Hottest Black Friday 2016 Deals – Musical Gear, Instruments, and Software

Hottest Black Friday 2016 Deals – Musical Gear, Instruments, and Software

What is Black Friday?

Hottest Black Friday 2016The hottest Black Friday 2016 deals are coming once again and everyone’s pretty pumped up for the best offers that they can find anywhere, especially on the internet. For those who do not know yet, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and has been regarded as the start of the holiday shopping season. Most stores in the US and even in the UK come out with different means to attract their customers such as launching their early bird specials and selling their products with huge discounts. This is a season where you can find Black Friday ads are posted everywhere and people are lining up, on queue for hours (even for days), long before the sun rises.

When is Black Friday and Why is it becoming popular?

For 2016, Black Friday will fall on November 25.

Because of the power of online retailing, the popularity of the Black Friday madness has increased in other countries as well. India, France, Canada, Mexico, Romania, and the United Kingdom are countries that promote and celebrate this shopping festival of festivals. As per Wikipedia, other countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Austria, Colombia, Sweden, Denmark, Nigeria, Lebanon, Bolivia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands have joined the bandwagon, too. Seems like everyone has followed suit because of the massive return on consumer sales and high profits for online retailers and local store owners as well.

Why is it called Black Friday?

The term Black Friday, as mentioned in Wikipedia, got its name from the early 1980s when most of the business retailers found that they made their profits starting on the day after Thanksgiving. They used ££red to record negative amounts and black to show financial gains. Hence, the term.

For Music Enthusiasts like me, what will I get out of Black Friday?

Oh my! You wouldn’t miss it for the world! I am an avid fan of Mixcraft Prostudio 7, and I got mine from their Black Friday Madness. Talk about a great deal for a complete and professional audio workstation!

If you are a newbie who is just setting up his/her own home music studio, today’s a great opportunity to get your gear!

Changing your instruments and gear? No problem! Discounts are up for grabs on Black Friday 2016! Best time of the year to buy them!

So, I have come up with a list of great deals happening in the online arena.

Disclaimer: I am not gonna benefit any financial gains out of this for I am not an affiliate of these websites. I just want to help out those who are looking to add new instruments or change their gear the cheapest way possible. And this is a perfect opportunity for you to do that!

SO, HERE ARE THE MUCH-AWAITED HOTTEST BLACK FRIDAY 2016 DEALS OF THE YEAR!

GEAR4MUSIC

Their Black Friday deal runs from November 21 until the last minute of November 28, 2016. It is 7 days of huge discounts and awesome deals for producers, guitarists, drummers and DJs.

Check out GEAR4MUSIC for more of these wonderful items!

MUSICIAN’S FRIEND

An online store for the best musical instruments and gear including guitars, effects, basses, amplifiers, drums, keyboards, microphones, DJ, recording, and live sound. Regarded as the largest online guitar store in the world. Their sale is ongoing.

 

 

  • RogueVB100 Violin Bass Guitar Vintage Sunburst – it features a flamed maple arched top  and back with the European-style hollow body which makes it lightweight. This violin bass is top of the line at a fraction of the cost. ($246.97 down to $161.08, a savings of $86)VB100-Violin-Bass-Guitar-Vintage-Sunburst

For more awesome deals, visit their page:  MUSICIANSFRIEND

AMAZON

Amazon’s Black Friday 35 Days of Deals – the online retail giant just announced that they will make everyday a Black Friday and this awesome pre-Christmas bonanza runs from now until December 22. Amazon claims that a new deal will be up every 5 minutes.

  • For guitar enthusiasts, Rocksmith Re-Mastered for almost all consoles is their Deal of the Day. Price is only $29.99 from $50.00! Weehoo!Hottest Black Friday 2016
  • M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series | 2-in/2-out USB Audio Interface (24-bit/192kHz) – great for home studio producers! It has high-speed USB Connection with USB/Direct balance knob for zero-latency monitoring. Included software is Steinberg Cubase LE, Air Creative FX Collection (20 world class FX plugins by Pro Tools), Xpand!2, Mini Grand and Strike. Great Value at only $99.00 from $199.00, you save $100!)M-Audio

Want more? If these items made you drool, and you want to feast your eyes and burn a hole in your pockets temporarily ( I assume that you have been saving up for this day, anyway), then go to AMAZON’S site!

PLUGINBOUTIQUE

This is plugin heaven, baby! Check out their Black Friday deals because their discounts are up to 90% off! Black Friday Bonanza runs from November 21 up to December 2016. Check out the dates for some items. Some of the items they have are the following:

Go to PLUGINBOUTIQUE for more exciting deals!

GUITAR CENTER

For guitarists and musicians, here’s what’s in store for you! Guitar Center, the world’s largest musical instrument trailer is also having a Black Friday Sale!

  • Alvarez Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Acoustic GuitarGrateful Dead Guitar this special guitar is to commemorate the long time collaboration of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir with Alvarez luthiers. Those who are Grateful Dead fans, you will love the artwork as well as how the guitar is built. Price is only at 213.89 from $428.78, a discount of $214.89, almost half the price!

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Check out GUITAR CENTER deals here!

EBAY

The E-commerce giant has its own Black Friday Deals, too!

Novation MKII

 

 

SWEETWATER

hottest Black Friday 2016 Go to SWEETWATER to find out what they are offering. Their Black Friday Deals ends on November 25, 2016! You can find other outstanding deals for your budget here:

Acoustica Mixcraft will have a Black Friday deal coming up, so you better check their website from time to time!

Whew! Looks like we are about to burn a hole in our pockets, huh? Are you excited to splurge your hard-earned cash but worried about having regrets the day after? Do not fret! If you are thinking of having second thoughts in spending on Black Friday, I will share with you tips and tricks on how to avoid the dreaded Buyer’s Remorse during Black Friday sales in the next post! So, what are you waiting for?!!! Happy Holidays! 🙂

8 Secrets to Better Songwriting That You Must Know

8 Secrets to Better Songwriting That You Must Know

Last week, we talked about how songwriting is a free-flowing motion that can ignite all your senses. The right combination of music and lyrics can make your skin tingle all over, leave you wide-eyed; be gasping for air, leave a bittersweet taste in your mouth or even drown out the rest of the world. In short, a great song is one helluva party for your senses! 8-secrets-1

Now, we keep saying that there are no ironclad rules in songwriting. This still holds true, for as long as you understand and believe that songwriting is not songwriting if it’s not a form of expression – for yourself, or for others. It is a way to channel  thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

Writing a song can convey the absolute truths, or even the absolute lies, from the depths of the heart. Writing a song can be the result of inspiration or the makings of one.  It all boils down to what the song expresses; if it doesn’t express anything, then it makes no sense and means nothing to your listeners’ senses, right? And if you think about it, songwriting is kind of a cycle of the senses. 

Take Eric Church, an American country music singer and songwriter. He said that the key to songwriting is just to be able to observe, and put yourself in situations to be around people, and let those ideas come to you. This is essentially putting your senses to work, observing and absorbing what is around you, allowing for everything and anything in life and in existence to be captured in a song – songs that, in turn, make your listeners’ senses come alive. And this is what you need to make it happen…

What is the Secret to Better Songwriting then?

Must you have a creative bone in your body to be able to write songs? You’d be surprised, but being creative is just a by-product of being original. Sure, some writers get by with “recycling” (or, if you prefer, “upcycling”) lyrics and melodies, but never really get to stamp their identity on any of their work. You do not want to be one of them. By all means, you can certainly draw inspiration from the big-timers, but when it gets down to the wire, your identity should still shine through.

I am confident that you are already aware that you have something original to offer, otherwise, you wouldn’t be in this industry. I’m sure that you have written songs that you are proud to call yours. The goal is to write more of those songs, put more of you on the table, less the hit or miss approach. Hence, the relevance and importance of knowing the basic principles of the songwriting process.

The Principles of Songwriting

Let us refresh our memories on the principles that I have already shared in my previous post:

  • The first guiding principle states that how you arrange the song depends on the message you want your listeners to hear. You do not have to follow the usual Verse-Chorus, Verse-Chorus, Bridge, Verse-Chorus arrangement. Be anything but generic.
  • The second guiding principle is building the energy throughout the song. The energy at the end should surpass the song’s energy at the beginning. Key transitions work best on the bridge section to the final chorus where you can transpose the chords from the original key to the desired key. Take a look at Beyonce’s Love on Top. The chorus goes through three key changes as she demonstrates her vocal power. This is the section where the energy builds up until it climaxes at the very end and you find your breath taken away just by listening.
  • The third guiding principle is to allow for contrast – occasional yet strategically positioned dips along the way, which make the song unpredictable and exciting.

So far, so good. These guiding principles give the song context, meaning, and life. Right about now, you are probably analyzing the songs you’ve written in the past, or making a mental note to apply these principles to your next songs. You’re definitely on the right track. Let’s make sure to keep you on that track with a few more principles I learned from that songwriting course I told you about.

More, More, and More

  • Keep the chord pattern simple – songs nowadays do not require too many chords.  Justin Bieber’s song Sorry runs on the chord pattern F-Am-G and a pattern change in the chorus where Dm is added after the chord pattern, then shifted to F-G on the chorus’ last line. Sam Smith’s Stay With Me is another song with a simple pattern, the chords are  Am – F – C all throughout. Savage Garden’s Truly, Madly, Deeply carries the chords C – G – F – G from start to finish.
  • Maintain the balance between chord changes and patterns. Contrast is only effective when positioned correctly; you can’t add a chord somewhere just because you can. Chord changes should somehow be predictable, not shockingly out of place. You want a coherent song, not senseless mashups (Mind you, there are many awesome mashups out there that go so naturally together, you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself).
  • The lyrics, melody, and the chords should blend in harmony. Your chords cannot be in minor scale when the lyrics of the song denote happiness or positivity. As you probably already know, minor chords are sad tones. If the lyrics in a particular section of the song require impact, then the melody that you create for that section must be in tune with the emotions that the words carry. Obviously, you would not appreciate listening to a song that talks about pain and yet carries a happy tune (unless it wanted to express irony. Ha!)
  • The chorus needs strong chord progressions. On harmony, the chorus carries the emotional impact, thus, needs strong chord progressions. On the other hand, verses take us to how the story unfolds, and require relatively weak chord progressions.  For example, the progression C – G – F can sound great on verses, whereas the chorus may sound epic if you add an Am chord for a C – G – Am – F progression. This progression is widely used by a lot of songwriters, artists, and musicians.
  • Keep the song’s hook memorable. It should be short, catchy, and appeal to your listeners. Your listener needs something to remember as soon as your song is played. One good example of a successful hook is Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. The song resonates the “uh oh oh ohs” in anyone’s ears. First time I heard it, the “uh oh oh ohs” played in my ear for a month!

There you have it! Now that this little secret has been revealed to you, what are you waiting for? Start writing your next song using these principles and tell me about it! I’d love to hear your progress. And if you come up with a party for the senses, don’t forget to send me an invite! Haha!

For any questions or comments, please, please, please, drop me a line or two! We’re just getting started. Do watch out for the next installment in the music production series and get in the gear for Song Arrangement next week! Till then!

better songwriting

What Will Absolutely Help You Be Better in Songwriting?

What Will Absolutely Help You Be Better in Songwriting?

On my last post, we tackled the importance of the pre-production process. Today, we’ll discuss the first step of this process – which is songwriting.

I love writing songs. It is when I am happiest and most creative in the music production process. It is when my brain comes up with the most insane melodies and lyrics. I really got into it during a  songwriting course I attended some time ago; I remember myself jotting down words that rhyme and connecting them (sometimes furiously) to form a single thought. Mind you, this was before the wonders of the internet, before that magical time when you could simply google what rhymes with what. I had many strokes of genius and aha moments thereafter.

Writing The Song – Express Yourself!

Later on, I had a bandmate with whom I wrote songs for several years. We were both driven by emotions, especially the gut wrenching ones. We reveled in our knack for writing songs that demanded to be felt –Songwriting ones that tugged at the heartstrings, hard.  Our songs were so full of pain and sadness; they were almost depressing. And we wrote quite a number.

And why was that? It was because we wrote songs when we were at the height of our emotions – especially during times of heartbreaks, tears, depression, and even family issues. I trained myself to write songs in moments of weakness, hurt, and pain. Man, our songs delivered the purest of emotions. Raw and unashamed and overflowing. Unfortunately, the result of my training ended up with me not writing songs consistently. I relied too much on the overflow. When I was happy and content, I couldn’t write a single line.

You shouldn’t be solely influenced by one side of the emotional equation. If you are intent on writing songs to have an album or make a name for yourself, there should be consistency in your workflow. If your focus is to write songs as part of your business goals, you should be writing songs as an intentional habit, a daily thing.

So, when you are writing a song – express yourself; create that overflow regardless, if you are in a good or bad mood!

Songwriting is like Poetry in Motion

prestep1-1

Martin Nievera, a very successful singer in the Philippines, once said, “Music is poetry in motion,” as he was introducing his next performance on a tv show. As I pondered on his melodious narration, I immediately acknowledged the truth behind those words. Music, indeed, takes you somewhere, or everywhere. Just by listening to instrumentals, you can be taken to a different world. How much more if there are words to express the song’s melody? That would carry you off to somewhere unimaginable.

Poetry in Motion, in urbandictionary.com, means graceful fluidity that moves with tactful elegance, an abstract noun that is direct and completely beautiful to all 5 senses. By this definition alone, a song can definitely directly or indirectly affect, even awaken, your senses. There are songs that can hurt you emotionally, and songs that can make you hungry. Some songs bring back memories from the past, while there are those that make you lust over someone. As a matter of fact, there are songs that push and encourage you to be the best, like songs being played during workout sessions, and songs used for learning and training presentation purposes.

In the essence of graceful fluidity, if you are to study a song, you will see distinct patterns on in the song arrangement – patterns that make the song flow. These patterns take listeners to a journey, from the first line to the last verse.

So, the question is, how can patterns turn songs into a seamless blend of words and melodies, transporting us to a whole new level of experience that poke at our inner senses?

Are there rules to follow in writing songs?

The Rules of Songwriting

I’d like for you to spend time listening to different songs from every genre you know. If you examine hits from today’s music and the past years closely, you’d likely see common characteristics. Is it because songwriters follow a process in writing their songs? Probably. Do they know each other and collaborate? Maybe. Are they being mentored by the same songwriting coaches? Possibly. Do you ever wonder why there are songs that describe the exact situation you are in right now?

Songwriting is a creative and artistic process that doesn’t demand we do it confined to a set of rules. If rules govern the songwriting process, it would be as boring as hell. I am not saying following rules are dreary, but in the context of artistry, music writing would hold no interest for us.  Rules are there to be strictly followed. It can be somewhat like regulations you see posted everywhere. No sleeping on the job. Curfew hours. Strictly no entry. No parking. Do not step on the grass. Post No Bill. Lights are shut at 12 MN. These are sets of rules that once broken, have corresponding consequences.

Imagine if rules are applied in songwriting, it could be like this:

  1. First rule – The title of a song should only be 5 words. Beyond that would result in too long a title.
  2. Second rule – Never entitle a song using only 1 word.
  3. Third rule – Always use words that rhyme.
  4. Fourth rule – All songs must have a bridge or it is not a complete song.

And the list can go on and on.

So don’t fret. The universe still leans toward common sense, and there are no rules in songwriting.

Principles to Live By

Instead of rules though, the art of writing a song is more governed by a set of GUIDING PRINCIPLES.  These are ideas that influence and guide you when considering the elements that you put in your song. One good example of this is song arrangement.

Most songs have the Verse-Chorus, Verse-Chorus, Bridge, Verse-Chorus, then Coda arrangement. However, you can also have a different arrangement depending on the mood or the story of the song. You can start with the chorus first, followed by two verses, then the chorus, then another verse, then a bridge, then verse chorus, then coda. Anything goes. As long as you are able to convey the message you want your listeners to hear, then it is a complete song.

Another guiding principle in songwriting is on the song’s energy. The energy at the end of the song of should be at least equal to, or exceed the song’s energy at the beginning. This is what keeps listeners interested. A songwriter should be able to build the momentum and maintain the energy level all throughout. Occasional dips are allowed, creating contrast, which makes some important elements of the song pop out.

So it is crucial that the songwriter is aware on how to build the energy, end with a bang, and keep you breathless/entranced as you listen.

The best way to progress in your songwriting skills is to be knowledgeable of the basic principles of songwriting. As you become more familiar with the guiding principles, you become more prolific in writing your songs. Hang tight and discover the basic principles of songwriting in the next installment of this series.

So what do you think? What will make you improve your songwriting skills? Please feel free to comment away! 🙂

How to Create Epic Recordings in Mixcraft ProStudio 7

mixcraft-prostudio-blog-infographOne thing that you have to make sure when it comes to your home recording studio,is that you have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that works for you. It is imperative that your software helps you create epic recordings without burning a hole in your pocket. I’d like to start this with a fact– Mixcraft Prostudio 7 is one of the easiest and most flexible DAW to ever grace the recording arena. This DAW is fully packed with all the tools that you need from recording to mastering. As Acoustica, the maker of Mixcraft, describes it; it is the Musician’s DAW.

The Easiest DAW in the World

When it was launched, I immediately did a video review of the software. I never thought that it would garner thousands of views. Mixcraft is a sought after product. I will not deal much on the technicalities, but the software is packed with over 7,500 loops, samples, and sound effects, as well as unlimited tracks and tons of virtual instruments. You can create mixes with song slicing and audio warping and jam like a DJ using the Performance panel. The new step sequencer enables you to build your own beats and musical patterns. It has a powerful MIDI Scoring and Editing capabilities with the use of the Piano roll editor and the notation editor for your music scores.

With over $1,100 worth of professional plugins, Mixcraft can definitely make your sound elevate to the next level. But I am not just talking of sound editing, but you can edit your videos using this software as well. Mixing and mastering is not a problem anymore, for you are equipped with all the effects, plugins, and tools that you need. All you need to do is let your creative juices flow and let Mixcraft Prostudio 7 make your recording dreams come true!

Watch the video and see how the software can help you create your masterpieces.

Be impressed. Do not underestimate the power of Mixcraft Prostudio 7. I am happily abusing and using this DAW in every song that I make. Period.

If you have any comments or thoughts on the software, please let me know and type in the comments section. I wanna know your thoughts about Mixcraft.

How To Solve The Biggest Problem With Building A Home Studio

How To Solve The Biggest Problem With Building A Home Studio

home-studio-problemI was in your shoes, too. It was quite strange and confusing most of the time, for I never had someone to look up to and ask if I was doing the right thing. This happened one summer 3 years back when I started asking myself how I’d be able to record my music without spending too much money. I recorded some songs in a professional studio and it just burned my savings. Not only did it consume my hard-earned money, I was also anxious for the recording time not to go overboard. Instead of having the energy to monitor the creative process, I was totally stressed out! Sound familiar? Let me ask you a few questions and tell me if these are things that have already racked your brains out.

What if you had your OWN studio to produce your songs without paying a large sum of money?

Is it really possible to record pro-recordings at home?

What if you knew the very steps of making it easy for you to build one?

Are you doing it the right way?

Ha! I bet I got you thinking! You may have more questions in your head right now. We both know these are just a few of the never-ending questions that come up when building a home studio. The problems sprout from these questions. When the problems arise, you find yourself in total jeopardy. You do not know what to do first and you do not even have the slightest idea what the hell you are building the home studio for in the first place! But hey, don’t you know that there’s only ONE thing that hinders you from having the studio of your dreams?

What is the Biggest Problem in Building Your Home Studio?

You overthink.

Home studio confusion

What to do?

 

Yes! You are overthinking! This is the ONE THING that hinders you from even starting your home studio project. Overthinking or overanalyzing causes analysis paralysis. Whoa! Here are other symptoms of a person with analysis paralysis:

  1. Overcomplicates what could be a simple decision
  2. Spends more time thinking of the solutions to a problem than actually solving the problem
  3. Allows negative thoughts and has a pessimistic perspective of things
  4. Jumps from one action to another
  5. DOES NOT GET THINGS DONE!

One great example wherein you may find yourself overthinking is when you are mixing your song. Seems like, you are working for more than 5 hours a day honing several tracks. It is perfectly understandable if it is happening this way because you want to perfect your equalization. In addition to this, you also want to be in control of every little knob that you see on the plugins that you use.

“Oh, the compression there is too much.” “The reverb’s too little. I need to turn the knob higher.” “I need to add more tracks. I feel that the sound is too thin!”

You Want To Make Things Happen

The practice of talking to yourself while working is a great way for you to think things through. However, when you overthink, you go back and forth, you are tearing your hair out, exhausted to the point of no return, as a result, only to be nagged by this burning question:

“WHY???!!!!”“Why does it still not sound right?”

This is one tragic truth that happened to me, and quite possibly to every other music producer at the beginning of their careers. The problem is not in how the song is mixed, or if there are skill issues or whatsoever. The problem lies in overthinking. You don’t want to be in this situation. YOU WANT TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!

2 Ways to Overcome Overthinking

Limit Your Choices

Limit your choices to get maximum results. Here’s the thing: as your choices increase, your expectations increase, too. Imagine yourself going to the mall to buy your first microphone. You are excited and you are even whistling as you walk along, head turning here and there. Then, you go to the gear shop or music store, and then suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of microphones to choose from. Uh-oh?! Large diaphragm or small diaphragm condenser mic? A ribbon mic? USB mic or shotgun? Dynamic microphone? Shure SM58 or Audio Technica AT2020 or a Samson C02? You just want to grab everything inside the store! You do not know what to pick anymore!

Home studio confusion

What to do?

 

Okay, let us go back to what I said about having way too many choices – the more choices you have, the more expectations you have. If you have plenty of options, there’s a huge risk of having less satisfaction with the end result. If you have a ton of choices, it shifts your focus away from the main goal – which is getting a cheap but great quality microphone. And because too many changes have taken place during the decision-making process, you’d end up purchasing what you did not really expect to buy. Eventually, that causes dissatisfaction and regret. Strategize in narrowing down your choices to limit your options.

There are only two strategies you need to learn to help you limit your options:

1. Be Intentional– like the example above, if you are given a lot of options to choose from, pick only two things. As for the rest, walk away from them. Disregard them. Ignore them.

2. Be Committed – do not stray and do not be swayed. This requires a lot of discipline. It may be tough at first however; the end result will be invaluable. When you are committed to the choice you made, the choice in itself will prove its worth; there will be no room for regrets. There is power in limiting your choices.

Accept That Failure is Part of the Process

This is the second absolute truth. This is another difficult leg in your journey to building your home studio, or in any endeavor as a Music Producer. I am saying this to you point blank because you must know and accept this first hand. Here are some scenarios of failures: You fail to limit your choices. You still want to buy three microphones. You  do not practice mixing on a daily basis. Life is too busy for you. You have plenty of reasons You don’t check your goals for the day. A family problem got in the way. You miss your deadlines. Too many things got out of hand. You fail to do your projects. Procrastination got the best of you.t-edison And it goes on and on. You need to understand this truth. Failure happens. We both know that at least one point in your life, you’ve experienced failure. Failure is painful, excruciating. It causes stress, distress, anxiety, worries, and the worst part is you are constantly reminded of those less than favorable results. Failure can make or break you.

The great thing about failure is that it is just A MINDSET!

Have you noticed how some people become stronger after a failure? You get surprised and wonder how they ever managed to bounce back from disaster. Have you known people in your life who once hit rock bottom, but are now having the time of their lives? It is because these people accept failure as part of the journey to success. They understand that failing is temporary. It doesn’t linger; it is just something you wouldn’t want to skip.  Failing is just telling you that something could have been done differently and that there’s a room for improvement in what you are doing. Your mindset should be this: it is just a step in a much larger process. A smart approach to this is to adapt; fix the mistakes, salvage what you can, then move on to the next step. So if you find yourself committing mistake after mistake in choosing your gear, don’t fret. Figure out why you failed, then CHOOSE to get your act together. Now that you have learned how to overcome overthinking, it is YOUR TURN to become extraordinary. We will now apply these truths in building your home music studio. The change in your mindset is critical in preparing you for this task. It is essential that you read this thoroughly. Better yet, double back and soak it all in one more time. As you build your home studio, you will discover how these truths are imbedded in each step that you will take. How about you? What are your struggles in building your home studio? Can you share by writing on the comments section?

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