Recording Technology Is Your Friend

If you’ve been keeping up to date with my articles, you’ll know one thing about me. I’m a bit of a control freak. I talk a lot about “having control”, and “controlled environments”… and that’s because it’s part of my style. I’ve tweaked my techniques to help me feel comfortable, but more importantly I’ve developed my skills to help suit my needs as a producer.

Every aspiring producer has high hopes and dreams of being the next Dr. Luke, but we can’t lose our heads. We have to be practical. We have to think of our livelihoods and how we can build a name for ourselves. Sometimes that may mean compromising some of our beliefs for the overall benefit of our careers.

I’ve gotten a lot of flak for using Melodyne, elastic audio, and using MIDI instead of a real piano. But I wouldn’t change a single thing. As producers, we have to work with the hand we’re dealt. That means if a project comes in and their singer is tone deaf… we’d better be doing our damnedest to make them sound as pristine as possible. If our recordings don’t sound top notch, it’s going to be rough showing our past work to potential future clients. We’ll lose business and create a sub-par resume. Double the negative.

It may seem like you’re cheating, but trust me you’re not. You’re using your skills and the beauty of technology to create something beautiful. If not for you, that singer may never stand alone on his own two legs. Your job is to make artists sound better… that way they can realize their dream. In the process, you’re helping yourself and furthering your own career as well.

Recording technology also works to your advantage when you’re on a deadline. If you’ve booked out a week of studio time, you’ll want to finish all of your sessions on a schedule. If the drummer isn’t nailing his takes, you’ll need to consider punching in and out of problem areas and fixing flubs with elastic audio. Is it really worth it to re-record a fill that can easily be fixed with some quantization? Quantization will take 10 seconds. Re-recording could take hours. Sign me up for quantizing any day!

When it comes to MIDI, there are some fantastic plugins out there that sound like the real deal. I don’t know about you, but I can’t just put $10,000 towards a baby grand. That money would take me a lot further if it were spent on some solid gear and microphones… those I’ll end up using every single session. The piano may sit around for a month or two before a pianist comes through. And even then… are they a solid musician? With my old friend MIDI, I can always quantize!

I know many purists out there are going to disagree with my techniques, and that’s fine. Everyone has their way of doing things. As we build our pedigree, we can get away with more. It’s the reason Justin Timberlake can write a 5 minute song and get away with it, but if Johnny No Talent writes the same 5 minute song it’ll never gain any traction. You have to earn your way to the top… you can’t start there. Then, when you’re at the highest point of the mountain… do whatever the hell you want.

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Overhead Microphone Phasing And Urban Legends

Nearly every sound engineer has dealt with phase. I have showed how to cancel an entire signal simply by duplicating and inverting the signal in this video. We’ve spoken about identifying phase by using phase inversion and listening for changes in the low end. But, how do we avoid phase issues?

This article will focus on drum overheads using the spread pair technique, but the principles will hold true for other studio applications.

Spread Pair Overhead Technique.

This is when we spread our two overheads apart from each other. Personally, this is my favorite overhead mic position. It provides an exciting stereo spread of the cymbals and natural tom panning. But, it can cause phase issues! The trick to avoiding phase is to place the microphones equidistant from the sound source. But, there is more than one sound source! Which source should we measure from?

There are two schools of thought on this:

1. Equidistant From The Snare. When you listen to the overheads, the snare drum is likely to be the most audible drum. If you’re like me, you will put a high pass filter on your overheads to better isolate the cymbals. This will cut some bass drum frequencies out, making the bass drum a less important part of the overhead mix.

2. Equidistant From The Bass Drum. If you are not intending to use a high pass filter, this is the method may be for you. This is a very realistic interpretation of a drum kit. The snare is not the center of the drum kit. That position belongs to the bass drum.

The best way to avoid phase issues is to keep the mics low and therefor closer to all of the drums. This is due to the speed of sound and the relative distance the microphones are from each sound source. The greater the height and microphone spread, the greater the time smearing. This discussion will continue below…

Time Smearing Due To Microphone Spread

WARNING! ONLY READ THIS PART IF YOU’RE A SERIOUS AUDIO GEEK:

The speed of sound is 340 meters per second. Meaning if one overhead microphone is 4 inches further from the sound source, it will take the sound 3/10ths of a millisecond longer to reach the furthest mic. 12 inches will get you about 1 millisecond of this time smearing.

I’d like to address an urban legend. Some colleagues have attempted to convince me that I must use the bass drum as the center of my spread overheads. They explain that low frequency sound waves move slightly slower than higher frequency sound waves. And they’re right about the psychics, but they’re wrong about the math.

And here’s why:

A frequency of 10 Hz travels 0.1 meters per second slower than a sound wave of frequency 100 Hz. This however is not a scalable equation. As sound sits in the more normal audible range, this speed change is close to negligible. (And as many of us know, 10Hz is not an audible frequency.)

But, let us walk through their argument as if it were:

Picture a signal generator. 340 meters away from the signal generator is a microphone.

The speed of sound is 340 meters per second.

If the signal generator were to generate a sound wave of 100Hz, it will reach the microphone in 1 second.

Now, imagine the signal generator were to generate a sound wave of 10Hz, it will reach the microphone in 1.0003 seconds.

This is a difference of 0.0003 seconds.

That is 3/10ths of a millisecond slower than the 100Hz signal over 340 meters!

Now think about one of your drum overhead microphones being 4 inches further than the bass drum than the other overhead microphone.

100Hz signal reaches the mic in 0.00029412 seconds

10Hz signal reaches the mic in 0.00029420 seconds

A difference of 0.00000008 seconds or 8/100,000ths of a millisecond

We have now put this urban myth to bed.

Please leave your comments and feel free to contact me directly at Anthony@myrecordinginternship.com. I’ll do my best to respond to you and answer any of your questions. Now, go out there and make great music!

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How To Produce (Conclusion)

The “How To Produce” series has been a very satisfying compilation to write so far and I’m actually kind of bummed to see it come to a close. I’ve given a lot of advice and I hope you’re able to gain some knowledge from my writing. Producing is my life, my passion, and I hope it sparks the same in you. I’m going to keep this last part short and sweet… but if you want to read more in depth feel free to go back and check out the entire series!

The Importance of Connecting with an Artist

Making a connection with our clients is quite possibly the most important aspect of our job. We need to find the balance between our musical knowledge and our communication skills. Working with others is how we grow not only as producers, but as humans. We need to use our talents to create, inspire, and thrive.

The Importance of Drums

As the backbone of the music, you have to see the drums as the most important part of the song. Though they act as one instrument, you have to view them as several. The snare, kick, and cymbals have their own place in the mix and their own distinct sound. When listening to drums, there is a lot that comes into play, so you’ll want to be sure that everything works in perspective with the song as a whole.

The Importance of Guitar

The guitar acts as the meat of the song, and there are a lot of caveats when it comes to working with them. Whether working with heavy distortion, or completely clean tones, the guitars need to work organically with the rest of the music. Be mindful of the listener and make sure the guitars follow the drums. The tighter they are with one another, the better the song will flow.

The Importance of Bass

The bass is the fat of the song. The best advice when it comes to bass is to keep things simple. Be creative when the music allows it, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Follow the roots, use fills tastefully, and avoid overpowering the entire song.

The Importance of Vocals

As the flavor of the music, the vocals need special attention. They need to sit right in the mix, and they really need to convey that raw emotion. Dynamics are key. Lyrics are crucial. And remember to motif.

The Importance of Effects

Mixing plays a significant role in the final product. A keen ear can create emotions using reverb, delay, and a plethora of different interesting effects. Effects shouldn’t be forced and should stay true to the overall feeling of the music. Mixing can make or break a song and it takes years to master. So make sure to hone your skills and constantly practice your craft.

I want to thank you for reading this series. I genuinely hope it helps you out in your production career. Please use this advice and our entire site to your advantage… after all we created it to help! If you like our work, please leave a comment and let us know what you think. Here’s wishing you the best, peace and rock on!

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How to Produce (Part 1)

Produce

The last article I wrote focused on the transition to producer-hood. After writing it, I received a ton of responses from musicians who couldn’t quite see the difference between the two. So today, I’m planning on clearing up some of the confusion.

Someone Who Plays an Instrument

When I talk about musicians, I’m talking about anyone who plays an instrument. Think back to when you first started honing your skills. When you were learning to play scales on a guitar, what was your main focus? I know when I first started the only thing I could think is “Am I even holding this thing the right way?” Then, as I got more comfortable my focus shifted. I started to pay attention to how hard I was pressing the strings. They needed to be held down all the way, or else I’d get fret buzz. Once I got my technique down for holding the frets and picking correctly, I could pick up the speed of the scales and really start grooving. The point is, the more I practiced, the more I could open my mind and see a bigger picture.

Becoming a Musician

When you’re playing alone, your focus is on yourself. So as you make the transition into playing with a band, now you start learning to play with 3 or 4 other guys. You learn to adapt, and you learn that you are not the main focus. You all need to contribute together in order to create something that blends well together. If the drummer wants to play a solo in the middle of every single verse, the only person who’s going to want him around is himself. So he’s stuck as a merely “a drummer”. Every other instrumentalist (including soloists) who can visualise a bigger idea is more of a “musician”.

Using your Musician Skills to Produce

Having an open mind allows you to progress smoothly into producing. It isn’t easy, because as a producer you must give up a ton of control. Some musicians are not comfortable giving up that control, and that’s completely fine. Different strokes for different folks. I prefer guiding others and helping them adapt their skills. (I think it’s the teacher instinct in me.) Using your skills as a musician who can see things from a broader perspective can help others in amazing ways.

Play to the Strengths of Others

One of my favorite things about producing is the talent of the artists I work with. I’m not a drummer. I don’t have an amazing voice. I can’t shred like Slash. But I’m a A+ player when it comes to the basics. So if I’m working with an artist who has an amazing voice, and I hear a beautiful melody in my head, you can rest assured I’m going to share that melody with her. Before she even sings it I’ll have full confidence that she’s going to absolutely kill it. When we have confidence in ourselves and our abilities, and we combine our tenacity with the pure talent of others, the possibilities are awesome.

Think of it like making a movie. The producer is the visionary, the actors are the talent, the crew get the job done, and the writers make it all possible. Find your skills and run with them. Find your passion and follow it. I love producing. I love helping others. And it still allows me to be a creative musician. I’m going to build off this idea in my next series (which will go into exactly what producers are listening for before they even start recording each instrument), so please be on the look out. And as always, thanks for reading. Peace and rock on.

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Transitioning from Musician to Producer

So you’re looking to hang up your guitar, jump into that big comfy chair and twist a few knobs around, huh? Well, first you have to make sure it’s the right decision for you. Are you really willing to give up touring and live shows? Can you give up your creative control and allow someone else to take the lead? Do you really want to be the person behind the curtain? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then let your journey from musician to producer begin!

Study.

First things first, you can’t just jump into production without some working knowledge of a DAW. You’ll need to learn how to track, edit, mix and master before you get into the actual production side of things. The reason for this is that you want to know how each and every aspect of the process goes. You’ll use this knowledge to your advantage as you take your bands through the entire recording process. Once you’ve mastered your skills as a mixer/engineer, you’ll really need to start studying different genres to tackle the fun that comes with production. 

Leggo Your Ego.

If you want to make it in this business, you can’t have an ego. Let the other guys have theirs, but you’ve gotta be cool. Remember, the bands you’re working with are the stars. You’re just there to help facilitate the process. They get the glory, even if you put in all the work to get them where they need to be. 90% of bands won’t appreciate or even truly know how much you help them out. But don’t get discouraged when this happens. You’ll be building up a portfolio of great sounding songs, and it’ll make you a better producer in the long run.

Become More than a Musician.

To become a producer, you’ll need to acquire some chameleon skin. Most people hear the word “producer” and they automatically jump to the conclusion that this person has no idea how to play an instrument. In 99% of cases, this isn’t true. Most producers have some knowledge of an instrument – but their true genius comes from their knowledge of more than just that. They have a keen business sense… they’re multi-taskers… they can think on their feet… and deal really well with people. They are leaders, inspirational speakers and hard workers all blended together. Being a producer encompasses far more than just playing a few chords.

Hustle.

Never stop hustling. There will always be someone out there trying to be the best. Trying to be better than you. Don’t let them. Push yourself past your comfort limits and do what you can to grow as an artist. Are you killing it on the pop punk front? Then get some bands in that play hard rock. Don’t feel comfortable working with metal? Well, get yourself a few metal heads and record some tasty licks. Don’t just settle for ok. You wouldn’t have done that as a musician, so don’t do it as a producer either.

I hope this article has piqued your production interest. If you’re looking to make the transition, or even to record as a hobbyist, I’d love to hear from you. What have you found to be your hardest mountain to climb? What have you enjoyed or dis-enjoyed? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you and discuss!

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Pros and Cons of Recording Yourself

If you’re anything like me you beam with pride when you tell somebody “I’m a musician!” Some people may mistake your sentiment for arrogance, but let’s be honest, playing an instrument is frackin cool. (Just like that sweet Battlestar reference right there.) Almost every producer I know started out playing in a band and recording their own music – including yours truly. The experience of playing the role of artist, producer, engineer and mixer gave me a unique perspective that was both awesome and horrible – and if you’ve ever done the same, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement.

Let’s go over some Pros and Cons of recording yourself.

Pro:
You get to do things your own way.

There’s nothing better than having the final say on every aspect of the music. You can write the melodies, the lyrics, hell even the bass lines. Anything goes when you’re in charge. You want to write an 8 minute song? Do it. No one is going to stop you. You’re the only person you have to answer to, and hot damn that’s an empowering feeling.

Con:
You get to do things your own way.

It’s amazing to have such control over your music, but sometimes a little outside perspective can go a long way. Having someone there to reel you in when you’re going over the top may be exactly what you need. Some grandiose ideas may sound great in your head, but if you’re in a room with 10 other musicians and you’re the only one who’s digging a particular idea – you’d better rethink your strategy. If you’re writing the music purely for your own enjoyment, you may be the only one to ever listen to the record.

Pro:
You have all the time in the world to get it right.

You don’t have to worry about about an engineer milking the clock to make a few extra bucks. You don’t even have to worry about punching in to nail that guitar solo you were hoping to rock in one full take. If it takes you 5 hours, it takes you 5 hours. Time is of no importance when you’re working solo.

Con:
You have all the time in the world to get it right.

This may be your downfall. Sure you’re aiming for perfection, but having too intense of a focus can lead to obsession. Maybe you spend 5 hours trying to nail that solo and you still aren’t amped about it. So you try again in the morning, only to realize you hate the part and want to rewrite it. Now, a project that should’ve taken a week will last a month – 6 months – or maybe even a year – if it even gets finished.

Pro:
The songs and mixes are all yours.

It’s very impressive that you were able to play everything and mix it all yourself. This isn’t an easy feat to accomplish after all, and it absolutely takes a ton of talent. Show your parents, show your friends, and share it anywhere you can. You did this, and you should be proud.

Con:
The songs and mixes are all yours.

There are a lot of talented people out there, and everyone should know what their strengths are. Some people are amazing at guitar, while others are wizards at mixing. If one persons talent lies strictly in vocals, they’d be better off letting someone mix their record who has just as much talent at mixing as they do at singing. Splitting the load with other talented people can really help the overall quality of the final product.

Pro:
You will notice every nuance.

This means every time you hear yourself sing a flat note, it’s going to stick out like a soar thumb. The benefit of this is that now you know what areas need some personal improvement. If your drumming sounds sloppy, you know you need more practice with that metronome. This will help make you a better overall musician, I guarantee it.

Con:
You will notice every nuance.

Not just while you’re playing, but long after all the mixing is done. So if you really didn’t like those guitar tones, and you’ve already released your record, guess what. You’re stuck with them. They will haunt you forever. You wanted to add a little more reverb on that bridge? Again, it will haunt you. Forever.

Try to keep some of these pros and cons in mind while you’re tracking your own material. There will always be give and take, so I hope you take something from all this. What are some of the positives and negatives you’ve experienced from tracking your own record? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading.

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Contacting Bands From Your Studio at Home

How to Land a Band From Your Studio at Home (Part 3)

By now you should be feeling pretty confident with your ability to find the right band for your professional studio, or studio at home. If you still have some questions, you may want to go back and refresh yourself on Part 1 and Part 2 – or feel ask me a question directly in the comments below.

“Sure we know where to find our bands and that’s a great start. But Justin, come on, anyone can do that, get to the good stuff!” I know you’re hungry for some knowledge, so open up your brain hole and get ready for a healthy portion of learn-age.  When it comes to contacting a band there is a ton of methodology behind it, so open wide.

Write Privately

Firstly, and most importantly, make sure you are sending your messages privately (especially if you have a studio at home). Don’t publicize your quest for new talent on someones wall for all the world to see. It’s tacky. And after you start sending hundreds of messages your name will get noticed – (and not in the good way). So leave those walls alone.

The Cookie Cutter Message

DO NOT send a bland, generic, (obviously) copy-pasted message to a potential client. Here’s an example:

“Hey guys, I really love your music, you’ve written some great songs! I’m a music producer and would love to talk to you more about working together. Contact me back. Thanks!”

Sure, you can copy paste this message 600 times from your studio at home, but no one will respond to you. And if you’re sending the message via Facebook, you’ll get pegged as spam after about your 20th copy-paste. If you’re lucky enough to not get banned, I guarantee your name will make its way through the grapevine of bands who talk to one another via groups and forums. Once your name is shown in a negative light, it’s hard to detach yourself from that stigma.

Studio at home

Written Publicly, and Generically.

Actually Listen to the Music

When writing a message, personalize it. Quote a lyric, talk about how the harmonies lift the chorus, make mention of the unexpected saxophone solo. Do whatever you can to show that you’re an actual human being and not some lame old robot. When a band sees you took the time out to actually listen, it hits them right in the heart. They are real, live people who poured their soul into that lyric you just quoted. You’ll make more of a personal connection which will progress into a promising conversation.

What to Include

I’ve written thousands of messages to bands, all as unique as the bands themselves. I always find myself incorporating these 4 things.

1) How I found them.
2) Something that struck me about their music.
3) Asking about their current goals.
4) Letting them know who I am.

You can incorporate them all in one paragraph, or 4 depending on how much you have to say. You’ll notice things that work and things that don’t, so take note.

Writing by Region

One thing that strikes me is how vastly different bands from different areas will respond to the same message. I’ll give you an example. When I was in New York, I’d message bands and tell them something I like about their music and something that could use improvement. I had an overwhelmingly positive response using this technique. The bands in NY craved that constructive criticism. When I moved to Austin and tried that same strategy, bands went ice cold. Here, the bands didn’t take well to criticism. They saw it as insulting. I needed to revamp my approach. Instead, I left out the criticism and received much warmer replies. So bear in mind, something may work at one place/time, but don’t grow too attached to it because you will need to make amendments.

It’s a Numbers Game

One thing you need to know is that not every band will respond to you. You may message 10 bands on a Monday and receive 0 replies. Then you get back on your horse on Wednesday, and score a perfect 5/5. The point is, you need to send out a ton of messages. Because even the bands that do reply are not a guarantee to work with you in your professional or home studio. The more nets you cast the better, so get out there and keep fishing.

I’m hoping that these strategies will help you on your quest to work with new talent. They aren’t meant as gospel, more so as guidelines. You should borrow a few ideas from me and make them your own. See what works best for you.

Next week we’ll cover how to respond to a band that replies to your initial message and how to bring them into your professional studio, or studio at home. Then the conclusion of this segment will be the ups and downs of the entire band messaging process. Thanks for sticking with me so far, and please stay tuned for more.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it and leave a comment below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5

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How to Land a Band (Part 2)

Hello my friends, and welcome back to part two of the How to Land a Band series! If you haven’t checked out Part 1, I suggest you check it out now. So far we’ve learned that our most advantageous technique for scouting bands is our good old friend the internet. I’m going to give you a few of my own personal methods for finding leads, so please feel free to incorporate them with your approach and mix/match where you see fit.

Today we’ll be focusing on:

ReverbNation and Facebook.

Before we dive right into how to use these sites, there are a few components you want to keep an eye (and an ear) out for.

Know Your Own Talent Level

Firstly, you want to know your talent level and what you can realistically produce. Having an honest understanding of your skills will allow you to bring in the right clients to your studio. When I say skills, I’m going to umbrella gear into that description.

I know what you’re thinking, “gear doesn’t count as a skill!” Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. In actuality, your gear has no bearing on your expertise with your DAW. Perhaps you can fly through the Pro Tools hotkeys like a wizard and you have the elastic audio prowess of a freaking ninja, but if you don’t have the right gear, none of it will translate properly. It’s honestly the difference between Slash ripping a solo through a Les Paul or an out of tune Squier. The difference is, as producers, our finished product is indicative of our talents. So if something sounds ‘off’ when our records are all said and done, others will see that as a poor reflection of us.

When listening to a prospective band, make sure you can create a product that sounds even better than what you hear. If the quality outweighs what you’re capable of making, then your best bet is to move on and search for someone you’re more likely to land – there’s no sense in wasting time.

Facebook

Here’s a great approach to Facebooking bands. Start with a local band that you either know, or have worked with. Sift through their page and look for past and future shows. Start a word document and jot down some of the band names you see. Once you have a comfortable list of bands, you can search for them on Facebook.

*Note: When messaging these bands be careful not to message too many acts from the same bill. Bands talk to one another, and if your name comes up, you may come off as more of a spammer then as a genuinely interested producer.

ReverbNation

Search local. You can actually type in your Zip code and search for bands in your immediate vicinity! If you want to go even further, you can even search by genre. You may need to jump ahead a few pages to bypass some of the bigger acts. (It would be really hard to land Eric Johnson, or The Killers.) Honestly, since Facebook is the super giant that it is I would search for the band on Facebook and message them through the FB messenger. If they aren’t on Facebook, search for an email address or a phone number and go with that.

*Note: For more advanced techniques, search on wikipedia for high household incomes near you, then use those zip codes. Sometimes you have better luck with those higher income areas!

Currently Active Bands

One thing you’re going to want to pay immediate attention to is how active a band is on their social media platforms. I always cross reference everything to Facebook. If you search a band and they haven’t posted a status in 3 years, don’t waste your time messaging them, they probably broke up. Generally anything past 2 months is bad news, and remember, the more active they are, the more likely they are to record some new material.

*Note: On ReverbNation, you can actually search upcoming shows in your area. This is a great indicator of active bands.

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Likes and Fans

The better you get at this whole messaging game, the more you start to understand your wheelhouse. For producers just starting out, you’ll want to look for bands in a similar position. For the most part, you’ll be more likely to land a band between 0 and 400 Likes on FB or Fans on RN. You can always aim higher, but it’ll save you a lot of time knowing exactly the types of bands you’re getting positive responses from. The more you produce, the higher your Like threshold will grow.

*Note: Starting your own producer page on Facebook is very helpful when it comes to band responses. If they see you’re established and have a respectable number of likes, it’ll make them more prone to work with you.

Potential of the Band

The last thing I like to check for when scouting is overall potential. If I see a band with a name like “Screaming Pussy Fart”, that’s generally a project I want to avoid. To me, they don’t sound like they’re taking things too seriously, so I don’t even want to waste my time. Trust me, once you start doing this for a long time, you’ll see that the names of bands really do represent their members.

First impressions aside, some signs of potential include great songwriting, (despite lackluster recordings), awesome content, (videos, posts, etc…) and an overall “wow factor”. You want to work with artists that you can push to the next level and help to reach their fullest potential. You’ll start to see how much of a difference you can make, especially when you work with artists who climb from 300 Likes to 3,000 in a matter of months. A lot of it is the band yes, but a ton can be contributed to the brains behind the scenes and quality recordings.

I hope you were able to take away some insight from this article, and I hope it helps you on your hunt for new projects. As we move forward, we’ll cover the next aspect which is writing the perfect message to a band. After that we’ll discuss how to respond to interested parties, how to bring them into your studio, and all of the up and down factors that go along with the whole hunting process.

If you learned anything from this article, please share it and leave a comment below. As always, thanks for reading!

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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How To Land a Band (Part 1)

Believe it or not, attracting clients is a huge part of our job description. I can almost guarantee that most up and coming producers aren’t even aware of the countless hours that go into finding a project – and it isn’t their fault. It’s just something that isn’t talked about.

Far too many young producers are obsessed with finding the perfect reverb technique for their vocals, or when they should be using parallel compression. And mind you, these things are important. But what good is practicing a skill set without the means to implement it? It’s the equivalent of practicing with a band for years, but never putting together a show. Sure that band may be amazing, but how will anyone ever know?

But how do I find the band?

The first aspect I’ll be covering in regards to messaging a band will be where to search. There are a few ways to approach this, so try to mix and match to see which ones work best for you.

Friends

Most producers are musicians first. And of course, that means having musician friends. If you’re looking for a project to work on, this is a great place to start. Ask your band friends if they’re looking to record any new material – if they are – tell them you’d like to produce their upcoming record. Working with friends is generally a great way to start, because you already have a good rapport with one another. This will make for a lax recording environment, and hopefully ensure smooth sessions. If they aren’t interested in recording at the moment, ask them if they know of anyone in the market and have them put in the good word for you. This is a huge word of mouth business, and the word of one band can go a long way. Be good to your friends and your clients, and they will be good to you.

Live Shows

Another technique that works (but I don’t generally recommend) is going to live shows. First I’ll go into the technique, then I’ll go into the reasons I wouldn’t use this as your go to. Talking to a prospective client one on one is an amazing technique that really can go a long way. Face to face marketing is a proven sales technique after all. They know that you’re genuinely interested because you are at their show – seeing them live! Nothing pleases a band more than hearing praise after they just put on a killer set. You can catch them at the perfect time, they’ll be on cloud 9, and listen to everything you have to say. Make sure you bring a few business cards along so you have something to leave behind.

Now, the reasons I don’t fully suggest this tactic is four-fold.

1) Bands can be temperamental after a bad show. If they had an off night and the crowd wasn’t responding appropriately, the band may be sour. You don’t want to catch them in a bad mood, because this will be your one and only opportunity to make an impression. If you make it under poor circumstances, I guarantee you won’t land the band.

2) They won’t feel special if they see you talking to every band. If you’re at a venue, you want to make it worth your while. But you also don’t want to seem desperate. If you’re talking to every single band that played a set, the others who played will take notice. If the main attraction sees you talking to the opening act (who they happen to think are a bunch of jabronis) well, guess what. You’re a jabroni by association. Not to mention the fact that the opening act will feel betrayed when they realize you’ve been talking to the enemy.

3) You don’t have home field advantage. Being in an uncontrolled environment like a bar or club can really work against you. The noise, lighting, and even mood can contribute negatively to a conversation. You’re better off talking on your own terms, whether it be via phone call, or in your own studio.

4) You can find more bands in a fraction of the time by searching online. In 3 hours at the club, you may see 5 bands play. If you’ve never heard of the bands, you’re just hoping for the best in terms of their talent level and playing style. If there’s nothing you dig, then the whole night was a bust. You easily could’ve sifted through 30 bands in those 3 hours, from the comfort of your own couch. Which leads us to our next technique…

Online

Searching for bands online is probably the greatest technique for landing a band. There are so many different outlets you can use, and you can do it on your own time, at your own pace. You can check out Facebook, ReverbNation, Soundcloud, PureVolume, Bandcamp, and so many other sites. Now, techniques for finding the bands and messaging them are going to differ according to different factors. (I’ll cover this in next weeks article.) Once you find a band you’re really interested in collaborating with, you’ll want to shoot them an inquiry message. Feel free to write them your own personal note, and of course, I’ll be covering how to do this in this series, so please incorporate that as well.

I hope these techniques have helped introduce you to the idea of finding your own clientele. I’ll be going more in depth as these articles go on, so please stick with me. I’ll be going over online techniques for finding bands through different websites, how to write the perfect message, how to respond to interested bands, bringing the right band into your studio, and the up and down factors of working with potential leads.

Please feel free to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Subscribe to us on YouTube. Is there anything you’d like to see covered? Let me know, and thanks for reading!

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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