Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How to deliver your mixes for mastering

Even though I can handle almost any type of mix you have to consider that the better your mix is, the better the master will be.

To send your mixes to me for mastering, ask the recording studio to follow these guidelines:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mastering Compression - Part 1

First of all, I want to apologize for the lengthy post but I'd like to make a point regarding this topic. I promise further post will be way shorter, but for now, humor me and enjoy the ride.

As much as frequency response, stereo image, harmonics and overall volume are very important in mastering, to me, the most important part is compression, because nothing is more enjoyable and gives more power to a mix than the correct and dynamic interaction between all instruments.

Another important thing I want to tackle in this series of blog posts is the widespread myth that a specific processing unit is key or even important to choose a mastering studio or else, that your music will sound great if is passed by a given hardware.

That said, let's get on to the examples:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mastering demos: Shoegaze + Death Metal? Yes, please.

This should be the most challenging mastering work I have done. The band had only two members: drums and guitar/vocals so there was no bass which for a start complicates things because there is nothing that binds rhythm and melody and acts as a foundation for the whole sound like a bass guitar, a contrabassoon, a tuba or a contrabass would do.

Official cover for Teorema's homonym first album

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vocals production, the house special

Vocals are arguably the most important instrument in any music production and it's precisely this element that almost all independent productions get it wrong or at least can't make them sound awesome.

This is because vocals production goes beyond the sole fact of being in-tune and in-time; it's more about communicating feelings and emotions to the audience and make them live your songs as much as you did when you wrote them. There are several reasons why indie artists can't get to that point in their recordings: lack of time, not enough rehearsals, bad recording environment and so on; but most importantly, the lack of guidance.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A brief music production story

On September 15th (Mexico's celebration of independence) the song Vera from María Ferrina was released. It was very well received because only 48 hours later it surpassed the 5,500 plays on Facebook and made its way as far as Japan and the Czech Republic.

Except for the trumpets, all instruments were played and recorded by maestro Ernesto Anaya whilst all vocals were produced by myself. I also did the mix and mastering duties.

My main goal was to make María Ferrina's voice to be able to "compete" with mariachi since her style is too soft for this kind of music. We worked vocals together for about two months, in which I helped her to emphasis on the parts that needed it, but most of all, to let go of her voice and make her feel comfortable singing fortissimos. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

The result of hiring a producer

Being a catholic band like TAW means that your biggest achievement should be to play in front of the Pope.

By the time I'm writing this blog entry it is almost a year since I told the band and its investors that my goal as a producer was to make a record that could reach as far as the Pope and today, thanks to their album, the band has been invited to play at the JMJ where Pope Francis I has confirmed his attendance. 
Now I can proudly say: Achievement unlocked!

Official invitation (in Spanish) to play at the JMJ

The story behind

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Is your record really ready to be released?

Everyday, hundreds of records are being released around the world; from all musical genres, all languages and all countries. With too many musical offers it's almost impossible to get the people's attention and the sound quality of your record has a lot to do with standing out or not.

The vast majority of artists who are looking for a recording studio make their choices based on how the place looks and what gear it has at their disposal, which is not bad on principle, however, the two examples I'm using were recorded at a studio that looks like this:

Not bad huh? But how does the actual final product sounds like? 

Example 1

Example 2

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The analog myth (once again)

About a week ago, a song came to me for mastering. They are an alternative-rock band from Mexico and this song is a cover of "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground; I have mastered about 2 or 3 releases from them.

Here's an excerpt of the song before mastering. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mastering for vinyl

We all love vinyl releases, they look and sound awesome, but we cannot forget that it is a physical media and thus it's very limited at playback because it depends on the needle literally scratching the disc's surface to produce sound. A vinyl disc has a very limited frequency response and stereo width, so there is a limit on how far you can push the sound before it collapses at playback. 

This is why I take very seriously when mastering an album for vinyl so I do two separate masters, one for CD/digital release and one for vinyl.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The studio guy is not YOUR producer

As I told you in this other entry, there are a lot of misconceptions about the process of producing an album. One of the most common is the belief that one with a recording studio is a music producer.

Clearing the air

Technically speaking he IS a producer in the sense that he will help you take your music to a recorded media with all the technical stuff and knowledge that is required to do that but, he is not YOUR producer in the sense that if you make money or not from that record it doesn't make any difference to him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Types of music producer

As with many misconceptions in music production, the producer's role and its very definition has been distorted a lot since the DIY era. Being a very important figure in the process of making a record I feel that is very important to give you an idea on what a producer actually is and what he or she will do for you. Many artists think that producers are dudes that will make them wear spandex and will make them dance to some electronic music made in a factory, others think that are the guys who own the recording studios so let's clear the air for this.

Type 1: The Product Creator

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How to evaluate your mixes

Having trouble to finish up your mixes? Don't know when to determine that a mix is done and OK? Let's see a few practices that will help you cross the line.

Let go

You need to let go, there is no such thing as a perfect, flawless mix, you will make mistakes, we all do, but you will also do great stuff and believe me, you will do many, many more great things than mistakes in your record. It would be absurd that you make a bad mix when you are putting so much time, money and effort on your record, so stop listening to your mixes over and over again, trying to find bad stuff because you will find it, but finding it won't mean that there is any. A bit confusing huh? Well. that's how messy stuff can get when you won't let go.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Increase your album's sales

The great majority of independent artists are convinced that the main goal is to get an album done and then sell it in CD or through streaming services... the problem is that to release an album, single or EP is only the first step.

A few years ago, a pop singer asked me for help to put his record on digital platforms, I did so and then he disappeared for almost 10 months just to then call me asking how much money he had earned from sales and streams. Of course he didn't sell a song, not even a single stream

Monday, June 4, 2018

Demos Mastering: Shoegaze / Noise Pop

This is an example of the amount of detail I put into your music once it arrives for mastering

Shoegaze is one of the most difficult genres for mastering because it is all about texture, melodies don't mean anything if they are not put in context with the song's texture, there are bands like Cocteau Twins that intentionally make lyrics a bit difficult to understand by ear, in this post I want to show how I tackled the master for a Shoegaze / Noise Pop record. This one was taken from my archives from 2015.

Here is the original mix in mp3

Thursday, May 31, 2018

LANDR and the mastering online

5 years ago...

Common knowledge was that mastering was just a matter of loudness and the goal was to be louder than the guy next to you, but then something changed and today, common knowledge has turned back into dynamics instead of loudness, the problem is that self-produced musicians and recording studios don't have enough tools to make a record louder and yet dynamic.

Tools R Us

Many of those self-produced musicians and semi-pro recording studios are realizing that mastering is way more than just turning up the makeup knob in the compressor or putting a brick-wall limiter in the master bus

Reaching the 20K plays on Spotify

It is with great pleasure to begin this blog with the news that the album Despierto (Awaken) from the band TAW has reached the 20K plays benchmark on Spotify, that, along with Youtube and Apple Music sums up to 22K plays in 3 months with no advertisement at all!

This is a huge milestone for the band and for me as a producer, because when I took the job I promised the band that the people will like the music... and they did!

But what do the numbers really mean?