Category Archives: Get Ready

How To Ask For Feedback

[Editors Note: This article was written by JP Remillard and was originally featured on the LANDR Blog. JP is a mastering engineer with over ten years of experience, a musician, and a label owner. Polish the sound of your next release using LANDR Instant Mastering!]

Feedback: you need it. Especially if you’re trying to get better at producing music.

Feedback will make you a better producer. Critiques mean learning and growing. It’s a must for anyone looking to take their music to the next level.

So how do you get the feedback you need and use if effectively?

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ASK

It’s simple. If you’re not getting feedback, just ask.

Ask someone you trust. Get feedback from people you respect, artists you can learn from and creators who’ve been in your shoes.

It’s a win-win. They get better from teaching and you get better from learning.

WHAT TYPES OF FEEDBACK TO EXPECT

Knowing what kind of feedback you’re getting helps you to apply it in the best way possible. So know ’em.

Three types of common critiques are:

  1. Technical – Technical feedback is specific. Like “your reverb is too loud” or “your EQ’ing in this part could use a little work.” It’s the most practical and useful kind of feedback. If you’re wondering about a certain part then ask about it! 
  2. Directional – Direction deals with your artistic vision as a whole. If you’re putting your guitars away and picking up an 808 get some directional feedback first. Making drastic career moves is serious. Ask before you act.
  3. Opinion – Opinion feedback is someone telling you if it’s good or bad. It’s the hardest type of feedback to apply. But it’s also the most common. If someone thinks your music is good, then make more. If they think it’s bad, then make more anyways and continue to get better.

Andy Warhol put it best when he said:

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad. While they’re deciding, make more art.”

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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF CRITIQUES

  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions – Don’t interrupt and try to explain why you did something a certain way. Take everything in before discussing it. Let your mentor flow through their feedback. It helps them get to the core of what they’re trying to say.
  • Encourage Honesty – No feedback is good unless it’s honest. Some blunt feedback might sting a little at first, but it’ll make you a better producer in the long run. Put your pride aside and strive to the get the most honest responses you can.
  • Make a Wrong a Right – If you’re told that something isn’t sounding right, or you did something incorrectly, ask how to fix it. Doing this turns negative feedback into constructive feedback and gives you something concrete to work on.
  • Relax and Take Notes – It’s a fact: writing ideas down helps you remember the stuff that counts. If you just listen, things go in one ear and out the other (you know it’s true). Having notes allows you to reference your feedback later.
  • Follow Up – Once you fix something based on feedback, go back to the source and make sure you did it right. You’ll never know if something is fixed until you ask the person who told you it was broken.
  • Build a Feedback Network – Surround yourself in producers. Having a network of creative people is the best way to be be constantly stimulated and critiqued. There are no solo geniuses. Brian Eno suggests that all great art comes from the Scenius.

GIVE TO GET

If you want feedback, give feedback to others. Be constructive, positive, compassionate. Use ‘liking’ and comment spaces to support and interact.

Everything is an exchange. People remember all the little things you’ve done for them. When you ask for feedback on your own music, they’ll be more willing to help.

CUT THE CRAP

“Check out my SoundCloud bro” is the worst thing you can do. People can sense shameless self promotion. Not only will you not get the feedback you need, you’ll lose a listener forever.

Make it a private, human-to-human interaction. Call them by their real name. A specific approach triggers curiosity and avoids ‘the bullshit radar.’ Plus it makes the discussion more elevated and personable.

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APPLY, APPLY, APPLY

Don’t go to all the trouble of getting quality feedback and then do nothing with it. If you never change, nothing will get better. Sure, some feedback won’t work. But at least try it before you trash it.

Being a better producer means small changes. And small changes mean growth. So get feedback, apply it, and become a better musician.

How To Mix Bass Properly

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog by JP Remillard, and it originally appeared on the LANDR Blog. We’ll continue to share awesome content from LANDR in order to help educate TuneCore Artists who are producing, recording, and engineering their tracks!]

After seeing millions of tracks come through LANDR, I’ve found a trending problem — Mixes that lack low-end.

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Think of your mix like a human pyramid. The lows are the sturdy bottom. They keep everything from falling apart.

If there’s no bass, then your mix has no base.

How does a track sound when it lacks low end?

  • Aggressive – Lacking lows makes everything else stand out. If your mids get pushed to the front, your track can sound good at first, but quickly becomes tiresome to the ear.
  • Cold – When the bass isn’t there everything in your mix gets a bit chilly. Bass adds roundness and warmth that nurtures the rest of your sound.
  • Weak – Flat lows stops the rest of your track from doing its thing. A well balanced mix pushes everything equally for that A+ champion sound.

So are your mixes coming out aggressive, cold and weak? Don’t worry. I can help.

HOW TO MIX BASS PROPERLY

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The knee-jerk reaction is to go back to the mix, get fader crazy and push the lows. Don’t do it. The problem lies deeper.

Heres what you do in the DAW:

  1. Make your low-end mono – Pan your low-end to the center.
  2. Mix in the lows first – Turn down all channels except the lows (bass, kicks). You can now solo your lows at any time as a reference.
  3. Bring back the rest of the mix – Use your lows as a reference. You should hear the low-end just as loud as the other parts.
  4. Compress – Now it’s now time to use compression to glue your bottom end together and get it pumping in the mix. When it’s finally sitting right, compression will enhance all the essential parts.

Test some loops in LANDR before you make your final bounce. Adjust until perfected.


Snoop Dogg’s personal engineer, Frank Vasquez, uses LANDR to turn up the volume on his mixes. Check out LANDR’s “Behind The Board” interview with Frank below!

5 Tips for Cherry-Picking a Professional Mastering Studio

By Dwight Brown

Mastering enhances the OVERALL sound of your music. Professional mastering can give your tunes the same high-quality sound that big labels get for their recordings, priming them for downloads, streaming, radio play…

According to Jeff Strong’s guide Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies, which has a chapter called Hiring a Professional Mastering Engineer, there are some key tips to making the experience of hiring a professional mastering studio/engineer a successful venture.

1. Ask around for referrals.

If you know local bands or musicians whose music you like and whose CD sounds great, ask them who mastered their music. Call local studios and find out who they recommend for mastering in your area.

2. Listen to other recordings that the mastering house has done in a style of music similar to yours.

If you like what the prospective mastering engineer has done on other people’s music, you’ll probably like what he/she does with yours.


3. Clarify the fee for your project before you start working together.

Most mastering engineers charge by the hour and can give you a pretty good estimate of how many hours they will need to do the job.

4. If you don’t like the way the engineer mastered your music, you’ll probably be charged an hourly rate to redo it.

Be sure to discuss this possibility before you start the project so there are no surprises.

5. Many mastering engineers can do a demo of one or two of your songs.

This way you can hear what kind of job they can do to your music before you hire them. Ask whether the mastering engineer you’re interested in offers this service.

This can save both you and the engineer a lot of time and energy if he or she isn’t right for the job. It can also help you determine whether your mixed music is ready for mastering.

There are seasoned professionals who can take the sound of your stereo mixes to another level. They do it for Grammy-winning, multi-platinum artists. Why shouldn’t you and your music get the same high-quality service? Go for it.

Read the full Hiring a Professional Mastering Engineer article.

Check out AfterMaster Audio Labs.

TuneCore is proud to work with AfterMaster Audio Labs to connect independent artists with top engineers in order to master their new music! AfterMaster helps artists to mix and master their music quickly and confidentially. Learn more about this service!

6 Tips For Mastering Live Music

by Dwight Brown

The gig was magic. The audience ate it up. You want to save that moment and pass it on in a single, EP or album.

So, how do you capture the magic of a live performance and transfer it to tracks that will have that ‘feels-like-it’s-live’ sound?

Master the music before you distribute it.


Your Mastering Tip Sheet:

1. Use the same settings for the entire album.

2. Stay away from using different EQ or compression from one piece to the next.

3. Remember to leave some headroom (-5dB).

4. Avoid having digital silences between tracks and opt for a continuous performance sound. Just like the experience at the gig.

5. Think about adding a touch of Altiverb with a similar room design (concert hall, rock club, intimate coffee house…).

6. Don’t be intimidated by the cost of mastering your live recordings. Whether it’s 2 minutes or 2 hours, LANDR Instant Mastering gives you the same low rate, $9.99. Just keep in mind that longer recordings need a longer time to generate a sample, so hang tight and wait for LANDR to do its magic.


Bring the vibe of your live event to your new release with LANDR, the company that masters live recordings for SXSW, Mutek, Igloofest, and Electronik Piknic.

LANDR Jump-Starts with a Big Upgrade!

As you may have already heard through the news, our friends at LANDR made a huge step forward. Their growing team of visionary tech-wizzards has updated the algorithm that will make your masters sound better than ever – starting today.

Masters with More Color, Clarity, and Focus

This LANDR update marks a massive leap forward. Your masters will be dramatically clearer, bringing more focus to your tracks with subtle touches of color, and a huge range of dynamics.

What’s New:

  • Wider genre detection.
  • Improvements on dynamics processing.
  • Updates to the corrective EQ, multi-Band compressor, multi-Band stereo enhancer and limiter.
  • Fine-tuned mix correction.

Try the new LANDR engine- Master a track now!

Sustaining the Future of Mastering

The technology will keep improving as LANDR just closed a round of financing with prominent investors such as Rap icon Nas – along with a few other heavy hitters such as Warner Music Group (WMG) and Plus Eight Private Equity (regrouping DJs Richie Hawtin, Tiga, John Acquaviva and Pete Tong).

Multi-platinum artist Nas says:

Technology has allowed for more creators to be birthed. More and more music is being made but certain parts of the process don’t have consumer tools to help make fine and crisp finishes.

I believe LANDR is an affordable groundbreaking technology to help musicians make music that has a quality finish like any major label artist with a budget. I’m excited to help the LANDR team take their technology global.”

Join the growing community of 250,000 musicians worldwide. Master your tracks with the New LANDR today.

10 Totally Uncommon Ways to Better Your Mixes

[Editors Note: This article is written by Sacha-Léo Shenkier and it was originally featured on the LANDR Blog. Polish your tracks instantly and affordably with LANDR Instant Mastering!]

Think Like a Listener

In the era of modern editing and correction tools, infinite tracks, and no outside-world time constraints, it’s super-easy to get carried away and disappear down the “The Perfect Mix” rabbit-hole. But people don’t listen to a mix, they listen to a song.

Very few sit and listen to music with an intense scowl on their face, hawkishly looking for mistakes. After all, if you really want to find mistakes in your mix, you will. Always.

Try to get the perspective of a fan:

  • Whenever possible, take some real time (days) away from your productions.
  • If something sticks out as sounding wrong, then it warrants fixing.
  • If not and the song comes across as something you would enjoy listening to, then the mix is done: Time to move on.

Get To Know Your Track Before Mixing

Before I start a mix, I bounce a rough “faders up” version and listen for a couple of days. Over time, approaches and ideas present themselves organically. Allow the music to dictate the mix and not the other way around. This sounds more Zen than it actually is but it’s a good way to get out of template-driven ruts and habits. Listen to your mix away from your computer. It gets you out of producer headspace and into music-fan headspace.

Mixing As Arrangement

Edit!

Mixing is an extension of arrangement and orchestration. So when faced with a busy, dense mix, ask yourself if all the parts really need to be there before using every EQ, compression, and panning trick in the book. Giving individual parts space and “time off” will increase their impact. Use sounds that are complementary instead of similar (ie. layer a short, attack-y sound with softer, sustained sound). Approaching a mix as a musical arrangement instead of just a bunch of frequencies that need to be wrestled with, goes a long way.

Audition Your Mix With LANDR

Sometimes it’s smart to take a break, get some space and hear what the LANDR algorithm will do to your mix. From there you can identify what’s actually still a problem (have you been EQing that bass for 2-days? Can you stop?). It’s actually one of the most common uses of LANDR – which was a surprising, but cool discovery for us too.

Brooklyn’s Govales – who’s recently caught the attention of MistaJam, Zane Lowe and Gilles Peterson – started running his mixes through LANDR, before they were finished — it helped him highlight which parts still needed work.

Travel Your Mix

No doubt, that having the best monitoring setup (speakers, headphones) and room treatment is very important, but hearing your music in as many “real world” scenarios is a great workaround, especially if your home studio is on the budget side. Listen on laptop speakers, crappy earbuds, in the car, and even at your audiophile friend’s acoustically-perfect-subterranean-shrine-to-Steely Dan.

If it works on all these systems then your mix is as good as it gets. If not, make a note of what the problems are and go back to the mix and fix them.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Get Weird

Making a mix sound balanced, defined, and well-proportioned is only part of the equation; A mix should also be hella interesting.

Get lost in experiments: run your vocal reverb through a granular synth. Vocode your drums with your synth pad. Reverse the delay that’s delaying the delay on your vibraphone, add tremolo, reverse it and add delay. The worst that can happen is it sounds bad and you start from scratch. The best that can happen is you stumble on something truly unique and develop your signature sound, a la “the Cher Effect”. Tip: don’t do this with a paying client in the room. Unless they’re cool with it. Some of them actually are.

Lower Your Goddamn Levels : )

Now that we live in a 24-bit world, noise floors aren’t an issue anymore. So there is no reason to record or mix with every meter blazing red.

Recording too hot needlessly pushes your recording chain into harsh clipping territory. Aim for an average level of -18dB FS (or a peak level of around -10dB FS on your faders) and your signals will be safe from clipping. Plus you’ll save lots of headroom on your mix bus without resorting to limiters or continually pulling down your faders.

If your track needs to be louder then turn up the volume on your speakers. Save the “make it loud” step for mastering.
Your mixes will sound more open, detailed, and less fatiguing as a result.

Automate Your Faders

Compressors are great for taming wildly dynamic performances and adding character but relying on compression to set the level of your tracks, while leaving volume faders static, is a recipe for a lifeless mix. Once you’ve set a basic balance between all the elements, automate small fader rides. This will help parts fit together in a natural and musical way.

Resist The Urge To Solo

Soloing a track is useful if you’re trying to clean up noises, or make sure your edits are tight. But avoid EQing and compressing things in solo mode. The natural tendency is to make all parts sound big and full on their own but this can cause elements to clash and compete when put together.

Mixing is about getting all the parts work together as a whole. Some parts might end up sounding thin and small when soloed, but that allows them to be placed easily and unobtrusively into the mix alongside the fuller lead elements.

F Everything

That’s right kids, filter everything. Well, maybe not everything, but a lot of things a lot of the time. The lowly high-pass and low-pass filters can be your best friends in a mix. Rolling off the lows, and even occasionally the highs, on tracks that don’t need them opens up a lot of space you didn’t even know you had.

Remember, don’t worry if the sound is a bit weird or thin when soloed. It only matters what it sounds like in context with everything else.