Can You Make A Living Making Music For Audiojungle? – Diva Production Music Interview

When it comes to creating and selling royalty-free music online, I must admit that, until recently, I was only vaguely aware of the concept. 

But, as a musician and someone who is always trying to explore new potential money-making ideas, there comes a time where such ideas enter your awareness and you ponder them.  Sometimes even act on them.  

Such was the case when I came across Diva Production Music, a Youtube channel that talks in depth about this very topic of making a sustainable business out of producing sought-after royalty-free music for the corporate world. 

Back to him in a moment, as he is the subject of today’s article and interview.  First a bit of context, if I may.

So, everyone who is of working age knows something of the “corporate world”, like it or not.  As a musician, for a long time, just those two words together equated to “sellout”, and made me cringe slightly. 

Same with my friends, too – we all hated the idea of the corporate world, and wanted to avoid it at all costs.  To be honest, for me personally, that has equated to making music independently and seeing no income for my efforts for the past 20 years. 

I also taught music, because, as they say, those can’t do, teach.  A reductive definition to be sure, but somewhat true, I’ll admit.

But here we are in 2018, and, lets face it – everyone needs to make a living.  Also, the music business has changed tremendously in the past 20 years.  If you don’t know that, you must have been living under a rock.  

Then

Starting with the onset of the internet in about ’95, and then on P2P and file-sharing platforms like Napster and Limewire at the turn of the century, the control was forcibly taken away from those who run the music business, and “given back” to the people. 

File “sharing” AKA theft (Lars was right all along) was in vogue and has been ever since. 

The big music labels had to watch as everyone started simply taking everything that they had previously put a pricetag on, for free.

This of course went for movies, games, and everything else that could be turned into a file, and the entertainment industry tried their best to stop it.  And continually failed.

Now

Fast forward almost two decades.  Independent musicians are now simultaneously more empowered to enter the world of entrepreneurship on their own terms, while at the same time far less attached to the idea of becoming a famous rock star one day. 

This, I think, is not only because the “rock star” model was always somewhat of a lie, but also because there are many more options for starting actual legitimate online businesses open to individuals now that the age of the internet is beginning to mature slightly.  

This is essentially where people like Daniel Carrizalez (AKA Diva Production Music) comes in to the story.  Daniel is a musician, and has spent years honing his craft, composing songs and using all the gear he has at his disposal. 

There came a point where he had to make a choice between using his skills as a musician to earn a living online, or earning his living in some other way (ie. a “real” job in an office or factory, perhaps). 

The “rock star” notion was not something he was interested in, since it really is just a dream that comes true only once in a blue moon.  It is not a viable career choice to a man with a wife, an 8-yr old daughter and a new baby. 

So he began taking his music making abilities more “seriously”, if you will, in that he wanted to make music, but also he needed to earn a living. 

Emphasis on the word need.  Becoming aware of the new wave of internet marketing types, and jobs related to that field, Daniel began to explore his options.  

One site that stood out to him in his search for potential job opportunities was Audiojungle

Audiojungle is a sub section of the Envato Market, which is a much broader business that offers a multitude of services, one such being offering website themes and options to business owners. 

The overarching concept of Envato, to my understanding, is to be able to hook up an online business person with whatever they need to help improve their own services.  

Audiojungle, specifically, is a service that offers music to anyone who needs music for a commercial, or product of any kind, but lacks the musical element. 

On Audiojungle, the music is pre-made by professionals (such as Diva Production Music ), and sold to those who are willing to pay for the license so that they can make use of it. 

Without the license, if a person were to use this music, it would be considered stealing.  With the purchase of a license (and there are various types), the buyer can now use the music they’ve purchased to use in their own project.

After watching some of Daniel’s content, I became more and more interested in the idea of using Audiojungle to make money with my music, and so I contacted him. 

Luckily, he was willing to answer some of my burning questions on this matter.  So, here is our interview.  Enjoy!


Q: How long have you been making music?

A: I’ve been making music since I was a teenager, but composing and producing stock music only the last 4 years.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

A: I enjoy all sorts of music, especially rock, alternative rock.

Q: What kind of music do you enjoy making?

A: I enjoying making a lot of acoustic guitar music and experiment with different elements. At the moment, I try to focus on making corporate music, the one that is required and is most popular for media projects.

Q: When did you become aware of Audiojungle?

A: In 2014, I did an extensive search on making and selling music online, and Audiojungle was one of the top marketplaces for that.

Q: Was it difficult to get started on Audiojungle?  What’s the basic process for doing that?

A: Yes, it was difficult. I had no idea what stock music was and even though I knew all about music composition and production, I’d never done commercial music before.

The basic process involves setting up and author’s account and uploading your track. The music that you are uploading should reflect your strengths and ability to create more, quickly and effortlessly.

Q: What type of music do you specialize in making for Audiojungle?

A: I specialize in inspirational and feel-good music, particularly in the genres of rock, pop, folk and/or corporate.

Q: What type of gear setup do you have to make the tracks you make?

A: I am running ProTools on a Macbook pro laptop, use different WAVES plugins for the production of the music, an Eleven Rack as an interface, a SansAmp as a base preamp and a microphone preamp to record acoustic guitars. I also have a midi keyboard and a selection of different guitars, both electric and acoustic.

Q: How big is Audiojungle, community wise?

A: The community of Audiojungle is quite big and growing very fast.

Q: Is it competitive at all?

A: Yes, it is but the key here is not to compete but to create the best product for each and every project.  I am a creator, NOT a competitor.

Q: Do you ever hear form Audiojungle for any reason or Envato for that matter?(ie. do you talk to a rep or is it hands off mostly)

A: There are no reps involved but if you need to contact support, there is a system available. But each author is on their own, and it is up to you to decide on your presentation and marketing of your music.

Q: How much of your work for Audiojungle is inspiration, how much is work work?

A: Inspiration comes after I start working on a new project. I believe that work is a good thing and inspiration comes from working on your craft. Inspiration, like motivation, will always let you down. One that creates cannot wait for inspiration to arrive; you find it only through working!

Q: What are their basic standards for whether a track is suitable for their platform?

A: Over the years, the bar has been raised higher and higher, both in composition and production. That means that the tracks uploaded and accepted back in 2010 most likely, will not be accepted now. The review process is very thorough nowadays and an author must continue to improve and polish their skills. The final result should be broadcast quality, like the music you hear on a TV commercial or YouTube ad.

Q: Who reviews the tracks submitted and how long does that process take?

A: There is a group of reviewers in Audiojungle and the review time varies depending on the number of submissions. It can be anything from 7 days to 15 days for a song to be approved and up or sale.

Q: Who uses Audiojungle from the customer side, as far as your experience tells you?

A: Costumers are video-makers, film-makers, advertising companies and of course, YouTubers!

Q: What’s the price range of songs on Audiojungle?

A: A song can be sold based on the length of the music, starting from $12-15 to $19 for a standard license. The price will directly depend on the license purchased, for example, ie. broadcast license or film license.

Q: Does anyone try to pirate Audiojungle tracks that you know of?

A: Yes. I have personally heard and informed Audiojungle on tracks being used with the watermark.

Q: What kind of musicians do you think would be good authors on Audiojungle?

A: A good author on Audiojungle is any musician with the right mindset to be at the service of others, in this case, the other media makers and content creators.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: In order to become a successful stock music composer, we must be aware of the market’s needs, without comparing ourselves to other composers.


And…that about wraps things up here today!  To learn more about Daniel and Diva Production Music, visit his Youtube channel here, and don’t forget to subscribe!

Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, and …Norm’s Headache? – Recording at Smart Studios in the 90’s Interview with Bob Reich

Today I had a chance to talk to my friend Bob Reich, who used to play in a band called Norm’s Headache in the Wisconsin area in the mid-90’s (they were from LaCrosse).  Norm’s Headache was a typical configuration for a rock band – 4 members, with Bob on bass, Mark Sauer on guitar, Paul Milisch on vocals, and Eric Nordstrom on drums.  Here below is the band mascot – Garbice The Gargoyle.

Like many bands from the 1990’s, Norm’s Headache were fairly eclectic musically and had their sights set on stardom… until reality set in, dashing their rock dreams with more sensible things like college. 

Along the way, the band ended up recording an EP at Butch Vig and Steve Marker’s Smart Studios, the same place that was visited by many famous and infamous rock bands as Tar Babies and The Fresh Young Fellows in the 1980’s, and  Nirvana (where they recorded demos for Nevermind), the Smashing Pumpkins (who recorded Gish there) in the 1990’s.  The list of bands that passed through the doors of Smart Studios through its lifetime as a studio would make your average music hipster flip their berret. 

Smart Studios – A Quick History

Butch and Steve’s studio opened in 1983 in Madison Wisconsin and first resided in the Gisholt Machine Manufacturing Building, and a few years later in 1987 moved over to 1254 East Washington Avenue into “one damn ugly looking building”.  This “crackhouse”-esque building (as Butch has said it resembled) quickly became a local go-to destination for bands to go record and not have to pay an arm and a leg.  From the exterior, the place seemed rather unassuming during the daytime, as you can see from the picture below.

But inside of Smart Studios, as the ’80’s ended and the 1990’s began, things were beginning to shape up into a sonic environment that could help bands get a big beefy sound that so many aspiring musicians were after around this time.  With their musical history rooted in punk rock and always connected to very idiosyncratic and extremely talented music makers, Butch and Steve became adept at getting whatever sound was appropriate to the band, including the heavy rock sound du jour.  Particularly when it came to drums, which was Butch’s first musical love, Smart Studios had a wicked drum sound if that’s what you were after.  

Clearly, Smart Studios was a happening joint in the 1990’s, and this is partly why Bob and his band Norm’s Headache ventured there to record at the time, because big things were actually possible back then, and, who knows…Norm’s Headache might have been destined to be the next big thing.  Remember – this was pre-internet times being the mid-90’s, and the music industry was probably at the peak in terms of bands still having hope to become nationwide superstars. 

So yeah, Norm’s Headache heard about Smart Studios through the grapevine, and bee-lined it there to get some tracks done.  The price seemed to be just right for doing a 3-song EP, even though they tried to squeeze four songs out of the two-day 12-hours-a-day session.  Butch even popped in for a minute to sprinkle some pixie dust on their drums.  Nice!

Because Smart Studios has been the host to many of my favourite bands and records, I just had to talk to Bob to get the inside semi-fanboy perspective on how it all went down with Norm’s Headache back in the mid-90’s. 

Here is my interview with Bob Reich, talking 90’s rock and Smart Studios.  Enjoy!

YC: Hey Bob, what’s the good word my man?

Bob: Not much Dave, just sitting here getting some quite time from my 11 month old son.  It is midnight.

YC: Ah very good, glad I could barge in and start asking questions.

Bob: No, it nice to talk to adults now and then.

YC: I wanted to ask you about Smart Studios, the place in Madison, Wisconsin.

Bob: Great, I love that place!

YC: You know the place, founded by Butch Vig and Steve Marker.  And has been graced by several notable bands over the years – The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Death Cab For Cutie, L7, et al.

Bob: Yeah I sure do

YC: So yeah, you were there in the mid 90’s with your band, eh?

Bob: I was, we were in the Studio in 1996.  The band, not relevant today at all was called, Norm’s Headache.  Which was a terrible choice band name but regardless, It landed our name on the website roster of bands that have recorded at Smart Studios.  We were in between Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails!  I do have a picture of that, for times I need a good laugh.

YC: That’s really funny..How’d you end up there?

Bob: The band was from the town LaCrosse Wisconsin, which is 2 hours away from Madison on I90.  Back then the internet was still a baby, so I believe at the point in time we found an add in the Madison music magazine, Maximum ink.  The add was for 3 songs for something really dirt cheap, I can’t remember.  It was maybe $400 or 600 dollars.  Basically it was a down time for the studio, so they would book these “weekend gigs”

YC: Nice.. were you aware of the pedigree of bands who were stopping by?  Like did you go “oh shit, the Pumpkins!”  The price itself seems really good.

Bob: We were aware, and not as aware as things are today with the internet.  Back then, it was work of mouth and wen you actually bought CD’s that had printed information on it.  Like where it was recorded and by who.  But mentioning the whole, word of mouth and only knowing so much and not EVERYTHING, I think that really amped up the experience that much more.

And at that time, I was really excited about the studio owners band, Garbage.  They were brand new and had just started to do shows.  That was exciting.

But, going back to the Smashing Pumpkins,  yeah, I think that was the second album I bought from them even though that was their first album.  That’s when I started to get thoughts of why would a band come to Wisconsin of all places to record an album?

My holy shit was, Nirvana did their demos for Nevermind there.  That was probably the album that really pushed me into music.  I was a huge fan of them, I guess it crossed my mind that I sat on the same toilet as Kurt Cobain did, not, hey you are using the same  microphones and equipment, nope it was the toilet!

YC: lol incredible…maybe he even pissed on the seat who knows

Bob: Haha, yeah he probably did!

YC: So how long were you guys there? and what did you do there?

Bob: We were young and arrogant.  The ad clearly said 3 songs!  My drummer was pushy and wanted to do a fourth song and our engineer, who seemed really irritated did it anyway.  Man, I feel so bad, but also he could of said no.

The tracks were

1. Balls for all

2. God Gotten

3. 16volt

4. Time Machine

Never amounted to anything other than a home on Myspace after the fact the band had disbanded.  I guess we titled the ep, if there were one, Smart Sessions…or is it LP? I think its EP.

YC: Yeah it’s EP.  What sound were you going for?

Bob: I don’t think there was a sound in mind.  But, my bass has this over the top tone that is much louder than it should be.  It’s a very familiar tone you can hear on the Smashing Pumpkins records.  Let me clarify, thats how my bass came out on the recording.  Which also, pissed my guitar player off.  But , I think it does the tracks well.

YC: But you guys were basically a rock band.. 4 piece?

Bob: Yeah a standard 4 piece, 1 guitar, bass, drums and vocals.

YC: When you went there, were you hoping to run into Butch or anything?  did you know who your producer would be?

Bob: Oh I for sure was hoping to run into Butch, and hopefully Shirley Manson, I sort of had a crush on her back then.  We didn’t know who the engineer was when we booked. I still don’t know his name?  He wasn’t the most pleasant guy, until the session was done.  Haha, I think he was happy it over with!

YC: Were you guys obnoxious? ?  Like who would you compare your band to musically?  Are we talking the Germs, or Genesis?  Like did anyone wear a cape in the band?

Bob: Not obnoxious, stupid is a better word.  We were young and full of our selves.  Like asking for a fourth song, and for me, I think I kept taking mountain dews out of the fridge because I thought they were complimentary.  When we first arrived they treated us like we were rock stars.  So, I guess I thought I was. Another example was, the first time we met Butch, the guitar player and singer were out on the patio smoking pot like fucking dumbasses.  Butch walks out, super cool and was like, hows it going guys and then sits down and reads the paper.  We were just stupid.

YC: So you were kinda stoked because you were into Garbage at the time?  I remember liking Garbage, but not being like crazy about them.  I have a friend who was always into Shirley Manson.  Love of redheads ?

Bob: Ugh, that’s a tough question.  I think we were probably influenced my Stone temple pilots and sabbath.  Which Im not sure sounds like I would order that on a menu.  BTW, we were old.

YC: funny i don’t hear too many people say their main influences are STP. 

Bob: Yeah, I like Garbage and I think it was because, whoa Butch Vig is in a band, and with a hot chick!  So, I think it was more into her than the band.  They were super polished sounding, ya know.  I don’t either, but those brothers are amazing song writers and players!

YC: You’re saying you were old.. like how old were you guys at the time?

Bob: Yeah, i mean wasn’t it Butch and some other producer dudes and then Shirley?

YC: to me it just looked like these real adult men and this kinda hot chick

Bob: Not old, young.  Super green.  Maybe haven’t found out how to play and record the best young!  17 years old.

YC: Aha.. why’d you say “we were old” then? yeah i love STP.. that’s why even though Scott’s dead, there’s still STP but we’ll see how good their new stuff is with that new guy…it sounds ok so far to me…but anyway yeah.. Smart Studios…

Bob: I dont know man, I might of typed wrong.  Im old now!

YC: it is a bit late

Bob: Scott died about 20 miles from me, I remember when I heard that he OD’ed I nearly jumped in my car to go check out what happened because I was so close.

YC: holy fuck

Bob: Crazyness…Back to Smart

YC: i’m not editing that out btw…i hate editing

Bob: Thats fine, haha

YC: it’s all or nothing

Bob: fuck it

YC: anyway yeah, so did you use any stuff used by any of those famous bands then?  like a drum key at least? anything?? besides the toilet

Bob: It was a small enough studio, this was like a 3 bedroom condo type place.  Looks like a real shit hole from the outside.  But the inside was a $3million dollar set up.  It was beautiful.  So for the equipment, it was used by everyone, including us. I do remember we couldn’t afford to buy the tape, so we “rented” some tape, which meant we recorded over a band that had just got finished a record produced by Art Alexkakis from Everclear a few weeks prior.  Although I don’t remember the band off hand.  But I had to laugh, because even having a big name musician producer your album, you were to broke to buy the tape too!

YC: that’s really funny lol ..

Bob: To be fair, tape is expensive!

YC: yeah.. indeed

Bob: I think this was 2 inch tape

YC: i guess they didn’t want to get robbed…that’s a good technique

Bob: Yeah I suppose, I have the DAT masters, what would I do with 2 inch tape right now?

YC: i don’t know.. my buddy is getting into tape…give it to him…he’ll have a field day

Bob: I hope tape makes a come back, digital is not the same.  We all know that, im just going to say it anyway

YC: it’s true.. i know that now .. working on some tape shit here…but anyway, so there you guys were.. in Smart Studios, walking on the same carpet as my man Jimmy Chamberlin, and D’arcy, and James Iha, and Mr. Zero…did you feel any inkling that YOU might have been the next Everclear? i mean.. who knows!

Bob: yeah as you say that I get flash backs of walking around seeing all the gold records on the wall, or platinum . But, there those records I loved so much, on the wall.  Amazing!  I have a past with Everlcear, maybe that should be another interview.  But they played our local venue so often they became friends with my older musician buddies.  So, we were around them a lot.  But, I don’t know if I got the same feels from Knowing everclear made a record at smart vs. The pumpkins!

YC: yeah seems like you had some interesting bands in your area…i mean, Everclear did get pretty big at one point..they get played on the radio still

Bob: Like I mentioned we were on I90, in between Chicago and Minneapolis. and we were lucky enough to have an all ages club.

YC: what kind of studio gear did they have at Smart? ie. mixing board etc

Bob: So, big bands would play LaCrosse in between gigs in Minneapolis, Madison and Chichago.

YC: ah i get cha

Bob: The board in the main studio was a trident, had like 60 inputs and there was a harrison in the mixing studio.  It had automated faders, which I tought was amazing!  They typical mics, not sure about the preamps and effects, but there was probably 50-100 rack units.  I dont know if I felt comfortable to even get close to the board!  That alone was probably a million dollars.

YC: are you a gear guy?  you are, aren’t you?

Bob: I probably am, but I don’t remember at the time.

YC: so did you end up getting a really great sounding record out of it then? Norm’s Headache lol

Bob: It made us sound much bigger than we probably have ever sounded.  I think the sound was ok, not my favorite, I more of natural sound lover.  Mark Trombino is my guy, he has a very big, but natural sound.  I remember at one point Butch came in to give our engineer a hand on the snare.  I think what they eneded up doing was making trigger sounds, so they would sound the same for each hit.  In the end, it sounds a bit compressed.  The overall record I think sounds decent, I do love the bass sort of giving a fullness, maybe way too loud, sound!

YC: what kind of bass did you use?

Bob: I had a fender Jazz. But I used that on an ampeg SVT, which I think gives it that great sound.

YC: so that was your first record for you guys?

Bob: No, that was our 4th and last.  Smart was the best studio we recorded at.

YC: well i’d expect so with all that fancy gear…oh you guys had more material

Bob: yeah for sure!  I hope you can post a picture of what smart studios looks like from the road!

YC: i’ll google maps it

Bob: We had more tunes!

YC: so why’d you guys crash and burn? heroin?

Bob: Like most bands, 3/4 went to college and the 1/4 tried to make it work in other bands! Typical rock in roll story

YC: So it just kinda ended eh?

Bob: It totally did.  we played a few well received re-unions every year after for a few years.  There are talks about doing a reunion this next winter, maybe you should come to Wisconsin, Dave? Did I mention our van broke down on the way to Smart Studios?

YC: nope…and ya i could sing backups lol

Bob: Deal!  Yeah, this probably made us look young and stupid to them as well.  We missed our time by probably 2 hours. We were probably 30 minutes away when the drive shaft snapped off and sent us off the road.  I happened to be sleeping the bunk at the time, and man that was fucking scary.  Not at all similar to Clif Burton’s story.  We had to flag someone down, I think a cop finally showed up and called a tow truck.  He towed us to town, but would not stop at the studio first to drop off equipment.  So we had to walk our gear about a half a mile to the studio.

YC: shit…well good you didn’t roll over or anything

Bob: Yeah, I wouldve been toast

YC: so how long were you at the studio recording

Bob: I think we did two 12 hour days.

YC: so the weekend thing

Bob: It probably was a Tuesday Wednesday thing.

YC: ah. so it wasn’t the weekend dealy thing

Bob: It was for sure the deal, but I think it was a weekday?  I dont recall 23 years ago to well!

YC: that’s a pretty crazy schedule though. 

Bob: It really makes me wonder how much it cost to keep a studio going.  I mean, this buildings rent wasnt that high im guessing.  and they had major lable acts paying to record there?  So why have these cheap packages?

YC: who the hell knows eh

Bob: I can see why they are out of business now, digital sort of killed small studios.  by the way, have you seen the documentary?

YC: the Smart Studios Story? yeah actually, it’s great!

Bob: hm maybe we should post a link

YC: ya lots of studios went under around that time i suppose

Bob: I know its online somewhere

YC: i’ll find it

Bob: insert affliate link

YC: lol…yeah i’ll put it at the bottom of this post…ok kinda wrapping up here i guess…but one more potentially lengthy question / answer…what was the layout of the studio like..

Bob: The used every inch wisely.  When you walk in the door, you are in the tiny office.  There is the bathroom to the right, and short walk way to the main level control room.  There are also stairs to the second story mixing studio, lounge and kitchen. The control room connects to the isolation rooms, there was one large room for drums and such and 3 small iso booths for amps and such. Such big records were made in this small space, its kind of amazing to think about. The upstairs studio was another isolation area for mixing, it was decent size with nice cozy leather couches. They had this cool disc rack for all the albums that were recorded at the studio.  and you could listen to all them, that was cool.

YC: that is cool…so it was a house you said or like storefront or what

Bob: I believe it is a condo now.  So, it may have been before as well.  Its in a residential neighborhood., but also some small business are around as well.

YC: and it’s totally not there now you say?

Bob: Studio is gone, sadly.  But I have seen what looks like patio furniture and the looks of people living there. The building is still there.

YC: it’s been a while since those golden years

Bob: It has and im sure it makes a lot of people sad.

YC: ya.. i’m used to it around here.  pretty much every cool spot ever has closed

Bob: Oh no kidding?  That is awful, it’s a tough businesss

YC: ya for sure…well at least you got to record there…and you have the album to show for it inaccessibly locked away on a myspace account

Bob: For sure, it was a highlight of my youth…its waiting for a myspace comeback

YC: hope springs eternal

Bob: exactly

YC: ok cool, that’s a wrap!

BONUS: Watch the Smart Studios Story documentary if you get the chance.  Here’s a preview.

Or watch the whole Smart Studios Story on Amazon here

Talking Beats and Business with Daniel Hartnett of The Corporatethief Beats

Hey guys, YC here. Today was a good day.  I got up, fed my cat, had some coffee and sloppy joe’s for breakfast, and then conducted an interview with beat-maker and online marketer Daniel Hartnett, the man behind The Corporatethief Beats. 

I came across Daniel while doing research on how to better use Twitter to promote my music, as he has some stuff about that over on his Youtube channel.  In this interview, I grill Daniel about his background in music, why he enjoys producing sick beats for a living, and how he ties it all together with online marketing.  It was educational to say the least.  Enjoy our chat!

YC: Hey Daniel, where’d you come up with the name of your business, The Corporatethief Beats? Sounds a bit anti-establishment…

DH: I wouldn’t say it’s the best name or most brandable name if I am honest. At the time it was just some weird name I called my Youtube channel hahaha.

I don’t it’s a good idea to put the word “thief” in your title when your business is in music online sales. But I had built up my channel up with the alias I just continued on.  The one good thing about it is that it’s unique. I see tons of beatmakers with the same name. This can be a nightmare for branding and the consumer experience. I have views and opinions about the political world, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now. I did adapt to the theme of the Corporate American culture with my branding for The Corporatethief Beats. You can see it in my logo and the titles of my tracks. In 2015 I did title an instrumental mixtape after the Wall Street movie where Gordon Gekko says “Greed I$ Good”. So I do like to play with themes and social media gimmicks.

YC: What’s your job title, would you say?

DH:
 I am qualified in music production and sound engineering from The Academy of Sound Dublin. Since 2008 music production has pulled me into online marketing too. I have had to become a jack of all trades to make this online machine work right. During my music production studies, I also studied Digital Marketing at Dublin Business SchoolI dabble in a lot of things online not just music. I podcast, vlog and have some other niche sites that are unrelated to music too. But for my music production side of my business, I use titles like Beat Maker, Sound Engineer, Digital Marketer.

YC: When did you start making beats?

DH:
 I have been playing music in bands since I was 13 years old. Also, my parents really pushed me with playing instruments. Which I am super grateful for now. I played the guitar and wrote a lot of simple acoustic songs in college. I wasn’t really into hip-hop then. I listened to a lot of grunge music like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana etc. One of my friends noticed that I was trying my best to record my songs with Audacity. He gave me a loan of his laptop which had FL Studio on it. Then he gave me the gist of how to make hip hop beats using this software.

I was hooked and I really started to get into hip-hop music. He told me to take an introductory music production course, so I signed up to Galway Technical Institute. This was my first taste of music production and working in a studio. It was here where I obtained skills for using Apple’s Logic Digital Audio Workstation. Not that there was anything wrong with Fl Studio, I just prefer LogicIn 2010 / 2011 I set up my own website www.thecorporatethiefbeats.com. It was around this time I moved to Dublin and attended the Academy of Sound which I studied there for 4 years. Academy of Sound gave me the necessary skills in ProToolsAlong with the process of how to work with bands in the studio.  During that time in Dublin, I worked as a runner and as a sound tech for the theatre company called Tobar Na Run.

YC: What gear did you have when you started your career and why did you have said gear, ie. birthday present when you were 12?

DH: I don’t have a complicated set up. I like everything simple. Too much stuff just confuses me and hinders my workflow.

    • Audio Interface : Apogee Duet {Simple High Quality Sound and Portable}
      iMac: Bought it in 2008 never had any problems.
    • KRK RP8 G3 active studio monitors: Good quality monitors never had any problems.
    • M-Audio Keystation Midi Keyboard. I don’t need an expensive midi synth as most my sounds are controlled by VSTI’s.
    • Native Instruments Machine. Amazing tool, you can literally create beats without an interface. The sound libraries with this tool are worth the money alone. There is a bit of a learning curve with this piece of kit. I haven’t used this tool to it’s full potential yet.
    • Logic Pro X: This is my main production tool. I use a lot of the stock synths and just tweek them to what I want.
    • Sylenth1 VSTI  I have the sylenth1 synth which is my main go too synth. I am just used to it. Along with the fact that I built up a library of sounds and templates over the years.
    • Native Instruments Komplete 9. This is all I need I use. There a lot of the synths with this tool. I rely heavily on patches and bend them to my sound or layer them with other sounds.  
    • Microphones Shure Beta 57a / Shure Beta 58a : Must haves for any musician or sound engineer.

I understand how they work like the ESX or the ES2 from years of making beats. Most of the time I just saved my own templates.

YC: I assume you’re into hip hop, from all indications.  Who are your all time fav hip hop artists?  

DH: It’s hard to answer this question. Even though I love the raps and lyrics from the classic rappers like Biggie 2Pac and Jay Z. Their raps just don’t resonate with me enough to build a thorough connection to. With rap artists like Nas, Kanye West, Drake, Kid CuDi, Lupe Fiasco, Travis Scott, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, I can feel a better connection to the material because of they are more or less the same age as my generation. I have different artists for different days. Some hip-hop artists I like, but don’t understand the lyrical content I just like the way that they rap like T.I. Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Jeezy, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz Cameron, Wiz Khalifa, Chamillionaire.

YC: Any new favs you’d recommend, like say some underground lesser known shit?

DH: Not really sure if these are considered underground. Artists like Hopsin, Kid Ink, Action Bronson, Atmosphere, Charles Hamilton.  

YC: What’s your favourite kind of beat?

DH: This is just too hard to answer hahah 🙂 I like complexity hidden in simplicity. Hahaha. I am a big fan of the music producer Danjahandz. He is Timbaland’s right-hand man. Listening to his beats, parts of them sound so simple. But it’s the way Danja places all these parts together. Along with his knack for using vocals as an effect within the song, to act as countermelody against the singers vocal is just sheer GENIUS!…A good example of Danja’s best work is seen on Gimme More by Britney Spears.

Also…Hello Good Morning by Diddy

And Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake.

For hip-hop music producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze,  Boi 1da, Travis Scott, Noah Shabbib, T-Minus, Kane Beats, Franks Duke, Dr Dre, anything they touch turns to pure gold.  I like dark seedy beats with some light of melody. I’m not really a boom bap kind an of a beat maker. Some modern beats that I like include The Language by Drake (produced by Boi 1da).

Also…Bad Ass by Kid Ink (produced by Devin Cruise)…

Ni**as In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West (produced by Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean)

Rich as F*ck by Lil Wayne / 2 Chainz (Produced by T-Minus)

Lord Knows by Drake / Rick Ross (Produced by Just Blaze)

YC: Do you like to recreate beats much?

DH: I don’t really do remixes or samples beats anymore, as they are really hard to promote online. Most online sites will just remove them once you upload them. I made a remix of a Lady Gaga’s song “Love Game” a while back and nearly lost my Youtube Channel in the process. Along with a sample hip-hop beat I created using Supertramp’s “Logical Song” caused the same issue which made it even worse. I do some request work from time to time and I will use samples for the artist. But I don’t actively promote sample-based beats anymore. I do take inspiration from the controversial ”Type Beat” method that you might see on Youtube. This is only a gimmick to get in front of the right buyers on Youtube. Most of the time my beats are an amalgamation of various type beats that I gained inspiration from at that given moment.  

YC: How long does it take to make one of your beats?

DH: That’s hard to say if I have a good workflow maybe a couple of hours and come back a day later and do the mix. I don’t usually mix and create on the same day.

YC: How much does it cost for a beat?

DH: Lease rights varies between $20 – $97 depending on the type of lease license. Exclusive Rights varies based on the popularity of the lease. Exclusive rights range from $350 – $2000

YC: 
Who buys your rap beats, typically?

DH:
 Great question. It’s surprisingly a lot of the time its companies using the music for background jingles on videos, radio shows, podcast and Youtubers. I have also got a couple of loyal beat buyers that purchase on a regular basis with custom work.

YC: Any cool songs online featuring one off your beats we can check out?

DH: Here’s some…

Kid Berg – White Boy Dope

Ty Brasel – Hope Dealer

YC: Do you ever sample live drums?

DH: Only at college we experimented a lot creating weird sounds.

YC:
 Are you a hi fi or low fi kinda guy?  ie. do you like smooth slick sounding shit or dirty grimy glitchy sounding shit?

DH:
 A bit of both. Really.

YC:
 At what point does beat making and internet marketing intersect for you?

DH: I set out a marketing plan for creating content for the release of the music and try to use my content to promote the music. Rather than using the music itself as a marketing tool. Examples include beat snippets on Instagram or beat making videos are good tools to promote the music without having to give it away for free.

YC: When did you start becoming an internet marketer?

DH: Around 2010 / 2011 is when I started my site. I knew that I had skills that could be used for other parts of the internet. I learned from music marketing expert not rely just on music sales. That I should use my skills to provide other services too. This is great advice that I still apply my goals too.

YC: Who inspired you to do that?

DH: My brother and I are obsessed with internet marketing. It’s given us freedom. But I think I just continued to try new things. Some of the old stuff tends to stop working so you need to adapt. Pat Flynn’s website Smart Passive Income was the first site that I stuck with when it comes to learning about online marketing.

YC: How much do you hate normal 9-5 shit?

DH:
 I will be the first to put my hand up and say that I am tied to my computer. But I make time for friends and family. I am not a crazy clubbing person, I am happiest when I have something positive to create. My other sites also take up some my time but I like having a diverse amount of things to do. Even though I like making beats I would go crazy if it was the only thing I did.

YC: What other instruments do you know how to play?

DH: Guitar, Piano {Not so great}

YC:
 What’s your sickest track, according to yourself?

DH:
 Good question. I really like my pop / rnb tracks kind of show my music production range.

YC: Did you study music, and if so, where?

DH:
 Galway Technical Institute is where I started with my music production. I went to the Academy of Sound after that and spent 4 years. It was here where I qualified with a higher Diploma in music production and sound engineering. Guitar and Piano are just by ear. I did receive some formal training when I was younger during primary school.

YC:
 What were the best skills you got out of Academy of Sound Dublin?

DH: I got to test very expensive gear. Tools like destressors, compressors, manley massive passive, DBX compressor, neve compressors. I also worked with the SSL Nucleus. I also love the sound of working with tape. I really heard the difference with reel to reel. I can hear how rounder and thicker my beats sound after going from the SSL to the tape machine back in the box.

YC: Did you have any other dream jobs?  ie. claims adjuster, preacher, airline pilot.

DH:
 Musician in a band. Hahah

YC:
 What sites of yours should people be checking out?

DH:

Getchorus.com – How To Write Hip Hop Lyrics and Learn How To Rap Website.

The Corporatethief Beats – Buy Hip Hop Beats.

My Blog Here – Learn Music Marketing

Free Email Marketing For Musicians Course

YC: So you seem to have a handle on the Twitter platform, as you offer a course on this, right?

DH:
 Yes. I just find Twitter is an easy starting platform for young musicians. Facebook does have an amazing advertising platform. But I feel that with Twitter it’s much easier to strike a conversation with strangers compared to Facebook which seems a little too personal for some people. With the Twitter course, I found that Twitter does come with a lot of grunt work which can become tedious over time. Over a couple of years, I found a couple of hacks that can really help the average musician. This will help them automate some simple process that doesn’t need to be repeated daily. They can get the course here.

How To Promote Your Music On Twitter

YC: What are you trying to basically get through to people with your course?

DH: Just to be clear. This is not a get rich quick digital marketing course. This not a how to make money on Twitter course either.Twitter comes with a whole lot of grunt work, which can become tedious over time. I found tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. But even these tools became a chore of their own. I needed to find a way of promoting my evergreen content and adding new content more efficiently without having to be on Twitter or Hootsuite 24/7.

YC: Do you think that the majority of musicians are realistic business people?

DH:
 I firmly believe that musicians have many skills to offer people. But they don’t see the value they have right in front of them. They focus on immaterial things like views, likes, and follower counts. If they could just see how valuable some of the skills they have most musicians would be much better off.

YC:
 Do you think that Twitter is the best platform for promoting music and why?

DH: It’s not perfect. Facebook is just a pay to play game. It’s as simple as that. I can strike up conversations with strangers all day on Twitter and nobody thinks it’s weird or creepy. If I do the same thing on Facebook it comes across as kind of sad for some reason. I think people have a personal touch with their Facebook pages. With Twitter, this can be an easy starting point with little resources other than time.   

Korg Triton Studio 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard Review

This is going to be a fairly unorthodox review of the Korg Triton Studio keyboard synth workstation (88-key version), because I will admit to you off the top that I am basically a newb.  As such, I can’t say that I know everything about this formidable beast of a workstation / sampler / keyboard, but I do have some experience with using it, as it happens.  In fact, I recently made a full length album with the help of the Korg Triton, as well as several DAW’s like Reason and Ableton Live, with the help of my buddy Curtis Maranda from Tiger Suit (pictured right).  The album we made is called All The Rad Snakes and I will link to it at the bottom of this review, if you’re interested.  For the record, I am Young Coconut, musician and recording artist for Fauxtown Records.

So, rather than pretend to be a tech geek, which I’m not, I will try to keep this review on the level to what I actually know about the Korg Triton Studio.  So let’s get started.

Korg TRITON Studio 88-Key Workstation Keyboard review

Shop Korg samplers on Amazon now

One thing I can tell you about the Korg Triton off the top is that it is heavy and long.  And it takes up a lot of space.  I’m going to guess that it’s about 4 feet long, and frickin’ heavy.  Drop it on your foot and see.  Triton is a fitting name for this thing, because it is sort of all powerful in terms of what it can do.  In fact, I don’t even know all of what it can do – this machine is probably smarter than I am.  My familiarity with it comes from recording my album, and how I used it in particular.  I do know that this is more of a “retro” synth at this point, coming out in the ’90’s sometime, and possessing the ability to sound exactly like Fresh Prince of Bel Air if that’s what you’re after.  Many people use the Triton for beat making in a more serious and contemporary manner, such as this dude, King David of YouTube (BeatClass).

See, now this guy knows what he’s doing.  I couldn’t do that kind of thing by myself.  I still have miles to go when it comes to understanding all the ins and outs of this machine.  Be that as it may, let’s continue!

The Keyboard

Now, the Triton is foremost I would say a keyboard, and authentic one at that.  The one I used has the full 88-keys like a legit piano, and the keys are weighted like any good keyboard should be if you’re going to use it properly.  I’m not even a “real” piano player, but when I’m composing musical parts on a keyboard, I would say that the Triton has got to be one of the best I’ve ever used.  The keys are fully weighted as mentioned and when you bang something out on it, the sensitivity is there which you will need for certain dynamics in your song or playing.

Coupling the Triton with the Reason DAW in this case, I came up with many parts which we were able to make sound great just simply through performance on the Triton, and then in Reason we could make them sound even better by shifting a few notes around and changing the entire instrument sound as we are talking about MIDI notes here.  Here we are working on a new track and doing just that.  Playing stuff on the Triton and then fiddling around with the notes in Reason.  

For the album I did using the Triton, we did a lot of the changing of the sounds in Reason because it has some pretty good VST’s, but Triton also has countless synth samples that can be accessed, and you can refer to those in the guide which comes with it that shows your options for sounds, and there are a vast number.  I actually feel bad I didn’t use more sounds straight from the Triton, as you are definitely spoiled for choice in that department.  If you happen to get the manual along with this thing, it’s basically a monster tome of like 100-200 pages.  It’s not even called a manual, it’s called the “parameters guide” or something.  These guys at Korg back in the 90’s seriously expect you to be living the Triton life by handing you this guide.  You can put down the Bible or War and Peace because you will be too busy reading the guide to the frickin’ Triton and basing your life around that from now on.

Aesthetics and Body

Another thing I can talk about re: the Korg Triton is just the way it’s set up, and the overall look of it.  It looks great, IMO.  I love the silver grey body, and all of the switches and buttons are a uniform colour.  

This is sort of the opposite of a lot of synths and samplers today which light up and kind of look like the county fair.  The Triton is basically black white and grey, and I think it benefits from this utilitarian look.  You just get down to business right away – no distractions.  Even the computer screen it has sort of looks like a Gameboy – grey on grey.

Here’s a little joke video we made giving you a little tour of the Triton.  Sorry about the colour of the video – I accidentally turned the contrast all the way up and hit upload.  I kinda like it, I guess.

If I was shopping for a keyboard and I was a real piano player, I’d do well to have this thing because it can be a keyboard or it can be anything you want it to be.  It is durable as you can ask for in a synth keyboard, and I’ve had a couple others in my time, such as a very hefty Yamaha which was somewhat similar to this, with less functions.  Now, take a look at the back of this thing for a second…

This is where my non-tech background comes into play.  I know it has lots of places to run things in and out, but this isn’t really my area of expertise to be honest.

That said, it’s not too hard to understand.  You’ve got your in’s, your out’s, and they do what they do.  It’s all labelled quite clearly.  We had the Triton routed to some very large speakers – a Yamaha S215IV, as well as a Yamaha MSR800w.  This was for playback.  We also had it routed into the computer where we were using Reason and Ableton Live to put our tracks together.  We definitely weren’t using the full functionality of the Korg Triton.  For instance, we didn’t once use the SCSI port.  On the top side, we often used the toggle dial or the note-bender or whatever it’s called.  The thing on the left – definitely a cool thing.  What we didn’t do is play around with the ability to store samples and actually use this beast as the true workstation that it is.  You don’t *need* to route the Triton into your computer, but most DAW’s people use now are on laptops, so you’re probably going to have to.  That said, the Triton can be self contained.  If you use discs, it allows you to pop those in and save and load things that way, which we never did.  

Conclusion

Sure, I know there’s a ton more that can be said about the Korg Triton Studio.  But at this point I’m too ignorant to be the one to say much more.  I would say if you have access to this studio workstation, do use it.  I can’t see how you’d regret it.  If you get the chance to buy one, I’d recommend that also if you have a music production studio with all the trimmings.  This thing calls itself a “studio” and it is not kidding. 

If you have any comments about your experiences with the Korg Triton, please let us know in the comments below.  We love to hear from people!  Also, here’s my album that I made with the help of the Triton.  I can answer more specific questions if anyone has any.  Thanks for reading!

Using Kontakt by Native Instruments – Overview and Chat with Producer Daniel Kern

kontakt 5 player review

Lately, I’ve been getting more into making electronic music of my own, I’ve been hearing a lot about this program called Kontakt, and specifically the fifth version Kontakt 5, by Native Instruments.

My buddy Daniel Kern from SoundFlow Music uses it frequently with his own compositions, and so I decided to ask him a few (a lot of) newbie questions about this extensive music software suite, and he basically gave me his review of it plus a whole lot more.

daniel kern

This chat is a companion piece to his actual review of Kontakt by Native Instruments he did recently for this website.

Check out our chat and hopefully if you’ve been wondering about it, this should tell you what someone who uses it regularly thinks of it.


YC: Hey Daniel, how are you today?

DK: Hey YC. I’m fine, how are you?

YC: Ah, you know, pretty good.  Since you are an audio buff who uses a lot of digital software to create your music, I wanted to ask you a few things about the program called Kontakt.  You know, the Native Instruments sample player?

DK: Of course. I hope I’m able to answer your questions adequately.  Hit me!

YC: Ok, which version of Kontakt do you have currently running on your computer?

DK: I have Kontakt 5.  Here’s what it looks like.

YC: Aha, so for those who don’t know what Kontakt is, can you tell me and the people what it does, and why one might want to use it?

DK: Kontakt does a lot. I guess most people are using it as a VST plugin inside their DAW (Cubase, Nuendo, etc. ) – but it also works as a standalone!  I guess not many are using it to develop their own Kontakt-Libraries (“VSTs”). The thing is that Kontakt is working as a “host” for a huge variety of Kontakt Libraries /.nki files.  Theres everything from drums and percussion to instruments like pianos and guitars, world instruments, synthesizers, and of course also orchestral sounds.  Either from Native Instruments (the makers of Kontakt) themself or from various other creators.

YC: I wasn’t aware that it worked as a standalone DAW.

DK: No, not as a standalone DAW, just as a standalone plugin.  I mean you can record stuff with it, but I guess the standalone application is rather for live-purposes.

YC: Right, so how do you tend to use it mostly?

DK: I use it mostly as a “host”-VST in Cubase playing different libraries. I mean mostly I combine them with other VST plugins like VSL.  Especially when doing orchestral stuff.

YC: Can you share with us all an example of a composition you’ve made with Kontakt?

DK:  Puhh.. I dont know if I have any that are made completely with Kontakt, without using any other plugins.

YC: Well it can just include Kontakt stuff. Not purely Kontakt.

DK: Alright let me search.. 🙂

YC: Ya just to talk about something concrete.

DK: Well, I’m sure I have a lot of sounds in this track from various Kontakt plugins.

DK: But I edited a lot there 🙂 Let me see if I also can find one thats not too electronic..

YC: Sure.

DK: Let’s try this one. 

DK: In my sample-reel are many different musical styles but in the first part (the more “classical” one) a few strings from the background are from Kontakt for example in the electronic part that follows I also used Kontakt for a few things but we could at some point make a “Only Kontakt” Track 😉

YC: Yeah, I see.. so for the second link you shared, “Sample One”, besides Kontakt, what else is in there?

DK: uh .. there are a bunch ^^  For instance, the piano is “The Grand” from Steinberg.

YC: Ok, yeah…

DK: The violin and cello are from VSL.  Those are definitely some of the greatest orchestral plugins on the market.

YC: What’s from Kontakt in that track?  It’s obviously kinda tough to know what is coming from where.

DK: The background strings are from Kontakt.  And, well, most of the things you remember.. ^^

YC: You’d have to be sort of a plugin master to know what sample library provides what sound to a track like this I think…

DK: No I wouldn’t say so.. I think you just need to know your plugins haha.

YC: How many instruments would you say make up this track?

DK: From beginning to finish or just the classical part?

YC: The whole thing.

DK: Puh…that’s a lot haha.  Let me give it a listen.. Its been a while since I did that track.

YC: Ok sure.

DK: I’d say between 70-100, maybe more..because I layered a lot of sounds, every part of the drums is another plugin.

YC: Wow, yeah, so like 70 tracks essentially? …or some crazy amount of tracks.

DK: I’d say if 70 instruments, about 90 tracks .. some of them have a few copies, not counting stuff like tempo track, velocity tracks, etc.

YC: aha. yeah.. you must have a decent computer set up to run all that.

DK: Well it could be better. I’m actually looking to build up a new setup.

YC: You’ll get there. How do you think Kontakt has come up with such rich sounds for their sample libraries?

DK: I think that besides the huge sound library that you can get by buying KOMPLETE 11 – made by / or at least in cooperation with Native Instruments (the creators of Kontakt).  The crazy thing about Kontakt is that it allows also “outsiders” to create Sound Libraries and in agreeance with NI they are also allowed to sell them. So that changes the game, they dont have to build up their own VST Interface, and programming the sampler from scratch – they can use Kontakt for that. I’m sure this is the biggest reason why they have such a huge variety of sounds.

YC: How do you go about making your own Kontakt sample libraries? Is it easy, or does it take a long time?  How do you go about it?

DK: I actually don’t have too much experience with creating complex libraries in Kontakt, but most of my own libraries are completely sample-based. I record different sounds first via Cubase (Drums, Percussion, SFX,.. different velocities – different sounds) and then I slice them up and put them on the different keys / velocities. I would say it depends on what you are gping to make if its easy .. if you want to build a complex synthesizer, there will be some programming to do, if you want to record whale-sounds in the antarctica – you will need money and equipment to succeed.

YC: What was your experience with installing Kontakt? I’ve heard it can be tricky.

DK: Installing Kontakt was actually pretty easy as far as I remember.. installing via setup and then put the .dll file into the VST folder you chose for your DAW. 

YC: Did you download Kontakt or buy it?  You think it’s worth it?

DK: I bought it, and I’d say its definitely worth the money !

YC: Do you usually update Kontakt when you can?

DK: I update it there and then, but not as often as I should maybe 🙂

YC: Any systems it doesn’t run on that you know of? What are you running Kontakt 5 on?

DK: I don’t know if they work well on Apple, but they worked fine for me with Cubase and also for a friend of mine with studio one.  I also guess they should work in Ableton.

YC: If you were to tell someone the most basic way to use it, what would that be. For a beginner. I’m not talking about a lesson, but for a new guy, would would you recommend they do once the software is running.

DK: I would recommend people who just bought and successfuly installed Kontakt, that they browse through the plugins as much as they can try to remember what they have, play around with the sounds, familiarize yourself with your libraries so later on when you need a specific instrument in a composition – you know where to find it. And you can get a lot of inspiration out of playing with those sounds 🙂

YC: What’s your favourite instrument to use in Kontakt and why?

DK: My favourite Instrument depends on what I need to do. For Chiptunes I like to use Bitkits, for Background Strings I sometimes use NI Action Strings, I also like some Big Fish Audio Libraries for cinematic stuff, there are a bunch of cool instruments for electronic sounds, some cool things for hiphop stuff .. I cant really say that I have a favourite 🙂

YC: How many instruments are in the library overall? I guess i could just look that one up, but what the hey.

DK: Well the number of instruments depends on if you have the free Kontakt Sample Player, the Kontakt Komplete or the Kontakt Komplete Ultimate Bundle. And also on how many Libraries you buy from other creators!  So it depends!

YC: Yeah man, well I may just have to get my hands on Kontakt myself.  It sounds pretty great!

DK: Definitely check it out if you can.

YC: I will!  Thanks for the chat, dude.

DK: No problem, later!

Feature Pick

Native Instruments Komplete 11 Software Suite

Buy On Amazon

How To Record A Rock Album At Home – In Convo with Fauxtown Recording Artist YC

It is becoming increasingly easy to record your own professional sounding music at home, whether it’s rock, jazz, folk, metal, country, and so forth.  This home recording boom comes not a minute too soon, because the music industry as it once was is pretty much gone the way of the dodo bird. 

In decades past, pretty much every famous rock band was trying like heck to get signed to a major label, looking for that million dollar rock and roll payout that would come with that signing. 

New bands were actively running around trying to get signed like it was the end of the world if they couldn’t get a contract, and have a “sugar daddy” record label to support them. 

Nowadays, tons of famous artists have their own record labels, and many of these artists record their music from the comfort of their own home, doing it themselves, from start to finish, with just a basic recording setup.

In the past 20 years, more and more artists are saying “forget it” to signing to a major label, and just doing it all themselves, from recording to promotion.  It’s as if…the major labels aren’t necessary anymore.  Wow, imagine that!  But…big BUT…does this home-recorded music that everyone’s doing actually sound any good?  Will serious music industry people take it seriously?  Can you book a show at Madison Square Garden with such a recording?  Is it “professional” sounding enough to get you gigs, or even signed, if that’s your goal? 

We recently bumped into Young Coconut of Fauxtown Records, who just released an album called Rowdy Jumbal, which is a somewhat psychedelic ten-track home recorded rock album that he wrote and produced himself, with the help of his buddy Kyle Gruber. 

We decided to grill him on his new album, since it is a both a rock record and a home recording, about the whole process.  Here is our conversation – enjoy!


YTMS: Hey Young, how’s it going?

YC: Good, good.  Call me YC. Just wrapped up my latest album, called Rowdy Jumbal. It’s online now. 

YTMS: Yes, I see it’s a 10 track affair.  How long did it take you to make this LP? 

YC: About 6 months, from the start of sessions to the end. 

YTMS: How often were you working on it?

YC: I’d say for an afternoon every weekend.  Maybe 4-6 hours a week.  Not that much, really.  I recorded it all at my buddy Kyle’s studio, one week at a time.

YTMS: Let’s hear a track, shall we?

YC: Sure.

YTMS: Any preference? 

YC: Nah, you pick.

YTMS: Ok, let’s go with the first track called Cancer Crew.

YTMS: Not bad.  Kinda space-y.  Was this recorded live off the floor, as they say?  Did you get a band together and do takes of the song until you nailed it?

YC: No, no.  We laid the tracks down one at a time.  Just pieced it together bit by bit. Can’t you tell?

YTMS: It’s hard to tell, but I guess now that you mention it, maybe it does sound that way.  Pretty organic sounding though.  Why didn’t you record it with a band?  Did you not have a band at that time?

YC: I generally always do it this way.  One track at a time is just easier for me.  But no, my band had just split up. 

YTMS: So did you play everything yourself then?

YC: No, my buddy Kyle laid down a bunch of the stuff too.  Drums, guitar, bass, some vocals.  He was all over it.  I also did about equal amounts of the same instruments.  The thing is, I wrote these songs, and also I sang on them, because it’s my album.

YTMS: Why didn’t you just do everything yourself?

YC: Well, Kyle gets bored just hitting record and he’s a good musician so I really didn’t mind him getting involved to the extent that he did.  We kind of shared production duties, and his style is different from mine, so that’s cool too.  Spices things up a bit.  That said, most of the ideas were mine.  All the songs had been written well before the recording sessions, mostly.  I knew what I was doing for the most part coming into that session.

YTMS: How about this one, called Man of Interest.  What did Kyle play here?

YC: He actually played the main guitar riff, but I taught it to him.  He’s more into metal than I am, and so he made it sound more metal than it did in the past.  I like how it turned out.  This is probably my favourite track of the bunch.  I wrote it back in the day with my buddy J.K. Phil Osé.

YTMS: Cool.  So, moving right along, the topic of this article we’re doing here, if you didn’t know, is “how to record a rock album at home”.

YC: Oh, I see.  Ok, well there you go.  That’s pretty much what we’re talking about here.  

YTMS: Keeping that in mind, would you say that recording a rock album “at home” would be any different than recording, say, a metal album, at home?  Or a jazz album?  Folk? 

YC: Hm, I don’t really think so.  If you’ve got the gear, and people to play the parts, and obviously the space to do it, then you can do it at home, no problem.  By space, I mainly mean just having enough space to record, but I personally don’t take up too much room, as I’m just one person, and so there were only ever two of us there doing stuff at any one time.

YTMS: What about the sound of the room.  In a studio it has certain acoustics, but at home?  What kind of room were you guys using?

YC: We were just in his basement, which is basically like a rec room / den type of setup.  There’s a big billiard table, and often we’d just lay stuff on there like mics and stuff, as well as patch cords.  The one side of the room was all of Kyle’s stuff.  His desk, his gear, his computer, guitars, drum kit, etc.  As far as acoustics go, there was a big entryway leading into the recording part of the room, so the sound kind of carried out of that room and upstairs basically.

YTMS: Did you think that room had good acoustics?  Like, did you guys do anything to that room to prepare it for recording?  Sound-proofing, for instance…

YC: Nah, we just set up mics, got levels, and went for it.  The walls are just made of.. you know, wall stuff.  Drywall?  I don’t build houses, but anyway, obviously every room has its own sound, but this is really the only space we had to do this, and I wouldn’t say it was a bad place to record an album.  The room was fairly large, like 15′ x 45′ or something.  I think once you start mic’ing stuff like say drums, you focus more on positioning the mics so that the recording sounds good, and you forget about the room a bit, even though it’s part of the sound of the recording.  I’ve recorded lots of places – different friends’ houses, basements, jamhalls, and even more pro studios.  The point is if I want to record something like a song, I’m going to do it.  I just need somewhere to do it.  I’m not going to be overly picky about where.

YTMS: Fair enough.  But I’m sure people might be wondering if it’s worth it for them to go to a more professional recording studio vs. just doing it at home themselves.  What do you think?  Can you hear the difference?

YC: Well, if you go to a fancy studio, they’re probably going to have better gear than me.  Actually, they definitely will have better gear than me, and probably booths, and sound proofing, proper mics and stuff.  And yeah, you probably will get a better sounding recording at the end, whether it’s a song or a whole album.  I can’t say that me recording something is going to sound better than a pro studio, but I do see advantages to doing it myself.

YTMS: Such as?

YC: How about saving thousands of dollars?  There’s that, plus there’s also things like if it’s my house and my instruments I can set things up when I want and take all the time in the world to do it.  Unless some room mate or neighbour or girlfriend or wife or landlord or guy across the street complains, and then I have to go by their rules, or else I’ll have to put up with their complaining and they might even call the dreaded bylaw enforcement or whatever. 

YTMS: Let’s check out another track, if you don’t mind.  This one’s called Seven Tornadoes.  What’s this song about?

YC: Well, if I remember correctly, my ex girlfriend had a dream one time about being at a house somewhere and being in a basement and looking out a window and seeing seven tornadoes all coming towards the house from different directions.  She told me about it and I thought it would make for a cool song idea, so I made up a song to go with it.  

YTMS: Hm, interesting.  So this song is about natural disasters?

YC: Yeah, kinda.  It’s about having your life going the way you want and then suddenly – BAM – you get hit by a tornado and everything is gone.  Sort of like devastation, but more like emotional devastation, not literal tornadoes in this case.  The song also talks about being able to create havoc yourself.  So not only does stuff happen to you, but you cause stuff to happen to others.  It works both ways.

YTMS: Gotcha.  Ok, this might be a personal question, but did you record this album the way you did because you didn’t have the money to do it at a studio in town somewhere?

YC: Obviously if I had a pile of money, or even an ample budget to record songs professionally, I might like to visit a studio.  I like working with other people, in new environments, trying different things.  Different guitars, drum sets, vocal mics.  I even like taking input from producers sometimes.  That doesn’t bother me, unless that person is a jerk, but all of that requires money, yes indeed.  And for that album, I paid Kyle a bit, but we basically just did the whole thing because I wanted to.  I had a bunch of songs, and I didn’t want to save up money I didn’t have or wait around.  So we just got down to business.

YTMS: Ok, so in terms of special gear for this project, is there anything that someone reading this who wants to do something similar should know about?  Would you say it was a “basic” recording set up?

YC: I’d say pretty basic, yeah.  We had a couple electric guitars, a bass, his drum kit, his laptop with some software, that being Cubase.  We had a nice big synth, we had a corner where the vocal mic was set up.  In terms of gear, I’m not all that picky about it.  What I try to do is to make it sound the best it can.  I think that’s almost part of the fun, unless, of course, something is majorly screwed up and you can’t even play it.  Like, he didn’t have my favourite type of bass, but we still used it. 

YTMS: What was it? 

YC: I forget, some kinda clangy bass.  Like a starter bass, but then we’d EQ it the best we could to give it more oomph.  The synth we had trouble getting it up and running I remember in the beginning.  We were just newbs and he just got it, so it was like, not cooperating even though it was brand new.  But that was kind of our fault.

YTMS: How about we share one more track.  This one’s called Opening Line.

YTMS: Kind of a grunge track or something.

YC: Yeah, well I didn’t write this song.  My buddy Phil did.

YTMS: That J.K. Phil Osé guy?  

YC: Nah, my buddy Phil Delisle, from my other band, The Approachables.

YTMS: So Opening Line is a cover?

YC: Yeah, Phil wrote it a while back.  I always liked it.  Actually, you know what?  This was the first song that someone ever played me that they wrote themselves where they played it and I was like “Wow, you wrote that?  And recorded it?”  I was just so impressed, even though it was just on a 4-track or whatever.  I just dug the song.  It took me like 18 years to actually get around to recording it.  I always wanted to.

YTMS: What does he think of this version?

YC: I don’t know…

YTMS: Hm, well then…Let’s go back to the original topic here for a second.  We’re talking about making rock records at home.  Is yours a rock record, would you say?  The style is a bit out there for rock, maybe.  Some of it is more rock than other songs.  I find it hard to classify, really.

YC: Rock is such a broad term, but I think anything that has guitar, bass, drums, and vocals is pretty much going to sound pretty “rock”, unless you’re doing something really weird.  I don’t think my stuff is that weird.  It’s definitely not like Nickelback or The Rolling Stones or anything.  Mutt Lange was not behind this album, as you know.  I relate my music here more to like ’60’s weird garage rock and more recent underground types of bands like Guided by Voices and Sebadoh.  Just different stuff, but not so different that you have no idea what it is.  It’s pretty much rock. 

YTMS: Alrighty, we’ll go with that then.  You basically ran down your “rig”, in terms of the equipment you used, but you weren’t too specific about anything.  You mentioned Cubase…

YC: Yeah, see, I don’t think it really matters specifically what you’re using.  If you have some beat up old electric guitar, and an amp, and a microphone, just use what you got.  You do need a computer with a DAW, or like some recording software, but you can get that free online these days too.  I think Ableton is free, or there’s some multi-track thing you can get that’s free that will record live mics.  You need a pre-amp, to run the mics through, and all the appropriate cords.  Whatever instruments you’re using, you’ll need to have them handy.  If you’re recording live off the floor with your band, you need your band there and they should be practiced on the songs you’re doing.  If you can’t pull off the part you’re trying to record, that’ll drag things out quite a bit.   That happens to me a lot.  I’m not quite prepared, and I have to get good when I’m recording the part, and that can be annoying.  I should just learn my parts I guess.  My bad.

YTMS: You don’t have any advice on which software to use, or anything like that?

YC: No, I say if you’re comfortable using Garageband, use it.  It does the job.  If you like ProTools, use that.  I think what’s important here is that if you have some music you want to record, don’t wait til you have money, just record it.  If you’re feelin’ it, so to speak, just do it!

YTMS: But some would say that it’s better to get a really professional sounding track so that you can use it to get gigs, or maybe even get signed.  Don’t you care about that?

YC: Haha, not really.  But that’s me.  I just don’t care about any of that.  I record things because I want to, not because I’m trying to impress someone.  I’m just trying to get my ideas out, and sort of please myself I guess.  I don’t care that much about what others think.

YTMS: Well then why release it at all if you don’t care.  You obviously care to an extent.

YC: I mean, it would be nice if people liked my music but my ego isn’t so big that I just need people’s validation all the time.  I’m not making this music so you can tell me it’s good.  I like it, and I feel like it’s good, and that’s good enough basically.  I also know this music is not for everyone, and I’m probably not going to be famous from it.  I don’t really care.  I just like recording songs, and putting them in playlists, and showing them to people sometimes if they do care.  It’s like art – you just kind of feel compelled to do it and get a kick out of it. 

YTMS: Ok, well do you think your recordings are good enough to show to someone in the music business who might want to sign you?  Like, what if we played them this song of yours, called One Third.  By the way, I’m going to add it to the article, just because why not?  But what if someone important heard it?

YC: You know, if that person is any good at their job, they can hear a good song a mile away.  I think this one sounds alright, by the way.  I think they all sound pretty decent.  Anyway, lots of bands record crappy versions of their songs and other people hear them and recognize that the song is good or that they’re talented, so I’m not too worried.  That said, yeah, I actually do think this album sounds pretty decent.  It could always sound better though.  Better equipment, better room, better this and that.  But whatever, it’s fine the way it is, I think.

YTMS: How much do you think this recording cost you, at the end of the day?

YC: Uhh.. hmm.. maybe $800?  I just wanted to pay Kyle something for helping me, but he wasn’t even that worried about it.  I just paid him a certain amount every time I dropped by.  Money wasn’t a big thing…

YTMS: Let’s talk about lyrics for a second.  Did you have any trouble coming up with lyrics for these songs?

YC: No, not really.  I never have trouble writing lyrics.  That said, I don’t know how good my lyrics are.  I just want something to sing, and I usually just come up with something on the spot, or quickly.

YTMS: For some people, writing the actual song is the hardest part.  Getting good songs for their albums.  Thinking about what will be the single.  That kind of thing.  What do you think about this?

YC: Like I said, most of these songs were written when I got to the studio to record them, or they were at least roughed out so I knew what I would do.  Things always change along the way.  Lyrics might change.  A drumbeat might change, or a guitar part might be added.  But I think that’s to be expected, as the recording process can be long, and you have time to dream up new stuff sometimes.  I’m not that strict, but I do have an idea where I am going with a song.  Like, I might really like a melody, and I will fight to keep it in there.  I don’t usually let something be the final take if I think it sounds bad.  Re-recording of stuff happens often.  Vocals, for instance.  Anything really…

YTMS: Did you use any apps on this recording?  Any new technology at all? 

YC: No, not at all.  I don’t use my phone to record.  My phone sucks.  But I did use it to instagram some bits here and there, for fun.  Like, if Kyle had bought some new effects pedals I would have put them to use because I like using special effects on songs.  It’s fun.

YTMS: Did you guys get along the whole time?

YC: Yeah, basically.  We kind of would just hang out sometimes, and get distracted.  But we got stuff done.  I don’t like to just be such a dictator that we can’t just shoot the sh*t, ya know?  As long as I felt like we were making progress, I was cool with that.  I will say though that for Man of Interest, Kyle said the song sucked when we started working on it, but I always had that song in my back pocket and loved it, but he was not impressed.

YTMS: He hated it?

YC: Yeah, he said it sucked.  By the end, it was his favourite song on there.  Go figure.

YTMS: You didn’t have any problems using your DAW during the process, ie. Cubase?

YC: Actually.. now that you mention it, Cubase was giving us problems, but I think it was more to do with the fact that his computer had some viruses or something.  Things sometimes just would not work.  We’d be sitting around, rebooting and stuff.  So kids, make sure you don’t use your computer filled with viruses to record your music.  At one point, we lost a bunch of stuff due to some malfunction, and we were freaking out.  Some songs just disappeared.  We eventually found them, but with Cubase, if you lose any folder or move something, you “lose” the whole song until your computer can find it again.  Scary stuff like that was happening.  That’s why I just wanted to get it done.

YTMS: A professional producer wouldn’t just lose your tracks, right?

YC: They better not!  I’ve had lots of mishaps in the recording studio, even working with more experienced people, like my buddy Jet Black.  His rig was immense and like old school analog, so that thing had even more problems, mainly cause it was old, and it had to load up onto this DAW that was a bit glitchy, and everything took a million years.  I’d rather just use new stuff, even though Jet’s stuff was analog, and tended to sound way better.  He had a total pro studio, that guy.  And the stuff he listened too, like Steely Dan and Jackson Browne, and other hi fi recordings with really great speakers.  There’s something to be said for getting a really good recording of your own song.  It’s thrilling.  You definitely lose something just slapping tracks together.

YTMS: Are you changing your story here a bit?  You’re saying go for the bigger budget studio experience?

YC: If you can afford it, why not try it?  I just couldn’t afford it, but I’m also good at getting the sound I want out of let’s say not the best instruments or other constraints.  You just have to have a vision for what you want, and you’ll get something like it in the end, if you try hard enough.

YTMS: The bottom line, I guess what you’re saying is, you can record a rock album at home, and it’s not a big deal.

YC: I mean you have to have certain skills.  Writing songs, knowing how to record them, and being able to play instruments.  It’s not that impossible though.  It can easily be done.  Some of my favourite recordings don’t sound that amazing in terms of production values.  I like something with a bit of character.

YTMS: Alright, thanks YC for your time, and we’ll post a link to your page at the bottom here.

YC: You bet!

young coconut youtube

Subscribe to Young Coconut’s Youtube channel here

Interview with Mastering Engineer Noah Mintz About Lacquer Channel’s Groovy Analog Gear

lacquer channel mastering noah mintz senior engineer

If you are a recording artist from in or around Toronto, Ontario, you probably have heard of a studio called Lacquer Channel Mastering, which is a 40-year-old world class audio mastering facility located in North York.

Today one of Fauxtown’s own recording artists, Young Coconut, got a chance to talk to one of Lacquer Channel’s senior mastering engineers – Noah Mintz.  If the name Noah Mintz sounds familiar in the world of Canadian music, that’s because Noah was once in a popular touring alt-rock band in the 1990’s called hHead.  Here’s a throwback to one of their music videos that saw rotation on MuchMusic back in the day.

Since the late ’90’s, Noah has been refining his skills as an sound engineer and has delved into the world of audio mastering, having now worked at Lacquer Channel Mastering for 20 years as of 2017.  He is now one of their senior engineers, and has worked on a ton of cool projects.

So, we wanted to chat with Noah about some of the sweet analog gear that Lacquer Channel Mastering has in use on the projects that he himself has personally overseen at the studio over the years. 

Without further delay, here is our chat with Noah Mintz.  If you’re a audio gear geek, we think you’ll dig this interview.


YC: I’ve got Noah Mintz of Toronto’s famous Lacquer Channel Mastering on the horn here.  Noah, how you doing today?

NM: Super awesome!

YC: Wow, good to hear!  Doing any mastering today at the studio?  What’s going on?

NM: I can’t really talk about projects I’m currently working on because they might not be annouced.  I can’t be the guy to do that as the artists wouldn’t be so happy.  It’s just not my art so I can’t announce it to the world.  That said, I’m working pretty much everyday.  I can, however, talk about work that has been released.

YC: Yeah, gotta keep projects in progress hush hush.  I get it!  But suffice it to say there’s work on the go.  I see there’s a crazy long list of things that have passed through the Lacquer Channel with various projects and such – albums, EP’s, stuff coming out on vinyl.

NM: Yes, we work on about 300-400 different projects a year.

YC: Busy times!  Sounds like about one project a day pretty much between you and the crew. 

NM: Well, there are a lot of us mastering engineers here.

YC: How many do you work on personally?

NM: I do about 4 days a week, so generally that means about 4 projects a week, give or take.  Some days are 12 hours long.

YC: Gotcha.  It sounds like your ears are working overtime as it must involve lots of listening and fine tuning.

NM: Lots of listening.  That’s what I mostly do, and also why it can take so long because I take lots of breaks to rest my ears.  Plus there’s all the admin work, which I’m doing now.

YC: Interesting work if you can get it, though!  Mind if i grill you on some of the studio’s gear for a bit?

NM: Sure, I love gear!  Most engineers do.

YC: It’s the tools of your trade as well.  Plus, I’m sure you’re fairly well versed in it by now.

NM: For sure.  My gear is my best friend at this point when it comes to my job.

YC: I was digging around, looking at the gear you have.  First off, I wanted to ask you about the Muth BAX EQ.  What can you tell me about that unit?  Best friend material right there?

NM:  It’s the protoype to the Dangerous BAX EQ, but it’s less flexible. It’s good – very wide, but I like wide.

YC: So I’m guessing the main draw of this machine it’s the “curves” it provides?

NM: Yes, BAX is like a home stereo EQ – just top and bottom, with no mid.

YC: No mid, eh?  Interesting.  Just treble and bass.

NM: Yep, just like a 70’s hi fi stereo.

YC:  How long have you guys been using the Muth BAX EQ?

NM: About a decade.  Our unit built it for us specifically, and then he (Muth) built the Dangerous one.

YC:  Do you have both?  Or even need both?

NM: Phil (the other engineer) has both. I just have the Muth.

YC:  Ah. Would you say it’s your go to, this Muth BAX EQ?

NM: Not really.  I think of it more as a finishing EQ. for when I need a little more or less bass. The Sontec Mes 430-B Mastering EQ is more the go-to EQ.

YC: Could you explain why a bit?

NM: It’s just a golden EQ. That’s why every ME want’s one, and they are $15,000 on eBay.  It just sounds so good and the ergonomics are awesome. Big knobs.

YC: Nice. So yours has been customized?

NM: Yes. The original op-amps have been swapped out for John Hall Amps. That’s pretty common.

YC: So it’s basically optimized then.

NM: I still have the original HS-1000’s, but these sounds better.  Just tighter and more focused.

YC: How many EQ’s would you say you would put to use during a particular project?  Your list of EQ’s is extensive.

NM: It’s not about EQ, but rather bands. I might use 3-4 bands, but over 2-3 EQ’s.  Each EQ sounds different.

YC: Newb question. What’s a band?

NM: Frequency Amplitude. So for example 1db at 4k on the Neve, -1db 250hz on the Sontec, 60hz shelf on the SPL.

YC: That makes sense.

NM: Each EQ generally has around 3-4 bands.

YC: Are all the EQ’s analog or do you employ any that are digital?

NM: Not hardware digital but lots of plug-ins. I have a HW digital compressor. The Weiss, for instance.

YC: Right, so you use a combination of things. This is all running through Protools?

NM: No, mastering engineers don’t generally use Protools. Well, maybe for playback, but never for editing. I use Magix Sequoia which is used in probably 70% of all the mastering studios.

YC: Ok, yeah I’m not up to speed on all this. Good to know!  I just thought that I saw that you guys use Protools in there somewhere.

NM: Yeah, we have it just in case a project is brought in with PT files.

YC: Right, that’s logical.  So, you guys have some pretty impressive compressors there as well, such as the Chandler Limited LTD-2.

NM: No longer. We need to update that on our site.

YC: It’s gone?

NM: Although it is an amazing unit, it’s just not flexible enough for modern mastering.  It’s too much of a one trick pony for me.

YC: So what do you turn to now?  I’m guessing the Manley Tube Vari-Mu?

NM: The Manely Vari-mu, the Dave Hill Titan, or the Weiss DS-1.  That’s pretty much it.

YC: Here’s a newb question for you.  How many compressors do you use for a single session?  Do you just pick one, or can you use more than one?

NM: Usually 0, but 1 if it needs it.

YC:  Oh really?

NM: You can use more than 1 if you want the sound of the tubes from the Manley

but most mixes are already compressed these days.

YC: Does anyone ever walk into The Lacquer Channel and actually say that they want a Manley tube sound?

NM: No, but they do mention wanting the sound of tubes and warmth.

YC: I wouldn’t assume that most artists who come in would necessarily know a lot about this gear.  Maybe I’m wrong, though.

NM:  Artists generally don’t.  Engineers do.  Artists tend to know about guitars and pedals unless they record too.

YC: So do many / any of the artists stick around with you while you’re mastering things?

NM: I’d say about 30% stick around.

YC: I see.  Why would they do that, just to listen?

NM: Yeah to be a part of the process.  They are more than welcome.

YC: You guys don’t mind?

NM: We love it.

YC: Can you explain to me briefly what the difference between mixing and mastering is?

NM: With mastering, I can’t control the levels of the instrumentation or vocals.

YC:  Right, so you’re not dealing with stems?  You just get one file.

NM: Yeah, usually just stereo .wav files which are pre-mixed and ready to go.

YC: Is it fair to say that a mastering job on a song or album can make or break it?

NM: For sure.  It’s mostly overall volume and that’s important how it’s done.

YC: That’s where albums get ruined.

NM: You got it.

YC: Can you think of any albums that you like musically that were mastered horribly?  I mean famous ones.

NM: Just the obvious ones from the 2000s. RHCP, Metallica, John Mayer.  All mastered too loud.

YC: Yeah I was gonna say Californication was supposedly was poorly mastered.

NM: It’s distorted

YC: And yet i think it’s on wax.

NM: I’m sure.

YC: I find all that kinda interesting but I digress.  Change of topic – how do you like the Maselec MPL-2 Peak & High Frequency Limiter?

NM: It’s really just a tool. Not a creative device. I could do without it but when I need it, nothing else works.

YC: It’s for de-essing?

NM: Yes and taming the overal high-end.

YC: I would guess sometimes you get a project that really needs it.

NM: Yeah, something that’s too bright and EQ isn’t working.

YC: What speakers are you using now?

NM: Kranis, custom made.  A company in Toronto made them.

YC: So the point of speakers being that they’re honest. I would assume that’s kind of the point of a good set of speakers for mastering.

NM: I would say so. I think mine are.

YC: Any other pieces of gear you can mention that you’re into these days?  You guys have a lot of stuff – none of which I can ever probably hope to own.

NM: I have this new piece. Sonic Farm Creamliner III from Vancouver.  It’s a tube line-amp that just puts the signal through tube.

YC: I like the name.

NM:  You can own anything. You just have to sacrifice other parts of your life. I drive a 16 year old car.

YC: I have friends that make such sacrifices!  So wrapping up here Noah, do you have any gear that is on the horizon for the studio or for you personally?

NM: Not really. I just bought a Townsend LS22 Sphere Microphone but that’s just for personal use.  I bought that instead of groceries for a month.  Food is over rated.

YC: If you insist!  Thanks for the chat Noah, it was informative!

NM: No problem.

/chat

Visit Lacquer Channel Mastering online

Here are some musical recommendations straight from Noah that you should check out if you get the chance.

Visit Terra Lightfoot’s website

Visit Dralms website

Visit Brendan Canning’s website

Should I Make An Album or EP? The Pros and Cons of Each

When it comes to releasing music, musicians (especially new ones) occasionally face the difficult choice of whether to put out an EP or a full length album.

In case you’re not familiar with these terms, an EP (Extended Play album) is usually a compilation of around 4 to 6 songs released mostly for promotional purposes, especially in the case of a new artist.  An example of an EP would be Come On Pilgrim by the Pixies.

come on pilgrim ep pixies

In contrast, an LP (Long Player) or full length album normally constitutes 10 plus songs.  I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of them.  Walk into a music store and most stuff on the rack is an LP.  Here’s a famous LP – Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

should i make an ep or lp?

LP vs EP

Most bands and musicians tend to release LP’s, to satisfy the demand of music-hungry fans or to show people they are capable of being a true artist.  Or, they produce singles, which feature one song (A-Side) and maybe a B-Side.  Or – they do an EP, which you can think of as a mini album.

The digital age has changed the game quite a bit, as some people have said the LP is dead, and with it all manufactured physical media, such as vinyl, and EPs.  However, vinyl is making a comeback, and the compact disc is not dead yet, as in LPs and EPs.

pavement watery domestic

So this begs the question for recording artists – why make an EP or album in the first place? Let’s look at the pros of both.

The EP (Extended Play) – Pros and Cons

  • Can be the perfect solution for an artist who wants to release more than just one single but is not in a position to create a full album (budget friendly).
  • Is a great way to release songs that were created but did not fit the theme or style of an album.
  • Is a great tool for a new artist to gain recognition and build a fan base.

Here’s an EP you may or may not know, called the Tigerbomb EP by the band Guided By Voices.

Art Vs. Commerce

Now the thing about this EP is that it plays like a mini album, and even the lead off song, “My Valuable Hunting Knife”, isn’t even the same version you find on the LP it’s pulled from, that being Alien Lanes.  From there, you get another song, Game of Pricks, which isn’t the same as the album version either, followed by four more songs that aren’t on the album.  

So, what we have here is a work of art that stands on it’s own.  For fans of the band, this has the effect of making the album richer, because it’s like taking a detour from the album they already know to explore some different avenues (or lanes, as it were).  You might say it’s for hardcore fans only, but it has another purpose, which is to offer more content to anyone who might take an interest in the band.

 

record-vinyl-microgrooves01-1500-8b2e708f451a13551c070c62005a3b65LP’s 

So what are the reasons for making an LP, which, I must say again, is the standard out there, vs. an EP, which has the benefit of being cost effective and doesn’t require as much of a listener’s attention.

  • The revenue could be huge if the album sales take off – LP’s are priced higher than EP’s.
  • An artist is perceived as “established” if they have an album in their portfolio.
  • An LP allows musicians to fully explore a sound or concept, and this is why LP’s sometimes end up being “concept albums”.

Let’s take a look at an LP called Inspiration Information by a musician named Shuggie Otis, and maybe you can see why he needed to record this many songs and present them in this way, rather than truncate the listening experience.

Now let’s look at each option in detail.

The LP or Full Length Long Playing Record – Pros and Cons 

The full length long player record is the sought-after prize amongst new artists because, well, who doesn’t love albums?  Most music fans are of the “give me more” variety, when it comes to their favourite artists, although some industry folks have been saying the album is “dead”, as I said.  

Part of the reason for this, but not the entire reason, is that an album is expensive to buy for a fan. It costs more than a single or EP on iTunes, but you can easily argue that this is for good reason, as it offers much more than one song, or even a handful of tunes.  It offers an entire listening experience.  

Still, LP’s are costly to make for the artist, and costly to buy for the fan.

the stuff that dreams are made of

Hypothetical #1 – You Have Your Own Studio

If you’re a producer, the cost of making an album will be significantly reduced as you already have a studio.  Even if you’re a musician who’s acting like a producer, you’re significantly reducing costs.  With a home studio, the only money you’ll spend will be in hiring a mixing/mastering engineer and that’s only if you’re not good enough to carry out these tasks yourself.  

home recording studio

Many amateur recording artists take it upon themselves to tackle mixing and mastering anyway. My overall point is, the main cost of an album is studio time, and if you have everything you need at your fingertips, then maybe an LP isn’t too wild of a proposition.  An EP would be even easier, if you are all set to record.  

The Time Factor and ROI

Obviously, money isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to making an album. Time is another important resource exploited when crafting your LP. Most albums take, on average, a year to create.

It would be such a waste if you spent the better part of a year recording your album only for it to flop in the end.  Whether it flops or not is a whole other conversation, and I hate to bring up the possibility that it might.  But say you make an album over the course of a year, have your album manufactured, and then…silence.  The customers are not lining up to buy your $20 album that you’ve priced as such to make some of your money back.  Reality slaps you in the face ,and you will have wasted a lot of time and money, and you’ll have a bunch of cds or vinyl sitting there that will take you a while to sell to people.

cds printed and manufactured

Ok, You’re A Big Deal…Now What?

If, on the other hand, your album is successful, you will earn a lot of cash and score hundreds of new fans – but that comes at a price. The general public doesn’t really understand the amount of time, money and preparation that goes into an LP. And people forget easily. One month your album is the sh**, and the next they move on to something fresh. When the dust finally settles, your newly found fans will be pressuring you for new material and when you don’t provide it soon, you will slowly fade away.  So you have to keep on top of things.

But this rule only applies to new musicians. For instance, Calvin Harris just recently released a new album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, and even though fans have already heard it and moved on to other things, they know that they can expect good stuff from Mr. Harris and won’t forget about him so quickly.

EPs – Pros and Cons

At the moment EPs are once again gaining in popularity for various reasons. For new musicians, this is due, in part, to financial reasons. No one is going to listen to, let alone buy, 12 songs from an artist they know nothing about.  3-4 tracks would be enough to let the listener decide whether they are digging your vibe.

EDM producers prefer EPs mostly because it takes less time to create and this allows them to release new music more frequently. An EP is also a great way for an artist to experiment with a new style. They can create an EP that revolves around that style without getting a lot of blowback from the fans.

dyro artist

I remember Dyro once saying that he’d like to experiment more but the fans were not very welcoming to this and so he saw the EP as the perfect solution. He could create the music he wanted and then throw one track in there that fits the style the fans are used to. True to his word, his Set Me Free EP featured a variety of styles.

My Opinion

An EP it is!

Yup! I bet you thought I’d give you some “on the fence” advice and tell you to follow your heart, right? Nope! I am, in clear terms, telling you that if you’re an EDM artist and you wanna do more than just a single, an EP is the best option. Even if you’re not an EDM person, an EP is still I think the best way to go. An album will drain you (and your resources) completely if you’re not careful.

However, if you’re an established musician and you really feel like a full length album is your cup of tea, then go for it. Just plan, plan and plan! Is it worth it? Are you going to recoup the money you spend creating it? If the answer to these questions is no, then you need to reconsider. An Extended Play Album may just be what you need. 🙂

young coconut musician

Discussing the Differences Between Dynamic and Condenser Microphones

dynamic-vs-condenser-mics

Let’s discuss microphones for a moment. Specifically, what’s the difference between a condenser and a dynamic microphone?

First, here’s an example of a fine condenser microphone – a Rode NT2A.

rode nt2a condenser mic

This is a microphone that is good for doing most kinds of recording projects, not to mention any sort of podcasting or broadcasting tasks.  You can record almost any instrument with it, and it’s just a really solid mic of the condenser variety!

Then we have the Shure SM58 dynamic mic, which is a rough and rugged microphone that could probably survive being run over by a tractor (don’t try it though).

shure sm58 dynamic mic

The Shure SM58 can record instruments as well, but it is also a go-to live performance mic for many performers, including and especially rock performers.  

Of course, everyone is a fan of different mics by different manufacturers, and so these are just being used as examples for the sake of our comparison here.

Ok, so now you have a visual reference for each type of microphone, both condenser and dynamic.  So, what’s the difference?


Similarities Between Condenser and Dynamic Mics

First, what’s the same?  Both types of microphones have transducers that change the vibrations they encounter into energy that is recorded as electrical energy.  

That energy goes from an instrument, to the mic, along the chord, and into your computer or a mixing board.  

Microphones are designed a lot like speakers, actually, but a speaker is built almost like a microphone but it does the opposite job!

While some people believe that the main difference between condenser mics versus dynamic mics comes from the direction(s) of the sound being captured (eg. omnidirectional or unidirectional), but that isn’t the case.  

The main difference comes from the way in which the mic captures the sound and translates it into energy, not the way that the sound enters the microphone itself.


How Does A Dynamic Microphone Work?

A dynamic microphone has a diaphragm, coil, and magnet inside that will vibrate as sound waves hit it. The waves of sound hit the diaphragm first, which causes it to move. The voice coil or wire coil is what will generate the electrical signal within the magnet.

This simple construction of dynamic mics means that they have the ability to handle abuse from rough handling as well as high sound levels.  

A typical dynamic mic can be exposed to highs and lows in temperature without a serious impact on the mechanics inside.  I’ve tested this accidentally by leaving my dynamic mics in my car in the winter overnight and they still work!

The construction of these mics will often lead to cheaper microphones compared to condensers, but that will depend on the manufacturer more than anything else. Some dynamic mics are pricy, and rightly so.


How Does A Condenser Microphone Work?

A condenser microphone also has a diaphragm, but it’s attached to a sensitive capacitor that will capture the sound waves. These sound waves charge the capacitor, or condenser, and create an electrical field within the mic between the diaphragm and the backplate.

There has to be a way for the microphone to keep the electrical charge going, which is why condenser microphones need power to work correctly. The power can be provided by battery or phantom power.

The addition of all the electronics inside the microphone means that it can’t take abuse like a dynamic microphone can, generally speaking. There’s also a signal level that the condenser mic can’t exceed.

Condenser microphones are a bit more expensive than their dynamic counterparts, on the whole.  There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.

Here’s a video that explains the differences fairly well.  

Now it’s time to bust some myths regarding supposed differences between each microphone, and why one type of mic is said to be better than the other.


Dynamic Mics Can Take a Ton of Abuse

Dynamic microphones can certainly take a bit more abuse than condenser mics, but you can’t drop the mic and expect it to work well. It doesn’t matter what kind of mic you have. They can only handle so much damage before the mechanism inside is knocked out of alignment.

The mechanism inside the dynamic mic relies less on intricate electronic parts, so it can handle moisture and temperature changes better than a condenser microphone. Unless the manufacturer explicitly says that the mic you’ve purchased is practically invincible, don’t treat it as such!

Shure is one such company that makes claims that you can literally run over their dynamic mics and it’s no big deal.


Condenser Mics are Louder

There’s no microphone that is louder than another, whether it is a condenser or dynamic mic. That’s not the way microphones work. They have different sensitivities, not loudness.

Dynamic mics are able to capture louder sounds compared to a condenser. That’s why people like to scream into dynamic mics, or mic their drums and proceed to beat on them mercilessly.  

On the opposite side, the condenser will register low sounds. This is why they’re both used for different types of situations.

For instance, here is a video showing how to record drums with 4 mics, including both dynamic mics and condenser mics.  This is a strategy for getting the best sound possible, by knowing which mics pick up which sounds the best.


Dynamic Mics Can Do It All!

Dynamic mics have a reputation of being totally all-purpose, and manufacturers will say you can use them for anything and everything.  While it might be cheaper to purchase more than one dynamic microphone, the choice of which mic(s) you should purchase should depend more on what you need to record or amplify with the mic.

Evaluate the recording situation at hand and decide whether you should have all dynamic, all condenser, or a mixture of the two based on the instrument.

For voice overs, lectures, and other voice needs, you’ll have to do your research to find the best choice. It won’t always be based on price, and having a mic that can do every job adequately might not be as good as a mic that specifically does one thing excellently.


Condensers are More Expensive, Which Makes Them the Better Choice

This is a problem with many people. They’ll buy a product because it’s more expensive believing that alone makes it better. In fact, you should purchase the microphone, condenser or dynamic, based on the needs of the situation.

Many producers and audio engineers will research their purchases and land on something that will fit many situations while being within their budget.  At the same time, as with most things, you do generally get what you pay for.

Here is some wisdom by recording artist 2 Chainz, reacting to some of the world’s most expensive products.  Perhaps this will convey the lesson that just because it’s expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what you really need.


Conclusion

You’ve taken the first step towards deciding whether to purchase a condenser mic or a dynamic mic, which is to do your research. Take your budget into account as well as the environment and event, too.

The mic that you use for a concert will be different than the one used for a lecture. You can get some crossover from a good, quality mic, but you want the best one for the situation to get a fantastic recording.

For an outdoor event that has the chance to be extremely hot, cold, or damp, you want to use a dynamic microphone because they handle the environment better. For an element-controlled space like a studio or office, you can use a condenser microphone.

How to Record an Acoustic Guitar with a Dynamic Microphone

recording an acoustic guitar with a dynamic microphone

Today I’m going to discuss recording your acoustic guitar with a dynamic microphone. There’s a lot of things to consider, so let’s jump right in!

What is a Dynamic Microphone?

Good question to kick things off here.  Dynamic microphones are durable, all purpose mics that require no power source to operate. Most working musicians have at least one or two of them lying around any given studio, or jam hall.

roger daltrey sm58

While typical dynamics mic don’t capture the range of frequencies and sonic nuances of a high quality condenser mic, they can be great for a performance that has a lot of energy where you don’t want to hold back.  This is why dynamic mics appeal to certain types of artists – especially rockers.  They are simply designed to take more abuse, in general, than condenser mics.

Difference between Dynamic and Condenser Mics

Recording engineers will sometimes opt for using both a condenser mic and a dynamic mic at the same time for recording an instrument, since both mics have different properties and capture sound differently.  It’s worth knowing these differences, before you go out and buy any mics for the express purpose of recording.  

Here’s a graphic that shows some of the essential differences between dynamic mics and condenser mics, in case you’re wondering.

difference between dynamic and condenser microphones

Here is a video demonstrating the difference in sound between recording an acoustic guitar using three methods – condenser mic, dynamic mic, and direct in.  You can be the judge of what sounds best to you.

Don’t Record With A Damaged or Out of Tune Guitar

Before we get back to the actual miking situation, we must add quickly that you need to make sure your acoustic guitar is in good condition and properly tuned before you attempt to mic it for recording.  

That guitar you found in your basement with the slightly warped neck and strings that are like 1 inch off of the fretboard?  Don’t use that!  That guitar your friend smashed over your head at that party last week?  Don’t use that one either!

broken acoustic guitar

The guitar you plan to use probably won’t be as banged up as the one pictured above, but even if it is only slightly damaged, it could affect the sound of the recording in a big way.  

My suggestion is, before you record, take the time to really assess the quality of your guitar. If you don’t like the sound when you play it normally, don’t expect to like the sound of that same guitar once it has been recorded!

Omnidirectional or Cardioid Microphone?

Like many of the choices you’ll make with your dynamic microphone such as placement and amount of mics, you’ll need to decide whether you want a single pick up pattern or multiple.

With a single pattern, you’re getting sound directly into one side of the mic. It’s usually the one facing the guitar. This can be good for close mics that are retrieving sound from the guitar’s sound hole.

mic-diaphragm

The omnidirectional microphone pattern will pick up the room’s reverb and ambience when recording. You should use this when the microphone is at a slight distance, and you want to include the reverb of a room.

omnidirectional dynamic mic

There is a misconception that dynamic mics are all unidirectional in nature.  The thing is, they’re not.  Well, not necessarily.  Many dynamic mics happen to be unidirectional, yes, while some are omni-directional.  When purchasing a dynamic mic, look at the packaging and it will tell you if it is or is not.  

omnidirectional dynamic microphone

That said, in my experience, I haven’t found too many dynamic mics that let you toggle between uni or omni directional settings. With condenser mics, they often have a switch and it even has it pictured on the mic itself, like the picture of the Rode NT2A below.

rode nt2a close up

With dynamic mics, because they’re usually a bit cheaper, you don’t get any extra switches. It usually either is omnidirectional, or it isn’t (meaning it’s unidirectional).  So, if you want an omnidirectional dynamic microphone to use to record your guitar, be sure that’s what you’re buying.  

Mic Position and Placement

Ok, time to get down to business.  You’ve got your guitar, and you’ve got your dynamic mic and you’re ready to do some recording.  

Scenario #1 – Single Mic, Omnidirectional:

To start off, I’m going to assume you have only one mic do record with.  As I just mentioned, if your mic is omnidirectional, this will make a difference in sound from a unidirectional dynamic mic.  

If your dynamic mic is omnidirectional, you would do well to place your mic about 1 foot from your acoustic guitar’s sound hole, and slightly towards the fretboard, like this…

Single_Dynamic_Smaller

From this point, it’s just a matter of tweaking your input levels on your pre-amp, and checking to hear how things sound.  

Because the mic is omni, it will pick up not just the guitar sound, but the room sound as well.  Because you are back about a foot, you won’t get a super close mic’d sound, and there will be more air present in the recording than if you put the mic really close to the place you are strumming.

Hopefully, in this scenario, you get the best of both worlds, with some natural room ambience and some immediacy from the strings and the strumming.

Scenario #2 – Single Mic, Unidirectional

If your dynamic mic only captures one particular direction, then you’ll find this is a bit of a different situation from the last one.  Because you’re only getting sound from one side of the mic (the front), you’ll want to mic the guitar closer, at about 6 inches, and make sure you aim it precisely at the spot between where the sound hole meets the fretboard.  

This can be called “close miking”, because you’re starting to get in pretty close with the origin point of the sound, which can lead to unwanted feedback and distortion in your recording if you’re not careful.

close miking acoustic guitar

My recommendation would be to turn up your input (gain) to start on your pre-amp, and hear what kind of sound you’re getting.  Be prepared to turn your input back down if it’s sounding too intense. Look at your sound waves.  If they look too big, and sound distorted on playback, turn things down.

Pointing the mic where I just said is your best bet, because this is where you’re strumming, and also where the sound is projected from the guitar.  

Because this is the main source of the sound the guitar is making, and your mic only captures basically one sound, this is the angle you want to aim the mic.  You can point the mic slightly up at this point, or slightly down, so long as it is aimed at this particular place. You want the sound to go straight into the mic, not pass by it.    

Because I don’t know what kind of guitar you have, or how hard you play, or whether your pick is thick or thin, the sound is going to vary, but this is a good place to start!

Scenario #3 – Two Mics, Unidirectional

Hey, now we’re talking!  The previous scenario was a bit tougher, because you only had one mic that picks up sound only one way to work with.  In this scenario, you have the benefit of two mics, but both of them are still unidirectional, so you need to be strategic as to where you aim them.  

The thing is, there are literally dozens of options as to where you can point these two mics. I can’t list them all, as there are just too many to choose from.  So, what I can do is tell you what I do when I have to unidirectional dynamic mics for recording acoustic guitar.  

I would, first, back the mics up about 6-8 inches from the guitar.  Then I could aim one at the sound hole where I was aiming before, to get the majority of the frequencies coming out of the hole. Then I’d point one mic at the strings a little higher up the neck, where you’ll get a more ambient sound.  Here’s a picture of what I mean.  

two dynamic mics recording acoustic guitar

Basically, with unidirectional mics, you are sonically gathering information that you will piece together to make a complete picture of the same sound that an omnidirectional microphone can do all at once.  

It might seem like an omnidirectional mic would be better, but, think of it this way – with unidirectional mics, you get to be more creative, and even more “mysterious” as you capture sounds from different and interesting angles.  

Remember, dynamic mics are usually a bit less sensitive than condensers, so you can move them in a bit closer and not have to worry about them feeding back or causing distortion unless the gain on your input is up too high.  

Guitar + Vocals?

If your plan is to record yourself singing and playing the guitar at once, this will require a unique miking situation.

If we assume both mics are unidirectional, we can take a cue from our 3rd scenario from above and start by miking our guitar about 6-8 inches away, pointing at that spot between the sound hole and the fretboard.  

For your vocals, you’ll want to set up the stand so the dynamic mic is right up in your face, so you can practically taste it.  Take a look at the picture below for a moment.

recording acoustic guitar with 2 mics

You see, this guy is using condenser mics to record himself, so it’s not quite the same as using dynamic mics, but his mic positioning is similar, so I’m showing you this picture.  

The main difference here is that you don’t need a spit guard to cover your mic, because, if you’re using a dynamic mic, they are generally designed with that durable mesh, which is why you can yell into them in the first place.  So, no need for that.  Aside from that detail, keep the configuration about the same, but just move in closer to the mic.  

Conclusion

Hopefully, this will get you asking the right questions as you shop for your microphone to make your recordings come alive. If you have questions or want to share your recording, leave a comment. It’s always great to connect with other musicians and hear how you’re contributing your own style to the music scene.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with these four basic questions that you might want to consider before you get to recording, if you haven’t run off to record already!  

  • How loud will the guitar be and will there be loud singing on the recording?
  • What kind of room will the playing and recording take place?
  • Will you be using a pick or strumming with your fingers?
  • What kind of wood, soundboard, and bridge will be used for this guitar?

young coconut musician