Daniel Lesden Blog

Music, technologies, and human experience from a Russian music producer and A&R manager based in Israel.
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“Should I post in every social media?”

As a music producer, should I post on every social media? Is it worth posting the same content on different social channels? Should I treat them differently? How frequently to post?

Mike L.

I used to think that as many social websites you use as better. Several years ago I would say “yes”, you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Vk, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Telegram, Snapchat, Viber, YouTube, Vimeo, HearThis, ReverbNation, Google+... did I forget to mention anything?

Now, I’m saying this: you should to be only on those social websites at which you certain you can handle it at 100%. And by that I mean constantly posting and working with the audience — not just once in three months when your new EP is out, but daily or at least weekly. Consistency is the key here.

Let’s say, could you post on Snapchat few times a day, every day, without sacrificing your other duties? If the answer is “no”, you probably shouldn’t even start then. Remember that semi-alive public pages are even worse than their absence.

The importance of building a fan base

From my experience, here is what different social channels best for:

Social media Best for How frequent
Facebook Central hub for your social presence 3-5 times a week
Twitter Mentions and interactions with other artists and fans 1-3 times a day
Instagram Studio, travel, and behind the scenes pictures 4-7 times a week
Snapchat Daily life, mostly for a younger demographic 1-3 times a day
Telegram Quick news for mobile users 2-4 times a week
Vk Russian-speaking audience from Russia and CIS 3-7 times a week

If you just started building your web presence in social media, I’d suggest starting off with two: Facebook and Twitter. This is essentials. The rest depends on your time, your audience demography, and your creativity.

If you still have any question, feel free to drop a line in the comment box below.

Read also: my experience of managing social media with Amplifr

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Apr 26   Advice   Marketing   Social media

Track of the week: “Tik Tok”

John 00 Fleming is no doubt one of my favourites artists and a big inspiration to me. It hard to pick just one of his tracks, but for today’s track of the week I’d like to play “Tik Tok” — a gorgeous, hypnotic crossover between Techno and Psytrance. At 6:42, the main theme turns almost into Goa Trance, loving it.

Artist John 00 Fleming
Title Tik Tok (Part 1)
Label JOOF Recordings
Year 2015

“Can a label own the masters based on an email conversation?”

Hey there! I landed on your nice blog and started reading. I’m grateful I found some nice pieces of advices! I bother you a bit more, hoping you can help me – that would be so much appreciated if you have some time to give me your opinion. Here’s our story:

I work as an A&R for a new label. We signed in February of this year an artist, with proper contract. The contract transfers us the rights for a vinyl EP. Let’s say, that on this EP the strongest track is called “Karr”. Now we were ready/going into test-pressing on last Tuesday morning. But had to stop it all. Why?

Because a few hours sooner a big known label in the Techno industry *outed* a post on their Facebook page, promoting a digital V.A. in which we were stunned to see OUR main title track of EP being listed as one of the V.A. tracks.

It appears that ‘our artist’ had been in touch with that label during 2015-2016 and had discussed a possible release for 2016. Which never took place. Basically, that label has remained sitten (sleeping on that track they now outed) for two years.

Without any renewed expressed interest after December 2016, four months later and without warning, they sent the masters to our artist per email six days ago! Thing is, neither the artist neither us never planned that previous label would have the balls to do such! That’s crazy!

We immediately emailed that label, stating the artist had signed with us. Their defense line is the following. They state they own the masters because of the fact they had previous exchange of emails (that can be indeed be seen as a kind of an agreement), but they were discussing a release for 2016. Again: never took place in two years.

My question is: can a label state ownership over the masters, basing themselves on fact they had received the pre-master (-6db Etc.) and that, *this*, is considered as “transferring” the copyrights? In my knowledge, that agreement would only be valid on the discussed year (2016!) and not after that. Are they allowed to ‘further’ exploit a file, never saying anything in four months? Just sending it over “mastered” and boom! Six days later they post and promote it?? Not asking for any renewed consent of the artist? (poor dude, he almost did a heart attack.. as he was super happy to work with us.. )

We really care for that artist and the all situation seems clearly abusive. but it’s a big, big label.

We suggested they replace the file and keep the ‘Name’ as it’s only in pre-order on their bandcamp page (for now, will be released on 26th of April). We thought showing them we were okay to try limit the hurt to their image (cuz that’s what they fear – such a big label doesn’t want to be ‘in fault’ publicly. so they don’t want to retire the track.. first people could push play, now this morning i just noticed we can’t anymore.. good sign for us?)

What do you think? We have no money to afford a lawyer, so all we have is state our points and tell them that we think no label can say that they own a track indefinitely (time) if NO contract.. and if NO release in the planned period – in what they state is their “agreement” (exchanged emails...) right? I mean – if so, means that every pre-master we get ONCE = would bind an artist to a label lifelong? WTF?

Sam

Sam, thanks for sharing your story. I’m not a lawyer nor an expert in this field, so before taking any legal actions I suggest consulting with one.

As far as I know, the fact an artist sending a demo saying “I would like to release it on your label” does not allow the label to actually release it. It’s basically just a letter of intent indicating an interest of one party in the deal, but not the final agreement.

Typically, most contracts work this way: “everything that not clearly specified in the contract is not allowed”. This is why we see 20-paper contracts specifying every tiny and obvious detail. A notarized email conversation could have a legal power, but all terms of the deal have to be written very precisely. So unless your artist and that big label specifically discussed having a release on a compilation, I don’t think they had rights doing so.

Don’t start a lawsuit: it might be a long, exhausting, and expensive process with a unpredicted result. And if your and that big label are registered as legal entities in different countries, that means you would need an international court which makes things even more complicated and expensive. It’s just not worth it.

I would suggest trying to solve this situation peacefully. Ask them politely to pull-off the compilation from the stores or to remove that track individually. We at JOOF had to shut down a release once too, so I know for the fact it is possible. Your argument is simple: you have the contract signed by that artist, they don’t.

If for some reason they won’t agree on shutting down the release, ask them to deal a sub-licensing contract. In other words, to pay you and the artist a fixed amount of money in exchange for allowing them to release that track legally. This is a standard deal in the industry.

“Label re-released a track without my consent” 

As a measure of last resort, at least tell people the truth. Share this story (with the real names) in public. This probably won’t change anything, but it’ll bring some justice.

I’m keen to know what other label managers and artists think about it?

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Apr 19   Advice   Music industry

Track of the week: “Shiva Sunrise” (Djantrix Remix)

Laughing Buddha is a master of Psychedelic sound, but things get even better when Djantrix is on the remix duty. This is the kind of uptempo Psytrance I like a lot for its crazy energy, cutting edge sound design, and melodic components. And of course, uncompromising quality, as always from Digital Om Productions.

Artist Laughing Buddha
Title Shiva Sunrise (Djantrix Remix)
Label Digital Om Productions
Year 2015

Reverb and delay

I have a question about reverb and delays. In Psytrance, a lot of the atmosphere of a track is created with reverb and delays. Can you give some advice on using these effects and answer some specific questions?

Which devices do you use with what settings, do you use them on a send or on each channel, do you ever use reverb on kick or bass, do you ever use reverb on the master, any other tricks or general advice?

Hamish Strachan

I like to think of an effect, whether it’s a reverb or a delay, by its purpose. I ask myself: “What I am trying to achieve with this particular device?”. And with this in mind, I came up with two sorts of categories: general and creative effects.

The general effect is an effect basically used for mixing, you know, to put instruments into the proper space. Typically, I used built-in Ableton devices for this kind of reverb and delays because there is nothing really fancy about it, you can use pretty much any device or plugin for this purpose.

For general effects, I want all instruments to share the same settings. For example, if a bongo’s delay repeated every 3/16th notes, then a crash cymbal must be repeated on 3/16th as well. This is why I prefer to use this kind of effects via Send-Return channels: it gives more consistent mixdown, it’s easier to tweak some settings if needed, and it also saves CPU usage quite a bit.

I can’t recommend you specific settings simply because there is no one ultimate preset that works every time. I’d like to give one little tip, though, because I see many upcoming producers do this mistake: when adding a device on a Return channel, be sure to turn the Dry/Wet knob all way up to the 100% Wet, and then adjust the needed amount of effect via Sends knobs, not vice versa.

My typical Return channels are: a simple delay, short reverb, and medium reverb (coloured in green)

The creative effect is where all crazy things come in: special effects like a huge reverb tail with a sidechain compression on it panned across the stereo field. That kind of things. Check my advice on creating atmospheric effects because this is exactly the type of processing I’m talking about.

Since this kind of effect is unique for every instrument or an SFX I do, I add those reverb and delay right on top of the channel and then Freeze it. I like to use Native Instrument’s Replika for that because it has some creative features that Ableton built-in devices don’t. See also my recommended processing plugins list.

As for the other two questions. No, I typically don’t use a reverb on kick-and-bass because it would put them further in the background while should be the opposite, at least in Psytrance music. And putting a reverb on the master channel would put pretty much everything on the background, so no, I don’t think you want this either :-) Probably someday I’ll write about mixing basics to give a better understand of that concept.

The only case when I do use reverb or delay on the kick-and-bass group, occasionally, is for creative purpose as a special effect. For example, like here in “Pangea Proxima”:

Fellow producers, how do you treat reverb and delay?

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Apr 12   Advice   Music production

Track of the week: “Systematic Numbers”

Mindwave style has also been slightly different from the mainstream Progressive Psy. I like his deep, hypnotic, yet melodic music, and “Systematic Numbers” is one of these tracks. I also like the length of this track allowing to slowly build up the atmosphere.

Artist Mindwave
Title Systematic Numbers (Original Mix)
Label TechSafari Records
Year 2016

If you like this track, check also Mystify.

Time traveller’s archive — 14

Some stuff to read (and watch) on the weekend.

Aleksey aka Sonic Elysium on sound design
  1. Ultimate Kick and Bass Tutorial by Sonic Elysium. Kick and bass are probably two of the most frequently asked topics, people asking how to synthesise it, how to EQ, how to fit them together. And I’ve written pretty much all about it, see “Kick and bass” tag. However, if you prefer to watch rather than read, I highly recommend watching this tutorial by Sonic Elysium, he nailed it.
  2. TechMuze Academy podcast with Budi Voogt. Interesting talk about marketing, promo campaigns, and automations. “Do you see a benefit in paid ad campaigns for producers? I’m actually inclined to say no to Facebook and Instagram [...] Revenue streams in music are very indirect. ”
  3. Is DJing just about beat matching? Great blog, as always from John 00 Fleming. I’ve also written about it before, see Vinyl vs. Sync button.
  4. A Beginner’s Guide To Audio Cables. If you don’t know what is balanced or unbalanced cable or what the difference between RCA and XLR — this article on DJ TechTools is right for you.

Capturing audio on macOS

Hey Daniel, thanks for your great blog! Quick question: how do you capture internal audio, let’s say some streaming in the browser or a dialogue in a film? I’m running macOS Sierra.

Anton

Anton, in order to capture internal audio, you need to change signal routing using a special tool. There are quite a lot of such tools out there, but among the others, I’d recommend checking out “Soundflower” — it’s a free, open-source, and tiny system extension.

Soundflower by Matt Ingalls on GitHub

Once installed, go to System Preferences → Sound → Output, and choose Soundflower (2ch):

System preferences

Now all you need is any audio recording software, whether it’s your DAW or an app like Audacity. Just choose Soundflower (2ch) in the audio recording settings:

Audacity recording preferences

And that’s pretty much it. Once you hit the record button, it should start recording any sound that is coming from applications on your computer.

P.S. This post is a part of the weekly “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as production, performance, management, marketing, and design in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.

Apr 5   Advice

The benefits of “no”

Success story: Tim Bourne’s behind the scenes on reaching out goal through rejections

“Per aspera ad astra”, 1894

One of my daily duties as an A&R at JOOF Recordings is listening to incoming demos we receive on a regular basis. And whether I like it or not, I have to say a “no” as an answer very often. Artists react to rejection differently: some of them never reply back, some others get angry. Well, no surprise: getting a “no” answer is tough, I know it myself perfectly.

But one guy stood out: every time I told him “no”, he came back with the updated track asking for new feedback. Four months later, he managed to make an amazing track that I was happy to sign on the label.

The guy I’m talking about is Tim Bourne, a 22-year-old aspiring music producer from Indonesia. I invited Tim to share his progression in this blog and I hope other up-and-coming producers will find his experience useful and motivating.

From there, Tim tells:

“To me, this drive of wanting to get accepted into JOOF started two and a half years ago when my friend introduced me to the label, ever since then my perception towards electronic music completely changed (in the best way possible). Since that it was something that I had to do, it was more than just a goal for me to make a track that lives up to the standards of the label.

I wanted to know where I sit when it comes to producing, am I really making something that is up to par — quality wise — or am i just making tracks that only sound good to my own ears, even then, my ears wasn’t really catching the small details of music production, I was missing out on so many essential parts of production.

I knew that it was going to be very tough because in my country there is very limited access to production courses or even Psytrance producers, so I had no one to really guide me on what to do technically or musically.

I started sending out demos to the label since 2015 — 20 years old by that time — and it was just no’s after no’s after no’s. In total, I’ve probably sent over ten tracks and one of the tracks I had to re-do and re-edit over five times due to song length, sound design, not enough variations, you name it... and it was still a big ‘no’. It actually got to a point where I was so pessimistic about myself and my music that after a couple of days after sending ‘The Wounded Healer’ I emailed to Daniel again and assumed that the track got rejected.

But alongside the no’s, Daniel was kind enough to actually give me very useful feedbacks, he gave me constructive criticism that was essential for my learning. And to be completely honest, I would have never evolved with my music production if it wasn’t for no’s and rejections. It was through this that I was able to learn and not just force any kind of sound into a track.


‘I would have never evolved with my music production if it wasn’t for no’s and rejections’


Here are some of the conversation we had on the track:

Of course, it was really hard to accept the fact that my music wasn’t quite cutting it, but either I stop and give up or just push through and make a track that I would have never imagined I’d be able to make a couple of years ago.

It started with this very flat sounding bassline loop with no melodies at all, just a pitched down FX:

Then I played around with the sound, added a little bit of processing, added hats and a clap and i played around with the notes because my ears were so exhausted of hearing the same note playing over and over again. Came up with this kind of groovy bassline:

As I was trying to fiddle around with the bass, I found a vocal sample that was perfect for creating anticipation for the groovy bassline. So I decided to add the vocal alongside a drum fill. I also added more processing to the kick and bass to make it sound more thick:

After creating what I thought was a strong body to the track, I know I have to accompany it with also a strong melody:

But i was not pleased because it felt like it was forced and it didn’t go smoothly with the track, so I changed the sound and came up with these two melodies:

Then comes the breakdown which I really enjoyed creating. I always have a thing for breakdowns, to me it creates the emotion of a track. This was the very first version of the breakdown, very empty and the arp melody just didn’t feel right:

So I decided to completely change the arp melody because turns out that it was the melody that made it sound a bit weird. I changed the arp melody, brought back the FX’s and i added some ethnic percussion which drew the breakdown more into the theme of the song:

I created this melody as a draft but It just didn’t sound right to my ears, I was okay with it but i wasn’t happy with it:

I tweaked the notes of the melody a little bit, got rid of the acid and added more saw’ish sounding synths to layer. And this is what i came up with:

And alas, ‘The Wounded Healer’ was born:

I want to say thank you to Daniel who has given me the opportunity to tell a little bit about my upcoming EP, The Wounded Healer and also the story of how I managed to pull through after so many ‘rejections’ and ‘no’s’. ”

Apr 4   A&R   Behind the scenes

Track of the week: “Papua New Guinea” (Satoshi Tomiie Main Path)

A stunning deep remix to the classic track by a Japanese producer, loving it. I think it sums what a proper Progressive Trance music should be like.

Artist The Future Sound Of London
Title Papua New Guinea
Remixer Satoshi Tomiie
Release Papua New Guinea 2001
Label: Jumpin’ & Pumpin’
Year 2001
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