The Tip Jar Effect

The Tip Jar EffectRemember the Seinfeld episode where George goes to give the guy a tip at the pizza place, but the guy doesn’t see him put it in the jar and he tries to reach in and take his money back?

It’s funny because most of us can relate to it (well, hopefully not the part about reaching back into the jar!). If we’re being totally honest, when most of us give someone a tip we want them to see us doing it. We want them to feel like they’re getting hooked up and a part of us wants to be acknowledged for making a contribution. Read more…

Prince before the Revolution: Prince Rogers Nelson passed away on April 21, 2016, at his home in Chanhassen, MN.

Prince before the Revolution

Sitting here listening to the notorious Black Album, in shock and in mourning at the passing of one of my all-time favorite musical artists. It’s been a tough year already, but Prince’s death is a hard one to deal with. From playing his songs in my high school band to marveling at his live acumen and unbelievable recorded output, he was an artist who defied classification. I thought this excerpt from 2011 would be a worthy feature to post in the days after his passing. Read more.

Exclusive Steve Vai Interview – Vai talks technical chops, emotional investment, and naked tracks

The definition of virtuoso on electric guitar, Steve Vai has earned the respect of critics, audiences, and fellow musicians worldwide. With a string of Grammy Award nominations and wins tucked under his guitar strap and a knack for assembling top-notch musicians and driving them to exceptional performances, Steve hasn’t rested on his laurels. He continues to explore new musical avenues – including orchestral compositions ("Oil of Smoke" and others), music training (an upcoming course through Berklee music), and the honoring the legacy of landmark artists (Vai is performing in this year’s Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tour). Read more…

Copyright basics

Copyright basics: exclusive rights, licensing lingo, and more

So you’ve written a new song. It may have the potential to be a hit, but one thing is certain: it makes sense to properly protect your song if you hope to profit from its recording and public performance. How do music copyrights work? What is required to have ownership of your song’s copyright? Why should you register it with the Library of Congress? What are some of the common music licenses that generate income for songwriters? Read more

Recording acoustic guitar

When recording acoustic guitar, you can obtain great results with either dynamic or condenser mics, used singly, in a blend, or in stereo. For acoustic guitars, generally what you hear is what you get. If you use a better mic, you’ll get a better sound simply because the mic is providing a more accurate picture of what’s there. And while it’s true that some mic characteristics are preferable to others for capturing acoustic guitar… Read more…

Recording Electric Guitar

Electric guitars are far and away the most popular kind of guitar that gets recorded, and the principles you learn here will apply to other electronic instruments and sources that you may record, including keyboards, sound modules, virtual instruments from your hard disk, and even external devices such as an MP3 player. Learning to treat the guitar as a signal source, rather than a performing instrument, is the first step in making the transition from player to recordist. But the objective is always the same: to produce the best sound possible for the listener. Read more…

In the studio with Michael Jackson

In The Studio with Michael JacksonNo one was closer to Michael Jackson at the height of his creative powers than Bruce Swedien, the five-time Grammy winner who, with Jackson and producer Quincy Jones, formed the trio responsible for the sound of Jackson’s records. Excerpted from Swedien’s book, In The Studio With Michael Jackson, published by Hal Leonard. Read more.

In the studio with Trevor Horn

Trevor HornTrevor Horn is rather unique among his peers in that he enjoyed a highly successful career as a musician before moving to the other side of the glass. As half of the eighties pop duo the Buggles (he was the one with the nerdy glasses), he co-wrote, co-produced, and sang lead on their smash hit “Video Killed the Radio Star,” perhaps best known today as the first video ever played on MTV. He and co-Buggle Geoff Downes were then briefly integrated into prog-rock kings Yes (an experience he later described as “awful”) before he made the decision to end his touring days and focus full-time on record production. Read more…

Behind the glass with Daniel Lanois

LanoisWhen I listen to my records from the ’70s and ’80s and compare them with newer recordings, I can hear a difference, but it’s not just the tape – it’s where we have traveled in our minds and where our expectations have taken us. It’s a slow creep, and year by year a little bit of the old way of doing things just disappears. It’s an erosion rather than a change of technique. So I don’t really miss the sound of tape, but I miss some of the philosophies that we operated by back in the day. Read more.

Open Mic Performance Tips

In the back of most everyone’s mind who has ever picked up a guitar, manned a keyboard, or stepped behind the microphone on one of those open mic nights, there is always that dream of performing for thousands of people on stage or television. For those of us that are actually attempting to make those dreams realities, from New York to California, and all over the world, one of the physical manifestations of this dream is the songwriter’s night. Read more…

Do You Need a Direct Box for Home Recording?

01_HosaSidekicksmVirtually all of today’s home recording digital audio interfaces allow easy connection of microphones as well as various high impedance sound sources such as an electric guitar, bass or keyboard. But are you really getting the best possible sound quality plugging your instrument directly into these interfaces? This month we’ll do a test recording of bass guitar using a typical digital audio home recording interface, and then add a direct box into the equation to see what difference, if any, such a device makes in the quality of the sound. Read more…

Drum Tuning Advice for Recording and Gigs

Step 1: New Heads
There is nothing like a new drum head to give you great tone to work with. I prefer the sound I get from thinner heads such as Remo’s Diplomat, FD and Thin/FD lines. The disadvantage to thinner heads is that they tend to wear out quickly. A general-duty head, such as Remo’s Ambassador line, will last longer and, if new, should sound nearly as good. For recording purposes, avoid heavy-duty heads, such as Remo’s Emperor, PinStripe, PowerStroke, and the Black, Clear or White Dot series. These are all great heads, but they are designed more for live performance and tend to constrict the sound, making it a bit flat sounding instead of bright and exciting. Read more…