiple sections and a fully developed theme can often be a daunting task to jump right into. An award winning prolific writer told me about this exercise. Write a series of verse/chorus combinations and think about each of them like a point/counterpoint. Identify one idea and flesh it out. Follow it up with a second idea that counterpoints that idea – melodically, lyrically, rhythmically, however you see fit. Once you’re done and this two part creation is complete, start over and do it again. Some of these ideas might even turn into actual songs, but you can’t expect them all to be great ideas. Again, it’s all about the exercise.

Set Aside Dedicated Time

I read once that Nick Cave approaches songwriting like a desk job – he commits himself to writing from 9 AM to 5 PM, five days a week, with a lunch break in the middle. This can seem a bit stuffy to artists who typically consider the musicians lifestyle of sleeping until noon and getting that flash of inspiration at midnight to be the more inspired approach. The reality is that a surprising number of creative people work within a fixed schedule. Set aside time just for writing and take it seriously.

by Zach Varnell

Approximately 73,985,000 Records Pressed Worldwide in 2014 So How Can 9.2 Million Sold Be Correct? (Updated 5/4/15)

 

After speaking to some industry insiders, as well as reading some comments here, it’s clear that these numbers are probably somewhat inflated. As a reader pointed out, these numbers probably include pressed, but not distributed defective records caught before they could be slipped into jackets and shipped. Also, given the number of multi-LP box sets reissued last year, when a pressing plant says it pressed “X” number of records, that includes things like Optimal’s pressing of The Beatles Mono Box Set, for instance, and double 45rpm reissues so, clearly the 73 million figure overstates the case. Nonetheless, even if you halve the number, more than 35 million records pressed is an impressive number! Another insider says Nielsen/Soundscan’s number is for America only. Still, I think it’s safe to say they are underreporting actual totals—ed.The graphic above is incorrect but based upon projections for 2014. Nielsen/Soundscan reported recently that 9.2 million vinyl records were sold in 2014—a whopping 54% increase over 2013.

How can that number be close to correct when my research says that in 2014 approximately 73,985,000 (yes SEVENTY THREE MILLION NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND) records were pressed?

How did I arrive at my numbers? For most of the world’s largest pressing plants I got confidential numbers directly from the pressing plants.

Three pressing plants alone pressed in 2014 approximately THIRTY FIVE MILLION RECORDS. And that doesn’t include United Record Pressing, Nashville, which refuses to respond to emails. While some companies responded that they’d rather not reveal numbers, United doesn’t respond at all.

Why? Because they are babies who can’t take criticism when they press bad records, and ignore the positive press given on this site when they press good ones. I added 9,360,000 records pressed by United based upon a 2014 Billboard story stating that URP presses 30,000-40,000 records a day, six days a week. I multiplied by 30K not 40K.

Some of the numbers I was given mix 7″ singles with LPs so based upon the mix of presses that I was able to research, I adjusted the numbers downward. Where I was able to only get approximate numbers (based upon an industry spread sheet that I was able to obtain that consistently underreported numbers where I was able to get actual numbers), I purposely decreased the numbers, preferring to understate rather than overstate the totals.

As I reported recently, Stoughton Press shipped Jack White’s Third Man Records 170,000 Lazaretto jackets, yet Soundscan/Nielsen insists only approximately 86,000 copies were sold in 2014. Does that mean Jack White is a “jacket hoarder”? I doubt it. Nor does the huge disparity in pressed and sold records mean that labels are “vinyl hoarders”.

Quite the opposite in fact! Labels aim to keep inventory low so order only what they think they can sell in a reasonable period of time. We know that every record pressed isn’t immediately or even within a year sold at retail.

Nonetheless, the gigantic disparity between the approximately 73,000,000 records pressed and the 9.2 million reported to have been sold by Nielsen/Soundscan needs to be examined, especially when three pressing plants alone claim to have pressed more records in 2014 than Nielsen/Soundscan reported were sold in 2014.

Even if you slice off a percentage for 7″ singles, the disparity is huge between pressed and reported sales. And one can argue 7″ singles should be counted because they are vinyl and played on turntables and in some ways the singles resurgence is even more unlikely than the album resurgence. After all, iTunes is made for convenience and singles purchases and 7″ singles are a genuine pain in the butt to play.

So even cutting the total in half means that approximately 37,000,000 records were pressed or more than four times the number S/N reported were sold last year.

Interestingly, the predicted totals this year from some of the pressing plants who supplied totals for 2013 were well in excess of those numbers and guess what? The numbers predicted for 2015 by the larger plants are greater yet!

By Michael Fremer • Posted: Apr 30, 2015

5 Ways To Get A Great Electric Guitar Sound On A Limited Budget

There’s is nothing better than recording a top guitarist using great gear, but some of us need to add some electric guitar to tracks now and again. We don’t have the money or can’t justify spending a fortune on a top guitar and amp, but is it possible to get a great guitar sound on a budget?

Here are our top 5 tricks that should help you get a great guitar sound on a limited budget;

Use An Amp

Try and record using a guitar amp whenever possible. Even if you have to borrow or hire a guitar amp, there’s nothing like the real thing. Amp sims have come a long way, but the combination of a real amp, the mic and the room will still give you a sense of space and dynamics that can’t be beaten.

Work The Mic

Try a number of different microphones. If you have little budget then you can’t beat the Shure SM57, then try moving it around in front of the amp until you get the sound you want. If you have the chance to try a few mics then set them up in front of the amp and then have someone move them around whilst you check the sound – if you have no control room then use a pair of headphones for this task. You will be amazed how different a guitar can sound as you move the mic around in front of the cab.

Keep Your Options Open

Track a mic’d version and a DI version at the same time, this gives you a lot of options in the mix. If nothing else adding an effect or another plug-in and mixing them together can give some great results. This is often done when tracking bass guitar but less so when tracking electric guitar.

Plug in To A Plug-in

There are some great amp sims out there in plug-in form. Sansamp ships with Pro Tools but  is often overlooked. There’s also a lot of FREE guitar amp plug-ins like Amplitube, Eleven Free and others. Do some searching and you’ll some cool free stuff for both Mac and PC. As a last resort download a demo copy for a session and use it – it’s not illegal, just smart if you only need it for a day!

Track More Than One Guitar

Whilst I’m not a fan of tracks with hundreds of guitar parts there is something to be said for playing several different parts, it’s partly down to the genre of music you are recording. If you only have one guitar part recorded then a nice trick is to make a copy of the guitar track and then slip it slightly on the time-line, then add a different sound to it using an amp sim. Finally pan them left and right. You’ll be amazed at how big one guitar can sound using this effect.

These are just 5 tricks for those just starting out or on a budget.

How about your tricks, we know some of the community have some real gems, please leave them in the comments section.

Here are a few more tips to get a better sound.

Double track with a capo
Double track the same inversion but with guitar in different tuning.
Double track with a different guitar.
Double track with a different player ( differences are good!)
Double track just the bottom string (or strings depending on the chords) gives you a more positive sound
A good pop punk sound is gtr 1 @ 8 o’clock, double track gtr (different guitar capo’d or different tuned) right @ 4 o’clock, single bass string centre
Split between 2 amps with one 57 on each and a stereo xy for the room
Speakers need to be driven but not so loud that the room is adding too much to the mic
Don’t ignore using practise amps, they can sound huge with the right treatment
learn the part and record at half speed ( be careful of the top end)
Double with an acoustic for that Keef sound
Commit fx to record as often as possible except reverb which if you have it as vital to your sound then you should record to extra tracks
Use only really good quality guitar leads. If it costs less than a tenner you need to really check your thinking
Stand up while playing. Makes a huge difference to the attitude
Even if you are recording in the control room wear headphones. This will enable the engineer not to have the monitors too loud and make accurate judgements about your sound
Mic the guitar even if its electric . (plectrum on strings can sound great mixed back)
USE A TUNER…..Preferably the same one as the other guitarist and the bass player.
New strings are great but for the night before.
Use loop record

I’m sure there are tons more of these type of tips

10 Ways To Make Money With Your Music That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago

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1) Crowdfunding

Kickstarter has lead the way with nearly $120 million going to successful music projects. IndieGoGo is a close second and, unlike Kickstarter, allows creators to keep the money even if a project is unsuccessful (if the creator chose “flexible funding”). The most successful music crowd funding project is of course Amanda Palmer’s project which raised $1.2 million for her album. But there have been over 18,000 successful Kickstarter music projects (mostly funding albums) ranging from $1,000 to $1.2 million. Crowdfunding has been a great way for indie artists to bankroll their albums and tours without a label or investor.

And the newest of the crowdfunding bunch is Patreon. I call it Crowdfunding 2.0. Creators on Patreon ask their fans for continued financial support (patronage). Most patrons pledge $1-5 per piece of content released (music video, song, blog post, podcast, whatever) But some have pledged upwards of $1,000 PER PIECE OF CONTENT, because they can afford it and they really love the artist. Patreon launched in 2013 and is now paying out over $1 million per month to creators. This model embraces the new philosophy of asking your fans for support, not forcing them to buy. Because album sales are in a free fall, this is the next best solution for independent musicians with a highly engaged audience.

2) PledgeMusic

Some people lump PledgeMusic in with Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. I don’t. PledgeMusic is different. It has changed the way the modern album campaign works. The pre-order on PledgeMusic is much more than just an advanced purchase of the album. Running a PledgeMusic campaign invites the fans into the entire album making process from start to finish. Some bands literally live stream from the studio to their backers. Many large bands who don’t need the money still run PledgeMusic campaigns (without the crowdfunding element) because it increases fan engagement and opening week sales. Artists like 311, Ben Folds Five, Imogen Heap, Howie Day, Korn (with the backwards R) and Lucinda Williams have all run campaigns. Many actually charted on Billboard in the opening week (all pre-order PledgeMusic sales are reported to Soundscan for chart placement).

3) Self Managed Digital Download Stores

BandCamp has been the most successful artist-managed music store (no labels allowed) and currently pays out over $3 million a month to independent artists. Their “name your price” model has personally allowed one of my fans to pay me $200 for my new album and another fan paid $20 for a single. BandCamp is moving to a Patreon-esque subscription service in 2015. CD Baby, Loudr and Tuneport also offer self-managed download stores that have become increasingly popular amongst the indie music community.

4) BandPage Experiences

BandPage started as a Facebook app to allow bands to post music to their Pages. It has evolved into a musician-fan experience haven. Artists offer “experiences” like meet and greets, soundcheck access, pre-show ping pong challenges, pre-show guitar lessons, green room hangs and anything else you can think of. These experiences have brought in additional income for bands on tour above the standard ticket/merch income.

5) YouTube Ad Revenue and Sponsorships

Companies like Audiam, INDMusic, Fullscreen, Maker Studios, ONErpm, AdRev, Believe and Rumblefish collect YouTube ad revenue for artists and labels. Multi Channel Networks like Fullscreen and Maker also act as agents for their creators and negotiate high paying sponsorships for their videos and YouTube channels.

6) Online concerts

StageIt and Concert Window are leading the way in the online concert world. Most shows are “pay what you want” and encourage tipping. I’ve played a few StageIt shows and have averaged about $5 a head for a “pay what you want” concert (from tipping and tickets). Not bad for playing songs from my living room.

7) Gig Masters

This is like an online event planning company. I’ve never tried it out, but I have a few friends who get booked for weddings and corporate parties all the time through the site. Customers leave reviews of the artists and the artists’ ranking rises the more positive reviews they receive. Gig Masters costs $200-400 for the annual membership, but one booking will typically pay for that.

8) SoundBetter & AirGigs

Mixing and mastering engineers, producers, instrumentalists, singers, and full demo production studios get hired through these sites by artists for their recordings. Live in a remote village in Tanzania and want your epic 127 track production mixed by a Grammy winning mixing engineer? Done! Well, if you can pay their rate of course. This has been a great way for freelance artists with home studios to get extra work – especially if they aren’t plugged into an active music town.

SoundBetter just implemented a search by location feature so if you want to find recording studios or live sound engineers in your town, you can find them here as well.

9) YouTube tips

This is a new feature just rolled out this year by YouTube (to compete with Patreon). It’s not available to all YouTube users yet (you have to apply), but it’s a great way for fans to pay artists directly through YouTube – without having to leave the site.

10) Licensing Companies

Traditionally, licensing departments were a division within publishing companies. But with more and more demand for independent music on TV shows, commercials, movies and trailers, licensing companies have been popping up every day to connect indie artists with music supervisors. Some of the biggest have been doing it for 5-10 years now and have built up pretty solid relationships. Music supervisors love discovering new music to place in their projects, however, with so much music out there they typically only accept music from sources they trust: labels, publishers, artists who they have build relationships with, and now licensing companies. In addition to these more traditional licensing companies that pitch music directly to music supervisors with big budgets, many companies like, Triple Scoop Music, The Music Bed and Audiosocket, clear music with the artists in advance and put the songs up on their site for a set fee to be used, non-exclusively, by photographers and indie film makers. Passive income baby!

+How To Get Songs Placed On TV and In Movies

For all the doom and gloom discussions within the music industry right now, hopefully these 10 avenues shed some light onto how you can diversify your income stream and make a solid living as a musician.

Photo is by Earl McGehee from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons License

Article by

Ari Herstand
 
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take.

 

Pleasure Chemistry: How Our Brains Process Music

 

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Why does music bring us pleasure? Well, the simple answer is that it changes our brain chemistry… literally. Music triggers the parts of our brain associated with reward, motivation, and emotion, which causes the feelings of pleasure that we get when we put our headphones on.

So even though we can’t necessarily pinpoint exactly what it is about music that excites us, we know it happens. We are lucky enough to have the opportunities to see our favorite groups and listen to them at home, at work, or on-the-go. For the longest time, music has been an important part of everyday life, and defines decades and generations.

And yet, all along, our brains are behind it all.

Robert J. Zatorre, Professor of Neuroscience at McGill University, and Valorie N. Salimpoor, a Postdoctoral Neuroscientist at Rotman Research Institute, have been researching the relationship between our brains and music. If you’ve ever felt a rush hearing the climax of a song or the sudden shift in cadence in another, you aren’t alone. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released, which usually occurs in response to positive stimuli like food or sex. According to neuroscientists, however, dopamine is released right before that favorite part too. In a study of brain function and music, scientists found that the more neural activity and dopamine released, the more money the listener was willing to spend to purchase said music.

But the relationship between our brains and music doesn’t stop there. The auditory cortex actually allows us to recall music and experience it again, even if it’s not playing. For musicians, the auditory cortex just might be the most important part. The ability to create music and re-arrange music in our heads starts there as well. We can even pick out wrong notes and incorrect changes in sound.

All of this brain function leads to music being an important part of our lives. Whether you’re listening to your favorite record at home or watching a live show, music undoubtedly changes the way we feel. So next time you hear a song and feel a sudden pulse, remember that your brain is feeling it too.

And it will make you want to listen more.

by Drew Evans  Source: NY Times 

 

100+ Awesome Free Online Resources For Music Producers

100+ Awesome Free Resources for Music Producers!

Over the years, I’ve bookmarked hundreds of free online resources which can be incredibly useful if you’re away from your main music workstation. Things like online BPM counters, tuners, virtual instruments and web based music sequencers can be life savers when you’re making music or recording audio outside of your studio.

All of these free goodies are compiled here, in a huge list which is meant to be updated and improved with your help. I’ve also added some of my favorite tutorials, music theory guides and various other tools which can be helpful for music producers and artists. Feel free to submit your own favorite freebies in the comments section below!

If you prefer making music with free software which you can install on your computer, take a look at our huge lists of freeware VST/AU plugins and free VST host applications. We also cover free samples and loops in our daily updated news section. Enjoy!

Music Tools

Online Instruments

Free web based musical instruments.

Patatap | A free jamming and beat making tool.

Theremin | A free touch friendly synthesizer which works great as a dub siren.

WAVE-PD1 | Another touch friendly virtual instrument.

Tibersynth | Make totally weird noises and swooshes with your mouse.

Websynths | Powerful VA synthesizer with a built-in preset manager.

WebModular | Play a modular synthesizer in your web browser.

TrueGrid | A complex modular synthesizer with patch saving and audio export.

Tanguy | Virtual analogue synthesizer capable of processing external audio.

Patchwork | An awesome experimental modular synthesizer. Build your synth from scratch.

Acid Machine Beta | A pair of TB-303 bass modules and one TR-909 drum machine.

AngryOctopus | A collection of web-based virtual instruments (requires Java).

PatternSketch | Cool grid based sequencer with several kits and export functionality.

Tonematrix | A simple tone matrix from the makers of Audiotool.

Otomata | Another matrix sequencer for jamming and inspiration.

PulseBoy | Free Game Boy style tracker.

Seaquence | A totally weird generative music sequencer.

SiON FM Synthesizer WF-1 | Neat FM synthesizer with a mouse controlled filter.

WebSID | Browser based Commodore 64 style synthesizer.

MiniGoog | A Minimoog Google Doodle in celebration of Robert Moog’s 78th birthday.

Sample-stitch | Re-create iconic hip hop tunes with your computer keyboard.

Musical Keyboard | A really simple online piano keyboard.

Click here for our huge directory of freeware VST/AU plugins.

 

Online Drum Machines

WebAudio Drum Machine | Online drum sequencer with several kits and effects.

HTML5 Drum Machine | Create classic drum machine loops and export the results to WAV.

FL 909 | Free Roland TR-909 emulation.

808 | A simple Roland TR-808 kit for online jamming.

Sequence | Free drum pattern generator with over 100 free drum samples.

Monkey Machine | A simple free drum machine from the creator of MauSynth.

Qwerty Beats | Online drum machine with a freaky mouse controlled synth.

JS-909 | Web based drum machine (requires QuickTime).

Drum Kit | You, your computer keyboard and 26 weird samples.

Sound Generators

Bfxr | Creates 8-bit sound effects which you can download in WAV format.

Text to Speech | Convert any text to speech and download the result as an MP3 file.

Online Tone Generator | A handy test tone generator.

Sweep Sine Tone | Sweep tone generator for testing your monitors and room acoustics.

Noisli | A wonderful background noise generator to help you relax and focus.

Defonic | Another free noise generator to help you relax.

Online DAWs

Audiotool | A modular online music studio with a set of virtual synthesizers and effects.

AudioSauna | Free online workstation for making music on the go.

Soundation Studio | Online sequencer with audio and MIDI processing.

TwistedWave Online | A free online audio editor for editing mono audio files.

Free DAWs

Studio One Free | Free edition of Studio One, no VST support.

Podium Free | VST plugin support, limited to a single CPU core.

>> Click here for our round-up of freeware VST host applications.

>> Click here for our in-depth list of downloadable free audio editing software.

Online Collaboration

Splice | Online platform for music creation and sharing.

Indaba Music | Free online music collaboration platform.

Ohm Studio | The first free online collaboration platform for musicians.

Blend | Collaborate online and create remixes (powered by Dropbox).

Kompoz | Collaborate with musicians from around the world.

Livegit | A free online collaborative DAW.

JAM with Chrome | Jam with your friends in Google Chrome.

Plink | A fun way to pass time and make music with total strangers. 🙂

Ear Training

EQ Your Ears | Identify specific frequencies with this online tool.

EQ Match | Simple graphic EQ trainer.

Note Ear Training | Identify notes by ear.

Pitchimprover | Absolute pitch training.

The Music Intervals Tutor | Recognize music intervals by ear.

EarTeach | Various ear training utilities.

Blind Listening Tests | Various tools to test your ears.

Other Tools

Interactive circle of fifths!

Autochord | Chord progression generator based on key and playing style.

Interactive Circle of Fifths | An easy to use online circle of fifths.

Interactive Frequency Chart | Interactive frequency chart with an ear sensitivity graph.

Metronome Online | Free online metronome and tone generator.

Tap for BPM | A free tap tempo tool to calculate BPM.

Music Calculator | Convert BPM values, calculate transpose ratios, etc.

Tunerr | Free tuner tool which uses the microphone input on your computer.

Online Guitar Tuner | A simple online guitar tuner from Fender.

Pedalboard.js | Process the line-in of your sound card with four guitar FX pedals.

Guitar Tab Creator | An online guitar tab making tool.

Noteflight | A powerful music notation platform which runs in the browser.

Blank Sheet Music | Create and print blank sheet music for free.

Free Sounds

Free Samples

99Sounds | Free sound design label offering free sound effects and instrument samples.

Freesound Project | Download thousands of royalty free sounds.

Loopmasters | Offering a royalty free pack with 500 MB worth of sounds to subscribers.

Prime Loops | Get 500 MB worth of free audio loops and samples on their freebies page.

A Sound Effect | Over 2 GB of free sound effects and field recordings in a single download.

NHF Sample Pack 002 | Over 3 GB of royalty free sounds crafted by Neurohop Forum members.

Converse Sample Library | A huge collection of stems and one shot samples, completely royalty-free.

Goldbaby | Legendary collection of free drum machine samples.

AfroDJMac | Over 100 free instrument racks for Ableton Live.

Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra | Free orchestral sample library.

NASA Audio Collection | Tons of sounds from NASA space missions. Also available on SoundCloud.

Acoustic Drum Samples | Our huge archive of free acoustic drum sample packs.

Free Patches

Rekkerd | A huge archive of free patches for virtual instruments.

KVR Audio | Database of patches and sound banks submitted by KVR Audio members.

AudioBombs | A fresh archive of free synth patches and sound banks.

BigTick Zen | Manage and launch all your synth patches from a single plugin.

>> Click here for our list of freeware virtual synthesizers in VSTi plugin format.

Tutorials

Music Production

Introduction To Music Production | Free music production course by Berklee College of Music.

How To Make Electronic Music | An epic intro to electronic music production.

EQ Masterclass | In-depth series of EQ tutorial videos by ADSR.

Thinking inside the Box | Great beginner’s guide to EQ.

Compression 101 | Great beginner’s guide to compression.

Compress to impress | Compression tutorial for the electronic musician.

Kim Lajoie Blog Dump | PDF archive of Kim Lajoie’s music production tips.

3 Mixing Secrets From The Legendary Andy Wallace | A reminder to keep it simple.

Synthesis

How to Make a Noise | A legendary free eBook guide to synthesizer programming.

Synthesis Fundamentals | Free tutorials for absolute beginners by the Bob Moog Foundation.

Synth Student | Beginner’s guide to subtractive synthesis.

Synthesis types | Understand different types of sound synthesis.

How To Bass | A series of tutorials for creating heavy bass sounds (by SeamlessR).

Syntorial | Software for learning synthesis. First 22 lessons are free.

Music Theory

Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People | A lighthearted intro to music theory.

Ravenspiral Guide to Music Theory | One of the finest free music theory books (here’s the PDF).

Music Theory: The TL;DR Version | Music theory guide for EDM producers with short attention spans.

Music Theory for Songwriters | A comprehensive guide to music theory for songwriters.

Open Yale Courses | A useful collection of free music video courses by Yale University.

10 Chord Progression Tips | Interesting chord progression tips from a jazz musician.

Music Theory Cheat Sheet | A handy TXT file cheat sheet for music theory.

More Goodies

Making Music | Free chapters from Ableton’s epic book for musicians and music producers.

A Club Track’s Frequency Map | A cool print friendly frequency chart by FutureMusic.

EQ tips Cheat Sheet | EQ cheat sheet available for download in PDF format.

RealTraps | A guide to testing room acoustics with free software.

D/A and A/D Digital Show and Tell | Explains various digital audio myths.

Artist Toolbox

Streaming Platforms

SoundCloud | The most popular online platform for uploading and sharing your music.

Bandcamp | Build your artist profile and share your music with your fans.

sfx.io | The Imgur of audio, a quick way to upload and share your music.

Online Marketplaces

AudioJungle | The largest online marketplace to sell your music.

iStock | Sell royalty free stock music and recordings.

Pond5 | Another online marketplace for selling royalty free music.

Synthmob | A marketplace for synth presets, audio loops and samples.

Sampleism | Sell your samples and other sound design work.

Backup & Productivity

Wavestack | Backup your recording sessions and share them with collaborators.

Dropbox | A great free solution for backing up your files online.

Hive | Upload and share your music and other materials.

Evernote | Take notes of all your projects and ideas in one place.

Trello | A great tool for managing your projects and collaborations.

Google Keep | Use this online note saving tool to keep track of your ideas and tasks.

Toggl | Time tracking utility to help you stay focused and measure your productivity.

Pocket | Easily save online resources (such as this article) for offline reading.

Graphic Tools

Artwork Creator | Create your album artwork for free.

CD Cover | Make a simple CD cover with your printer and a bit of paper.

Hipster Logo Generator | A free logo generator. Also works for simple album art and covers.

Squarespace Logo | Another simple logo generator.

Facebook Cover Collection Freebie | Nice looking PSD templates for Facebook cover images.

Pixlr | Great free online image editor similar to Photoshop.

Canva | Incredibly cool free graphics editor to make covers and promo images.

Video Tools

Sonic Candle | Completely free tool to generate an HD music video with a spectrum display.

Audio Visualizer Creator 2.0v | Free music visualizer generator (requires Adobe After Effects).

Blender | Free alternative for After Effects. Loads of tutorials available on YouTube.

Website Tools

WordPress.com | A powerful free blogging and blog hosting platform.

Strikingly | Build a beautiful looking free portfolio or artist website in minutes.

FourFour | Free website platform made specifically for musicians.

Flavors.me | Make a free artist website with links to your social media profiles.

MailChimp | Build a free mailing list for up to 2000 subscribers.

SharedCount | Monitor the social media stats of your releases or artist profiles.

 

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