Lessons from Fergie

Recently the internet has been a buzz. Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) sang the national anthem for the NBA All-Star game. Apparently it didn’t go very well. (I listened to a few seconds of it, but moved on.)

Here’s what I find so fascinating about moments like this — people go out of their way to make fun of her because of her bad performance. Musicians are the worst culprits.

If you are one of the folks who shared around the video and added your two cents of Fergie-bashing to the chorus, I have a few lessons for you: (more…)

You Should Write Bad Songs

Had a cool digital conversation with one of my VIP members the other day.

He told us he has a notebook full of song ideas, but that he has never finished a song. When he tries to write a song, it doesn’t go well. He doesn’t want to waste these good ideas on a bad song, so he waits.

It’s a common story, and I completely understand it.

That’s when I brought the tough love. Here’s what I wrote:

To be brutally honest, your ideas probably aren’t that good anyway. So take a chance. Write some bad songs. You’ll end up with some good ones anyway. And you can always steal an idea from a bad song to write a better song down the road. Right now you’re the guitar player who can’t play 4 chords but wants to learn every Van Halen solo. Gotta start somewhere.

Now before you write me off as an arrogant jerk-wad, I wasn’t just saying this to be a turd. I speak from experience: (more…)

The One Thing You’re Missing

If I had to estimate, I’d say 20% of my subscribers release music on a regular basis. (I don’t have data to back that up. It’s just a gut feeling.)

There are plenty of reasons why people don’t release music, but there’s one in particular I want to tackle (and also offer a solution).

FEAR seems to be behind a lot of it. It goes by many names. Stalling. Procrastination. Perfectionism. It all boils down to being afraid to put yourself out there, to be vulnerable.

Trust me, I get it. (more…)

I’ve Got a Disease

Just today I diagnosed myself with a disease.

H.I.T.S. Syndrome.

It’s common, and deadly. And by “deadly” I mean it can kill all productivity.

It stands for Head In The Sand Syndrome, and it’s baaaaaad news.

If you…

  • Turn up the car radio when the engine makes a funny sound, you might have HITS Syndrome.
  • Never ask for feedback on your songs or mixes, you might have HITS Syndrome.
  • Choose to ignore problems rather than deal with them, you might have HITS Syndrome.

The good news is that it is 100% treatable. (more…)

Ringing Snare “Problem”

I had an all-day tracking session on Monday.

My go-to drummer Tim Horsley and I arrived at the studio early to get drum sounds. We went through individual mics one at a time to make sure everything was sounding good. When we came to the top snare mic, it initially sounded like it had too much ring to it. My gut instinct was to have him dampen it to bring that ring down.

Tim, being an awesome dude, challenge me on it, saying it might make the snare sound lifeless and boring. I trust him on this stuff, so we left it alone. (more…)

An Interesting Distinction

I spent some time with a buddy yesterday, a producer here in Nashville. We talked about studio design, microphones, and production. He talked about how he enjoys mixing as much as production, and how he doesn’t care for big tracking sessions with lots of musicians.

I love living in Nashville.

While I was listening to my friend talk, I couldn’t help but think about all the people I interact with online. Most of them are hobbyists trying to learn the ropes of recording and mixing. I notice an interesting trend among the hobbyists that I don’t see in the professionals I know.

The hobbyists are obsessed with the latest gear. They’ll upgrade to the latest DAW, drool over the latest plugin, and keep their studio computers on the latest, fastest operating system. (more…)

Heading to NAMM…

Next week I’m heading out to sunny Anaheim, California to attend the Winter NAMM show. I’m excited to see Graham, Warren, Sam, Lij, Chris, Matt, Björgvin, Ronan, Chris, Brian, and others I’m sure I forgot to mention.

BUT…I’m also excited for the chance to see YOU, if you’re gonna be there.

Reply to this email or hit me up on Facebook to let me know if you’ll be there. If nothing else we can shake hands on the showroom floor.

If you can’t make it, and there’s a manufacturer or piece of gear you’d like me to check out, let me know. I’ll be shooting some GilderCam footage while I’m there.

Speaking of GilderCam, here are a few episodes from Summer NAMM last year:


Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

What “Trust Your Ears” Means

I read an article the other day that took a jab at the popular advice to “trust your ears.”

I get it. On the surface, it’s not super helpful advice.

But it gets at something deeper, something a lot of people don’t talk about (or don’t want to talk about).

When you ask me what EQ moves to use on your vocal track, it’s one of those questions that really can’t be answered, not unless I’m sitting next to you in your studio, listening to the vocal along with everything else in the track. (more…)