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Category Archives for "Mindset & Psychology"

Don’t Go It Alone

Daily Blog - June 15th 2021

Making records is hard. It's confusing, there are no hard rules to follow, there's conflicting information and even with the internet and all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips it can be a frustrating process, especially when you're starting out. It's an exciting but exhausting journey. And you don't have to go it alone. You don't have to figure it all out on your own. Mentoring, Coaching & Community are more accessible than ever!

Presets & “Fully Mixed” Sample Packs

It took me years before I made my first "OK" sounding record.

I learned by reading books, watching tutorials (there weren't that many back then) and a LOT of experimenting, practicing, failing and trying again.

The one thing that really accelerated my growth at some point was collaborating with others and getting indirect mentoring through that. As soon as I was able to ask questions and pick the brains of people who had already done what I wanted to do, everything got so much easier, so much faster and so much more enjoyable.

YOU HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY RIGHT NOW!
  • There are online coaching programs (I'll be opening The Self-Recording Band Academy again, soon)
  • There are people willing to answer your questions if you just dare to DM or email them (be polite, respect their time and don't expect an answer, but you can always try!)
  • You can form a mastermind group with other DIY musicians and engineers (I'm part of one, we meet every week to help each other out and it's awesome!)
  • You can build a community with other people in your area, maybe share a project studio or jam space to collaborate and grow together
  • And then there are online communities like The Self-Recording Band Community that you can join for free right now! It only takes a few seconds and now you're part of a group of like-minded people, willing to help you out whenever you have a question. You can share ideas, nerd out about all things audio, help others, find people to collaborate on projects, or get feedback on your recordings. 

Don't wait any longer. Start now, connect with your peers, find a mentor, get coaching. Whatever you need to grow and make your dreams a reality. 

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

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Which questionable music production myths are you still holding on to?

Daily Blog - June 11th 2021

"Most people don’t want accurate information, they want validating information. Growth requires you to be open to unlearning ideas that previously served you." – James Clear
Energy And Excitement

Are you looking for information or validation?

When you browse YouTube for information to improve your skills as an engineer or musician, do you gravitate towards certain channels or people? Why is that? Is it because their information is truly and objectively amazing and accurate? Or is it because they confirm what you've already suspected or hoped to be true? It just feels good to hear some authority validate our beliefs, so it's easier for us to follow the advice of people who already agree with us. 

But what if that information turns out to be false or misleading? What if it's true for some people, but not a good idea in your specific situation?

Can you recognize that, unlearn your ideas and let go of your beliefs?

An example:

You might have recorded a bass track with old strings once and you liked the dull, "warm" tone it produced.

(Chances are it wasn't truly good, but you couldn't hear the problems back then, had no idea how to get that warm, round tone with fresh strings and didn't want to spend money on fresh ones, so you convinced yourself that using the old strings is probably a good idea.)

But for now let's assume that for some reason you really liked the tone, had no tuning problems, could fit it in the mix perfectly and it wasn't just because you didn't want to change.

You have that positive memory now and believe that using old strings is perfectly fine.

Then one day you research bass recording techniques and come across a lot of people online who tell you that 99% of all professional records are recorded with fresh strings and that you should change them every couple of hours in the studio. Even if there's clear evidence that this is true and even if all benefits of doing that are clearly explained to you, you doubt it, because you have that memory of you liking the sound of old strings. 

So you keep searching and finally find someone who's telling you that on record "X" the famous artist "Y" used old strings and it turned out phenomenal. Boom! There's your validation. You now have an ally and can share that video or article with everyone telling you to change strings more often.

It's clearly an exception, it's probably not applicable for what you're trying to do, it might even be in a completely different genre, but it's the "information" you've been looking for. What you hoped to be true has been confirmed.

Can you unlearn it ? Can you discern myths, exceptions and the truth? Can you be open for other ideas? 

Can you objectively assess whether a piece of information is accurate, applicable in your situation and actually helpful for what you're trying to do? Regardless of your previous beliefs and ideas?

That's how you grow. That's how you improve fast. That's how you reach your goals. Be flexible, be open minded and stop justifying bad ideas with questionable examples, just because it's the easy path.

I know that it's very hard to do a 180° and let go of things you've always believed in. Especially if you've already shared those ideas with others. Your band mates, other bands, clients, the public on social media, etc. I'm struggling with this all the time, myself.

But holding on to something, just because you're afraid to admit you were wrong won't get you anywhere. It's ok to be wrong, it's ok to change your opinion. You can do it. Adopt this new mindset and you'll only benefit from it.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

Energy And Excitement

Daily Blog - June 10th 2021

„I saw this band and the energy was just insane!“ „How can we make this part more exciting?“ 

Have you said or heard on of these sentences before? Probably. The energy of a song or a performance is always more important than the sonics. We want to listen to exciting stuff rather than to boring music. What we feel when we listen to something is what we really care about. But what is it that makes us feel the energy?

Energy And Excitement

What makes you enjoy a song (or a certain part of a song)?

What is it that makes you freak out, smile and crank the volume to the max?

Is it the groove? The melody? The chord progression? The lyrics? The snare sound? The low end of the kick drum? The bass line? The crazy distortion? The weird effects? The break before the actual part? The build-up? The breakdown? The intimacy? The incredible voice? The timing and feel of the performance? The overall sound of the mix?

Have you ever analyzed your favourite (and least favourite) songs and figured out what it actually is that you like or dislike about them?

Do it. Listen carefully. Think about what it is. It can be one thing, it can be a combination of many things. Write it down. Compare the results.

It’s worth it. It might help you create something really exciting yourself.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

Want To Reignite Your Passion For Music? Read This.

Daily Blog - June 7th 2021

We got back from a little family vacation and there was a surprise waiting for our kids at home. We bought them a piano. They love it and I couldn't be more proud.

Want To Reignite Your Passion For Music? Read This.

An unexpected side effect

Our daughter was taking her first piano lessons, practicing on a small children's keyboard for a couple of months now. Seeing the passion she developed for it, we decided to buy a digital piano for our home, so she can practice properly.

We put it in our living room, so that all of us can see and use it whenever we want. This was the best idea ever. 

Although I have a piano at the studio, I wasn't really playing myself anymore because I'm constantly working on other people's records and kind of lost my passion for my own music. Especially piano music. It's a sad thing to say, but it's true.

Now with that instrument in our living room the fire immediately came back! Different environment, different instrument, music around the house and the children having a blast with it. It all added up, created an inspiring energy and it totally made me want to play again! 

Over the weekend we tried the piano out and watched the kids explore it. Then yesterday evening I finally sat down again myself. I started to play and couldn't stop smiling. 

Try switching it up a bit. Play in a different environment. If you can, buy yourself a new instrument. Put your instruments where they are available for you to use them whenever you want. If you have a family, offer them to join you. Let your kids explore music and instruments. Invite friends to your home and just have instruments around to be used spontaneously. 

Get out of the home studio cave and make music a part of your life again. It will change everything.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

Step Away From It

Daily Blog - May 28th 2021

I'm taking a couple of days off, starting tomorrow, and just wrapping up the week here. So this is a short post. But this little vacation made me think. 

Step Away From It

Sometimes, stepping away from something is what you need to do to get it done.

Have you ever been stuck and just couldn't seem to finish your song? Have you ever been tweaking tones for way too long and then finally given up? That's when you need to step away from it.  Take a walk, get outside, take a day off and return tomorrow. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you stop working on it for a moment you will get it done faster. And better. And you'll enjoy it more. What's the point if we're not fully present and don't truly enjoy creating art?

Find a balance, take a break and step away from it.

Talk to you on June 7th. 😉

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

2 Can any stranger work on your song?

Daily Blog - May 27th 2021

Could you send your session or multitracks to a stranger for collaboration and they would immediately know what's up? No? Please read on.

Can any stranger work on your song?

Your session might seem logical to you, but it could be completely confusing for everyone else.

Make it a habit to keep your sessions organized from the beginning and all throughout the writing, pre-pro and actual production process, so that anytime you need outside help, feedback, or want someone to collaborate with you, you can quickly and easily transfer files or sessions.

That includes: 

  • Constantly committing and getting rid of everything you don't need (redundant files, bad takes, etc.)
  • Consolidating everything you need (e.g. takes of the same instrument with the same sound spread out over multiple tracks without any overlap)
  • Color coding and clear labeling (your names, number of takes, any notes etc. don't matter. What's on the actual track does! So use "rhythm guitar left mic 1" instead of "James_078_(D)_final")
  • Making sure that all exports have the same starting point and line up perfectly when imported to a session.
  • Printing any amp sims, virtual instruments, MIDI stuff, samples, etc. and sending the raw files in addition to the printed files.
  • Reading and following any export & transfer checklists you get from people you're working with. They send you those for a reason.
  • Creating and frequently updating an info sheet that has all the relevant information about the project on it. You can send that along with your session and everybody immediately knows what's up.

There is more you can do, but even if you "only" do those things above, collaborating with other musicians and working with audio professionals will be so much smoother and lead to much better results. With less headache for everyone.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

As Few Mics As Possible

Daily Blog - May 26th 2021

I love a great challenge. And one of the best challenges you can try for yourself is to record a complex instrument, like a drum kit, with as few mics as possible.

Please note: The following advice is a great challenge and exercise for any genre. However, if your genre is modern metal, any kind of fast and technical heavy music, "radio rock", pop punk or any "polished" sounding rock genre then you probably need more mics (or programmed drums) in your final recording, in order to get all the detail and the punch required for that. Anything organic, dirty, noisy and even a lot of pretty heavy rock stuff will benefit most from the minimalistic approach described in this post.
As Few Mics As Possible

Limiting yourself to as few mics as possible forces you to listen more carefully and really learn your instruments, room and gear.

And the best part is: If done right, it can even sound better than a giant multichannel setup! Here are three reasons why:

  • The more mics, the more phase issues you'll have
  • The more mics, the more bleed will come from all the different channels, messing with the image and clarity. 
  • Less mics give you a more realistic, organic sound


An example of what this could look like for drums:

  1. Choose a great sounding room. It all starts there.
    Find a room, that's as lively and ambient, as you want it to be, that sounds balanced, not boomy or harsh and then find the perfect spot for the kit in that room.
  2. Set up a mono room mic.
    Drums are actually pretty mono. If you're standing in a room, listening to a kit, it all pretty much comes from the same direction. It's not one tom 30 feet to the left and the other 50 feet to the right. 
  3. Find the perfect spot for it that gives you a great balance between shells, cymbals and room ambience.
  4. Add something to capture the low end energy.
    A "front of kit" mic on the floor, a couple of feet away from the kit, for example. This will capture the low end of the kick drum and maybe some additional tone and body from the toms.
  5. Listen again, find a good balance, make sure the phase is right between the two mics before you move on and then add whatever is still lacking.
  6. If you're missing stick attack detail and transient clarity, add an overhead mic.
    Maybe over the shoulder of the drummer, pointing at the kit as a whole. Or right above the snare drum, pointing straight down. Find a position and angle that captures a good balance between the snare and toms.
  7. Listen again, get the phase right between the three mics, rebalance and then move on.
  8. If you want more cymbal clarity and separation, add a pair of overheads.
    Try XY, ORTF, or a spaced pair. This will give you a stereo image and all the shiny top end from the cymbals.
  9. Listen again, get the phase right between the five mics, rebalance and then move on.
  10. If you now want that same image in the ambience and a wider overall picture, add a second room mic (XY in the exact position of the first one), or an additional pair of room mics somewhere else in the room.
    Remember: Keep it simple and natural sounding! 
  11. Listen again, get the phase right between the 6-7 mics, rebalance and then move on.
  12. And finally, if you really need more transients, attack, punch, etc. from the shells, add a kick, snare or tom mic wherever you need it.
    Blend it with what you already have. Never forget that with this approach your main sound is the room mic, followed by everything above. You're just enhancing whats lacking, not relying heavily on the close mics. The whole point of the challenge is to get as far as possible without any close mics. 
  13. Listen again, get the phase right between all your mics, rebalance, pan and enjoy your minimalistic, yet exciting, organic and huge sounding drum kit.
    Make notes of everything you've discovered along the way, so you can use that knowledge next time you set up a kit. This will help you make better decisions, even in more detailed, bigger setups for modern, punchier genres.


Stop and ignore the rest of the steps, as soon as you think it sounds amazing! You don't need all of those! That's the whole point. You should end up with anything between one and maybe 10-12 mics max. Depending on your needs and goals.


I love exercises like that. There's so much to learn from this challenge and it works just as well with any other complex instruments or groups of instruments.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

Are You Overthinking It?

Daily Blog - May 25th 2021

There's a million ways to do any task in audio. How do you decide what's correct? What matters? Step one: Don't overthink it. Trust your intuition and knowledge and then execute, so you're constantly moving forward.

Are You Overthinking It?

So you've watched a tutorial, or got a checklist from an engineer you're working with. Now you're insecure. Are you doing things the wrong way? Do you have to start over?

Maybe. Probably not. At least not everything. I send a checklist to every band I'm working with. It's are guideline that is supposed to help people prepare, consolidate and export their files in a way that allows me to do the best job possible for them. And it avoids common mistakes and problems. So it's helpful, I've created it for a reason and I want people to follow it. But it's just that: A guideline.

If you ignore the list, but you like what you're hearing and if what you're sending over makes sense to a stranger, then cool! No need to change it! Of course, some technical things have to be taken care of and you want avoid any mistakes along the process. But that doesn't mean you have to follow every step exactly as I describe it.

The same is true for YouTube tutorials, online courses or blog posts. There's truth in most of them, but they are not rules.

An example: 

My checklist says you should try and leave 6 dB of headroom on each individual track before exporting. This is just a safety measure. Because if you have a mono source, e.g. a lead vocal, on a stereo track and you bounce it down to the final mono track that you're gonna be sending over, you might be adding a couple of dB in the process without noticing. It happens automatically while exporting. To prevent unintentional clipping, I suggest adding a clean gain plugin at the end of your chain and turning the track down if it's pretty hot before you export.

If you don't do it and you check the track after export and it still doesn't clip - awesome! No need to turn it down then. It's just a suggestion to be safe. You can technically send every track at -0.1 dB and it's fine. I can always turn it down myself, as long as it doesn't clip unintentionally. 

So no need to worry about it like "Crap, my track is around -4 dB instead of -6 dB. Should I still turn it down 2 dB because the checklist says so?". If it doesn't clip, no.

Or maybe someone told you to prepare your sessions well, create templates, make a schedule, come up with a budget, do pre-prodcution, get feedback, etc. 

All of that is correct. Preparing properly and staying organized is important. But if you start to overthink it and you go down that rabbit hole of organizing everything to the last detail, things will take forever and you might never actually start recording.

Don't overthink it and figure out what actually matters and what doesn't.

And finally, let's say you've (hopefully) made creative production decisions but you think that your mixing engineer might prefer everything raw without your automation, fx, plugins, etc.

You now start to wonder: "If I keep it, will they ask me to remove it? If I remove everything, will my song fall apart? What can I keep? What should I keep?"

Again, the answer is: Don't overthink it. If it sounds good it is good. It's your song and there are no rules. Keep everything you really like and remove everything you don't. Ask, when in doubt, but remember that nobody can tell what's truly important for you and it's on you to make those decisions.

The moment you've decided to record and produce yourself, you became the producer. And that role comes with a lot of responsibility. If you don't want to make those decisions or don't feel confident enough, hire a producer. Or just keep practicing, keep moving forward, don't overthink it and accept that you're gonna fail a couple of times until you get good enough.

Be bold, be fearless, learn to trust your feeling and your ears. Keep it simple, use logic and reason (no pun intended) to determine whether a piece of advice is applicable or not. Then execute, move on, learn from mistakes and don't overthink it.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers”

Daily Blog - May 21st 2021

I love this quote by Andrew Scheps! There are no rules and nobody cares how you got to the final result. How does it sound and feel?

“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers”

Don't follow any advice blindly. There are very few things you should do on principle or because "that's how you do it".

For example, I posted a couple of weeks ago that you should make it a habit to always use fades/crossfades when you edit audio to prevent clicks and pops.

And I give my mixing clients a checklist that also says things like "make sure you add fades to all your edits" or "leave a couple dB of headroom on every track", "avoid clipping, unless it's intentional", etc.

Does that mean you should go back now and add fades to an already edited recording that doesn't have any audible clicks in it, just because I said so? Or that you have to trash this awesome take and re-record the part because you accidentally clipped it? No. If it sounds good it is good, even if it's technically "wrong" or "flawed".

Some more examples:

Maybe you've heard someone say that modern editing techniques, vocal tuning, drum samples or amp sims are "taking the life out of music". So you avoid these things out of principle, not realizing they can be used to make a recording feel a lot better, while keeping all of the original vibe, organic sound and mojo of the performance completely intact. Or even enhance those original qualities. If done right for that situation.

Or you've heard so many good things about tape, tubes, transformers and analog circuits in general, that you start to believe this is what will finally make your music sound great. You go down an expensive rabbit hole only to find that in the end nothing has improved about the way your records sound, your success as an artist or how people react to your music.

Maybe you've heard people say the exact opposite, telling you that you can do everything in the box with a cheap interface, cheap microphones, a pair of headphones, any DAW and its stock plugins. But then you wonder why your record is sounding flat and amateur, compared to your favorite records.

All of the statements above can be true or false, depending on the context. Any piece of advice related to those statements can be helpful or misleading.

The reality is that it's all about why and how you're using the tools available to you. It's about developing your taste and your ears. It's about defining the sound in your head and then finding ways that work for you to bring it to life. Whatever those may be. And what works for you will not work for any other person. It's about knowing when a certain technique needs to be applied and when it doesn't matter or makes things worse. 

As listeners, we want to enjoy good music. That's all. Nobody cares how you've made your record sound so organic and vibey. Nobody cares how you got that guitar tone. And nobody cares how you got that great vocal performance. 

Does it sound good? Does it feel right? Then it is right. The techniques used (or not used) to get there are irrelevant to your audience.

Is there anything distracting? Are there obvious mistakes that are not helping the song in any way? Obvious bad edits? Obvious, unwanted distortion that's not making things better? Then do something about it. How you fix it doesn't matter, as long as you fix it.

“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers” - Andrew Scheps

So don't just take any advice as gospel. Find what works for you to get to where you want to get. Be open to trying new techniques and ideas. Trust your ears and your intuition. Strive for excellence, making use of whatever you have available, instead of limiting yourself and your opportunities without a good reason for it - and before you've even tried. Just because someone said so.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to Releases That Connect And Resonate With Your Audience

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

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