Your 20 Favorite Articles from 2020

Let’s get it out of the way—2020 was a difficult and apocalyptic year.

Especially if you’re an artist and planned on making a living with music.

Breakout tours were cancelled, local scenes obliterated and plans were postponed. But, somehow you made it through.

So, congratulations on getting through this challenging time. We’re hopeful that 2021 is going to be much, much better.

The good news is that you probably had a few opportunities to hunker down and take time to work on your music making skills.

Perhaps you learned some new songwriting techniques, an advanced theory concept, maybe you wrote an album and learned how to promote your music online without live shows.

2021 is full of new possibilities and uncharted territory. Yes—there are still unknowns, obstacles and challenges. But, you’re stronger now and you’re ready to take on this world on your own.

Before we completely forget about this year, let’s take a look back at all the ways we learned, adapted, and survived in 2020.

You learned how to survive in tough times as a musician

Cancelled tours and closed venues didn’t stop you in 2020. 

You found ways to connect with fans through the internet via live streaming, social media and safely distanced outdoor shows.

Even if you couldn’t play live shows, you found other ways to be creative and you made sure you were collecting every penny you’re owed.

Here’s a few ways the conversation about survival came up this year.

Went Outside

What Touring Might Look Like in 2021

Touring for now is going to be different.

For now, local shows and small tours are going to be the trend.

But, chances are people will be hungry to take in live entertainment a social setting once the pandemic subsides.

Here’s some definite answers about what live shows and touring will feel like next year.

How to Live Stream Music: The Best Way to Reach Your Fans Online

Live streaming became a huge trend in 2020.

Maybe you DJ’d or attended a live set at Club Quarantine, witnessed the incredible Travis Scott x Fortnite live stream experience, or attended a virtual festival or hosted an Instagram live for your friends.

You learned to embrace live streaming for its advantages and imperfections, and you got better at it.

Here’s everything you needed to know about getting the best live stream performance possible.

25 Music Ideas, Tutorials and Tools You Can Use From Home Right Now

Even with distracting news cycles and hard realities, you hopefully found ways to stay creative with all the extra time you had at home.

Fortunately, there was plenty of support to help you find inspiration and stay creative.

Whether you chopped up some free samples, learned some new music theory, dove into free VSTs or took advantage of many freebies offered by music companies—you found ways to stay busy.

Music Royalties: How You Get Paid for Your Streams

There’s no point in beating around the bush—money’s tight for many musicians right now.

Unfortunately there’s no one way to start making more money with music, but this year you learned how to take advantage of as many revenue streams as possible.

Merch sales, Bandcamp Fridays and making sure you’re collecting everything you’re owed were huge areas to focus on this year.

In this article, we made sure your metadata was optimized to make sure you collected all your royalties from streaming and more.

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You got better at producing music

As much as it was hard to be confined for most of the year—music production is often a solitary and lonely experience.

Modern software tools make it easier to create complex arrangements on your own and home studio friendly gear is more affordable and easier to use than ever.

This year you got better at producing music. You found ways to perfect your at home workflow, make beats and finish tracks.

Here’s a few articles that got you there.

Music Production: Everything You Need to Get Started

This article covered absolutely everything you need to know to start producing music.

You learned how to set-up your home studio and how to develop technical skills like mixing, compression, gain-staging, recording and more.

Here’s everything you need to get started with music production.

Make Beats With Creator: The Online Beat Maker from LANDR Samples

Making beats from home got easier than ever with the introduction of Creator, the new online beat maker for LANDR Samples.

Creator is a free online beat making tool that makes it possible to hear how up to eight samples from LANDR’s sample marketplace sound together.

There’s endless combinations of loops to create with. 

If you’re looking for a new way to get inspiration for new beats, definitely give Creator a try.

5 Reasons Why Mastering Matters

Mastering is a complicated technical process that makes your music sound its best on every medium.

It’s about more than just adding a layer of polish to your final mix. A bad master won’t sound good on your car stereo or bluetooth speaker.

That’s why mastering matters more than ever today–this article dove deep into why.

The 8 Best Free DAWs to Create Music

This year you found the perfect free DAW to get started with making your own music.

There’s so many DAWs on the market paid and unpaid.

In this article we explored all the free DAWs that are currently available and helped you find the best fit for your style and needs

You learned more about music theory

Advancing your music theory knowledge always a great way to improve your music making skills and boost your songwriting.

Here’s a few music theory topics we covered throughout the year.

new technique@3x

Suspended Chords: Create Tension With Sus4 and Sus2

Suspended chords are a simple way to add tension to your chord progressions.

In this article we looked at the mechanics behind Sus2 and Sus4 suspended chords and how you can use them in your songwriting.

7 Common Chord Progressions You’ll Instantly Recognize

If you listen closely many songs use similar chord progressions as the underlying framework for the melody and song structure.

Here’s seven chord progressions that you’ll hear everywhere.

Syncopation: How to Feel and Play the Off Beat

Rhythm is one the more difficult music theory concepts to master because it’s something you feel more than something you read.

Syncopation takes rhythmic theory to the next level be introducing emphasis outside of the strong and weak beats.

Not sure what that means? Sounds like you need to brush up on your syncopation knowledge!

You got better at promoting your tracks

Finding ways to promote your music outside of playing shows became super important in 2020.

That’s why we covered a handful of creative ways to get more reach and more engagement with your music.

How to Get Lyrics on Spotify and Connect With Your Fans

Have you ever wondered how your favorite artists list their lyrics along side their tracks for fans to read as they listen?

The easiest way to do it is by claiming and uploading your music to Genius.

Here’s everything you need to know about about getting your lyrics on Spotify and other streaming platforms.

How to Get Your Music on TikTok in 5 Steps

For a number of reasons Tik Tok exploded in popularity this year.

Interestingly the entire social media platform was originally created as a place for people to post lipsyncing videos. In other words, the platform heavily relies on music creators.

It also pays artists for each stream on Tik Tok—that mean you can get your paid whenever someone uses or streams your track.

Here’s everything you need to know about claiming this streaming channel and potentially earning some extra money from Tik Tok streams.

How to Make the Best Spotify for Artists Profile

Spotify is a central place to keep your fans engaged and get your music streamed.

That’s why claiming your Spotify profile and keeping it up to date is so important.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting the most out of your Spotify profile.

The 10 Best Playlisting Services for Growing Your Audience

Playlists are how music gets discovered in 2020.

It’s the modern version of a radio station or a mixtape. They’re vehicles people use to find new music to love.

Getting your tracks on a playlist should be in your music promotion plan, here’s a 10 services that help you get your music on high traffic playlist.

You stared down some hard truths

It’s healthy to confront and address challenges of pursuing music as a professional endeavour.

That’s why I love our Hard Truths series where we tackle some of the tougher topics around music production.

Here’s a few of the Hard Truths we looked at this year.

Hard Truths: You Need Good Cover Art to Get Heard

Cover is art is the first thing people see before they decide to listen to your tracks.

The truth is people do judge an album by its cover, so it’s so important that you use good cover art.

Here’s why it’s important and how you can get your album covers up to standard.

Hard Truths: Music Has a Samples Problem

Since the 90s sampling completely changed the way artists create music.

But repurposing another artists work came with some tricky legal issues around copyright.

Here’s how you can move past the issues with sampling that persist in music production.

Hard Truths: Technical Standards Matter in Mastering

A successful master is only successful if it meets a few specific technical standards.

If you or your mastering engineer aren’t checking LUFS or true peak loudness, you might not be getting a master that will sound good on every device.

In this article we explored why these technical standards are so important and how you can get your final version as close to perfect as possible.

Hard Truths: Mixing Is Lonely

Loneliness is probably something we all experienced in some capacity or another in 2020.

Truly the life of a music producer is often a lonely one at the best of times–especially during the mixing phase.

This article dove into why mixing and producing doesn’t work well by committee, how you can learn to make better decisions about your tracks on your own.

Hindsight is 2020

Let’s not forget how tough this year was for so many people and let’s be thankful for making it through to the other side.

Things are looking up and music is never going away. Humans love music, they want to hear it, they want to witness people make it and they want to have it be part of their lives.

So yeah, venues are still closed and touring isn’t a thing quite yet. 

But, I have a feeling the insatiable appetite we have for new art and new music will come back stronger than ever in 2021—good luck next year!

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