Category Archives: Music Production

Raspberry Pi + Amibian + Octamed = Time Maniacs

above is a song I made on one of my Raspberry Pi 3 computers. I used an amazing Amiga Computer emulator called Amibian and one of the great music making programs for the platform, Octamed.

Amibian is practically like running a real Amiga, except much cheaper and no need for floppies and hard to find hardware.

How To Get Your Music Heard On YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world. In fact, YouTube Search the second most popular search engine on earth behind Google itself. If you’re a musician, getting exposure of your music these days can be very hard. There’s Scrillions of musicians and producers out there, and all of them posting music out there for free. So how do you get people to hear yours?

Well I stumbled across this concept actually years ago with one of my first YouTube videos. I had a Casio CZ-3000 Synthesizer and really loved the sound of it, so I thought I’d make a full album with only that synth. I made a little (horribly produced) demo video for the album and posted it to YouTube. I was shocked to see how popular it was becoming.

The video today is approaching 30,000 views. This is quite a lot for an obscure, and unknown Ambient artist. Then I figured it out. Its the gear.

What do people go on YouTube to search for? They’re not going to search for some unknown artist name they’ve never heard of, but they WILL search for certain pieces of equipment because they want to know how they sound or are just a fan of the instrument itself.

Here’s another one I did of a piece of music based on the Korg NANOPad:

This one is approaching the 4,000 mark.

When a musician wants to buy something, a lot of times they want to see it in action before they spend their hard earned cash on something. Sure some people just make boring demos where they simply play the sounds of the gear and do nothing else, but why do this when you could fully express your creative vision?

You could really exploit this concept and find gear that is trending at the moment and produce content using that gear. The more people are searching for that piece of gear, the more they’ll hear your music. You can then post links to download and purchase your music in the video.

Awesome Synthesizer Workstations For Under $500

Workstation synthesizers have been around for many years. If you don’t know, a synthesizer workstation is a complete music production system built into a synth. You can arrange full songs, with drums, bass, synths, etc… Very popular workstations include the Yamaha Motif8, and the Korg Krome but these are quite pricey and not really the best choice for a lot of musicians on a budget.

Sure you could just use a computer, but some people don’t like working this way, plus if you are a solo musician who performs live, a workstation can be a better option since there’s no need to deal with laptops and audio interfaces. Also you don’t need to find VSTs, samples, and different plugins you need on a computer. Everything you need is already in the workstation. I thought I would put together a little list of some great workstations you can get for $500 or less!

1. The Yamaha MX49. Yamaha’s legendary Motif Series has been used by countless professionals, so it’s no surprise that Yamaha could make a compact, and inexpensive workstation that sounds absolutely phenomenal. Watch this demo below to hear some of the beautiful sounds the MX49 can produce. This video is in Japanese, but it really demonstrates the quality of this wonderful instrument. 

2. The Korg MicroARRANGER is another great full featured workstation that has more keys than the MX49, however they’re microkeys. This can be a deal breaker for some people, but if you have small hands like me, it’s not a bad thing. Korg has done quite well with their “Micro” series, hence the legendary MicroKORG. They thought they would try this idea in workstation package. This is cool for the travelling musician who needs powerful accompaniment with a small footprint.  

3. The Casio WK6600 is quite possibly the best deal and I honestly think it sounds better than the MicroARRANGER, but not quite as good as the Yamaha MX49. However it’s $200 cheaper than both of them! Casio’s name is legendary in the home keyboard market, and nearly everyone on the planet has owned one at one time or another. I still have a vintage CT370 that I use on nearly everything I record. Their build quality is just as legendary as their name, this is why you see so many Casios that have been abused for years by kids that still work great. In addition to being less expensive, you get 76 FULL SIZED KEYS on the WK6600.

So the bottom line, if you’re looking for the highest sound quality, go with the Yamaha MX49, if portability is your concern, than the MicorARRANGER might before you, and the most for your money goes to the WK6600.

Hopefully you found this article helpful and useful. If you did, feel free to leave a comment below.

Get an adjustable stereo image with Mid-Side Miking Technique

The Mid-Side miking techniqe is a very cool miking setup that will give you a way to adjust stereo image width after recording. How does it work? You only need two mics, but they have to be mics with specific pickup patterns.

The first type of mic you’ll need is any mic with a figure 8 pickup pattern. What this means is a microphone that picks up on both sides equally. The silver ribbon mic seen in my posted pics is like this. Other mics with a figure 8 pickup pattern are the Beyerdynamic M130 Double Ribbon Microphone, or the adjustable BEHRINGER C-3.

The other type of microphone you will need is any microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. This means the microphone is one directional and picks up in a sort of heart-shaped pattern in the area in front of the microphone. Most dynamic micrphones such as the Shure SM-57, or the Sennheiser MD 421 II will work for this. You can even use a condenser mic like the BM-800 I’m using in the 3rd pic above. 

Then once you have the correct mics, you need to place them correctly. Whatever you are miking (in my examples it was drums) you need to place the figure 8 mic with one of the sides of the mic that does not pickup, so the figure 8 is horizontally placed in front of the instrument you are recording. Then you take the cardioid mic and point it at whatever you are miking and place it as close as possible to the intersection of the figure 8 pattern without actually touching the other mic. (see my example pics above).

When you open the two channels in your DAW, the first thing you will want to do is copy the figure 8 mic and put the copy on another channel. Then invert the phase of the copied channel of the figure 8 mic. Once this is done, pan the first fig8 hard left and the second fig8 hard right. Then keep the cardioid mic panned center. Keep the two figure 8 mics the same level. If you have the higher the cardioid mic is set in comparison to the fig8 mics, the narrower the stereo image will be. And likewise the higher the fig8 channels are in comparison to the cardioid the wider the stereo image will be. Some DAWs like Qtractor lack the ability to invert phase, but there’s an LADSPA plugin called inverter that you can put on the channel that will do the trick.

I’ve used this technique with great results as drum overheads, and have heard of people using it on guitar too.

Making money with music with Jamendo Pro

Jamendo is a free music service that distributes Creative Commons music based in France. It’s a pretty cool site to discover music, but a lot of people don’t know that if you’re a musician, you can actually make some decent money through their music licensing program ‘Jamendo Pro’.

I’ve read some posts online that state it’s useless and you can’t making money with it, but I have first hand experience in this and can genuinely say that it is possible to make some decent money with this service. I’ve made about $400 on this service so far over a couple years. Sure this isn’t huge money, but it’s sure better than the $20 I’ve probably made from Spotify in the same amount of time.

So how do you do it? Well first you must determine if you WANT to do it. To qualify for Jamendo’s Pro program, you music cannot be a part of a royalties collection agency like ASCAP or BMI. This is because of their Creative Commons licensing approach which allows unlimited streaming from their website for free. If you’re okay with that, you register an account and start uploading music, then submit the tracks you want to have listed in their pro program.

What I have learned: There’s a very specific type of track I made that is generating 100% of my income on Jamendo. This is only the tracks that fit a very specific niche in sound. I created some all percussion tracks that were very culturally specific (Brazilian Percussion). I noticed those tracks were the ones getting picked up by companies, so I made more of them specifically for Jamendo and put them up there. Then I created detailed tags that allow people searching for those types of tracks find them. If you’re uploading your works of art that are highly original and hard to categorize, you are most likely going to make nothing, no matter how good your songs are. This can be said for any commercial music licensing program.

If you want your music to be licensed, think about the product or service your music is going to go to when you are creating it. Don’t create music YOU like and hope somebody else will like it too. People license music to sell things, or enhance products. You have to understand that the music you are making for this purpose must be complimentary, not the focus or the consumer’s attention. Once you understand this, making money with licensing is much easier.

Why Jamendo is better than the standard royalty-based licensing services? Well, I can only speak for me personally in this case. But I have had my music registered with several other companies that use a more traditional approach and my experiences were not nearly as good.

  1. Many of these companies are responsible for pushing your music to buyers, so unless they think it’s a good fit, they won’t even suggest it.
  2. Lots of ‘fly by night’ companies. So many of these companies come and go and never follow through with payments. I had one company (Shami Media) use my music in all kinds of unauthorized ways, I had to contact the people they were licensing it to directly and send cease and desist letters to all of them. They never paid me, never sent me a single report, and I had to threaten a lawsuit to have them remove my music from their catalog. 
  3. Jamendo has been around for a decade now, and I have absolutely been paid by them. Everything is online, and you have complete access to who and where your music was licensed. For example, my music has been used in several of these Novo Fogo youtube ads (see below)

Anyway, in the 21st century making money as a recording musician is not easy, so the more income streams you have the better. Hopefully this article helps you add Jamendo as one of those income streams.

If you’re interested in learning other ways to make money in today’s musical landscape, check out the book The Musician’s Guide To Music Licensing.