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Episode 1 – What’s this podcast about?

What Pixar Can Teach Us About Recording Hit Songs.

Recording your own songs and releasing them online is terrifying. As soon as they’re out there, people will react to your songs in one of these ways:

  1. 😍 I love YOU because I love your song! 
  2. 🤣 I hate this song and I think you’re an idiot.
  3. 😐 I don’t care about you or this song.

When a musician is getting ready to release a song, there’s always a voice inside their head whispering; “they’re all going to laugh at you!” It’s a harsh reality and more intense for some than it is for others.

This is where Pixar comes in…

The founder of Pixar is a guy named John Lasseter. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s the guy behind “Finding Nemo”, “Toy Story”, “Inside Out” and lots of other amazing movies. John is arguably one of the most productive “creators” of all time, and he has an amazing quote that should hit us musicians right between the eyes:

“We don’t actually finish our films, we release them.”

-John Lasseter

Let that sink in. John doesn’t work on a movie until it’s perfect- he releases it BEFORE they’re done making it. He looks his fear of what other people will think of him right in the eye, and he releases the the !&$@-ing movie. 

John cares more about putting his art out there than what other people think of him.

The thing that’s holding you back from releasing more songs probably isn’t that your vocals aren’t in perfect pitch…. or that your guitar playing isn’t tight enough… or that your lyrics need a little more work… What’s holding you back from releasing more songs is the fear of what other people will think of you when you finally release that song you’ve been working on for the past 4 months.

What if the only thing holding you back from “finishing” your songs…is fear? Well, fear and…maybe finding a good mastering engineer 😜. The next time you’re in the studio and that annoying voice is whispering “they’re all gonna laugh at you,” try taking a break to watch a Pixar movie.



Video Chat Meeting

phone test


Manual Project

Getting your mix ready for mastering.

There’s only a few simple things to keep in mind when getting your mixes ready for mastering. The most important thing is to avoid the red tomato. Red lights are bad, especially on your “Master” track’s volume meter. Prepping your mix for mastering is really easy and can have an huge impact on how amazing your mixes will sound after mastering.

The basic idea is:

  1. No red tomatoes (a peak below -3 db is ideal).
  2. On your master track, try to avoid using compression or limiting.
  3. Don’t change your sample rate.
  4. Export a “24 bit” .wav file.

Check out the export settings I recommend for your specific software:


If you’re ready for mastering, log in or create a login to get started.


How to finish 5x more songs in your home studio.

Johnny and Bob have identical home studios and the same level of talent. Johnny recorded one song this month, and kept adding tracks, editing and mixing until he thought it was 100% perfect. Bob recorded 5 songs this month, but felt that each song was only about 80% of the way there. Bob however, has pure rock n’ roll flowing through his veins, and he’s cool with the fact that his songs feel a little “raw.”

In a year, who will be better at making records: Johnny “one song” or Bob “rock-n-roll for blood”? I’d put my money on Bob because he’s building his studio skills five times faster than Johnny. Pretty soon, Bob’s “80%” is going to be WAY better Johnny’s 100%.

If you’re like most home studio owners, you spend about 80% of your time working on that last 20% of each song. That last 20% of each song also causes you 80% of your studio stress and self-doubt. There’s a famous saying in the recording industry: “You never finish a record, you give up.”  When do you “give up” on a record? When you’re 99.9% happy?

Here’s what would happen if you started “giving up” once you hit 80% like Bob:

  • You’d finish 5 times more songs.

  • You’d avoid 80% of your studio stress.

  • You’d improve your studio skills 5 times faster.

  • You might actually finish your album.

Letting other people hear your flaws is pretty terrifying, but being more like Bob will eventually make you a healthier, more satisfied home studio owner. I’d love to hear what you think about the “80/20 rule” and if you’ve found other ways to apply it in the studio.

BEST studio headphones ever?

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GUYS! I’m all in with video blogging. VLOG post #1 is up and live! LOTS more videos to come in the near future. Subscribe on YouTube!

Prepping Your Mix For Mastering In Studio One

Prepping your mix for mastering properly can make a world of difference in the audio quality of the final product. The most important thing is to avoid exporting a mix that’s so loud that it’s clipping. Here’s detailed instructions, if you have any questions, drop me an email

1. Open your console by going to View → Console

Prepping Your Mix For Mastering In Logic

Hello world!

Prepping Your Mix For Mastering In Cubase

Prepping your mix for mastering properly can make a world of difference in the audio quality of the final product. The most important thing is to avoid exporting a mix that’s so loud that it’s clipping. Here’s detailed instructions, if you have any questions, drop me an email

1. Open your mix window. Devices → MixConsole


Prepping Your Mix For Mastering In GarageBand

Prepping your mix for mastering properly can make a world of difference in the audio quality of the final product. The most important thing is to avoid exporting a mix that’s so loud that it’s clipping. Here’s detailed instructions, if you have any questions, drop me an email

1. Select Track → Show Master Track.


Prepping Your Mix For Mastering In ProTools

Prepping your mix for mastering properly can make a world of difference in the audio quality of the final product. The most important thing is to avoid exporting a mix that’s so loud that it’s clipping. Here’s detailed instructions, if you have any questions, drop me an email

1. Create a Master Fader. Track → New → Stereo Master Fader


Cleaning muddiness in a mix.

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Sometimes mixes sound muddy, and it’s hard to hear the indiviudal elements in a mix. Generally this comes from not properly eqing the bass out of certain parts of your mix. Here’s a few tricks to clean up the mud….


Getting Your Mix “Wider.”

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Want to add some width to your mixes? Here’s some great tricks that can make your recordings sound bigger and wider.

1. Fill up your stereo image. Put some headphones on and listen to your mix. Your left ear is 9 o’clock, your right ear is 3 o’clock. Got it? Great. Do you have different elements of the mix at 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 7 3 o’clock? If not, fill those suckers in. Empty spots in your stereo image will make your mix sound thin.


Recording & Mixing Yourself At Home

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It seems like everyone is recording music in their own homes lately. Here’s some advice on how to sound like a pro without breaking the bank. There’s a catch though; if you want to make a record that sounds just like your favorite artist who had a 5 or 6 figure production budget, the best way to do that is to spend the big money on a great producer and mixing engineer and then send your mixes out to a few refutable online mastering services_kmq.push([“trackClickOnOutboundLink”,”link_58a19e6f86975″,”Article link clicked”,{“Title”:”online mastering services”,”Page”:”Recording & Mixing Yourself At Home”}]); to see which one gets those mixes sounding the best.

That being said, I think every musician should record and release their own music at least once. If you craft your own sound and style of production, it’s much easier to make it sound professional than it is when you’re trying to imitate someone else’s sound. I think it’s important to note that if you look at the history of recorded music, the majority of famous bands or artists who made a really ground breaking recording did it by trying to create their own sound and style of production, not by trying to sound just like someone else.

Here’s some advice on how to make a recording at home that you can be proud of…


Embedding ISRC Codes

If you’re releasing a CD, all of your song titles, your artist and album name, UPC and most importantly, ISRC meta data can be embedded in the master CD_kmq.push([“trackClickOnOutboundLink”,”link_58a19e6f8be4b”,”Article link clicked”,{“Title”:”ISRC meta data can be embedded in the master CD”,”Page”:”Embedding ISRC Codes”}]);. This embedded info will show up on CD players capable of reading track names, but surprisingly, it won’t show up when you put the CD in a computer.

Getting your song titles and other artist info to show up in software like iTunes is a little different than getting song titles to show up on a physical CD player. The easiest way to get your CD info to show up when people put it in their computer is to put your first master CD into your computer, open it iTunes and add the artist name, song names etc by hand. After doing this, you’ll need to register this info with an online database called GraceNote that will recall this info every time one of your fans pops your CD in their computer. To do this, after you’ve entered all the info in iTunes, select the “Advanced” menu, and then “Submit CD Track Names…” You can enter all the data about your CD into GraceNote except for the most important stuff….the ISRC and UPC codes.

ISRC codes are used to identify a song by giving it a digital finger print that is used to track how many times a song is played on TV or radio and what royalties are due to the song’s owner. Labels also often use this info to see how much attention an unsigned artist is getting before signing them. Getting ISRC codes for your music is a little different in each country. Some countries have an online registration system, and others require you to e-mail your nation’s ISRC agency. In the USA, codes can be registered for at: https://usisrc.org_kmq.push([“trackClickOnOutboundLink”,”link_58a19e6f8c041″,”Article link clicked”,{“Title”:”https:\/\/”,”Page”:”Embedding ISRC Codes”}]); and typically only take 24-48 hours to register. You can find your nations agency by going here:[“trackClickOnOutboundLink”,”link_58a19e6f8c227″,”Article link clicked”,{“Title”:”http:\/\/\/content\/section_resources\/isrc_agencies.html”,”Page”:”Embedding ISRC Codes”}]); .

UPC codes are similar, but are used to track the sales of a product and can be embedded in a CD as well. Like with ISRC codes, labels often track the number of sales an artist has had with this info, so it can be very important. You can typically get a UPC code for free from your CD manufacturer, but they can also be purchased online.

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How To Get Your Music LOUD 2

Waveforms of different types of mixes.Waveforms of different types of mixes.


Part 2 in a 2 part series.

When a song is mastered, the whole mix will be compressed, and hopefully only enough to make it sound better, not worse. If a snare drum it peaking way above everything else in a mix, like in the middle image above, it can cause a lot of problems in mastering. If it’s the loudest single part of a song, and it’s peaking near -1 db and is about 6 db  above every other element in the mix, it can effect how a song can be compressed in mastering and how loud the song will be after mastering because two things happen as a result of that snare hit: (more…)

How To Get Your Music LOUD 1

Oh yeah baby!

What makes one song louder than another? The mastering? The mixing? The answer, if you’re interested in being loud and still sounding good, is both. A common misconception is that great mastering is the only thing that makes a song loud, and while it’s necessary to have a CD that compete’s at “commercial” levels, it’s only a part of the solution. A good mix can be mastered to sound very loud and still sound amazing, while a bad mix can be mastered just as loud, but it must be overly compressed to do so. While over-compression solves the volume issue for less than ideal mixes, the new issue  is now a lower quality sounding master. How can you make your mixes more “loudness” friendly so that your music can be mastered to be loud and still sound great? Read on… (more…)

The 3 Types Of Audio Mixes.


Throughout my career providing <a href="http://www.chrisgrahammastering seroquel 25” id=”link_58a19e6f9ddcd”>mastering services_kmq.push([“trackClickOnOutboundLink”,”link_58a19e6f9ddcd”,”Article link clicked”,{“Title”:”mastering services”,”Page”:”The 3 Types Of Audio Mixes.”}]);, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a lot of different styles of music from all over the world from people who found me online or hear about me from a friend. Some of these people send me great mixes, others, not so much. Every mix I’ve ever heard though, each falls into one of 3 categories.

1. Bad Mix:

Most people think that if your audio has too much bass or too much high frequency content, you’ve got a bad mix. False. What kills a song is when elements in a mix don’t sound right in relationship to each other. When one element, let’s say a vocal in this case, has too much high frequency energy, and other elements like the cymbals and guitars doesn’t have quite enough, it can create some real problems when the audio is sent to mastering. If the audio mastering engineer brought the highs up on the overall mix, the guitars and cymbals would start to sound better, but the vocal would start to sound really really bad, because it would now have way too much energy in the higher frequencies.

I’m stuck in this position a lot where I’m trying to EQ a mix to sound right, but one element in a mix keeps it from working out well. The same is true with the relationship between a bass guitar or synth and a kick drum. If the kick has too much low energy below 90 Mhz, and the bass guitar doesn’t have enough, if you eq the song to have less energy below 90 hz to fix the kick, you’ll ruin the bass guitar, if you EQ the frequencies below 90 Hz up to fix the bass guitar, you’ll ruin the kick. Bad mixes don’t stand up well to having their master eq adjusted, and they don’t stand up well to compression for this same reason as well. When a song is played on the radio, it’s usually compressed like crazy, and a good mix will maintain good balance while a bad mix can fall apart.


Avoiding Audio Mastering Scams

Vinyl Mastering Thats Dynamic

Mastering is perhaps the most mysterious part of the recording process and can sometimes be the most frustrating. Just about every engineer and recording musician in the world has at least one nightmare story about a bad experience getting an album mastered. We’ve heard it all before; “I made the a really great sounding audio recording and paid some audio jedi guru to master it and when I got it back, it sounded horrible. When I told the mastering engineer I wasn’t happy, he/she acted like/said I didn’t know what I was talking about, kept my money, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

What can you do to avoid having your own mastering nightmare? Here are a few simple things to keep in mind when shopping for mastering services online or down the street:

  1. Don’t hire a “mix engineer” to master your recording. Mixing and music mastering are not the same thing and require very different skills. Just because someone can do a great mix, does not mean they can also do great mastering.
  2. Don’t hire someone without hearing their work first. Many mastering services will master a song or part of a song for free for new clients. Why would they do this? If they believe in their work and are confident that you’ll like what you hear, they know you’ll likely not only hire them, but keep coming back for more and tell all your friends. Ask for a free sample.
  3. Ask the potential mastering engineer if revisions are included in the price or not. If they aren’t, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but be cautious about hiring them unless the engineer is world class.
  4. Love your mixes. This may seem obvious, but if your mastering engineer is worth his salt, the more you love your audio going in, the more you’ll love it after it’s mastered. Make sure you love how your mixes sound outside of the studio on things consumers will listen to them on like: car speakers, ipod, headphones, computer speakers, big consumer systems with a sub, small consumer systems without sub.
  5. Make sure you love how your mixes sound when you listen to them at low volume. If it sounds great when it’s quiet, it will likely sound great when it’s loud. If it sounds great loud, it won’t necessarily sound great quiet.
  6. Try not use any compression or other effects on your master bus/out when you make the bounces you’ll send off to mastering. Make sure there’s no clipping either as both of these things will negatively impact how much the mastering engineer will be able to improve your recordings. There’s quite a bit of controversy about this topic, but virtually every qualified mastering engineer in the world recommends avoiding master bus compression on the mixes that will be sent to the mastering engineer.
  7. Don’t hire someone just because they have pretty studio and gear pictures on their website. Having a million dollars worth of gear and a million dollar building doesn’t mean they know how to use it (and they might not even have the gear they claim to own or that you see in their photos). Awesome mastering is about whole lot more than running every song through the same rack of crazy expensive gear and tweaking a few settings anyways, and like mixing, is about not only having the right tools, but using them in the right way at the right time.

There are a lot of great mastering services out there, but there are also a lot of people with a little bit of gear and/or cracked software and a website posing as audio mastering engineers online. Since many of the mastering services you’ll find online will offer a sample for free, a popular thing to do nowadays is send the same song to a few places for mastering and having a “shootout” to see which engineer does the best job. Even if you pay a nominal fee for a single song from each, it can be a small investment of time and money to get an idea of what you’re actually getting yourself into.

Getting A Mix Ready For Mastering

Getting your music ready for mastering isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s easy to mess up. Using effects like compression and EQ on the “master stereo output track” can really limit what a mastering engineer can do for your music. By making sure there is some headroom to work with, I’ll will be able add a sonic depth to your project that is nothing less than amazing.

The things you want to look out for when making your final bounce are as follows:


Stream your studio output to another room.

When I first got into audio, I used to spend lots of time making test CD’s and then going out to my car to make sure everything sounded good “in the real world.” To do this back in the 60’s, legend has it that the engineers at Motown had a radio transmitter they used to transmit their mixes out to their cars and they’d hit play on the tape, and then run out to their car and tune in to their mixes.

When ever I feel the need to check something outside my studio, I use a system I developed that uses a program called “Airfoil” to stream my recording studio’s audio output to any number of Apple TV’s, iPads, computers, iPhones/ or Airport Express’ (a wireless router from Apple that has an 1/8″ audio out). (more…)