3 quick tips to help your kick and bass work together

Every now and then somebody asks me how to get the kick and the bass work together in a track, so I wanted to give you a few quick tips on this.

KickBass pic001
1. Low cut the kick
In many cases kick samples take up a lot of unnecessary space in the bottom range and are just sitting in the way of the bass. That’s why I like to low-cut the kick around 50hz in many cases. I don’t always do this but in many cases this helps. The reason I do this is to let the bass have that bottom space in the mix and use the kick for attack.

KickBass pic002
2. Who wins the battle?
It’s also just a decision making process, you have to decide who you want to let the battle win and what the function of your kick/bass is in the track. Do you want your kick or your bass stand out more? What’s the function of your kick? Low end or attack? Does your tracks needs a bass line at all?

KickBass pic003
3. Ducking
Especially in EDM this really works. Ducking is side chaining the kick thru a compressor on the bass, so every time the kick plays the bass will be compressed for the kick to cut thru better.


by Shroom


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Mastering your own beats

I recently got a request to do a blog post about Mastering your own beats. Well first of all, and probably even more important is that your mix needs to be on point first. Cause if your mix is crappy then even the best mastering engineer in the world can’t make your shit sound dope.

Mastering pic001

Mastering suite at Wisseloord Studios (www.wisseloord.nl)

Professionally mastering is an entire job on his own and requires years of experience, specialism, trained ears and very expensive gear. Also the acoustics of a mastering studio need to be (close to) perfect. So if your want your tracks properly mastered then the best thing you can do is hire a professional mastering engineer.

Then of course there is always the case of wanting to showcase our beats to artists, A&R’s and other potential clients. Some of us make beats every day and don’t have the resources or money to hire professional engineers to mix and master each beat we make. And even if we do have the money it might not be the wisest thing to do since we don’t know how many of our beats will get picked up. So in this case we just want our beats to sound as good as possible without hiring professional engineers. So we’ll have to do it ourself. I already did an article on presenting your beats the right way but in this article I will focus a little more on the mastering part of this.

Like a lot of us I work straight in the box in my home studio so I will cover 3 things you can do digitally to your master bus or bounced 2track. I rather work on the master bus before bouncing a 2track so I can always make changes in the mix during this mastering process.

Note: always keep enough headroom on the master bus

Mastering pic002
1. Parametric EQ
Parametric EQ’s give the most control over the frequency spectrum. You can cut or boost any particular frequency and make the “Q” (bandwidth) as narrow as you want. I like to use the FabFilter EQ cause there is an option you can turn on where you can meter the entire frequency spectrum of your track. So you can see exactly how much high, mid and low frequencies are in your track in real time if that makes any sense. So for example if you see/hear that there’s a lot more “bass” (low frequencies) than “treble” (high frequencies) in you track then either you can go back to the mix and boost the higher frequency instruments, like the hihats etc, or you can boost the high frequencies with the parametric EQ on the master bus. I think it’s always better to get it right in the mix rather than to “fix” it at mastering.

Parametric EQ’s are also very good to cut certain frequencies that are annoying in the track. To find these specific frequencies I always make the Q as narrow as possible then boost that as much as possible so I can really hear what I’m doing. Then I slowly move the selected frequency range around till you hear the frequency that really annoys your ear, then turn that frequency down till it doesn’t annoy you anymore. I hope this makes any sense for you cause I didn’t know any better way to describe it.

Mastering pic003
2. Multiband compression
I like to put a multiband compressor on the master bus cause you can adjust the compression on each frequency band separately. Most of the time I use the C4 from Waves for this. The C4 got 4 frequency bands you can move around and adjust how you want. So let’s say you want to compress the lowest frequency band a little more than the other frequency bands then you move down the threshold till you got it compressing as heavy as you want. You can also adjust the range, attack and release.

Mastering pic004
3. Limiter/maximizer
Until now we kept enough headroom on our master bus to make sure the master bus doesn’t come anywhere close to distorting. Now we need to boost our overall level cause we want our track to be as loud as possible without distorting. We DON’T do this by turning the master bus up but we will us a limiter/maximizer for this. I personally like the L2 by Waves for this. It’s really easy to use and it sounds good. Set it up so it knocks off around 3db cause we don’t want our balance to really change that much, we just want to bring up the overall level and “glue” the mix together a bit.


by Shroom


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4 ways to make money with your beats

Ok so you are making beats for a while now and your beats are reaching that level that you thin they are good enough to make money with them. But how do you make money with them? I will show you a couple of ways that will hopefully help you to make money as an (online) producers.

1. Sell leases
Instead of selling your beats to just one person and signing off the exclusive rights you can sell the same beat over and over again for a small fee and keep your rights. Maybe $14.99 seems real low for a beat and you want at least $99,- for your beat but if you sell a “lease” to that beat 10 times you’ll make $149,90 with that one beat and you still own the rights and can continue selling leases to that beat as long as you want. Selling a lease means selling the user the non-exclusive right to use your beat and sell an X amount of copies of if. If they sell over that X amount they’ll have to buy a new lease from you to be abel to sell more copies.

There are several websites that you can use to sell leases on. You’ve got beatstars.com , rocbattle.com and more. What I like about rocbattle.com is that you can attend online beatbattles to promote your beats. Also when you upload new beats to your page they will show up on the “New Uploads” section on their frontpage. When you upload beats there is also an option to let people know if you used samples on your beats so they know they will have to clear them if they want to release it.
Now how much should you charge for a lease? I think for a lease of a mp3 or .WAV 2-track, where you allow them to sell up to 2000 copies, it’s fair to ask for something between $9.99 and $29.99. You have to be comfortable with your price but the lower you price them the bigger the chance is that you’ll sell more of them than if you price them really high. Also look at you competition. What do they charge? If most of the producers on Rocbattle.com charge somewhere around $14.99 for a lease you are unlikely to sell a lot of leases for $29.99 on there. You can also offer deals like “buy 3 beats and get 2 for free” to sell more beats.

Offering different packages can also be a way to go. Let’s say you charge $19.99 for the lease of 2track in MP3 format where you allow them to sell up to 2000 copies. Then you can also give them an option to choose for a deal where they’ll get the 2track of the beat in .WAV format and where they can sell up to 5000 copies for $39.99. And a third option where they’ll get the multi-track stems op the beat and can sell unlimited amount of copies for maybe $79.99. And maybe even a fourth option to buy the exclusive rights to the beat for $199,- or something like that. These are just examples, you’ll have to decide your own packages and prices.

2. YouTube and Soundcloud Monetization 
You can also put your tracks on YouTube and put adds on them. Then you will get paid for the adds on your track. So if you get millions of views you can get paid. Also if other people use your music in their YouTube videos you can get paid too. TuneCore.com can help you with that. Sign up to them and pay them a one time fee of $10,- per song and they will search YouTube to see if anybody is using your song in their YouTube videos and monetize this.

In my experience the average rate you’ll get on YouTube adds is around $1,- per 1000 views. So if your track/video gets a million views you will probably get somewhere around $1000,-. You can also try to get deals for adds with companies directly then you’ll get paid more per click. Websites like HipHopOne.tv can help you with this.
Nowadays there are also ways to monetize your SoundCloud. To be honest I haven’t really looked into that too much so I can’t tell you too much about that but definitely do a Google search on that.

3. Sell your own Instrumental albums
Instead of waiting on artists or movie and game companies to buy your beats you can also put out your own projects. Make an instrumental album and sell it in iTunes, Amazon, BandCamp etc. Websites like TuneCore.com can get your music in all digital music stores worldwide for 50 bucks for an album. Then you still have to promote it yourself so I suggest do your own music videos, make great artwork, try to get it on blogs and website etc.

4. Make deals with artists
Next to getting an upfront fee from an artist for your track, which I think you should always get, and royalties and publishing, you can also make other deals with artists for you to get paid for your beats. Let’s say an artist got a small upfront budget to pay you but got a lot of shows lined up, you can make a deal with him where you get paid a percentage of each show if he is performing with your beats. Or maybe you can even join his tour as his DJ.
Another example is that maybe you work with an artist that sells a lot of merchandise and gives all his music away online for free to promote this merchandise. In this case make a deal with him where you get a percentage of the merchandise. Just think outside of the box and create your own revenue streams, be creative! But whatever you and the artist agree on always make sure to put this in a written agreement signed by the both of you.
I know there are many more ways to make money with your music but these where 4 ways that I wanted to share with you.


by Shroom


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How to tune 808’s and why?

808’s are incredible sub sounds that are used heavily in hip hop since the 80s. The whole dirty south and trap genre is based on 808’s, as was Rick Rubin’s style in the 80s (Beasty Boys, LL Cool J etc). 808’s can be used to replace basslines cause no other sound so far can compete with the sub of an 808. No wonder is still so relevant.
808’s can be used to just fill the space on the one. But they got a tone/note to it so you need to tune them to the track. And because of this you can (re)play entire basslines using 808’s. There are several ways to do this.

808s pic002
You can run your 808 thru melodyne to see what note it’s played in. Once you know that you can pitch shift the 808 up and/or down till it’s in tune with the song.

808s pic001

I usually don’t do this in Melodyne self but I rather use the Pitch Shift tool in Pro Tools. I always make sure that “Time Correction” isn’t selected cause it muffles the sound. Also I don’t like to pitch the 808’s too much so when (re)playing/programming basslines I use at least two 808’s; one that’s played in/around “C” and one that’s played in/around “G#” so I never have pitch up/down more than 6 semi steps.
FL Studio
FL Studio is pretty good for tuning 808’s. Real easy to use too.

808s pic003

After you loaded your 808 sample you right click on the wave form and select edit.

808s pic004

Once you’re in edit mode you click on the symbol that appears to be a flag and click on “Detect Pitch Regions“.

808s pic005

Now you exit edit mode and go to “Miscellaneous Functions” . In my example you see that the 808 I’m using is played in the key of C so we right click on “C2”. Now our 808 is in tune with the key of C2 on our MIDI controller so we can actually play the 808 like a melodic instrument on our MIDI controller. If we would have used an 808 that was in the key of let’s say “F” then we would have assigned it to F2 in the miscellaneous functions.

808s pic006
If we want to let our 808s glide like they do a lot in Trap music then we select Porta in the miscellaneous function Polyphony and turn the slide knob way up. Now if you play the 808 on your MIDI controller you will hear it glide up and down.
Mixing 808s:
808’s usually sound great from itself so you don’t have to really do too much to it in the mix. You can compress it if you want the tail of it to go on a little longer. Or you can add an RBass to it if you want some more low end. I like to put a little bit of distortion on 808’s sometimes to make them cut thru the mix some more and then they’re also more audible on smaller speakers that got less to no low end.


by Shroom


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Channel Strips and Parallel Processing

I recently got a request if I wanted to do a blog post about “channel strips” and “parallel processing”. So let me cover both subjects real quick. I won´t be going too deep, just want to give you guys my take on this.

Channelstrips and parallel pic 001
There actually is only one channel strip that I use on almost everything, that’s the channel strip of my SSL Duende. The Duende is an external card from SSL that takes care of all the processing of the plugins that came with it (channel strip and bus compressor). It’s like the UAD cards only then from SSL. They don’t make them anymore tho but the plugins are still available. I’ve got the first one that came out, it connects thru firewire and supports 32 mono or 16 stereo channels of processing. I loved it since the first time I used it.
When I mix in my own home studio I mix in the box so I actually treat the Duende Channel Strips as an SSL board so I put it on every channel and if I got too many channels I run them thru buses and put the Channel Strips on the buses, so every channel still runs thru it. This way I still get the feeling a lil bit that I’m mixing on a digital SSL board if that makes any sense. I also like the Waves and UAD SSL Channel Strips.

Channelstrips and parallel pic 002
Parallel Processing
Parallel processing means that you duplicate a signal, leave the original dry and do your processing on the parallel signal. Then you mix the two signals together. You can basically do this with everything; compression, EQ , distortion, whatever. And you can do this with drums, synths, vocals etc. There are no rules, whatever works for you.
For instance I like to use it on snares sometimes if I think the it doesn’t hit hard enough. Most of the time I just throw compression and EQ on the parallel signal but like I said there are no rules. Just be creative and use your ears.
I personally don’t use parallel processing that much anymore, but I used to do it a lot, and I never actually use it on vocals. While super engineer Derek Ali uses a Fairchild on a parallel signal on Kedrick’s vocals. Then you got other super engineers like Dave Aron (2Pac, Snoop Dogg, U2) and Mike Dean (Kanye West, Scarface) who don’t use parallel processing at all. So it’s just about what works for you to get the sound you want.
There are endless possibilities, there are no rules! Just use your ears and be creative!


by Shroom


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9 Tips that will help you present your tracks the right way

Before we send out our tracks or beats to any artist, A&R or other music business person we should always make sure we send the highest quality possible. We want our stuff to stand out. We want it to knock, we want it to sound clean, we just want our stuff to translate so when that person who we sent it to jumps out of his seat as soon as he or she press play. And to do so there are a few things to keep in mind that will help a lot.

Presentation Pic001

1. Headroom and Gain-structure
Make sure your gain-structure is right and you leave enough headroom through the entire process. Gain-structure is basically how we setup the gain/levels to optimize our sound and keep the best quality possible. If you go over 0dBFS your mix won’t translate right. In the digital world we never want our master fader to clip. In the analog world it can add a little grittyness/punch (that sounds good) to your mixes or make the beat knock a little more, but digital clipping just sounds horrible so that needs to be avoided at all times. So just treat -18dBFS on the master fader as it is 0dBFS. The peaks can go a little bit over that but never over -10dBFS. This way we keep enough headroom and avoid digital clipping on the master fader. Also when we use plugins (compressors, EQ’s or whatever) on some of the individual channels we should always make sure that the output of those plugins never clip. If we record live instruments to our beats make sure the levels are setup right too, so the inputs and outputs don’t distort but we still record loud enough to keep the amount of noise down as much as possible. Also don’t use any unnecessary mixers that generate noise or so in your recording chain. Keep your chain as direct as possible. Every element in your chain should only be there for a good reason.

Shroomadelic Drums Vol. 1   Shroomalicious Instruments

2. Use the right sounds
You can create the best composition in the world but if your sounds suck nobody wants to hear it, no matter how genius your composition is. So always make sure you use high quality sounds. Nowadays you can get sounds everywhere but not all them are as great as others. There is so many garbage out there. That’s one of the reasons I started to create my own Sample Libraries (Shroomadelic Drums, Shroomalicious Instruments etc) cause it’s just hard to find good sounds. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great sounds out there but there are way more wack sounds that it’s hard to find them sometimes. On ProducedByShroom.com I made one small sample pack available for FREE for you guys. All you gotta do is fill out your email address and you get it send to you right away. Especially great royalty free Drum Breaks and Fills I feel are really hard to find so I recently started to create my own. I just recorded my drummer Wessel, made him do a lot of Breaks and Fills and now I’m editing and mixing that to make it sound like old school samples. You can do that too!

Presentation Pic003

3. Mix while creating
I think it’s important and will save us a lot of work later if, while we’re creating, we craft and tweak our sounds exactly like we want them to sound right away. Instead of just importing the kick drum sound you like and set the level right, tweak it! I always immediately throw a compressor on it if I feel I need to bring it out more “in your face” and start boosting the “sweet spots” with SSL EQ’s, cutting anything that bothers me with FabFilter EQ’s, maybe throw a reverb on it if that’s what I want for it etc. And once that kick drum sounds exactly how I want it to sound I’ll move on to the next sound and do the same. So I’m basically mixing the track while I’m creating it. This will probably not be the final mix but it will make it sound nice right away and save a lot of time on the final mix.

Presentation Pic004

4. Panning
This actually is a part of the mixing process of course but always make sure you create a lot of space and set the stereo image right by panning. Give stuff their own place in the mix and make it sound wide and open. I (almost) always keep all the low frequency instruments like Kick and Bass in the middle, the snare too and then I start building the rest of the instruments around that. There are no rules. Sometimes when I don’t want the hihat to be left or right but I don’t want it to take up space in the middle as well I double it and pan one side left and one side right and then I delay one side slightly and maybe pitch it a little bit to avoid phase problems. Now it sounds like a wide stereo hihat that comes out as loud out of one speaker as the other and it doesn’t take up any space in the middle. Also I like to use S1  imager on certain instruments to place them right in the mix, create width and let the beat “breathe”.

Presentation Pic005

5. Filtering
To help make sure that every sound gets his space in the frequency spectrum we use filters. We want the bass, kick and/or 808 to sound as big as possible so it needs it’s space in the lower frequency range. So we filter out the low end on a lot of all the other instruments so the bass, kick and/or 808 can have that space. And maybe there are certain instruments that just sit in the way of the top end of the hihats so we’ll just cut the top end off of those instruments. There are no rules so use your ears and do what sounds right. We can also divide certain instruments in different frequency bands to get more control but if you want to go a little deeper on filters check out this other article I did last week.

Presentation Pic006

6. Parallel Compression and Layering
Let’s say you found the right kick drum sound and you tweaked it exactly how you want it but it still doesn’t knock hard enough there are two things you can do; you can layer the kick with other kick sounds (check out this article) or you can parallel compress it. Parallel compression means you duplicate the kick drum, compress the duplicated signal (maybe a lot) and mix it in with the original signal. You can also do other stuff to the duplicated signal; maybe EQ it, distort it, pitch it or whatever. You don´t have to limit this technique to just drums, Derek Ali recently said on Pensado´s Place that he uses parallel compression on Kendrick´s vocals sometimes. Just use your ears and be creative!

Presentation Pic007

7. Make your stuff LOUD
Once our beat or track is almost finished and we kept a lot of headroom (like we’re supposed to) we want it to be as loud as possible. But we also don’t want to distort it and ruin our mix. So we’re just throwing a maximixer/limiter on the master bus. I like to use L2 for this but there are many other good ones you can use for this like iZotope etc. Don’t limit it too much tho cause it will entirely change your mix. I usually knock off around 3dB till max 6dB on L2. After we set the maximizer/limiter we probably still have to re-balance our levels a bit, cause limiters “push in” the peaks a little bit. Maybe you want to use more than one limiter on your master bus like Mike Dean (Kanye’s right hand) does. Again, there are no rules. Just use your ears and be creative!

8. A/B your Mixes
Use reference tracks. Compare your mix to your favorite mixed track or to something you kinda want it to sound like quality wise. Play your mix for a little bit, then play that reference mix for a bit and listen to how everything sits in the mix, how much top end, how much bottom, the balance, how hard the drums knock etc. And try to aim to come as close as possible to that professionally mixed track you like so much. Just go back and forth and keep tweaking.

9. Take Breaks
Sometimes when you’re tweaking and mixing for hours you just don’t really hear it that good anymore, so take breaks once in a while. Go do something totally different for a little while then come back to the track. Or maybe after an entire day of mixing you’ll just have to go to bed and go back to the track the next morning to listen to it with “fresh” ears.


by Shroom


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