Lemon Tones for Unique Guitar Melody

GuitarBlog: Lemon Tones for Unique Guitar Melody...

Learn to resolve phrases into 'off-color' tones for generating unique melodic guitar lines...  

This episode of the GuitarBlog works toward helping players resolve their phrases into off-color tones that are not a part of the more common chord tone resolutions. 

These "non chord tones" end up being the chord-tone extensions of the scale, (9, 11, 13). While these intervals do tend to come across as sounding, "off-key," they can be made to work as resolutions with practice.

YouTube- PART 1: Tonal distance is the first step to learning how to use these, "Lemon Tones." The reason why these tones come across as 'off-color' is due to their distance from the tonic and from the more common Root, 3rd, and 5th chord tones, (1, 3, 5). Chord progressions and example melodies in "D Major," and "D Minor," are used to help demonstrate the distance and arrival of these tones.

Members - PART 2: Off-color tones of the 4th and 11th in minor keys are very popular off-color "Lemon Tones," and need to be developed as a part of the learning process. In example three, we apply a chord progression and melody line in "C Minor," that targets the use of these tones specifically. Example four, wraps up the lesson plan by applying different combinations of the lemon tones into a phrase that resolves in the key of "C Minor."
Enjoy the lesson!

Lemon Tones for Unique Guitar Melody

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Swampy Blues Twang...

Jim Lill...

Play blues or minor pentatonic licks with some country-rock attitude, and you end up in a real swampy blues twang...

We all love the blues — it’s a style that goes hand-in-hand with guitar playing. Blues is so versatile you can work it into many other types of music. Think about it: Brad Paisley, Guthrie Govan, and Joe Bonamassa are among the diverse 6-string heroes who have been inspired and influenced by blues, and draw on it for their own rock and country riffage.

There’s a style of blues I like to call “swampy.” If you’re in the key of D and play blues or minor pentatonic licks with some country-rock attitude, you end up in a real sweet spot. It’s almost like you can do no wrong—just get in that groove and ride it through the song. Let’s explore this swampy, country-blues area.

We’ll start out on acoustic, although these licks work great on electric as well. Acoustic guitars love to be played on the lower frets with lots of open strings, so let’s start there.

Example 1).
This is an open-string lick where you flat-pick the notes on the 5th string and pluck any notes that fall on the 4th or 3rd strings with your middle and ring fingers, respectively. This hybrid approach lets you keep your picking hand in one position throughout.

Then in the second half of the lick, we move this concept over to the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings. We’ll add an Ab in there, which in the key of D is the b5 or “blue note.” If you hang on the blue note for too long it sounds terrible, but if you use it to get to the note just above or just below, it adds an awesome dash of spice.

Ex. 1

Example #2).
Now we’ll move up the fretboard a bit and into another sweet spot for the key of D. Ex. 2 rakes up to an F and bends it a little before descending through the D blues scale (D–F–G–Ab–A–C). Then we’ll switch things up and go from straight 16th-notes to sextuplets. If you can fluidly switch between straight 16ths and sextuplets, your control over timing will be through the roof.

Ex. 2

Example #3).
Let’s switch to the electric guitar and the bridge pickup for the next set of examples. The bridge pickup delivers a really aggressive, in-your-face sound that cuts through a mix.

Blues, and guitar in general, isn’t just about the notes you choose to play. It’s also about the notes you choose to mute. Ex. 3 starts out with a muted upstroke, which adds character to the lick. Then it gets much, much more interesting with a raked downstroke into a 12th-fret, half-step bend and release (bending a 6 to a b7, if you’re keeping track of the numbers), followed by a pull-off to the 10th fret. Execute the latter with one fluid motion.

Bending strings is one of my favorite things, as evidenced by a YouTube video I recorded called 45 Ways to Bend a Guitar String. The tail end of this example has a bluesy double-string bend, followed by a unison bend, which means you hold one note and bend another note up to the same pitch. It’s a great way to know if you’re bending the string the right amount because the other string is right there for a pitch reference. This move is nicknamed a “smear” because it sounds like you’re smearing notes together.

Ex. 3

Example #4).
In Ex. 4, we use triplets to pick up the speed again. Here we descend through the D Dorian mode (D–E–F–G–A–B–C) with an added blue note (Ab). The cool takeaway from this lick is its special picking pattern. We start by picking a note on the 3rd string, then plucking a note on the 1st string with the middle finger, and following that with a pull-off. Then we get into the triplet rhythm of down-up-pull-off, which lets us descend or ascend strings with plenty of articulation without having to pick every single note.

Ex. 4

Example #5).
Now let’s flip that pickup to the neck position. The neck pickup offers a smoother, more civilized sound than the aggressive bridge pickup. Its hollow tones have been used in blues for over half a century, so let’s make the most of it.

Hendrix was known for using this area of the neck for hammering-on double-stops. You can hear this sound in “The Wind Cries Mary,” and the idea has been passed down to many guitarists since. Start Ex. 5 by hitting a double-stop with your first finger and hammer-on to the lower of the two notes two frets up with your third finger. Instant awesome. And as a bonus, the lick uses a double-string bend.

Also, as I mentioned previously, the blue note (Ab) works well to approach the note directly above or below it, and this phrase illustrates the process. Simultaneously pluck a D on the 10th fret of the 1st string and pick an Ab at the 13th fret of the 3rd string. Then, while holding the D steady, slide from the 13th to the 12th fret. You should only be on the Ab for a fraction of a beat. Called a “grace note,” the quick initial pitch doesn’t actually have a duration like an eighth-note or sixteenth-note. Instead it serves as a springboard into the target note (G). Very bluesy.

Ex. 5

Example #6). 
In example six, we dip into fusion territory. It’s all triplets and the first note is a pickup note—a note that precedes the downbeat. It starts out with an A octave before alternating between D minor pentatonic scales that cross each other. Once the scales pass each other you wrap it up with a non-linear series of notes in the blues scale. Tasty!

Ex. 6

Example #7).
Now we’re going to dig out the slide and conquer the final frontier of swamp-blues soloing. Like Derek Trucks, Duane Allman, and Sonny Landreth before us, let’s bid farewell to frets and glide across the strings on brass, chrome, or clay. For this example, we’ll stay in standard tuning. Although open tunings offer more options, there’s a practical benefit to playing slide on the guitar you’re already holding.

A couple of tips: Tuck your pick into your hand with your index finger, and use your thumb, middle, and ring fingers for picking. Also, make sure you press the slide down enough for the notes to sound cleanly, but not so hard you’re bumping into the frets.

Sonny Landreth is one of the greatest blues slide guitarists ever, and Ex. 7 is inspired by his playing. You pick a note, move a half-step below it, and then slide back into the original note. It’s a unique sound you probably wouldn’t think of if you picked up a slide for the first time and just winged it. Then it culminates in the classic, basic slide sound: Hitting a double-stop on two adjacent strings and then sliding up two frets into the target chord.

Ex. 7

Example #8).
The coolest thing about slide is not having to obey theory rules. Ex. 8 starts on C and G#, then slides down to A and F. Pick the triplets throughout with your thumb and middle finger.

Ex. 8

Sweet! Now that you’ve got all of these down, put together a jam-track and start doing some actual playing. 

Need more Country Rock, check out my lesson:

COUNTRY ROCK: Scales and Key Center

Amazing Interview with Guitar Legend "G.E. Smith."


Amazing 3-part video Interview Series with "Saturday Night Live" star Guitar Legend, "G.E. Smith."


On his early life and influences; on getting his first guitar and learning how to play; on his earliest musical influences, music he listened to on the radio as a child and his first exposure to rock and roll; on attending a broadcast of Hootenanny and learning to play from watching other musicians; on learning he wanted to be a professional musician and his first paid gig

On attending Woodstock in 1969; on playing guitar for Gilda Radner's Broadway show "Gilda Live"; on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

On playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live; on becoming music director for Saturday Night Live; on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live

On working for Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live; on assembling the band for Saturday Night Live and the sound of the band during his tenure; on the set-up in Studio 8H where the band played on Saturday Night Live and playing during commercial breaks


On creating musical arrangements for Saturday Night Live; on his influence on Lorne Michaels in booking musical guests for Saturday Night Live; on a typical work week on Saturday Night Live, and working with the likes of Chris Farley and Nirvana

On Robert Mitchum hosting Saturday Night Live; on the Saturday Night Live band backing up the musical guests; on working with various people on Saturday Night Live including Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Al Green, Buddy Guy, and Paul Simon

On working with various people and bands on Saturday Night Live including The Replacements, Brian Ferry, Sting, Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger, Tracey Chapman, Cypress Hill, and Aerosmith; on writing the "Wayne's World" theme

On working with Eric Clapton on Saturday Night Live; on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live; on his favorite musical moments on the show On Miley Cyrus on the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special; on leaving Saturday Night Live in 1995; on his greatest contribution to Saturday Night Live


On touring with Bob Dylan while still working at Saturday Night Live; on working with and getting to know Bob Dylan

On acting as music director for The Emmy Awards in 1988; on various instruments he plays, and having a guitar named after him by Fender in 2007; on then-current projects, including collaborating on a wounded veteran charity with Roger Waters

On advice to aspiring musicians; on career achievements and regrets and how he'd like to be remembered.

TONE TEST: $150 guitar Vs. $5000 guitar...

Paul Davids...

$150 Guitar Vs. $5,000 Guitar: Put Their Tones to the Test...

Which guitar sounds better—a $150 Motion TD-107 or a $5,000 Martin D-42?

You can let your ears decide, thanks to a recently posted video by guitar instructor Paul Davids.

In the clip, which you can watch below, Davids pits the Motion—his first guitar, ever—against the high-end Martin, being sure to use the same settings for both acoustic instruments, including new sets of D'Addario strings.

"Both guitars are mic'ed exactly the same way: same distance to the mic, same angle to the neck, same height, same room temperature, same humidity, same dude playing the songs, same gain on the pre-amp, same output level of the track used in the DAW," Davids says in the clip.

Davids puts both instruments through their paces by playing bits of several songs, including the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" and Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire."

Of course, "how something sounds" is subjective. Still, be sure watch the clip and comment on what you think. You might be surprised. Or maybe not!

Figure it Out Fridays: Lesson 018 - Part Two

Welcome to, "Figure it Out Fridays: Lesson 018 - Part Two," Ear Training Guitar Lesson. 

Here's the Answer Key for, "Figure it Out Fridays," Ear Training Lesson 018.

In this series, we study how to transcribe a new guitar melody or chord progression every week. Musical ideas are released on Tuesday, with the Music and TAB's released that same week on Fridays. Do your best on the days "in between" to learn the different guitar parts. 

Up-Load your guess of Tuesdays guitar idea (from the part one lesson) to your YouTube channel. Share your examples on; GooglePlus, Twitter and on FaceBook. 

Be sure to check-out the "Part Two" video released every Friday to learn exactly how Tuesdays guitar part looks charted to TAB and in Music Notation. Enjoy the series!

Figure it Out Fridays: Lesson 018 - Part Two

To All Bands: DO NOT Rely on Your Friends & Family for Support...

Brian Storm ..

Many people expect their loved ones to be their biggest advocates, and feel crippling disappointment when they aren’t...

Trust me, I know you want your friends and family to support your band and come to your shows. I liken this to the way a sandy blonde suburban preteen boy must feel when his dad gets drunk with his hot secretary instead of coming to his soccer games.

Even if your friends do come to your shows, you want them to “get it” and understand the relentless effort you have put into your craft. After all, while many of them are drinking their brains away with an $8 Jack and Coke, you’re sitting on your ass every night, exhausted, screaming your lungs out, improving your precision as a guitarist, beating your heart into the drums, or even, doing whatever it is that you do with a bass.

Chances are, your friends, family and even your girlfriend don’t truly give a shit about your band or your music. Many people expect their loved ones to be their biggest advocates, and feel crippling disappointment when they aren’t.

There are many people who are proud of me and have helped make my accomplishments possible, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a fan of what I do — or that I should count on them to be.

Over time, I have internally noted that nobody (outside of my awesome peers in the music industry) has ever offered me sincere encouragement to continue what I’m doing. In fact, I’m convinced that some even harbor jealousy.

I no longer expect their encouragement. Why should they? They have kids and shit, and to them, I’m fucking off. How could I ever know a thing about REAL responsibility or life experience?

Don’t try to sell your music to your friends and family. They are not your consumers. They are not customers. Counting them as your fan base is a mistake. There’s an even more important lesson to be learned here. If you want to become a professional, then don’t ‘take it home’, as is advised with any other job.

Getting bummed that your family and friends don’t back you like you want them to is a waste of fucking time.

Sadly, I’ve seen the uglier side of this spectrum. Once you reach an arbitrary boundary of success and you start to make a little money, you start to hear from many of these people again. I’ve been contacted for loans, jobs, and concert tickets more than I ever imagined a 26 year old snapback obsessed metalhead would.

I’ve had people ask to tag along with me to a show so they can hang out with a band while I interview them yet back out the second I ask them for help (holding the camera, etc.) in any way.

For the last two years, I have truly come to love the people from around the world who value what I do — as a singer, a YouTuber, a writer, or a dad joke teller. These sort of people think you’re cool even though you’re not — which makes them INFINITELY cool, even if they don’t realize it.

Ultimately, you will be much happier if you spend more time loving the people who love you and your music instead of sulking about those who don’t.

Remember the faces who stood front and center in an empty room to watch you play, and never fucking forget them.

How to Take Your Songs from Good to Great...

Katie Lott ..

Songwriters: hear this - Never be afraid of doing deep repeated analysis of your songs...

I used to be the type of musician where, once I finished a song, it was done. I added it to my long list of songs, and then I never looked at it again. As a result, I had a huge list of songs that had great potential, but I was never completely satisfied with any of them.

When I started going back and rewriting and perfecting my songs, it brought a whole new level of confidence in my songwriting. I could defend every single choice I had made in my songs, and I was finally creating songs that I was proud of. If you’re still on the fence about rewriting, here are a few reasons you should try it out.

1. Eliminate "Lazy" Song-writing
Let’s be honest. We’ve all done it. You didn’t really feel like putting substantial lyrics in that second verse, but you were just dying to be done with the song and release it to the world!

I used to fall into the trap of, “Well, the chorus is so good, it doesn’t really matter if the verses aren’t stellar, right?” Wrong. The truth is, if I release a song with lyrics or melodies I’m not completely proud of, it’s really hard for me to stand behind those songs.

So before you declare your song "finished," apply this test: If this song became a hit and you heard this song on the radio every day for the rest of your life, would there be any part of the song you would cringe at?

2. You'll Never Get it "Perfect" the First Time
You’ve probably heard that the cure to writer’s block is to lower your standards, and that’s so true. Sometimes throwing in some “filler lyrics” that you know you’ll change later will help you maintain the flow of your writing session and keep you from getting stuck.

Sometimes your mind is running away with a perfect melody, but the other half of your brain can’t keep up with equally killer lyrics. Let that melody take over. Give yourself the freedom to let your creative juices flow!

When you’re confident in your ability to rewrite lyrics, melody, and chord progressions, there’s less pressure on the first go-around. After all, it’s only a rough draft.

3. Time Helps You Become More Objective
It’s always hard to critique your own work. Right after you’ve just written your beautiful, incredible, brilliant, masterpiece of a song, you just can’t imagine anything being wrong with it. I don’t know about you, but I tend to fall “out of love” with my songs after some time has passed. If I give myself a month or so before reviewing a song, I’m able to look at it much more objectively.

Try this: Next time you finish a song, before you polish it and throw it the vault of “finished songs,” take some time away and come back to it with an open mind. Be honest with yourself about what parts of the song are and aren’t working. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Katie Lott is a songwriting and voice coach at Modern Songstress, a website providing articles, coaching, and courses to musicians. Katie coaches singers and songwriters over Skype to help them understand the "music theory" side of things – and channel that knowledge into creating better music. Grab Katie's free "Songwriting Proofreading" checklist to help you review your songwriting objectively!

Home Music Producing for Beginners...

Sam Friedman...

The "Producer" used to be the person who booked the studio sessions, hired the musicians, and controlled the direction of the recordings. Today, that role remains for but a select few. Nowadays, most producers are also the artist...

Atlanta producer Metro Boomin is just one example of a rising star in the modern world of production. He's produced several number-one records, and he gets full-blown media features just like the vocalists he makes beats for. We even have producers like Deadmau5 and Skrillex who are playing arenas.

So while the traditional producer role is still alive, it's evolving, and musicians are getting more and more adept at learning how to produce their own music.

Now that the role of a producer is changing so quickly, many musicians have been taking production into their own hands. And, with all the technology, it isn't difficult, but there are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving in, such as, "Do I want full creative control and responsibility? Do I have the time and dedication to master the art of producing?"

So, if you've decided this is really something you want to do, there are a few tools you'll need. Obviously a laptop or computer is essential, but beyond that, there are countless programs and tools to get your music sounding sharp and modern.

A few options are laid out below to help you get going on producing your own music, and while they're not the only ways to begin, we trust you'll have a good grasp on the basics of production after reading the following list.

How to approach music production
Before purchasing any gear, let's talk about how to approach production.

Imagine you're at an outdoor restaurant. and not too far away is a rock band performing one of their songs. You're not close enough to hear the concise live sound, but you can make out most of the lyrics, the guitar melodies, and the drum beats. Now, imagine you go into the studio with that band and have to produce the song. Everything is up close, clear, precise, and needs to be properly put together. You know how the song goes already, but now you're faced with the task of producing it into something polished and perfected.

So, where might you begin? Let's start with the vocal. You have a dry recording of the main vocal, so depending on the mood of the song, you might put some reverb, delay, and compression on the track in order to round it out a bit and give it some atmospheric room to breathe.

Then there's the guitar. How loud do you want it to be? How aggressive or soft do you want it to strike? How many layers do you want? You're not writing the song, you're producing it. Maybe you really like the drummer's performance live, but feel like a drum machine will be better suited for the recorded version, so you might take some drum samples or MIDI drum kits and start putting together a beat.

Similarly, the bass player might have killer stage presence, but you might opt to use a synth bass for its different textures and electronic capabilities. Production is your way of deciding how the music sounds.

Again, before purchasing any gear, ask yourself what you like to hear in a producer. Take Nigel Godrich, for example. He's been Radiohead's producer for years. But at one point, the songs we love, like "Karma Police" and "15 Step," were just demos or acoustic guitar sketches. The band put together an arrangement, but Godrich gave depth to the vocals, electronic manipulation to the drums, layering to the guitars, and so much more.

When you listen to your favorite music, imagine having all of the parts laid out without any effects, then compare that to what you're hearing. That's the role of the producer – figure out what you like to hear in production so you know where to begin.

Now, let's get into some gear

The tools you need
Digital audio workstation (DAW)

To begin, every music producer needs a DAW. What exactly is a DAW? In short, it's a computer software application for editing, recording, and producing audio. There are also electronic devices and hardware separate from a computer that can be used.

If you just have a smartphone, there are plenty of resourceful apps to help you produce your music. However, we’re going to focus on computer software for now.

If you’ve dabbled in production or hung around any producers, you’ve probably heard of a few popular DAWs, such as Ableton Live, Logic, FL Studio, or Pro Tools. Each provides a unique set of tools for producing. Since these are the most common, we’ll compare them for you, but there are still several other DAWs you might want to consider on your own research.

Price: $800 to $1,400
Most ideal DAW for live performance
Compatible with Mac and Windows
Used by Skrillex, Deadmau5, Flume

Price: $199
Great DAW for artists familiar with GarageBand
Only compatible with Mac
Used by Calvin Harris, Disclosure, Jamie xx

FL Studio
Price: $99
Popular among DIY artists for its affordable price
Windows is favored, but Mac compatibility is possible
Used by Boi-1da, Soulja Boy, Hit-Boy

Pro Tools
Price: $599 (not including the cost of updates)
A powerhouse DAW for professional studios
Compatible with Mac and Windows
Used by Pharrell, Max Martin, Rick Rubin

Keyboard and pad controllers
MIDI keyboard and pad controllers allow you to create freely without the constriction of your laptop and its minimal keyboard. They also can come equipped with mixing tools to help balance out your soundscapes. These are great creative tools that will push your experimentation into exciting musical territories.

Akai is one of the more popular brands that makes MIDI controllers. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting with the MPK Mini – it gives you just enough room to write catchy synth and bass lines, as well as come up with organic rhythms for your samples and MIDI beats.

A plugin can enhance or add audio-related functionality such as sound synthesis or digital signal processing. Now, before we get too deep into the importance of downloading external plugins, we also have to place value on some of the great native effects that come with the DAWs we mentioned earlier. Whether you’re looking for reverb, delay, compression, or EQ, most DAWs come with their own version of each effect (plus much more).

However, companies like iZotope specialize in creating thrilling plugins to edit your audio. Having a strong arsenal of plugins is like having a large pedalboard for guitarists: more effects equal more experimentation – simple as that! But also, backbone effects like compression or EQ can be hyper-specialized with a powerful plugin, thus giving you the premium tools to make your music production sound professional.

How to get started with your production tools
So you’ve just purchased your first DAW, you’re sitting at your workspace with a cup of coffee, ready to create, and you may be wondering, “Where the hell do I start?” Fear not – there are literally thousands of tutorials on YouTube to help you get started with getting to know your DAW of choice. In addition, programs like Ableton have online forums and communities where you can seek advice from other users and Ableton staff. So be curious and ask questions.

But most importantly, before you begin, think about what you want to be producing. Is it killer, bass-heavy hip-hop beats? Is it Diplo-inspired EDM? Or is it something softer and more ambient, like Brian Eno? One of the great things about electronic production is that the boundaries of genre are erased – you can create anything! But with such limitless potential, it helps to start with a goal.

Let’s say, for example, you want to make hip-hop beats. Listen carefully to what goes in a hip-hop beat. A few ingredients will usually be piano, 808s, thin hi-hats, and electronic snare drums. From there, open your DAW, load up a MIDI piano, use your MIDI keyboard to write a melody, however simple it may be on the surface.

Then, open a drum rack and get a simple 1-and-2-and-3-and-4 beat going with your 808s on the 1 and your snare on the 2. You can use a sample pad to control the drums with your hands so that the rhythm has a more organic feel.

Then, lay out hi-hats in eighth notes. Use plugins like reverb on the snare, delay on the hi-hats, and EQ on the 808 in order to tame the sub-bass.

There is your basic beginning to a hip-hop beat. You can play with your drum patterns and effects, and essentially go wild! But it helps to start with something simple and recognizable, and from there, your production will flourish and grow.

Production in the 21st century is boundless because of the abundance of creative technology and user-friendly programs. While we will never get tired of piano, guitar, violin, or other non-electronic instruments, we can embrace a modern soundscape where traditional drums can coexist with digital drums, or human vocals can blend with vocoders, or grand pianos can play alongside electronic synths.

And though the limitless potential of production can be intimidating when you're first starting out, don't be afraid to just play around. Even if you don't understand a certain plugin or MIDI instrument, don't feel like you need to sit through an hour-long tutorial before experimenting. Play around and find out what you like as a producer.

Sam Friedman is an electronic music producer and singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY. His music blends experimental ambience with indie-driven dance music. In addition to pursuing his own music, he is a New Music Editor for Unrecorded and is passionate about music journalism.

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (009)

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (009)

The latest QwikLicks video is, "F Minor 7 Arpeggio Licks" Available in the FREE members area. Includes a PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Studio.com. Lessons in the QwikLicks Series will run through a short collection of guitar licks in all kinds of different playing styles...

Episode 009 of "QwikLicks," breaks down three Minor 7 licks in "F." each one explores a different angle of how this arpeggio can be used. From position shifting to moving the arpeggio with intervals, you'll have several new ideas after watching the lesson. Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!

8 Signs You're Being "That Guy" in the Studio...

Aaron Staniulis...

Here's a quick list of how you can avoid being "that guy" in the studio!

1. "I brought a couple people to hang out in the session..." as five people walk into the studio
We've seen all of the "behind the scenes" from studio sessions with an entourage of people hanging out. I do want artists to be comfortable when they come in to work on a project, but when the control room is more crowded than a frat house basement on a Saturday night, things quickly go from being a "hang" to a clusterf#k. No one at any level is productive in that environment.

2. "I gave you a bunch of tracks to choose from while mixing – I want you to have fun with it"
Don't be afraid to make commitments, please. For the love of God, commit to something. Printing some effects you liked on a separate track, including a DI from your guitar sessions for re-amping, and providing an alternate vocal take are all well and good and helpful. But opening a session with 135 tracks and having to choose "what's best" now goes beyond any definition of the word "mixing" – and I better be getting a producer credit out of the deal as well, by that point.

Also, "I want you to have fun with it" tends to be code for "I'm going to need you to do all the work and be clairvoyant in regards to what I'm looking for, too, so hope you've been working on that mind-reading that's all the rage."

3. Messing with knobs or gear that you weren't expressly told you can touch
I'm not territorial by any means, but just because you've booked studio time doesn't necessarily mean that you've also booked the ability to crank on every piece of gear in the place. Ask first – or perhaps better yet, just don't do it. I'm fine with you adjusting something if needed, and I'll point out what things are yours to control for the duration of our time. Otherwise, it's basically the equivalent of grinding dirty shoes into someone's couch.

4. Showing up an hour and a half late to the session and wondering why we "ended early"
If the session starts at 9:00 p.m., it starts at 9:00 p.m., not when you get there. A studio session is not something to be fashionably late to. Call ahead if there's traffic. I'm human, too, and I get that "life" happens sometimes. However, your session time is your session time, unless we work something out otherwise.

5. "Dude, where's the food, weed and liquor?"
Again, I'll do anything in my power to make clients comfortable. I'll even buy them dinner sometimes, but walking into a studio and expecting the accommodations of an all-inclusive cruise isn't how any of this works. I don't have all the flavors of Ciroc. There's a folder of takeout menus in the kitchen, and no, that won't be on the studio's dime.

6. Needing to redo work from a session because you out-drank/smoked yourself
The studio can be fun, but effectively wanting a refund on your time because you blacked out is one way to never get booked back. I'm here, sober, and ready to work. Keep the partying to a conservative level, or perhaps consider saving the raging for after the session when the "work" of the day is done. Do what you have to do to get in the zone, but I've never seen vices add constructively to a session.

7. Showing up completely unprepared for the session
If money is no object when it comes to booking your time, feel free to do what you want. For most of us, though, we don't have that luxury. Change your strings, put new heads on the drum kit, and make sure all the parts are down at the practice space, so we can make the most of your time and your sound when you get here.

8. Not having reasonable expectations
At the end of the day, the way you sound is the way you sound. Why don't you sound more like X, Y, or Z despite the fact that we're using the same gear, you ask? Because you're not X, Y, or Z. No amount of gear or "studio magic" will change that. You are you, and we're going to do everything we can to get you the best product possible, but there are just some things that aren't a matter of plugins, time-aligning tracks, and twisting knobs. Knowledge is half the battle, and understanding that fact is going to make us all a lot happier and more productive.

Aaron Staniulis is not only a freelance live sound and recording engineer, but also an accomplished musician, singer, and songwriter. He has spent equal time on both sides of the microphone working for and playing alongside everyone from local bar cover bands to major label recording artists, in venues stretching from tens to tens of thousands of people.

How to Make More Money Playing Live (from a Club Owner)

Jhoni Jackson...

3 Strategies to earn more from talent buyers and venue owners...

Upstart bands and artists in the early stages of cultivating a fan-base often encounter opposition when booking. From a business perspective, it makes sense: if a talent buyer or venue owner isn't sure you'll draw a crowd, then handing over a potentially big-bar-sales night to you is a risk. And when you do land a gig, he or she might insist on minimizing that risk by offering you a super low pay rate – or no pay at all. How do you convince that person you deserve more?

When looking to negotiate higher pay from venues, these three strategies can actually yield results, especially if you work hard to promote your shows. Really, these methods mean opportunities to genuinely earn more if you put in the extra effort. Talent buyers and venue owners can appreciate that, and most will pay you accordingly.

1. Show your worth with numbers
Bands often reference what they've been paid before when suggesting a guarantee or percentage. That's a somewhat futile method of negotiating, as no two venues are exactly alike financially. What works for one in terms of payments won't necessarily work for another.

Your best tools of persuasion here are found on social media. How sizeable is your online fanbase? For your last show, how many responses did you get to the Facebook event? It does matter, of course, how many actually showed up – but if you don't have crowd shots (use them if you do!), then the closest thing to proof of great attendance is those event responses. Send over your social media pages as well as past events to show the strength of your following.

This won't work for everyone, of course. Obviously, if you've never played before, you don't have any previous Facebook events to use as examples. Additionally, not everyone trusts the prowess those numbers supposedly signify: an impressive online following doesn't always translate to in-person devotion.

2. The plus deal
This is sometimes referred to as “back end,” though that's technically the name of the extra profit you get. Here's how it works: you're guaranteed a certain percentage or dollar amount, but you also get an additional amount after a certain point. That marker can be a number of tickets sold, or the talent buyer's bottom line.

For our purposes here, we're talking about bands and artists who aren't getting much pay to begin with, so let's work with relatively low numbers.

Example one: $50 guarantee plus 10 percent back end after 50 tickets sold at $5 each.

In this scenario, you'll get your $50 either way. But if more than 50 tickets are sold, you get more. Let's say the cover count is 100 – the door has raked in an additional $250. You'd get $25 extra.

Example two: $50 guarantee plus 10 percent after $250, with tickets at $5 each.

This could be a situation where there are four bands on the bill, and each is guaranteed $50. If the door money reaches more than $250 – meaning more than 50 tickets sold – then 10 percent of the surplus goes to you. (And probably 10 percent to each of the other bands, too.) So at 100 tickets sold, you'd get your $50 guarantee, plus $25 more for reaching 100 ticket sales.

These numbers are somewhat arbitrary; they're intended not as standards of negotiating, but rather as examples you can adjust to fit the exact situation you're in. Talent buyers and venue owners might be more willing to accept a deal like this because there's little risk on their part. They don't think they'll make enough from the door to pay you more than X amount, and you agree to that amount – but you get a little more if you prove them wrong.

3. Prove your draw, then up your rate
Did it take a lot of convincing to get the gig? If the talent buyer or venue owner is dubious of your ability to pull a crowd, he or she might ask you to play for free. When you're just starting out, that's okay, but you should always be looking toward the future. You should only perform at no charge when it means it'll get you closer to paid, or at least better quality gigs. (Or if it's for charity.)

Agree to play for free (or cheap) once, but ask them to commit to another gig if you draw X number of attendees. Post-show, if you can, talk with whoever booked you. What did he or she think about the performance? The turnout? If the right person isn't present, follow up the next day via email or whatever form of contact that person preferred in the past.

Send him or her a clip of your set if you've got one, and mention the fan response as a way to help him or her see that your next show can be even more successful, and that you deserve some level of payment. Try to actually book a follow-up gig before the conversation goes stale. (Booking several months ahead is ideal, anyway.)

Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.