Mix Buss Compression Made Easy!

[Editors Note: This is blog was written by Scott Wiggins and it originally appeared on his site, The Recording Solution, which is dedicated to helping producers, engineers and artists make better music from their home studios.]

 

How many of you are completely terrified of doing anything to the mix buss, aka “stereo buss” “2 buss”?

It is real easy to mess up an entire mix with too much processing, in particular, mix buss compression.

Over the years of searching the internet creeping on my favorite mixers (Jaquire King, Dave Pensado, Chris Lord Alge, and many more) mix buss compression settings I’ve found that a little goes a long way.

Mix Buss Compression

Mix Buss Compression Glue

Have you ever heard the term “glue” in a conversation of recording and mixing?

No, I’m not talking about the kind you used to put on your hands in elementary so you could peel it off when it dried.

Am I the only one who did that?

I’m talking about the way compression can make tracks seem like they fit together a little better.

When set up correctly it makes the whole song feel like it’s glued together in the subtle ways which gives it a nice musical polished cohesive sound.

The goal with mix buss compression would be to just tame any transients that may spike up in volume just a little too much, and then bring the overall volume up of the rest of the tracks juuuuuust a bit.

We’re just trying to add a little more energy and fullness to the mix.

mix buss compression

Mix Buss Compression Settings

The Attack:

The attack setting you use for mix buss compression is important just like using a compressor on any other track.

With a  faster attack the compressor will clamp down sooner on the transients that tend to be a little louder than the rest of the audio coming through.

A slower attack will wait milliseconds before it clamps down on the audio and starts compressing.

I tend to use a faster attack, BUT I’m not crushing those transients with a ton of compression, so I still keep the dynamics in my mix.

If I found I was killing the transients too much and there was no excitement in my mix, I would probably make it a slower attack setting.

Release:

I tend to use a medium to fast release setting.

I’ve heard a lot of famous mixers say they set the release with the tempo of the song.

So they would watch the gain reduction needle and have it release on beat with the song.

I  try my best to use this method.

Ratio:

I use a really small ratio of around 1.5 to 1.

This means that once my audio passes the threshold I’ve set that there is very little compression happening to that audio.

It’s just a little bit. I’m not trying to squash the life out of it.

You can experiment with a little bit higher of a ratio, but know that the lower the ratio the less compression (more dynamics), and the higher the ratio the more compression (less dynamics).

Threshold:

I dial the threshold to where I’m only getting about 1 to 3 dbs of gain reduction on the peaks of the audio.

I tend to keep it on the lower side of 1 to 2 dbs of gain reduction.

You just want to kiss the needle. You don’t want to have to much mix bus compression happening.

Remember, we are going for a subtle “glue” like affect.

Make up Gain:

Just like on any other compressor, I turn the make up gain to math the amount of gain reduction happening.

Be careful here. Don’t turn it up to loud and fool yourself that you like the result just because it’s louder.

Do your best to math the input volume with the output volume of the compressor.

We tend to think louder is better when it’s not really better, it’s just louder.

I’ve shot a video tutorial below to show all of this in action on a mix i’ve started. Check it out!

Conclusion

Mix buss compression is a great way to add a little bit of excitement and glue to your mix.

Some people like to slap it on the master buss AFTER they have mixed it (Ryan West who’s credits are Jay-Z, Eminem, Kid Cudi, Maroon 5, T.I, Rihanna and Kanye West)

And some engineers like to slap a little bit of compression on in the beginning and mix through it.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way when it comes to when to put it on.

The key is to be subtle and don’t kill a good mix with too much mix buss compression.

Use your ears like always. They are your biggest weapons.

Good luck and happy mixing!

If you want to learn the 1st step to a successful mix even before you think about adding mix buss compression, check this post out about “The Static Mix”. 

Thoughts On How To Approach Music Bloggers

[Editors Note: This article is derived from the “Question and Answer” format found over at MusicPreneurHub.com, a site that connects artists and music industry experts. It was written by Jack Ought, a musician, freelance writer and digital artist from the UK.]

 

1. Start With Empathy

I’d say start with empathy. Empathy is a vital skill for dealing with other humans, whether they blog or not. Try to put yourself into the head of the music blogger before you contact one. What do they want out of life and how can you help them get it with your music? Put another way, ‘what’s in it for them’?

It’s a bit like submitting to A&Rs at major labels. If they’re really big, they’re getting more submissions than they can possibly deal with. They’re getting generic/irrelevant pitches all the time, and they might have grown to resent ‘bad pitches’. They don’t want to read War and Peace, even if your content is relevant to them – instead, they’re looking for short, informative, and ’to the point’ releases that allow them to learn more, if they want to. And they are always looking to uncover music that they feel has real value, why else would they do what they do?

If it’s a commercial blog (i.e they have ads), understand their revenue model – they want more page views, which generate more ad revenue. How can you help them generate more page views? One of the things that always gets my interest as a journalist or blogger is an exclusive – I’m not interested in posting content that a bunch of other people have put out before me. Do you have something new to announce that they can post first? A new tour perhaps, or a new single? Perhaps consider: “if it’s not new, it’s not news”

2. Your Mindset

Perhaps consider your mindset too; in the sense that you are here to serve and provide value. You are here to give them something very exciting to show to their readership. You have something genuinely valuable to share with them in the form of your art.

What to do when you pitch a blogger:

Have a strong headline: It’s worth bearing in mind that your email subject is a bit like your headline – you really have to get it right, because if they don’t like the title they won’t even read your email.

Do your homework on the blog: Some blogs ask you to do certain things in your email to help them better process your submission. If you don’t, the blogger will likely reject your message outright.

Personalize your pitch: Make sure the salutation references them by name, if you can. If not, name of the blog that they write for. Don’t start an email with something like ‘Dear Blogger’, please. Tailor it to the blogger in question, ideally in the first paragraph by referencing something they have written about in the past: And why what you have to OFFER them is RELEVANT. I speak from experience when I say that if someone shows that they have taken the time to research what I am writing, I am much more inclined to respond. It’s not flattery per se, more an example that you’re a professional who has taken the time and thought to do their research.

Expect a low hit rate: Sad but true, even the best crafted, most targetted pitches will often evaporate into nothing. This is very often the case and not something to take personally. People are busy, people forget stuff, sometime spam filters get excited, there are many reasons. Which leads us to the next bit… Follow up: 3-5 days later, politely. A short, friendly follow up email to remind them. There’s a trade off between emailing indefinitely until they get back to you or tell you to stop, or not. I think it’s like a lot of stuff in life in that persistence pays. Remember, you have something useful for them to see. An optional step – you could pick up the phone and call them (or try to get them onto Skype). If you are the kind of person who is good on the phone, this may be better for you.

Provide easily accessible links to your content: Either download links to music and imagery on a site like 4shared, or your EPK. Say thank you at the end: Everyone is busy, the fact that the blogger has taken the time to read all the way to the end is great. Politeness will get you around. Here’s an example of an email title (first introduction) that could work for you: “Hi [NAME OF JOURNALIST], I read your piece on [SOMETHING THEY WROTE] & thought you may like this…”

3. On Bloggers (Big and Small)

Please don’t rule out smaller bloggers. Just because they’re ‘small’ doesn’t mean they’re not important – even though a blogger may not have the following of a bigger publication, they often have a highly engaged and super niche following of the kind of people you want to get in front of. For example, they can be followed by journalists at bigger publications looking to catch new bands before they take off. Big outlets often get their ideas from smaller ones.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that bloggers are, on the main part, fanatical about what they like and they can be some of your biggest champions, if they like you. Most of the time, the ones who went into it purely for the money were quickly weeded out when they realized that they’re probably not going to get rich and famous overnight.

Content Marketing – Why It’s One of the Best Ways to Promote Your Music

[Editors Note: This article was written by Chelsea Ira of New Artist Model.]

 

 

It’s the big question all musicians ask: How do I promote my music?

So today I’m going to key you in on the best strategy to promote your music, grow your fanbase, and make more money – and it’s something that can work for any musician and any career path.

We’re talking about content marketing.

Content marketing isn’t some big, intimidating strategy that you need to build from scratch. Chances are, you’re already using elements of a content marketing strategy. So today, let’s focus on optimizing and perfecting.

To get started, I have two great resources you can checkout:

But for now, let’s focus on what content marketing is and why it’s so important.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a more strategic approach to promoting your music where you create valuable and interesting content to attract and retain an audience, and, ultimately, to create fans who financially support your career.

Essentially, your goal is to pull fans into your world with awesome content and make them want to hear from you. (Instead of pushing your music in their face.)

That means instead of just posting “buy my new album” on Facebook, you first provide truly relevant and interesting content to your fans.

Let’s take a look at a great example that has become pretty popular these days: making-of videos.

In this strategy, you film the writing and recording process of your new album and release the videos leading up to the official album release date. The videos bring fans into your world, they get them excited and emotionally invested in the album, AND they can be used to drive pre-orders.

Why is Content Marketing Important?

In today’s music industry, it’s almost impossible to shout louder than everyone else. This push marketing tactic worked well in the past when labels had big bucks to throw into promotion, but it’s just not feasible on today’s indie budget. (And to be quite honest, fans are starting to get fed up with being shouted at.)

So let’s go through a few reasons why content marketing is so powerful.

1. Content Marketing Turns the Process into a Marketing Tool

Content marketing is all about selling the process.

What do I mean by that?

For a lot of musicians, the promotion cycle looks a little like this: release an album, promote the crap out of it, go comparatively dark to work on the next album.

But with content marketing, you start sharing before you have anything ready. You let your fans in on the album-creation process with blog posts, Instagram stories, and vlogs. You bring fans into rehearsals with Facebook Live sessions. You let email subscribers vote on merch designs.

This accomplishes three things:

  1. It gets fans invested in your work (both from an emotional and time perspective). Fans are much more likely to buy a shirt if they feel like their vote helped create it. Fans are much more excited about buying an album if they’ve seen the process and the stories that went into the songs. In short, it fosters trust and relationships.
  2. It keeps you present in fans’ minds. Especially with many social channels being driven by some form of algorithm, going dark will only hurt your relationship with your fans.
  3. More impressions = more sales. Sometimes it takes a fan being exposed to your offers a few times before they actually buy. So the more you can link to your website, blog, videos, and email list, the more fans will be exposed to your offers. The key is to be authentic and relevant about it.

2. Content Marketing is Long Term

A lot of musicians get really focused on the short term – you know, promoting the new single, building up hype for the tour, getting fans to watch the new music video – and wind up completely losing sight of the bigger picture.

In other words, the short-term goals completely overshadow the long-term goals.

Of course, having short-term goals is important – they help you see progress and stay motivated. BUT, the problem arises when they take over. Without a long-term goal you’re running blind. You’re taking a bunch of steps but there’s no guarantee they’re all in the same direction. And that leads to discouragement and burnout.

A good content marketing strategy blends the short term and the long term together seamlessly. Ideally, most pieces of content you share have a purpose, or some larger agenda.

Here’s an example:

  • You share a short video clip of the recording process for an acoustic track.
  • You link to your email list where fans can get that exclusive track for free in exchange for an email.
  • You use that email list to promote all your upcoming projects in the future.

And another:

  • You create a new cover video for YouTube.
  • You link to your Patreon where fans can support you and get early access to all new videos and can vote on the songs you cover next.
  • You use Patreon as a place to build a superfan community that will support you for years to come.

You see? It’s all concentric circles with the small things like Twitter posts leading into larger career goals and objectives.

 

The 3 Steps to Your Content Marketing Strategy

1. Know Your Audience

The first step is to really know and understand your audience. You want the content you create and share to be really relevant to your fanbase and their interests.

You can find some basic demographic information like age, gender, and location on social media analytics. Beyond that, you can use polls and surveys to learn more about your fanbase. Even posting a simple question on social media getting fans to vote on the kind of content they would like to see will be immensely helpful.

Some bands have found that a good portion of their audience is also musicians and release tutorials, gear reviews, and sound sheets. Others will find that their fans prefer longer-form vlogs to short music videos. Every fanbase is different. Know yours.

2. Know Your Goals

The next step is to know exactly where you want your music career to take you long term. Because quite honestly, there are more ways to be successful as a musician today than ever before.

If making most of your money from YouTube and Patreon is a goal of yours and you have no interest in going on the road, all the content you release should encourage fans to engage with you on those platforms. You might even consider dropping the traditional “album” for singles (which may be more relevant to those platforms).

3. Use Relevant Call to Actions

Once you know what kind of content to create, you need to tie in a relevant call to action.

In marketing, a “call to action” is just asking your fans to take some further step – like clicking a link or supporting your Pledge Music campaign.

Like we talked about earlier, each piece of content you release should have a purpose.

  • You’re not just releasing a studio vlog, you’re using that vlog to link to your pre-sale campaign where fans can buy the album early.
  • You’re not just sharing a live recording from your last house concert. You’re using that video to show fans how awesome house concerts are and give them a link to volunteer as a host.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you some new ideas to promote your music. Remember, content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s not a completely new approach, it’s just OPTIMIZING content you’re already making.

That being said, it will be a bit of a transition. If you want some guidance, click here and take the short quiz. We’ll send you a series of free content marketing lessons.

We also have a content marketing checklist for you right here. Click to download it for free.

How To Book A Gig Yourself…and Be Invited Back

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

No matter what anyone tells you, we have yet to figure out a digital musical experience that can equal the fan connections a band can conjure through their live show. There is something in our DNA that is profoundly impacted by live music. Maybe it’s the shared experience with those in attendance or the nostalgia a concert can create for a certain time in our lives.

Or maybe it’s something more primal; the process of syncing our natural rhythm to live drum and bass as it pulse through our bones. Either way, performing is still undoubtedly the best way to create loyal fans and combat the current “musical-flavor-of-the-week” culture we live in.

Still, developing a live following is no walk in the park. You’re going to need to dedicate hours-upon-hours of time to tightening your set and tirelessly promoting your shows. It’ll get tedious, and success won’t happen overnight, but if you work hard you’ll eventually graduate from dingy bars and VFWs to better rooms. On top of that, I can honestly say nothing can match the indescribable feeling you’ll get from performing in front of a room full of people and, if you’re lucky, the dedicated following you’ll gain from gigging out.

Here are some tips on how to book that first gig, and how to get invited back!

1. Be Professional In Your Pitch

Yes, the promoter knows that you’re self-booking. They still want the comfort of knowing you will take the night seriously. Keep in mind that they’ve probably gotten a few hundred other “booking inquiries” that week. Ask yourself what’s going to make them offer you a slot on one of their nights over those other bands? Some ways to be professional include:

  • A succinct, clear subject line (i.e: Booking Inquiry – The Beatles October Date @ MSG?).
  • Be informative in the body of the email. You should include a description of your music, where you’re from and any performance history. It is also necessary to include a link to where the talent buyer can listen to your music and check out your socials.
  • Don’t have typos!
  • Follow up approximately 3-5 days after reaching out if you don’t hear back. Also don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Sometimes that’s the best way to cut through the clutter of acts hitting up a promoter.

2. Stay In Touch with The Promoter Ahead Of Your Show

Nothing makes promoters more nervous than booking a band and not hearing from them again until they show up at the venue night of. Give the promoter updates on what you’re doing to get people to come see your band. Also share any promotional assets such as Facebook events or flyers with the promoter as well. This way they can take comfort in the fact you’re promoting and maybe even help get the word out as well.

3. Promote On Socials and Ask Your Friends

Actually promote, don’t just show up! Be active on both yours and the band’s social media accounts. Also don’t discount the value of hanging flyers (particularly in the venue) and calling/texting your friends. Sometimes those IRL invites are more memorable than a Facebook invite.

4. Help Book The Bill

This isn’t as important as a lot of the other points on this list but it’s definitely a plus. Promoters are usually booking a bunch of dates at once. If you can book the rest of the band’s on your bill it takes the work off of the promoter’s plate and gives a better chance of the bill being cohesive.

5. Bring Your A-Game

Put in the work before the show to have a great performance. At the end of the day that’s what’s going to ensure people want to see you again and get your band invited back to play on better bills.

6. Communicate With The Promoter Night Of

Introduce yourself to the promoter when you get there and thank him/her for having you. Thank him/her again at the end of the night and let them know you’ll reach out about subsequent dates.

7. Follow Up After You Performance

Give it a couple of days after the show and then email the promoter. Thank him/her again for having you and then see what upcoming dates he/she has available. If you can get in this routine with a few different promoters, you can put a nice little circuit together for yourself.

8. Don’t Overbook

Space out your dates in any given market! If you play too much in the same area, you’re going to most likely divide your draw. Obviously when you first start playing, do as many low profile gigs as possible to find yourself as a performer, but once you’ve achieved a level of confidence in yourself that you care about draw, try not to play your own market more than once per month.

Promoters will not be happy if they find out you’re playing next door in a week. Neither will your friends and fans be as inclined to come out and support if you’re ALWAYS playing out.


Keep these eight things in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building your live career!

5 Tips To Help Your Band Sell More Merch

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

With the music industry reeling over increasingly poor record sales, artists are having to rely on ways other than selling their music to earn money more now than ever before. Band merchandise is proving to be a reliable revenue stream for everyone from established artists to up-and-comers hitting the road for the first time.

But while there’s some serious money to be made by selling merch, it’s not as easy as putting your band’s name on some stuff and waiting for the money to roll in. To help your band get the most out of selling merch, we’ve assembled these five ideas to help:

Create a visually compelling merch booth at your shows.

If your band hopes to sell lots of merch at shows, your fans should know exactly where the merch booth is from the second they walk into the venue. These days, the whole “merch booth in an old luggage bag” thing is a bit played out, but there’s lots of other ways to create a highly visual merch area at your shows.

If you’ve got a crafty design-oriented person in your band, give them a budget and vision for how to present your merch at shows. It’s well worth investing some band money into creating a unique merch space. Setting up an area with your own distinct lighting is a great way to get as many eyes on your merch as possible. For example, though it’s not very original, using Christmas lights to highlight your band’s merch area is a cheap way to get folks to notice all the stuff you have for sale at your shows.

And this sounds obvious, but it’s important to note here that your merch area and all the items in it should match the character of your band’s music. Christmas lights would work well for an indie outfit, but they’re not really a great fit for Insane Clown Posse.

Put your merch for sale on as many online platforms as possible.

A classic merch-mistake many bands make is to fork over a ton of money for shirts, stickers and pins only to sell them at shows and not anywhere online. Making your band’s merchandise available for purchase on your website as well as platforms like Bandcamp, Big Cartel and Shopify will give the masses as many opportunities to buy your stuff as possible.

How many of us have had the experience of bringing extra cash to a show to buy a band’s merch only to accidentally use the money drink a whole bunch of booze instead? Going to a show and drinking can be expensive, and your fans might not be prepared to fork over even more money on your stuff, even if they like your music and want what you have to sell. Yes, these platforms will take a significant slice of the money you earn from merch sales, but it’s absolutely worth it to make everything you have for sale available to sell on online platforms.

Once your merch is available for sale online, let your fans know and don’t be afraid to give discounts every now and then to inspire people to buy your stuff.

Redefine what you can and can’t sell to your fanbase.

Theoretically, anything your band sells can be considered merch, but don’t go wild and start trying to sell your bassist’s pubes just yet. A lot of bands could benefit from broadening their idea of what sorts of things they could sell to their fans, and strictly sticking to selling shirts, albums and stickers might be a missed opportunity for yours.

Depending on the unique identity of your band, being cheeky, goofy or just plain twee in the things you have for sale at your merch table might be a good way to earn your band some cash and get people talking about you at the same time. This Buzzfeed article profiles some obscure merch from bands you’ve probably heard of, but getting creative in what you offer to sell your fans can benefit you no matter how big your band is.

Make sure someone is there man the merch booth at your shows.

This is a really obvious tip, but it has to be said. If you’re able to, have a designated person at shows to sell your band’s merch to make sure you don’t miss any sale opportunities. Often, the most stressful time for a band also happens to be when they’re most likely to sell merch––right after they finish a set. Unless you’re headlining, bands are expected to remove their shit from the stage as soon as humanly possible after a set. By the time your band’s equipment is off stage and you’ve had a moment to catch your breath and head back to your merch booth, that urgency fans feel to come pick up your merch is often long gone. With a person there to sell your stuff at all times, you won’t miss valuable opportunities to make sales.

Having someone man your merch area on tour might be challenging, but earning as much money on the road as possible is essential for serious bands trying to build a presence nationally. Bringing a friend along to help or getting a fan or two into your shows for free in exchange for their merch-slinging services on tours will help your band make the most out of its merch situation on the road.

Use a payment platform that accepts credit cards.

Unless you’re a band that sells merch exclusively from a deli in Queens, you should give your fans a way to pay with credit and debit cards at shows. Our society is growing increasingly reliant on cards as a way to pay for things, and only accepting cash from fans will inevitably cost you sales and some serious money over time.

Companies like Square and PayPal have make getting paid with credit cards easy, but they aren’t free. But the small fees associated with accepting credit card payments quickly become worth it when you begin to see how much more merch you can sell when you take plastic.

10 Fundamentals For Getting Along in Today’s Music Business

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Bobby Owsinski and originally appeared on his excellent music industry blog, Music 3.0.]

 

So much has changed in the music industry over the last few years that affect an artist’s ability to be successful. Some of it is brand new and a result of the technology we use, while some of it is good common sense that’s been used over and over during the past decades of the business. Here are 10 business fundamentals taken from my Music 4.1 Internet Music Guidebook (in no particular order) that an artist, musician, producer or songwriter needs to grasp in order to get along in today’s music environment.

• It’s all about scale. It’s not the sales, it’s the number of YouTube or Facebook views or streams that you have. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (album and single) may have 500 million YouTube views. Once upon a time, a sales number like that would’ve been deemed a failure, today, it’s a success. Views don’t equal sales, and vice-versa.

• The scale is not the same. In the past, 1 million of anything was considered a large number and meant you were a success. Today anything with that number hardly gets a mention, as it takes at least 10 million streams or views to get a label or manager’s attention. 50 million is only a minor hit, while a major hit is in the hundreds of millions.

• There will be fewer digital distributors in the future. It’s an expensive business to get into and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find a few gone. (Ed. Note: We’re not going anywhere!)

• It’s all about what you can do for other people. Promoters, agents, and club owners are dying to book you if they know you’ll make them money. Record labels (especially the majors) are dying to sign you if you have have an audience they can sell to. Managers will want to sign you if you have a line around the block waiting to see you. If you can’t do any of the above, your chances of success decrease substantially.

• Money often comes late. It may not seem like it, but success is slow. You grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely you’ll have a long career. An overnight sensation usually means you’ll also be forgotten overnight. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much through the years.

• Major labels want radio hits. They want an easy sell, so unless you create music that can get on radio immediately, a major label won’t be interested. This is what they do and they do it well, so if that’s your goal, you must give them what they want.

• You must create on a regular basis. Fans have a very short attention span and need to be fed with new material constantly in order to stay at the forefront of their minds. What should you create? Anything and everything, from new original tunes to cover tunes, to electric versions to acoustic versions, to remixes to outtakes, to behind the scenes videos to lyric videos, and more. You may create it all at once, but release it on a consistent basis so you always have some fresh content available.

• YouTube and Facebook are the new radio. Nurture your following there and release on a consistent basis (see above). It’s where the people you want to reach are discovering new music.

• Growing your audience organically is best. Don’t expect your friends and family to spread the word, as they don’t count. If you can’t find an audience on your own merits, there’s something wrong with your music or your presentation. Find the problem, fix it, and try it again. The trick is finding that audience.

• First and foremost, it all starts with the song. If you can’t write a great song that appeals to even a small audience, none of the other things matter much.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the music business is both exciting and invigorating in it’s current form. It’s not dying and it’s not wilting, unlike what you’ll hear and read from the old school naysayers. It is constantly evolving and progressing, and those who don’t progress with it will fall behind. That said, these 10 fundamentals will help anyone navigate the road to success.