CD Baby Review and Information

Guides
September 2, 2017

CD Baby Review

When you’re starting out trying to make a name for yourself in the music production world, you’ll need to spend a lot of effort, time and resources to get your sound out into the world. The internet is a great tool for sharing and communicating but it comes with it’s own challenges. CD Baby is one web service designed to solve these issues. I’ll talk about the pros and cons I found with using with this service in this quick CD Baby review.

What is CD Baby?

CD Baby is a content distribution service designed to give musicians and music producers the reach they deserve. The service itself is a popular place for people to look for new music and find new sounds and artists. The site also attempts to help users find your sound through staff recommendations. So if your sound is good enough you can expect some work to be done for you. Some being the focus of that statement.



Essentially CD Baby is an opt in Record label, and manages distribution, sales and royalties of your music so you don’t have to worry about chasing down scouts and running demo pitches. CD Baby will indiscriminately distribute to its large collection of well known and used digital partners; like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Pandora, and many more. It puts you on way more markets and sites and has 30 partners.

I will point out an additional partner, a sleeper network deep in the list, iHeartRadio. As a sound engineer I’ve seen a major move in the industry. Large media companies across the world are starting to use iHeart as their distribution for online radio streaming services. It’s starting to become a service they have to be a part of or they’ll be left behind. Stations across the world are starting to advertise iHeart to their listeners as part of a promotional agreement they have to satisfy. So being on iHeart is a good place to be as people listening in their cars start to get the message and check it out.

Members Fees and Earnings

It’s pricing structure is geared towards smaller underground artists due to it’s percent of sales setup. The bigger you are and the more you make, the more you have to pay CD Baby. When you’re small this percentage beats out other competitor sites like Tunecore which charge large recurring fees. If you start making more than $1250 in a year off a single track or album I’d start to look at putting that high earning work on a different distribution service



CD Baby Distribution

In exchange for a percentage of sales CD Baby gives you the reach a record label usually would. With anyone able to opt in, it’s definitely an easy route to get your tracks and albums out to the world. It’s a go to option for upstart artists or first releases. CD Baby gives potential fans access to you. They give a free addon called Sync licensing which allows you to license your songs as well, allowing content creators to use your songs in their commercials, tv shows, games, movies and youtube channels, all of which properly pay you for your work.

CD Baby is a bit of a lame duck when it comes to promoting music and artists. Where a regular record label will do the work and spend the money to promote in order to get a return on investment CD Baby doesn’t care, they only earn if you earn. Your music will end up in new release lists, sounds like categories, and suggestion algorithms, but that’s the extent of CD Baby’s promotion. Meaning all the work falls squarely on you. Which could be really good for you or really bad for you. But this all depends on how well you can guide new fans to find your work.

How to Become Better at Promoting Yourself on CD Baby

If you’re really serious about wanting to start selling your tracks, beats and albums, I highly suggest you take a look at this course. It runs down all of the things you need to know to navigate the industry. On top of that it has rock solid tips on how to make your sound stand out and be exactly what content creators are looking for. Letting you really flourish on sites like CD Baby and Tunecore, especially with their sync licensing content creator access.

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CD Baby’s hands off promotion does come with perks for new artists though. It comes as a strong alternative to regular record labels. With the ease of joining, the ease of distribution and an extremely fair percentage cost to use their service. If you work smart and hard you can definitely build a life off your passion.

Tunecore Review and Information

Guides
September 2, 2017

Review of Tunecore

What is Tunecore?

Tunecore is a platform for conglomerating the distribution of digital music. The main reason to use this service is it allows for musicians to get their mixes and songs on multiple online distribution platforms. The main appeal of Tunecore is the sheer amount of implied reach that the site promises. In exchange for distribution of your music to these services they ask for flat yearly fees for putting the tracks and albums in their system. With a smaller year one stocking fee, and a larger recurring annual fee.

The service allows artists to feature their work on a total of 150+ platforms, with the biggest networks being:

  • iTune
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Google Play
  • Youtube



What are the Benefits of Tunecore?

Aside from the obvious benefits of the reach of the company, Tunecore has some advantages compared to competitors like CDBaby. Essentially the bigger your following the better Tunecore is for you. If you are only expecting to sell 5 tracks a month you’re probably better off going with a different distribution network, but if you’re frequently getting questions about where to find your tracks during outreach and shows it’s definitely worth looking into.

The reason that Tunecore gets more appealing the bigger you are is because it charges a flat fee, and that fee only really becomes worth it if you sell around $950 worth of music a year in comparision to CDBaby.

Another major benefit of the service is their synchronization licensing. Which allows you to make your music available to music supervisors for use in film and television. Essentially synchronization licensing lets you put your tracks into a database for content creators to use it in their own media. Things like television shows, commercials and large music events. These really snowball because once your song gets played in a commercial everyone’s going to be googling the title and picking up your track.

If you’re part of the sync licensing Tunecore also does some legwork for you by trying to find potential placements for you. But for it to be worth it your mixes have to stand head and shoulders above everyone else’s and be specifically designed for use in different types of media. I’ve wrote a bit of a guide on how to build and sell beats for specific uses here.

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Is Tunecore a Scam For New Artists?

It’s definitely not a scam, but it’s definitely not for the naive or new mixmasters. Just because you can put your music into the system doesn’t mean they’ll ever get purchased. A large portion of music (94%) on the platform sells fewer than 100 copies. 64% of the tracks manage sell more than one copy. 1 in 3 tracks don’t sell at all. You definitely have to be in the top 5% of music composers for this platform to really pay off.

The main problem with the above paragraph is the annual fee, the first year for an album is cheap at $35.99 but the following years it costs $50 to keep your album on the platform’s roster. If you’re not making the sales you’re just going to be losing money and should check out this course on how to make your sound to make it as marketable as possible.

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As mentioned above CDBaby is a great alternative if you’re expecting lower sales. With no recurring fee, but they skim a percentage of what you sell. Both services provide a nice way to reach potential audiences and are a great way to bring in some extra money that can be used to improve your setup or free up some time to continue to create. But if you’re looking at a distribution service be sure to pick the one that’s right for where you’re at professionally.



How to Become A Professional Music Producer and Sell Your Beats

Guides
August 18, 2017

Why You Should Work Towards Trying To Sell Beats

I remember the first time I sold some of my music. I sold a backing track to my buddy for his live DJ shows down at a college bar. Initially I was going to give it to him for free, all I asked was for him to promote me. But he refused, said he’d pay and passed me $40. He told me, “Producing music takes a lot of time. If you’re just giving it away for free you’re essentially forced to only do once in a while. You won’t be able to dedicate as much time to your craft. You won’t be able to give what the track deserves. Quality will suffer and you’ll be stagnating as an artist. Less time leads to less practice. That’ll stunt your growth. “You can’t not sell”

I had to follow his advice and I have to say it’s one of the most satisfying ways to make money. You’re creating something you put your soul into that was forged out of passion. Then it lets you buy fancy dinners. It sure as hell beats a nine to five. Since then I’ve sold different compilations in online marketplaces and to video advertisement agencies for youtube and television marketing. If you really want to go mainstream in media like that you have to check out this amazing course. It’s a mindblowing step by step guide on how to break into the game. It will show you how to get money for your work.

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Creating a beat worth selling

One of the most important things a music producer needs to learn (or any artist really). It’s that when you’re creating something with the intent to sell, you’re creating value for the right person. I’ve ran into so many “VISIONARY” DJs and producers who create weird ass shit that they love; but it sounds like noise to the average listener. They’re creating music for themselves, it’s purely selfish in nature. Call it selling out if you want, but if you’re creating music for others, create it for others first and your own ego later.

So when you’re creating a beat to put on a marketing database or online you have to start with the end in mind. Who’s this beat for? Is it for an upbeat fizzy drink ad? DJs looking to add some Metalcore to their transitions? Is there a demand for what you want to make? Work backwards and create something people can’t help but need because it was made for them.

 

Where do you sell your beats?

There are two different ways to sell your musical productions and beats. You can either join a free marketplace where other members are trying to sell. Or you can get yourself on paid distribution databases like Tunecore or CD Baby. These sites put your music on Google play/iTunes. These databases also have sync licensing which is intended for non-musicians and content producers to find tracks for use in their media. Think commercials, media, movies, television, etc.

Now I’ve had some experiences with online marketplaces. I put my tracks up, and didn’t get a single sale, because literally everyone on these sites were there for one reason. They all wanted to sell beats like me. They weren’t there to buy them. Any sale I did make was through self driven promotion. I had to do it myself and could have just sold to them directly for my own price. But this is absolutely amazing if you’re starting out and don’t really have a foundation. It’s extremely simple to do. You just make an account, put your beat up, and hope someone willing to pay finds it once in a while. The money goes straight to your paypal and you can build your portfolio. Sales are rare, and you’re definitely not going to build a reputation on these sites. Not without hitting the pavement hard with self promotion.

How To Really Step Up Your Style

What actually made everything click for me was when I found this course on Beat-Making for Professional Music Producers. It taught me so many things. With guides on creating sick melodies and transitions. It also talked about making music with intent and purpose instead of writing kiddie beats. The course shows what your track needs for different commercial purposes. With it you can make tracks people need to buy. It also goes insanely in depth on how to get placed in the databases professionals actually look through. It’s like being in the bottle service VIP line over the general admission scrub line. People come to you, with the intent to buy. It’s a completely different game than those free to upload marketplace sites; where anyone can get in and everyone’s crowded together trying to make $5 in a month.
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Numark Mixtrack Platinum Review

DJ Equipment Review
August 6, 2017

So I decided to take some time and write a Numark Mixtrack Platinum review. The controller is one of the latest additions to the Numark family. Numark intends that the controller for the skilled amateur. As such there’s a lot of features added for ease of use and monitoring for the user. While at the same time some top range features are left out. All said and done the controller is very good value for its price.

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Multiple Decks

Usually a feature like this is only found in higher priced controllers, but the Mixtrack Platinum comes with 4 channels split between 2 decks. Allowing you to load up to four songs/clips to play at any time. The deck select allows for mixing in samples and clips easily. Most controllers at this price only allow for 2 channels.

Displays

The main selling feature of the Mixtrack Platinum is its Hi-resolution jogwheel displays. These are very nice as they’re easily seen and monitorable by the DJ. They show all kinds of useful information, like the BPM, platter position, remaining time in the song, a key lock and the pitch. However, one issue that I ran into was the display easily got a scratch from transport so you need to be careful not to throw it into a backpack with a bunch of loss objects.

Another piece of information they show is a great indicator of which channel is currently running on the deck. Each deck can swap between two different channels. This display was unexpectedly very useful, and much better than the traditional indicating LED in the heat of a performance.MixtrackPlat

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Comes with Serato (Or Not)

The controller does not come with the full Serato, instead it comes with a lite version called Serato DJ Intro. It’s definitely enough to get you to start mixing but if you want to get real fancy you’re going to have to buy the full version of the program. The Intro program will not allow you to record tracks within the program and limits quite a lot of aspects. To get full Serato you need to pay an additional $10 a month or a flat fee of 100USD

Limited Track Effects

One issue I found was there was a very limited amount of track effects. At the most there were 2 settings for each effect. Essentially making you feel limited on what you can do with the effects themselves. At least you can stack 2 effects allowing for tons combinations so it’s not like there’s not a lot to do. But it definitely feels like begginer controller. As for using the effect settings themselves, they have an intuitive dynamic touch strips where you slide your finger along, similar to a straight fader, but fancier. I didn’t have any issues with it, but I do worry it may misbehave if your fingertips are wet or cold.

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The Hardware itself

When it comes to the design and construction of the controller. I’m impressed, it’s pretty sturdy constructed with hard plastic. It’s durable and lightweight allowing for travel, I wouldn’t feel bad putting it in the hands of kids. Something that always impresses me and is actually one of the things I look for in a controller that this one has is the 100mm faders. Long faders allow for you to very precisely adjust your settings manually. It doesn’t seem like much but that extra physical space is really nice.

This Mixtrack comes with its own soundcard, it’s a decent 24bit card that allows for great sound. Anything more would just be a placebo to human ears. The only issue is that it’s RCA out only which is unbalanced and can lead to crossover in large club setups. It has two monitor feeds, allowing for both 1/8 and 1/4 headphones.

Another hardware consideration is the power. If you opt to use an external soundcard, or have a complex set up you may need to also look at getting a powered USB hub. The Numark Mixtrack Platinum only comes with the option of being powered by USB. This means you need to plug it into your computer, and if you bring a laptop your USB slots may be limited (see an example in the pic below) and if you have too many devices running it may start to misbehave while running on low power. Another issue I found is it didn’t come with a power off. I have my computer in my bedroom and have to fully disconnect the controller from my computer otherwise it stays on. A slightly distracting personal issue but one all the same.

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The Rundown

Overall after carrying out the Numark Mixtrack Platinum review I’ve seen that it’s quite good for it’s price. It does have some weaknesses moving into the professional sphere but it will carry you well as a midrange DJ controller. It has some nice standards of living, like it’s original Jogwheel displays, yet at the same time has some issues with the more creative aspects of DJing.

 

Numark Party Mix DJ Controller Review

DJ Equipment Review
August 2, 2017

Every DJ has to start somewhere and that’s what the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller offers: A solid beginner’s DJ controller that has all of the major basic functions you need to build your skills.

Plug n’ Play

The Numark Party Mix features plug n’ play capabilities, thanks to class compliance. All you need is your computer and the Party Mix and everything you need for a legit DJing experience is right at your fingertips. Virtual DJ LE, the software that comes with Party Mix, is accessible the moment you connect Party Mix to your computer for an effortlessly seamless experience.

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Built-in Soundcard

Because the soundcard is already built-in to the Numark Party Mix system, all you need is compatible speakers and/or headphones and that’s it—no extra software or hardware is necessary. (The headphone jack is a standard 1/8-inch.)

Compact Chassis

The compact chassis is space-saving, perfect for dorms or kids’ rooms or a family hobby room. It features dual scratch pads with dual slider controls for a classic DJ controller setup.

Standard DJ controls

Alongside each of the scratch pads and slider controls, you get 4 multifunctional rubber trigger buttons (a total of 8), which allow you to access cue points, add custom effects and pre-sampled beats and more. Moreover, easy equalization controls allow you to set bass, treble, master gain and channel gain to your preferred settings to create a sound that’s uniquely and authentically you.

Built-in Lightshow

Three RGB (red, green, blue) LED lights are built-in on the Party Mix, backlighting you as you perform. Even better, they intelligently synch up with your music to create a lighting experience that compliments your performance.

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First Impression of the Numark Party Mix Starter DJ Controller

I was surprised by how small the Party Mix is in person when I first saw it. Obviously, I knew it was going to be compact, but I was initially worried it might impact performance. However, I’m happy to report my worry was for nothing. If anything, the smaller chassis allows me to take it more places, and my kids can easily tote it from room to room while they play with it as well.
The plug n’ play aspect is appreciated. Nothing’s worse than installing a bunch of extra drivers or having to buy extra gear to setup something like a beginner’s DJ controller. I like that it comes with its on software. As I later mention in this review, it’s optimized to work with the software it comes with. Luckily, you actually get the software for free—for keeps. This would have been a downside if it was merely a free trial, but thankfully you can continue to use it, which makes it worth it, in my opinion.

The Party Mix easily connected with both headphones and speakers we already had at our house. The connection was pretty standard, so for those who already have their own, you likely won’t have to buy any, which is another very likable aspect.

Most important is functionality. The Party Mix offers a lot of capabilities for a DJ controller that is targeted at beginners. You can actually make some quality mixes and it’s easily to tinker with them to get the sound that you want—the scratch pads are especially fun to play with, which I suppose is what most of us adults who have always imagined ourselves DJing have been dying to do since we were kids, since, you know, there were actually records back then.

As I mentioned before, I have kids, and they love the Party Mix as much as I do, so, in my opinion, it’s great for all ages, which makes me love it more.

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The Pros

  • Class-compliant, plug n’ play
  • Free Virtual DJ LE software included
  • Built-in soundcard—no extra sound software required, simply plug in speakers or headphones
  • Compact chassis are space-saving
  • Dual scratch pads
  • Dual slider controls
  • 8 total multifunctional trigger buttons for cues and samples
  • Equalization controls for customizing master gain, bass and more
  • Built-in lightshow feature; RGB LED backlighting
  • User manual included
  • Warranty included
  • Lightweight at 1.8lbs—easy to travel with

The Cons

  • To fully access the included free software, Virtual DJ LE, you have to go to the website and enter the registration code. This is a bit annoying, but at the same time, it is your free pass for the software, and the good news is once you enter it, it’s yours for life.
  • Since it’s intended for beginners, it’s really only designed to be used with the included software, but this isn’t really an issue for the DJing novice, and if you end up becoming serious about DJing, you’ll likely upgrade to a different controller anyway.

Warranty

Numark’s Party Mix is covered under a warranty, so if any issues arise during the warranty period, you’re good.

Final verdict

The Numark Party Mix is an ideal DJ controller for beginner DJs by providing all the basics you need to get a handle on basic DJing skills and concepts—and then take them to the next level.

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