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A blog dedicated to teaching you how to license your music online.

A Simple Hack Improves Mixing Music

Everyone wants better mixes, but struggles with mixing music. Better mixes take a lot of it skill, and learning how to mix music is a lifelong undertaking.

Some plugins and gear can help.

And more knowledge about how to mix music always help.

But the secret sauce to good mixing is process!

That’s right – you can have all the tips, tricks, gear, and plugins, but if your workflow sucks, your music mixes probably will too.

Sure, everyone is going to mix differently, with a different process. Some people like to use effects on the master bus. Some prefer to start mixing in mono (which you should definitely do at some point in your mix)!

Knowledge about mixing music is important, too!

Learning more about mixing music is important, too!

Sometimes the choice of workflow is determined by the type of some you’re working on. For example, if a singer is really the star of the show, you may need to get her voice right first, before moving on. If it’s an EDM or Hip Hop song, you may need to start with the drums.

And of course, some DAWs lead themselves to different workflows. Whether it’s through templates or just what comes easiest.

But what I’m about to show you isn’t about technique.

No, this simple hack for drastically to drastically improve mixing music involves changing your mindset.

It’s totally free, and it doesn’t take much practice. But it does take discipline and commitment.

So, without further ado….

The Simple Hack for Mixing Music

I took my mixing to the next level by adopting this simple mindset: I stopped acting like I was in my home studio, and started acting like I was in a professional studio.

This led to two major gains for my mixing.

First, studios usually charge customers by the hour. Because I used to act like I had all the time in the world, I wasted countless hours going down rabbit holes. When I changed my mindset, and acted like I was paying for time in my own studio,I stopped endlessly twiddling with knobs.

Instead, I focused ruthlessly on big wins.

My mixes have gotten bigger, punchier, and more dynamic, all without a single new plugin.

And that’s because I’ve gotten so much better at EQ and Compression by not getting distracted by the rabbit hole of endless effects.

That’s right, mixing music is most improved by focusing on the core of the song, which frees up your mental energy to really dig into the important stuff.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still use effects, but I don’t use them to hide things, I use them to enhance my mix.

It also means that I don’t hit record until I’m ready to play all of the parts. This means I’ve practiced (and written) most of the song beforehand.

I’m still able to capture happy accidents that always occur in recording, and I still leave time for a adding musical embellishments. But I focus in on getting the song fully recorded in one go. You’ll find your performances to have a much better groove if you can record everything in a short span, because you’re playing from the same headspace.

This hack will focus you when mixing music

This hack will focus you when mixing music

 

Mixing Music Like You’re In a Pro-Studio Removes Mental Blocks

The second big win gain from re-framing my perspective on my home studio is that it’s taken away the mental ceiling from my mixing. I’m not just mixing demos in my home studio, anymore.

Now, I honestly believe that I can make professional sounding recordings (at home).

I’m not saying that I know how to do it yet. But I see the limit as me, not my situation.

And through practice and learning, I know I can improve myself. This mental breakthrough was related to what I discussed here.

So how do you implement this simple, free hack for mixing music?

Well the next time you’re working on a song, take five minutes at the beginning and plan out your recording schedule.

For example, your recording & mixing schedule could look like this:

Day 1 – 6 hours of recording, 1 hour of mixing basic levels.

­Day 2­  – 6 hours of mixing.

Day 3 – Nothing. Ignore the song completely… wait, what song????

Day 4 – 1 hour of final mixing and listening on different speakers, then 2 hours mastering (if you do it in house).

Use a clock to track your time. Hold yourself accountable. You’ll quickly be forced to focus in on core of your song & mix, and you’ll ultimately improve your core skills!

Good luck with! I’d love to know if anyone else uses this trick, or if this hack works for you!

 

Should I license my Music

It took me a long time to convince myself that I should license my music. I struggled with a lot of issues.

  • Are my songs good enough?
  • Can I record a professional sounding track?
  • Am I a sell out?

Do these sound familiar?

So how did I finally convince myself that I should license my music?

Some people call this “imposter syndrome.” And the truth is that everyone suffers from it – even genuine pros. Just remember that everyone had to start somewhere!

How to Feel Confident in Your Songwriting

Well, first, I just kept writing songs. I wrote my first song more than 20 years ago. But that doesn’t mean that I’m an expert, or that I only write good songs, or that every (or most) songs I write are good.

What experience has given me is perspective. At least now I’ve written enough songs to know which ones are genuinely BAD. But because I’ve written enough songs, I’m not emotionally attached to these turds. I can let them rot on my hard drive and sit down and write another song.

Poop

Another way I overcame my insecurity about my songs was by taking a few that I genuinely believed were good, and putting them out there.

Sometimes it takes a really long time to sell a license to my music, but thankfully I licensed this song within about a month of uploading it to Pond 5.

This provided the positive reinforcement I needed to continue to record and upload songs.

But don’t tie too much of your self-esteem to your song sales. Some of my favorite songs have never been licensed, and some of my least favorite have been licensed repeatedly.

Go figure.

Learn to Record Professional Sounding Tracks

I had dabbled in recording for a decade, but, looking back, I never tried to get good at it. I limited myself with the mindset that I was “only recording demos” so quality didn’t really matter.

But when I got serious about trying to license my music, I realized I needed to step up my game and learn to record professional sounding songs.

Like most things in life, improving the quality of your recordings comes down to two things: knowledge and practice.

Inspiration to license my music

Youtube is full of great free resources on mixing and recording. I recommend the Recording Revolution, Pensado’s Place, MixBuss TV, and the Pro Audio Files. You can see all of these recommendations here on the subscriptions part of my Youtube channel.

When it comes to practicing your mixing, it all comes back to writing lots of songs. The more you write, the more songs you have to work on, the more opportunities to mix & record you have. It’s a virtuous cycle.

I’ve also gotten a ton of value from Duelling Mixes by the Graham Cochrane and Joe Gilder. Each month they give you raw stems to mix, plus they each record an hour-long, highly detailed instructional video explaining how they got their sounds. It’s great because if you get stuck on something, you can see exactly how they approached the problem.

Am I a Sellout for Wanting to License My Music?

I think this is a personal question that only you can answer.

For me, I actually felt compelled to license my music. I don’t have a record deal and I don’t have a band to play my music live.

If I want to get my music heard by a lot of people, I need to rely on a third party to promote and distribute it.

Hell, 1,000’s of potential buyers listen to my songs every month, let alone the songs that are purchased, presumably to be listened to by even more people.

So I put them out for license. Here’s how to license your first song.

In my mind it’s that or have 5 people a month listen on Soundcloud or Spotify.

Of course, there are certain songs that are really important or personal to me, and those I’m not going to license.

But in my mind, everything else should get out there.

What is Royalty Free Music

What is Royalty Free music? What’s Stock Music? What’s Production Music? What’s the difference?????

Aggggggggggggghhhh!

These terms can all be so confusing. It took me months to figure out what they each mean.

In fact, the terms royalty free music, stock music, and production music, mean the same thing (most of the time)!

But that’s not even the frustrating part!

Nope.

Because they’re often used incorrectly. Awesomesauce.

The difference between Royalty Free Music, Stock Music, and Production Music?

Ok, by now you’re probably thinking “WTF. This is absurd.”

And you’re right.

These, the terms are pretty much used interchangeably, and that’s how I use them on this site.

If you want more info, you can check out this video I made.

What is Royalty Free Music?

Typically, if someone writes a song, there are several different ways to make money.

The first type of right is called a mechanical royalty. It just means that whenever a copy of the song is sold (a CD is sold, mp3 downloaded, or sheet music is sold), the writer gets paid.

A synchronization license is required whenever a purchaser buys the rights to use a song as part of some other media presentation – for example as part of a TV soundtrack.

So when you license your royalty free music on a stock music site, the purchaser pays a fee for the right to use the song. On Pond 5, for example, the purchaser must pay a minimum of $15 to use the song, a portion of which goes to the songwriter.

However, there is another type of royalty, called performance royalties. When a song is performed publicly, either by being broadcast or played live, the broadcaster or the venue have to pay the songwriter a performance royalty. These are collected by performing rights societies like BMI.

Did you know that public places, like shops & bars have to pay a fee to BMI for the music they broadcast? Sometimes songwriters are willing to waive these performance royalties in exchange for a larger synchronization fee.

So if a buyer purchases a synch license for your song on Pond 5 for use in a TV commercial, they only pay that single upfront fee. Then, when the TV station broadcasts the commercial, the station must pay the performance royalties to BMI. BMI then sends a check to the songwriter.

Phew. That’s complicated.

So what is royalty free music, then?????

Basically, royalty free music just means that the purchaser only needs to pay a single upfront synchronization fee, without having to worry about any other complaints or royalties to the songwriter. Then, depending on the terms of the agreement, the musician may still be eligible to receive performance royalties from broadcasters.

Unfortunately this is pretty complicated, and each royalty free music site has different terms, so you really need to review it on a case by case basis.

If you’d prefer, here’s a video explaining what is royalty free music.

5 Lessons to Sell Music Online

5 Lessons From 1st Year Selling Music Online

5 Lessons From 1st Year Selling Music Online

I’ve been seriously trying to sell music online for about a year now. In the process of learning how to license stock music online this year, I’ve come up with five helpful tips I’d like to share.

This free video shows how to license your music online!

1. Start now!

I first heard about licensing stock music a couple of years ago. But like most things in life, I heard about it, I thought “huh, that’d be cool,” and promptly went on with my life.

I totally ignored learning how to sell music online at first

I totally ignored learning about stock music at first

Then, a year I heard about it again. This time I actually signed up for a site (Audiojungle), and uploaded some songs. One of these royalty free songs was accepted, and even sold, netting me a cool $7.50.

I was ready for retirement.

Of course, Audiojungle also rejected a metric CRAP-TON of my songs. So I got frustrated and stopped trying to make royalty free music for a while.

About 6 months after that, April 2015, I finally got up and running with my favorite stock music site, Pond 5. Through a lot of hard work I’ve started to create a portfolio of music that consistently sells.

2. Learn About Everything!

Learn all of it! Learn everything!

When I started, I thought I knew it all. Hahahaha. I was an idiot.

I needed to learn how to write better songs, how to record and mix, how to manage a portfolio of my stock music, how to do social media, and how to balance it all with my life.

There are tons of helpful free resources out there, many of which I’ll talk about down the line. These days there are websites, blogs, vlogs, podcasts and lord knows what else to help.

However, I will say that I’ve tended to get the best results from paid services, whether they’re books, communities, or courses.

So learn, but don’t be afraid to shell out for the right information. It is WAY more important than gear.

3. You need the right gear to make quality music.

Speaking of gear, you don’t need Abbey Road to create excellent stock music. But there’s certain non-negotiables when it comes to recording: decent monitors or headphones, a DAW you understand, a direct input box if you’re using a guitar or bass, and online backup software.

At the same time, so much gear, especially the vintage plugins, are just a total waste of time (and money).

Here are some of my favorites.

You don't need expensive gear to sell music online

You don’t need expensive gear to sell music online

There are plenty of things that make your workflow faster, though. If you’ve got the money, they can really be worth it.

For me, that’s an Avid Eleven Rack and Native Instruments’ Maschine.

4. If You Work Hard to Sell Music Online, You Can Make Real Money

Let’s be clear – you are not going to retire by licensing your music any time soon.

But if you apply yourself to licensing music, you will definitely be able to pay for lots of new gear and beer and pizza.

And that, my friends, is a-maz-ing.

To give you some idea, after a year of doing this about 10 hours a week, I’m now making about $200 a month selling my songs on websites. And I had fun doing most of it!

Pro-tip: There is basically NO money to be made from Spotify. Licensing is the easiest way to go.

5. Don’t Get Discouraged

People are stupid.

I often write songs that are obviously amazing, but people don’t buy them. Why people, why?

I occasionally write songs that are terrible. But…. people… buy them…? Why people, why?

All I can say is, the more songs I write, the less I care about the results of any given song. I put the best part of me into each one and set it loose on the world.

If you have faith in your craft, produce music at a consistent pace, and keeping getting better, than there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to sell music online too.

Learn how to license your first song here.