5 Tips to Top Your Mix
A brief insight to some mixing techniques we use that could help you achieve a better end product and how we work here in MixButton.
First – Initial Thoughts
Simply write down your initial thoughts on pen and paper upon listening for the first time, and what direction you feel you want the track to go in. Write down how you want each section to make you feel, and any specific effects you think could work with fresh ears.
This is a simple process that is often overlooked and is great at laying down your initial instincts for the track, instead of figuring out half way through the mix.
There is only one chance for a first impression so you must capitalize on it and capture your ideas from the start.
Second – Mono Image EQ
Many of us want to get the mix sounding good early on, but mixing is a gradual process. A quick pan to the side often misleads your ear into hearing the respective instrument cleaner that it actually is. This is because the instrument is no longer competing in a frequency space.
Without disrupting your individual tracks, make sure the final output bus is in mono and start to EQ the different instruments.
As they are all on top of each other and competing for space, you will find when you treat them you will have to work harder and have to be more precise.
After making sure all instruments can be heard and are working well together, change the final output back to stereo and you will find your mix sounding a lot better.
Third – Fine Automation Key for feeling
It is important to remember that music has to make people feel something, as that is the design of the artist. A big give away of many amateur mixers is that the sections do not really move to each other and so the track does not connect with the listener.
Fine automation on a DAW or fader riding, is crucial with many instruments especially legato style sounds and notes, for example voice or strings. Obviously the performer has a responsibility to give the recording dynamics and movement, but it is also the responsibly of the mixer to bring that to the listeners ear in order that they can connect to the track easily. This is vital with the main vocal.
Fourth – Stereo Bus Cleaning
This is a tip for near the end of your mixing process to deal with any final frequency disruptions or inconsistencies.
On the stereo bus, place any linear EQ and select either a high pass or low pass filter. The idea is to isolate the low or high frequencies at once. For example, a low pass at 300hz would give you a good idea of how the bottom end of your mix is working and if there are any clashing sounds that you need to address. Same concept goes with the high-end frequencies.
Fifth – 1db or not db
Even Shakespeare struggled with the concept of mixing and chose to express this through his play Hamlet.
What he learned was that a mix is rarely transformed with one action or a secret switch that suddenly makes the mix sound good. Rather many little things, each treating individual parts of the track culminating in an overall better mix.
While you may not think 1db here or 2 db there makes a difference in the short-term immediate sound. We have to mix with the vision that these little changes are together affecting the overall sound.
So it is important to be patient with the precision at which you work as many small changes make a big difference.
MixButton (www.mixbutton.com) is online mixing studio for the masses ready to take your music to the next level. Visit the website and listen to some samples to find out what we could do for your music.
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
Audition Prep Tips For Music College or Conservatory
(From Berklee’s Former Dean of Admissions)
1. What are the best strategies for applying for music college or conservatory? This question somewhat depends on whether a student is applying to study Classical music or Jazz/Pop/Contemporary music. Why? The key to a student’s successful music education in a traditional(classical) conservatory is primarily their private lesson instructor – or referred to as the studio.A student considering various music schools should first research the faculty teaching on their principal instrument. Do they like the teachers performances, interpretation, etc.? The reason being, is that after four years under the tutelage of said teacher, their own playing will be highly influenced by the teacher’s approach to music. Also, they should, if possible, request a “trial lesson” with as many teachers as being considered. Just because a specific teacher/performer has a renown reputation, does not necessarily mean you will enjoy their teaching style or will “gel” with them. Finally, the student needs to know how many and what type of ensembles are offered at each school. Are you interested in Chamber music, Symphony, or a Solo career? If you are a singer, are you interested in traditional opera, more contemporary works/ensembles, or even Chorale or Education. In the world of Jazz/Contemporary music the principal instrument teacher while important is not the end-all, be-all for selecting a school or music college. Many students are not necessarily intending to be performers.They might be intending to pursue a major in Songwriting, or Music Production & Engineering, or Music Education, or Composition. In this case the faculty teaching those courses become important to the student’s choice of school. Students are advised to research and read the background and professional experience of faculty. Also, their are internet sites out there where students attending an institution actually comment and rate a professor’s effectiveness. However – buyer beware; some students just have a grudge against a teacher and may rate him/her poorly , even when not deserved.Another strategy is to research the success of students who have attended(not necessarily graduated) from any given institution. What is the least reliable means for judging whether a school is right or wrong for you? – the college’s own materials and website. They can be helpful to a limited degree. But be aware, they are written and produced by professionals who are expected to present the school in the most favorable – albeit not always accurate – light. Trust me, I was one of those professionals for many years. The BEST way to assess whether a school might be right for you? Visit;take a lesson, attend a class, and speak with students – in the hallways,in the cafeteria, in the practice rooms. The true authorities at any school, college, or university are an aggregate of the students who attend or have attended. Keep in mind – You are an individual and must in the end judge for yourself according to your goals, your perspective, and may be best of all – your gut.
2. What are the best strategies for a music college or conservatory audition?
This answer is easy – practice, practice, practice. Sound familiar? However, there are a few strategies that can help. A. First and foremost: You must know the exact requirements and expectations of any school’s audition policy. They are usually clearly stated on the Admission’s website. Follow them, or you might be sorely disappointed later on when admissions decisions are sent out. B. Next – experience a “mock audition”. Have your teacher, or someone you seek out who is familiar with the audition process, or a music college consulting firm like *Music School Central *put you through the paces of what a real music school audition will be like. Then learn from that experience. Follow their advice, double your efforts, and remain positive. C. Hire an experienced teacher to isolate and work with you exclusively on your audition repertoire; the notes, the interpretation, the presentation. At *Music School Central* we even coach students on their entrance, their handshake, their demeanor, and their exit. Don’t underestimate the importance of seemingly small details. D. Stay laser-focused. Sometimes that might mean temporarily giving up some outside interests or extracurricular activities. However, you must keep in mind – you have but one “job” in the near future – to get into the college of your choice. All else can be put on hold for the short-term. In the end, you’re either ready for your audition or not. You can’t cram into weeks or even months what is essentially a multi-year preparation.
*Steve Lipman is an independent music college consultant based in Boston,MA. Following a long and successful career at Berklee College of Music,Steve is the Founder and President of Steve Lipman Associates and a principal partner in **Music School Central/Music College Consulting Services. SLA and MSC help music students and their families to identify appropriate music schools, colleges, and universities, assist in all phases of the application procedures, and guide students through the pre-screening and audition process.*
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
IAMA is extremely proud to announce that our winner Meghan Trainor and finalist Ron Korb have just been nominated at the prestigious Grammy Awards.
Meghan Trainor is nominated for Best New Artist. With her debut single “All About That Bass” staying #1 for 9 weeks, it is also the second biggest debut single of all time by a debut artist. She has a total of 6 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: All About That Bass (#1 for 9 weeks), Lips Are Movin (#4 on Hot 100), Like I’m Gonna Lose You (#8, a duet with R&b/Pop star John Legend), Dear Future Husband (#16), Marvin Gaye (#21, duet with Charlie Puth), Title (#100, even though it is not released as a single).
Most music industry people laughed when Meghan entered and won Best Female Artist in 2010. But, when she hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, heard her Multi-Platinum selling song on the radio, they were left completely stunned and speechless. The entrants of IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) were surprised and even angry when a 16 year old girl won 5 years ago, completely unaware of the incredible success she was going to achieve. Her song “All About The Bass” has sold over 5 million copies and reached #1 in 58 different countries. The video has garnered over 1 Billion views on YouTube (at press time).
Meghan Trainor has continued to shock the entrants, winners, judges of IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) and now the music world.
Ron Korb is nominated for Best New Age Album in the Grammy awards. He was a finalist in the 2010 and 2012 IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards). He is a unique flute player and plays both the chinese and western flute styles. His music is an electrifying blend of Eastern and Western music.
Ron Korb is a Canadian flutist(flautist), composer, songwriter, and record producer, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Ron Korb started on the recorder in grade school and later joined an Irish fife and drum band in his teens. While attending the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he won several local music competitions.
ABOUT IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards)
IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) promotes the art and artistry of acoustic music performance and artistry. In it’s 11 year, IAMA has a proven track record of winners going on to hit the Billboard Charts. 2nd Annual IAMA winner Zane Williams’s winning song was recorded by country music star Jason Michael Carroll, that song hit #14 on Billboard Country Charts and #99 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Jeff Gutt, finalist at the 9th Annual IAMA was a runner-up on X-Factor USA. For more information on 11th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
Musician Expert Advice: How Performance Calamities Can Help You Shine
by Teri Danz
Every performer faces challenges, but it is how you deal with them that make the difference. From an audience perspective, performing can look easy when you’re skilled at it. What they don’t see is what every performer knows, and that is, it’s not. It takes practice, patience, training and experience to “look” like it is effortless (or for it to truly “be” effortless). Plus, a great performer develops a “can do” professional attitude to make the best of any situation and make it work in the moment.
Here are some tips that will help you make some sweet “lemonade” from any sour occurrence during a performance.
time (and consequently a bad attitude) if the venue isn’t full, the sound isn’t great, etc. Your audience, no matter how big or small (even if it’s just the bar staff), wants to be engaged and like you. Pretend you’re in a huge arena (it’s good practice) and give them a reason to root for you.
[Permission Reprint by Music Connection magazine]
TERI DANZ, Ed.M., is “America’s Vocal Coach” and a club hit recording artist. She specializes in pop vocal technique, performance coaching and vocal producing; with a focus on vocal resonance and technique, range and presentation. Named one of the Top Vocal Coaches in Backstage magazine (6-25-15), Danz was also a Backstage 2014 Reader’s Choice Finalist. Her writings include the book, Vocal Essentials For The Pop Singer: Take Your Singing from Good to Great (Hal Leonard Inc.), and articles for Electronic Musician,Music Connection, EQ, Roland and Boss Users Group Magazines, Guitar Player and many more. Danz also publishes The Singer’s Newsletter (free to subscribers) with monthly tips and sponsors, Casio, Sennheiser and The Modern Vocalist World. An accom- plished singer/songwriter, her act has PRO Endorsements by Sennheiser and Graph Tech. See teridanz.com.
For more information on the 12th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com
Big Success Secrets For Booking Gigs You Aren’t Using But Should
By Tom Stein, Professor, Professional Music Department, Berklee College of Music
You’ve gotten to the point where your music abilities are strong enough as a group to play out in front of an audience. You know that getting on stage will be the next necessary step to improving your act’s tightness. At this stage it is super-important to get the band playing live in order to generate enthusiasm and momentum. Getting a gig is the next logical move in your development as a band. Yet, because you have never done it, you don’t know how. It’s the old “Catch-22” conundrum: you need experience to get the gig, but you need a gig to get experience. What to do?
First, take a deep breath, and relax. Realize that every single person or band that is amazing at doing anything started out from the same place. For even the most incredible musicians, there was once a time that they couldn’t play their instrument at all. Just like you, they had to begin somewhere. You really have no choice other than to begin from exactly where you are. There are a number of things that have to happen before you actually take to the stage (I’ll list them a bit later in this article). You should first take an inventory to see where you are.
What are your band’s strong points and weak points? What do you hope to gain from playing a live show? Do you have all the equipment you will need? Do you have transportation for yourselves and your equipment? How far are you willing to travel? What do you estimate your expenses will be? These are logistical questions that will help give you some bearings on the type of gig most appropriate for you to go after. I would recommend that you write some things down, and create some useful lists or diagrams.
There are other important considerations. For example, what style of music do you play? How many songs or sets can you perform? Is your music primarily for listening, dancing, or background? Have you created a digital footprint for your music that will allow you to publicize your gig properly, ensuring that an audience will come? Or will you seek a gig at a venue with a built in audience, like a festival? Should you get paid?
I recommend that you make your approach as professional as possible. If you have prepared your logistical plan and know what type of audience you are trying to reach, you will be prepared to speak confidently and knowledgeably about all aspects of your intended performance with prospective venues, clubs, clients or festival directors. If they see that you are well prepared, they are more likely to give you a chance. It is important that you can tell them about what you do in a cohesive way, speaking articulately about why an audience will enjoy your music, why it is in their interest to hire you, and what’s in it for them. Try as best as possible to think from their point of view. With your speech you can paint a picture for them of the opportunity you are offering them, either to make money, enhance their reputation, or just have a lot of fun. Don’t be arrogant about it; just state the facts, and do your best to sell your band, keeping their interests in mind.
While you are preparing to sell your band, you will need to do some research into the opportunities that exist. If you know musicians who are playing out already, ask them where the best places are to play. Check listings in local entertainment guides, and go check out some bands. Hang around the venues as a customer to get a feel for what is going on. Talk to the managers and staff to find out who is responsible for booking. Try to figure out what will fit best in each venue and be prepared to offer that with a strong conviction that you can provide what the venue needs. When you do get in contact with the responsible party, present yourself in a businesslike manner. Dress the part. Shake hands, look people in the eye, and speak with confidence about your music. This usually takes a little practice.
Don’t be discouraged if you get rejected. Failure is an opportunity to start over more intelligently. Analyze what happened and make adjustments to your pitch for the next prospect. Observe how other musicians sell themselves if you are able to. Understand that adversity makes you stronger, and just keep at it, no matter what. Even if you fail a hundred times, you might very well book a gig on the 101st time!
At some risk of oversimplification, we can explain the steps of getting to a gig onstage into a few stages. Using terms relative to the music business, there is: preparation, sourcing, pitching (selling), negotiating, agreement, performance, and follow through. The preparation stage involves taking inventory as described above, plus getting the music tightly arranged and well rehearsed. It might be wise to create some sharp promotional materials. Sourcing means figuring out the places you want to play, doing your homework on them and getting in contact with the person doing the booking.
Pitching your music is talking about what you do, as previously described. You have to sell yourself, your band and your music; you do this by using words intelligently and enthusiastically. You will learn to talk about your music in such a way as to give those listening confidence in your abilities and talent. Closing an agreement usually requires executing some sort of contract, whether verbal or written. Sometimes this is called an “event confirmation”, or similar. The agreement exists to protect both sides through stipulating responsibilities and rights, and clarifying terms. To get to an agreement, a negotiation must first take place. Negotiating is an art form, and is a necessary part of human commerce and transaction.
Performing is where you deliver the goods as promised. If you do this well, you will find that each gig leads to more gigs. People like what they see and hear, tell others about you, and your reputation grows. Of course, if you mess this part up, you won’t last long in the business. So it pays to pay attention to all the details, and do your best to do a fantastic job that everyone will rave about. You are only as good as your last performance.
Follow-through is the last step, and often neglected by musicians. After the gig, you should always contact the venue and booking person to thank them and make sure they were happy. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Any complaints or suggestions for improvement should be taken to heart as they are giving you a chance to better yourself. You can ask them for future gigs and for referrals.
As you begin to see, there is more work to getting gigs than might at first meet the eye. Especially in the beginning, it can be tough to get momentum with booking gigs. It can feel a little like pushing a boulder uphill. The rewards can be tremendous, however. There is nothing like the electricity that happens between a good band and an audience, and the energizing effect it can have on a band. Playing live shows can also be frustrating, such as when an audience doesn’t respond. It is always a learning experience, in any case, and always worth doing.
-Tom Stein is a visionary musical entrepreneur, music producer, artist development consultant, arranger, bandleader and performer on electric bass, voice and guitar. He is also a professional educator; he teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and is the founder of Music Connectivity, a cultural diplomacy firm. www.tomstein.com
For more information on the 12th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), please go to: http://www.inacoustic.com