Busting Some Soundproofing Myths


tsbh_250Before you can look at some accepted ways to improve your isolation, it’s important to look at all the things that won’t work first. This excerpt from The Studio Builder’s Handbook (written with Dennis Moody) contains a list of various materials that you’ll often see attached to the walls of a space in hopes of increasing the isolation. The problem is that they won’t help very much at all.

Mattresses – There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to start. Sure mattresses are made up of a lot of soft material, but it’s not the right kind for sound absorption, won’t affect the low frequencies at all (which are what causes most of the the isolation problems), accumulates mold and moisture, and makes nice homes for rodents and other unwanted critters. Plus, it’s pretty difficult to get enough of them to cover a room, and they take up so much space for so little benefit in return.

Egg Crates – Egg crates are light porous cardboard and do absolutely nothing for soundproofing. They can act as a sound diffusor at higher frequencies, but the bandwidth is so limited that they’re virtually useless there as well. Plus, they’re highly flammable! It’s difficult to find enough of them to cover a room, but frankly, even using one is too many.

Carpet – Carpet attached to the wall is another product that will affect the sound of the room yet do nothing in the way of soundproofing since it doesn’t affect the low frequencies, which are the ones that you’ve got to control for good isolation. Carpet has exactly the same problem as mattresses in that it will begin to smell over time. Old or new carpet makes no difference, except that older carpet will smell more.

Foam Rubber – Foam rubber does have some acoustical absorption properties, but once again will do very little for the low frequencies that will cause all of your problems with the neighbors. It’s can be as expensive as materials with real acoustic control properties, degrades over time, and will burn like crazy if given the chance.

Rubber - Floor matts, mouse pads, neoprene, or any other variation of rubber will do very little to stop sound coming or going from your room. Once again, it’s much cheaper to buy proper acoustic materials that are easier to work with, but they won’t help your isolation problem either.

Wall Cellulose – Pumping cellulose insulation into walls can make a slight difference, but it’s marginal since there are much more effective ways to improve the isolation that are much cheaper. It can be helpful if used along with some other techniques that we’ll soon go over, but isn’t particularly effective by itself.

Fiberglass Insulation – Common fiberglass insulation once again has little ability to stop enough of the low frequencies that bug your neighbors, although, like with blown cellulose, it can be useful in conjunction with other techniques. Just pinning it to the wall won’t help though, but it will affect the acoustics of the room. It’s also a skin and eye irritant, takes up a lot of space, and the dust can be hazardous to your lungs when left exposed. As you’ll soon see, there’s a much better way to use fiberglass for acoustic control (although it still won’t help with isolation much).

Plywood Panels – It’s true that plywood panels provide mass and mass is what’s needed to stop sound transmission (especially the low frequencies), but the problem is that wood transfers sound too well so the construction technique used is crucial. Not only that, if the panels are too thin they’ll resonate and vibrate, causing an even bigger problem.

Particle Board – See plywood panels.

Bales Of Hay – Unless you live out in the country, it’s unlikely that hay bales are much of an option, but they actually do work. The problem is that they take up a lot of usable space, make a nice home for critters, and are a major fire hazard. Not recommended

Acoustic Foam – Acoustic foam is helpful in controlling the acoustics within a room, but it does nothing to stop sound transmission and is expensive to boot. Acoustic foam doesn’t even begin to affect the offending low frequencies, and using too much just makes the room seem dead and uncomfortable. There are much cheaper ways to achieve a better result.

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Understand that all of these materials will have at least some affect on the sound of the room (which is covered in another chapter of the book), but will do almost nothing by themselves to help improve your isolation.


Perfect Pitch: A misunderstood phenomenon

perfect pitch for BLOG

Perfect pitch – also called absolute pitch – has been a source of endless fascination for hundreds of years. The ability to recognize musical tones with no reference is often viewed as a kind of magical power, a gift that only a select few musicians are born with, a skill that cannot be learned. But perfect pitch is largely a misunderstood phenomenon.

Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities, achieved without a reference tone:

  • Identify by name individual pitches (e.g. A, B, C) played on various instruments.
  • Name the key of a given piece of tonal music.
  • Reproduce a piece of tonal music in the correct key days after hearing it.
  • Identify and name all the tones of a given chord or other tonal mass.
  • Accurately sing a named pitch.
  • Name the pitches of common everyday sounds such as car horns and alarms.

PerfectPitchMeth for blogOur “Book of the Month”, Hal Leonard Perfect Pitch Method is designed to help you develop a sense of perfect pitch. Start out the New Year with focus and determination. This book is designed to help you develop a sense of perfect pitch. In the process, your overall musicianship will benefit and you’ll start listening to music on a deeper level and getting more satisfaction from it. Many of the lessons include three separate drills. You can do just one and save the others for later, or all three at the same time.

Take your time, advancing to the next session only when you’re satisfied with your results on the previous session. Pretty soon, you’ll notice a marked improvement in your pitch acuity!

Hal Leonard Perfect Pitch Method is a musician’s guide to recognizing pitches by ear – Order today at www.musicbooksplus.com

15 Steps To A Better Mix

15 steps to a better mixBy Bobby Owsinski

Audio mixing is one of the most interesting of all operations when completing a recording. For the rare few it’s purely intuitive and comes out great without much thought, but for most everyone else, it’s an operation in which you only get better by comparison and repetition.

7156078_origMany musicians and beginning engineers will often flail on a mix, trying everything with wild abandon and no focus, or not trying anything at all. It really helps if you have a process, and this excerpt from the latest 3rd edition of The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook provides just that.

“Mixing is a nebulous art in that most musicians and engineers learn more by feel and listening than being taught. As a result, a number of important items in a mix can be easily overlooked, and these can mean the difference between a mix that sounds polished and professional and one that sounds amateurish. Here’s a checklist of items that can help you think in a little more detail about your mix and tighten it up as a result.

  1. Does your mix have dynamic contrast? Does it build as the song goes along? Are different instruments, sounds or lines added or muted in different sections?
  2. Does your mix have a focal point? Is the mix centered around the instrument or vocal that’s the most important?
  3. Does your mix sound noisy? Have you eliminated any count-offs, guitar amp noises, bad edits, and breaths that stand out? Each one may not seem like much, but their effect is cumulative.
  4. Does your mix lack clarity or punch? Can you distinguish every instrument? Does the rhythm section sound great by itself? Is the balance between bass, kick and snare correct?
  5. Does your mix sound distant? Try decreasing the level of the reverb and effects, starting first with the wettest, then working your way to the least wet.
  6. Can your hear ever lyric? Every word must be heard. Tweak the automation if you’re using it; automate the track if you’re not.
  7. Can your hear every note being played? If solos or signature lines are being masked, automate the track to hear every note, or tweak the automation until you can.
  8. Are the sounds dull or uninteresting? Are generic synth patches or predictable guitar or keyboard sounds being used? Try modifying them with an effect.
  9. Does the song groove? Does it feel as good as your favorite song? Is the instrument or instruments that supplies the groove loud enough?
  10. What’s the direction of the song? Should it be close and intimate or big and loud? if your current direction isn’t working, try the opposite.
  11. Are you compressing too much? Does the mix feel squashed? Is it fatiguing to listen to? Is all the life gone? Decrease the mix buss compression first. Decrease the main instrument or vocal compression next. Decrease the rhythm section compression next. Decrease the compression on everything else lastly.
  12. Are you EQing too much? Is it too bright or too big? Decrease the upper midrange EQ on the vocals, guitars, loops and snare. Decrease the low frequency EQ on the bass and kick.
  13. Are your fades too tight? Does the beginning or ending of the song sound clipped? Adjust the fades until the attack transient of the notes are distinct.
  14. Did you do alternate mixes? Did you do at least an instrumental-only mix?
  15. Did you document the keeper mixes? Are all files properly named? Are you sure which file is the master? Have you made a backup?bobby owsinski 2

An interesting mix is all in the details and those take time to sort out. Working through each one of these steps may take a while, but the end result can definitely be worth it.”

You are on Reddit right?

Written by Matt Voyno, co-author of The New Rockstar Philosophy. Matt Voyno and co-author, Roshan Hoover are two of the music industry’s leading thinkers about artist strategy in digital world. Their ideas have resonated with musicians around the world and have inspired them to embrace change.


The social news site gets over 4.4 billion page veiws per month with 62.3 million unique visitors and the average user stays on the site for 16 minutes! That’s an insane amount of eyes and ears for you to share your music with. But how?


If you’ve always wanted to join the conversation now is as good a time as any to start because The New Rockstar Philosophy has found the 13 places you can share your music on Reddit.

*IMPORTANT: Remember Reddit is a community. That means that people respect others who CONTRIBUTE something to the community. You need to be willing to comment, adding your thoughts, experiences, and opinions to whatever subreddit you are joining. Like in real life, people are MORE WILLING to help those who have given something already. You get it right? Great.

Top 14 Places To Share Your Music on Reddit. (In no specific order because you should try them all)

  1. /r/Rate My Band – On all submissions you must comment on at least three other posts before submitting. This is for EVERY submission, not just your first. You have 24 hours from the time you hit “submit” to place a comment on your post with links to each of your critiques or your post will be DELETED
  2. /r/Songwriters – Community for all things songwriting related. Feel free to share your original songs or anything songwriting related.
  3. /r/SongwritersCircle – This is a heavily moderated subreddit where songwriters can receive constructive criticism on their songs and are expected to offer other songwriters the same courtesy.
  4. /r/This Is Our Music – This subreddit is for posting your own music for others to listen and critique.
  5. /r/Young Bands –  You may only post if you are or personally know an unsigned band. Along with videos of the bands, you may post questions on what you need help with. You should put either [CRITIQUE] or [HELP] or simply [FEEDBACK] at the beginning of the post accordingly.
  6. /r/Listen to This – A place to discover music by new or overlooked artists. Not a place to bury music you don’t like. Keep an open mind, try something new, and you will discover something great.
  7. /r/We Are The Music Makers – WeAreTheMusicMakers (WATMM) is the subreddit for hobbyists, professional musicians, and enthusiasts to discuss topics like music composition, production, theory, and business. Questions are encouraged regardless of how basic or advanced they are, but please, no memes!
  8. /r/Shameless Plug – Showcase your song, project, album or anything else you’ve been working hard on for the rest of Reddit to check out.
  9. /r/Acoustic Originals – A place where you can recieve some promotion and constructive criticism of your work. Also relevant – Songwriters
  10. /r/I covered a song – A place to show off your covers of other artists’ music; Be it complete impersonation or your own interpretation.
  11. /r/music in the making – This is a subreddit for musicians to collaborate on each other’s projects by sharing sound files.
  12. /r/radioreddit – Is the subreddit for the radio reddit online streaming radio station featuring original music by thousands of redditors.You can upload your original music for airplay at http://www.radioreddit.com/uploading
  13. /r/TheseAreOurAlbums, a subreddit to promote albums released by redditors, and to listen to albums released by redditors.
  14. /r/Rate My Music Video – Throw up your music videos for constructive feedback

The great thing about Reddit is the community.  You will get feedback from people. Perhaps not always the most useful feedback but you will have more people exposed to your music. So do not wait, throw your tracks on some of the subreddits above because who knows who is listening.”matt and roshan banner


Kick Start your career for 2015

Together with Professional Lighting and Production Magazine, we’re ready to help you update your knowledge and skills for 2015


Enter for your chance to win a $300 gift certificate from Music Books Plus. Simply like the Professional Lighting FB page and enter your info. Build your knowledge and “Kick Start Your Career” for 2015 with all the latest books in the industry available Music Books Plus.

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Good Luck and All the Best for 2015

Hot Tips for Indie Artists

hd_hot_tipsBy C. Michael Brae

“So what does 2015 hold for indie artists and labels? The key is to view the music industry “globally” and not in territories.”

1. Indie Label Opportunities and Partnerships Will Increase
All music companies will be focused on streamlining their efforts this year. This involves smarter processes, innovative developments and keeping overhead low. Independent labels typically have had to function with these elements in place from day one; their ability to stay nimble will allow for continued growth opportunity. As business partnerships continue to solidify between content owners and brands, smaller labels will be able to adapt quickly and profit at lower revenue thresholds. This creates a strategic advantage that, if managed properly, we will see an upward trend and growth for indie labels.

2. The Future of Internet Radio is Leaning Towards Indie Artists Music
Radio as we know it has changed. You know can listen to any station located anywhere in the world on your app or online.
I would recommend to start changing your promotional approach from traditional FM radio stations to Internet radio stations. The radio industry has always had a limited number of availabilities for introducing new artists, affected by the increased amount of advertising and availabilities slots, not to mention “support,” meaning spins (that’s another story). In addition, traditional radio still plays to the masses; that means it demands familiar artists and redundancy of songs. The future for music discovery lies with you, the indie artist. And keep in mind, Internet radio is not saturated with advertising, for now! What should you do?
Start your own Internet Radio Campaign. Where do you find a massive list of Canadian and US radio stations for free? Radio-Locator, the most comprehensive radio station search engine on the internet. This site has links to over 13,900 radio stations. Check out: www.radio-locator.com Have Fun!

3. Deciding Your “Ultimate Music Aggregator”
There are hundreds of digital retail stores worldwide. Who do you pick as your “ultimate music aggregator” in positioning, promoting and selling your music to gain the most ground in supporting your overall digital sales efforts? My recommendation would be MondoTunes. While most independent distributors reach only 45-100 retailers, and charge monthly and yearly fees, MondoTunes reaches over 750 retailers and mobile partners in over 100 world regions without any monthly or yearly fees. They also assist in marketing and promotions in supporting artists efforts in getting music heard by the masses. They have a veteran team with familiarity and hands-on experience that covers songwriting, production, A&R, booking, tour management, marketing, distribution, media and licensing. MondoTunes boasts the largest music distribution in the world, and provides upstream services for many major labels in search of breakout artists. What makes MondoTunes unique, is their ability to provide the largest global digital distribution in conjunction with a comprehensive worldwide online marketing campaign to maximize artists’ hype and exposure. Artists retain 100 percent ownership of their own master recordings, publishing, and songwriting credits. An investment of $38 per album to reach 750 retailers in over 100 countries, well spent.
Check out www.mondotunes.com

4. Sync Licensing Opportunities
Sync licensing has become the new game changer in the music industry. Music placements have become the new model for labels and publishers. The synch market is exciting and is wide open as there are plenty of opportunities.  There are no set fees for synchs, as everything is negotiable, meaning you can make a minimum amount just for the exposure or make a substantial amount of money. The right publisher has these relationships with hundreds of clients and shops your music strategically to get the most effective exposure.
How do you find the right publisher to shop your music for all of these licensing opportunities? Musicians Atlas. This platform is regarded as the music industry’s most comprehensive and accurate networking database. A great place to start out in seeking key Film, TV and Media Licensing contacts. The database even lets you know if they are accepting new music. Check out: www.musiciansatlas.com

5. The (New) Retail Store – Digital Download Cards
When you talk about the evolution in the music industry, and “change” you are talking digital download cards! Downloads are becoming more and more popular and offer bands a broader product line. Plus, these credit-card-sized download cards are much easier to carry around than CDs. This is not only a benefit for the artist and labels, it is a whole new vehicle for artists/bands to sell their digital downloads at shows, concerts and festivals. Several companies as Distrophonix, Soundtrax, Procards, Dropcards, Discmakers make (cardboard music download cards), however they do NOT report to Nielsen Soundscan! The company I recommend that makes beautiful (Plastic – Full- Color Download Cards) that DO report to Nielsen Soundscan is IDitty.net. It’s all about Soundscan in making your number show up! CASE & POINT!
Pricing for 1,000 is $.89, however, you can order as low a 100 cards in which the pricing is around $1.20 per card. Check it out!

6. Retail Cataloging Service
Retail Cataloging Service is when artist titles are added to catalogs as HMV Canada and other retail stores. This is a huge selling point to indie artists considering there are 127 HMV retail store locations in Canada, as well as hundreds of independent retail stores in Canada additionally. Having your album added to the catalogs of HMV Canada and other retail stores is priceless. Finding the right distributor to accomplish this task can be difficult. My recommendation is Indie Pool, a Canadian Music Distributor. Indie Pool registers your CD in Canadian retail databases as HMV, Amazon.CA, and others and monitors demand for your CD. In addition, they ship all orders within 24 hours, track, restock and authorize returns (when necessary).
This is a huge benefit for the independent label, as most indies do not have major label distribution, knowledge or even the platform in place to position their music globally on this level. Check out www.indiepool.com
With all the new changes in the music industry, the goal for any artist or indie label is to make their mark in history. It’s all about mastering “paradigm.” The most critical point to understand about paradigm is that in a paradigm shift, everything goes back to zero. To master paradigm, you must be able to identify the paradigm shifts that are going on around you and position your brand accordingly. Be aggressive in finding new corporate sponsorship partnerships, always look to expand and build your brand, cross promote your music through non traditional retail outlets and specialty stores. Create blogs engaging your fans through your website and other social media networks in building brand ambassadors.

Position yourself for the future, which is now!

C Michael Brae banner



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Musicians and the Law in Canada

Paul Sanderson, one of the most recommended and sought after “Entertainment and Arts Lawyers”, recently wrote the musician’s version of the “Ten Commandments” for our fans and followers. On the heels of Paul’s recently released book, “Musicians and the Law in Canada”, we thought we would re-post the invaluable article for those who may have missed it.Here it is……paul sanderson_10 commandments

COMMANDMENT # 1. Get it in writing

I know this is a cliche, but I’m a lawyer and this really does mean something in practice. Even a simple agreement in writing can be more protective of your rights than an oral arrangement which is often hard to prove. Also, in some instances – a grant of an interest in copyright, for example, must be in writing to be valid.

COMMANDMENT # 2.  “Know your rights”.

Yes the music business is complicated and it keeps getting more so, but in this day and age, information is often readily available. You can forearm yourself and with knowledge you can also assist your team. How? By being able to give informed instructions, you can save yourself money on fees. You don’t need to be up on all the details – that’s up your counsel and other advisers, but being able to get the big picture and give good instructions to your manager, lawyer and accountant will stand you in good stead in your career. For example, a lawyer well utilized can both make you money by negotiating better deals on your behalf and save you money by helping you avoid costly legal career pitfalls.

COMMANDMENT # 3. “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”.

Guess what? Almost everything is negotiable and is a negotiation. For example, even deciding where to go for lunch with a friend can be a negotiation. This one is a truism in law and in life. It is something that you can “take to the bank” and live by.

COMMANDMENT # 4. “Trusted advisers are worth the money.”

No one can succeed wholly on their own. It takes a team. You need a team you can trust and information that you can rely on. Definitely budget and spend your money wisely, but at the end of the day, whether it be good equipment or professional advice, you get what you pay for. Pay your team what they are worth. They are worth the investment.

COMMANDMENT # 5. “It’s always about the money”.

When they say its about trust, honesty, artistic integrity… that’s when … it’s about the money, because its always about the money.

COMMANDMENT # 6. “Actions speak louder than words”.

When you are confused, don’t listen to what the other side says, watch what they do. Pay attention to their actions. They may be confused themselves. Actions are where you get the truest sense of what someone one wants or is about.

COMMANDMENT # 7. “Have fun!” It’s the music business.

We live for the moments and the stories we live become us. If you didn’t want to have fun you could have done something that was more secure, lucrative and much more boring.

COMMANDMENT # 8. ” The basics apply”.

Always have. Always will. Great songs. Great performances. Great production. Apply the basics. Always.

COMMANDMENT # 9. “The facts are often 3/4 of the law“.

This is a quote from the late great Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India who was also a lawyer. So who am I to question this? Besides, I’ve found in practice this statement often affords very good practical insights into legal issues and legal problem solving. So get the facts.

COMMANDMENT # 10. “Know yourself. Be true to yourself“. 

It’s been said “It takes 30 years to build a reputation and 30 seconds to destroy it.”  Longevity is about integrity. Stay true

to yourself and your vision as an artist and person. That way the success that you do achieve will be meaningful.

Article submitted by: Paul Sanderson

Don’t wait until it’s too late – be prepared… know your legal rights! Order your copy TODAY.

paul sanderson2

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The Strategy Behind Gig Reminders

Artists, bands, record labels and anyone doing a show needs to make their fan base very aware when they’re doing a gig. You can’t rely on just a single email to get the word out, it takes a more comprehensive strategy. Here’s an excerpt from my Social Media Promotion For Musicians book that outlines just such a strategy that has proven very effective in getting people to your show.



“Gig reminder emails fall into a different category in that they can be a lot shorter and a lot more frequent. While the email sequence below may seem like a lot of emails, remember that for true fans, you’re doing them a favor by keeping them informed, and you’re marketing yourself for other things at the same time.


A potential reminder strategy is:

  • The day a show is announced or tickets go on sale. As soon as you know that you’re playing at a venue, send out an email. This could be to the entire list if it’s announcing a tour, if it’s the monthly schedule for a cover band, or if you believe that people will travel to see the show.
  • A week before the show. Send out a reminder but concentrate more on the band, regarding a new part of the show, new songs, a music video, or something that you want to the fan to see.
  • 3 days before the show. Send out a reminder and include more information about the club and who else is playing.
  • 1 day before the show. Once again, remind the fan about a a different feature of the show or the music that’s unique and won’t be seen or heard any other way than attending. You can change the headline to “You don’t want to miss this,” or “See our new show tomorrow night.”
  • The day of the show. Send out a short reminder in the late morning to just the portion of your list in the general area of the club. Use a headline like, “Can you make it tonite?”, or “Last chance to buy tickets!”
  • The day after the show. Send an email with backstage pictures, pictures of meet and greets with fans or just fans in the audience, as well as links to videos. This is a nice shout-out to those that were there, and a prod for those that weren’t not to miss you next time you’re in town.

Of course, if you’re lucking enough to have sold out your show, you won’t need to send as many reminders. That said, you might send one headlined “Sold Out!” that either announces another gig or another way for the fan to hear your music or buy your merch. A contest for two last minute tickets (put them on your guest list) also works well.

TIP: In every reminder be sure to include all the pertinent gig information, including the name of the venue, the full address, the phone number, the time you’re going on, and other acts on the bill. Consider including a map or a link to one as well.

bobby owsinski

Just released and added to the MUSIC BOOKS PLUS lineup

OPEN-TUNING-CHORD-BOOK-FOR-GUITAR-115x300“What a super book, this is such fun. I could use this for the next album.” – David Bowie.

This handy open tuning chord manual gives guitarists working in standard tuning a basic introduction into open tune playing. Though commonly used for slide playing open tunings have become increasingly popular for their unusual and rich voicings.

The book contains chord shapes for over 300 chords in the two most popular tunings – Vastopol (or Open D) and Spanish (or Open G) – with a page per key. For example, turn to page 17 and there are twelve chords in Open D tuning in the key of G – major, minor, 6th, dom 7th, diminished, augmented, minor 6th, major 7th, minor 7th, 7th sus 4, 7th flat 9 and 11th.

Order today at MUSIC BOOKS PLUS,  visit http://www.musicbooksplus.com/The-Open-Tuning-Chord-Book-for-Guitar-p/hl11645.htm