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Category Archives for "Mindset & Psychology"

Night Owl Or Morning Lark?

Daily Blog - May 11th 2021

Most musicians I know consider themselves night owls. Claiming to be most creative and productive late at night. They also believe that they produce their best work at night. And they basically don't function at all in the morning, right after getting up early.

It's a cliché, but it's really what most musicians tell me. Up until 3-4 years ago I thought of myself like that, as well.

Today I want to challenge you to actually test it and find out for real

I'm not saying the whole "night owl" vs "morning lark" idea is correct. I'm not an expert on that subject, but I have my doubts that all three of those claims above are true for most people. 

They're probably not.

What’s A “Warm” Sounding Recording?

Going to bed early every day and waking up between 5am and 6am every morning was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

And almost everybody I know who tried it, as well as SO many famous and successful artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and creatives in general would agree.

I'm still creative in the evening or late at night

But I'm not really productive anymore at that time. And I rarely do my best work very late in the day or evening.

So after testing it and experimenting I've found that I get the best overall performance and results if I

  • do the most challenging, deep work in the morning, pretty soon after getting up
  • need rest, exercise and quiet time throughout the day to do my best work and stay objective. So I alternate intense, uninterrupted work blocks with rest, walk breaks and exercise and as soon as I notice a drop in focus, confidence or quality of output I call it a day and spend time with the family. 
  • have the best ideas at night, when the kids are in bed or on lazy sunday afternoons. Often being tired seems to help with creativity, as well. As weird as that may sound. When I can't really focus anymore and my mind starts to wander, that's when it often happens.


What is it for you? Have you really tested it? Try getting up early for a couple of weeks and see how that works for you. Or the exact opposite if that's what you've done already. Experiment with different times for writing, producing, recording,  practicing, etc.

It's super interesting how important that stuff is and what a game changer it can be.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

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Learn From The Best Instead Of Your “Competition”?

Daily Blog - May 7th 2021

This post is not an opinion or piece of advice. It's about a question that came to my mind and I want to share it:

What should we be listening to for inspiration? 

And a question for you: What are you listening to for inspiration? 


In Tim Ferris' book "Tools Of Titans" (HIGHLY recommended), legendary music producer Rick Rubin says:

“Going to museums and looking at great art can help you write better songs. Reading great novels; seeing a great movie; reading poetry… the only way to use the inspiration of other artists is if you submerge yourself in the greatest works of all time. If you listen to the greatest songs ever made, that would be a better way to work through finding your own voice today than listening to what’s on the radio now and thinking ‘I want to compete with this.’”
Drum Room Mics And Low End – The Fine Line Between “Huge” and “Muddy”

The more you're listening to what's current, the more you'll eventually sound like it.

And if you want to make something truly great, it might be better to sound different and unique instead. Taking inspiration from timeless classics that people still consider the best of all time, finding your own voice through that and finally creating your own "current", but timeless style.

This is part of how I interpret Rick Rubin's quote and it immediately resonated with me. It makes total sense and it's actually something that I've always done as a producer and mixer, as well.

On the other hand, there are people who do the exact opposite. Jesse Cannon is an example that comes to mind. 

I highly respect this guy. The amount of work he puts out, the variety of projects he's involved with, his ability to figure things out and do proper research before talking about anything is truly impressive.

His expertise and knowledge ranges from music production, mastering, podcasting, marketing, working for major labels, artist development, writing, researching and exploring creativity, all the way to politics and social issues.

(By the way: Jesse Cannon has been a guest on Your Band Sucks At Business, an amazing podcast by my friend and The Self-Recording Band Podcast co-host Malcom Owen-Flood)

I heard Jesse say a couple of times that he doesn't listen to "old" music at all. He only listens to what's current in any genre! He wants to know what resonates with people right now and why. He wants to know what works and is constantly looking for new, exciting releases to listen to and study.

This is a radical approach, of course, but it works for him and I can also totally see why. 

So, where do you stand on this? I guess I do a bit of both. But I think it's an interesting question and when we ask it to ourselves, maybe we realize that we should probably do more of one or the other.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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

Explore The Extremes

Daily Blog - May 5th 2021

Exploring the extremes and going too far is necessary. Consistently testing the limits and trying to overcome them is what leads to progress.

The Best Microphone

And when we do creative work this is what leads to exciting art. Pushing boundaries, making bold decisions and being willing to fail is crucial.

Will people like our latest crazy idea? Who knows. And we shouldn't care. If we have a feeling that it might work and resonate with our audience and if we like it ourselves, we just have to try and find out.

Playing it safe will not get anyone excited. Or at least not for long. Taking advice is important, of course. But if we always play by the "rules", stick to best practices and fear the extremes, people will forget about our art quickly. There are no hard rules.

Creating something remarkable and hitting the sweet spot requires going too far. You can always dial it back a bit later, if necessary. But you will never know if you don't try.

  • "Will my client like this crazy distorted effect or is this way too much?"
  • "Should I really add that much low end to this kick drum?"
  • "The guitars are probably WAY too loud here, but it sounds so freaking amazing and I love the energy!"
  • "Boosting that much midrange on the bass is nuts, but the growl is exactly what this part needs!"
  • "It's weird because I've already boosted 15dB of top end with that first EQ, but I feel like it could use some more. Let's see how far I can take this!"

I have thoughts like these every single day when I'm mixing records. I'm constantly afraid of going too far and failing. But I ignore these thoughts, trust my gut feeling, do whatever I think is cool and move on. Always forward. After all, there's only one way to find out and only one way to make sure we end up with something that the artist and their audience are beyond stoked on. And if I do fail, so what? At least I've tried and now I know. I happily take the criticism, don't let my ego get in the way, adjust and move on again.

When was the last time you stopped before actually reaching the limit because you thought you're not supposed to do this? What will you try next time you write, record or mix? Can you ignore the doubts and just go for it?

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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

One sound fits all?

Daily Blog - May 4th 2021

When recording an album, are you really doing what's best for each song? Maybe one setup for the record doesn't cut it.

The Best Microphone

When I was starting out I often set up the drums, guitars, etc. for the record once and then just recorded everything with that setup.

Seems reasonable, right? At least if you're a band with a certain sound and vibe that doesn't change much from song to song.

But the truth is that if two songs are written in different keys, you might need to adjust. Same with faster and slower songs. And what about space, width, etc.? Does every part feel exactly right with the same exact setup? Are you doing every song justice?

Why do we often prioritize making the record sound super consistent, even if that means making a whole bunch of compromises along the way?

It will actually sound surprisingly consistent anyway, because you made it, everything gets filtered through your ears and brain and your taste is your taste. No matter what.

Next time you record a record, try different snare drums, different tunings, different guitar cabs or instruments to make each song (or each part) feel exactly right. The consistency will still be there and can also be achieved otherwise later in the process. Focus on the song first. Then the record.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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 Best Microphone…

Daily Blog - May 3rd 2021

...might be the one you already have. Because limiting yourself forces you to learn everything about your signal chain. It forces you to experiment. It forces you to figure it out and make it work. 

The Best Microphone

We often try to solve a problem by throwing money at it.

But this might not be the best solution. And it might slow down our progress as we try to get better at engineering.

Part of the problem is that we tend to like the thing we've just spent money on. We want to justify our purchase. This means you're probably gonna like that new mic you're about to buy. Whether it's truly a good choice or not. 

And it might even sound better right away, so you'll be happy and stop experimenting for a while, but you'll never know how amazing your old mic would have sounded in a different spot at a different angle with a different setting on your amp.  

Then, as soon as you get tired of the new sound, you're gonna buy something new again. Because you'll remember that it solved your problem last time. So you'll never really learn that second mic and all its potential, as well. 

And you still won't know all the details about your signal chain, your room and all the options you already have available. All the cool things you could already do with your gear if you tried harder. You'll never figure out that changing the mic position, setting up your instrument differently or improving your playing technique often makes a bigger difference than switching to a new mic.

I had a whole mic locker full of wasted potential until I began to use my mics on things you're "not supposed to use them on" and started paying more attention to everything that happened in front of the mic. Once I started experimenting more, once I really committed to learning my gear and always trying hard to get the best possible results with whatever I have available, I began to discover the coolest tones and most exciting textures I've ever recorded. And I haven't bought many mics since then.

Happy experimenting!

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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 Simple Habit That Prevents Clicks And Pops In Your Recordings

Daily Blog - April 30th 2021

Sometimes it's the little things, the small problems that are easy to fix that can cause major issues when overlooked. This is one of them. And it happens all the time.

The Simple Habit That Prevents Clicks And Pops In Your Recordings

Make it a habit to put a short fade at the end and the beginning of every single audio event in your DAW.

That's basically it. Why should you do that? Because not doing it is the #1 reason for audible clicks and pops in your audio. Sometimes these can be fixed after the fact, but sometimes they become a real issue and you should prevent them for ever happening. For example, if you have a click in your audio and you send it through a reverb and delay, the click will not only appear in one spot (easy to fix), it will now have a decay and it will be repeated with the delay. That's a problem and I get files like that all the time.

So, from now on, every time you cut an audio event in your DAW, make sure to put a very short "fade in" at the beginning and a very short "fade out" at the end of every event.

And when you're putting two events together, make sure to create a crossfade between them. Every single time.

Btw: An "event" is the box with the waveform in it. Sometimes it's called an audio clip, I'm sure you know what I mean. It's the content of the audio tracks you're looking at. The thing you're editing, cutting, etc.

It takes seconds, can be done with shortcuts/key commands and there's not excuse not to. Just look up how to do it in your DAW, make it a habit and do it even when there seems to be no audio where you've made the cut. Just do it and never think about it again.

This simple habit would have saved many of my clients hours of phone calls, emails, troubleshooting, recalling sessions, shooting in the dark and fixing problems.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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 Old And The New

Daily Blog - April 28th 2021

Some of the most beautiful houses are a tasteful combination of old materials and modern elements. Classic, timeless construction methods combined with new technology. We can find this in other areas, as well. All new and "modern" is not always better and old or "classic" is often beautiful but can almost aways be improved at least a bit or benefit from a fresh approach.

The Old And The New

Have you tried combining the old and the new in your recordings?

If you're a bedroom producer creating songs on a laptop with all programmed drums and virtual guitar amps, how can you bring in some unique vibe to mix it up a little? Can you at least make some elements go through air and capture them with a mic again? Any weird speaker that you could try sending stuff through and see if it sounds cool? Or maybe reamp through a real guitar pedal before you hit your amp sim? Or hire a remote session musician to do record a real instrument with a human touch that you can add to your programmed arrangement?

If you're doing things mostly analog and "real", can you use modern technology to your advantage and add unique production elements? Post-production FX to create tension or more impact? Maybe try reamping and use a crazy plugin chain on a DI before you send it out through your amp and cab. Or create larger than life, insane sounding spaces/reverbs in the computer and blend them with your real room mics.

Combining the old and the new brings endless possibilities. There's no excuse to sound generic, dated, or boring. 

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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 Best Of All Meters

Daily Blog - April 27th 2021

A tuner shows you whether or not the pitch is accurate. Meters show you how loud, dynamic or wide something is. A spectrum analyzer gives you an idea of how you've distributed the elements within your arrangement over the frequency spectrum and whether or not it's a balanced distribution. But if you don't get goosebumps while listening to your song none of the above matter. 

The Best Of All Meters

How do you react emotionally?

Does the song make you cry? Does it make you angry? Happy? Does it affect your motivation or energy level? Does it remind you of a special moment in your life?

Your emotional reaction (or that of other people first listening to the song) is the best meter of all.

So should we stop caring about the numbers and graphs? 

No. They are great tools. They can help us when we're stuck. They are a great starting point and most importantly, they help us get to the core of an issue that we've already noticed intuitively. But they are not the be-all and end-all. And they shouldn't have the last word.

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find 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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