Tips From an Engineer: How to Maximize Your Time in the Studio

So you’re ready to hit the studio. What should you do to maximize your time? We spoke with lead engineer Colin Dobash to get some advice. He has spent five years at Demŭn Studios and says it’s always good to be prepared. 

“One way works really well that I’ve noticed — coming in with lyrics already written,” Dobash says. “I would say it makes the workflow a lot faster, just because they’re already done and having to come up with them on the spot definitely takes a lot more time.”

Having a vision of how you want your song to be coming in is very important. Dobash says to also rehearse the song and run it by a friend or another artist if possible. 

“It’s always good to show other people and get feedback before you come into the studio,” Dobash.

Once you’re in the studio, Dobash is happy to offer feedback and assistance. 

“A lot of times the artist will ask, ‘What do you think about this? Does this sound good?’ And you have to give them your honest opinion,” Dobash says. 

Dobash says he will give constructive criticism and pointers ranging from how to stay on rhythm, switching around certain words, re-amping instruments, and adding other elements to make a song better.

“There’s definitely a lot of back and forth between the artist and the engineer, or sometimes people will bring in like a producer and they sometimes help with pitch too,” Dobash says. “If someone’s a little flat or sharp, you kind of have to speak up about that and say, ‘Hey let’s do that again.’ If you’ve been working for the person for a while and you know they could do a better take, speak up, saying like, ‘Let’s do that one more time.'”

He says communication is vital in the studio and in between sessions. 

“There’s a lot of back and forth between the engineer and the artist bouncing ideas back and forth, and the main thing is focusing on what the artist wants and their vision, trying to create that,” Dobash says.

Here are some other ideas to prepare for your time in the studio:

  • Rest up your voice beforehand and warm up. Get a good night’s sleep and drink lots of water. Do some warmup exercises too to be able to hit those high notes and help your voice last longer that day.
  • Get to know your equipment. Find out what everything is used for, and ask an engineer if you have any questions. You should be comfortable using the microphone or anything else needed.
  • Have a plan going in. This is especially important if you’re in a band or recording with a bunch of people. Have a road map of how the session should go so you don’t burn through time and money. Have your arrangements ready so there’s time for any messing around or spontaneity if needed.
  • Have a good attitude and be respectful. Arrive a little bit early so you’re not flustered and can adjust to your surroundings before starting the session. Don’t be rude and berate those you are working with, and respect their time and your own.
  • Bring reference materials. If there’s a specific sound you’re going for, bring an example. Have tracks you like saved on your phone for inspiration or for expressing what you like when you just can’t find the words.
  • Don’t let your session get too crowded. It might seem like a great idea to have a bunch of friends or family cheering you on, but it can be a distraction and can take away from time with the engineer and/or a producer.
  • Don’t cram too much into one session. Recording takes time, so don’t rush it or try to record everything all at once.
  • Never force it. If it’s just not working, take a break or a breather to get some perspective, then try again. If you need to reschedule, do that as well.


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Phoenix musician Sincerely Collins truly knows who he is, even when his music has taken different forms.

Collins first caught the music bug at age 13 after watching his cousin, a rapper in a group with Xzibit, record a three-song EP. From the making of a beat to the writing of the rhymes, recording and mixing it, he was there for it all.

“You have to create a voice within yourself, and it’s already there, it’s already you,” Collins says. “A lot of people just spend so much time trying to sound like somebody else that they don’t recognize that their voice that they already have is what they need to use to express.”

“I saw the whole process from start to finish, and it really felt innately second nature to me to dive right into it,” Collins says, “So after that first night, I asked him to take me to Walgreens and get me a notebook and pens, and that night I started writing down lyrics and never looked back.”

He filled up those notebooks for years, writing rhymes to beats. By tenth grade, Collins had recorded his first song and was making a name for himself at his high school, selling CDs and putting on performances. After graduating, Collins started a group called Weird Is The New Cool, taking inspiration from idol Pharrell Williams and his group N.E.R.D.

“That was kind of like my rebellion period from rap, and I just started getting really into rock music,” says Collins. 

They opened up for big bands like Dirty Heads, Sublime, and 311, but after a few years, it was time to move on. Sincerely Collins the hip-hop artist was born, and in 2015 his song “Light Work” got major play on the radio. After moving to Los Angeles and living there for a few years, Collins headed back to the desert just before the pandemic and is excited about his future.

“I’m to a point now with my solo work that I’ve never signed a record contract that would hold me back from doing whatever I wanted to do with my music, so I’m in a blessed place now where I can start experimenting and going back to those live instruments and band groups,” Collins says.

With all of his experience, Collins was the perfect person to ask for some tips about how to get started in the music scene in Phoenix. 

“I think it’s very easy to break into now,” says Collins. “I think if you want to be a musician in Phoenix, it’s fairly simple as far as just getting your foot in the door and getting some traction going. It’s a lot easier than when I was starting out, that’s for sure.”

Collins suggests connecting with promoters, making yourself available through social media, and researching who puts on live shows. He says Respect the Underground is another helpful resource that allows musicians and artists from all over the Valley to have an outlet for their music.

So what should you do once you’re ready to get into the studio?

“The fact you’re reading this interview, you’re kind of already doing what you should be doing,” Collins says. “Because one thing you have to do is you have to tap into where the action is, going and researching and finding a place like Demŭn Studios.”

Collins says to then listen to the people who have what you want to have and have done what you want to do. It might be engineers, producers, or a studio manager.

“They might not even be a musician, but they’ve been in those sessions, and they understand certain things you might not understand about getting to the next level, so that’s very important,” he says.

Listen too to the music you like to develop inspiration. 

“It’s very easy for musicians to get away from just taking time to become inspired, but I think that’s one thing that I always do,” Collins says. “I take time to listen to other music that’s going to put me in a zone and in the frequency where I can tap into a frequency and do that for myself.”

And don’t forget to develop your unique voice. Collins says it’s important to get out of your own way and find your voice on the microphone because people will relate.

“Even people like Tyler, the Creator, and Odd Future, they were making music that was outlandish, but they have their voice, so people connected with it, and there are singers who aren’t the greatest singers in the world at all any means, and they would tell you that, but they found out how to put their voice, add a little autotune but still have their expression and their voice and their passion on that microphone,” Collins says. “People will connect with that, so you need to spend time finding that voice and making sure that you stick with that in your music so that you can transcend.”

As far as Demŭn Studios goes, Collins is definitely a fan. He spent a chunk of his career exclusively working out of it, and it’s even where his hit song “Yap Yap” was created.

“I personally trust that studio highly to produce a sound that can compete with industry-level sound,” Collins says. “When it comes to studios in Phoenix, I would definitely recommend this studio, and I think that all the readers are in the right place if they’re trying to find things that are going to help them in the industry in this city.“


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5 Most Inspirational Places in Phoenix

Putting together a list of inspirational sights or experiences can seem subjective to the seeker since we all find beauty in different ways. True emotional and creative inspiration comes from each individual’s past, identity, and interpretation of specific interactions in life. Some will be more receptive to visual artistic expression, others are moved to tears by music, while another group needs a powerfully silent mountain in order to nourish organic innovation. This short list of five things to do in Phoenix recognizes how different we all are, allowing you to find something in your area that will spark your unique creative spirit. In order to get the most out of your long-distance visit or local travel day, I challenge you to block off a full day for whichever experience you choose. Maybe even turn off your phone, eliminate all distractions of the daily grind, and immerse yourself in whatever unbridled feeling the experience elicits. 

1. “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Storm of Fireflies” (Phoenix Art Museum)

Hands down the pinnacle of immersive modern art in all of Phoenix, possibly the entire United States. While the picture cannot possibly do the exhibit justice, you can begin to grasp the power of being surrounded by seemingly endless punctuations of illumination. You may choose to mentally adopt the artist’s title and imagine the lights to be fireflies, venture out into the vastness of space to touch the stars, or see a metaphorical representation of human memories and pain like in the song “All The Little Lights” by Passenger. If you reach a different level of creative inspiration when visuals are paired with music, bring headphones with you. Make a short playlist before your trip. Think through a personal roadblock with which you’ve been wrestling. Brainstorm ideas for your next song, story, painting, or miscellaneous creative project. Simply celebrate your own existence, internally articulating things for which you are grateful. Do this for every light you see. Wherever your mind takes you, let it run free. If you’re lucky, or if you stay in the exhibit long enough, you will be the only one in the room. With no one around to whisper in awe, silence intensifies your ability to absorb whatever it is you need to from this truly supernatural place. 

2. Desert Botanical Garden

If taking fresh air into your lungs and exploring the countless idiosyncrasies of nature is more your speed, the next two on our list are for you. The Desert Botanical Garden offers a leisurely stroll through over 50,000 different types of plants both native to the area and foreign. Bring a friend and engage in a relaxing walk punctuated by inspecting new plants you’ve never seen before. Or purposefully go alone and learn about some of the garden’s inhabitants. Finding inspiration here may look different for everyone, but approaching the garden with a specific intention is one way to ensure its impact. Choose one plant that interests you for whatever reason and do a bit of research on it. Depending on which you pick, the information could be on a plaque right before your eyes or you might have to pull out your phone. The purpose of this investigation is twofold. 
* Completely enveloping your mental focus in a natural organism takes you away from our constant ego-centric “me, me, me” culture of everyday life. 
* Understanding a bit more about the resilience, creativity, and sheer ingenuity of plant life can give you a new perspective on that one thing you have yet to solve, conquer, or process. 

3. Camel Back Mountain 

Escaping our screens can be tough, especially with the recent pandemic and our technology-heavy work cultures. Camelback Mountain is an easily seen reminder that the natural world is always out there, waiting for us to get off of work or push the power off button.
This mountain is equipped with a short, well-curated hiking trail leading to sweeping views of Phoenix. Bring that book you’ve been meaning to read or that journal you’ve been meaning to write in, along with a small lunch and lots of water. At the top, find a shady outcropping of rock to nestle into and take in the sights. Reflect, meditate, write, or simply let go of all that busyness that lies below you. 
Retreat to this peaceful place to either find an internal answer or pose a big question. 

4. The Phoenix Symphony

Music speaks to everyone in different ways. From remembering a first love to catalyzing imagination, melodies are emotional time machines. While Covid has unfortunately shuttered the 2021 season for the Phoenix Symphony, they remain the authority on bone-deep musical inspiration. 
There’s something profoundly powerful about hearing a plethora of different instruments coming together in unison to produce one magnificent sound. Besides the symbolism, these folks really can play. Each musical number will tell a story that will help you escape, think, or just exist peacefully. 
If you’re feeling overstimulated by the constant barrage of 24-hour news programs or alarmingly pervasive advertisements, buy tickets for a 2022 show. When the time finally comes you will be able to sink into that theater seat and let the symphony carry 

5. Old Town Scottsdale

Not all inspiration comes from grandiose art or stunning nature. Friends, family, and good conversation can heal and illuminate when you need it most. Old Town Scottsdale lays out a considerable amount of options when it comes to finding a place to bring your loved ones together.  When the weather is nice, bring a picnic spread to the sprawling park by the library. If the summer heat has gotten to you, find a lively bar or restaurant to foster connection within your community and cool you down. Walkability is a big selling point here. No matter your group’s desire, a quick Google search will find the perfect place for conversation and connection to flourish.  


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Tips To Get On Stage At a Local Concert or Festival

With festivals and concerts coming back into our lives as we stray away from the pandemic. They are some of the best ways to get your name out there and introduce fans to new music, but how does that happen in the first place? We’ve put together a list of ways to get your live career going. 

The Balance Careers has some great tips. First, prepare your submission materials and create a press kit. Each festival and concert will have its own requirements of what you’ll need to submit, but you’re likely to need an up-to-date artist biography. This is basically your story of how you got started in the music industry, musical accomplishments, and influences plus some color like a personal story or two. Your bio should be short, written in a few paragraphs or at most a page, and you should constantly be adding to it. If you record a new song or album, get an award, play a big show, or anything else of note, add it to your bio. You should also have some professional photos and a video of you or your band performing. Be sure to have some quality recordings too. Another thing to do during your preparation is to make sure you have an active social media presence or website. You don’t have to have thousands of followers, but you should get your social media numbers up as much as you can and interact with your fans as much as possible. If your last post was two years ago, that could be a problem. Next, mark your calendar. One of the easiest ways to miss an opportunity is to not get an application in on time. Create a spreadsheet with all the important details and dates. It’s important to be responsible and show that you care, so pay attention to any deadlines and don’t arrive late for gigs once you book them. After you send in your submission, follow up respectively. Don’t pester an artistic director with emails especially if it says not to contact them, but if there is a way to send a quick thank you note, you should definitely do so. 

Next, don’t be afraid to start off small. If your hometown has a festival or a local concert, that might be the perfect way to get involved. While it might not be Coachella or Lollapalooza, it’s still a start. You’ll be able to put it on your resume and polish your performances. Performing small at first also helps your market yourself or your band through word of mouth and social media as your music begins garnering reviews. You can let your social media followers know you’re appearing, plus the more performances you are able to get, the more concert and festival promoters will be interested in you. Be wary of shows where you need to pay to perform. Organizers may expect you to buy tickets to resell to fans with little to no compensation. You don’t want to play every concert or festival offered to you — be selective and make sure it’s catered to your type of music. Do your research in advance and target concerts or festivals that are known to book similar acts. Search festival directories too for opportunities. Additionally, don’t be afraid of non-profit appearances. While you won’t be getting paid, it’s still great exposure.

Make sure to practice your stage routine. If you’re not very experienced on the live circuit, it’s okay, but you should be able to command a crowd and put on a solid show. Playing at a concert or festival is very different from playing at a nightclub or a coffee shop. Bandzoogle says your live show must be memorable since there’s a lot of competition for festival and concert slots that are open to those like you who are not the headliners or more popular acts. When you apply for an event like this, you’re not just selling your music or yourself. Promoters want to know you have a killer live show that can attract and keep your audience interested. You don’t want your set to get stale, so change the order up, throw out some goodies to your fans, get someone up on stage, or bring in a special guest. Ask your crowd how they’re feeling, have them repeat your lyrics after you, or recite a popular chant. Introduce a social media contest or take a pic of the audience and post it online. Don’t be scared to interact with fans following the show too. After your performance, walk out among the fans and talk to anyone who approaches you, says Music Industry How To.

Next, network, network, network. The music industry can be small, especially if you’re active in your local scene. If you constantly put yourself out there as a professional act with a great live show, word will get around, and you’ll have a better chance of being selected when you apply to gigs, according to Bandzoogle. Reach out to local promoters, agents, talent buyers, and fellow musicians while you play more shows and grow your fanbase. 

If you don’t end up getting the gig, don’t give up or get discouraged. Getting booked at concerts or festivals is very competitive. Ask to be kept informed of other opportunities, and keep perfecting your craft until you can apply again. Play other places like fairs, showcases, and smaller venues to get more experience. It will happen eventually!


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How To Distribute Your Music Like The Pro’s – Use Distrokid

You finally perfected that genre-bending new song that is going to revolutionize the game, give voice to an important social issue, make people dance around their kitchen, or all three. This song has everything, there’s no way around it. Now how can you get this thing out into the ether and stuck into people’s heads?

Enter the glorious world of Distrokid.

What is Distrokid?

This magical platform allows you to simultaneously distribute your tracks on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play & YouTube Music, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, iHeartRadio, ClaroMúsica, Saavn, MediaNet, and over 150 other smaller outlets. You also have the autonomy to select which of these outlets if you’re not into (or have never heard of) a specific one- cough Tidal cough. But let’s face it. No one listens to music on anything outside these platforms, and hipsters can’t bring vinyl on road trips or airplanes. 

For just a flat fee of $19.99 a year as a single artist, you can upload as many song tracks as you want! The entire process is extremely user-friendly and saves you valuable hours that can be sunk into designing that next track in the back of your mind. 

How is it Different from Other Major Platforms Like Soundcloud?

While Soundcloud is free, it lacks the mass appeal and user-friendly access of the other platforms integrated into the Distrokid distribution software. For instance, if someone is trying to show their friend your new song on their phone, they will have to scroll haphazardly through the sea of choices on Soundcloud, or quickly navigate through Spotify, (or one of the other expertly organized music systems) and share with multiple friends in a matter of seconds.

Distrokid also has multiple additional features that help you market your music on Youtube, where you can earn exponentially increased revenue the more views you acquire. Many of the stars we know today in the music industry have become famous off of their Youtube videos alone. Never have I once listened to Tekashi 69 in my car on the way to the store, but you better believe that I have seen every one of his music videos. The draw to Youtube is not only the visuals attached to the songs, but also the algorithms they employ to suggest more content and keep you watching. This can lead to more of your music. Instant publicity. 

The chief difference between Distrokid and other platforms is the highly-tailored, efficient way that it enables you to not only put your creation out into the world but, also promote it to a target audience. In the age of technology dominance, this kind of tool is essential to becoming recognized and paid handsomely for your brainchild.

Okay Cool. Now, How Do I Use This Thing?

Distrokid is simple and straightforward in its initial setup, as well as its continued uploading usage. Three major things you need to have prepped and ready before you start your first song upload are:

  1. Your music tracks (saved under WAV format is best for sound quality purposes)
  2. Names for your songs and an artist name for yourself
  3. Knowledge of who your target audience is and which social media/audio platforms they are most likely to use

The rest is laid out for you in step-by-step text prompts! 

With that, you’re on your way, wayward son!


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How The Music Industry Is Bouncing Back From The Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on all aspects of our lives including the music industry. All of a sudden last year, live and in-person events grinded to a swift halt, leaving many out of work. Festivals and conferences were canceled, smaller music venues closed permanently and many artists delayed planned album releases and tours. There were some positive developments, however. The time off gave artists the opportunity to work on and release new music, virtual performances hit an all-time high, and online platforms like TikTok where tunes are an essential part of making videos thrived. Artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande; Queen and Adam Lambert; and Twenty One Pilots released songs that benefited good causes. Zoom performances and live stream sessions became popular, and it became a major way for fans to stay connected to their favorite musicians. Dua Lipa and BTS saw success with their virtual concerts. In fact, BTS’s record-breaking pay-per-view concert in October sold around 1 million tickets, TIME says. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel as life starts to get back to normal. Performances are being held in person again including some big music events coming up like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball. Artists like Elton John, Lady Gaga, Kiss, Machine Gun Kelly, Maroon 5, and more are starting up tours as well this summer. In 2019, the live music industry was worth over $20 billion, a rich ecosystem of artists, venues, ticket sellers, production companies, vendors, and travel operations, according to TIME. With in-person venues silent for over a year, live streaming and virtual concerts became the default. Even with live performances coming back, online events are not going anywhere. Verzuz, the hip-hop and R&B battles webcast series devised by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz has attracted millions of viewers. Versus was introduced during the pandemic as a virtual DJ battle with the two creators first appearing on an impromptu Instagram Live in March 2020. Each show consists of two challengers in the entertainment industry who compete with their best hit record. The first three Verzuz matches surpassed 1 million views and led to an increase in music sales and online streams. The second season began in November 2020, and in March 2021, Versus was acquired by TikTok competitor Triller. As part of the deal, each of the artists who have appeared so far have received equity. Timbaland says there will be a hybrid of live and digital events in the future, and that’s what others in the music industry believe too. Ian LaPlace, a former venue booker and co-founder and head of talent at First Tube Media, discusses in the same TIME article how he is building a live performance series leading into music festivals that will blend the two. A fan can scan a code at a festival that will give them further access to the artist who is playing while live-streaming the festival can multiply the audience and attract viewers from around the world. 

Streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify have become a popular way to get your music and show no signs of stopping. Revenue in the global music industry last year actually reached its highest level since 2002, partially due to paid-for streaming subscription services like Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer, according to Financial Times. In fact, total revenue increased by 7.4 percent to 21.6 billion in 2020. There’s also Bandcamp, an internet music company that allows artists and labels to upload music and control how they sell it. During the pandemic, the platform started up Bandcamp Fridays, a day when its revenue share on music and merchandise are waived, giving money directly to the artists. 

TikTok continues to play a big part as the music industry bounces back. In 2019, the app saw a shift in trends from memes and trends to music discovery, according to Miami Student. Songs like “Say So” by Doja Cat and “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo were consistently used as sound on videos during the pandemic, and it’s a place where both new and old artists can express themselves. TechRadar talks about how TikTok is changing all the rules, and while it can be hard to predict which songs will go viral, older tracks, tracks by unsigned artists and abstract remixes reign supreme according to TikTok’s algorithm. TikTok has also recently announced a string of licensing deals with all three of the major labels — Sony, Warner Music and Universal Music Group. That will mean a new revenue stream for artists, and those who have songs on TikTok should hopefully be properly paid.

The pandemic for all of its tragedy has also forced the music business to innovate and has enabled fans to enjoy music and their favorite artists in new ways, and here’s to seeing it recover completely.

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