The Most Famous Music Videos Featuring Puppets

weezer muppet

There sometimes comes a point in a musician or bands’ musical career where they (or their management) get the crazy notion to produce a music video that involves some form of puppetry.

elton john and ms piggy

By puppetry, I don’t mean that the artist themselves decides to take up puppeteering – oh no of course not – rather, they usually “drop” a video that prominently features puppets, or, as it were, marionettes.  Presumably, the desired effect here is a resounding WOW!

Indeed, this is the type of career move that neither a fan or casual music listener of said artist can ever be fully prepared for, with the effect of such as manoeuvre generally eliciting a variety of reactions – from hilarity to eye-rolling, to sheer wonder and amazement, depending on who is watching and their level of self-seriousness.

One thing that associating (or in some cases becoming) puppets does for a musician, good or bad, is that it generally does not go unnoticed by the public.

phil collins puppet

Reasons for making a music video featuring puppets are numerous – whether it’s a band who is generally seen as serious who would like people to know they have a sense of humour, to an artists’ Hail Mary attempt to get attention from the world that has ignored them for so long, to simply desiring to produce something different and creative, the impetus behind unleashing puppets on an unsuspecting fanbase is a desire that has long burned with unmatched brilliance in the hearts of entertainers around the world since the invention of the music video itself.

As a fan, you sometimes have to ponder what is behind such a decision, as the results of puppetry in music videos isn’t always 100% well received in the same way Jar Jar Binks and The Phantom Menace can, at their mere mention, lead to the overturning of tables and the sudden negation of civility and the disintegration of lifelong friendships.

jar-jar-obi-wan-feature

Consider that recording artists, who are usually fairly eccentric to begin with, when combined with the unmitigated zaniness and creativity of puppets, tend to make a lasting impression one way or another.  It is, logically, a decision that any recording artist of note will one day have to wrestle with themselves in their heart of hearts.

Hence, today, I want to present to you some of the most famous music videos featuring puppets, since these are videos which, once you see, you cannot un-see, such is the magnitude of sheer creativity in some of these videos, matched only by the level of ridiculousness at times.  Enjoy!


Elton John – Crocodile Rock

If any one musical artist makes sense to be surrounded by puppets, whether it be for a music video shoot or just in every day life, it’s Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known as Elton John!

Here is perhaps the most famous of all Muppet Show musical appearances, with Elton singing his signature song, Crocodile Rock, complete with Animal on drums and singing crocs.

The idea of a campy rocker such as Elton John and the wacky Muppets seem to go together here just like PB & J, making what is essentially a whole lot of unnatural things seem rather expected and totally believable.  I’d almost expect every Elton performance to look something like this.  As fate would have it, he would eventually enter the world of animation, bolstering his mega-stardom even that much more via The Lion King.

In terms of this appearance with the Muppets being a potentially risky career move, there was essentially no risk at all of Elton coming off looking ridiculous, as his inner weirdness has been fairly “out there” for his entire career.  If anything, the Muppets were risking their reputation being seen with him.

Not only that, but Elton John has sort of earned a name for himself doing just about anything and everything, playing for crowds huge and small, and, if you’ve ever seen the biopic Rocketman, or are aware of his history with drugs, this appearance on the Muppet Show was probably one of the more mundane things that he experienced on that specific day.

Visit Elton John’s website here

Visit Jim Henson’s website here


Coldplay – Life In Technicolorr ii

Like U2 before them, Coldplay has garnered a reputation over the years as a fairly earnest band, who sings songs with universal themes for the Everyman, meaning no harm to anyone and preaching nothing but unity in their songs about Life and encouraging people to look to the night sky to see yellow stars.

As competent musically as they clearly are, they have been criticized by their detractors as being fairly self-serious and a little boring at times.  You don’t say…

Enter – Coldplay as puppets.  As mentioned in the intro to this article, there is the idea that a band, aware that they are considered decidedly un-funny by the press and a certain segment of the population, can re-present themselves in a new way to people, showing that yes, they too, like to have a laugh once in a while, displaying to all that they’re not really rich rock stars, but just regular guys.  Yes, that’s right, if by “regular guys” at a pub you are referring to a puppet show spectacular guaranteed to flip your wig right off your head!

This video for Life In Technicolor ii does seem to show, at least to me, that it is possible to have puppets in a music video and have them not be totally ludicrous.  As much as Coldplay plays the “we can be funny too” card here, I don’t find this video to be that funny (or even funny period), although I will say it’s creative and enjoyable even to a sullen whelp like me.

As a puppet video, I think they’ve managed to do the token puppet music video genre some justice, inserting just the right amount of silliness into the video concept, never reaching that career-compromising tipping point.  Bravo!


Mastodon – Deathbound

In terms of clichés, the appearance of puppets in an artist’s music video tends to indicate a desire to make things more fun, or campy, or both.  Perhaps have your band appeal to a new audience of doe-eyed youngsters via a playful charade featuring bobbing, laughing human and animal facsimiles.

But there is another road that may be taken… and that road sometimes points to emphasizing the inherent strange-ness of puppets, resulting in results which may be seen as somewhat “trippy”.  Rarely, however, does an artist employ the use of puppets only to massacre them all.  Such was the prerogative of the band Mastodon, who clearly has had it in for puppets since they were small puppet sized beings themselves.

That said, if you know the band Mastodon, and their style of music that they play being heavy and doom-y as it is, you probably weren’t expecting to see this video when it came out.  Heavy bands like this don’t usually go full puppet-fest.  The above video definitely draws a line in the sand when it comes to puppets, and suggests something to the effect of, the only good puppet is a dead puppet.  Harsh message!

This video even goes as far as to destroy an entire puppet society, complete with puppets that resemble Fraggles, Muppets, and even hardworking Doozers!  Yes, I did even notice that eclipse in the background – ominous.  This is a very artistic video with very strong views, and amazingly it manages to embody the insanity of what would really happen in a puppet society if they were stricken mad, and attacked by larger, more violent puppets bent on destruction.  Clearly there was never any chance of escape.

Visit the Mastodon website here


Genesis – Land of Confusion

Land of Confusion by Genesis is another one of those examples where we have a band that was normally (up until a point) taken quite seriously by their fans and the general music listening public, but then they come out with this.

There’s a few things about “this” to note.  One is that, if you, like me, have grown up listening to the music of Phil Collins through the ’80’s, and sort of getting a sense of who he is, then this video appearing on the scene back when it did is far less surprising.  It may have taken aback Genesis fans back when it came out, but actually, likely not as Phil had been cranking up the cheese over the previous several years with his solo work.  Would the man that wrote “Sussudio” turn himself into a puppet?  You’re darn right he would!

But “Land of Confusion” is more than just “band turns into weird puppet likenesses of themselves for comedic effect”.  Back in the ’80’s, there was a show called Spitting Image, which was British satirical TV show, which had a very specific style of puppetry on display here in this Genesis video.

For many fans, Genesis wasn’t what they once were when they were fronted by Peter Gabriel.  By the mid-80’s, some might say they were just another vehicle for Phil Collins, who, although he is a fantastic musician, also took what people liked about Genesis converted it into his kind of corny dad humour, typified by the Spitting Image puppets.  On the other hand, many would defend Phil and saw the video for Land of Confusion as a landmark ’80’s music video that was just perfect for that era, in large part thanks to the puppets.  What do you think?

Visit genesisfan.net


Alice Cooper – School’s Out

When Alice Cooper was really a household name back in the 1970’s, whose persona rankled the establishment, this song was actually a symbol of his menace to the more reserved families around the United States.  Can you imagine?

Why would this be?  Well, just maybe he represented several things that members of the uptight establishment didn’t approve of – namely, the implication that being in school in some way isn’t good, and the scandalous idea of actually blowing it up (BOOM!).

That I know of, no schools were demolished as a result of this song, and to any reasonable person it is to be taken in good fun, but it must have been a thorn in some parents’ sides at the time just based on how much of an anti-school sentiment it carried.  Whether you are pro or against this song basically depends on how much you yourself enjoy school.  And, as people eventually came to understand over the years, Alice himself is a very educated and erudite man of the world, hehe. (cue clip).

The decision to pair up Alice Cooper with Jim Henson’s Monster Muppet Players must have been interesting at the time, since this combination would have simultaneously made Alice Cooper seem more kid-friendly, while making the normally “PG” muppets seem more “AA”.  In any event, the above video shows a side of Alice Cooper that, prior to his appearance here with the muppets, many people may not have expected him to have – a certain playfulness.

Visit Alice Cooper’s website here

Visit the Jim Henson Company’s website here


Lily Allen – Alfie

Just think, Lily Allen’s real life brother Alfie had this song written about him because he was such a little stoner slacker, and these days he’s been nominated for an Emmy for portraying Theon Greyjoy in the hit series Game of Thrones.  What a turnaround this guy has had!

But, back in those days, when he was the subject of a criticism by his own sister in the song “Alfie”, Lily decided (or someone decided) to portray young Alfie as a delinquent puppet, which then amazingly went on to become the hit that it was.

Lily Allen has done something here which we have yet to mention specifically, although everyone on this list so far has done it more or less, which is the subtle art of the main protagonist of the video not reacting to the fact that there is a puppet in their midst, and treating that totally obvious puppet like he / she / it is a normal person.

The result of this tactic has what must be the desired effect, which is to make the video, which has the gonadulars to parade a sloppily dressed puppet around doing trashy things, seem very cute and quaint by comparison to the perfectly coiffed star of the video.  This is actually a great lesson in both acting and video production for all you young aspiring music video makers out there, which is to learn the age old trick of not breaking that fourth wall.

Overall, the employment of puppetry here is top notch, and by not reacting in any way whatsoever to the atrocious appearance of the puppet with its red eyelids, horse teeth, and suburban lowlife hoody, Lily Allen has entered herself into the pantheon of music videos containing a puppet, and managing to co-exist with it happily on screen.

Visit Lily Allen’s website here


Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo

When it comes to music videos, everyone knows there’s a certain alchemy that makes it a “hit”, but it can be hard for musicians or their creative team to know what that might be, or else there would be no such thing as bad music videos.

Back in the year before Y2K, a little English rock band known as Supergrass put out a song that would definitely try its best to become a “hit”, using all manner of methods that the band could muster, including using elements of puppetry.

This song, “Pumping On Your Stereo”, definitely was delivered with a certain wink and wolf-whistle charm, as it went for the trifecta, I believe, of hit song qualities.

First, it delivered a video that basically no one had ever seen anything like.  Yes, there had been weird music videos throughout the previous decade of the 1980’s, and the 1990’s too had their share of one-hit wonder type videos, but simply visually, this video really is uniquely wacky.

Second, the song itself is very very hook-y, to the point where love it or hate it, you’re going to be humming it soon after hearing it.  It uses the Rolling Stones proven recipe of banging out some chords and having a young upstart sneer his way throughout what essentially could be a jingle for just about any product ever made.  Hard to resist!

Thirdly, and most significantly maybe, Supergrass did the ol’ “we’re pretending to say pumping but really we’re saying humping hahaha!” trick, which makes the song not only catch, but slightly more offensive than it has to be, in order to give it that certain “cool kid” snarky vibe that it has.

At the end of the day, it’s really hard to say what makes this song and video so irritatingly catchy.  Is it the chords, is it the words, is it the very freaky puppet stuff?  Is it all three?  All I know is that I don’t know what to think of this, but I had to put it on the list.

Visit the Supergrass website here


Weezer – Keep Fishin’

We come at last to none other than Weezer.  Why are they here?  Well, by now they’ve tried all sorts of gimmicks for their videos, and so it wasn’t a real shocker to probably anyone with eyes and ears that Weezer, the band that needed the love of fandom more than any other band has needed love before, came out with a video featuring none other than the Muppets.  Like, legit.  It’s the Muppets and Weezer.  Whoa.

By the time 2009 rolled around, it seemed almost as if that appearing with Muppets was a rite of passage for a band or artist.  As in, you haven’t really made it unless the actual Muppets are your friends.  Symbolically, it’s a sign that you are now truly a part of popular culture, even if you crammed yourself in there the same way a fat guy puts on jeans that don’t fit him.

Since we are more than a decade past this video now, we can clearly see that since the very beginning, the kind of band that Weezer is is the kind of band that would want to be around Muppets, Weird Al, the Fonz, and Tokyo drift motorcyclists, preferably all at the same time.  Some might even say that they have no shame (that would be me saying that).  Only maybe the Foo Fighters manage to self deprecate themselves with humour and deflate the whole rock star schtick while simultaneously and fairly obviously trying to embrace it.

All of that said, it’s really quite easy to forgive Weezer for any sort of perceived crimes against music they have committed, especially considering the level at which they rock has never really gone beyond just jamming out for their fans.  The fact that Weezer at one point jammed out with the Muppets, while it doesn’t really tickle my pickle, is something that any $2 psychic could have predicted back in ’94 when the Buddy Holly was on MTV every 10 minutes.  Did I mention I actually don’t mind Weezer?

Visit Weezer’s website


Well, we did it, friends…we made it through some of the most famous puppet-centric music videos of all time.  Did I miss any videos that you are aware of that feature puppets?  What did you think of these videos?  Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist trying to make my own puppet-y video, with the help of the team over at Broadcast King.  Let me know if I should be in the Hall of Fame, or the Hall of SHAME!?

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How to Write a Good Song – A Complete Guide for Beginners

Here we take the most common questions from across the web on how to write a good song, and let our resident musical expert, Young Coconut (Fauxtown Records co-owner), answer them for you.

young-coconut-fauxtown-records

Use the table of contents below, which is in alphabetical order, to navigate this post.  Have fun and good luck!


Ok, ready to start writing some awesome songs?  Then let’s get into the nitty gritty!


How do you write a song that sounds good on acoustic guitar?

how to write a good song for acoustic guitar

The obvious thing to say here would be that if you want your song to sound good on acoustic guitar, you should probably write it on an acoustic guitar.

You might have heard of the “campfire test”, which means that in order for a song to be good, the person playing it should be able to play it on an acoustic guitar around a campfire and the song still sounds great.

So, think about that when you write your song.  There’s no point writing a song on a piano or electric guitar, and hoping that it sounds good on an acoustic guitar.  Just write it on an acoustic guitar from the get-go.

The point of writing a song on acoustic guitar is that it has everything it needs with just the acoustic guitar and you, the person singing it. 

One tip I’ll throw in is that power chords sound cooler on electric guitar, because they can be distorted.  With an acoustic, it is better to use a lot of open chords, meaning non-power chords, and techniques that sound particularly good on acoustic guitar, like certain picking or strumming patterns. 

Not to say that power chords sound bad on an acoustic, but they don’t sound as lush as, say, “open” chords.

At the end of the day, once your song is written, you should be able to play it on an acoustic by yourself and think to yourself, “I’ve written me a good song”. 

In other words, it’s not missing some major riff that you might overdub in a recording, or that someone else might play.  You should be able to play it and sing it comfortably yourself.

One of the great examples of a classic acoustic guitar track is “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.  It’s just him and his guitar, and it’s a classic.

Ok, just getting warmed up here!  What’s next?


How to make your song the best song ever?

Wow, setting the bar quite high, aren’t we?  Ok, well if that’s your goal, I should probably stop you right here and say this: there is no “best” song ever to begin with.  Actually, yeah there is… I forgot about this one.

Yep, it’s called “Best Song Ever”, by One Direction.  

Besides that One Direction song, no one has ever agreed on what the “best” song ever is, and so how can you make yours better if there’s no agreement on that?

I guess what you need to do here is take your 5 favourite songs, and make sure that your song is better than all of them.  That’s a lot of pressure, so I hope you are ready for that. 

At the end of the day, however, if you think your song is the best song ever, out of all the songs ever written by anyone past or present, that’s really what matters here, isn’t it?

Personally, I think it’s a bit like thinking your baby is the cutest baby in the world.  It’s probably not, but you think it is so I’m not going to argue with you.  

Anyway, if you want to simply write a good song that’s really, really awesome, keep reading this article and you should get some good tips on how to make your song as high of quality as it can be!

For now, check your ego at the door!


How do you write a good break up song?

You might to need to tap in to some very sad and complicated emotions to write a good break up song, because break ups are usually really sad.  Hell, for some people, they’re thinking some dark thoughts after a break up.  Break ups can be devastating.

It might not be easy, but the song you get from doing this soul-searching might be well worth it. 

Usually, when it comes to break ups, someone has been betrayed, or let down, and they’re not happy about it.  Maybe that was you, if you’re the one writing the break-up song.  Maybe you NEED to write this song.

We can’t assume that your break-up song is going to come out all sad.  Maybe your break up song has more of a “I’m glad this person is gone” feeling, and so maybe it won’t be too sad, after all.

Something like “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor comes to mind as far as a song that’s a break up song but very hopeful and empowering, not so much wallowing in self-pity, as break up songs often do.

In any case, I recommend playing your chosen instrument, whether it be a guitar, piano, or what-have-you, and think about the break-up, and all of the emotions that go along with it.  In essence, you’re going to start feeling mad / sad or a combo of both.

This will come out in the music, and most likely the lyrics.  Anything you’re thinking, write it down.  Those intense thoughts about very specific things often make great lyrics for the song, so you might as well use them. 

If that person really royally screwed you over and betrayed you, you now have a chance to use it to make something great with it, that will help you and others.  It’s better than just letting those thoughts swim around in your head forever more.  That’s why I was saying, you possibly need to do this. 

My best break-up songs usually come to me when I’m in the mood to play music, but also thinking about a certain breakup. When that breakup is on my mind, that’s the best time to write.

Here’s an all time great break-up song to get you inspired – Careless Whisper by George Michael!

Dig that sax solo!  What’s next?


How do you make a song super catchy?

Catchy, huh?  You want catchy?  

There’s two ways to think about something being catchy, in my opinion.  You can either repeat something a lot, which is something a lot of people do now. 

Take “Pumped up Kicks” for example.

How many times do they repeat the same thing here?  Only about a billion times.  But you probably won’t forget it, will you?

I don’t prefer this method.  I think for something to be catchy, it has to be fairly unique, and memorable for a good reason, other than it being repeated 80 x. 

Whatever you do, don’t assume that just by repeating something, you’re making it catchy.  What you might be doing is making it annoying.  Catchiness happens whenever something is well constructed, musically.   And remember, any part of the entire song can be catchy.  Bass, for instance, has a way of catching people off guard because it’s on such a low frequency it’s almost subliminal sometimes.

Check this out.  Here’s Give it Away by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which has a super catchy bassline.

Now here’s the same song with bass isolated.  You can hear even better now how catchy just the bassline is.

Another thing to consider is that for something to be catchy to you, you have to first be interested in the genre of music as well.

For instance, if you like rap, you’re going to find rap hooks catchier (weird synths and drum loops) than country music hooks (slide guitars and harmonicas), or house music hooks (certain types of synths).  All genres have different types of hooks, is my point here.

The genre you are writing for is important to both you and the listener, so think in terms of the genre of the song you’re writing in, and who your listener might be.

If you listen to a lot of rap, think about what’s catchy in rap songs.  Maybe it’s some part of the beat, or a synth line.  It’s probably some lyrical hook. If the listener likes rap, they’re going to share the same appreciation for the types of hooks you’ll find in rap music. 

Check out some of the hooks in this song by Eric B. & Rakim.  I’m talkin’ lyrics, bass, drums – everything is basically a hook.

My advice is study the genre of music you are going to be writing in, and think about what other artists do that’s super catchy.  Then try to work that into your song. 

Then, most importantly, play your song for someone.  Someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth about what they think, but also someone who’s not a jerk that will admit it if they actually like it. 

Then, ask them if any part of the song stuck out to them.  If they say “oh, that super catchy part in the chorus, for sure!”  Then you’ve done your job, and written something catchy.


How do you write a song using chord progressions?

If you’re writing any kind of song, it’s going to have chords.  If you’re playing on piano, or guitar, the music that sits beneath your vocals are going to be the chords.

Chords are just playing more than one note at the same time, and almost every song ever written in the past 50 years that we consider popular is based on chords.  Every style of music is based on chords.  There’s no getting away from chords!

But then, there are different types of chord progressions as well.  First of all, you’re going to need to know some chords in order to write a song using chords.

My suggestion is to use the chords you know now to write a song, and if it has more than two chords, that’s considered a progression and that’s a good start. 

If you know 8 different chords, choose a few and put them in an order that sounds good to you, and to try write a song with it. 

If you’re one of those people who can come up with a melody without the chords first, then do that, and then try to find chords that fit with your melody after you write that melody. 

So, if you’re walking around humming a little melody, maybe record it so you don’t forget it, and then play around with some chords until that melody starts to sound right with those chords.

Or, if you have no melody, just come up with a pleasing progression of 2 or more chords, and then try to write around the chords.  Let the chords guide you, basically!


How to write a good chorus?

how to write a good chorus

If you ask me, writing a good chorus involves having a bit of a surprise.  If you’re listening to a song, and you’re getting into the verse, eventually you get tired of the verse and you want a change.  That’s when the chorus hits.

But sometimes, the chorus in some songs isn’t a very big payoff.  The listener has heard the intro (if there is one), and then the verse, and now the chorus comes along and it’s not that exciting.  

What can be wrong with a chorus?  It can be boring, for one thing.  I can be predictable, for another.  It can be less catchy than the verse, for another thing.  

A good chorus needs to be one of those moments the listener is like, “Wow, yippee!” when the chorus arrives.  Otherwise, it’s not really a chorus.  Some songs don’t have choruses, and that’s fine.  Some songs have pre-choruses, which get you prepared for the chorus, and get you hyped.  

This is why, if the chorus is stupid, or boring, people get mad.  They’ve been waiting for it.  It had better be good.  

Back in the old days, like say the 1950’s or 1960’s, songwriters were true craftspeople and could really craft an awesome chorus.  Most choruses explode and really catch you off guard for a moment when they change things up in the song.  

Here’s a big chorus from Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels”.  Notice how the song definitely experiences a welcome change once the chorus arrives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good epic chorus, but I also like a subtle chorus.  Take this song “No Return” by the Kinks.  One of my favorites, but the chorus doesn’t exactly “explode”.

Still, I think this song has a nice change up at the chorus, which I might add, is also quite short.  In fact, with this song, it’s hard to tell where you are in the song precisely.  The song just sort of drifts around, but you can figure out what’s going on if you examine it closer.  

My point here is this – it’s up to you if you want your chorus to really pop out at the listener, or be subtle.  Add a pre-chorus if you think the change is too sudden.

I should also mention, that choruses sometimes stay in the same key, or they change key.  Changing the key makes the change more obvious and sometimes highlights the chorus better. 

When I make a chorus, I’m mostly listening to whether I like the transition.  I don’t base it on musical theory, I base it on feeling.  That said often there is a musical relationship between the verse and the chorus, in that many of the same chords are used.  This, again, is up to you.  If you do use totally different chords between verse and chorus, you’re not going to be hauled off to jail.  Some music snobs might point it out to you, but you can tell them I told you it was fine.

Here’s one more chorus to examine.  It’s Bjork’s “Human Behaviour”.

For Human Behavior, the chorus just kind of drifts in mid-song, with a bunch of verse sections that hint at the chorus prior to that.  It’s an interesting arrangement, and her odd voice just makes it that much more unique.


How to make a song seem deep

If you are deep as a person, and a thinker, than your song is probably going to reflect that.  It’s hard to make a song with deep meaning if the writer of that song is not like that. 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a certain songwriter is a deep thinker, or…not.

Take this song, by the band Live, called “Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)”.  

To this day, I don’t really know what to make of Ed Kowalczyk.  Is he a guru, or just one of those pretentious types of musicians who likes to use big words sometimes.  In any case, I do like the band and I also like that song, so what can I say?  Tyranny of Tradition – sure, fine.

Anyway, if the true question is, “How do I make my song seem deep?”, because you know you’re not deep but maybe you’re trying to sound smart or impress someone, then get out the old thesaurus and try to come up with some words you don’t usually use.

Here’s a sample of some lyrics from the song, Cassandra Gemini I, by The Mars Volta.

“There was a frail syrup dripping off 
His lap danced lapel, punctuated by her 
Decrepit prowl she washed down the hatching 
Gizzard soft as a mane of needles 
His orifice icicles hemorrhaged 
By combing her torso to a pile 
Perspired the trophy shelves made room for his collapse 
She was a mink hand job in sarcophagus heels”

Now, I don’t want to call these lyrics pretentious, because they’re actually kind of cool, but you will notice more than a few strange words in this verse by The Mars Volta.  In their case, the musical is about equal to the lyrics in terms of weirdness, so at least they match.

If you are deciding to write deep lyrics, which these may or may not be, you’re going to have to start digging into the depths of your skull to pull out some “deeper” thoughts than maybe you’re used to thinking about.

It all comes back to why you’re trying to be deep in the first place.  If you are just interested in experimenting with songwriting, and trying to write some “deeper” lyrics for fun, then go ahead and have fun with it.  See what kind of revelatory insights you can conjure up.  

But, if your vocabulary lacks dynamism (see what I’m doing here?), then you should definitely start learning some new words and maybe even…gasp…reading a book by an actual philosopher or something.

You should be cautious, though.  You don’t want to end up like Lionel Richie, inventing a new language in his song “All Night Long”, which features the lyrics: 

“Tom bo li de say de moi ya, yeah, jambo jumbo
Way to parti’ o we goin’ oh, jambali
Tom bo li de say de moi ya, yeah, jumbo jumbo”

Which apparently he made up because he didn’t have time to learn how to speak in an African dialect.

Nice…


How to make a song super depressing

If you want to make a song sound depressing, make sure you throw in a lot of minor chords.  If you don’t know there are both major and minor chords, where major chords sounds happy and minor chords sound sad.

I doubt you’ll be able to write a depressing song without having at least 1 minor chord in it.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a happy song, if you just use major chords.

Also, you can make the song slower and that will make it sound more depressing, because then it just drags on and on.  Here’s a couple of examples of really depressing sounding songs.  The first is by a band from Quebec called Godspeed You Black Emperor.  Notice how long it is.

Wow, isn’t that song depressing?  It’s slow, it’s long, and it’s got nothing but minor chords.  Oh, another trick to make the song depressing is to call it something depressing.

Even though “East Hastings” has not much in the way of lyrics or voices, the title itself is about a depressing location in Vancouver, Canada.  Look it up.

Or how about this song by The Cure.  It also features minor chords and is rather slow and long.

In this case, the title is depressing because it’s about drowning and the lyrics are depressing as well. 

If you want to make a song depressing, add some moans or screams in the background.  That should help as well.

Leave a comment if you followed this advice and it worked.  Thanks!


How to make your song charged with lots of emotion

To be fair, all songs contain some emotion or another.  That said, there are songs which are clearly more “emotional” than others. 

If you’re trying to make your song more “emotional”, remember this – if you play your song and don’t feel very emotional about it, then no one else will, either.  It needs to make YOU feel strong emotions, and then other people can feel them too. 

It really depends on which emotion you’re going for.  Some people associate the word “emotional” with a song being epic, but not all emotions sound like this:

This song is indeed emotional, but it’s a bit over the top too.  You don’t have to do that in order to feel like your song is “emotional”.

Listen to this song by Nick Drake, and notice how it contains emotion, but it’s not the same as the Michael Bolton song.

This song has some nice chord changes, and a great melody, capturing a different type of emotion.

If you’re trying to make your song extremely romantic, for example, you need to perhaps add some different chords, other than the usual major or minor that 95% of songwriters use.  Something different to make it sound more exotic.  This means adding extra notes to your chords.  A major 7th, a major 2nd, and so on.

You can, of course, make a highly emotional song with just major and minor chords, and then it’s going to depend on things like the melody, the words, and exactly what the song is about. 

For instance, chances are if you write a song about your driveway, it’s not going to make you feel like crying. 

On the other hand, if you write a song about the time your mom got really sick, or the time something else really emotional happened like you fell in love, then the song will start to take on those emotions.  You literally have to put emotions into a song, from your soul. 

Emotions aren’t just about happy or sad all the time, either.  There’s also being angry, or fed up, or disgusted, or feeling helpless.  Try to think about the full range of emotions that you can tap into before writing a song.

For instance, take a listen to this song where the emotion is clearly more about anger than it is about love.

Bottom line – writing about boring things is not the way to go here.  Just keep in mind that you can keep working on a song until it is as emotional as you want it to be. 

If you think it’s boring, then it probably needs more work.  Change the topic, change the chords, change the rhythm, change the way you sing it – until you feel the emotions you want to feel.


How to make a song that comes from the heart

Ok, I have a theory about this.  Most people do things for money, right?  It’s all about the benjamins, isn’t it?  People write songs, and they do it sometimes (often times) because they want to be rich and famous.

Well…how about writing a song that isn’t motivated by money and power.  Just write a song that is about something you really believe in. 

Try to imagine yourself writing a song that is great, and stands for something, but you’ll never make a penny from.  Can you even think that way, or are you really actually doing it all so you can have people worship you like Jesus.

If your answer is, “Honestly, it’s not all about the power and glory, I’m just a fun-loving musician and my heart has yet to be corrupted by greedy and envy”, well then, sounds like you haven’t sold out just yet.  If you really mean whatever you’re saying, you’re going to write it regardless of the outcome (wealth vs. no wealth).

At the same time, it is possible for a song to be heartfelt and still rake in tons of cash because it happens to please the audience a whole lot. 

Seems a bit paradoxical, doesn’t it?  Such a humble song, but also such a mega blockbuster hit.  What are the chances?

I suppose some people are just able to write epic songs, and mean what they’re saying, from the bottom of their heart, and still get filthy rich.  It’s rare, though.

Ask yourself again – what is it you actually care about in life?  What is it that happened to you recently that means something to you, that you want to sing about?  That’s how you get in touch with your heart.

Sometimes it’s really hard to tell what’s genuine and what isn’t.  Take this song, for example.  Do you get the sense that this was written “from the heart”, as they say?  Or was it just an attempt to cash in by writing some generic power ballad.  Tell me what you think in the comments!

The point is, choose something you actually care about, that doesn’t relate to popularity or wealth, and make that your topic.  Things should flow from there.


How to write a hit song

This is an interesting question.  In fact, it’s the true “million dollar” question, because record execs now are even trying to use computers to figure this out, because the answer is worth money to them. 

To my understanding, I think that in order to write a “hit” song, and do so deliberately, you’ll need to take some notes on why other songs are hit songs.  From now, and from previous years, keeping in mind that the magic that makes a song a hit will depend on the genre as well.

What are some other characteristics of a hit?  Is it the length?  Is it the song structure?  Is it because they communicate about something that everyone can relate to. 

Here’s a hit song called “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, let’s take a listen.

For one thing, this song is about celebrating, and everyone likes to do that.  Everyone can relate to this song.  It’s got a simple concept – “Let’s celebrate!”

It’s not too long, and all the musical parts are interesting and catchy to the human ear.  It’s no wonder this song still gets played today, decades after it was written.  You’ll hear it at weddings and everywhere else.  Everybody loves this song, for the most part (there are always haters).

How about this song, “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande

Why is this song a hit?  If you ask me, there’s a few reasons.  One is that it’s catchy.  It’s got a catchy melody, guitar hook, vocal hook, and the music is all well-put together to make a good song that people can enjoy.

But that’s not all.  I think in this case that if you call a song “God is a Woman”, that is the kind of idea that people can get behind and agree with.  It would be similar to calling the song “Women are Awesome”.  People, both men and women, are going to hear that title and agree with it immediately. 

Also, in the music video, there’s some partial nudity, and people always like that.  Especially when the person who is partially nude is attractive.

Of course, this last point about nudity relates more to the video than the actual song.  Remember how I mentioned the campfire test earlier?  In other words, can this song be played around the campfire and people will still like it?  I think so, but someone would have to first learn it on acoustic guitar, because that’s not how it was made.

These are all things to consider when you’re trying to write a hit song.  Even just having a video can make or break a song these days, in terms of it being a hit.  No video, no hit these days. 

I also think that in order to write a hit, you might need to “sell out”, a little bit.  Not all hit songs are “sell out” songs, but a sell out song is basically just a song where you will make the song any which way, so it can be a hit.

This means you don’t really care about anything else, except the fact that other people have to like the song.  Lots of people.  Maybe even you won’t like the song, but by that point it won’t matter.

Do you really want to do that?  In terms of having a hit song, you might need to do that – ie. make a “hit” according to what record executives and fans want and then be its slave forever.  Or, you can try to make it a hit without listening to anyone else, which is considerably harder.  Take your pick!


How to write a good indie song

The thing about indie songs is that the production standards are usually lower than with non-indie songs, or mainstream songs, and that is generally what makes them indie.

Saying that you have an “indie” song usually means that the sound quality is going to be worse than usual, and so people expect that.

Poor sound quality on purpose is not the true meaning of indie, you should know.  True indie music means more to do with the people making the music not being connected to any “major labels”, or huge companies.  It has more to do with people working on their own, to produce something.

In any case, a good indie song is going to have the same standards that any good song will have.  The recording may be indie, but the song itself is just a song and so it has to be good.

Again, I’ll refer back to the campfire test, which means that you should be able to play the song with just an acoustic guitar and it should hold the same emotional weight as having all of the instruments playing it on the recording.

What I like about indie music is that there’s something cool and admirable about a person taking it upon themselves to write a song, and record it, and not wait around for the support of big record companies, to do so.

This means, their recording might be a bit scratchy, but you can tell the song is good anyway.

Here’s a good example of that – by Elliott Smith, called St. Ides Heaven.

You might be able to hear that the production values aren’t the same as your huge blockbuster songs you hear on the radio.  In fact, you’ll probably never hear this song on the radio, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good song.

If you read the rest of this article, you’ll get some more tips on how to write a generally good song, on its own, and from there, you can decide if you want it to be indie (aka lower budget) or not.


How to write a good instrumental song

I will be talking about melody down below, but the thing about instrumental music is that they still have melodies, just not sung by a person’s voice. 

This means that there’s nothing really different about an instrumental song from a regular song with vocals, because the melody in an instrumental song is in the place of where the vocals would be.

Some instrumental songs don’t even have melodies, but most do.  Here’s one by Aphex Twin that doesn’t have a typical melody, as most think of the term “melody”, called Grass.

Now, you could argue that this song does have a melody, and it actually does.  All of those “voices” which are synths in this song, are the melodies.  People are attracted to melodies and like to follow them with their ears, to see where they go.  This is partly why people enjoy music to begin with.

The melody of a song is like a lead instrument.  You could argue that “Grass” has no lead instruments, and so it has no main melody.  You could also argue that the synths that come in and out are the melodies here, although when you hear them, they are strange and faded. 

Whatever you think of that song, now listen to this song, “I’ve Got Rhythm” by George Gershwin.

Clearly this is a different type of song than Aphex Twin, and the main melodies are much more hummable and easier to follow.  They’re also much faster and more lively. 

Still, we are dealing with instrumental music here, and so melody must be considered, whether you make it a focal point, or try to avoid it.

Instrumental songs, like any song, should be engaging, and sometimes it can be harder to engage the listener without the lyrics to provide something to latch on to that can be easily understood.

Instrumental songs are by nature more abstract, because the only thing that tells you what the song is about is the title, and it may not reveal much.

In a way, the melodies of instrumental songs have to be better than in lyric-based music because the lyrics can keep the listeners’ attention even if the melody is substandard.  A genre like jazz is quite often dominated by instruments and no vocals, and that is just fine with jazz fans.

Some melodies are even so famous that people know what they are even without words, and that is a sign of a great melody.

With your instrumental song, make sure that it is engaging in every way, so that people listen to it from beginning to end.


How to write a good jingle song

A jingle is, in essence, something that is simple, catchy, and easy to remember.  Sometimes jingles can be slightly irritating, and sometimes this is done on purpose, because when something is annoying, it’s also memorable.

Here’s some famous 80’s jingles to get you in the jingle writing mood.

How do you want your jingle to be?  It will depend on the purpose of the jingle, but most jingles are made for the purposes of advertising, and so it would be wise to make the topic of the jingle about the product in question. 

The product gives the jingle automatic content for the lyrics, because you simply have to sing about the product and what it does and what it can or can’t do.

Here’s a jingle for the “Slinky” toy that came out in the 1960’s. 

There are a lot of words in this jingle, but it tries to talk about the Slinky, what it can do, and who should use it (or who apparently does already use it) – girls and boys, I mean.

Jingles can be shorter than that, and many of them are, as peoples’ attention spans now are shorter than ever.

These days there are less jingles and more of what I would call “tags”, which are super short, like the “I’m lovin’ it” McDonald’s commercial tag. 

To me, the difference between a jingle and “tag” is that a jingle elaborates on the product more than a tag, while a tag is just like a small sequence of words and notes to indicate a product’s presence.

Oh, and also, a lot of jingles are simply the tag I was mentioning, plus some talking.  So a jingle can actually be mostly talking, and then a quick jingle that takes 5 seconds, like this famous United Furniture Warehouse that many of us can remember from the 1990’s.

For your jingle, decide if you need it to be long or short, and if you want it to actually be annoying in some way on purpose, like the previous one most certainly was made to be.

Read the rest of this article for advice on how to write a good song, and simply apply those ideas to your jingle, and all will be well!


How to write a totally killer song

I love the idea of a “killer” song.  To me, this simply means that everything about the song has to be “killer”, or great.  Great beat, great lyrics, great singer, great everything.  Only then can the song be truly “killer”, in the sense that some people mean that word.

To write a killer song, you do need killer music.  It has to be awesome, basically.  How do you write something awesome?  Well, that’s a bit up in the air, but I will suggest that if you can play your riff to your friend and he or she says “ohhhhhhhh wooooow awwwwwesomeeeee!” and they seem blown away, then you’re on the right track.

Maybe something like this.

If no friends are available to get their off the cuff reaction to your riffs, then just write your song, piece by piece, and ask yourself, “Does this seem awesome enough?”  If it’s only so-so and not exactly awesome, then back to the drawing board.  Besides, it’s not your friends you really need to impress.. it’s yourself.

Think of it almost like you’re inventing something.  Something that the whole world will be amazed by.  That’s how good your guitar riff will need to be.  And if you can manage to do that, then make sure the drums are just as great.  And if that’s possible, make sure the bass doesn’t disappoint.

And then, you sure better not get some lame singer to sing the song.  They had better be amazing too.  Just like WOW!  They can sing with the best of the best! 

The thing is, some people who are musicians are actually quite good at writing “killer” riffs.  I know some of these people myself, and, sometimes, I can do it too.  I just have to dig deep and try to pull a rabbit out of my hat, musically speaking, and then I’ll say “Wow, that IS awesome!”

It can’t happen every single time, but if you try and try again, at some point, you’ll come up with some truly special music that could result in a “killer” track.

Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that your song just isn’t killer enough.  If someone is holding you back, don’t let them.  If it’s the singer, say “sorry!” and get someone better.  You won’t get a killer track any other way, trust me!


How to write a good Led Zeppelin style song

Oh boy.  You do realize that Led Zeppelin is one of the best hard rock bands ever, don’t you?  Their music is something that is worshipped and even sometimes mimicked in the rock world, by countless musicians, with the latest band to copy them being Greta Van Fleet.

So, if you want to try to write a Zeppelin style track, you can look to Greta Van Fleet if you want.  They do what they can to emulate the sound of Zeppelin, and this involves heavy rock riffage, and very Robert Plant-esque vocal techniques.

Personally, I don’t think that’s how you should do it though.  Forget the copycats, and go to the source.  Listen to how Zeppelin composes their music. 

If you didn’t know, they have tried a number of different studio techniques in order to achieve their unique sound. One of these would be to have Bonzo drum in a big open stairwell in some old house, to get that natural reverb that he has on some of his drum takes.

I think in order to write a good Led Zeppelin style song, without ripping off the band completely, you should try different things musically to see what you can achieve.

With Zeppelin, their riffs are legendary.  They have so many great riffs, in fact, that it would take time to name them all, so I won’t bother.  They’re all great, basically.  And so, if you try to emulate them, you’ll just fall short.

Case and point.

Guitar-wise, you’re going to need to come up with something pretty cool, that Jimmy Page would approve of, and it’s probably going to be heavy, and original sounding, and might involve weird tuning, and might involve more strings on your guitar, and might involve other odd instruments being used.

If I were to try to pull of something in the flavor of Zeppelin, I’d probably listen to some Zeppelin, and then try to write in that style, but being really careful to not rip off one of his many great riffs. 

I think the key here is keeping things heavy, but also being slightly experimental, and respecting Jimmy’s riffs. 

As such, try listening to Kashmir, and writing something along those lines, but make sure you’re not ripping it off.  Invite a Zeppelin fan who’s your friend over, and ask him point blank, “Am I ripping them off, or just being inspired by them?”  See what they say. 

But don’t do that until you’ve given yourself a chance to write something in that vein.  Then invite criticism.  Good luck!


How to write a song that’s not about love

Most songs seem like they’re about love.  And that’s true, most of them are.  It’s the biggest reason anyone writes a song, by far.

But there are lots of songs not about love.  There’s songs about everything you can imagine, from politics, other types of non-romantic human interactions, to pets, to this, to that, etc.

You could always argue that everything is about love, at the end of the day.  But that’s not the point here, I don’t think.  When you want to write NOT about love, you can do that.  Just pick a topic other than love.  It’s easy.

Here are some songs not about love that are good songs, and not about love.  Let’s start with Tupac’s Ambitionz az a Ridah. 

That song is about life on the streets, and being a rap star. 

Here’s one by Guided by Voices, a rock band from Ohio.  It’s called Motor Away, and it’s about, ostensibly, taking a road trip, I guess.

And there’s plenty more songs not about love where that came from.  Here’s one more about believing in yourself.

Ah, the ’80’s…


How to come up with a good title for a song

One thing that always seems to work for songs is to call the song the same as some lyrics in the very first line.  Many, many, many songwriters do it, and I’m a little tired of it, but it’s a common way to pick your song’s title.  Here’s an example of what I mean, featuring Queen’s “Bicycle Race”.

It’s not exactly what I was referring to, because they sing “bicycle, bicycle!”, not “bicycle race” as the first line in the song, but believe me, if you listen to any pop music anywhere, songs will often say the first word and have that be the title. 

Oh, here’s one…

This kind of thing happens all the time.  If you want to be a little less obvious, you can pick any lyric in your song and use that as the title. 

Besides using the first line, the most popular source for where the title of a song comes from is obviously the chorus.  Take this one…

Although, to be fair, she does sing the title in different parts of the song, but it is in the chorus too.

The point is, there are certainly no rules for where a title should come from.  You can even call the song something that’s not even in the song at all.

And finally…


How to write a song without an instrument

It is totally possible to write a song without an instrument, but you’re going to need an instrument of some kind eventually.

That is, of course, unless you’re planning on just making your song into something acapella, meaning just using your voice.

Let me tell you a story of how I wrote a song once without an instrument.  I was cutting this lady’s grass, and some words popped into my head.  I basically walked around, cutting the grass, and writing the words in my head for about 30 minutes. 

Once I had a lot of words in my head, that I kept going over and was able to remember them all, I went to my car and wrote all the words down.  At this point, there was no melody.  Just words and an idea.

Then, once I got to a guitar, I came up with a riff, but sort of thinking about those words.  In a short time, the words found a melody that went with the guitar riff I came up with.

Eventually, I showed it to my band at the time, and we had a song that we were able to play.  I still think it’s a good song! 

I also taught a student once that could sing the song they were trying to write, but didn’t have chords.  I think she dreamed the melody and the words, and sang it to me.  I liked it. 

That’s kind of what Paul McCartney did for Yesterday, and also how Keith Richards did Satisfaction.  They were both sleeping, and the songs came to them in their dreams.  Songs do that. 

It happened to me once too.  I remember having this melody in my head from this dream and I woke up, grabbed my guitar, and recorded the melody.  Guess what?  I still know the tune and like the song!  I recorded it! 

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!

Interview with JK Phil Osé of Fauxtown on the Music Biz and More!

Hey, YC here.  Today I sat down with JK Phil Osé, one of Fauxtown Record’s many talented musical artists, to talk about a number of things, starting with what got him into music in the first place, then moving into DIY recording of albums, and then moving on to a discussion the nature of the music business as it stands here in 2018. 

Because I know Phil personally, from our dual membership in both Try Hardz and Childebeast (not to mention McBain’s World), we accidentally break down the 4th wall so to speak (at first I play the part of the ignorant journalist – so much for that guise), and go into the inner workings of our own mysterious and colourful record label – Fauxtown Records, and how we can ever improve it beyond some of the fascism that exists out there today in order to reach the “free market” and continue to please our fans moving forward.  We also discuss musical accessibility, losing and regaining hope, and finding our niche.

You know folks, running an indie record label isn’t easy work, and it takes the cooperation of everyone involved in such a relatively small venture (compared to the big labels that are still operating out there) to do their part and keep the dream alive.  But what is that dream, at this point?  Is it making a living off your music, bringing fame and glory to our artists, or just sharing music with whoever will listen and appreciate it?  In any case, enjoy this interview with J.K. Phil Osé as we cover a variety of topics.

YC: Hey Phil, how’s your day going thus far?

JK: Hello Dave I’m pretty good.

YC: you’ve been busy making music for a while now.  when did it all start?

JK: It started when I was 17

YC: Take us back will ya?  What happened?

JK: Well…in regard to my shit?

YC: in regard to getting into music.. what sparked your interest and what kind of music were you interested in?

JK: Oh..yea it was a need to find some expression. I borrowed my sisters keyboard for a few months and started writing boring SOft experimental.  I was interested in punk as a youth, then hip hop and began to get into abstract music per-say into my twenties.

YC: So initially it was just a means of expression. What was going on at the time in your life that you needed to express via music?

JK: I’d say some familial troubles and personal addictions. And the complications that come from the traumas. Of both.

YC: So you say keys was your first instrument you kinda picked up?

JK: When I was 6 I learnt the C major scale, and some songs to go with it, then 8-9 years later I began experimenting with keyboards. In the interim was playing minimal bass guitar until I was 18. A little piano, a little bass, then at 18 a lot of guitar, bass and minimal piano/key boards.

YC: Did you have recording in mind, or performing, or both, or neither?

JK: I began recording right away. I never had a specific genre in mind and still don’t I play to the feeling of my hands. I simply express melodies, lyrics, and rhythms.

<interjection> – some music

YC: what’s your fav instrument at the moment to play?

JK: I enjoy the Classical guitar the most.

YC: nice…with regards to recording, what do you see the point of that being for you? obviously it is a form of expression, but beyond that, why do you do it?

JK: I see recording as a way of documenting my ideas to listen back refine, and share them with myself and anyone interested in listening.

YC: that sounds reasonable enough 🙂 how interested in the technical aspects of recording at you?  i mean, you do your recordings yourself quite often, so i’d assume at least somewhat interested… 😀

JK: I care but I don’t have the financial ease of spending tens of thousands of dollars on full LP’s… so as I get older the less I’ve cared about sound quality and begun to accept what I can produce. Which isn’t anything over the top.

YC: ya, gear is a costly thing that’s for certain…that said, what are you recording with now?

JK: I’m recording with a Rode microphone, an apogee one, and occasionally a friend who is quite talented at sounds engineering.

YC: oh ya who’s that?  is it Brennan Galley?  The Fiercemule himself??

JK: Yes Brennan Galley.

YC: now that guy has some serious gear for recording and knows how to wield it

JK: Yes, but I don’t rely on him.  I record on my own in much lower fidelity to continue getting ideas out there.

YC: a true indie artist to the end

JK: Maybe too independent.

YC: ya but you’re right you can’t rely too much on any one person

JK: You can only rely on yourself.

YC: Indeed brethren

JK: Everyone else is a helping hand whom you are also to them.

YC: it’s the nature of teamwork i guess…people helping each other makes the world go round…plus, recording and playing everything yourself all the time isn’t always fun in the long run.. it’s good to get out there, at least in front of a crowd or something…as opposed to just you on your couch or whatever

JK: I find my couch the most comfortable place to play.

YC: no denying that…certain furniture will facilitate a certain creative mood at times

JK: I’ve thought of Bringing my couch to shows.  Just so I can play in comfort.

YC: a novel idea if ever there was one…as an indie artist, what do you think of the whole marketing of yourself to reach fans?  do you believe in luck, or hard work?

JK: I believe in hard work. I believe the marketing aspect of it can be deceptive but necessary to reach enough people. I think people generally don’t want to accept new and progressive ideas because it means promoting it within their social circles which can be dangerous. I believe music needs to be attached to a culture for it to blossom. Maybe a marketing tactic would be to create a culture somewhere somehow.  But Yea that’s the hardest of work.

YC: would you be happy if your music was listened to by some new people who you don’t know, but you didn’t really get paid for it? or is the goal to make a wage off it selling the music?

JK: Good question. I’d say I wouldn’t care if no one else was making money of my ideas. If no one was then it would be cool but it’s inevitable if enough people would hear the music an artist would make money in some way. Off* Is it about money…money is an important aspect of life. I don’t want to compromise the artistry to attain money but I would prefer if people supported the ideas in a financial way. Then I could be more productive musically and artistically.

YC: are you aware of the idea of the “big rock n roll swindle”?

JK: No sir.

YC: its the idea from like the 70’s / 80’s /90’s where some big record label would pay a band a million bucks, and then that band would just like spend it all and run away or something. 

JK: No I didn’t hear about that.

YC: it’s sort of dates back to when major labels would hear about these hyped up bands and try to wine and dine them, and get them to sign their lives away in some crazy million dollar contract…which the bands, not being business people, would sign, with the fantasy of just spending all of “the man” ‘s money…it’s a fairly outdated model now, considering how it is nowadays…typically now it’s like.. you do it all yourself, and figure out every aspect of your business, and if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault…no one’s going to “invest” in you to sell records per se

JK: Yea I don’t think labels and bands believe to thoroughly in the CD anymore. It’s all about being on Spotify and good play and taking percentages. But YouTube is a great way to make money directly. Google Play*

YC: i think so long as you understand how the whole structure works, then that’s fine and good…but say with Youtube, there’s a lot of invisible rules and hidden politics going on that holds some people back and they may not understand why.

JK: Yea I’m not sure how it works on the fascist political side but fuck those who live in that way.  I wouldn’t hold back a shitty country music singer who sang terrible lyrics and generic chords just because I didn’t like their music.

YC: It’s about individual expression…well that and finding your fanbase…but the problem is that certain platforms aren’t going to help you find that fanbase.. they really have no obligation to though…

JK: The fan base must be created. How can you find something that doesn’t exist until you show them your stuff.

YC: the fan base i think does exist to an extent

JK: It will exist when they see you.

YC: like with your generic country artist, there are generic country fans..and they need to connect and then all is well

JK: True to the extent that you play within a genre.  If you are doing something all encompassing then I think that fanbase needs to be created.

YC: i believe that it’s like the law of attraction…certain people, if they heard you, would like you

but ya they have to hear you…and until they hear you, they are unaware of you basically

JK: Solid Perspective.

<interjection> – some music

YC: so that’s where the corporations come in.. they are the gatekeepers to whether anyone will become aware of you…unless you become your own gatekeeper…but then it’s all on you…people complain when youtube changes things up.. but there’s no one saying you need to be on youtube anyway…same with any of them

JK: Yea I don’t know how to promote my music unless it’s through some interconnected network.

YC: the alternative is just to try to get gigs and talk to real people one on one….but i’ve never really gotten much out of that method myself

JK: Yea that method requires a managerial aspect which I haven’t proven to possess although I am looking to become…The thing about the manager tho was that the manager was an unbiased source of approval to labels.  So it depends who you as an independent artist are trying to talk to. If you are an independent artist on an independent label then you have to talk to the corporation yourself.

YC: usually artists and corporate types don’t really have very good chemistry…hence the manager is the middle man for that

JK: But in my case I am a FauxTown Music Label  Administrator, and part owner.  So I or whoever is running our label because they are few have to get off there arses and start using their brains. So I’m staring to make music videos.

YC: yeah.. i’ve heard a stat that it’s 20% material, 80% marketing in basically any business…which is kinda scary…because as far as material goes, Fauxtown has plenty of that…but i guess too, it’s about knowing what the specific goal is…because we are a label.. so talking to other labels is like.. we don’t really need to…a lot of artists are shopping themselves around FOR a label.. we run the label…but as far as how much clout we have, that is rather a mystery

JK: I think the material isn’t as accessible as it can be.  It can be readily accessible to people through different channels. Channels that need to be in place to be visible to people. Like the live show it’s a channel.

YC: ya it’s about knowing those channels and being good at them…because like i’ve said before, i think it’s kinda pointless to put someone in charge of a channel that they aren’t really into

JK: Yes well that’s the goal. Learn how to channel beyond composition.

YC:and that’s the trick for us too…is that most artists we know are really only good at specific things and beyond that they…don’t show interest in those other things

JK: That’s the hard work that needs to be put in.

YC: yes but at the same time, give someone a job they like and they’ll do it all the time…give someone a job they hate and they won’t do it ever…you can tell them that it’s needed all you like…they won’t really do it

JK: Yes and if they don’t like doing anything but music then that’s all they can do.

YC: right and that’s also great…but if say we step into a more managerial role, then it’s good for us to know that…because you’re not going to get that person who only likes being at home making music to tour..or go to events…or meet anyone

JK: It is but the hard work which makes a label tick.. the finding of timely opportunities by working to find them and pounce needs to be done.

YC: well not to tout the virtues of the free market but that’s why i love the free market…and why also the free market is scary…because it’s all there for you.. just go do it…get what you want

JK: Yes I think I have an idea that’s under developed but possible.

YC: personally i don’t see any difference between us and anyone else in terms of how much we care about music…whether they are famous or not…we can do what they do if we know what we’re doing…and also identifying goals and such…accounting is part of the problem…because musicians suck at it

JK: Like you said…and so is cooperation in some ways because ideally cooperation is easy between the people in our group, but in practice it’s a little more difficult.  The material is there but the complimentary material needs to be there too (music videos etc) live shows online. Then when the channel is produced it will flow like electricity.

YC: we have one thing that’s kind of going against us…which is that everyone we know has been working on stuff for so long now…that what you’re saying isn’t resonating.. people treat it like they’ve failed already and it’s over so saying “hey, NOW let’s do this” is hard for people

JK: Then if they’ve given up it’s up to us.  And we will revive their hopes when we make this happen.

YC: ya people gotta see it to believe it…no one has completely given up.. except those who have

JK: Yes we believe in them even tho they’ve moved on.

YC: well i do agree with you though.. if we can just get all the cylinders firing, we’ll be in good shape…but what i’ve learned is that we need people operating on different fronts.. like say Twitter

JK: They all say they can’t substitute work for playing shows unless the shows pay. So money does really matter.

YC: i used to dislike Twitter, but now i like it but also i have no time to Tweet all day on our behalf…that said, the Fauxtown twitter is back and it’s in better shape than it was.

JK: Which is good news.

<interjection> – some music

YC: it’s stuff like this that needs attention but you and me can’t do everything bro…we can do a lot, but not everything

JK: I’ll need the Twitter account info.

YC: i’ll give it to ya and you can see what’s going on over there…i actually had my VA curate it for a bit and she helped get it looking less lame

JK: We have to do everything we can. And that is asking for everyone’s help which means we will be doing basically everything on the business end.

YC: i think it also gets a bit confusing with money and such…people want to promote their albums their way…and so now with that plugin i’ve got it can link to whatever download you want which is nice…it takes time to find the right software sometimes because there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t do what you want it to do…but you had a good call on the website by mentioning the mobile thing…it’s way better now i think…so basically more presentable and i don’t feel so bad about showing it to people

JK: That’s good.

YC: so this interview has turned into us talking about our mission.. how did it happen?

JK: Lol you can cut it off when it was a q and a

YC: nah, i kinda like the impromptu nature of it to be honest…unless you don’t like that

JK: I don’t mind. It broke the third wall tho Which was you asking me questions as an interested journalist. Which became we are working for the same people which is us. Lol

YC: lol.. people love that stuff dont’ they…the point is, this is just another channel for us…like the podcast and everything else….i look at it like we put some time into it here and there, and eventually our little interviews can become something…but at first, it’s just us trying and failing and trying again

JK: We can also take the convo sheet and act out the interview.

YC: lol that’s like breaking the 4th wall

JK: Lol I think that’s how most interview go.

YC: how many walls do we need to break?

JK: They pre plan it and then go on camera.

YC: yeah that’s true.. there’s a lot of that now

JK: Their answers are always too perfect to be thought of that fast.

YC: well so long as i can post it like this as well, i don’t care…i’m just into the text form interview right now

JK: Yea.  The channels have to be planned. I’m going to work on how to do this.

YC: nice man keep me posted…i guess we can call it here…

JK: Okay take care.

YC: alrighty seeya !

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.   

Advanced Songwriting Tips and Techniques for Serious Rockers

young coconut small

Today we (YTMS) interview accomplished singer and songwriter, Fauxtown Records’ very own “indie rocker” Young Coconut (inset right), to ask him to provide some songwriting tips and techniques for songwriters and rock dawgs who may already know a few things about how to write a song, but want to know even more.  Today we dive deep by examining some of his musical catalogue and personally asking him where he got his inspiration from, how he wrote the music, how high he might have been, and squeeze him for any other advice he might have.  The guy always has lots to say, so let’s get to it!


YTMS: Hi there Young Coconut.

YC: Call me YC.

YTMS: Ok, YC.  We know you’ve written a lot of songs over the years.  Can you confirm this for the people at home?

YC: Yes, it’s true. I’ve written and recorded a lot of songs. 

YTMS: What style would you say they are? 

YC: Rock, I guess.

YTMS: Ok, let’s share one to give people an idea of what you do.  This one’s called “Hangin’ With The Clones”. 

YC: Yep, that’s Hangin’ With The Clones.  What do you want to know about it?

YTMS: Ok, well let’s start with how you wrote it.  What do you remember about writing it?

YC: I wrote it maybe two and a half years ago on the same acoustic guitar I write a lot of songs on.  It was just a little chord progression I was fiddling with.  Four chords to begin with, kind of a sad sequence.  I was feeling forlorn, I believe it was summertime.

YTMS: So you were just sitting around sadly strumming these chords and then at what point did you feel like it was an actual song, rather than just a riff or progression?

YC: At the time, I was listening to Cyndi Lauper’s first album, which has Time After Time on it, which is one of my favourite songs.  I was kind of thinking about writing a song that’s similarly sad, but epic.  That’s when these chords came about.  I just wanted to write something as good as that song, which of course is very hard cause that song is a timeless classic. 

YTMS: Well, at least you tried!  Once you had the progression, then what was next?  Did you immediately hear it as a rock song of some kind?  A ballad perhaps?

YC: No, not really.  I just had the chord progression and then I started to think about a vocal melody, which came to me as a very sort of high, sad melody.  I was trying to think of a topic for what the song might be about.  Then I started thinking about how people sort of absorb personality traits from other people, like the way they speak and act, and certain mannerisms.  That lead me to thinking about how I know certain people that seem to hang out with people that really aren’t cool, and they themselves just become like those people, and the whole situation is kinda sad, because they just kind of become a clone.  That’s why it’s called Hangin’ With The Clones, because if you hang out with too many boring, stupid people, you become like that too.

YTMS: Hm, that’s not an explanation I would have expected for this song.  So the song is about that, then?

YC: Yeah, that’s when the lyrics started to appear in my head, and I started to add them to the song.  Sometimes the lyrics pop up and I just start trying to apply them to the melody I have in mind.  If the lyrics are super interesting to me, I’ll change the melody a bit to fit them, but sometimes the melody I like so much I won’t let certain lyrics be used because it changes the melody too much, and I consider a song’s melody to basically be its most important feature, besides the overall rhythm. 

YTMS: How important do you think the topic of a song is?  This one, for instance, has a weird subject matter that maybe no one would even guess.  Do you think songs should be universal in some way so that everyone can enjoy them?

YC: Personally, I don’t really care if people get what the song is about.  Sometimes even I don’t know, or maybe I do but I’m not going to spell it out for people.  That might make the song less “universal”, but I find that there’s enough fairly predictable songs out there.  When I hear a song that comes at you from a different direction than most, I’m usually interested to hear that song.  Didn’t Sting once say something about predictable music being annoying to some people or something?

YTMS: I don’t know.  Anyway, ok, so you wrote that verse part, but eventually then you wrote the chorus and the bridge.  The song isn’t that short, and it has a lot of parts.  Is that something you like to have is a lot of components.

YC: I think this song does have a lot of subtle shifts, but it’s also a fairly repetitive song in some ways, which is fine by me.  Usually once I’ve got one part of the song, my thought is just to write something cool to go with it, and then bingo! – I’ve got a chorus, and I particularly like writing the bridge of a song.  It’s like having a bonus part to work with.  I really like some of the bridges I’ve come up with the best, often more than the verse or chorus. 

YTMS: You sound like you just crank out parts to songs easily.  What about people who have writers block?  Do you ever get stumped for adding another part to a song? 

YC: You know how they say if you can’t write something in 5 minutes, it isn’t good?  That’s kind of true.  Often I just whip it out and the song is written quite quickly when I’m in the right mood.  Other times I’ve sat on a riff for 10 years, not knowing where it should go.  I think it’s about my mood.  Sometimes I’m in a good mood for creating music, and it’s easy.  Other times, not so much.  But it doesn’t matter, because generally, I find myself in the mood to at least create something.  I’m good, I think, at coming up with little bits of songs, and what happens with me is that as long as I’m holding my guitar, I can usually figure out something that I at least partially like.

YTMS: Structurally, with Hangin’ With The Clones, what do you consider the bridge of the song to be here?

YC: This song is kind of weird.  I guess the “you’re busy all the time…” part, but I almost consider the “ah ah” part near the end to be kind of like a bridge.  To me it’s whatever is not the verse or the chorus, and so that could be one of two things here.  Sometimes I use the same chords and the challenge is to try to write a different melody to go with it.  So this song is a bit mish-mashed.  I like how it turned out though, it’s one of my favs of my own stuff.

YTMS: Do you like a lot of your own stuff?  Some people wouldn’t say they listen to or like their own music at all.

YC: Yeah, no, I do like my stuff.  I guess I think of songwriting to be mostly for me.  I like creating my own little worlds of things, whether it’s art or music.  So with songs like this one, for instance, as long as I have my mind on it, I can usually keep working on it until I don’t hate it.  And once I don’t hate it, I like it, and once I like it, I will pretty much always like it to some extent.  You gotta love yourself first, man.

YTMS: Nice hippy axiom.  Ok, let’s hear another song.  This time it’s called “Opening Line”.

YTMS: This is kind of a grunge song, or…?

YC: Yeah, I guess.  You know, I didn’t even write this song.  My buddy Phil Delisle did.

YTMS: I was told you wrote it!

YC: Nah, Phil wrote it.  It’s getting old, this song.  20+ years.  He wrote it when he was 20, now he’s 41.  I always liked it, and was always wanting to record it myself.

YTMS: I guess you did!

YC: Yeah, it only took like 18 years to do it.  This song was already recorded a long time ago by one of the first bands I was in, Mon Chere.  The song was much different then, in a way.  The rhythm wasn’t the same, but similar.  I think it was slower and had maybe more screaming.  It was the first song I heard one of my friends write where I was just like “Wow, you wrote that?  That’s a cool song!” 

YTMS: What did you like about it? How did you hear it?

YC: We used to visit Phil in the summer at his parent’s place, which was pretty cool and had a lot of space to hang out.  It was a huge house.  I think they still own it.  Anyway, one time me and some friends dropped by and Phil had been recording songs on his four track and he played us that one.  I was immediately like “That’s so cool!  How’d you do that?”  He was just learning the art of low fi recording, and I had never gotten as far as he did, so I did eventually get a four track too and that had a big impact on my songwriting, once I started using it.

YTMS: What did you like about the song? Don’t avoid the question, sir!

YC: The way he sings it is quite different from how I sing it cause we don’t really sound the same at all, but I just liked the idea of the song.  There’s a sense of humour, and it’s just kind of a wacky song to me, but it has some truth to it.  Where you want to introduce yourself to a girl, but you can’t think of what to say to sort of have that excuse to talk to her.  I really just related to the sentiment.  I used to play drums on the song, so my job at the time was just to pound out this beat to work up the song into a screaming fit and a bit of a solo later in the song.  The point of the song was to get him to start yelling.  It was fun.

YTMS:  You do some yelling here in this song yourself.

YC: Yeah, I do sometimes yell and shred my vocal chords.  It’s hard to get a good shriek going.  But I got a few on this song for at the end.

YTMS: What else can you tell us about this song?

YC: When I recorded it, my buddy Kyle was like “This song is boring…” He was producing and had no interest in the song.  He did like it better by the end, because the thing is, people who don’t have any emotional investment in something rarely see the potential it has in the beginning.  By the end, he had to admit it was kinda cool.

YTMS: This is one of those basic rock songs with the four-note bass type of thing. 

YC: Yeah, totally.  It’s a very basic kinda grunge song.  But that’s kinda why I like it.  I think if the lyrics were different, I’d hate it.  But the lyrics make it less of a 3 Days Grace type of shit song. 

YTMS: Not a fan, I take it. 

YC: Nah, not really.  I can’t handle those types of songs.  They just strike me as being written by some angsty teen ager, but it’s actually an angsty 35 year old with no sense of humour.  Whatever, anyway…

YTMS:  Ok, got time for one more song?

YC: Sure, why not?

YTMS: This one is more electronic, and it’s called “Good Streets”.

YC: Yeah, that’s Good Streets.

YTMS: What does “Good Streets” mean? 

YC: I can’t tell ya.  I haven’t thought about it much.  I think I just like it phonetically.  This song kinda has a really stupid history.

YTMS: What does that entail?

YC: I wrote it with a really super cheap keyboard that had jungle sounds on it and I basically tried to write the most simple keyboard riff ever, and this is what I came up with.  It was recorded on a tape recorded at like 2am a long time ago and I’m not even sure what I was thinking.  I was just in my apartment screwing around.

YTMS: So the inspiration here was what?

YC: There really was none.  I was just purely messing around with a really cheap keyboard and making up this song that I didn’t even like.

YTMS: Why were you doing it then if you weren’t in the mood, as you were saying?

YC: I don’t know.  I actually don’t know.  I was just sitting on our carpet and had a bunch of junk around me and probably should have been sleeping, but this keyboard was fairly quiet so I seem to remember adding a lot of layers to the track, which sounded bad, just to see if I could make it sound audible.

YTMS: Do you still have that recording?

YC: Um, let me check.  Yep, apparently.  Here it is.

YTMS: Wow, that audio isn’t the greatest.

YC: No, it’s not.  I agree.  We also did a rock version of the song.

YTMS: Do you have the audio for that?

YC: I do. Here it is.

YC: This was with the Approachables.

YTMS: Was this before the electronic version?

YC: Yeah, way before.  The electronic version I did last year.  The rock version is from 2007, and the original is 2001. 

YTMS: Why do you keep re-doing it?

YC: Not sure.  I think of songs like movies that I like.  I like to revisit them once in a while.

YTMS: Even though people basically aren’t aware of any of the versions?

YC: What are you saying?

YTMS: Correct me if I’m wrong, but none of these versions of this song are that famous.

YC:  This interview is over… <slams mic on floor and leaves>.

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!

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How To Do A Hammer On With An Acoustic Guitar – Includes Step by Step Video

how to do a hammer on with an acoustic guitar

A hammer-on is hitting a string with your fretting hand, but pressing it quickly so you can hear the note without strumming.

how to do a hammer on with an acoustic guitar

This is how I would suggest you learn how to do it.

1 – Start Easy

Make your guitar sound out by making several notes sound on their own without ever picking. Play a note, and then use your fretting hand to smack another note for a hammer on.

2 – Use Your Index Finger

3 – Put your ring finger two frets away to hammer on

4 – Adjust the power of your hammer on

guitar teacher hammer on

5 – Practice the pentatonic scale with a hammer on

Now that you have learned to do hammer on, practice the pentatonic scale using the hammer-on technique and do it repeatedly so it comes naturally to you.

You can also introduce the hammer on anywhere across the neck to increase your playing speed, going from note to note with a new style.

Here is a video I made showing exactly how to do this great guitar technique.

Yamaha PortaSound Voicebank PSS-170 Portable Toy Mini Keyboard Review

pss 170 porta sound by yamaha

Toy keyboards – the kind with miniature keys and built-in speakers that are made of plastic – are a popular purchase these days by people who are into unique-sounding analog music gear and aren’t brainwashed into thinking that music has to be made with thousand dollar equipment.

PortaSound ’80’s Entry Level Mini Keyboards for Beginner Players

yamaha portasound

yamaha pss480

childhood-concussions-signs-symptoms-and-prevention-methods-3

Back in the ’80’s, you simply never knew what would happen, although I’m pretty sure a lot of parents and grandparents hoped that by buying their kid a PortaSound keyboard, they might have the next Rachmaninoff on their hands. Instead, they probably heard a lot more stuff like this playing incessantly from the rec room.

pss 170 boxed

Yamaha PSS-170 PortaSound Portable Toy Mini Keyboard Review

Main Switches

pss-170 close up

Keys and Drum Beats

pss 170 keys and drum machine

Voices, Effects

voice bank pss 170 up close

In the above pic, you can see why this thing emphasizes that it is indeed a “voice bank”, because someone took the time to jam a whole helluva lotta different keyboard “voice” effects into this tiny beast.

Voice Selector

voice selector

Headphones / Aux Out / DC In

Feature Pick

Yamaha Electronic Keyboard Portasound Pss-170

Buy On Amazon

Here’s a song that Chad plays with the PSS-170 under his pseudonym, Telson Delmer, called “evening for penguins”…

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Open Mic Night Etiquette

open mic kid

Have you ever been to an open mic night, ie. the kind where musicians or even comedians go perform on stage?

music open mic nightOn the other hand, some open mic nights will have everyone seated facing the stage, listening attentively while you perform. This is the attitude of the open mic at the Moonshine Cafe, in Oakville, Ontario. If you are on your phone texting too much, someone will even come and ask you to step outside with it until you are finished, as it can be distracting as well as disheartening to performers. I love it.

Not all open mics need to be that strict, as performing gigs in some bars will be a nightmare after being treated like that, but people should always be treated with respect, at the very least, by the other performers.

I’ve listed five, count ’em FIVE easy ways for music open mic goers to create a nicer atmosphere at their local open mic!

1. Show up for other artists!


If you know you have to leave early, show up early and check out a few other musicians before you play. Listen to other artists. Clap when they finish a song. Encourage them! They could be your future favourite artist just starting out, and you could be the person to encourage them to keep playing, or to make them never want to play again.

2. Listen to the other artists!

music open miic nightDon’t show up, ignore the other performers, play, and then ignore the other performers again. Don’t turn your back to the stage and talk loudly. Don’t forget to clap. Don’t be an @$$#0!3!!!

I’m not saying sit silently staring at the performers, but, at the very least, if you’re going to chat while they’re playing, chat quietly, at the back of the room, and face the stage so that when they finish performing you are ready to applaud.

3. Don’t get hammered on stage

drunk singer on stageMost open mics are in venues that serve alcohol…. If you are going to drink, don’t drink so much that you will make a fool of yourself on stage, or treat people on stage unkindly.

One of the worst (and greatest, depending on your idea of comedy) events I’ve been to included a girl I knew getting extremely nervous before performing on stage… She took shot after shot to ‘calm her nerves’, and a few hours later she was on stage yelling every curse word she could think of, while a number of people asked her to stop and get off stage because the 8-year-old playing drums behind her didn’t need to hear that. She would remember the girl was playing drums, apologize, and then attempt another song (horribly), before forgetting again and yelling insults at people asking her to get off stage.

I think it was hilarious, but it made people very uncomfortable, and at the end of the day really upset me because she shouldn’t have put these people in a position where they needed to drag her off the stage…..

So, moral of the story, no matter how nervous you think you might be, don’t get obnoxiously drunk and things will turn out fine.

4. Respect the artist on stage

This is a huge one for me. Whether you are there for the music or not, you need to respect the artist. Hearing people applaud a ‘great goal’ in the hockey/soccer game they are watching on tv, while you are in the middle of a song, is upsetting and distracting. Don’t be that @$$#0!3!

If you are witnessing that @$$30!3, don’t start a bar fight, but keep in mind that the person on stage might be feeling insecure. Listen more closely during this song, and be sure to applaud well after! Cheer! Tell them you love the song. Apologize on behalf of the drunk sports fanatic!

5. Communicate with the audience

The audience will easily lose interest (especially if people are just there to drink, rather than to listen to the music), if you are just playing song after song. You will fade into the background if you do not communicate with them. At the very least, tell them the title of the song. Thank them for their applause between songs. If they do not applaud, thank them for listening! Tell them a story! Why did you choose this song? What is it about? If it’s a cover song, tell them who wrote it! Is it one of your favourite artists? Tell them! Have a funny thought? Share it!

Talking with the audience really adds to the show, and it makes it easier for people to listen attentively. I guess it subconsciously encourages them to listen to you.

Ultimately, respect goes a long way. Show up for each other, listen to each other, applaud each other, don’t be a $#!TtY drunk, and when you see someone failing to meet these basic needs, step up that much more. No need for conflict, but know that they are lacking, and you can make things better for this performer. If you are the performer, know that sometimes there is nothing you can do to make the audience listen. If you try communicating with them, and get no response, make an effort to respond to the next musician. Show the crowd how to be better.

Good luck! 😀

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