Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Wildboy" Sneak Peek

TEKNODROME / UGLY BEATS - "Wildboy" Instrumental Sneak Peekk
Sneak preview of rough cut of new instrumental called "Wildboy"Only 3 people have heard it. Support Tha UndergroundUnderground On TopJ-Draztik
Posted by TEKNODROME on Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

5 Steps To Self-Releasing An Album

With music equipment and software becoming cheaper and cheaper everyday, it’s becoming easier and easier to self-create a quality CD within the confines of your own home recording studio. So as creating and releasing your own CD becomes more and more accessible, more and more musicians are opting to do exactly that.

And why shouldn’t they? It’s a great way to spread your music (I don’t care if CD sales are plummeting, giving someone a physical product you can touch is always preferrable to a digital copy), as well as make some money off the music you’ve worked so hard on (if you’re selling the cds)

For those of you who follow me on youtube, you should know that me and my go-to singer / songwriter / business-partner Landon Reidy self-released underground albums earlier this year / decade. We sold a few hundred copies (not as much as we had planned, but other things came up for us so the albums was unfortunately put on the back-burner), and the whole experience, from idea to selling the final product, taught me a lot about marketing and how selling music works in general.

Today I've decided to put together a quick guide on how to put together your own cd or mixtape from the idea to releasing and selling it.

1.) Figure Out Your Market

This is key. Don’t just throw together a bunch of tracks you had on your computer and release it. Have a concept or idea and have a clear picture of who will be listening/buying your music.

You have to know your customers so you can create the music for them, because in the end they are the ones who will be listening and enjoying it. Now that doesn’t mean follow trends or change your creative vision to please everyone, but it does mean figure out exactly who your music appeals to and tailor your CD towards the listeners.

And definately don’t make one of those cds with ‘one of everything’ tracks where you try to please everyone.

Me and Landon went with a ""Electronic Rock" vibe with previous albums, and because we figured out the direction early, we ended up with a musically solid and consistent project at the end of it.

2.) Record The Music

This parts obvious, right? But a lot of people get into the marketing, and all the other areas of their project before even creating the product! I have to admit this is something that I did also, and while it’s good to have the steps laid out for you in the future, you have to remember that the music is the most important part, so don’t rush this step.

Put in the extra time to make QUALITY music. Fix up those tiny mixing flaws, re-record those shakey notes. Get everything as perfect as you can.

3.) Cover Design

Once you have the songs finished, mixed and mastered, you have to get the covers designed. I’d suggest you outsource a designer (you can find great graphic designers online for not too much $), and I'd definitely suggest getting professional photos done for the covers. When you’re trying to sell the product the cover is the very first thing people will see, and even though the music is the main focus, the cover is what they will initially buy.

A great cover verse a cheap looking cover will reflect (at least in the consumers eyes) on the quality of the music. Save up however much money you need and invest in quality pictures and quality cover art.

I know that when me and Landon were selling our cds, we had numerous people commenting on how professional it looked, and some even thought we were selling a CD by a major recording artist. It cost us a few hundred to get the quality we needed but it was definately worth the investment.

4.) Manufacturing / Pressing

Next you’ll need to get your CD manufactured. Do NOT burn and print the cds yourself! They will look cheap and tacky. This does mean you will have to invest MORE $ but in the end every little bit counts. Don’t skimp on any of these steps. Find a CD manufacturer who will do 1000 or less copies and get yourself a few hundred CDs at least.

It shouldn’t cost you too much if you buy in bulk, and if the professionals will leave you with a great quality pressed and printed CD. You don’t want your CD’s to look like you burnt them off your laptop.

5.) Sell It!

So you’ve figured out your market, recorded the CD, finished the covers, had your CD pressed up and ready to go, what to do now? SELL the product! OR if you wish, give it out for free as promo material! Either way, you have to get the music out there! Now, there are various ways to do this, and i’d advocate implementing as many as you possibly can.

Firstly you have to figure out WHERE your ‘demographic’ or basically, the people who will like your music, hang out. A great place to start is shows/events. The first time Marque and I started selling the ‘Back To Basics’ EP we wold it at an event that Marque performed at, where we knew much of the crowd would love our type of music. Because the people we wanted to sell our music to were there, plus Marque had some buzz due to the performance he had just given, we ended up selling over 50 copies in around 2 hours after the show. Not too bad.

Another great place is outside clubs when people are leaving. This actually isn’t as hard as it sounds, as long as you don’t approach people like a pushy salesperson and just be friendly and laidback. Just tell them you’re aspiring musicians, offer to show them some of your music through headphones on your ipod, and let them decide.

Don’t try force or beg people to buy it, cause if they feel awkward at any point they’ll most likely just leave. If you head to clubs that bring in a crowd that listen to your genre of music, you should be gold. This does require some effort and discipline, especially as you’ll be waiting in the cold till around 3 – 4 in the morning, but it’s all a part of the grind.

Lastly, you can sell physical copies online, as well as digital copies. have a great service that allows you to send them your physical cds, and people can buy it from the cdbaby website, and they will handle the shipping and postage for you. As well as that they have an online retailers like itunes and amazon, which is great.

Anyways that’s it for today. Hope this brief guide gave you an outline of what it takes to self release an album/ep or mixtape! And remember, don’t do it for the money. Even though you’re selling your music the main motivation should be providing people with quality music that they will enjoy and be touched by, one way or another.

Also, as usual feel free to leave a comment! If you found the info in this article valuable don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter to get updates and more informative articles in your inbox!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How To Get Great Mixes Without Having To Mix

How To Get Great Mixes Without Having To Mix

First of all, before I begin writing this, I want to say that I do not consider myself a great mixer at all. I really only have basic knowledge, and I would never claim that I am anywhere near an expert on the topic. However, I still get a lot of people asking my how I mix my tracks and get all the sounds to sit well with each other.
The funny thing is, any mixing I do on my beats is really quite minimal. Today i’m not going to focus on my actual mixing process (that will be covered in a future post), but I will be talking about the MAIN technique I use to get everything sounding clear. And the thing is it’s really quite simple.

It All Comes Down To Choosing The Right Sounds 

Easier said than done, right?

Now obviously me telling you to choose the right sounds is worthless if you don’t know what the right sounds to begin with. And on top of that, there are no perfect sounds which will automatically make your mixes sound amazing.

But the main idea is to choose the right sounds that work WELL with the other sounds.

Over the years i’ve spent producing, sound choice is probably the number one factor that has contributed to getting me decent mixes. And the fact of the matter is, no matter how much technical knowledge you gain about EQ, compression, panning, and whatever else, if you’re a producer, the mixing process should really only enhance how your music sounds.

You shouldn’t expect the mix to make your poor tracks sound great.

They should really sound good before the mixing process begins, and if you’ve picked the right sounds then you won’t need to put in as much work in the mixing stage.

So, how do you find sounds that ‘fit’ right toegher?

Well, first of all, you have to understand the frequency spectrum. The frequency spectrum is basically the range of sounds that can be picked up by the human ear. You don’t really need to know specific numbers in this case, all you need to know that there is a range that goes from Low (think sub-woofer), to high (think a high-screetch, or that squeeky noise when you rub polystyrene)

Now the main cause of bad mixes is when one or more sounds are “clashing” with eachother, on this ‘frequency range’. ‘Clashing’ basically means that those sounds are fighting for the same ‘space’ in the spectrum, and because they’re both taking up the same space they cloud eachother and sound ‘cluttered’ as a result.

The idea is that you will want to choose sounds that all fill different ranges of the frequency, therefore each taking up their own seperate space, and so will all be able to be heard clearly.

I don’t remember where I read this, but someone said you should think of sounds as items in a closet or wardrobe.

You want to make sure everything is neatly packed into its own spot, so when you open the closet everything you want (shoes, jackets, hats) etc has its own space and is easy to find. If you have all your clothes messed up everywhere with your shoes all over the place, jackets pilled up rolled together with jeans and t-shirts, it’ll take you ages to find clothes when you need to. That’s basically the same with your mixes.

You have to place sounds that each take up their own distinct place so when you listen to your music, your ears can “see” each sound clearly.

First Off, The Kick

I consider the kick the most important part of the drum sounds. The kick provides the tempo and really gives the listener something to nod their head to. Kicks will almost always take up the lower frequencies. This means if you have to many other ‘bass heavy’ sounds, they will cloud your kick and make them harder to hear.

Really you should only have one other sound in the lower end of the spectrum, and that’s the bassline. However, you have to make sure that the bassline isn’t SO low that it takes away from the kick by fighting from the same space. If you listen to the beat below, you can hear how the bassline and the kick compliment each other.

The clap/snare is next, and getting your clap or snare to really ‘pop’ has a lot to do with the way you layer your drums. Because this article isn’t really focused on that, i’m not going to talk about the clap/snare too much. However, I will be writing a DETAILED article about the art of layering your drums, and I will have a video explaining my process on how I get my drums to really hit hard.

The most important part of this article is in the actual melodic sounds, as these are the ones that really have the most chance of clashing and fighting for “frequency space”. On average I have around 5 ‘melodic’ (non percussive) sounds in a track. Sometimes I have a bit more, sometimes I have a bit less. In this particular beat I had four.

So I’ve already covered the bassline. Once you’ve picked out a bassline you shouldn’t really have any other low-end sounds in your track. Most of the other sounds really will go from the mid-low to high frequencies.

Usually I ‘fill’ my mid frequencies with some kind of ‘chorded’ sound. This could be anything from a synth pad, to string chords. In this particular beat I actually created this sound using Massive VST, and it’s a sort of synth chord. If you look at how I played the chord, I am playing the the ‘root’ note on lower octaves to give the chords an extra thickness in the mid-low range.

This helps fill up some of the lower frequencies, but not so low that they compete with the bassline and kick.

Next ill pick some sounds to fill the mid-high and high ranges. In this beat you can hear the ‘verse lead’ and the ‘chorus lead’. They both were played at higher octaves to avoid clashing with the other sounds that were already present in the track. And even those two sounds were played at different octaves so they wouldn’t clash with each other.

If you listen you can hear that the ‘verse lead’ is played higher than the ‘chorus lead’, and because they are played at different octaves they sit in different spots frequency-wise, which means they both are easier to distinguish when played TOGETHER.

So that’s really the framework I use when choosing out sounds, and that’s how I get my mixes to sound clear before I even start the mixing process.

Now, after I finish my beat I do go in and apply EQ, panning, compression, and various other effects to the sounds in my track, but going through that process wasn’t the point of this article.

The reason I wrote this is to highlight the fact that one of the most important factors to getting a clear sounding mix is understand how sounds fit together in the frequency range, and learning how to choose sounds that COMPLIMENT each other rather than COMPETE with each other.

Obviously, this is a skill that has to be practiced, but you can start now by listening to some of your favorite music and identifying the sounds that were used, and how they sound against all the other sounds in the track.

I hope this helped some of you! I’m interested to hear your take on this so leave a comment below and tell me what you think, or if any thing wasn’t clear at all (I know this concept can be a little confusing for some).