Guides

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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How To DJ a Wedding – Tips and Tricks

Guides
February 23, 2017

Make Any Special Day a Success Through Music

DJing a wedding can be a lot of fun and also a lot of hard work so it is important that things are done right. Being that weddings are a pivotal part of people’s lives making sure everything runs smoothly is of utmost importance. A good DJ can make or break any wedding, so come prepared with plenty of music. It’s important to treat the client as a customer and to craft your show so it fits with their desired experience. Be sure to find out all the information before hand. What genres to play, how old the guests are, special songs for certain dances, and logistical information such as stage size and set times. You’ll also want a suitably sized library of tracks for any situation. If you’re doing some heavy technical mixing and you’re on for 2 hours you’ll want 6 hours of music available. If you’re just playing track after track with no mixing you can shorten your library length. Here are some additional tricks and tips to make sure your wedding service runs smoothly every time. 



Setting up Equipment For the Function

The setup is the first step in Djing a wedding. Make sure to leave plenty of time before guests arrive to setup the equipment. Often times this will take up to an hour depending on how much equipment is being used. You’ll want to get the acoustics set up while you have access to the room before the guests arrive. Be aware that often times there will be a long period to wait before a DJ’s duties come into play. Try to act professional while you wait as you’re on the job.

It’s extremely important to gauge the acoustics of the room to give a great performance. Make sure to set the speakers up according to the shape of the room to get the best sound. It is very important to do a test run of the sound system before the wedding gets under way. Play a song and walk the room, notice any spots where sound misbehaves and see if adjusting it helps. One of the biggest issues is corners trap bass so heavy base tracks may disrupts tables in these areas. 

When It’s Time For Action

When guests start to arrive it is a common custom to have light music playing, this music will likely continue throughout dinner. After dinner it is time to play the bride and grooms special song, this is the most important part of your night. Some weddings have many special songs which include the first dance, a dance with the parents and a dance with the bridal party. Getting these songs right in these moments is crucial so make sure to be well prepared for these times. A good rule of thumb is to keep the music fast and lively while mixing in a slow song for people to have a rest in between. Most weddings will start with older songs giving the older generation a chance to dance and throughout the night the music can become more modern to please the younger crowd.

How to Dj: Reading the Crowd

Reading a crowd for what songs to play is an art form that can sometimes take many years to grasp. Often times a Dj will receive requests for songs to be played and if appropriate make sure that they get played. Nothing makes people more upset then not playing a certain song that was requested. Be prepared to have a late night of partying, drinking and good times.



Mastering DJ Build Ups

Guides
February 16, 2017

Building Potential Energy

Before the drop comes the build up. If you want to make your drop hit hard you gotta raise the stakes before. It’s just like gravity. This article is all about making compelling build ups that engage and emotionally charge your performance and make it memorable. What goes up must come down, and if you want to do the best build ups you have to learn the balance of tension and release. As a DJ you have a bunch of software and hardware tools and effects available at your disposal.



Beat Rolls

Beat rolls are one of the simplest ways to create an easy tension in a live performance. These effects are called Beat Masher in Traktor and a Loop Rolling in Serato. This is about as easy as it gets but it’s foundational and done right still sounds amazing. You need to practice and build an intuitive feel to properly manage when to build the tension with the beat roll in a song.

Beat roll allows you to create tension immediately with the push of a button just before a major point in a song. Doing so will stop the song from progressing while a beat loops until release. At which point the song will play like nothing happened. Drop, drop, drop, the beat. This tension is created from stopping the track to focus on a specific beat rhythm.

One trick with the beat roll is to transition through the values through larger to incrementally smaller loops. That means start with a big beat value on the down beat, then engage the next smallest value on a down beat in the created loop, then smaller until a hyper fast beat is looped. For example you start beat rolling an 8 count, then on beat you beat roll it to 4 beats, 2, then one. The tension builds as the song hits a fever pitch. The release jumping back to the song will drive your audience crazy with such an amazing build up.

Sweeps and builds

These guys are a little different from beat rolls in they don’t pause the track to focus on a segment. Instead they work to create a new sound by making the existing track fuller and more hectic. Again this adds to the whole charging the audience before the release but it’s done in a different way. Practice will once again rain king as you learn when this works and when it sounds terrible.
So for this one you’re going to need a controller or mixer with a delay function. All you need to do is add in a small delay at around 1 beat, then over the course of a few beats (8 to 16) ramp it up to it’s max value to spike the energy of the song. Then quickly drop the delay and release the tension.

If you really want to get balls to the wall crazy and your gear allows you to set the delay to post fader or master. What you do is set your delay to your channel post fader. Then bounce this channel in and out using your cross fader. Basically you send parts of the song into the delayed channel through the cross fader by flicking it in and out making a ridiculously cool effect that builds some massive tension.

This works really well with the echo effects, but reverb and a few others also work real well. Experiment and definitely try new things to see how you can craft some amazing build ups through manipulating the energy of a song. Don’t just stick to the higher energy side of the spectrum, if you figure out ways to drop the energy you can make even deeper drops after the cliff as well. Also as with anything don’t overdo it. Sometimes subtlety is king. Practice will raise your intuition on what the perfect amount is and smooth out your show.