Becoming A Singer

Becoming a songbird is not a hard thing, especially when you have the talent, style and attitude. Maybe your experience goes as far as the shower, or maybe you sing in your church choir; every songster or songstress begins from somewhere. Search your soul and awaken the singing genius, and then make it a reality.

Look at the singing icons of this day, from kids to adults. Taylor Swift’s soft golden voice gives country music a spicy taste and Justin Beiber is one of a group of young musicians creating a new genre of urban music. They come and go, with some becoming legends. Think of Tupac Shakur, the Hip hop revolutionist, and Robert Nester Marley, the Reggae legend. Some claim humble beginnings, with others being discovered through talent search show like Adam Lambert from American Idols.

Any one of these stars can tell you that they are not where they are today because they lay back on their beds and the fame came. Like many things in this world, they have had to toil hard, sometimes running on back-breaking schedules, to maintain their profiles. If you have your eye on becoming a famous singer, learn from the masters of the art on how to become a famous singer.

Your talent will be enhanced by acquiring basic singing skills such as articulation. You need to be able to pick up a rhythm that has the ideal tempo and quality with regards to the content. This introduces the importance of lyrics. Ever wondered how famous singers produce block-buster songs time and again, through even decades? The aspects that make success in music production are singing talent, rhythm and lyrics. If you lack in creativity or a knack for emotive songs, you should make use of songwriters.

These are talented professionals whose sole task is to write songs. Usually, the songwriter comes up with the lyrics and the star songbird sings it. You could also be creative enough, but run short of lyrical ideas. This is also an occasion to use a songwriter.

You may now be wondering how you can get started on this career. Bearing the humble beginnings of some famous singers in mind, look around you. Find what you can use to get you under a spot light; maybe it’s that weekly Open Mic session in your neighborhood, or maybe it is Karaoke. Learn to overcome your stage fright and give your best performance every time. You never know; maybe your first fan will be a talent scout, who will take your career to the heights of a famous singer.

Learn to spot opportunities. If you have a small gig or a voice-over singing commercial, embrace it wholeheartedly. There are lots of talents like yours out there, all awaiting discovery. Never allow yourself to go to waste, when you could easily learn how to become a famous singer.


Control Your Home Studio

Control surfaces are a marvel of DAW technology. These devices act as the physical liaison between the features of a digital mixer, and the tools of your DAW software. They are not an essential piece of gear, meaning they are not “required” to use the features of your DAW software, rather they are an extension of physical control and offer the convenience of not having to rely on your mouse and cursor to control the functions of your software.

Having hands on control of compatible DAW software is a novel idea that uses modern technology to combine the assets of DAW software with the satisfaction of hardware.

Do they do this?
Do they do it well?
Are they practical?

The control surface is a relatively new addition to the home and pro studio gear line-up, and has been creatively developed to be an affordable luxury available for hobbyists, yet intuitive enough to supplement professional studios. In fact many professional recording studios are using large control surfaces in place of a massive analog mixing console.

Control surfaces look and act in a similar manner to that of a digital mixer. Their are however, some distinct differences in how these two devices function.

Digital Mixers:

Digital mixers mix digital audio from within an external mixing board.

A digital mixer does its mixing onboard, using its own effects, and can output the mix to hard-disk or recorder for mix-down and mastering.

Control Surfaces:

A control surface, in its raw, standalone form, is a midi controller that simulates the faders and adjustment knobs of an analog or digital mixing board – with physical midi controls. These controls are able to function in a versatile way, and can even be customized to compliment the individuals’ production style.

It synchronizes with compatible DAW software and allows real-time control of track levels, panning, third party plugins and other mixing controls. A control surface has given us the feeling and functionality of a digital mixer, for half the cost.

The control surface is a pretty basic idea of adding hardware pleasure to control your music production software. The overall performance of control surfaces is currently very satisfying to use, and they are still progressing.

Firmware updates from developers keep adding more compatibility to more programs. Pro audio software and hardware developers have realized the key to this-products potential is through the coordination of software programs and their midi hardware.

Controllers today are capable of upgrading with drivers/firmware etc. So the technology progresses, right with your control surface. Tally another point to the score for the digital recording studio.

Once again, a control surface is just a bare bones controller for your DAW/music software. The beauty of this is that you have yet another option that gives you faders! This is huge, because clicking a mouse or moving a curser is just not quite the same thing, or nearly as rewarding as moving real faders and knobs…

Hybrid Control Surfaces:

There are a growing number of (hybrid) combination units as well.

These are controllers that include two or all of the following: audio interface/midi interface/preamps/a/d d/a converters.

These combined units can be very convenient. For the most part, these control surface combinations can wrap up the digital and analog hardware needed for a competent home or project studio.

These hybrid units extend beyond the transfer of midi data to control mixing parameters of your DAW software.

Controller/Audio Interface Integration

These are combo units that integrate the controller functionality with the features of the audio interface.

Digital Mixer/Control Surface Combinations

These are the most expensive units and combine the features and functions of a digital mixer, which includes onboard processing, an array of in/outputs, and the functions of a control surface.

In Conclusion:

Remember that when combined as a hybrid unit, always look at a control surface as a separate device. Controllers talk to the software mixer and transport of your sequencer, they do not talk to a mixer, keyboard, or audio interface.

Research the compatibility and integration between the DAW software in your home studio with that of a prospective control surface. If there is a problem here, you will be in trouble and wish you had done your homework.

Control surfaces and their hybrid combinations appear to be the future, especially for the home studio. I expect the market competition to increase significantly as technology and manufacturing costs become more efficient, universal formats are agreed upon between hardware and software companies, and music technology companies can produce more faders and more options with greater precision and effectiveness, for less money.


Getting Started

It doesn’t matter if you are musically challenged, have no musical background or just don’t know where to start. I will cover everything you need to know about about getting started in the music production industry. I constantly see questions like “Anyone Know Where I Can Make Beats Online Or On MY Own Personal Computer?”. So I have decided to help you all out. Here are the 5 key elements to getting started with making beats on your PC.

1. Picking Your Genre
This will probably be quite obvious to yourself already. Do you want to produce Hip Hip, Rap, Dubstep, Electro House, Classical, Jazz or Trance? These are only a few of the musical styles that are out there, but with the information I am providing you, you will be able to interpret the information and software I have reviewed so that it will work for your genre. Music making software and music theory are the basis for all music production no matter what genre you want to work with. I myself produce Dubstep, but all of the music programs that are available today will allow you to produce any genre you like because they are all very versatile.

2. Music Production (Beat Making Software)
Now that you have decided on what genre you will be producing tracks in, it’s time to start looking for some appropriate software. Now this is where you don’t want to make a mistake. The most popular software as it stands today is Dubturbo 2.0, Sonic Producer, Reason 5, FL Studio 10, Cubase 6 and Logic Studio. All of these programs are very similar and have much of the same features so when deciding on a beat maker keep that in mind and don’t be fooled into thinking that you are paying for extra features when there is a similar package for half the price or less.

Now it is always a hard choice when choosing the software that will be right for you, especially when you have just come from “How can I make Dubstep?” or “How can I make my own Hip Hop and Rap Beats?” It’s all very confusing at first and that is why I am writing this article. I have tested most of the beat production software and I can tell you now that when it comes to value for money you cannot go past Sonic Producer and Dubturbo 2.0. These programs are feature rich and allow you to make a beat in half the time the others do. Don’t waste the money and test all of them like I did, it’s really not worth it. I know what’s it’s like, I was once in your position too.

Again the KEY thing to look out for when look online for beat making software is DON’T BE FOOLED BY PRICE. Almost all of the paid software contains the same features but they just go about laying it out in a different way in their interface. Don’t think you aren’t going to get enough features in a cheap music production package, because it is more than likely that you will get what you need! The biggest mistakes most people make are buying overpriced software packages that are too complicated and don’t deliver much more than their more affordable competitors.

If you are getting started in music production you aren’t going to go and rent a building and turn it into your own studio are you? No, because of the simple fact that there is no need to do that. I see a lot of big club bangers coming from bedroom producers, and this is because of the way the music production software world has evolved. So much more is now possible with software, and hardware is becoming slowly obsolete. Hardware will never be completely abolished because there are a lot of producers that like the old-school way of doing things but it is happening, software is taking over. This is because everything hardware can do, software can do just as efficiently and at a fraction of the price.

3. Music Theory
Once you have chosen a beat making system for producing you music, I suggest you brush up on your music theory. This is NOT necessary but I highly recommend it as it will make your life much easier by reducing confusion. Music Theory will assist you with the application of the ideas in your head. Once you have a bit of musical knowledge you will find that you are able to get your little melody ideas straight down into your home studio application.

Piano courses are a great way to increase your musical theory knowledge. The saying “If you can play the piano, you play anything.” loosely applies to music production as well due to the fact that the reason behind that saying is that piano teaches in-depth musical theory knowledge that can be easily translated onto many other instruments and platforms.

4. Marketing your music
This may be an optional step for you as you may not want to turn this hobby into a full time profession like I do. Marketing my own music was a real struggle for me. I searched around the internet for months trying to find good information about how I could sell my music and start to monetize my passion. Finally I found a guide that took me to the success state that I am at today, making a living from my music.

The Music Marketing Manifesto series allowed me to monetize my music in ways that I had never even thought of. Things to look for in a paid guide like this are videos, informative written guides and helpful diagrams. You will want to pick up a guide that is backed by music industry professionals so you know that they have also taken their beats from their beat maker and into the market place successfully. The best way to go about music marketing is finding a marketplace that will be right for you.

You have sites like Beatport which will be hard for an independent artist to get on in the first place but then you also have sites such as Bandcamp and Juno that are completely open to independents. So I would suggest signing up for those two sites and seeing what they have to offer because I mean you can never go wrong with a free service right?

Talking about free services, if you aren’t already uploading your finished tracks to Soundcloud and Youtube, GET ONTO IT! This places are prime for web presence in the music world and trust me you will get exposure from both of them. Another thing to consider, that links in with Soundcloud and YouTube is to be active on forums that are specific to your genre and music production. This way you will be able to show other like minded users your music and you will already be TARGETING a specific audience that will more than likely take a liking to your tunes..

5. Perseverance
This is the key ingredient to success in everything. If you persevere with Music Production, you will make it! There is no doubt in my mind that I could guide someone with no musical ability to self-train themselves into becoming a top notch producer, if they wanted it bad enough.

I hope this information was helpful and good luck getting started in my world!


Setting Goals

When the topic of goal setting comes up, most Indies’ run for the hills. In fact, I’ll bet that right now you’re seriously thinking about skipping this article so you can wait for one that is more interesting. I understand, but I encourage you to ignore those feeling temporarily and stick with this article.

And while you’re at it, just calm down. Planning for your future doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, you’ll find that getting on good terms with the goal setting process will move you toward your Indie Music Career dreams quicker – while also giving you more direction with which to pursue them.

Now I know that you may be one of those people who says, “Planning never gets me anywhere. I run into to many problems and end up angry and frustrated. No, I would rather just let things happen and let nature take its course.” NOT!!

Control Yourself

While there’s nothing wrong with letting your instincts guide you toward your true passion in life, taking the “let things happen” approach too far often leads to stagnation.

How else can you explain the gang of negative, goalless musicians who populate most of the Indie Music scenes? They stumble through gig after gig, waiting for nature to take its course, and then suddenly wake up one day and wonder why they’re no better off today than they were 10 years ago.

The unpleasant truth: If you read nothing else in the Ralph Sutton’s Music Production Blog, at least contemplate this: When you just “let things happen” with your Indie Music Career, you take the control of success out of your hands. You’ll always be at the mercy of someone or something else. In essence, you lose control over where you really want to take your career and talent.

People who have successful Indie Music Careers use goal setting to take control of there Indie Music Career and achieve great success, and this will be you!

The good news is that you already possess the skills to set goals effectively. Have you ever written a song? Have you ever gone into a studio to record your music? If so, you’ve been setting goals already.

Example: When you showed up at the studio for your first recording session, what did you do? Did you look at your fellow band members and say, “Dam, I wonder what we should do? Anybody got any good ideas?”

Well, some musicians do this (I’m a engineer and studio owner I know), and hopefully you realize that not being prepared is senseless. You’ve got money invested in the session, you’ve had a dream to put out your own music for years, plus you’ve got fans who are ready and waiting for the recording you’d be nuts to go into the studio unprepared! You didn’t do this, did you?

Of course not. You went into the studio with a game plan, a list of songs, knowing who’s playing what parts, when the vocal, backgrounds and harmonies come in, you may even have a title for the project. That’s all that goal setting is, knowing what you want to do before you set out to do it.

So in the same way you’d be wasting your time and money not being prepared to go into that studio, so too are you wasting your precious resources by being unprepared when it comes to your overall career. Does that make sense to you?

Flexible and Focused

Goal setting is not a inflexible science. The plans you come up with are fluid – you can expect them to evolve and change over time. This is yet another concept you should be familiar with, especially if you’re a songwriter. Many songwriters write using just a guitar or keyboard and voice.

However, when these artists create a new composition, they often hear much more than that sparse arrangement in their heads. The drums, the bass part, maybe an entire string section… all of it is there in the mind’s ear. Maybe you create in the same way.

Then you take this skeleton of a song and share it with your band members, or co-creators explaining each of the parts you hear in your head. But the song the band ends up playing and recording is usually quite different from the version you originally heard in your head. And typically, the newer version is almost always better.

Bottom line: The plans you come up with when goal setting will change as you work toward them. But the mere act of coming up with an idea, visualizing it in your mind, and acting on it will drive you to take those first important steps. While the end result isn’t always the one you expected, it’s usually one you can learn and grow from and hopefully be proud of.

By pushing yourself, through advance planning, to head off in a specific direction -whatever direction that is – you create the opportunities from which real success can be realized. By waiting for things to happen, though, you set the stage for inaction and apathy. That’s why setting goals for yourself and your Indie Music Career is so important.

What follows next week on the Ralph Sutton’s Music Production Blog, are 11 helpful tips for getting the most out of goal setting. See you then and Take Care