Social Media Strategy Guide For Musicians

Hi Guys, its me again, PuzzleVortex.

I’m writing this ‘Social Media Strategy Guide for Musicians’ to help you guys build a bigger social media presence, promote your music online, and sell stuff like merch or a service.

I think these tips will help you gain music industry connections, as well as make some money by selling a product, or a service to your followers. (I used to make a living selling things on the internet, so i’ve been doing this for a while. Now i’m using it to help promote my music.)

I’m going to share my best social media tricks with you, because i like you, you’re my ONLY friend.

2 Steps to Gain Followers on ANY Social Network

In order to gain followers on ANY social media, you ONLY have to do two things:

  1. put out good content consistently
  2. interact with other people by liking, commenting, and following.

In order to gain followers, you have to ‘put out good content’, at least a few times per week.

You ALSO have to follow, like, and comment, EVERYDAY.

This strategy goes for ANY social network.

You CANNOT expect to do well on social media, if you aren’t active.

No one will see your content unless you communicate with people, even if it is very high quality.

You can promote your content to others by liking, commenting, and following people that are in your demographic. When you do any of these things a notification shows up in their account.

This notification will often lead to them checking out your profile.

Targeting Followers in Your Demographic

With my blog, i’m targeting music producers, record labels, people that might buy plugins or audio recording software, and people that want audio samples.

This is my demographic.

 

Figure out what your demographic is, and follow those people.

About 30% of the people you follow, will follow you back. (With this method, you can build an account of 1000 followers in a few weeks, if you do it everyday.)

Since i’m trying to get electronic music producers and record labels to follow me, i’ll find an account like @computermusicuk, then start following all of their followers.

There is a ‘limit’ to how many people you can follow. (This limit increases, the larger follower count grows.)

Once your following your target audience, you should also like and comment on their posts as they show up in your feed. (If they dont follow you back initially, they might after you like or comment.)

Getting Signed Through Social Media

If you’re looking to get signed, put your best music/videos on your profile, then follow and comment on record label profiles that fit your style. (Keep it up and try to make friends. It might take a while to get them to listen to your music.)

 

Connecting with Popular Artists Through Social Media

Try to make some connections by, seeking out artists that have a similar music style as you.

If the artist follows 100 people or less, this is probably their inner circle of managers, record label contacts, and friends.

If you cant reach the attention of an artist, you can target their inner circle. They might pass along your info to the artist.

A fun thing about social media is that its easy to interact with your favorite musicians, models, artists, etc.

With my last music project, a known rapper followed me on instagram and my follower count started growing at about 200+ followers per day, for about 5 days straight.

If a popular person follows you, their followers will also follow you.

Capturing Emails from Your Social Profile or Website

On your profile you should have great content, with snippets of your music, art, videos, or whatever you are promoting.

You should try to include an email opt-in link on your profile page, if possible.

I have a link to my newsletter on my profile. (I give away free plugins and samples, to help me get the email optin.)

You also have to put out NEW content, consistantly. This content can be snippets of your music, images of you recording, video of you playing live, your artwork, ANYTHING.

Paying A Celebrity to Re-Tweet You

One thing you might try is pay a celebrity to re-tweet your tweet.

This will expose your music to all of their followers, plus it also implies their endorsement. (even though the celebrity might not even be in control of their own social media accounts).

For example, a couple years ago i saw that you could pay Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan $150 to re-tweet your tweet to his 1,000,000 followers. (not sure if he’s still doing this tho.)

I can’t give an example of the results, because i haven’t tried this yet.

Which Social Networks Should You Use to Promote Your Music

Twitter – I like twitter because you can pretty much get away with anything. I’ve also made connections with pretty cool producers and artists.

Twitter allows you to promote affiliate products. You can also be pretty aggressive about increasing your follower count.

If you increase your numbers a little too fast, they will just make you confirm your cell phone number to show you aren’t a bot.

You can also livestream through Twitter.

I just started DJing over my Twitter livestream (@puzzlevortex)

Facebook – Facebook is a pretty good platform to connect with music people, as well as promote your music, art, or articles through Groups.

Join as many groups which focus on the style of music you are making. You can submit your content to these Groups.

You can even ‘create your own FB group which you control’.

Unfortunately, you can get banned from Facebook pretty easily. I am permabanned on FB. But there are many other social networks, so i’m not too worried.

Instagram – I really like Instagram to promote my music and art.

I’ve made connections with some really cool people on Instagram. I’ve also been able to talk with popular musicians, models, and artists. I’ve made some friends that i talk with often.

You can also livestream on Instagram and play your music for your followers.

You can get banned on Instagram, and i have, more than once.

Ive been banned for promoting affiliate products, and also using services that you pay to increase your followers. Don’t using services that increase your followers, you will probably get banned!

But, as long as your not doing either of the above, you will probably be fine.

Snapchat – It is pretty fun to interact with people on Snapchat.

Snapchat is great, because you can see if someone views your message or content.

I’ve been able to interact with cool musicians, artists, and models on Snapchat.

I like it because you can see exactly who views your snaps.

For a while, i was specifically trying to get certain models that i like (any of the suicidegirls), to follow me and view my snaps, and it does work.

Google+ – I do a little bit of promotion on Google+, but to be honest it isn’t a very popular social network.

I do post my articles and music in communities that focus on electronic music.

 

I’ve gotten some visitors from it to my website, but not much compared to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

I also created my own community.

One of the keys to doing well on G+ is to get alot of people to follow you, so when you post an article, it shows up in their feed.

Video Streaming Networks to Play Live Music

One new way to build your followers is to play live online and stream it out live over Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, or Twitch.

Livestreaming is pretty new, and not that many people do it. So, you might get some attention for it.

Here are the social networks you can stream live on: Twitter, Periscope, Twitch.tv, Instagram.

Setting Up a Basic Website to Promote Your Music, Sell A Service, and Grab Emails

Setting up a website for your music is easy. (especially blog style WordPress websites.)

The cost of a simple website is pretty low. It includes:

  1. A Domain Name – $10/yr
  2. Web Hosting – $5/mo
  3. Email Optin Service – $10-$20/mo
  4. Payment + Quote Form which allows you to take credit card payments and give quotes for a service.  – $20/mo (optional)

Thats about it.

Also, if you want to buy advertising and send it to a landing page (to sell a service, merch, or product on your site), you can buy one from the template site themeforest.com for about $8.

If you want a custom design, you should go check out fiver.com or freelancer.com

Getting Email Addresses to Stay in Touch with Your Followers

One thing you NEED to do, is get your website followers to opt-in to your email list. When every you have something to promote, you can email them about your music, content, or service you sell.

Dont abuse it, or they will unsubscribe.

I try to give away good, informative content and lots of free stuff, then mix it in with my music and other music services that i offer.

You can link directly to your email opt-in form from your profile, or website.

Try giving them an incentive like a digital download to increase your optins.

Here are the 2 email services that i have tried:

Aweber – A basic Aweber account costs $20/mo. They have many premade email optin templates, and they allow affiliate marketing. (which is one of the many ways you can make money with your email list)

Mailchimp – A Mailchimp subscription costs $10/mo. It is a decent service, but they did ban me unexpectantly for affiliate marketing.

One good feature that Mailchimp has is that they integrate directly with my favorite payment and quote form called Wufoo.com (more about Wufoo in the next section)

How to Sell a Service or Product On Your Profile or Website

An easy way to sell a product or service through your website or social media account is by linking a quote or payment form directly from your website (or profile) using a service called Wufoo.

Wufoo lets you create a form which lets you process credit card payments, or take quotes to sell any product (like merch) or service.

For example, i used Wufoo on a voiceover business that i started.

I created a basic website out of a template i got for $8 (from themeforest.com). I linked the website to a wufoo form that took quotes on voiceover jobs.

I bought ads on Google Adwords on ‘voiceover keywords’, then sent the traffic to my website.

The user would then fill out a quote on my Wufoo form. (I got alot of voiceover jobs this way.)

I would then follow up by email with a payment form created in Wufoo. This form allowed them to make a purchase easily with a credit card.

Setting Up Backup Accounts to Promote Your Main Social Media Account

You can promote your music even faster, by making multiple accounts to increase visibility and further promote what your content.

For example, I’m promoting a drum n bass project, so i created a secondary account that tweets drum n bass live sets. (@dnb_madness).

I also retweet my own stuff with it. I have a few of these account.

I also used a profile pic of a good looking girl, which helps get followers. (you might get sexually harrassed a bit, but you’ll get more followers.)

Also, if you want to try anything that might be frowned upon by Twitter (like paying for followers), test it out on your secondary account. Don’t risk your main account.

Let me if you try this, tweet me @puzzlevortex

 

Bassline Tips for Electronic Music

Hi, guys. Its me @puzzlevotex.

In this article, I wanted talk about how to make better basslines.

Your bassline plays a huge role in your mix. Especially in electronic and dance music.

It is the foundation of your track!

It provides the infrastructure which your melodies and chords are built on top of.

Your bassline is the ‘core of your song’ which provides the groove, and it makes a listeners body unconsciously move to the music.

A bassline can be added or pulled out of a track at key times, to get an audience really moving.

I spend ALOT of time working on the bassline for my tracks.

I also like to make and test ‘multiple bass melodies’ to find one that is simple, fits nicely with my drum track, and also has a nice groove.

Sometimes i’ll spend an hour just testing different basslines to find one that:

  • is simple, but melodically interesting
  • has melodic ideas that are repeatable and catchy
  • provides a groove that makes your body want to move
  • leads to the next chord in an interesting way

Other important aspects of a bassline include:

  • its tone (the synth patch)
  • how it is EQed in your mix
  • how effects are applied to it in your mix.

Finding a Good Bass Tone or Timbre

An important part of your track, is the tone or timbre of your bass sound.

If you use a good hardware synth or VST synth plugin (like Serum), you’ll save alot of time searching for the right tone.

BUT, If your not working with a great synth sound, you can always improve the tone and color by adding EQ and effects.

I like to program my basslines with midi, then cycle through the bass presets in Serum until I find one that fits in the mix and has a unique, memorable sound.

EQing Your Bass

How you will EQ your bass track, depends on the other instruments in the mix.

Here are the most Common ways i will try applying EQ to my bass tracks:

  • I try boosting the upper end of the bass sound around 200 – 400 hz to add color and make the upper end of the bass sound stand out in that range.
  • Sometimes i test cutting off all of the high end frequencies of the bass using a low pass filter at around 80-200 HZ.
  • If you aren’t getting enough of a booming bass sound, try boosting it at around 80 hz.

(There are no rules, whatever sounds good is what is right)

Making an Interesting Bass Melody

Your bassline provides a feeling of movement and a groove.

It leads the listener to the next chord, and tends to move in sync with the kick drum.

Here are 3 ways you can make your bass melody more interesting:

  • try using larger intervals.
  • try using repetitive motifs that are catchy and memorable.
  • try  to create a groove that makes your body want to move to the music.

A bassline that i love is “Hell of a Life” by Kanye West.

The reason i like the bassline in “Hell of a Life” it that has a catchy melodic idea that is repeated multiple times.

I like how it sounds when it goes down to the low f# note.

It also has a nice groove that stands on its own without needing much help, other than a drum beat.

I try to make a bassline that stands on its own with no accompaniment. (like the bassline in ‘Hell of a life”).

How to Draw in Moving Filters on your Bassline

One way to make your bass sound unique is to draw in some filter movement.

You can use peak, lowpass, or highpass filters to change the tone of your bass sound in a rhythmic pattern.

Filter movement will make your bass sound more interesting, without altering your groove and progression.

The Wobble Bass Sound

The ‘wobble bass’ sound, used by artists like Bassnectar (one of my favorite producers), is a cool effect that can be created with a filter, to cutoff or boost certain frequencies.

Here’s a video that shows how to use a sine wave LFO to control the movement of a filter on a bass in FL Studio:

How to create wobble bass with a peak filter

A ‘peak filter’ provides a boost of a narrow band of frequencies.

The frequency band of your peak filter can then be swept in a rhythmic pattern by using plugin automation to create the ‘wobble effect’.

You can also try sweeping low pass or highpass filters in the same way.

 

The image to the left shows what it would look like if you drew in some low pass filter movement with plugin automation.

 

 

 

Using Presets with Moving Filters on Your Bass

Synth VSTs like Serum have lots of cool presets which will give you that  ‘wobble bass’ sound, without using automation.

The filter movement on these presets can be controlled with an LFO, an envelope, or a side-chain. You can then alter the sound my changing the parameters on the LFO, envelope, etc.

Using Tuned 808s as a Bassline

An 808 kick hits a listener hard in the same way that a rock guitar does.

A ‘tuned 808 kick’ is a kick that has a pitch.

Tuned 808s can be used in place of, or in combination with, a synth bassline to provide a groove and a progression.

You can make your own tuned 808s with a sinewave oscillator and an envelope. Or, you can find a pack of tuned 808 sounds to download. (try googling ‘free tuned 808 samples’)

Here’s a video showing how you can tune your 808s in Ableton:

Adding Effects to your Bassline

Effects can be applied to improve the timbre, color, wideness, and help your bass mix better in your track.

There are no rules in music. You can apply effects however you like.

BUT, i will commonly try certain effects when i’m creating a bass sound.

Effects i like to test on a bassline include:

Distortion – I like using distortion on bass to add color to the sound as well as adding a bit of energy to the upper end of the sound in the 200 – 400 hz range. Distortion also sounds really good on tuned 808s.

Widening – I like to use a widener to create a large bass sound in the mix. Stereo effects like reverb, chorus, and distortion can also be used to widen a track.

Chorus – a bit of chorusing can sound good. I tweak the rate, to give it a bit of movement,

Flange – a little bit of flange sounds cool and provides movement.

Reverb – adding a bit of reverb sounds good, but i try not to overdo it.

I think i covered most aspects of creating a bassline. BUT, if i missed something or you have a tip you think i should include, tell me @puzzlevortex

*Also, i’m starting to do live streams djing drum n bass on twitter. I just got a pioneer DDJ-SX2, so i’m going to be practicing with it alot.

Using Side-Chaining and Rhythmic Filters on Pads and Strings

One cool effect that you create with any type of sustained note or chord progression, is to break it up into a rhythmic pattern, similar to the ‘pad sound’ on the Timbaland produced track ‘my love’.

4 Ways to Add Rhythmic Effects to your Pads

There are different ways you can add rhythmic effects to your strings or pads.

This type of effect sounds really good when you have a nice chord progression, and you break it up into a rhythm.

I’ll go over 4 different ways to do this:

  1. Side-Chaining a Gate or Compressor

One way to break up a pad or strings into a rhythmic pattern is by side-chaining a gate to a kick, snare, or percussion track to add some rhythmic movement. A gate will cut the volume in time with the kick or percussion.

Side-chaining can also be done with a compressor to create a ‘pumping effect’ on the pad, which also sounds good.

Here’s how you can sidechain a gate to your pad:

To sidechain a gate to your pad, you need to create 2 tracks.

A drum track and your pad track.

Next, route the output of the drum or percussion track, to a bus that will be used to trigger the side-chain on your gate on the pad track.

 

Change the key input on your gate (or compressor) to the bus that is on the output of your drum track.

 

 

 

Then, click the key input button on the gate or compressor.

 

 

Now the gate or compressor will be triggered by key input, which is the bussed audio from the drum track.

I’m doing this in pro tools, but its pretty much the same concept with any other DAW.

2. Using a Rhythmic Filter to Break Up a Pad

Another way you can break up a pad, is with a rhythmic filter.

There is a stock plugin in protools which has some nice rhythmic filter effects as presets called AIR Filter Gate.

 

Air Filter gate allows you to change the pattern, rate of the notes, and other aspects of how the filter is triggered. Filter Gate is one of my favorite plugins.

3. Chopping up an Audio file in a Rhythmic pattern

One more way you can add rhythmic effects on a pad, is by chopping up the wave form into a pattern.

 

This is probably the easiest method. Just delete sections of the waveform in a pattern, to create a nice effect on a sustained note.

4. Using Plugin Automation to Draw Effects in a Rhythmic Pattern

Another way you can chop up a pad into a rhythmic pattern, is by drawing in plugin automation.

You can use any plugin this way by automating the master bypass.

Just pull an effect in and out of a track by turning its master bypass on and off with plugin automation.

What can you trigger with a key input?

Key inputs are not found on every plugin, but ones they are usually found on are gates, compressors, de-essers, filters, lfos, and eqs.

In addition to effects, you can use a key input to trigger an LFO or Envelope and use that to modulate the pitch, volume, effects, etc of a sound.

If you have any other ways you like to use key inputs, let me know @puzzlevortex

 

 

Using Filters to Mix Music and Warp Audio

Filters are used to ‘boost or cut’ certain frequencies of a track, or to change a sound for creative effect.

Static filters‘ like a high-pass filter (HPF) might be used to remove unwanted low-end frequencies from a vocal track. It would also help separate the vocal track from the other instruments, like guitar, and add clarity to your mix.

Moving filters‘ like a band-pass (BPF) controlled with a sinewave LFO would create an auto-wah effect. Any type of filter or parameter can be controlled this way with an LFO to create different types of sounds.

Filter types include: high pass (HPF), low pass (LPF), band pass (BPF), notch, peak, and comb filters.

Why Would You Add or Remove Frequencies with a Filter?

It is important to remove frequencies, so instruments don’t occupy the same space in a mix.

A piano and guitar occupy some of the same frequency range, so you might use filters to separate them.

Filters also let you add frequencies for creative effect.

For example, you might add 80HZ to a bassline to give it a more booming bass sound.

Types of Filters

All filters either ‘remove or add certain frequencies’ to a track. The most commonly used types of filters include: high pass, low pass, band pass, peak, notch, and comb filters.

High Pass (HPF) – a high pass filter removes the low frequencies below a point.

Low Pass (LPF) – a low pass filter removes the high frequencies above a point.

Band Pass (BPF) – band pass filters allows a wide or narrow band of frequencies to be heard and removes the highs and lows.

Notch Filter – notch filters can be used to remove frequencies in a narrow band, like hissing on a vocal sound.

Peak Filter – peak filters boost a frequency in a narrow band.

Comb Filter – a comb filter is a type of signal processing which creates a slightly delayed digital copy of itself.

This causes constructive and deconstructive interference in a waveform that creates a series of peaks resembling a comb.

Comb filters are used mostly for creative effect. Comb filters create a sound which is similar to a phaser or a flanger.

How to Control Filter Parameters

Filters might be used to separate frequencies of your tracks, or they can be used to creatively color or mangle your sound.

You can also control the parameters of your filters with LFOs (low-frequency oscillators), envelopes, sample and hold, and side-chaining.

LFOs

Low frequency oscillators like a sinewave, squarewave, or sawtoothwave can be used to control ANY parameter of a filter.

For example, you can use a sinewave to control the frequency of a bandpass filter and make an auto-wah effect.

If you used a sinewave to control the volume, you would get a tremolo effect.

If you used a sinewave to control the pitch, you would get a vibrato effect.

Envelopes

A a sound’s envelope is the attack, sustain and decay of a sound.

You can use the envelope of a sound to control parameters like pitch or a bandpass filter.

Sample and Hold

Sample and Hold is a type of LFO that ‘grabs and holds the voltage’ of a signal, then lets go after a certain period of time.

It creates an almost random sounding movement of a filter.

Sidechaining

Sidechaining allows you to control a filter with the input of another track.

For example, if you side chained a kick drum to control a the frequency of a band pass filter, each time the kick hits, your synth would create a wah effect.

Sidechaining a Filter to Warp your Audio

One interesting effect that can be done with sidechaining, is to use a kick drum to trigger a filter sweep, each time the kick hits.

Here’s a video that shows you how to sidechain a filter to a kick drum in Ableton for a cool effect on a synth pad:

2 Filter Plugin Reviews and Demos

Etch 

I liked Etch, because it really allows you to warp the characteristics of a sound.

Etch allows you to easily tweak MANY of parameters to create some very unusual sounds.

The Etch presets were divided into 6 sections: non-moving filters, sweeping filters, light coloration, heavy coloration, crazy, and self resonating.

Here are the Features i liked:

    • radically altered the sounds
    • i liked messing with the self resonating filter patches and using them to really warp the sounds.
    • also included the basics like bandpass, notch, resonating.
    • i like the simple interface
    • certain parameters altered the sound so much, they were like instruments

Features i disliked: none. It has everything i would want included in a filter plugin. The interface is also easy to work with.

Advertised features of Etch:

  • 3 classic synthesizer filter models
  • traditional filtering including: high-pass, low pass, band pass, notch, and peak filters.
  • comb filtering for detuning, pitch-wobble, and chorus/phaser textures
  • internal TransMod modulation system

Etch comes in VST, AU, and RTAS formats.

The cost of Etch is $99. Try a demo of Etch here.

Filtershaper 3

Filtershaper3 does give you the ability to color and warp a sound using multiple filter types, BUT I didnt love this plugin. I wasn’t able to easily get as interesting sounds, like i was able to get with Etch. It took a little more work to get what i wanted.

I also felt that the presets weren’t that great. I didnt have as much fun playing with Filtershaper3, as i did with Etch.

Also, i had a small issue when altering a preset.

When you cycle though presets, and alter them in any way, you get a popup window asking you to confirm that you want to move to the next preset. It was an extra step that i felt it didnt need. It slowed down the process of making a sound i wanted.

The Filtershaper3 presets were also not organized in any way.

I liked how Etch organized the different presets by how it would affect the sound. Filtershaper3 had 7 pages of presets, but they didnt group them together in any way.

Here are the Features i liked:

    • it provided basic filtering to create effects like tremelo, phasing, and wobble.
    • simple interface

Features i disliked:

  • had to dig into the settings to create interesting sounds
  • presets were unorganized
  • pop-up window, when you alter a present, then try to move to the next preset.

This plugin comes in VST and AU format.

The cost of Filtershaper3 is $79. Try a demo of Filtershaper3 here.

Reverb Mixing Tips and 3 Reverb Plugin Reviews

In this article, I talk about: 

  • Reverb Basics: What is Reverb?
  • 4 important Reverb Parameters you can tweak
  • 6 tips to help you apply Reverb to Vocals
  • I also tested 3 Reverb Plugins including: Eaverb, Sparkverb, and Toraverb. I link to the demos at the bottom of the article. (so you can test them if you want.)

*ALSO, This week I started a 30 day Ableton Live free trial (i’m a Pro Tools user). So far, I love Ableton. If you use virtual instruments, you need to check it out. I’ll give a full review of Ableton in a couple weeks.

Reverb Basics: What is Reverb?

Reverb is the sound reflection that a listener hears when it bounces off of a surface in a room, or surface of an object.

 

The density and type of material that make up a surface, as well as the number of surfaces, determines how a sound reflects around a room, and what the reverb will sound like.

For example: a square room with 6 surfaces will have less reflective surfaces than a church. There will be less reflections as a result.

The density of the surface also determines the type of frequencies that will be reflected back to the listener. Certain materials might absorb or reflect high or low frequencies.

For example, a church with marble floors or walls will also bounce back a different spectrum of frequencies, than a carpeted room.

4 Reverb Parameters to Tweak

Here are 4 parameters of a reverb that you can tweak to get the sound you want. They are 1) early reflections, 2) decay time, 3) damping, and 4) pre-delay.

  1. Early reflections are the initial echoes that are heard when the first reflections hit the listeners ear.

 

These early reflections usually occur within 5 – 20 milliseconds after the initial sound.

  • Louder early reflection settings tend to be used on longer sustained sounds like vocals, instead of drums.

2. The decay time is the length it takes for the last perceptible echo to
be heard by the listener.

The longer the decay time, the longer it will take your reverb reflections to die out.

Longer decay times might work better when instrumentation is minimal, but they can make a mix sound washed out in a complex arrangement with many instruments.

3. Pre-Delay is the time it takes for a sound to generate its first reflection.

  • Try increasing the pre-delay time to add separation and clarity to vocals and instruments.

4. Damping occurs when a reflection hits a soft surface, such as a carpet, and it loses some of the high frequencies in its reflection.

  • If your reverb sound contains too many high frequencies, try increasing the level of damping.

6 Main Types of Reverbs

Reverbs used in music production usually fall within the 6 categories below:

Plate: A plate reverb is a method of generating reverb in which a sound was played into a metal plate, held in place by springs. Digital plate reverbs mimic this technique.

Plate reverbs are commonly used in production on vocals, organs, and snare drums to give them length, width, and a bright sound.

Hall: A hall reverb mimics the reflections that occur in a concert hall. This type of reverb generally lasts between 1.2 to 3 seconds.

Halls reflect from the low end of the frequency range.

Hall reverbs can add 3 dimensional ambience and width to a mix. Halls tend to have strong first reflections and can be used on lead vocals, strings, or a stereo mix.

Chamber: a chamber is a smaller space than a hall an creates reverbs ranging from .4 to 1.2 seconds. Chambers can be used on pads, vocals, or drums.

Room: A room reverb mimics the acoustic reflections of a small room.

Room reverbs have a ‘short decay time’, that can last between .2 to 1 second. The reflections of a room reverb are initially strong, but fade quickly. Room reverbs can be used on stereo mixes, drums, or guitar.

  • Room reverbs can also be used as a slap delay alternative, by lengthening the pre-delay and shortening the reverb time.

Spring: a spring reverb simulates the reverb generation method in which a sound was played through a metal spring by a transducer; a spring reverb is most commonly used in guitar amplifiers.

This type of reverb gives a vintage sound and is most commonly used on instruments like organ or guitar.

Reverse Reverbs: with this type of reverb the sound of the reflections runs in reverse, gradually getting louder instead of quieter.

6 Reverb Tips for Vocals

Here are a few tips you might test out when tweaking a reverb on your vocals:

    1. Use longer pre-delays to add clarity by separating the vocals from your initial reverb reflection.
    2. Try EQing the send to remove unwanted high and low frequencies, that can make you mix muddy.
    3. Compress the reverb after it hits the plugin to smooth it out.
    4. Try pumping a dry vocal into a natural space and record the natural reverb and ambience of a real room.
    5. Add in your reverbs while playing the full mix, instead of while you are soloing the instrument or vocals.
    6. If you have a complex arrangement, reverbs that are too long will make your mix sound washed out.

Reviews of The 3 Reverb Plugins I Demoed

SO, I tested demos of 3 well rated reverb plugins in Ableton that are available in both VST/AU format. They include: Toraverb, Eaverb, and Sparkverb.

The plugins cost in the range of $40 – $150. All of the plugins have demos 10 – 14 day demos, so you can test them yourself.

Toraverb Review

Toraverb is a great, low priced plugin at $45. It is well rated, and it was my favorite, even when compared to the $130 – $150 reverb plugins.

Here are the Features i liked:

    • simple interface – i preferred the simple knob interface over the graphical interface of the more expensive plugins. Some of the features of the other plugins i felt were a bit overkill.
    • sounds great – i preferred the presets and overall sound of Toraverb over the more expensive reverbs. It just sounded better to me, when compared to the others.
    • low cost – it costs $45, compared to $130 – $150.

Features i disliked:

      • none. It sounded great, its pretty cheap, and i preferred the simple, classic interface.

Advertised Features of Toraverb

Toraverb features include: high quality diffusing algorithms that eliminate flutter echo effects, equalization of early and late reflections, modulated tail, and spacial reflections.

It was rated 5 stars, out of 116 ratings.

It comes in both VST and AU format. The cost of Toraverb is $45.

You can download a two week free trial (with some limitations) of Toraverb here.

EAreverb Review

Eaverb is well rated, has MANY features to tweak, but it more expensive reverb plugin at $136.

Eaverb has a nice graphical interface, and has MANY parameters you can tweak. (Almost TOO many.)

 

Here are the Features i liked:

      • many, many tweakable parameters
      • graphical interface
      • you can alter the left and right reflections individually
      • POS mode – you can position a sound in anywhere in a room
      • i preferred working in SE mode (which is a simpler interface)

Here are the Features i disliked:

      • i felt it was overkill.
      • it didnt sound as good as the cheaper $45 Toraverb
      • the cost is a bit high at $136

Advertised Features of Eaverb

It has six different reverb algorithms including: natural, bright, Alu box, Auditorium, Plate, and Reverse.

It includes three modes including: Pro mode that gives access to all features and parameters.

 

 SE mode provides a simpler, limited, interface to create your reverb sound.

 

 POS mode allows you to place an instrument in a particular location in a room.

 

 

Eareverb comes in AU, AAX, VST format. The cost of Eareveb is $136

You can download a free trial of 10 day trial of Eareverb here.

Sparkverb Review

Sparkverb is a high quality reverb, which has a unique interface and make dialing in the right sound a quick, and simple process.

It has a feature called Preset Voyager, which allows you to surf though presets based on their characteristics.

Here are the Features of Sparkverb i liked:

      • the interface is pretty cool, it makes altering the sound very easy.
      • Preset Voyager mode is cool. It lets you surf through presets based on a graphical representation of their characteristics, instead of one by one.
      • tweak parameters easily
      • sounds pretty good

Here are the Features i disliked:

      • the cost is a bit high at $150
      • didn’t sound quite as good to me as the low priced Toraverb

Advertised Features of Sparkverb

It allows you to adjust decay globally, across multiple frequency bands w/ hi-lo multipliers and crossovers directly with a single interface.

The supported formats are AU, AAX, and VST.

The cost of Sparkverb is $149.

You can download a 15 day free trial of Sparkverb here.

Vocoder Plugin Tips, Tricks, and Reviews

A vocoder is an effect that uses two signals, such as a vocal (the modulator), where it captures the formants of the voice, and combines it with another sound such as a synthesizer, guitar, or even drums (the carrier).

Vocoders create what is sometimes referred to as a ‘talking synthesizer’. This effects has been used by artists such as Daft PunkImogen Heap, and Herbie Hancock. 

I have an Electrix Warpfactory hardware vocoder, which i bought over 10 years ago. It works ok, BUT outboard gear, (especially a vocoder) is a pain to setup! I prefer vocoder plugins, due to the easier setup, larger set of features, and the ability to use plugin automation.

A vocoder can transform a weak sounding vocal (like mine) into a complex synthesized sound when you play wide, complex chords over it.

If you turn up the modulation, the sound becomes very robotic. (Think beastie boys: intergalactic, planetary, intergalactic)

Below i created a list of vocoder tips and tricks as well as songs from Daft Punk and Imogen Heap that show what you can do with a vocoder. I also reviewed some of the best vocoder plugins including Vocalizer Pro, Orange Vocoder, Vocoder II, XILS Vocoder 5000, and the XILS V+ vocoder.

Unfortunately, i couldn’t find any free vocoder plugins for you :(, but there are some paid options i review below ranging form $59 – $200. Most of them let you demo the software for free. (Also get a free samplepack here)

Examples of vocoders in electronic music

Daft Punk – Around the World

Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek

Herbie Hancock

Vocoder Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tricks you might use to get the most out of your vocoder plugin:

    1. Certain types of vocals such as consonant sounds and plosives will be more audible when you combine them with a synthesizer. Vowel sounds are less audible.
    2. Vocoders sound great when you combine vocals with wide complex chords. Some patches might work better due to the harmonic content in the high end (5-10k) of the frequency spectrum. A complex chord might sound better than a single note.
    3.  Boosting the high-end frequencies above 5K and distorting the modulating signal can make vocals more audible.
    4. You can increase the ‘modulation‘ to create a sound that is much more robotic. (like beastie boys: intergalactic)

  1. Try adding effects such as distortion or lo-fi (lowering bit rate) to the signal before it enters the vocoder.

Vocoder Plugin Reviews

Vocalizer Pro – This plugin has 4 synthesis modules that can be combined or rerouted through each other.

It also has 16 filter configurations with full envelope, cutoff, resonance, and saturation controls, and a sync-able LFO with multiple waveforms, pitch envelope, balance control.

  • Its available in AU, VST, RTAS and AAX formats
  • Cost $200. It is a very well reviewed plugin. Try a free demo Here

Vocoder II

Vocoder II is a low cost ($59), well rated, vocoder with a decent feature set.

Vocoder II contains a Vocoder module, a built in Synth, Compressor and an Effects module, with Chorus and Delay.

The user mode allows producers to adjust each of the 17 vocoder filters with plugin automation.

Vocoder II works with internal and external signals for analysis and synthesis. From a mono voice it is possible to generate polyphonic sounds, complex ambient textures, and robotic sounds.

Vocoder II is well rated and available in VST format only.

The cost is $59. Try the Free Demo here.

XILS Vocoder 5000 

Based on the classic hardware vocoder from the 1970’s allows you to process vocals, guitar, or even drums.

This plugin emulates an oldschool vocoder, but lets you change parameters with plugin automation.

It is available in VST, AU,  RTAS , AAX formats.

The price is $159. Try a free Demo here

XILS V+ Vocoder

The XILS V is based on the classic hardware vocoder.

It contains a ten band vocoder, an octave divider based on human voices and strings, plus reverb and phasing effects.

It allows LFO and envelope modulation and all features and parameters can be automated with midi.

It comes in VST, RTAS, AAX formats. Try a free Demo here

The cost is $159.

How to Use Virtual Instruments (50+ Free VST Plugins)

Virtual instruments allow you to make complicated synth parts with NO external gear.

They require a very simple setup and make editing or
altering your parts very easy.

(Links to over 50 FREE Virtual Instruments are at the bottom of the article. Also get a free samplepack here)

With virtual instruments, you use midi to program in your notes.

By using midi to program your parts, you can transpose or quantize the notes with one button press.

To do this, go to ‘Event Operations‘, under the Event tab. You can easily see what a melody will sound like up or down an octave by transposing the notes.

I started working with VSTs in the past six months and i love it. I have a Korg Triton, but my keyboard skills are kind of weak and its much easier to program in my parts with Midi.

What is a Virtual Instrument?

A virtual instrument is a sound module that can emulate many types of synthesizers like classic analog or modular synths, or even acoustic instruments like violin or piano.

A virtual instrument allows you to program notes in with midi, or play them in with a midi controller, like a keyboard or a midi guitar.

You add a virtual instrument module to your DAW session, the same way you would add an effects plugin.

VSTs allow you to create complicated parts even if you dont play an instrument.

How to set up a Virtual Instrument

To create a virtual instrument track, click “new”, under the track tab. Then choose instrument track.

Next, add your virtual instrument as a plugin on the mix window. Next, program some parts, or play them with your midi controller. That’s it.

I like using midi to program my parts because you can do everything ‘in the box’, without any cables of outboard gear to worry about.

You can take your laptop to a coffee shop and make music if you want.

Types of Virtual Instruments

I’ve only used one type of virtual instrument so far, which is called Xpand2 (which comes stock with pro tools).

There are many types of sound modules that you can buy, so, i wouldn’t say  that i’m an expert in all the types. But i plan on testing more out soon.

I would say that Xpand2 is decent, so far.  But, it definitely works well enough and will give you some good sounding parts if you process everything correctly with effects.

Free Virtual Instruments

Here are some links to free virtual instruments i found that you might wanna check out: (Also get a free samplepack here)

Kairatune

Togu Audio

Zebralette

Crystal

About 50 more

http://www.kvraudio.com

http://getthatprosound.com/the-10-best-free-vst-synths-in-the-world/

http://lesitedeburnie.free.fr/lalistedeburnie1-en.html

http://www.resoundsound.com/25-best-free-vst-au-plugins-pc-mac-2013-part-1/

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/2013/12/26/top-20-free-vst-plugins-best-2013/

http://www.musictech.net/2013/10/freeware-synths-ten-of-the-best/

http://www.musicradar.com/us/tuition/tech/the-27-best-free-vst-plug-ins-in-the-world-today-277953

How to use Plugin Automation

Plugin Automation allows you to change parameters of an effect or EQ , by drawing them into a track. You can use automation on a master bypass, to pull an effect in and out of a track, or increase the rate of a tremolo effect.

(*download free samplepacks and get our newsletter here)

Automation can be used on ANY plugin, but i most commonly use it with filters, reverbs, or delays.

I use plugin automation to:

1) change a sound over time.

2) add or remove frequencies of a track or song.

3) or make a track stand out at particular points in your mix.

Use plugin automation to switch up your production style during different sections of your track to make it more interesting. I like to use it on the intro, prechorus, break, or outro.

How to Automate a Plugin Parameter

To automate a plugin in protools, click the ‘plugin automation box’, underneath ‘auto’ to bringup the automation window.

Then you can add or remove plugin parameters that you want to automate.

What types of parameters can you change with plugin automation?

You can use plugin automation to change ANY parameter of an effect.

But, I use it mostly to pull EQs, reverbs, delays, and choruses in and out of mixes at key points in a song.

In addition to pulling effects or EQs in and out of a mix, you can draw in automation on things like the mix %, or the delay time, or the rate of an LFO, to slowly change an effects over a period of time.

Removing and Adding Bass Frequencies

One of my favorite effects to create with plugin automation is to cut out bass frequencies during intros, prechoruses, breaks, or outros with a high pass filter.

Then you can bring the bass frequencies back when the verse comes in along with the drums, for a nice effect.

Automating the Mix % or Time on a Reverb

Adding in and pulling out a heavy reverb on the master bus before the verse, sounds great with parts like the intro, prechorus, or break.

BUT, you can also automate the mix %, or reverb time, and draw in an increase over 4 or 8 bars leading up to the verse for a cool build up effect.

Automating spatial effects like reverbs and delays and increasing the mix, adds a build up before you pull it out and transition to the next part of your song.

Automating Filters with Plugin Automation

In addition to just pulling a high, low, or bandpass filter, in and out of a track, you can also ‘automate’ the frequency and draw in movement of the filter.

I like to boost frequencies in a narrow band, then draw in a frequency sweep on the last bar before a song transitions into the next part.

You can also use a high or low pass filter and reduce or bring the frequencies over a period of 4 – 8 bars, before you transition to the next part.

(*download free samplepacks and get our newsletter here)

Automating the Rate of An LFO

Another technique is to control the rate of an LFO (low frequency oscillator) with plugin automation.

With effects like tremolo, you can automate the rate of the LFO which controls the volume or pitch. Drawing in changes can add variation and can be used to alter the sound of your melody, bassline, or entire track.

How to Make EDM with Samples and Loops

Producers that make EDM, use different techniques to make their music including using, virtual instruments, live instrumentation, and samples.  Production techniques will continue to evolve as technology changes.

Today, producers are even using cellphone apps to produce their music like Arturia iMini or Propellerhead’s Thor.

But, if you are a beginner or an advanced producer, try using some high quality, well produced samples, to improve the quality of your music.

Download my free EDM samplepack here.

How i use Royalty Free Samples in my Electronic Music

When you make electronic music, you create different parts that are mixed together each track including a bassline, a lead melody, ambient effects, etc.

A sample is just a starting point which you can chop up, reverse, and rearrange to make the part you want.

When you mix in some samples, you can try to find a sample that fits exactly in your track, but more likely your going to have to ‘edit it‘ to make it fit in by time stretching it to match the tempo, or changing the pitch to fit the key.

You can make a song that is entirely constructed of samples, you can mix  parts from different samplepacks from different genres, or you can combine parts from samplepacks with your own synth parts, live instruments, or vocals.

I personally like to combine virtual synths (like Xpand2 that comes with pro tools), live instruments like guitar or piano, and samples that i download to make my parts.

High quality, royalty free samples can be layered into your music to help fill out all frequency ranges and create a full, rich sound that you hear from a professional artist.

I usually add samples towards the end, to fill in the sound, but i’ve made songs entirely out of samples and it sounded really good.

Download my free EDM samplepack here.

What types of samples do you need to produce EDM?

To make a track, you will usually need about 6-8 parts including drums, a bassline, a lead melody, some ambient parts, and some percussion.

You can make these parts with a hardware synths, soft synths, or live instruments yourself, or you can start with some pre-made audio that you download from a samplepack.

Samplepacks are also good if you want to add an instrument that you dont play like piano.

For example, if i want to add some piano part to a song that i have in the key of A minor, i’ll look for a piano samplepack that has parts in the key i need (here’s a piano samplepack that i like).

Then, I’ll chop up the piano samples, pitch shift them, and rearrange them audio to get the progression that i want.

Matching the Key of your Song

One issue you might have when you use samples is that the key of the sample might not match key of your song.

In this case, you can use samples that are in a relative key, or you can shift the pitch to match your key.

Sometimes altering the pitch of a sample works great, but other times it can leave artifacts that make the sample unusable.

I’ve noticed that bass frequencies don’t pitch shift well without leaving artifacts, but higher frequency sounds like leads do.

Matching the Tempo

The tempo of a sample will usually not match your song perfectly, but you can stretch or compress it, to make it fit.

Stretching or compressing audio can leave artifacts if it is more than a 10 bpm difference, which can make it unusable.

Any less of a difference than 10 bpm and it usually will be fine.

Making a Bassline with Samples

You can download some really cool basslines in a samplepack, but in my experience, shifting the pitch of a bassline doesn’t really work that well. It can leave artifacts, that dont occur when you shift higher pitched samples.

One way you can alter a sample bassline is to cut, paste, and rearrange different parts into a bassline that you like.

The bassline is the core of your song, so I work hard to make it sound simple, but interesting. Sometime i’ll spend an hour or more, trying new basslines and patches.

One way to make you basslines more interesting is to use a filter with plugin automation, to sweep the frequency for a cool effect. This will make simple basslines more interesting.

Using Samples and Loops to Make Drums in EDM

When i use drum samples, I like to layer loops and individual samples on top of each other for a really complicated drum track.

Sometimes loops that you buy are separated into top loops, kick and snare, and the full loop. I usually find a kick and snare pattern that i like, then blend them with multiple ‘top loops’, which are usually just the high hat and percussion. You can also use high and low pass filters to separate them even further.

After i have a few loops together, i will add another layer of snare, highhats, kicks, 808’s, and percussion which will give a really full and complicated drum sound.

How i use Ambient Samples in my Electronic Music

One thing i’ve been doing lately is adding ambient samples to fill out my drum n bass tracks.

I usually try adding  ambient parts to the into, 2nd half of lead melody, break, and outro.

It sounds good when you add some wide reverbed chords to a lead part that is playing by itself, then bring back in the drums and bassline after 4-8bars.

If you mix a couple ambient samples together, you can get some really complex sounds that make you song sound full and professional.

Download a Free Trap Sample Pack

The trap sound is very popular in both the hiphop and EDM genres. It drum sound mostly consists of booming 808s, claps, paper thin sounding snares, complicated hi-hat patterns, and chants. The instrumentation over the drums is usually pretty sparse with a bassline, a lead, some samples, and maybe vocals. Most of the sounds come from the Roland TR-808 and TR-909.

Download free trap drum samples when you sign up to my newsletter here. <—

I’ll be sending out more samples to my subscribers as i make new sample packs for you.

The trap sound comes from southern hiphop, but has recently become more popular in the EDM world and is popular at EDM festivals. It is also being incorporated into other genres of music including dubstep and bass music, who make use of the low 808 bass sound and fast hi-hat rhythms. The sound is even showing up in Korean pop music.

How to make a Trap Beat

The signature sound of this genre i would say is the drums. The 808s are very loud. Producers also make use of tuned 808s to create additional bass movement.

If you want a more defined kick drum sound, you might also try layering in a boxier sounding kick over the 808.

The hi-hat pattern is also really important in this type of beat. It can be fast, and complicated, with alot of variation throughout the track. I also like to use chorusing or flange on my hi-hats to give them a more metallic sound that cuts through in the mix and widens them.

The snares in this genre of music are very thin sounding and can have a more complicated snare pattern with snare rolls at the end of 4 or 8 bars. I like to cut off some of the low end with a high-pass filter and add a plate reverb. Sometimes the producer will even alter the pitch of the snare up or down during a snare roll.

Claps are also found alot in this genre. They can be done on the 2 and the 4 or on the offbeat along with a chant. I would add a reverb to make it spacey and very wide.

Chants are another sound that is common in this style. Chants are repeated vocals like “hey”, usually on the offbeat. Alot of time they are very reverbed out and wide. Try cutting alot of the lowend off, so they fit in the mix over the 808s and the bassline.

Top Artists in the EDM Trap Genre

The trap sound has recently evolved more from a hiphop sound into a dance music sound. Popular artists in the EDM traps genre include RL Grime, Flosstradamus, Baauer, and Dj Snake. These artists have recently become popular with EDM festival goers and is even transitioning into pop music.