Ok so the other day I was on SoundCloud searching for new talent to work with and I was amazed at how many poorly recorded songs existed on the web. Now these mistakes can cost you potential opportunities but there’s hope.
Too much movement and loud headphones can contribute to a noisy environment during the recording process. You’ll want to invest in some closed back cans (headphones) so audio from the instrumental isn’t bleeding into the microphone as you’re recording. Another offender is room noise. This can be described as an "eco" like sound on the voice from either poor microphone placement or bad room acoustics. You’ll want to record in a neutral, dry room. Avoid cavernous rooms where reflections and reverberation of sound is notably present. As this will affect the recording quality and will leave you with less control later on in the mixing stages.
2. Too close to the microphone.
Being way too close to the mic will only lead to poor results. When the Vocals sound distorted and filled with Plosives (pops). Finding a good distance from the microphone can be achieved by placing your hand in front of your mouth and the mic from thumb to pinky (shown below).
The spread hand technique used to measure distance from the vocalist and the microphone.
Standing at least 5 inches away from the mic will be enough space for recording. Using a pop up stopper (filter) helps with the Plosives by placing it between you and the mic.
3. Uneven vocals.
Maintaining an even and clear vocal level throughout your song is important. Keeping the soft and hard (louder) parts at bay can be achieved by using either compression or automation. Now this tends to be a common problem amongst beginners when it comes to using compression correctly and not over doing it. Placing automation on the volume fader is the safest and effective technique that can be used to maintain even vocals. This method allows you to have more control over your vocals while you’re edit/drawing in the changes where you need necessary volume adjustments.
4.Over using plug-ins.
Now we all have our favorite go to plug-ins for certain task but knowing when to apply them makes a world of a difference from natural to complete harsh and unrealistic sounding vocal mixes. Too much processing is never a good thing.
5. Timing Issues.
If your vocals are off beat then chances are it may not only be you but your audio interface settings. Adjusting the audio settings of your soundcards latency makes an impactful difference for the recording process. Reducing the latency can increase timing but will lead to other errors during the recording process such as clicks and pops you’ll want to avoid doing this. Instead try increasing the buffer size settings to gain a stable balance. This varies across sound cards and processing power on PC’s.
6.Overuse of reverb.
Drowning your vocals in reverb does not yield good result. Instead try using a more subtle approach by applying less reverb to the point it is unnoticeable and not bearing an unnatural presence in the mix.
7.RECORDING OVER AN MP3.
If you’re thinking about putting out a project (e.g., Mix Tape, LP, Ep or album.), you’ll want to record over the best quality format available to you. Most producers nowadays offer single wav file “Premium leases” to Artist who are serious about the audio quality of their work. A wav file is an uncompressed audio format that should be used throughout the entire recording process. This is vital to the overall recording process to help preserve audio quality. When all recorded tracks have been mixed and sent out for mastering, a 16 bit (sample size) at 44.1 KHz (Sample rate) and 1411 kbps (bit rate) stereo wav file is sent out for distribution. Recording over .wav is standard practice for best audio quality. Because of its low file size, reduced quality and its unique ability to sound like the original uncompressed audio .wav file for most listeners. Mp3 is the preferred audio format for consumer audio web and video streaming. Choosing a .wav file to record over an Mp3 to makes things easier for you and the engineer who will be spending time mixing your song.
8.Clipping in vocals.
Few minutes after the mic has warmed up, take the time to make sure that your mic levels are not in the red. Keeping the vocal away from the red will keep your levels from peaking (also known as clipping).
9.Choosing the right bit rate.
Selecting the right bit depth is important when it comes to having enough head room for your recordings and mix. You’ll want to select 24bit or 32bit instead of 16bit depending on your DAW(32 bit may not be available to you). This will allow more headroom in the Recording and the overall mix.
10. Relying on the mix for corrections.
If you hear something noticeably wrong early on in the recording stages, don’t wait later on during the mix to fix it. The sounds you start with are what make good mixes. If the vocals have an unwanted noise to them either from the room or movement from you, simply do it over.Jun 022017
Putting together a home studio for the first time isn't as complicated as it may seem. And it doesn't require any extensive research either. In fact it's a lot simpler then you think. Once you understand what the basics essentials are. You'll be able to move forward with confidence and enjoy the process at every step of the way. Understanding what your needs are earlier on can help determine the direction of your budget. Will you be building your recording setup for future expansion? Or will you be building a setup for your current needs? Building for current needs is fine when your just starting out. As it will take you some time to learn and develop techniques. As for building for future possibilities may depend a bit more one your budget. To give you an idea of what you'll need to get started. I've put together a list of the top ten home recording essentials for beginners.
1.Computer-This is the most important component to a studio set up and is easily one of the most costly additions as well. We all know the benefits to having a fast and responsive computer at your disposal. But in most cases today whether its mac or PC virtually everyone owns one and it's just enough to get you up and running. Before spending any cash on a new one I'd recommend checking your current system specs and comparing it to the latest DAW requirements before moving forward.The chances of you running an updated system are pretty fair and should be enough to get you started for now.
2.Digital Audio Workstation- This is where the recording, editing, mixing, mastering and beat making process takes place. You won't have to spend too much on a DAW in the beginning. If your buying the entry-level version of a program like Studio One 3 Artist. Where the price ranges from $99 USD for Artist (entry-level)and $400 for the full version. Other programs with similar pricing are Propeller head’s Reason, Steinberg's Cubase , cakewalk sonar and Cockos Reaper .
3.Audio interface -This is what will be processing your audio signals to and from your DAW. Can cost you any from $99.00 to $4000.00. The more you pay the more features, I/O's and audio conversion quality you'll have to work with. PreSonus AudioBox USB -$99.00 / SaffPro40-$399.99/Motu - AudioExpress-$395
4.-External Hard drive- Losing all your sessions can be a nightmare. So its important to save your work to more than one hard drive. In the event of hard drive failure you'll want have a back up of your sessions. Having a few external hard drives comes in handy when preventing data loss. Amazon/Newegg/sweetwater
5.-Reflextion filter – Providing helpful absorption that would likely reach the back and sides of the mic. As well as it catches and absorb sound from a vocalist, while keeping unwanted reflections echoes or reverberant sound from the mic signal. Reflection filter -$99.00 ,
6.-Microphone- The type of mic you decide to get will depend on the type of music you'll be making. If your going to be recording instruments and vocals then you'll only need 1 or 2 microphones. Since most people start with recording vocals a good mic to start out with : Rode NT1-A $229.00
7.-Headphones- Starting out you'll be spending most of your time recording by yourself. And you'll only be needing one pair of headphones. There are two types of headphones for the studio use, open back, and closed back headphones. These two are designed for specific use, with open back you get optimal sound quality at the expense of lesser isolation used for mixing. While closed back headphones offer the most isolation at the expense of lesser sound quality ideally used for tracking. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, 250 ohms /Audio-Technica ATH-M50
8.-Studio Monitors- In most home studios mixing is done on headphones,but in pro studios mixing is always done on near field monitors. What speaker size should you choose? With speaker sizes in 5, 6, 8 inches choosing the right one will all depend on your room size. Krk rp5 with stands
9-Pop Filters/Mic stand -You'll be able to find combo deals with these items. Pop filters are important to the recording process. This helps by Keeping plosives from being picked up in the recordings. you'll also need a mic stand to hold your microphone in place. Mic stand/ Pop filter
10-Audio cables -Finally make sure you get cables for your monitors, Microphone and instruments.Audio cablesJun 022017
As we all know anything can be done online when it comes to marketing and selling your music. For today's aspiring artist it's never been easier. With several resources like social media its easy for an artist to reach out to his or her fans. Artist can also find services like graphic design for cover art and web design. And for putting together an album or mix tape they can even find producers and buy beats online.
The process for buying beats used to be more complex for artist. The days of having to book studio time with a producer just to preview his or hers beats have changed. With today's methods you can find beats online, preview and purchase what you like. Here is a guide on how to buy beats online.
1. Finding beats: There are a lot of ways you can go about finding beats. But the key is to find beats you like. For instance if you have a particular style that you're going for Youtube is the best place to start. Producer's reference their beats to commercial acts that may potentially fit the sound you're looking for. Most producers online will use the following sites services as a platform for artist to buy their beats:
Airbit (formerly myFlashStore)-
You'll find the average price range will be from $20-$100 roughly. The more you pay for a lease the more freedom you will have with their beats. This also goes for quality as well. Higher priced leases will often offer different file formats like WAV and some may even offer track-outs/stem files. Obtaining the stem files will depend on the producer as most producers will only offer you the track-outs when a beat is purchased for exclusive rights.
3.Terms and conditions: This is very important especially if you plan on using their beats on your projects. Then you'll need to make sure that your intentions are within the guidelines. These limitations prevent artist from misusing beats. In case an artist wants to obtain exclusive rights to a beat for their album. They won't have to worry about hearing the same beat they just bought used on someone else's album.
4. Write before you buy: Now that you found a beat that you like before committing to a purchase. Make sure inspires you to write, just because it's a dope beat doesn’t mean it fits you as an artist. Finding the right chemistry between you and the beat is everything when it comes to making music. You don't wanna purchase a beat and it just sits on your hard drive for months collecting digital dust. Ok that last one was a joke but chemistry is everything and you'll want your fans to feel the same way when they hear your songs.
5.How to purchase: Navigating a beat store for the first time can seem overwhelming at first but gets easier once you realize what everything is.
Most players will have instructions on the left or right side of the player your using.
Click the add icon and select the license you want to buy
- Select the BUY button on the upper right hand corner
- After payment, you will receive your music download link automatically via email. (Please check your spam folder)
No matter the skill level of your artistry it's always a good idea to invest in yourself. As an artist finding your sound is a lot easier with original beats then it is with instrumentals of popular commercially released recordings. Developing your own cadence and melody oppose to going with ones that everybody knows. Is what will help you as an artist grow and stand apart from the rest that choose to put out low quality mediocre music. Even if you're doing it as a hobby and its something you truly enjoy doing. It's always a good idea to invest a little in yourself. Whether its learning to paint or playing an instrument you'll still need to invest. For today's aspiring artist who are unsure or unaware of the benefits to buying beats online. I’ve put together 10 reasons why Artist should buy beats online.
1.Beat selection: When you buy beats online you get access to a wide variety of beats in different genres. From pop, trap, EDM, experimental, R&B, Hip Hop and more. And the best part about it is you get to take your time and listen to as many as you like.
2.Instant delivery: You receive beats you've purchased instantly whether it's a lease or exclusive rights. It's all automated and ready to be sent to your email with detailed instructions. A quick and easy process that allows you to begin your song creation as soon as possible.
3.Deals & special offers: You can expect to find some sort of deal online buying beats. Usually around the holidays like anything else you'd buy online will have a sale. Like a buy one get to free or a 30% discount code you can enter during the checkout process. The online shopping experience for an artist has come a long way.
4.Access: There are a ton of producers to choose from online all with different levels of experience, and sound quality. You can and will literally spend hours listening to the many different styles out there. And you can buy at anytime of the day without having to contact the producer, unless there's an issue with you receiving your order which doesn't happen too often. But in the event that it does most producers are easy to get in contact with and will gladly assist you on the matter.
5.Royalty free: When your leasing beats there will be no royalties unless your buying beats for exclusive rights. Most producers will often include a contract telling you what your limitations are.
6.Affordable: Buying beats online can be cheap if your leasing them. The most you can end up paying is anywhere from $ 25 USD to $ 60 USD and up. As I mentioned before you can always find deals or pricing that works with your budget. But if your buying exclusive rights it can cost anywhere from $250.00-$2000.00 and up. Now this depends on what the producer is comfortable with selling his beats for. The reason exclusive rights will cost more is that the producer is giving you the full rights to use his beat without any limitations and will no longer be able to sell it once you've purchased it. It will be marked as sold and if he or she was leasing it to others before you bought it won't affect your agreement because leases have limitations and expiration.
7.Tag free: As soon as your payment is received all voice tags are removed and you are able to enjoy a tagless beat.
8.Saves time and Reduces cost: As a producer, engineer studio time with artist can vary upon the artist. As far as time spent on writing and recording songs. The process can normally take anywhere from an hour or more depending on the artist. As for the mix engineer working on your song can take quite some time. The turnaround time for completion can take a week and if it's an entire project a month. This process cannot be rushed as it is vital to the sound quality of your songs. If you're expecting your producer to make your beats on the spot. The process can take any where from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on the producer. This time can be better spent going through a catalog of beats online. Especially if your working on an entire project. This allows you to begin the songwriting process at your own pace. From my own experience working with artist. I can tell you that the recording process tends to go a lot smoother when the artist already has the beat and lyrics written prior to recording. The artist will by then have time to memorize and develop a flow for their song. Once it's time to lay their vocals down. And if you're an artist that can do your own recording then you'll only need your songs to be mixed. Saving you time and money that would've been spent on booking studio time. Be advised doing the recording yourself will require you to have a good quality microphone, preamp and audio interface to have near studio quality. You'll also need to be able to edit your own vocals and more. Just something to consider before opting out and doing it yourself.
9.Track outs for better mixes: As mentioned earlier the process that goes into putting your songs together weighs heavily on the quality of your recordings. The stem files are the kick, snare, strings ,piano etc, of a beat. These files are extremely important to have and should be handled by an experience mix engineer. This allows you the most control over your sound then it would a single Wav file. The difference in quality is noticeable and can be observed when comparing a mix tape to an album. 2 track recording is used for mix-tape recording which consists of a single wave file and vocals. As for albums the process requires having access to tracked out stem files for optimal sound quality.
10.Negotiation: Buying exclusive rights can be expensive because the producer is giving you the full rights to the beat. But in most cases a lower price can be negotiated. Depending on what the producer is comfortable with selling you their beats for, will play a factor in the deal.Jun 022017
The process that goes into putting together a project can be crucial. As it can have an impact on the success of your career as an artist. Having a decent budget with solid production is the foundation of this process. Choosing the right beats that have chemistry with your sound. Is what makes memorable mix-tapes and albums. Knowing what direction you'll be taking and the message your project will convey to your audience is important. Creating a statement with your music that not only speaks for you as an artist, but for you as a brand. It all comes down to the beats you choose for your project.
The next time you come across a producers website and hear a few beats that you like. Try writing to them first before purchase anything. And if your inspired to write then use that as an indication to purchase the beat. You don't want to buy a beat that sounds great only for it to end up sitting on your hard drive for months. All because you failed to realize that the chemistry just wasn't there from the beginning. Leaving you uninspired to write to a beat that you thought would be a good fit. This can become costly over time if this is happening often. Think of it like shopping for clothes. When you see a shirt that you realy liked and tried it on. Only to find that you didn't like the way it looked on you. This same analogy can be applied to buying beats. You'll need to try before you buy if the option of "Demo Downloads" available to you.
Choosing beats that complement your sound and style are usually what will inspire you to write. There are a few things to take into consideration. When you're picking beats for your project. The tempo of the beat will dictate your approach. For example rappers that tend to have a fast pace flow will normally go for beats that have a slower tempo around 65-75 BPM. This speed allows room within each bar to fit more syllables. As the tempo increases the speed of a rappers flow will start to decrease. As for rappers who prefer Mid speed tempo's 85-95 where the pace of the beat is not too fast or too slow. And for up beat, party and club tracks will be at 120-140 BPM.
Using a websites search engine can help you narrow down your beat search tremendously. While this can be a time saver there are instances where some producers won't include tempo information. And may require you to have some knowledge of beat mapping to find a songs tempo. This can be done using your DAW. If your are able to download a demo of the beat your interested in.Jun 022017
Exclusive rights is where a producer grants an artist or company full usage rights and in some cases full ownership to a beat for a certain amount money. This process usually involves a written agreement of terms that both parties are set to follow. Depending on the conditions of the agreement if the artist or company is purchasing usage rights or ownership to a beat the producer will often request in the contract that they receive a percentage of royalties. This is referred to as a royalty retention agreement. The producer who made the beat will want their fair share of publishing in the event the song they helped produced becomes a big success. The price for exclusive rights can range anywhere from $250-$3000 and up depending on the producer. If the beat your buying has a royalty retention clause in the contract. Then you might be able to negotiate a lower price depending on the producer. Exclusive rights with full ownership will be more money because your buying the producer out of their rights to the beat.
Purchasing exclusive rights are expensive because the producer is giving you the rights to use a beat exclusively. Once the beat is sold the producer will no longer hold the right to sell or re-lease the beat to anyone else. If they had already leased the beat to other artist prior to you purchasing it this won't matter because leases have limitations and an expiration. Your rights with the beat will have no limitations and allow you the opportunity to land song placements in TV and film. You'll have the freedom to do whatever you like with the beat except resell the rights. Most producers will state this in their agreements with you. Aside from owning the beat you'll receive track outs also known as stem files to beat session. Stem files are the kick, snare, 808's, stings, piano etc of the beat. This is extremely important to have as it will allow you to have more control over the quality of your recordings. With the stem files you'll be able to bring them to a mix engineer so that your songs can be professionally mixed. No matter the price you're paying for exclusive rights to a beat you should receive the stem files.
Whether your exclusive rights agreement will have a royalty retention clause will depend on the producer and their overall experience. A producer who is just starting out might not charge as much for exclusive rights nor include an agreement along with their stem files. Purchasing exclusive rights without a written agreement is something you'll want to avoid doing. Especially if you plan on making money with the beat you're using in your song. If you want to prove you have full rights to using the beat. This will affect any future song placement opportunity's if you don't have a written agreement that proves you have rights to use the beat. Both producers and artist profit off of royalties from the songs they've created. So a royalty retention clause is nothing to be afraid of or avoid when purchasing exclusive rights.