How to Release Music in 2021: What Performance Rights Organizations Do

In our last post, we discussed the different types of music royalties and gave a general overview on how you, as a musician, can be compensated for your art. In this one, we will look more closely at the roles and responsibilities of a key player in the royalties pipeline: Performance Rights Organizations (PRO’s.)

 

What is a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) and What Do They Do?

Here is a short overview of what PRO’s do:

 

  1. Sell blanket public performance licenses to copyrighted pieces of music to venues, terrestrial radio, broadcasters, etc. Believe it or not, even sidewalk buskers must be covered by these licenses.
  2. Track any public performances of a copyrighted piece of music and collect royalties generated by them. This is done via “cue sheets,” which are documents listing every time a piece of music is publicly performed. Believe it or not, even sidewalk buskers must provide these to PRO’s!
  3. Enforce the proper use of a recorded piece of copyrighted music according to the license terms.
  4. Distribute collected royalties to the copyright holder(s.)

 

An important thing to note for artists in the United States: with one exception, which we will address below, PRO’s do not collect mechanical royalties, which is income generated by the sale of reproducible copies of a copyrighted work—this includes everything from LPs and CDs to digital streams. PRO’s are solely concerned with income generated by public performances of a copyrighted work.

 

Which PRO is right for you?

Deciding which PRO to sign with might be one of the most important choices you make early in your career. As you cannot sign with more than one PRO at once, it’s important to be familiar with each one and what they offer. Here is a short overview of the four most popular PRO’s in the United States and what they can do for you:

 

  • ASCAP: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers was founded in 1914, and is thought to be the first organization of its kind in the United States. It represents over 700,000 songwriters, composers, and publishers, with a catalogue of over 11.5 million compositions. They operate on a “not for profit” basis, meaning that around 88 cents of every dollar collected is distributed back to members. Read more about their breakdown here. Anyone can register with ASCAP, however there is now a one-time $50 registration fee, after which the contract renews yearly with no additional payment required.

 

  • BMI: Broadcast Music, Inc. is the main competitor to ASCAP. It was founded in 1939 and is currently the largest PRO in the country with a catalogue allegedly numbering over 15 million compositions covering all genres. They have an in-depth FAQ on their website covering all aspects of their business for authors and users (those who are looking to license songs from their catalogue.) Like ASCAP, BMI operates as a not-for-profit enterprise, is open for anyone to register, and pays out around 88 cents of every dollar collected. Unlike ASCAP, there is no fee to register with BMI.

 

  • SESAC - Unlike BMI or ASCAP, SESAC operates as a for-profit organization, which means they keep part of the generated royalties. One must also be approved to join the organization—they do not accept unsolicited applications, so you would need to engage a publishing company or manager in order to apply. Their ranks are currently small compared to their competitors, numbering around 30,000 members. However, in 2015, SESAC acquired the Harry Fox Agency—an organization dedicated to collecting mechanical rights—therefore becoming the only PRO that can collect mechanical royalties in addition to performance royalties.

 

  • AMRA - The newest PRO, AMRA was founded in 2014 and is focused on collecting royalties from streaming services and paying creators directly. As digital streaming is currently the most popular way to consume music, it will be interesting to see how this PRO grows in the years to come.

 

If this feels like a lot of information, it is! However, even being slightly familiar with PRO’s and what to expect from them can help you make an informed decision, which ultimately means more money in your pocket. 

 

In our next post, we will give an overview of the relationship between music publishing rights (e.g. how royalties generated by compositions are divided) and distribution platforms, which are the services responsible for getting your music into the ears of listeners around the world—and why it’s very important to secure both.

 


BCD-1

The 5 Best Podcast Microphones For Your Money


Whether you’re just getting started with podcasting or an experienced voice looking to upgrade your current setup, the microphone will probably be your most important purchase. To help you sort through the endless choices for podcast microphones on the web, we’ve narrowed them down to the 5 best values for podcasters, considering both specs and budget.

 

Next to each entry, you’ll see a ‘manufacturer’s suggested retail price’ (MSRP). It reflects the price suggested by its creator, which might be different from the vendor’s.

 

1. MXL BCD-1 Dynamic Broadcast Microphone (MSRP $150) 

Yep, this IS our mic. We are of course really proud of the BCD-1 and we stand behind its top-tier quality and unmatched value.

The BCD-1 is perfect for creators just starting out with podcasting as well as veterans looking to upgrade. 

 

Pros:

  • Working straight out of the box, the BCD-1 is a versatile and professional mic with ample gain that can make any recording full, crisp, and clear.
  • An efficient design allows the BCD-1 to be used with a variety of microphone preamps without the need for additional signal boosters.    
  • While the BCD-1 is tailored for professional use, it is also designed with the MXL belief that professional-grade quality should be accessible to everyone. As a result, the BCD-1 provides the same specs and value as mics with a higher price tag. 

 Cons:

  • It’s not a USB mic, but this is easily remedied with an interface or Mic Mate Pro .

 

 2. Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone (MSRP: $400) 

The SM7B is a vocal microphone that was famously used by Michael Jackson (and many, many others). It has the backing of Shure, one of one of the oldest microphone manufacturers in existence. This mic was originally released in 1973 and has only undergone one significant design change in almost 50 years.

 

Pros: 

  • Shure has been creating audio parts for 96 years, making them one of the oldest, most trusted brands in this industry. 
  • The SM7B pushes the sound you’d expect from a $400 microphone.  The cost reflects its usefulness in high-end productions and its durable materials.

 Cons:

  • The SM7B price tag might be outside the budget of many aspiring podcasters, especially when there are less expensive options that provide similar quality.
  • The SM7B is known to have a low output, requiring extra equipment like a Cloudlifter that sells for $150 to boost its gain.

 

 3. Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Announcer Microphone (MSRP: $450) 

 

The RE20 is a high-end microphone considered a broadcast industry standard. It is manufactured by Electro-Voice, a company that has manufactured microphones since 1930.

 

Pros:

  • The technology included in the RE20 fulfills the promise of its price, including the company’s proprietary Variable-D design. Its cardioid polar pattern and high Frequency Response place it on par with most high-end microphones.

 Cons:

  • Even more expensive than the SM7B, the RE20’s price tag puts it outside the range of many and-and-coming podcasters. 

 

4.  Audio-Technica BP40 Large-Diaphragm Dynamic Broadcast Microphone (MSRP: $350)

 

This is a dynamic broadcast microphone produced by Japanese audio equipment manufacturer Audio Technica. The company has sold microphones and other audio hardware since 1962.

 

Pros:

  • The BP40 provides a solid amount of technology, which should be expected from a $350 microphone, including internal pop filters and a humbucking element to prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI).

 Cons:

  • The price tag of the BP40 is high for a mic that delivers similar specs to less-expensive options. 
  • The BP40 is made up of solid materials, but this makes it more cumbersome than most mics, and adds to its price.

 

5. Blue Snowball  USB Microphone (MSRP: $60) 

The Snowball is an inexpensive microphone for podcasters who are working off a tight budget, since it is one of the least expensive microphone’s you’ll find in the larger market. 

 

Pros:

  • At just sixty bucks, the Snowball is ideal for a beginner podcaster working out the logistics of productions. 
  • The circular design of the Snowball is quite unique, especially if you’re after a microphone that also works as decoration.  It’s also practical, capable of decent 360-degree recordings.

 Cons:

  • The low price point of the Snowball is great for creators on a tight budget, but the quality might not meet the professional standards for podcasters looking to grow in the long-term. 

Royalties

How to Release Music in 2021: Understanding Royalties

Understanding how royalties work can be one of the most complex and often confusing aspects of being a musician, but it’s imperative to be familiar with them—after all, it’s how you get paid. As music royalties are sliced more ways than a birthday cake, this guide will start with the highest level before delving into the more intricate elements of copyright and royalties, focusing on where the money goes, who it goes to, and how it gets there.

 

What Are Royalties, Actually?

First, let’s define what royalties actually are: Music royalties are payments received by rights holders of a piece of music (composers, performers, and their representatives) in exchange for licensed use of the work by, for example, a radio station, a television show, or a streaming platform. They are sometimes collected directly by the rights holder themselves, but more often than not are paid through an intermediary called a Performance Rights Organization, generally abbreviated as “PRO.” The most commonly used PRO’s are the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) We will cover PRO’s and what they do more in-depth in a second article, but all you need to know right now is that they are the intermediary between artist and consumer, responsible for collecting and distributing royalties on behalf of the copyright holders.

 

The Different Kinds of Music Copyrights

Next, it’s important to understand there are two different kinds of music copyrights and they each generate different types of royalties. They are: publishing rights and master rights. In most basic terms, publishing rights are held by the person or persons who wrote the piece of music and cover harmony, melody, and lyrics. Master rights are concerned with a specific sound recording of the composition e.g. what one would hear on an album, MP3, video performance, etc. Master rights are sometimes held by the record label who paid for the recording session according to the terms of the contract they have with the artist, but independent musicians usually hold the rights to their own masters. 

 

The Different Types of Music Royalties

Now that we’ve defined music copyrights, let’s look into the different types of royalties paid for them. Depending on which copyright you hold, you are eligible to receive different types of royalties.

 

  • Mechanical Royalties - These are earned from the purchase of a reproduction of a song in physical or digital form, and are paid directly to the songwriters and copyright owners of a particular piece of music. The term “mechanical” is a holdover from the era when music sales were confined to physical media such as cassettes and CDs, but nowadays has been expanded to include digital sales.
  • Public Performance Royalties - These are paid out to publishing rights holders whenever a song is performed live or broadcast in any sort of commercial setting e.g. on the radio, at a venue or club, in a shop, at Starbucks, etc.
  • Neighboring Rights Royalties - This one sounds trickier than it is. The easiest way to explain them is that they are “next to” public performance royalties in that they are paid to master rights holders rather than publishing rights holders. However, these royalties are also dependent on local legislation. Some countries—notably the United States—does not require neighboring rights royalties to be paid in addition to public performance royalties.
  • Digital Performance Royalties - These are royalties due to performing artists whenever their songs are played on non-interactive digital radio stations such as Pandora.
  • Synchronization Licensing Royalties - These apply whenever a song is used during advertisements, on television programs, as background music in a movie, in video games etc. If a specific version of the song is used, royalties will be paid to both the holders of publishing rights and master rights.
  • Streaming Royalties - The newest type of music royalty, streaming payouts are calculated at a different rate depending on the platform—e.g. Spotify pays a different rate from Tidal, etc.— which is something you should be aware of when deciding which platform to put most of your effort behind. In contrast to the digital performance royalties paid by non-interactive platforms such as Pandora, this royalty applies to “interactive streaming services,” where the user can choose which song they prefer to listen to. You can get more details on the difference between interactive and non-interactive streaming royalties here.
  • Printed Royalties - These are royalties paid out for the sale of sheet music. Obviously these are not quite as common as they would’ve been in the past, but they still exist.

 

How Royalties Work in Action

With us so far? Now, we’ll take a brief look at royalties in action, following the process from beginning to end. This isn’t an entirely comprehensive overview, but it should give you a general idea of how it works. 

We start with the artist (that’s you!) writing a song. Fabulous. Then you record a version of it. Amazing! You have created two copyrightable works and are the proud owner of both the publishing and master rights—that is, unless the terms of your recording contract says that your label owns some of the rights. This stuff is tricky! But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you own both.

While it’s probably tempting to want to put your song out into the world ASAP, the first step is to register your song with a PRO like ASCAP or BMI. As discussed above, this is an intermediary who will track, collect, and pay out the various royalties owed to you. They’ll do this in exchange for taking a cut from any money generated, but the good news is you’ll be able to negotiate that amount with them. As the owner of the master rights, you will also work with distributors to license your music so it can be heard on the radio, via streaming platforms, etc. 

Great news! Your song is a hit and your music is being played all over the place—television, radio, and Spotify to name a few. This is when it starts to generate several different types of royalties, such as mechanical royalties, public performance royalties, streaming royalties, etc. Cha-ching!

Your PRO of choice now begins to collect the royalties owed along with information as to how those royalties were generated. And then you, along with anyone else you have contracted to help you along the way—be that a record label, a distributor, a PRO—get paid. 

 

Though this is a very simplified overview of how royalties work, don’t be alarmed if it’s still a bit confusing—it’s a complicated topic! However, even a basic grasp on how earnings from music are divided will put you in a better position to understand how to earn money from your music and where that money will come from. In a follow-up post, we will get more specific about distribution platforms, different PRO’s, and even more in-depth about why holding onto your publishing rights is the key to financial success.


Pirate studios

News: Pirate Studios Now Open in LA and New York!

What happens when you’re trying to kick out the late night jams but you don’t want the neighbors to call the cops? You go to Pirate studios. And if you’re in LA like us (Torrance…close enough), you’re in luck, because Pirate has just launched its first two sites in West Adams and Silver Lake! With 24/7 access to studios for DJs, recording, rehearsing, podcasting or dancing, you never have to curb the urge to create again. New Yorkers: good news for you, too! Pirate also has three new studios located in New York –  Bushwick and Gowanus (Brooklyn recording studios) and Ridgewood (Queens recording studios)

Using an innovative contactless and keyless online booking system, Pirate is open all day and all night and offers a range of room types that start from just $10 per hour. All Pirate sites in the US follow a basic design template that works with a particular property’s characteristics to make a space that feels true to its surrounding area, all while offering the gear you need to create. As an example, there are 13 LA recording studios in West Adams — outfitted with studio monitors, audio interface, condenser microphone, MIDI keyboard, and headphones — as well as two podcast studios, six small and two large DJ rooms and three rehearsal rooms. For most sessions, all you need to bring is a laptop and USB cable and then simply plug in and play. 

In addition, all Pirate music studios follow strict Covid-19 government guidelines to ensure their customers can create in a safe and comfortable environment.  

As a part of the LA sites opening MXL is stoked to offer you 20% off your first studio session! Head over to PIRATE.COM & enter the code: mxlpirate20 upon sign-up or checkout. Get loud!

 

Pirate’s new U.S. studios are located at:

LA West Adams – 4713 West Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016

LA Silver Lake – 2807 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

NYC Gowanus – 156, 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA

NYC Ridgewood – 1519 Decatur St, Ridgewood, Queens, NY 11385, USA

NYC Bushwick – 110 Scott Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA


Artist Lisa Murray

Interview: Lisa Murray on Growing Her Music Career in Rural Ireland

Growing up with an obsession for music, it was written in the stars that Lisa Murray would make a career out of her passion. Murray received a bachelor’s degree in Music and Modern Irish from Trinity College Dublin as well as a master’s degree in Music Production, Technology and Innovation from Berklee College of Music.

Murray lives in the countryside of Ireland, and when she’s not singing, playing an instrument or producing music, she can be found immersed in nature. Additionally, Murray is very involved in women's empowerment initiatives and holds the position of chapter director for shesaid.so Dublin as well as fulfilling a myriad of roles within She Knows Tech.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in music.

A: I started playing piano when I was seven and immediately fell in love. I was the type of kid who would hear a new song on the radio, sing along and learn every word—I’ve always had a musical ear and a natural ability and affinity for music. So, then I went on and taught myself guitar and the ukulele, and just dove deeply into whatever instruments I could find. Then, in my early teenage years, I started performing live—in local music and theater productions—and I absolutely fell in love with being on stage. 

When it came to deciding what I wanted to study at university, I knew music was my path. Initially, I thought I wanted to be a film composer and be the next Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer, but as soon as we did a project in the music tech department, and I got to actually see how music is made—from setting up the microphones to mixing the track—I decided music technology was the right path for me. 

Q: What have you been working on recently?

A: Over the years, I’ve spent the majority of my time producing and engineering tracks for other clients, but over the past year specifically, I’ve been focusing more on making my own music. I've been really building out my catalog and defining my sound. I’m focused on taking time to hone-in on where I want to sit sonically as a self-producing artist and develop my sound identity.

Q: What inspires you as an artist?

A: Living in the middle of the countryside in Ireland, surrounded by fields and cows, sheep and goats, I find inspiration in the downtime. It gives me the opportunity to connect with myself on a deeper level and focus on making long-term creative decisions.

Artist Lisa Murray

Q: When did you first hear about MXL? 

A: The first-ever mics I used were MXL’s—it was on a recording project I did at Trinity in the music tech department, and I ended up choosing the MXL 2006 condenser mic to record my entire thesis project, which was a pop music production. Then, I was accepted to Berklee on their “Outstanding Woman” scholarship, which was a dream come true. I had the pleasure of being mentored by Sylvia Massy, and she introduced me to the MXL 990 condenser mic.  In addition to the MXL 990, I also have the MXL CR89. The 990 is fantastic and I use it all of the time for both vocal and instrument tracking, but when I got the CR89 I was completely blown away. The sound capture is so clear and open, especially on vocals. Sometimes I’ll use the CR89 to track ukulele and vocals simultaneously, and there’s no need for anything else, which is amazing.

Artist Lisa Murray holding MXL mics

 

Q: COVID lockdown – yay or nay? 

A: I was actually in the middle of my master’s program when the pandemic struck, so I ended up going back home to the countryside in Ireland where I completed my degree remotely. At the time, I had absolutely no equipment of my own because I went from working in the studios at Trinity to working in the studios at Berklee. So, I had to slowly build my own home studio as I was going along. 

I was on a tight budget, so I spoke with Sylvia to see what she would recommend, and she said to me “you should get the MXL 990 because that microphone sounds like it’s worth so much more than it costs—it’s truly the best budget microphone.” So, of course, I immediately placed my order for the 990, and when it arrived, I built my own vocal booth out of pillows and blankets and whatever else I could find in my bedroom. Then I proceeded to record my entire Berklee master’s project with my MXL 990 and it was great. 

One really unique thing about this time is that I was able to collaborate and work on great projects with people from all over the world, in the comfort of my home studio, where I can do everything aside from mastering. I get my mastering done by Piper Payne, who's an amazing mastering engineer based in Nashville. I pride myself on having an all-female team, I love that for my music.

Q: Best advice to other artists/producers/engineers trying to get started? 

A: Go for it. Nobody knows what they’re doing when they first start out, so don’t get discouraged. In the beginning, you might be confused about what buttons to press or what plugs into what, but there are so many great resources out there. Don’t be afraid to network with people in the field, you’d be surprised how willing people are to help.

I work for She Knows Tech and shesaid.so and we do so much work in bridging the gender gap in the music tech industry. I’m also seeing so many more female-fronted initiatives popping up that you can turn to for questions or advice. Even if somebody knows every single microphone in the book, and you’re intimidated by those lists, don’t worry. It’s not about what you know, it's about how you can creatively apply your skills and define your standards.

Q: What other projects do you have coming down the pipeline?

A: As Ireland continues to open back up, I hope to start doing a lot more live shows. The Irish music scene is all about live performances. Pre-pandemic, everywhere you go, no matter what night of the week, each pub has a musician jamming out in the corner. I can’t wait for the music culture to return to the streets of Ireland and be a part of it. I’m also releasing my own original music this summer, and my debut single ‘The Kind of Girl’ came out in May and is available on all streaming platforms. I was blown away by the success of this first release, hitting over 10,000 streams on Spotify in one week and getting a lot of radio play in Ireland. I’m excited to continue to grow my artist project and keep making music.

 

Check out more from Lisa Murray:

Spotify

Instagram

She Knows Tech

 

 

Written by: Courtney Grieco

 

 


Podcasting setup

How to Release Music in 2021: First Steps

So you’ve recorded a new album and are ready to release it into the world. First of all, congratulations! Being an artist in 2021 is no easy task and putting out your art for public consumption is always a commendable act, so kudos to you. Here are a few things to do before you release your music in order to have the greatest chance of being heard.

1. Pick a Release Date
Friday is the industry-wide release day, but thanks to the plethora of self-distribution platforms at your disposal, don’t feel beholden to any particular release schedule. Whatever date you choose, give yourself about 6-8 weeks lead time.

2. Format and Title Your Music Properly
Almost all streaming platforms require CD quality .wav files and have various file and image size requirements when it comes to cover art, so make sure you prepare all your files. Also, look over the titles to make sure there are no errors and the track listing is correct.

3. Figure Out Distribution
You’ll want your music to hit every streaming platform at the same time on release day. You can upload it to each service individually yourself, but there are also distribution services such as Distrokid or Tunecore that will release it to all of them on your behalf.

4. Get Your Press Materials Ready
An electronic press kit (EPK) is an efficient way to collect all the important info about your music into one place. Include a short artist bio, a photo, and some information about the song or record you are releasing to send over to press people or music writers you’d like to have listen to it.

5. Devise a Marketing Strategy
You can go as big or small as you want with marketing. If you have a budget, consider hiring a PR company to pitch your song to music blogs. They can be a lot more affordable than you think! Or you can opt to do all the marketing yourself, using resources like www.muckrack.com to make a list of writers and editors you think would enjoy your music. Marketing is often the least fun part of releasing new music, but sometimes if you can find the perfect person to connect with your music, many doors will open to you.

6. Hype Yourself
Once you have all of the above sorted out, get ready to hype yourself up. Have fun with it! Try out different social media networks and figure out different strategies to get people excited to hear your music. Some people enjoy making short music videos or releasing clips of music on the days leading up to release. Other prefer engaging with fans directly via tools like Instagram Live. The possibilities are endless and limited only to your imagination and time.

 

 


Drum Microphones and Recording Drums: 6 Things You Need To Know

Whether you’re a drummer, producer, engineer or general musician, knowing which drum mics to use and how to use them is essential to getting a great drum recording. At MXL, we have some tips and tricks for recording drums that anyone can deploy to take their craft to the next level.

1) If your drums sound bad, even the best drum microphones in the world won’t help.
You need to make sure your drums sound good in your room. Taking the time to tune your kit properly can make all the difference. There’s a plethora of “Drum Tuning” tutorials out there, so make sure you brush up on your skills.

2) Before searching for the best drum mics, make sure your drums are in the right place.
Experiment with moving the kit into different parts of the room. To find your sweet spot, try the corner, the back and the front of your space, and listen to how the sound changes (pro tip: avoid the middle).

3) Let’s talk about the kick drum mic.

The kick is your rhythmic center, and you want it to sound “huge” but also controlled. While MXL doesn’t have a specific kick drum mic, many find success with the Revelation Mini FET by placing it directly in front of the kick. It’s also good to get a dynamic mic like the AKG D112 or the Shure Beta 52 and put it in the sound hole or right up against the resonant head (front-side with the logo).

4) Never forget your snare drum mics.
The snare is crucial in obtaining great drum sound; you want the snare to compliment the entire sound and track. Make sure your snare is tuned and ringing just the “right” amount.

We suggest something like the 606 mic, which will capture the fast attack of the drum and provide a lot of detail. Either way, experiment with a few different positions and listen until you find what you think is best (see photo).

5) Dial in your overheads, maybe even try the Glyn Johns technique…
Overheads are how you capture the “whole kit” sound. Usually, you use a right and left mic to do so. One of our favorite techniques is referred to as the Glyn Johns technique. Legendary Producer and Engineer Glyn Johns is THE MAN when it comes to techniques for recording drums. Instead of your typical overhead setup (see photo), Glyn Johns uses slightly different positioning using a mic over the drummers shoulder and one closer to the center of the kit.

Check out this article to dive deeper into the Glyn Johns method. For overheads, we suggest using one of our small diaphragm pairs (CR21, 603) or the new Revelation Mini FET.

6) Be creative and have fun!

The best drum sounds have depth, dimension and layers. Experiment with different room mics, put a mic in another room, maybe even in a bathroom. Use your ears, creativity and some compression and EQ, and you are going to be well on your way to a great drum sound.


Joshua P. Fields is Revamping Home Recording with MXL

Devoted singer/songwriter Joshua P. Fields developed his passion for music at a young age. When he decided to turn his love of music into a professional career, Fields selected MXL Microphones affordable, high-quality microphone solutions for his home studio set up. Honing in on his signature vocal style, Fields was immediately drawn to the clarity and warmth of MXL mics. Over the years, Fields has grown alongside the brand, acquiring its latest and greatest studio microphone offerings and building a complete mic locker of MXL gear.

“When I first began my recording journey, I purchased the MXL 440 Studio Condenser Mic and, shortly thereafter, graduated to the 990,” explains Fields. “Last year, I acquired the REVELATION II Tube Microphone. I still turn to my 990, but the step up to the REVELATION II is astronomical; just when I think MXL can’t possibly get any better, they prove me wrong!”

For Fields, recording tracks with the REVELATION II is his first hands-on experience with a tube mic. Comparing the MXL 990 to the REVELATION II, Fields says he can definitely hear the difference in his mixes. “Working with the REVELATION II tube mic has been incredible. It offers me more versatility when mixing and enhances the detail of my tracks, which allows me to get the exact sound I desire. With the 990, it’s still very crisp and clean, but you’re losing the classic, more detailed tube mic sound that everyone loves.”

Most recently, Fields acquired the brand’s new REVELATION MINI FET microphone and has been loving the big sound that comes out of this compact mic. “Comparing the sound quality of the REVELATION II to the REVELATION MINI, I’m blown away by the fact that I can barely hear a difference using the smaller, FET-based mic,” he adds. “The REV MINI  sounds just as great as its larger predecessor. It’s impressive what these tiny mics can do digitally, without an analog tube. I have a stereo pair and I’ve been recording acoustic guitar and vocals, and the warmth of the tones is awesome. These mics sound really huge for what they are.”

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Fields has upped his social media game, hosting a great deal of content using his arsenal of MXL mics to capture pristine audio. “Transitioning from physical performances to virtual platforms has been an interesting yet educational experience,” he says. “Playing live is always preferred―you can’t beat the electricity and buzz of a live audience in a small venue or bar. This pandemic has really pushed me to expand my social media presence and production value while also paying more attention to how my music is delivered, not just how it sounds. MXL has played a massive role in my journey of enhancing the audio quality of my music, and I look forward to continuing to rely on the brand for years to come.”

Follow Joshua P. Fields on Instagram and Spotify to keep up with his latest work as he continues to create awesome tracks with MXL mics.


10 Tips to Take Your Podcast to the Next Level

Podcasting is one of the fastest growing mediums to enter the realm of media entertainment. According to Inside Radio, since 2015, the number of monthly podcast listeners has more than doubled, increasing 123%. If you’re new to the world of podcasting or looking to improve the quality of your productions, look no further. At MXL, we have a few tips and tricks up our sleeves that will have your audience thinking you’re a podcast pro!

 

1. Identify your goals
Determine the purpose of your podcast. What do you want the focus to be? What messages are you trying to convey? Perhaps your aim is to inspire, maybe it’s to educate, or maybe you’re just looking to spark a conversation with a community that shares your passion. It’s absolutely crucial to pinpoint who your target audience is in order to align the messaging with your goals. Whatever your objective is, remember to always come back to the purpose behind your show.

2. Choose a format
Is your podcast going to be strictly an audio recording, or will there be a video component as well? Also, before you launch the podcast, it’s crucial to determine which platform to host your show on. Some top options are SimpleCast, Podbean, BuzzSprout, SoundCloud and Blubrry .

3. Sound quality
We might be a bit biased, but nothing ruins a podcast quite like a muffled voice, coughing, your dog barking, or a noisy lawn mower that happens to pass by at the most inconvenient times (or is that just us?). We won’t crowd this post with microphone details (although we’d love nothing more), but check out our recent blog post on setting up a home recording studio to make sure you have the best mics and interface for the job. If you’re looking to enhance the audio-quality of your podcast, the MXL BCD-1 is a great choice. As an end-address dynamic microphone with warm, rich tones, the BCD-1 is designed to capture crystal-clear audio and is sure to take your podcast to the next level.

4. Editing
Good editing is key to making your podcast flow and keeping listeners engaged. By editing and cutting your podcast, you can increase how engaging the content is by removing unwanted noises and pauses (“Ums,” “Uhs” and moments of awkward silence), while also removing any unnecessary tangents you may have gotten caught up in. You want your content to flow while being concise and to the point, so it’s crucial to minimize the amount of fluff present in the recording. Some of our favorite editing tools include Pro Tools, Hindenberg, Audacity and Adobe Audition.

5. Planning
You might not want to wing it this time. It’s not necessary to script out every word, as this can be boring and lead to lost engagement. Instead, try listing out the main points you want to cover, and the order you’d like to speak about certain topics. If there are multiple people on your podcast, figure out who is going to say what. This will help to keep you focused in the moment and communicate more efficiently. Some of our favorite tools for content planning include Evernote, One Note, Google Docs or just old school pen and paper.

6. Guests
Featuring guests on your podcast is a great way to bring in another person’s perspective on a topic. Whether you bring them on to give their expert opinion or you’re going for more of a conversational vibe, guest speakers will help further drive your message. However, if you don’t prep your guests, they can potentially derail your podcast from its focus. Whether your guest is with you in person or virtually, it’s important to make sure the kinks are worked out prior to the recording or live stream. It’s helpful to get to know your guest and chat about key discussion points prior to the podcast, as well as familiarizing yourself with the technology involved in the production. This may include video conferencing platforms, microphones, headphones and more. The more comfortable a guest is, the better they’ll perform.

7. Branding
Your podcast is a business, and as for all businesses, branding is an essential element. It’s important to know what fits your podcast and to determine what is on-brand and what isn’t. If you have a show about food and you bring on a political guest, make sure you’re able to merge the two conversations—don’t leave your listeners trying to connect topics and relevance to your brand. Also, remember to make sure all of the content you post follows a consistent aesthetic. We typically turn to tools like Canva or Adobe Spark for this.

8. Digital presence
To promote your podcast consistently, take the extra time to work on a logo and website, as well as increasing your social media presence across various platforms. When posting to social media, try linking back to your website as well as linking back to specific episodes. Not only will this increase your audience’s engagement on your social channels, but it also helps to bring additional eyes and ears to your show.

9. Scheduling
Timing is everything. Whether you’re planning a production schedule or your promotional content for social media, determine a schedule and stick to it. Decide how frequently you want to post to your social channels as well as how frequently you want to launch a new episode, and make sure to stay consistent. If you chose weekly podcasts, it might be best to stick to the same day—this will help your audience remember when to tune in, as opposed to a sporadic schedule.

10. Have some fun
Last but not least, enjoy yourself. If you’re not having fun with your podcast, then what’s the point? Choose topics that excite and interest you. If you’re not passionate about the conversations you’re having, the audience will pick up on this and disengage. To peak your audiences’ interest and keep them coming back for more content, be relatable, tell a joke (or two) and have fun with it.


Jazz Bassist Carlos Henriquez Relies on the Revelation II

Having been raised by a musical family, Carlos Henriquez was destined to find his passion for the performing arts. As a Juilliard Music Advancement Program (MAP) graduate with an impressive resume, Henriquez joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 1998. Over the past 22 years, Henriquez has been touring the world with the orchestra, having been featured on more than 25 albums. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. in March, Henriquez found himself attempting to record music from home for the first time. In need of a high-quality microphone to capture pristine recordings in his makeshift home studio, Henriquez turned to MXL Microphone’s REVELATION II tube microphone.

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Led by internationally acclaimed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra relies solely on acoustics, not using any amplification or monitors while on stage. With this style of recording, microphones are more important than ever. “For our performances, we solely rely on microphones, which are directed by our Acoustic Sound Engineer David Robinson and Audio Engineer Todd Whitelock,” says Henriquez. “When we first began working from home, I had nothing to offer in terms of sound other than my iPhone and laptop. I ended up capturing a couple of recordings on my iPhone, which Todd was able to work with. However, listening back, it was not the high-quality audio that we are accustomed to at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I knew I needed to do something about it."

In his search for a quality microphone to integrate into his project studio, Henriquez turned to Whitelock for advice. “Knowing the importance of microphones for acoustic recordings, I asked Todd for a recommendation for my home setup, and he connected me with Trevor from MXL. After chatting with Trevor about my specific needs, he sent me the REVELATION II mic to test out. As soon as the microphone arrived at my house, I was immediately impressed. From the presentation of the package, to the case the REVELATION II comes in, I could tell this was going to be a solid mic.”

In addition to a high-quality microphone solution, Whitelock suggested Henriquez look into a few other pieces of essential gear such as speakers and a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). “With my new REVELATION II microphone incorporated into my project studio, the audio files I was capturing went up twofold in terms of clarity and quality—even Todd was amazed with how clear everything sounded. What really blew us away with the REVELATION II is the ability to change the polar patterns of the mic. We are seamlessly able to swap back and forth between figure eight, omnidirectional, and cardioid polar patterns. This has been extremely helpful, especially while working from home.”

A standout feature of the REVELATION II for Henriquez is its ability to capture an organic Jazz sound. “Sonically, the genre of jazz carries a lot of history and we often find that as technology advances, the historical sound ends up being altered. For Jazz at Lincoln Center, we have been blown away by the true and organic sound that the REVELATION II captures. With MXL, what you hear is what you get, and the mics do a beautiful job of capturing the true jazz sound that we idolize.”

Henriquez also finds the budget-friendly price tag and plug-and-play capabilities of the REVELATION II microphone to be beneficial for project studio recordings. “You could spend thousands of dollars on antique microphone solutions, but then you also have to spend thousands of dollars on the equipment needed to run them. MXL microphones are designed for users to be able to simply plug in and you’re ready to go! This makes it extremely convenient for a musician to record at home and obtain the same sound quality of expensive antique microphones in a professional studio.”

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In addition to MXL’s product offerings, Henriquez is also a huge fan of the brand. “I’m in love with MXL as a company. I would tell my friends and colleagues, if you go online and search the reviews for MXL’s microphones, you’re going to see the overwhelming, and well-deserved, positive feedback from the industry. It’s also been really amazing to see how MXL has been able to unite musicians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing high-quality and affordable solutions that we can use at home, thus keeping us together musically. With the REVELATION II, I’ve been able to record tracks for other artists and it’s been a really helpful solution and has also been a lot of fun. This is a crucial time in history as we start to find out how companies’ products have a value in bringing people together, and MXL clearly goes above and beyond for its customers. I look forward to continuing to rely on MXL microphones in the years to come.”