Ep 017: How to Self Produce Your Music with Jason Didner

Today’s conversation is with self producer and AudioSkills subscriber, Jason Didner. He and his wife recently started recording their own music with help from AudioSkills – how cool is that? Jason’s band, Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam, helps introduce kids to music while giving their parents something to tap their foot to, too.

Jason has been a musician for years and travels the country with his family performing live events. Recently, he has started recording his own music due to the financial realities of the music industry in the era of streaming. The learning curve has been tough, but this new skillset has allowed Jason to continue making music.

The audio tip of the week is about dialing in your compression settings. While everyone has a different perspective on this, Scott’s technique is simple to follow and consistently effective. It does the job without leaving your track sounding overcompressed.

Scott and Jason discuss the fundamentals that everyone must learn to embark on self-recording. Jason also covers his history with music, how he got into making music for kids, and how he thinks about his performances so that his energy and intent comes through on every record.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Audio tip of the week: When you are dialing in an audio compressor, first set the threshold as high as it can go. Set the ratio to 10:1 and the attack to as slow as possible. Set the release as fast as possible. Adjust the threshold downward until you see some moderate gain reduction. Turn the attack faster until you see it begin to catch the front of the note. Repeat the same process with the release. Then walk your ratio back down to a normal level. Repeat until perfect.
  • Jason’s touring schedule for the summer and how he makes his living.
  • The financial realities of the music business.
  • Self-recording lessons that were most important for Jason to learn.
  • How to maintain the humanity in a performance.
  • Why automation is such an important part of mixing.

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Full Transcript of This Episode

Scott:  Hey, what’s up everybody? Scott here bringing you this week’s episode of the AudioSkills Podcast. We have got a great show for you where we’re going to be talking tips and advice for self-producing your music. Helping us to do this will actually be a member of the AudioSkills community. Our guest will be Jason Didner who has a band which writes, records, releases, and performs songs for kids. They’re called Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam. Jason is an AudioSkills subscriber who recently embarked on the journey moving from paying for recording and music production services to doing it for himself with the help of techniques and tips from AudioSkills.

Before we jump into all of that, I wanted to first start with our audio tip of the week. I want to make sure that no matter if you’re watching our YouTube tutorials, reading our guides, or listening to this very podcast that you get some actionable takeaways you can apply to your own music, your own productions. That’s what the audio tip of the week is all about.

Okay, with that in mind, I wanted to give a quick tip on how to dial in your compression settings. Now of course there are some caveats here. There are many ways to dial in a compressor, and the technique that I’m suggesting may not work for you, or it may not work in every situation. If you have something that works, great, go for it. Still, I think it can be very helpful to have a step-by-step system that you can follow if you’re frustrated with your results with compression or maybe just looking for some extra guidance.

Secondly, and this is the most important thing, you have to both use your ears and watch your meters when you’re working with compression. And look at your waveform and whatever visual and audio tools you have. Unless your goal is a heavily compressed sound, you want to avoid crushing the life out of the track by over-compressing it. You can both hear and actually see that happening if you watch your meter and the compressor is never returning to zero. If it’s just always on, then you might be over-compressing.

Okay, those are my caveats, now to the technique. When you are trying to dial in a compressor, I recommend you try this.

Step one: Set the threshold as high as it can go so it has no effect the audio. Set the ratio to 10:1 or higher. Set the attack to as slow as possible and the release to as fast as possible, so the shortest amount of time.

Step two: Start adjusting the threshold downward until you can see some moderate gain reduction. We’re talking anywhere from minus six to minus 10.

Step three: Turn the attack faster until you can hear it almost catching the front of the note in a way that sounds pleasing to you.

Step four: Then repeat this for the release, except making it slower until it releases in a way that’s pleasing to you. Again, we’re using our ears here. We’re listening.

Step five: Then walk your ratio back down to a normal or comfortable level.

Step six: Continue to adjust the threshold downward until it sounds perfect to you.

That’s just one way to go about setting a compressor, but I think it’s definitely worth a try if you’ve felt yourself just playing around with knobs before. That is your audio tip of the week.

All right, so now we are going to move on to our guest interview for this week. I’m so excited to introduce Jason Didner, who along with his wife Amy, created the band Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam, which is all about writing and recording music for kids. Jason also happens to be a subscriber to AudioSkills. He recently reached out to me to share his story of starting to produce his own music and mentioned how helpful our video tutorials, tips, and other advice had been to him, which is just so awesome and encouraging. Anytime I hear about the success that you all are having out there with music, it really motivates me to just keep working on AudioSkills and keep making it better and better. All that said, Jason welcome to the show.

Jason:  Hey Scott. Thank you. It’s good to be here, and to talk from a different perspective. Usually we hear from audio experts who have been doing it in the studio for years.

Scott:  Yeah, for sure. It’s nice to really hear from someone who’s kind of going through the process because that’s what it is. And even if you are an expert, it’s always a process. You’re always learning. I’m curious, after a busy spring do you have any big plans for the summer? Any vacations or anything like that?

Jason:  Well one thing I love about what we do is we get to sing for our supper in different towns, so up and down the eastern seaboard a little bit. We live in New Jersey. Our music’s gonna bring us to Frederick, Maryland, which is south of Pennsylvania, a little closer to D.C., to go do a show, and the venue’s gonna put us up in a hotel. Daughter loves it. She’ll get to swim.

Scott:  Oh, yeah for sure. That’s awesome, so you get to travel around and kind of see the country. Then also share your music, and that’s just so great.

Jason:  Yeah.

Scott:  Okay, getting into my first question. Can you really just tell us a little bit more about your musical experience, and what Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam is all about.

Jason:  Sure. At our heart, we are a rock and roll band, a rock and roll outfit because that’s the music that’s authentically in us. We’re just using rock and roll as a vehicle to share uplifting messages or educational facts.

Scott:  Oh for sure.

Jason:  You might have heard that wrapped up in the single that I shared with you, the new one, Pandagarten.

Scott:  Yes. Yes, and I really enjoyed it, and we’ll get into sort of that whole process. Bottom line, you kind of share education and entertain, and it’s all directed towards kids, yeah?

Jason:  Kids and their grownups. Yeah, the fact that we’re making it authentic rock and roll, and we’re not making the music overly patronizing makes it listenable for the parents and the teachers too.

Scott:  That’s always nice. It’s funny, this past weekend we were babysitting my nephew who’s 11 years old. We watched The Lego Batman Movie. What was nice about that was that it had obviously stuff for him, and he would enjoy. But also, enough for the adults, my wife and I, that we could also enjoy it. So if you are making music for kids, but you can kind of have that rock background and make it so the parents can tap their feet along to it, I think that’s really the secret sauce.

Jason:  It is, and I should point out that there are hundreds of fantastic bands, some of them that you know like They Might Be Giants, The Verve Pipe, Lisa Loeb. The Presidents of the United States have another personality as Casper Babypants. A lot of truly great artists are making this music they call Kindy. It’s independent music for kids and families. That comes out of the traditions established as far back as Pete Seeger and probably even before him, of just really good quality music for everyone that happens to have something special for the kids in it.

Scott:  For sure. What do you play? Do you play guitar?

Jason:  Guitar, going back earlier, keyboard. Synthesizer really spoke to me when I was a pre-teen.

Scott:  Oh sure.

Jason:  So Pandagarten was really my first journey back there to doing synth-pop since my pre-teen years. It really brought back a lot to start to dial up synth sounds and make them work with each other and apply your points about having different frequencies work together.

Scott:  For sure. Okay, then this is kind of a really great segue. You used to work with other producers before moving to self-producing, and this is kind of a journey you’ve embarked on. We’ll jump into how that journey has gone for you, and how maybe AudioSkills has helped you and things like that. But can you tell me what working with producers was like, and why you ultimately decided, you know what, I want to try this for myself?

Jason:  Sure. I gotta say, I loved working with both producers that I worked with on making our first two full-length albums for the Jungle Gym Jam. I loved the results, and pretty much it was the economics of making and selling full-length CDs was changing right in front of me as we were going into the studio, renting out the studio, hiring a producer and an engineer.

Scott:  Oh absolutely.

Jason:  Yeah, it pretty much got the point where we knew we were making albums that people could hear in their entirety and enjoy without having to buy and own. As a music fan, I love being able to listen to any album I want at will without having to own it.

Scott:   Sure.

Jason:  But I’m also aware as a musician, that if you’re gonna spend tens of thousands of dollars in the studio, and no one has to buy the album to enjoy it, that’s not sustainable. The reality in our bank account bore that out.

Scott:  Yeah, absolutely. At the end of the day there are economic realities. And for better or for worse I think there’s positives and negatives when you look at it, and everything that’s going on with streaming and all that good stuff. You have to sometimes make some different choices, and in a perfect world maybe you could afford to do all that. But especially now that technology has gotten so, so far, and especially those who have home studios. You can really get great results. So yeah, I guess it makes sense to me that you might say, hey, maybe it’s time … That the bank account is signaling that it’s time to try something in a different way.

Jason:  Yeah, and stopping recording didn’t feel like the right option. A lot of people say, well I can’t make money doing this anymore, so guess what, I’m not gonna make any more records. And I didn’t want to just take my marbles and go away. I wanted to find a way to keep doing this.

Scott:  Absolutely, yeah.

Jason:  AudioSkills that you provided, really gave me … When I first read your piece about gain staging, and it’s like, oh instead of starting at the default level up at zero decibels and just kind of trying to work things down until it’s not clipping anymore, what if we start it all the way down and start slowly bringing things up? Wow, things started to sound clearer now. Just reading those very first few tips got me excited about what I could do if I’m getting good commonsense advice that I can put into play.

Scott:  Yeah absolutely, and I’ve always said that there’s great recordings that happen in these pro studios and so many brilliant people out there. But a lot of the techniques are the same. It’s the same whether you’re using a $30,000 mixing board, or you’re just working in your DAW and moving some knobs around. The technique is the same, and it’s all music. It’s all watching your meters and things like that. Was there any other kinds of things from AudioSkills that maybe sort of helped you out? Any new techniques or tidbits that really, as you were kind of embarking on this journey, were like “Oh wow, [inaudible 00:12:50], that really helped.”?

Jason:  Yeah. I think every podcast interview, the entire crash course, which I put my mixing on hold until I watched the crash course from beginning to end.

Scott:  Wow. That’s awesome. That’s so great to hear. Yeah, the crash course was really something that I know there was so many people, myself included, when I was first starting out, I kind of wished that there someone to just kind of okay break it down. And if you could give me just the essentials to get me started, what would that be? That’s awesome that that was helpful to you, for sure.

Jason:  Sure, yeah, I came at it from having used Garage Band and just kind of maybe making rough mixes and not automating hardly anything, using nothing but the preset libraries of effects. So really AudioSkills helped me start to get moving on things like, okay well what if I start with a preset of a vocal compression, then play with the ratio a little bit. What if I-

Scott:  Absolutely.

Jason:  … Take the preset EQ and start moving those curves around a little bit? And I think you also gave me the idea of how when I’m going to pick an equalization, maybe make a cut at a certain frequency, consider where are the other instruments gonna have their cuts and boosts? How are those gonna fit together? Most valuable was leaving the panning til the end, so I’m really forcing myself to make the frequencies fit together in mono. That really helped Pandagarten come together pretty quickly.

Scott:  Yeah absolutely. The mixing in mono, that was one of the tips that I discovered pretty early on as I was trying to get better and improve my skills. It’s one of those counter-intuitive things where I think some people are like, “But we have stereo. We don’t have to do that.” But you realize there were people making amazing records, and they didn’t have stereo. They didn’t have all the bells and whistles that we have these days, so in a way if you are simplifying and kind of going back to where it was maybe a little tougher. That forces you to use what is the best tool, which is your ear, and what sounds good to you. And okay, can I get that separation between the instruments and really make something that sounds great without having to take advantage quite in the same way of the stereo field, and kind of force yourself to get better that way.

That’s really, really encouraging and exciting to hear that that was so important for you as well. I mean you touched on a lot of other great stuff there. The presets thing, that is something, you know, there are always people out there who have great experience, great knowledge, and there’s always opinions when it comes to mixing music. Some people out there are way against presets, and I kind of try to strike a more balanced tone with it because I’m like look, don’t just use presets because it’s true, every mix is different. But they can give you such a great starting point, then you can adjust and use your ear and really get better results so that’s so awesome to hear that all that was helpful to you.

My next question here, and this is so interesting because you really are kind of diving into the deep end as it were, and you’ve recorded this single. If you could give one tip for better results to someone who is striking out on their own with recording and mixing, after previously having worked with producers so you kind of knew what they were going for, but maybe you didn’t know exactly everything that they were doing. What tip would you have for someone who’s kind of making that transition?

Jason:  Okay, well first of all I’d say I liked your tip, which really got me going, which is don’t wait for perfection to get started.

Scott:  Yeah.

Jason:  If you have the $100 mic or the $200 mic, and not the $2,000 mic, don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be making a record. When you say get it right at the source, that can mean a lot of different things. But I think first and foremost is really just try to elicit the best performance out of yourself that you can. Like what you said about being in an imperfect space. The space is gonna color your sounds. But if you’re aware that it’s doing that, and you’re willing to try different placements. You’re perhaps putting yourself in a position to give a good heartfelt performance, for me vocal-wise. That means that when I’m singing, I’m not thinking only technically. I’m also thinking about the meaning of the lyrics. I’m singing for kids. I want to make sure there’s a smile in my voice.

Scott:  Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And the right energy and everything like that, right?

Jason:  Yeah. I think if you capture quality performances, if you listen back with a special ear for things not only being in tune, you can sing something perfectly in tune, and it can still sound a little off for some reason or another. Even how you’ve opened your mouth, or how you’ve pronounced a syllable.

Scott:  Yeah, so just kind of taking care to try to get the best out of all that and focus on all the technical and the expression and the emotion and everything and kind of really capture that best performance. It really does make everything easier when you have this great performance that you’ve recorded. It somehow, yeah, it makes the mixing stage easier because you just have less work to do when it’s like hey, this was good. This was a great performance.

Jason:  Right, and I actually learned from the producer that I did my last full-length album with, Marc Bazerman, Baze for short, was he liked to make sure that in the mix we didn’t Frankenstein things together too much. That he’d rather have the humanity in a performance than go overboard with auto-tune and with too much comping.

Scott:  Yeah. I like that. That’s a really good kind of tidbit there, the idea that look, we of course … You can use vocal comping to take okay this phrase was really good, this one wasn’t as good. Let’s swap that out or whatever. But if your performance is just so chopped up, and you’re just putting all this other extra stuff on it, whether it be auto-tune or what have you. At a certain point, you’re kind of getting away from what you mentioned, which is the humanity of the performance and the idea that it’s like, no we’re not trying to make the absolute perfect, there’s no character to it performance. We’re trying to capture the best of the performance and present it in its best light. I don’t know. That makes a lot of sense to me. I really like that.

Jason:  Radio-ready can mean a lot of things. It really depends on what radio station are you gonna get yourself played on. If you’re trying to get played on the big market, top 40 radio, you’ve got a lot of hurdles in front of you that have very little to do with the music.

Scott:  Yeah, you need to double the amount of compressors you’re using, whatever the number is.

Jason:  There you go. But if you’re trying to get played on college radio, in our case on family-friendly programming, your goals are gonna be different. You want it to be the best representation of what you imagine that you hear in your head when you’re coming up with it. Obviously you want things to be clear, pleasing to listen to, and something that stands up to repeated listens. On that, you might be going for the wrong thing if you are trying to make that thing that’s for top 40 radio in a big city.

Scott:   Oh yeah, absolutely. I think knowing where you’re trying to go, having the roadmap of okay, this is where I want to end up, and making your music, your recordings, your mixes speak to that is so critical. That makes a lot of sense. Now I’m interested to know, as you’ve kind of embarked on this journey, obviously we all get frustrated. I’ve gotten frustrated before. I’ve been like, this mix isn’t working. This song sucks, whatever it might be right? That’s tough, and those are the moments where rather than just get your head down, you have to kind of lean into it, and say you know what, I’m gonna keep rocking and rolling here. What was one of the biggest areas of frustration for you as you were kind of striking out and working on producing for yourself, and how did you overcome it?

Jason:  It was maybe, I guess I started out with the right project in a way with this being a synth-pop number.

Scott:  Right.

Jason:  That made drums easy. That made being able to balance the different instrumental tracks pretty easy. I would say it was not as much frustration as it was fears. I was a little intimidated by the thought that you guys were telling me over at your podcasts that I should really have some automation. I’m like, well I just kind of wanted to set it and forget it with the levels. I’m really glad that I listened to your advice about automating because it did allow me to do some nice things like create swells of volume leading into the chorus that build up the energy.

Scott:  Yeah. Automation is one of those tools that can really just add extra character and dynamics and movement really, to a piece of music. That’s awesome that you kind of … You know, because it can be intimidating like, well what am I a gonna automate? And you can automate so many things. It’s like, what should I choose? Where should I put it? The idea that you pushed through that and could then see better results, especially if you’re talking about swells and things like that. That’s really what it’s about.

It’s one of those things when you listen to these recordings, it’s like yeah when they hit the chorus it’s going up a couple of DB or something. They’re just kind of tweaking that just a little bit, and that introduces just a little extra energy and a little extra feeling. That’s why people on the chorus are like, “Yeah,” you know that helps the listener really look forward to the chorus, which you want them to do. Then you move back into the verse or whatever it is. Again, it’s that sense of movement.

Jason:  Sure, and on top of that, my friend John Cullimore, he’s got a kids’ music act called Chibi Kodama. He’s a self-producer, and it was his example that made me seek out your tips. It wasn’t specifically that he knew about you. But when I saw that he was self-producing, and he was very prolific without going into a studio. I sought out the kind of help that I saw that you were offering.

Scott:  For sure.

Jason:  I gave him my tracks to critique late in the mixing stage. He said, “Well why don’t you in the chorus add a slap-back delay on your lead vocal.” I already had the lead vocal crescendoing into the chorus, but he suggested I add that slap-back delay. I did it, and there’s that little sparkle.

Scott:  Oh absolutely. Just like that one little thing that can be like, wow, that takes something that was good and then makes it sound great.

Jason:  Yeah.

Scott:  Absolutely.

Jason:  I would say, yeah have other self-producers that you know, that you like, have them critique your stuff.

Scott:  Absolutely. Music is meant to be heard and shared and critiqued. Someone who also has that critical ear. Your friend, he has a critical ear because he’s doing it for himself. That can provide so much extra knowledge for you. Yeah, that’s really awesome. Now in our emails back and forth as we were kind of setting this up, we talked about how you have a really good ear for pitch.

Jason:   Yeah.

Scott:  Yeah, and that you’ve, I believe, created a new musical service for folks that’s based around that. Can you tell everyone what that’s all about?

Jason:  Yes, well I do not claim to be anywhere near an expert on working with the DAW and the effects. I’m a newcomer to that, but there’s something that I’ve always seemed to have a skill with, and it’s served me well through everything from making demos to working with producers, to now working in self-producing. That is my ability to listen to my work or other people’s work and hear where the vocals are that little bit sharp, that little bit flat. There’s that one little note that may be in pitch, but there’s something about maybe it came out nasal. What I’m going to start to offer to fellow musicians, and you can find out about this at my new upcoming website. It should be up by the time the podcast is up.

Scott:  Right on.

Jason:  Thehumanpitchpipe.com.

Scott:  Thehumanpitchpipe.com.

Jason:  Yes, I will be your human pitch pipe. So for $10 a track, I’ve got your back.

Scott:  Right on.

Jason:  What I’ll do essentially, is I will take your lyric sheet. I will listen to your track, and I will highlight those lines that I think you might want to punch in. Just so that you know with confidence that you’re putting your very best performance forward. I don’t want to clip the humanity out of what you’re doing. But if you have those lines that I think you’re gonna regret a couple of months from now after everything’s mastered, I’m gonna help you catch those and consider either punching them in or working with a little pitch correction or what have you.

Scott:  For sure. That’s a really cool project, and I kind of like that. Again, we talk about technology and all these tools that we have, and they’re so, so helpful. I think they’ve really kind of led this explosion of people recording and mixing from home and things like that. It’s cool to have something where it’s like hey, here’s a human person who can hear this and kind of has that and can give you some advice on that. That’s really, really cool.

Okay, you have released this song. Obviously you co-wrote it with your wife as well. Am I correct in that?

Jason:  Yes.

Scott:  Yeah, so I’m always interested in talking about songwriting because the fact is, and I don’t want to depress anyone here. But the fact is that no matter how great your mixing or recording skills are, it’s not gonna save a bad song. If a song is a bad song, no amount of wizardry is gonna make it a good song in the production phase. Can you tell us just a little bit about your songwriting process, and sort of how that kind of works? And how you put together a song, which I listened to, I was like, wow that’s really great. That’s really awesome. And how you kind of go about that?

Jason:  Thanks. Well I guess you have to honor the original idea of the song most of all. Amy and I have a long-standing, you know, pandas has kind of been a thing with us. It’s something that we’ve both thought they’re adorable, and a key moment in our family life is when we got to D.C. We traveled for a gig, and we got to see the pandas there.

Scott:  Oh for sure.

Jason:  I think when you write about something that your heart is in, that helps.

Scott:  Yeah. That core, that emotional core.

Jason:  Yep, and then from there we knew that for a song like this that also was teaching a critical thing about how humans are helping pandas survive with these panda kindergarten classes in China. We knew that we factually had to get things right. So we reached for a book, Panda Kindergarten that was by Joanne Ryder and Kathleen Feng. It’s a picture book for kids, which really I think just gave us the knowledge we needed about exactly what happens in panda kindergarten, and why there’s panda kindergarten. That really helped us guide us toward I think writing a song that we knew what we were talking about. I think if you’re gonna present a song that’s supposed to present facts, it’s just good to study up on those facts.

Scott:  Good to have the facts for sure.

Jason:  Yeah. And when you’re taking creative license, you can do that. For instance, within the framework of the facts of the song, in the zoo we had met a panda name Bow-Bow. So obviously this was not a panda kindergartner from the time of being a cub.

Scott:  Sure.

Jason:  But we took this character of Bow-Bow, that we so much loved seeing in the zoo. And we kind of projected him into the panda kindergarten scene.

Scott:  That’s really cool.

Jason:  When you combine studying, doing the research, using your imagination, also gonna quote songwriter Adam Mitchell. He’s the songwriter who actually saved … He’s credited with saving Kiss’s career when their vision was going off the rails a bit in the 80s. He wrote Crazy Nights for them, and a tip that he’s offered on podcasts is consider whether your song is staying in one tense, like all in the present tense all the way through. Or if it is a journey from the past tense to the present tense to the future tense. And Pandgarten does have some past tense for some background. It has some present tense of what’s happening now in the kindergarten, and what will happen when kindergarten ends. There’s dynamics to your songwriting when it’s a journey from past to present to future.

Scott:  Wow. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That’s really cool.

Jason:  Look for Adam Mitchell. In fact, I had him critique one of my songs, and that was a very informative and humbling process a couple of years ago.

Scott:  Oh yeah?

Jason:  Yep.

Scott:  That’s really awesome. Yeah, I mean I think that’s another thing. Seek out people who have done this who maybe know more than you or have a little more experience or whatever it may be. Or they at least have a unique perspective that is not your perspective.

Jason:  Yeah.

Scott:  That is so key because when you’re writing music or producing or whatever it is you’re doing, you’re very close to the material. And that’s fine, and that’s all well and good. But it can harm you if you’re so close to it you stop seeing it objectively because it’s your song, or it’s your project. Yeah, that’s just another great example of like hey, reach out to somebody. You never know who you can just send an email to, and they’ll love to share their expertise and kind of give you a critique or give you some feedback for sure.

Jason:  And another thought related to that is play it live for your intended audience before you commit to the recording to the level of saying this is my single, or this is my album track. You can demo it as many times as you want. But when you go out there, and you play it live for an audience. And you get their reaction especially like we’re writing for kids, so we need to see how kids and their parent react to it.

Scott:  Yeah, there’s no better way to test it than say, okay, how does a live audience feel about this? Or how do other people? Or even if your audience is just a couple of people in the living room. I always, when I’m noodling with things, I’ll play it for my wife and say, “What do you think about this?” I think that’s so key, is to get that feedback. Okay, my last question here. You worked on this single. Now you have kind of an interesting game plan here. What are your musical plans for the future? You’ve got this single, and you’re gonna play a gig here in Maryland as you had mentioned and things like that. What are your plans for the future here?

Jason:  Okay well, AudioSkills is really making this possible for me Scott, which is now that I’ve gone from the economics of a studio. Which is really, by the time you’re paying a studio to set up the drum kit and get everything tuned and get the sound right, you really have to knock out a bunch of tracks to make that pay for itself.

Scott:  Yes.

Jason:  To any extent, so really having the home setup frees me up to basically record and release a single a month.

Scott:  That is awesome.

Jason:  Which is much more in line with how the streaming economy works now. There will still be albums, but those albums will be after we’ve released several singles on the way to the album.

Scott:  Right on. The thing I like about that too is you’ve set a goal for yourself, and it’s also something that is consistent. It’s like if your goal is a single a month, that requires a consistency. And I always encourage people who are maybe frustrated with their progress or whatever it is. Just set a schedule and make goals and be consistent with it. Even if you’re not 100% happy with how that one recording session or that one mixing session went on that specific day, the fact that you’re gonna do it again either the next day or the next week or whatever your schedule is, and you still have that goal that’s kind of driving you, that’s so key because one key difference when you’re paying for studio time is you have studio time. And it’s like okay, well we have these four hours or whatever it is to work on this track or these tracks. And we’re paying for every hour, and we either get it done, or we don’t. Or we have to pay more money.

Then there’s this tendency, and I know because I dealt with this, when we have the home studio environment. “Okay well, what’s on TV? I’m not gonna work on recording tonight. I don’t feel like it,” because you’re not paying for it per se. So it can kind of creep into things and get in the way of progress and get in the way of results. So setting a goal like you have Jason, I think that is awesome. That really can drive you because it’s like, well I’ve gotta meet my goal, so it’s kind of like the same kind of thing. It’s a superficial way in a little bit, but it makes you keep going.

Jason:  And I think that’s amplified even more being a dad with full-time job, music as my side hustle, and knowing that we have these songs that we need to put out in the world. It means that my sessions are necessarily going to be short, but they have to be frequent. They have to be, we’re talking, five times a week, four times a week. And like you said in one of your previous tips is know what you’re going to record that night, or how far you think you’re gonna get into the mix. Maybe it’s compression night, and then the next night you move on to the EQ, or maybe you can get compression and EQ done in one night. Then you’re resetting levels the next night. Then working out automation the night after that.

Scott:  Yeah absolutely. The idea is you go into each session kind of like well I need to finish this, and this is my goal for this. I find that that is so helpful because I know me personally, it can be so easy to just twist knobs and play with plugins and be like, “Oh what am I doing?” And the next thing you know, you kind of lost that focus, that sort of roadmap as it were. The goal should be finish projects. Get it done, and get something together that you’re proud of.

That’s really awesome to hear that you’re really taking that to heart, and that you’re like hey, I’ve got these constraints because I’ve got a kid, and I’ve this nine to five and all this stuff. It’s like, well I have however long it might be, and I need to get something done in this time. I can’t sit here and just kind of fiddle with something and not have any direction. Of course there’s a time and a place for experimentation. I always have to give that caveat, but my point is that that’s really great. I think that kind of speaks to you doing that, the fact that you can kind of set this schedule and this goal and achieve it thus far. That’s awesome.

Jason:  Oh well thank you Scott. Jack Conte, the founder of Patreon, I just the last couple of days was listening to a podcast where he’d been speaking at the CD Baby Conference. He gave me this philosophy that I think was very affirming of what I’m doing, which is this mindset of work to publish. He said, for him that’s painful because he’d rather stick in that moment of second-guessing everything, and does that pick drum sound good enough? Did I use the right mic? Second guessing all these things and wanting to go back and redo them, but knowing that his audience is waiting for what he’s creating. That what he’s creating could put someone in a better mood or help them if they’re having a hard day. And why should he hold onto that for indefinitely?

Scott:  For sure. I think that in anything, you know that’s what drives me with AudioSkills, is hey, maybe it’s late, and I haven’t gotten that blog post together, or whatever it is. And I’m like, well I gotta do this because I want to get this out there and reach people. And I know people are waiting for my FAQ blog post or whatever it is. I want to make sure that they get it.

Jason, I wanted to thank you so, so much for coming on today and sharing your knowledge and your journey really. That’s what music is. It’s a journey, and thank you so much for reaching out to me and kind of sharing how AudioSkills has helped you and the great things that you’re doing. It’s been awesome.

Jason:  Oh sure, well thank you so much for making it possible for me to cut this single, and I’m already onto my next one. You’ve been instrumental in that, so deep respect to you there Scott.

Scott:  Right on. Right on. That’s what I’m here for, so it’s so great to hear when it’s helpful to people. Everyone that’ll about do it for our show today. If you’d like to learn more about Jason, you can visit his site at junglegymjam.com. We’ll also of course, have links and other information about today’s show and our guest, which you can find at our show notes at audioskills.com/podcasts. The big takeaway for this show should be, you can do it. You can set those schedules. You can set those goals. You can make great music and pursue your passion. It’s just a matter of using the right techniques, and then having the dedication. And just making it happen. So wherever you are, whatever your skill level is, go out there and make some great music. Thanks for listening.

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