Sue's songs, her story, upcoming releases and performances.
Author: Sue Larsen
I am a singer/songwriter who has been performing my own material and cover songs for 40+ years. I am currently working on the production of my first album...getting all ready for distribution. Be well.
I know in my previous post I wrote that I wasn’t going to change out the songs on the streaming platforms. Well, this whole process has been a learning process so, why not learn some more? I do want to put my best foot forward always and in all ways. So, I decided, what the heck. I did Google what other people’s experiences had been like and thought, they survived, so will I. I use DistroKid as my digital distributor and this is how it went. I deleted the old track. The Hyperfollow page for that track vanished instantly. I uploaded the new remastered track and used the same metadata as the original track. I also used the same release date as the original. A new Hyperfollow page for that track was created within minutes. Within one day the new track was on Spotify and within three days the updated track was on all the playlists that I checked and the old track was gone. I did not lose the stream count of my original track. So, it was swapped out pretty quick. Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer and the rest were not so fast. They took 12 days. That’s not soooo bad. What I really needed to be mindful of was all the places that the link for the older version was and update them. All the pages on websites, store, Linktr.ee, EPK, and my Sue Larsen Hyperfollow page needed updating. The new Hyperfollow page was nearly empty except for the re edited music video and the Spotify link. Other than Spotify and Apple Music you need to find the URL locations on all the other platforms to set up a link wherever you need it. That’s a bit of a drag, but a necessary step to share your music. The finished Hyperfollow page is HERE if you are interested. I do plan on remastering my other previous releases and I will do the same process again.
So, what did I do differently to add life back into my track? I need to point out that it is amazing how my ears and my brain got “used to” or “conditioned” to hearing the song as I originally released it. I thought it sounded good. I did use reference tracks. At least three and still I was fooled. I found out later it wasn’t “radio ready” and wasn’t “polished”. So, what does that mean? I had used too much compression or not used it properly in various tracks and had squashed a lot of dynamics. I went back to the mix and lessened and changed the compression settings on the drums, bass, vocals, some synth parts and some guitar tracks. I had also been too conservative in my use of panning. I spread a few parts out wider in the stereo field using the panning knobs and added a little gain on the side only material on the overall mix. I also used a touch of the Directional Mixer to had a little more stereo spread. I then used three different reference tracks and used the Reference 2 plugin to compare my stereo image, EQ settings, and my compressing to the reference tracks. I think the whole process took about 8 hours to find all the culprits. I also mastered the mix to sit at around 11 LUFS instead of 14. I am looking forward to hearing my other songs a little differently!
Since my first release back in 2020, I’ve learned quite a bit more in regards to mixing and mastering. I decided to remaster my first three releases. I will leave what is in the digital stores because DistroKid doesn’t have an easy way to swap out song files. There would be a possible 3 weeks window to take the old versions out of the stores and then another 2-3 weeks to get the new masters on the platforms. I will use the new masters on the 10 song album and resubmit the songs for radio play. Those stations that are playing my songs, I’ll ask them to exchange them. The metadata will be the same as I am not changing the duration of the songs by more than 10 seconds and I’m not changing notes and arrangements.
Let me explain what I am doing differently and perhaps help you with some new ideas or methods. I am using a M1 mac mini and Logic Pro X. I finally am utilizing busses for group effects. This is really helpful with background vocals or like guitar parts. It also uses less CPU of the computer. I created names and saved all the plug in patches that I used. This way if I like the settings of a particular plug in, lets say for a piano sound, it’s real easy to find and use again. I added Melodyne Editor 5 to my arsenal and use that as a plug in. Gain staging is super easy, particularly with the vocals, to make a more cohesive track if needed. The ability to correct pitch issues is also much easier in Melodyne than using the tools in Logic. Moving or changing notes is also more intuitive and visually easier. My version of Melodyne can analyze and manipulate polyphonic tracks which is not possible in Logic.
On the busses I am utilizing the Logic Multipressor plugin to create parallel multiband compression on vocals, drums, and bass. If it sounds good with other instruments, I add a little bit. This usage fattens and tightens the track. I recently purchased Soothe2 which eliminates the need to make notch EQ adjustments to eliminate resonances. I use this plug in a few busses and have settings for guitars, backing vocals, and lead vocals. I am also using the plugin StageOne. This plug in helps create width and depth in your tracks. I have one setting in the busses for lead vocals and one for the backing vocal tracks. It also works great with parts that are “ping ponging” back and forth in the stereo field.
On the Stereo Out in the mixer I have added the Gain plugin to boost the side only material to widen the stereo image. I have also added two instances of Channel EQ. One with mid only and one with side only adjustments. Soothe2 is placed before the EQs to take out the “junk” and I end the plugins with the Directional Mixer giving a touch of stereo width to the mix.
The last piece of software I added was Reference 2. It is the last plugin in the mastering stage. With it you can compare your original track with multiple reference tracks. Within it’s display, you can compare the levels, EQ curve, dynamics, compression, and stereo width within frequency ranges of your master mix with your reference track. Logic Pro has Match EQ which enables you to compare the EQ curves, but can’t compare the stereo field or the dynamics of the songs.
I hope you find some or all of this useful. Keep learning and creating! Sue
I am just over two weeks away from releasing my first ballad, “Really Up To You”. You can check out my DistroKid Hyperfollow Page HERE. There are quite a few administrative pieces that need to happen, particularly if you own the rights to the sound recording, if you are your own publisher, or if you are the songwriter. Or if you are like me, all three circumstances apply. In order to be paid proper royalties, you need to make sure your metadata is accurate and that you have all the proper numbers to embed. I created a spread sheet to help remind myself of what needs to happen. Here it is:
Now, you don’t necessarily need to create a press release, or you may choose to only send one to your local media. I use Send2Press for distribution of my more than local press releases. You also don’t need to run ads, but it is an important way to promote your work. You can see that I am an ASCAP member, they are my PRO, DistroKid is my digital distributor, Songtrust, is my publishing administrative company, SoundExchange collects royalties for featured performers on a track and royalties for all sound recording played on non-interactive digital radio, and I have a profile on Musixmatch, which distributes my lyrics to all the digital platforms that accept lyrics. I am not bothering to send information to AllMusic anymore, as my 2nd and 3rd releases never made it to their platform after several attempts. It’s so haphazard. I have another spread sheet for all the radio stations I will be submitting this song to.
I hope you found this helpful and all the best to you and your creations! Sue
This post has taken a while to develop. I took the time to learn new mastering techniques to create something a bit fuller tonally and wider in the stereo field. I added parallel compression to the master to add more punch and fullness. It can also be used to create more volume, but that wasn’t a concern with this song. I also added side and mid EQing. I used one of the Vintage EQs in Logic Pro for the mid channel material, for warmth, and used a Linear EQ to gently boost the highs and mids on the side channels and applied a very slight gain on the side material. On the mixing end I added a touch of the Stereo Spreader. When my album is ready to go, I will remaster my first three releases so they will come to life a bit better.
Another time saver was using Melodyne. I left it active on all my tracks. It may drag your computer down, if you have it on, depending on how many tracks you use it on. After I had mastered the song some digital artifacts were noticeable. Going back to the mix to find these abnormalities and fix them was so much easier with Melodyne. For me, during the mixing sessions, Melodyne allowed me to manipulate any notes or chords faster and easier than Logic’s tools. I didn’t use any De-esser and it was easier to see what I was doing. I’m glad I went that route…buying Melodyne Editor.
Lastly, I only had two drum tracks, one vocal track, and four instrumental tracks. It was much less to process and make the tracks play nicely together. On the other hand, because there were so few tracks, each one had to stand on it’s own…there was no place to hide or bury something.
I am now in the next phase of getting everything ready for my next release “Really Up To You”. It’s release date is set for September 16th. It’s time to put that music video together!
If you do the Spotify thing…you can Pre Save the song by clicking on the link…Really Up To You
Hi there, I’m in the process of recording my next single release and discovered that using a click track would have been in my best interest. I’m not the best at keeping perfect time while playing the keyboards without some rhythm, but I really liked the passages I had recorded. I didn’t want to just scrap it all. I’m using Logic Pro X and up to this song, I didn’t use anything in addition to “what’s in the box”. Using Logic’s Smart Tempo I was able to reign in the final finished track of the piano part, and along the way to that finished track I used Melodyne 5 Editor in order to adjust the timing of the piece as a whole and individual notes of the polyphonic track. Logic has no way to adjust the pitch, placement, attack, or decay of polyphonic material. Thankfully, Melodyne is not that difficult to grasp after watching a few of their tutorial videos. I ended up purchasing the Editor edition. Here is the link to learn more about Melodyneand the various versions. Here is the online spot I purchased Melodyne so you can save some money…JRRshop. I have not used Melodyne yet to process my vocals, but I have been researching what a huge help it has been to so many. I will be able to cut out using a de-esser and use Melodyne instead. I’ll find out!
On another note, DistroKid, my digital distribution company, is now offering a free landing page for artists. I set mine up and here is the link Hyperfollow Page Sue Larsen. If you are an indie artist, and not sure which company to choose, this might help you make a decision. Keep creating and being your true self! Sue
It has been a busy time of learning since my last blog. I immersed myself in mixing and mastering improvements of which I identified over 30 different techniques I could implement. Some things will improve my workflow as well. For example, using track stacks for like instruments, putting my effects onto busses, and using a high pass filter, or when it makes sense, a low pass filter on all my tracks to to clean things up and create more space in the mix. I also dove into mid-side processing and using parallel multiband compression to “fatten” vocals or drums. I will also be using drummer tracks for the first time in Logic Pro X in this next song. At least, I believe that route is the best for my ballad “Really Up To You”.
Since I am not a “real” piano player, based on my experience with keyboardists that have been in and out of my life, I allowed myself three weeks of practicing in preparation for the recording of the piano. I just completed that step and I’ll let my listeners decide how I did. I believe that challenge, of performing on the piano, was the hardest part of getting this song off the ground. I am really looking forward to the finished product.
In regards to the promotions I did for my previous songs, I am still seeing the results of it. My YouTube Channel has over 300 subscribers and when I started the campaigns I had less than 30. Here is the link if you want to check it out, Sue’s YouTube Channel. I am aware I have a long way to go, but this is encouraging. In regards to Spotify, my song “Hardly Hiding” is still on three of the original playlists from the promotion and it has been nearly three months. You are guaranteed 30 days, so I am very pleased with that result. Here is my Spotify Artist Link if you want to check that out, Sue on Spotify.
So, the good news is that everything is “out there” and available to you. If you are willing to put in the time, effort, and sometimes money into whatever you are doing or being, you will see the results. If you have any questions, feel free to email me…in the meantime, keep creating and keep working on your dreams or passions. All the best, Sue
I hope you are well. I am getting ready to get back in the studio and record my first ballad. I actually needed a breather, so I spent time doing more of the marketing stuff that was needed and analyzing the data. I also spent a good portion of my time learning a few more mixing and mastering techniques to make my next songs more marketable for radio play. I was tempted to remaster my first three songs and then decided to let them go for now. If I remix them, I will change the style a bit for each one, so that I can call them remixes and create different metadata and copyright those new sound recordings.
My promotion wrapped up on Spotify, officially the end of last month. All of my songs are still on some of the original playlists they were placed on. Right before the promotion started, I had 19 monthly listeners and under 600 total streams. I was on maybe 3 playlists. Now my songs have been on over 90 playlists, have been streamed over 36.5K times and as of today, I still have over 8.7K monthly listeners. That number will continue to fall until I release and promote more songs. At the apex of the promotion, I had over 17K monthly listeners.
Numbers don’t lie!
The same company also promoted my three music videos on YouTube. I started the campaign with 20 subscribers, I now have over 235. I had a total of 1.3K views at the onset and now I have 75K views and my videos have been on over 110 playlists. I will be using that company again! The links for my Spotify page and YouTube channel are just below if you want to check them out. Sue’s Spotify Artist Page
I hope all is well with you. I’d like to bring to your attention a couple of internet “real estate” locations that are absolutely free. If you don’t Google yourself or your band every now and then, I recommend you do. Everything may not be as accurate as you would like, but as long as something is not going to hurt your “brand” (you or you band) I wouldn’t sweat it. I have had articles rewritten purposely with errors, just enough so that another news outlet could take credit for the article when it wasn’t from them. I’ve had the photo changed in the article, I assume to entice more readers, which didn’t make sense because the article was about me being my age and coming full circle in my 40+ years in this music business. So, to have a photo of a 20 something year old showing her mid drift…well, you get the point.
Back to internet real estate. Perhaps if you Google yourself, your profile may show up with a photo and you will see your social accounts and links to the platforms your music can be found. Your website may be listed and the little bio you wrote in one of your socials. Mine ends up being from Twitter. Well, all of this costs you nothing and you can and should claim your profile. You just need to prove you are you! What is also super cool is you can create a Google Business Profile. You will need to verify that the business is yours, but in the meantime you can add all the information they require and you get write your own bio and add the links you need to. Once you receive the verification code in the mail and verify the business you are good to go. I use Square for payments with Cash App Pay and all credit cards etc., so I decided to use their app Square Appointments to have folks schedule consultations with me about their event. I have a “Book Now” button on all the socials that accept it and websites. Now you will be able to accept Google Reviews as well and that can be really helpful for any business!
As I had stated in my last blog, I am running Facebook Ads for the first time. I have to say that with my limited experience, my CTRs are higher and the cost per click is far lower than the other socials I have advertised on. It doesn’t mean I will abandon the others, but if your advertising funds are limited, it’s something to consider. I have also hired a promotion company to get my three releases on Spotify playlists and to promote my music videos on YouTube. I bought packages that were not the lowest and certainly, not the highest. I had to do a bit of research and I suggest you do too. There are so many companies out there vying for your money. Not all of them are legit or have a track record. Be careful. Here is a link to a write up I found helpful – The 13 Best Indie Promotion Services That Are Worth It. Since I am still in the middle of the promotion, I will wait until my next post to share with you the results.
Happy New Year! So, I’m in between song releases and I decided promoting my first two singles is the least I can do. It took me so long to get my first song out the door due to a tremendous learning curve of everything, I didn’t even think about promoting it. I did post it on my own social media accounts. That’s not a very good business plan. The second song, I submitted to a few local radio stations and I did land an interview and the song was played on WHUD 100.7 FM. I also posted on my social media accounts. That was better, but again not so effective. The third song I submitted a press release to my local news outlets and magazines at least 10 weeks from the release date. I also wrote a national press release and sent that to Send2Press about 6 weeks ahead of time. The national press release did cost some money for that company to distribute it, as I wouldn’t know where to send it and to whom. So, the local effort netted me one newspaper print and online article with The Examiner. That’s all good. So, next time I’ll try again with the same list that I had created and maybe add a few. I did not seek out any reviews or blogs. I’ll need to do some research on who would make sense to reach out to, to get some credible reviews. I am working on paying for a promotional company to pitch my songs to radio. I do not want a company that takes every song from everyone and sends out an email blast all over with no thought about proper placement or follow up. If my songs are not “polished enough” for radio play, but I can get some promotion for Spotify or YouTube, I’ll do that. By the next blog I should have something to report. With this last song, I created ads using footage from the music video. They were short clips re edited or stills. I placed ads on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. As I had stated in my previous blog, I also sent the last song to 17 radio stations that accept submissions from indie artists. Some links are in my last blog to help you find stations. My songs are playing on three of those stations. You want to make sure those stations are reporting their playlists so eventually you get your royalties.
Facebook was a challenge I resolved finally. So, my first two releases will have ads run on all the above platforms and Facebook. I had set up a business page without a profile (because you could) a very long time ago. Facebook changed it’s rules and my page became a “grey account”. I did eventually set up a profile to have associated with that page, but some of the functions and features never activated including my ability to run ads. I had to set up another profile of me which you can check out HERE and I created another page. Then I had to add the new “me” account as an admin to the old account so I would have a fully functional page to create ads. I’ll try a Facebook ad with my last release as well since I couldn’t before. I am also looking into YouTube ads and Google ads. I suggest you ask your listeners to give you thumbs up and likes and reviews everywhere there is internet “real estate” to do that. Don’t forget your email list to do the same. All the best and stay safe and healthy, Sue
I can’t believe a month and more has flown by! I hope this note finds you well. I have been busy creating ads out of bits and pieces of my last music video and I ran some ten day ads on Instagram – twice, TikTok (5 day max.), Twitter, and Pinterest twice. All in all I reached over 88,000 accounts in the past 2 months. My click through rate (CTR) is low. Promoters say you would be doing well with a 5% CTR. Instagram was the only platform I had over 1%. Pinterest, which I had to use a static picture to be able to go to my DistroKid page, showed the ad to over 55,000 accounts. Twitter hit over 12,000 accounts with the majority of them being in Canada. TikTok did over 8,000 accounts, but that audience was young…13-17 (my new followers of the future) and then the 55 and over showed up a bit. I used different footage in the two Instagram ads…the first one attracted slightly more women and the age range was 35-54. The second one attracted far more men with the age range of 18-24. I am fine with the results because I am a rookie and I am building brand awareness (me). Because I did not do any ad campaigns for my first two releases, I’m going to give them a little push as well. I am still trying to get my Facebook Ad account straightened out, since it is disabled and I never set one up. I would like to set up a Facebook Pixel and use Ad Manager. Time will tell…
If you go down this road, you will need to experiment with your ads and what works best for you. Of course, you could hire someone or a promotion company to do that exploration and creation. I am not a marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but with willingness, research, and another huge learning curve. I’ll get better.
I also did quite a bit of research on where to try to submit my songs for internet, satellite, and FM radio. I also researched radio promoters as I could be researching stations for years, it seems. The promoter that I wanted to work with (iplugger) didn’t accept my last release. I respect that. The song wasn’t what they were looking for. I don’t really want a company that accepts every song and just sends out an email blast to every contact they have. Because there is no way one song is going to fit the bill for every station. Each station has it’s own character and genre. You don’t send a pop song to a metal station.
So far I have submitted a song or multiple songs to 17 stations. Three of them are playing my songs. One of the bigger things to look for is whether a station is submitting their playlists to the appropriate entities so that you will eventually receive the royalties you are due. Don’t forget to embed the metadata for each song… ISRC, composer, lyricist, ISWC, artist, song title, etc. Two free pieces of software to get that done is ISRC Editor and Kid3 – Audio Tagger. Here are some links that enabled me to get going with the radio station submittals.