Published: October 12, 2021
Do you think your music should sound better?
In this episode:
Production Talk listeners Lainie, Liam, Arah and Shelly ask questions, and Yarn answers:
What to do about cancelled gigs and unfair work conditions.
The 80-20 principle.
What are the best online platforms to influence for natural growth?
Planting the seeds for building an audience.
The problem everyone struggles with: time management.
More mixing workflows.
What do you wish you knew at the start that you know now?
What's the worst advice you've ever heard?
It would mean the world to me if you'd consider giving this podcast a 5-star review. Thank you!
How to Subscribe, rate and review this podcast (in less than 40 sec)
Contact the podcast host Yarn at mixartist.com.au
#musicproduction, #homerecording, #recording, #mixing, #MusicMarketing, #MusicPromotion, #MusicDistribution, #MakeMoneyWithMusic, #MixedByYarnTheMixArtist,#MusicMixing, #MusicProduction, #SoundEngineering, #Rock, #Reggae, #Metal, #productiontalkpodcast, #homerecording, #selfproducingmusician, #productiontalk, #mixing, #mastering
Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. Thank you for tuning in I would like to say thank you to everybody who joined our production talk podcast community on Facebook. Within the first day we had over 3 digits of members which is phenomenal. Thank you so much. It has slowed down a little bit since but hopefully after a couple of my episodes we will see the numbers rise. So today is an episode where I would like to honor everybody who connects on. Social media with me and over the last few weeks I've put a couple of questions our hotel musicians forums just asking what self-producing musicians struggled with most and there was an abundance of questions which I tried to answer online. And some of them were answered in podcast episodes already. So I try to provide links to those episodes and today I would like to take a little bit of time to answer some of those questions in more detail. So um I would like to continue these discussions with you so please trigger some. Talking points for me and let me know what you want to hear in this podcast. The ideal place for this is now the Brand new facebook group. It's called production talk podcast community so please join and just drop a question there that will be fantastic. So but before we get into all of this I would like to just let you know that I looked up the statistics for our podcast earlier today and that we now have listeners from australia the United states germany new zealand and the uk ah malta spain hungary the netherlands india italy and norway. Peru and also zero point nine percent of undisclosed locations I think that's really amazing. So thank you so much for tuning in from all over the globe at this stage most of the listeners are still in australia but I really hope that it will spread. So I would like to ask you for a favor if you know any other musicians or self producers who could benefit from this podcast. Can you please reach out on my behalf say hi and invite them to join please that would really make my day. Thank you so much. Good. So let's move on to the talking points for today I have topics for weeks to discuss based on the questions that I have received but let's focus on some for today and we'll cover some more over the next couple of weeks. And so I would like to start with a question that was erased by Lainie this was in response to my question. What self-producing musicians struggle with most and how it can help and Lainie said. The continuing uncertainty as to whether or not gigs are going to be canceled at short notice with no compensation due to unyielding covert restrictions venue capacity cabs ban on singing dancing and so on and you know what lainey I hear you this is. Ah, real issue. Not just for you. But for musicians globally and ah I know that depending on where you are the conditions will be different locally. some people are out of lockdowns in some places gigs are happening again at full steam. And other areas like ah my area here in in the northern rivers in these coast of Australia we are still pretty much locked in and we literally just came out of lockdown but gigs are not back yet and I know that a lot of musicians are struggling with that. So. What can I tell you there there are some things that are literally not within your or my control and covid restrictions are 1 of those. So unfortunately I don't have an answer to how how to overcome those but what I can tell you is that. A lot of musicians face these restrictions and uncertainties and somewhat yeah I don't want to say give up but get annoyed get frustrated and sort of pause their creative activities and. Ah, that's understandable, but it's not really helping. It's not helping anybody instead what I want to tell you is that there will be a time when the doors open up again and. A lot of people will rub their eyes as if they come out of hibernation and won't realise that this is happening until it's already going. You have the chance to be 1 of the first ones who's superactive at this time. So if you can't play gigs and if you you've lost your work use the time that you have currently and get yourself ready. Practice your sets work on your media sets work on your photos work on anything that you can use to promote your gigs refine this improve your website and work on your your online appearance and give that an overhaul so that. When the doors open and perhaps and venues are looking for artists. They can see a range of people most of them seem to be still in hibernation. But you are fresh. You're ready. You are pushing um, get ready. That's what I'm trying to say here you raised more than 1 point of course. Ah the. The the problem with compensation is is a big 1 so I know that a lot of smaller venues like restaurants and pubs and cafes are known to cancel gigs early on the same day and just say sorry it's off sorry no money for you. This is unfair on many many levels and um. The problem is that they obviously can get away with because there are enough musicians who are willing to take those conditions and that doesn't mean that everybody needs to join that Circus. So what I'm trying to say here is. There are methods that can protect you as a musician I actually missed a check from which country you were lainey. But if you are from australia check for musicians' unions I believe there are also musicians unions in most developed countries such as new Zealand. The united states the u k all over europe and so on so joining a union as a musician means that they will enforce a minimum standard of payment and also minimum standards for cancellations and a certain degree of compensation. The conditions will definitely differ from country to country and some unions may be more successful than others in enforcing those but I believe it's fair to say that the vast majority of musicians are not members of unions which means venue owners can push them around as they like and some are real. Well in sort of swearord here I'm trying to keep my podcast clean but I think you know what I was trying to say also a quick shout out to all the good venue owners who do the right things you guys rock. Keep it up so the people who do the wrong thing by the musicians. Those are not the people that you want to work with and I think we need to have a little chat about the business case of being a musician I know it's really hard to make um make a living and a lot of people just aim for whatever they can get no matter how crappy the conditions. Let's look at the world of business for a moment. There is a principle that is known as the eighty twenty principle and it basically states that 80 percent of your trouble comes from about twenty percent of the jobs you're dealing with or clients you're dealing with or promoters or venue owners. While there's a good chance that twenty percent of other jobs actually make 80 percent of your income. This is something that actually I found in my business and I eventually started to to change change a few things based on that and looked at the. Twenty percent that gave me 80 percent of the trouble and started cutting those out systematically and you have the same power as a musician which probably means that temporarily you need to cut back on income you need to go to the venue owners who have a reputation of of ripping you off. And tell them listen not with me anymore. These are my minimum conditions if you can't meet those you need to find somebody else. So if you have a certain musical standard. You need to distinguish yourself by asking for the right price because if you. Are willing to give a really really good performance at a crappy price at crappy conditions. It also changes the perspective what your performance is worth I know this sounds confronting so please stick with this hanging hang in there with me for a moment I'll try to explain. Let me share a little story with you from when I was much younger and I was a freelance sound engineer trying to get a gig and I got in contact with a really interesting client who was putting on a huge show. So I reached out to a local pa hiring company that I was working with. And together. We cut the most competitive quote that we could and we put it out there and gave it to the client and we didn't get the job and well you know that's just the way the market works and I had to accept that. However, a couple of years later I met that person again and it was a casual setup and the opportunity was a right to ask questions. So just ask the question asked look mate. Why didn't you take my quote back then I just would like to know and he literally turned around and looked at at me and said look. Received a couple of quotes you were about half of what everybody else was and I was after quality so I didn't get the sense that your quote would give me a quality product I don't even know if they were actually twice as good as I was at that time maybe but it's probably not very likely. But by undercutting my price too much I gave the client the perception that I'm delivering a cheap product and that was really telling for me so I learned a lot from that and I think we need to teach venue owners that if they pay. And on us they will attract Monkeys or whatever that's saying is peanuts of course sorry if they pay peanuts they will attract Monkeys so if they want proper quality musicianship. They have to pay a certain standard and it just. Take somebody to take the first step and establish those things so in your local area. Why don't you just reach out and speak to other musicians and see what they're up to and if you maybe can talk to them about that and see who else is on board. You don't necessarily need to actually. Join a union. But if you just organize your local music scene and spread the word that you believe for I don't know a 2 hour set. This is the minimum price. We should have maybe you can get some group momentum going and yeah, the only thing. Left eventually for ridiculous achieve price will be the absolute beginners. So that's the way out of it. It takes a little bit of collective motion and I know that synchronized collective motion is is difficult to achieve in in today's world so therefore unions may be able to to help out here. Good ok lainey I hope you got some things out of it. Unfortunately I can't solve all your problems remotely. But just don't be afraid to cut out those twenty percent of clients who give you 80 percent of the Grief. You will see that while you lose a little bit of business temporarily. It also buys you more time to reach out to the twenty percent of clients the idea clients that you want and to track more of those on a long run. It makes sense. You just need to use this time that you. Now have at hand and find new clients and model them after your ideal clients. That's the way forward. That's my recommendation from a business point of view. Okay I hope answer that question I hope that's fair and hopefully there's something in there for everybody. So let's move on the next question is from Liam hi Liam. Thank you for posting your questions here and you asked when introducing yourself to a larger audience online. What are the best platforms to influence a natural growth. So okay, so first up Liam please open up your podcast app and rewind to episode 13 also episode 14 when I spoke to den musgrave and shane murphy about digital marketing and we covered a lot of those grounds there already. So I'm sure this episode. Where we just write down your alllet. Please check them out. Obviously I would like to extend this a little bit and be more specific in answering your question. So the best platform for you is the 1 that leads to results and in many situations this is the social media platforms like Facebook and instagram. But it could also be Twitter or could be tiktok but tiktok but this entirely depends on your audience if you are growing your audience and you don't quite know who they are yet then trial all of them. And set yourself up on Youtube on tiktok on Instagram on facebook and whatever you think you can do trial as many as you can and at the beginning just push each of them equally and then watch the results come in just be careful here. You cannot go back a week after and. Decide conclusively that 1 was worth it and the other 1 was not online audience engagement is something that takes a long time to grow and therefore you need to give it time but I'm pretty sure that over time you will see certain tendencies and then from there grow your audience as they want. So don't let me be the person to tell you how you do it instead look at it from a business point of view again trial all of them and just purely look at the results. What are you getting back? What are you Ah, how many responses are you getting how many people respond to your post reply or give you likes or simul. So once you have that you know where your clients are and let's say if you appeal to a younger audience maybe tiktok is the thing. But this entirely depends on who you are as a musician and also who your audience is just to be very specific here when it comes to measuring results and engagement. That's a really difficult thing to do because you might post something on Youtube tomorrow. And you won't see a result until 1 and a half years later and when somebody sees that video and says wow I got to reach out to that artist and and find out more and you know book them for a gig or whatever you have no idea when this is going to happen. But as a general rule. It won't happen in the near future so what you are doing here is you're planting seeds and as you do that you have to invest labor you have to prepare the ground. You have to nurture the seed you have to water them and for a long time. You won't see any results but you just have to keep doing it if you stop watering the seed. It will probably die and it won't sprout into into something big so give it time and just keep pouring water on top of it that means now you need to keep engaging your audience on the platforms of your choice and eventually it will start to grow. But it's it's very common that for a long time you have to just keep nurturing it and that's normal. So some people call it exponential growth where for a very long time. The growth is very very slow and then at a certain tipping point. It's sort of like the seed grows into a plant and breaks the surface and shows its leaves. That's when it starts to grow really rapidly. It's the same thing therefore hang in there just keep doing it and persistency and regular and consistent engagement with your. With your audience. That's what's going to make all the difference. Ok Liam I hope this is helpful. Thank you for posting a question much appreciated and let's move on to the next question from Arah. Arah. Thank you very much for for asking your question online and I really hope I'm pronouncing your name correctly. So the question that you answered was in response to my post asking what you're struggling with most and your post said the time to do it is what you struggled with most you said I found. Personally that I need to do mixes in more than 1 day as if I rush to mix it I won't be happy about a days later after when I re-listen to the song therefore when I fear that my ears are getting tired. It's time to put it away. Thank you. There's a lot of wisdom. They are already and a thing to some degree you already answered your own question so you literally learned the most important lesson mixing is not something that you can force where you can soldier on you know, like some people when they drive now they drive for too long and just. Have more coffees and add a couple more hours to the drive. Well, that's not a smart idea in driving and there's definitely not a smart idea in mixing either. So. It seems like you are aware that your ears are getting tired and that's exactly the time to call it a day. So. The huge advantage of modern technology is that we are able to recall mixing sessions in an instance that's something we all take for granted but it hasn't always been that way. So when people mix on analog consoles which few people do, but there are still people around and you know in previous decades that was the only way to do it. A mix had to be finished in 1 sitting whether that took 3 hours or a day or 3 days. It had to be finished because then the next mix was on and you couldn't just. Press a button and recall a previous mix on an analog console. There were methods to do that. But it required a lot of labor and it was very time-intensive so today most people like myself. For example, we mix in the box meaning inside a computer in a daw. And therefore at the click of a button we can open it up and it sounds just like the way we left it a week ago in my personal opinion. The biggest difference that I can make to a client is to mix when I'm fresh when I'm switched on when I'm at my very best. And that's what I owe my clients and you seem to know this already so there is a point when I call it a day and ah the best time of of the day for me is is usually the mornings once the kids leave the house. I just withdraw myself to my mixing den and I get lost in in sound and in the bubble and I do what comes naturally to me if you notice that you don't get it right? And after re-listening to the song days later. You don't like it anymore then you need to. Dig a little bit deeper and find out as to why what? exactly is it that days later you just didn't connect with anymore. So the range of of answers here is huge. It could be that for example, your listening environment isn't good enough. So maybe you get the base and wrong and when you check it in the car. It just sounds completely off the charts. There is no substitution for a good listening environment. It's it's a very critical point. It could also be experience. Maybe you're a mixed engineer on and on the learning curve and if you haven't done that for let's say 10 years professionally chances are you still have a lot to learn and that's that's perfectly fine so it could be related to that in this case, there are definitely mixed courses online that you. Could take and you know sort of fill the gaps. Ok good. Um, ah I really hope that I that I answered your question about mixing I guess the real point that you mentioned is that you struggle to find time. I'm not quite sure if I can help with that because I don't know your circumstances and therefore any advice I can give is just literally just you know a shot in the dark but let me just tell you that I'm running this podcast which is very time consuming I spent about 1 day. Sometimes 1 and a half work days on each episode I have a mixing business that is keeping me on my toes. In addition I'm a lecturer at local university teaching sound engineering and I have a family with 2 young kids that also need a lot of time and I've got a dog. And of course I'm married so I'm spending time with my wife finding time for all of those things is always hard and I assume that your life is probably just as busy as mine. What helps me to get the time right is to stop multitasking. That's at least what led. Breakthroughs in my own time management I'm just really terrible at multitasking and trying to get better at it did't make things better for me it and just made things worse. So instead I just tried to designate time. That I use undivided for each so when I do my podcast and nothing else is on my mind and I will not answer my phone and I will not open up a mix now is podcast time and I do nothing else but that and I try to really focus on it and when I do I'm more productive because nothing else is on my mind. And the same applies to my mixing. So I literally I think I'm incapable of mixing. Well let's say Facebook is open or my kids play in the yard. That's pretty much impossible so I mix only when I have peace and quiet. That's why I have my little. Mixing den here. My my little cave where I do my work when im undisturbed and nothing else is there to dig into my time and that leads me to being more productive and that's why I can so get so much done. It's a juggling act and I'm not always good at it. But I don't think there's a perfect answer to all of this. Yeah, so I really hope that this helps I spend a lot of time on it. So I really hope that you got something out of it. But ah yeah, at this stage I think I think that's all I can help you with at this stage. But if there's anything else you want to know, please reach out again. And let me know that. So let's move on to the next question this time Shelly posted. Well an avalanche of questions online and ah Shelly thank you so much for that. Some of these questions were answered already in previous episodes. But I'd like to still go through some of them so Shelly your first question was what did you wish you knew at the start that you know now. Ok, that's a tricky 1 how can I possibly. Keep this short and not waffle on for hours I guess I have to prioritize here and there are so many things to say but the 1 thing that I got wrong at the beginning is that I try to intellectualize music. Because I studied sound engineering and learned all the technical details and what all the parameters do and sound theory and all of those things so which let me down in in Analytical path. So there was a lot of thinking and analyzing involved and what I didn't realize is. I got better and better and better at understanding the technical aspects of sound and music my love for music my my gut feelings somewhat got a little bit you know disturbed let me say it that way and when I listen to music for for you know some time. I judged music mainly with technical aspects because that's what I learned back in those days and not with the heart and I wish that had been different so I guess what I'm trying to say is what I what I really wish I had known at the beginning is. Never to judge music based on technical aspects. So I remember telling my friend that his favorite band had a bad Tom sound. The toms didn't sound good and I pointed pointed that out to him at that time of my life and I completely forgot about it and then just. Recently we reconnected and shedded and that came up again. So he mentioned that music and the Tom sounds I listened to it again and it was like man that didn't make the music better or worse in any way. Yeah, the tomson wasn't great. But I still love the lyrics and the vocals are amazing. What was a thinking why was I just sidetracked by something like that that you know then all honesty if the song toms were acute a little bit better. That's not what makes or breaks a song. Well ok, you know I but but basically say that it really comes down to to how how it makes me feel and if the song makes me feel something which it does then the Tom sound become somewhat irrelevant. Well, that's a strong word, but let's say not as important. And those were the typical thoughts thought patterns that I I got sidetracked on early in my career and it took me a few years to rediscover you know the the emotional response to music and to really enjoy that and the ability I had to relearn to not overthink music. And that's ah, that's a big 1 that's a big 1 I'm I'm now ah believe that I'm today I'm I'm much better at that I still have things to learn even after 20 years in the industry that will probably never change. You know how this is as a musician but I have learned to switch these. Modes of thinking on and off these days so I can literally switch on my analytical brain and you know open up a mix and and critically pinpoint very quickly. You know what frequency ranges need taming and you know focus on on these details. But I also can now switch out of it and turn all of these thinking patterns off and just close my eyes put on a smile and listen to the music and Bob my head and enjoy it from the heart and therefore you know ignore any flaws that I may hear in the music and just focus on the. Emotional content instead. So this is really important to my mixing and I use that a lot actually I personally like to stay in that emotional head space for the vast majority when I mix and I try to stay out of the logical thinking as much as I can so I guess what I really. Wish I had known at the start of my career is to actually fully trust my ears and to connect with my sense of taste and my love for music rather than my analytical thinking. Ok I guess that's a personal story here and I hope you can relate to that. Um. Yeah that's what I think your next question Shelly what is the worst advice you've ever heard. Oh that's a great question and I can't wait to answer that look as a young engineer I was told a bitter lie. And I learned this from authoritative sources. Ah the people who taught me sound engineering at that time which was in the late ninety s and I have to say to their defense at that time somewhere understood where they nowadays I understand where they were coming from at that time but their advice was. Always record as loud as possible without clipping so they suggested to me that I always should gain every single lap until it eclipse and then back off a dutch and that's what I was told as a young engineer and that's how I operated for the first couple of years of my career in. Why is that so wrong look I know that this is a workflow that is still passed around as the correct way of doing it and if you have a very isolated look at digital audio theory. So mathematically. An analogue-to digitalit converter in your audience interface operates mathematically at its very best if you literally use all the bits means the the Peaks should probably reach the topmost sixty bs stop right here. We're overthinking it. This is. Exactly the kind of logical approach that I just refer to and I don't think that's the right approach. So while I was pursuing this loudest possible recording workflow for many years I didn't realize at that stage that converters are calibrated differently. So if a plug a certain signal into. Let's say a yamaha, a mixer digital mixer and into an avid interface or a universal audio or a focus ride I will not necessarily read the same level in my dw because the converters literally turn the signal up and down that's called their calibration. Apoges. For example, they're calibrated a little bit differently than avid converters. So I didn't know about that and I didn't consider that and I also didn't look at what happens between the microphone and my analog to digital converter. And the critical points for the sound. Of course you know in addition to the music. The instrument, the room aoustic the microphone but the next most important element is the microphone preamp and those microphone preams have a lot to do with the sound that you record and that's where you. Turn it up or down if it clips you might turn it down or where you drive your gain staging as we call that and what I never considered is that not each preamp is happy to operate at a very loud level and I use some that just didn't have the headroom. To get up there to these very loud peaks and then luchi made the preempt sound poorer which back in my early days I didn't quite fully understand I just realized that my mixes or my recordings were difficult to mix because you know. Everything quickly seemed to clip. So when I used p plugckins and used a bit of aquee suddenly you know the red lights came on on protors and they had to fight that all the time and that's because I was just gaining things up too much and I also drove my pre-ams too loud and some of them were actually capable of handling this. But. Others started to get a bit fuzzy around the edges. You know they started to distort and and that is not the smartest workflow unless you really want to so back in those days I blamed the sound of digital for that and that was wrong. It was not that analog sounds better and my problem was that I used something digital that was not the case the digital recorders that I had at that time was actually really good and they were pretty clean and transparent. But the idea of always recording as loud as possible. Let me down a path of overdriving my preams more than I should have good. So let's stop here for a moment I'm not saying that you necessarily need to turn it down if you record loud. That's not what I'm saying what I'm saying is your recording levels should depend on what you record and what gear use. And sometimes you can get away with a really hot sickler and sure if you want to go for it. But it's not always the case. So I could go into more technical details here. But if you want to know more about this concept. The concept of gainstaging which is basically the secret source of good sound engineering. From a recording as well as mixing angle. Maybe this is something for for another episode but trust me recording as loud as possible without clipping was the 1 thing that I learned incorrectly and it did not lead to better results once I eventually got my head around it. And started changing that I noticed that suddenly so many of my problems solved themselves like the cluckens that stopped clipping when I just allowed a bit more of a healthy headroom and you know people always told me that. My digital sound would not be as good a resolution and so on look if you just drop it by a couple ofbs this is not going to be a problem if you record at negative eighty and then crank it up in pro tools. Well that's probably a different story but you can definitely take it a little bit easier today. So if you record in Twenty Fourbid I would say that Green is the new orange stay in the green don't go into the orange. Never go it close to the red just back off a little bit that will solve a lot of problems if you want to know more about gainstaging. Let me know in the. Production talk podcast community facebook group. Um, and if we get enough votes for that I'd very happily add an extra episode on gain staging using microphone preams and so on. Okay, then to your next question Shall i. What's your top 3 tips for self-promotion. Oh ok, so again I have to refer you back to episode 1314 where we covered lots of this already. So I hope that you got something out of it. But um, let me just sum it up very briefly. I think for self-promotion. What's important is that you develop a certain brand that you think about your music in Context. So think about what people who listen who love your music have in common and which of these things you share. So that might be a certain ah color scheme. It could be a certain lifestyle but let's say if your music stands for something then try to to be that if that's you of course an example, we just um, had um Shane murphy on. The podcast and I believe about 15 years ago shane and I spent a lot of time recording some of his songs and we called or he called them Byron softpop and that made perfect sense at that stage when I listened to the music. Thought about you know Byron bay that iconic east australian surf town and you know acoustic guitars lots of beautiful harmonies pop music I thought about sunsets I think thought about surfing I thought about playing the guitar at the Beach. Those images came to my mind and ah. At some stage when we got stuck in the mix shane took me aside and said come on ya, we need a break took me to the beach handed me 1 of his boards and we just paddled out for half an hour He's a much better surfer than I am I'm a suck at surfing but Jeet did that straighten my mind out and we came back into the studio and you know after just an hour of. Worth of a break I was living that element that feeling that I wanted to put into the mix and that really worked well that day so think about what it is that you want to translate with your music that that comes down to your branding and ah. Then develop visuals for that think about clothing think about color schemes think about makeup think about but all kinds of things that that translate your brand and build your self-promotion around that be authentic. Don't be something that you're not. Don't put on a mask or anything people will always smell this from a distance just be authentic with that and that's my advice for your yourself-promotion I ok so this actually took longer than I thought it would we answered some questions from Lainie from Liam from Arah and from Shelly. I have a lot of other questions to answer that I haven't found time to get to yet. But I haven't forgotten about you I will get to it in upcoming episodes and hopefully I will also be able to direct some of these questions to more knowledgeable people than me I've got a few interview partners lined up. And maybe they are just the best people to answer your questions and. So thank you for hanging out with me today if you've listened to a couple of episodes then I really hope that you found something valuable in there for you and there's a very good chance that you know other musicians and self-producing artists who could benefit from these podcasts. Can you please do me a huge favor and reach out to your friends and recommend this podcast to them. Ask them to subscribe and please rate this podcast I would like to grow my audience because I've got big plans for the future and for that we need to grow this community more and more and more. I'm looking forward to seeing more listeners from other countries globally and wherever you are in the world. Thank you so much for tuning in It's always a pleasure talking to you I'm tuning out for today and I will speak to you again next week thanks everybody and bye for now much.