Blog Archives

Bobby Owsinski presents Music 4.0

Music 4.0 is a guide to help up-and-coming music makers to navigate the music industry in an increasingly digital age. In its introduction, author Bobby Owsinski describes how this book has evolved from his previous Music Pro Guides:

“Welcome to the third edition of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s now called Music 4.0, and that’s because the industry has continued to change at a record pace and has now evolved to the next level of evolution.

I originally decided to write this book precisely because the music world was changing so much. Oh, it’s always been evolving, but the speed of the industry’s remodeling has increased at a rate previously unimagined. It would be nice to say that this change is brought about by a leap in musical creativity, but that’s not the case. This metamor- phosis has been caused by technology.

The Internet has brought us so many conveniences and so many new ways of living our lives, having fun, and communicating with those we know and don’t know that we sometimes don’t appreciate how quickly it’s all come about. It’s also brought us so many choices in the way we make music and ultimately make it available that, unfortunately, it’s also left most artists and music makers dazed and confused with all the seemingly endless options. What should I do? How can I do it? Who are my customers and fans? What do they want from me? How do I reach them? How do I take advantage of all these choices? How am I going to make money? These are all questions that an artist might have had previously, but the relevancy and urgency have only increased with the current times.

I came up with the concept of the original Music 3.0 edition after writing a post on my production blog (; there’s now also in which I discussed the current woes of not only the music business, but especially the artists who are just trying to do the thing they love most—play music. I know that some artists have grand ambitions to be the next Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Jay-Z, Coldplay, or any number of best-selling acts. Sometimes artists crave fame a lot more than they yearn to make the kind of music that will attract and keep fans for the long term. These musicians seem to be the ones that burn out of the business the fastest, once they realize how much work they really have to put in.

The vast majority of artists aren’t like that. They love what they do and are supremely happy when they find others that love what they do too. For them, just being able to make music without having to work a job on the side is considered a success. If that describes you, I hear you and feel you. Reading this book might not get you there, but it can set you on your way. Knowledge is power—and that phrase has never been truer than in the current music stage that I call “Music 4.0.” The possibilities for what can happen to your music are endless, but you’ve got to know how to take advantage of those possibilities before you can put them into action.”

5 Social Media Myths Busted

Bobby OwsinskiGuest Blogger: Bobby Owsinski, author of helpful music guides such as Music 3.0 or The Music Producer’s HandbookBelow is an excerpt from his music industry blog, Music 3.0.

There’s a lot of myths when it comes to social media, and most continue to be retold as truths. Let’s bust 5 of the bigger ones. I’ve personally busted these with my own testing, but there’s a lot of research to back them up as well.

Myth 1: Get as many friends/followers as you can. What good is it if you have 30,000 Twitter followers and only 30 care about what you’re posting? The quality of these friends and followers is more important than the quantity.

Myth 2: The more you post, the better. Study after study has found that the less you post, the more effective it is. Once again, it’s the quality of the post that counts, not the quantity.

Myth 3: You should focus on social media and forget about your website. If fact, your website should be the center of your online universe and all of your social media sites should point to it.

For the last two myths, go to Bobby’s blog, Music 3.0!


Music 3.0:  A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age is a completely updated edition of the original best seller, featuring the latest music business and social media concepts as well as brand-new interviews with a variety of the industry’s top movers and shakers.

Tips for Worship Drummers

Carl Albrecht is the author of The Worship Drum Book. Here are some video tutorial excerpts from the DVD.


Basic Snare Tuning & Wire Adjustments

Kick Drum Tuning

Tom Tuning and Pitch Interval Choices 

Find more great tutorials on our MusicPro Guides YouTube channel!

The Worship Drum Book 

The Worship Drum Book: Concepts to Empower Excellence is a powerful guide for drummers in contemporary churches and for drummers in traditional churches who are making the transition from worship supported by organ or piano to worship supported by a full rhythm section.

With over 30 years of experience in the modern worship movement, author Carl Albrecht has a vast knowledge of what drummers need to know to adapt to modern music’s being brought into the church. The adoption of drums into church worship services is sometimes a very controversial issue, so Albrecht shares ways that drummers can be sensitive to the congregation and leaders and yet play with authority and confidence.

Developing great drumming skills along with an understanding of spiritual matters is of the utmost importance. Therefore, while this book addresses important traditional drumming techniques and concepts, it also explains the unique role that drummers – or musicians of any sort – have as minstrels in the house of the Lord.

In this book, Albrecht also shares concepts to help touring music groups and worship artists who are called outside the church walls. He and his wife, Leann, minister to churches and worshippers all around the world while also sharing an active ministry in their home church in Nashville.

A Cappella Group Checklist

deke4Guest Blogger: Deke Sharon, co-author of A Cappella Arranging, shares some insights on forming a successful a cappella group. Visit his blog for the full list.

Got a note from an ambassador wanting to take his region to the next level. He’s got multiple a cappella festivals, a harmony sweepstakes, ICCAs… but knows that a city’s reputation starts and ends with its local groups.

So, this got me thinking: what elements are needed, and which things don’t matter quite as much? Thinking out loud:
(note: this is not for all a cappella groups, but rather those that have a chance of blowing up in today’s media)


Yes, everyone in your group must be able to sing well, but not all of them need to be amazing soloists. What do I mean by “amazing soloist”? A lead voice so compelling you would buy this person’s solo album: Jeremy Lister. Scott Hoying. Margareta Bengtson/Jalkeus. Jerry Lawson. The group can share solos, but you need at least one person whose voice is world class.


You’ll have an easier time building a blend if you create a group around similar voices, but it’s definitely not necessary. You can be Take 6 or you can be Straight No Chaser. Both are winning formulas.


After the soloist, the second loudest element in all popular music is the bass. That’s how it should be in your group’s mix as well, and that voice should be as low and as powerful as possible. The octave pedal can work, but if your group name isn’t a palindrome (hello, Sonos!), I don’t like your chances.


Not every contemporary group features vocal percussion. If you’ve got one, great. If that’s not part of your sound, not a deal breaker.


Your ensemble will likely have more success with cover tunes than original tunes early on, but eventually having music that you’re known for will become essential to keep you from simply being a cover band in the eyes of the public. Note that this isn’t always an original song, but it can be: Straight No Chaser has found success with both “The Christmas Can Can” (old music, new lyrics, new concept), and “Who Stole The Egg Nog” (entirely new). An original arrangement can serve this purpose, but it has to be as arresting and memorable as, say, the remake of “Mad World.”


Yes, it’s excellent if your group has a new sound or approach, but I have to admit, there are plenty of bios boasting a sound and style unheard ever before in a cappella, and most fall short. Don’t tell the world you’re different. Show them. Don’t focus on being amazingly different. Just be amazing. Not convinced? Nothing about Pentatonix on paper looks much different from many other groups. There’s no huge fundamental concept behind it all, but the way they do what they do has indeed become revolutionary, and inspired millions.

Keep reading on Deke Sharon’s blog!

A Cappella Arranging

The world loves to sing. From barbershop groups to madrigal choirs to vocal rock bands, there are tens of thousands of vocal groups in America. The success of mainstream television programs such as Glee and The Sing-Off not only demonstrates the rising popularity of vocal music; it reflects how current trends inspire others to join in. In addition, through various online and on-the-ground vocal music societies, the “a cappella market” is well defined and well connected. Like singing itself, a cappella is a global phenomenon.

At the heart of every vocal group is the music it performs. This often means writing its own arrangements of popular or traditional songs. This book is the long-awaited definitive work on the subject, wide ranging both in its scope and in its target audience – which spans beginners, music students, and community groups to professional and semi-professional performers, vocal/instrumental songwriters, composers, and producers – providing genre-specific insight on a cappella writing.

The tone of the book is instructive and informative, yet conversational: it is intended to stand alongside any academic publication while remaining interesting and fun. A Cappella Arranging is a good textbook – and a “good read” – for every vocal arranger, whether amateur or professional; every vocal music classroom, and any professional recording studio.

More Tips for Studio One Users

William Edstrom Jr. is the author of Studio One for Engineers and Producers.  Here are some video tutorial excerpts from the DVD.  For more tips on Studio One, check out this post about Larry the O’s series, Power Tools for Studio One 2.  


Setting Tempo of Imported Audio Tutorial

Comping Example

Audio Bend Examples

Find more great tutorials for DAWS software and other music-related skills on our MusicPro Guides YouTube channel!

Studio One for Engineers and Producers

Studio One for Engineers and Producers is specifically designed to help engineers and producers who are already comfortable using another DAW software platform make the transition to Studio One. Text, illustrations, and video examples (on the accompanying DVD-ROM) demonstrate the creative, practical, and technical benefits provided by PreSonus in this modern, well-developed, flexible, and user-friendly application. All instruction is presented in straightforward and simple language that gets right to the point, taking into consideration the need for amateurs, home studio owners, and commercial professionals to get up to speed very quickly.

This Quick Pro Guide starts by relating Studio One’s layout and functionality to other common DAWs, to identify the most important similarities and differences. It then follows the creative process through the normal progression of a modern recording/production, to help the reader get to work as soon as possible. This new cross-platform (Mac/PC) DAW is built from the ground up for speed, efficiency, and power; Studio One for Engineers and Producers is the perfect tool to shorten the pathway from installation to inspiration!

How Straight No Chaser Changed The Game


Guest Blogger: Deke Sharon is the co-author (with Dylan Bell) of A Cappella Arranging. The following is an excerpt from his blog on Please pay them a visit for more a cappella news and discussions from Deke, who has produced music for the a cappella sensation Straight No Chaser.

They’re the funny Christmas song guys, right?

Yup. And they just sold out a 6,500 seat venue in Connecticut.

When you’re looking at the a cappella landscape over the past decade, no group has changed the game more than Straight No Chaser.

Yes, they were incredibly lucky when Atlantic Records called, but for 99 out of 100 groups, the story ends there. A cute footnote for a few thirtysomethings that had a viral video from a concert that happened decade before.

But it didn’t, because Straight No Chaser is group like no other, re-writing vocal music history year after year. What have they shown the world?

Ten Is Enough (and not too many)

Name a band with 10 people. I can’t. Maybe when you add up background singers and the like, but that’s not the band, that’s the road show. SNC is ten guys, always ten guys. Rock bands are 4 people, and theatrical shows are 30 people. You just don’t see 10 people on stage, and that kind of curiosity can be a deal breaker for promoters. They’re a cappella already… and they also chose a format that’s not done. And yet they made it work. Not only the number of guys was a risk, but…

Thirty Is Not Too Old To Start

Maroon 5 didn’t have their first hit until they were about to throw in the towel, but they don’t act or dress like they’re 30, and they’d been performing for years, building a fan base and learning the ropes. Straight No Chaser’s formula is not kids running around on stage like a band, it’s more like the Rat Pack: classy gentlemen in suits singing songs you love and making you laugh between songs. Sit out your 20s, then start your career in popular music in your 30s? Not done. Impossible. Until now.

To read read Deke’s next 4 reasons, visit this blog post on!

The tone of the book is instructive and informative, yet conversational: it is intended to stand alongside any academic publication while remaining interesting and fun. A Cappella Arranging is a good textbook – and a “good read” – for every vocal arranger, whether amateur or professional; every vocal music classroom, and any professional recording studio.

The Producer’s First Meeting

Guest Blogger: Bobby Owsinski is the author of The Music Producer’s Handbook, one of guides in his Handbook series along with The Touring Musician’s Handbook and The Studio Musician’s Handbook.  Below is an excerpt from his music production blog, The Big Picture.

Almost everyone knows the main phases of an album project (preproduction, tracking, overdubs, mixing, mastering), but the fact of the matter is that there’s one more phase that actually begins the process – the meeting.

That’s where the producer meets with the artist for the first time and they both decide if they like each other, can work together, and most importantly, be creative together. Of course, there may be other meetings before this decision is finally made, but the first one is critical for both the producer and the artist.

The problem is that any times the artist or band doesn’t know exactly what to do or expect (especially one without much experience), so that leaves it up to the producer to guide things. Here are some questions to ask to determine if you’re a good fit with the artist.

What are some of your favorite records? Why?

What are your biggest influences? Why?

What recordings do you like the sound of?

What kind of sound are you looking for?

To read the rest of Bobby O’s questions, visit his blog!

The Music Producer’s Handbook

The Music Producer’s Handbook (another book in Bobby Owsinski’s successful Handbook series) describes in detail the duties and responsibilities of a music producer. In his thoughtful, down-to-earth, and savvy style, Bobby O. brings his wealth of experience to bear in answering the questions faced by all budding music producers: How do I become a producer? How do I get the best out of the musicians or vocalist? How do I get a great mix? How much money can I make? Covering the entire range of producer concerns, from organizing each phase of the production to mastering the final mix, The Music Producer’s Handbook takes a sometimes intimidating and mystifying process and breaks it down to an entertaining tutorial that will fatten the toolkits of professionals as well as novices. As with all the books in the Handbook series, a third of the book is dedicated to exclusive interviews with name producers who share their techniques and stories with the reader. An accompanying DVD takes the viewer through each phase of the production process.




More Tips for Pro Tools 10 Users

Glenn Lorbecki is the author of Power Tools for Pro Tools 10, and 2 books in Hal Leonard’s Quick Pro Guide series, Tracking Instruments and Vocals with Pro Tools and Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools. Below are excerpts from the DVD that comes with Power Tools for Pro Tools 10.


More video tips for Pro Tools 10:
Using Direct Plug-ins

Recording and Playback

See also: Tips for Pro Tools Users from Tracking Instruments and Vocals with Pro Tools

Find more great tutorials for DAWS software and other music-related skills on ourMusicPro Guides YouTube channel!

Power Tools for Pro Tools 10 provides a detailed look inside one of Avid’s most exciting Pro Tools releases yet. Instructor, certified Pro Tools trainer, and award-winning producer/engineer Glenn Lorbecki will walk you through the best ways to get the most of out of Pro Tools 10. See and experience the new features incorporated in this powerful software offering, all the way from the new ways it handles data, memory, and gain functions to some seemingly small updates that make a huge difference in your productivity. This focused and comprehensive guide provides excellent instruction in the newest Pro Tools 10 features; at the same time, it establishes a foundation of technical and creative protocol that will help beginning and intermediate users – as well as seasoned professionals – establish the most expedient work flow while recording, processing, and mixing the highest quality audio.

Happy National Barbershop Quartet Day!


Celebrating National Barbershop Quartet Day, here is a recent blog post from one of our a cappella experts…

Guest Blogger: Deke Sharon is the co-author (with Dylan Bell) of A Cappella Arranging. The following is an excerpt from his blog on Please pay them a visit for more a cappella news and discussions from Deke.

BOSS: A Little Bit Of Magic

It doesn’t make sense, at least on paper.

A cappella is at its best when precise, when clean and rich; an impressive, well balanced array of sounds akin to popular music with instruments.

Why then would I get up on stage and perform music I haven’t rehearsed? Music I perhaps don’t even know?

Well, it all started a decade ago in a town called Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. The House Jacks were performing for a packed club (“Pumpwerk,” a former waterworks of some kind), at which we were told a couple hundred of the attendees were all from the same company.

Northern Germans speak English better than most Americans (!), so we conduct our entire show in English, joking with the crowd between songs, and I recall the banter that night was particularly cheeky, probably due to the audiences obvious inebriation. Garth, our tenor at the time, stepped forward and said “our next song will be” and someone from the audience yelled “Great Balls of Fire!”

Ha. No.

“It will be…” and the song requests kept coming. Couldn’t finish the sentence. So, when someone yelled out “James Brown I Feel Good” we said “Fine!”, playing along with the joke.

And you know what? It was pretty good. So we took another request. And another. And the audience went WILD.

To read keep reading this article, visit this blog post on!

The tone of the book is instructive and informative, yet conversational: it is intended to stand alongside any academic publication while remaining interesting and fun. A Cappella Arranging is a good textbook – and a “good read” – for every vocal arranger, whether amateur or professional; every vocal music classroom, and any professional recording studio.

8 Contemporary A Cappella Coaching Tools

deke4Guest Blogger: Deke Sharon is the co-author (with Dylan Bell) of A Cappella Arranging. The following is an excerpt from his blog on Please pay them a visit for more a cappella news and discussions from Deke.

I looked at the clinician list for BOSS 2013 and thought “Holy moly! There are dozens if not hundreds of contemporary a cappella coaches now!” So encouraging, so exciting!

Alas, there’s literally no training program for coaches, no formal pedagogy. I assume they’re all just sharing the lessons they’ve learned as singers and directors, as I do.

To that end, I’d like to share with them, and with you, a few of the hard-leaned lessons and perspectives I’ve assimilated over 20+ years of working with groups. No need for me to mention the obvious musical techniques (tuning a chord, blending vowels, etc), as that’s easy to find. Instead, I offer a few thoughts to help round out a coaches approach, technique and toolkit:

The Big Picture

Music is communication, and as each piece of music has a particular message and mood, the myriad decisions there are to make around a particular song and arrangement should all point to the song’s central emotional focus. This is easy to conceptualize, but I find it alarming how often directors lose sight of this fact. Why did you choose this move? Why are you singing this chord in this way? “Because it looks/sounds good” or “because I like it” are not acceptable answers, especially in light  of a young director’s desire for perfection above (more on this later).

If I’m working with a group and I feel nothing when they’ve sung the song for me, my very first act is to make sure the group both understands the song’s meaning and has a clear emotional goal for the song. If it’s not clear, we discuss the lyrics, and I invite the singers to discuss their own related experiences and feelings. At the end of such a discussion, it’s very helpful to summarize in a few words, like “big crazy circus” or “gentle melancholy stream.” The specific words will be a trigger, something the director can mention when playing the pitch, just before starting the song, to help the group focus it’s emotional delivery.

Show AND Tell

There’s an oft-spoken adage in writing – “show, don’t tell” – that definitely carries an important message: use words to create a feeling rather than simply state what a character feels. Expanding this idea into coaching, I urge you not only to explain to your group how they should feel, but to reflect that feeling in your own tone of voice, your own gestures, your own mood. Create the moment yourself as you’re urging your singers to find it. In essence, you’re called upon to act while you direct, just as you’re asking your singers to do the same when they sing. Wave your arms and jump around, slump your shoulders and speak more quietly… whatever it takes. Change the mood in the room to reflect the song, and help your singers find the moment.

To read Deke’s next 6 tools, visit this blog post on!

The tone of the book is instructive and informative, yet conversational: it is intended to stand alongside any academic publication while remaining interesting and fun. A Cappella Arranging is a good textbook – and a “good read” – for every vocal arranger, whether amateur or professional; every vocal music classroom, and any professional recording studio.