Support SoundCloud artists with the click of this new button

SoundCloud have added a new feature to help artists raise money either for themselves in these difficult times or for others like charity.

Many artists have been forced into a tight spot by the Coronavirus which is leaving them without live performances and by extension a huge source of income. SoundCloud have come out with a list of initiatives they’re providing for artists to help them out.

The latest feature to launch is the ability to add a simple button to your SoundCloud profile. This button allows listeners to click on it and they’ll be sent to a place where they can donate or fundraise for the artist or other good causes.

It’s as simple as this:

  • Click the “Edit” button on the top right side of your profile page on web
  • In the “Edit your Profile” pop-up, click “Add support link” to add a link to financial exchanges or online stores like Kickstarter, Bandcamp, Patreon, Paypal and more (full list of supported platforms can be accessed here – SoundCloud never takes a cut)
  • Hit “Save changes” to generate a Support button on your profile that’s visible above your stats and on your track pages
  • Use your bio to let fans know what they’re supporting – whether it’s your rent for the month or the album you dropped this week
  • Promote on socials so your day-ones know there’s a way to help you beyond playing your tracks on repeat 

SoundCloud say: “We’ve built this feature to help creators impacted by the COVID-19 virus and will keep it active as long as we’re all in this so you can fund your projects, offset bills, or get whatever you need to stay on your feet.”

Dolby boosts Twitch stream audio for musicians live-streaming concerts

With so many artists taking to the web for home-concerts Dolby are stepping in to upgrade the sound.

Coronavirus has many of us working at home including musicians who have taken to the livestream for home concerts in everyone’s houses. It’s helping to give us all a taste of the joy that live music brings and that we’re missing so much, but the sound could often be a bit better.

Well thankfully Dolby looked on at the situation with their famously high quality sound technology and decided to help out. They’re adding a feature called Dolby On to streams on Twitch which they claim will enhance the sound quality from musicians using… lets just say: not studio-quality equipment.

The feature isn’t exactly new, you may have used it if you’ve watched anything on Facebook Live before. But Twitch is definitively the king of live web streaming right now and therefore a huge source of sound going out that could be even better.

Dolby On is actually it’s own app beyond stream enhancing placements. It can be downloaded on both iOS and Android for recordings that use ‘Dolby sound’. The app is built with functions that allow you to adjust and tweak the sound to your definition of perfection – or at least, as perfect as a phone recording can get to.

Musicians can use the Dolby On app to get their sound just right and then stream to Twitch from it with tweaked sound.

Top Spotify playlist curators you need to send your music to in 2020

Playlists are what can make an artist in 2020. Getting your music playlisted can be the promotion you need to bring in thousands of new listeners.

We can help you send your music to Spotify’s hand crafted playlist for free.

Many of the top followed playlists on Spotify and other streaming platforms are from independent curators with the hope of promoting your music to new listeners. If you come across any on Spotify that are perfect for your music, check the description for submission info or see who created it.

Here are some of the top playlist curators you need to check out if you want to promote your music for free.

Sidekick Music

Head to Sidekick and select one of the following playlists to submit your music to:

Click here to submit to Sidekick Music.

INDIEMONO

Simply pick a genre and your music will be sent to a whole host of relevant playlists.

Click here to submit to INDIEMONO.

Soundplate

Search through and submit your music Soundplate’s playlists or one of their top featured playlists. With playlists such as:

Click here to submit to Soundplate

ForTheLoveOfBands

Fill out their form, including the genre, mood and similar artists, then tick the playlists you want to be considered for, such as:

Click here to submit to ForTheLoveOfBands

Daily Playlists

Playlists are user submitted, so there’s no shortage here. Simply search for genres and the site will populate a list of suitable playlists. For example:

Click here to submit to Daily Playlists

For help getting your music onto Spotify for free, head to RouteNote and start distributing to all of the top stores and streaming services.

Roland’s cross-platform mobile DAW Zenbeats is now free

Roland have made the full version of their awesome music making app free for all you self-isolators.

Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world is a troubling thing and a concerning time for many – the upshot is that we are seeing a lot of awesome software and applications being made free to keep us all entertained whilst we’re stuck at home.

Roland are the latest to treat us with an awesome DAW for iOS and Android. Their Zenbeats app is a simple to use but powerful to master digital audio workstation that runs on your mobile so you can create full tracks from your hand.

It uses sounds new and old with samples, loops, instruments and more to put the creative power at your fingertips to create whatever you like. You’ll recognise some of the legendary equipment that they’ve modelled in there, including their historic drum machines like the TR-808 and TR-909.

The app has always been free but their Zenbeats Unlock tier is now free down from $15. The Unlock tier adds many more instruments, effects and presets for the music-making app. It’s free for a limited time so make you sure you get it while you can.

The projects are streamlined with sharing abilities that allow you to save your work to various Clouds as well as sharing it with friends and others to collaborate upon.

If you really like it then there’s a $150 Ultimate pass which provides every loop pack, preset, and over 6,000 sounds to use. But for now there’s a whole lot of fun to be had for free.

You can get the app and unlock the Unlock V1 features free now on iOS and Android.

CD Baby vs. RouteNote 2020 Comparison

CD Baby and RouteNote offer worldwide digital releases of your music to many of the same top stores such as Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, Amazon, Pandora, YouTube and Deezer, however CD Baby can be very costly for both small and developed artists.

Other features CD Baby advertise include YouTube Monetization and promotional tools (such as Spotify Pre-Saves). Click the links to see how RouteNote can offer these features too. Additionally RouteNote work directly with SoundCloud to help users monetize their content. CD Baby do not offer this feature.

Stores

RouteNote deliver to many of the same stores CD Baby work with, plus some extra such as:

  • eMusic
  • Gracenote
  • Kanjian
  • Melon
  • Bugs!
  • Vibe
  • Naver
Pricing
CD Baby
  • Single from $9.95
  • Album from $29
  • Artists keep 91%

UPCs (required for every release):

  • $5 per single
  • $20 per album
RouteNote

Free

  • $0.00 – Zero upfront fees or recurring costs
  • Artists keep 85%

Premium

  • Single – $10
  • EP – $20
  • Album – $30
  • Extended Album – $45
  • $9.99 annually
  • Artist keep 100%

UPCs

  • $0.00 – Unlimited UPCs for free

RouteNote is better value for money in almost every instance. Taking a 9% cut on top of fees is unsustainable for small and large artists alike.

This new quarantine game lets you play with friends from home + your smart speaker

This party game sets you the task of talking to your Smart Speaker in just the right way to win this new quarantine game.

Hey Robot is a game that’s been building support on Kickstarter and is yet to launch in full. However it’s lovely creators saw everyone getting bored whilst stuck at home self-isolating and have launched a rough version early that is free to play.

You need either an Amazon Alexa or Google Home speaker, they say it doesn’t work so well with phones. You place that near to your computer and call your friends to bring them in and you’re off in one of the two game modes.

To play Hey Robot, you have to make your Smart Speaker say a word or certain phrase without saying it yourself. It’s like taboo with a robotic and sometimes nonsensical player who also happens to have a hell of a lot at their disposal.

There are two game modes: versus and co-op. In the first you battle your friend, or friends, to be the first to complete enough words and phrases to earn 14 points. In the other you work together to complete the words and phrases in 15 turns.

You can head to the online game’s website here.

The creators commented on releasing a free, stripped down internet version, saying: “We’re all socially isolated and in great need of some anxiety-relieving conntection, we thought we’d make a version to play with Zoom or Skype and as many friends as you can fit on your screen.”

The full edition of Hey Robot comes as a board game with gorgeous Pop Art design and 850 “lovingly-curated” words. You can pre-order that, which is expected to ready in June, here: everybodyhousegames.com/heyrobot.html

YouTube said to be working on TikTok competitor with ‘Shorts’

Kings of video sharing YouTube want a piece of TikTok’s massive market.

TikTok are the biggest social media app in the world after launching a little over two years ago. It’s no surprise there’s reports of YouTube wanting in on the shareable lip-syncing and dancing clips, with a new feature they’ve been developing called ‘Shorts’.

Shorts will allow users to upload brief videos to the mobile app, accompanied by YouTube Music’s massive catalogue of licensed music. There’s no official word on this from YouTube yet, so a release date is still unknown.

Pioneers of copying popular apps – Facebook have begun testing their own ‘short-form videos with music’ feature on Instagram with ‘Reels’. The feature is currently only available in Brazil, but expected to come to the rest of the world should it prove successful.

To get your music on YouTube Music (& YouTube Shorts), YouTube Content ID, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and just about any other platform for free, head to RouteNote and start distributing today.

Best 5 headphones under $50

If you’re after a new pair of headphones on a strict budget, your best choice varies based on what you need them for. We’ve picked some of the best headphones you can get for under $50.

We’ve decidedly stuck with wired headphones, as going under $50 for wireless can cause issues with battery life, connectivity, bluetooth range, build quality and sound quality. So if you’ll mostly be looking for headphones to pair with your 3.5mm jack-less phone, you may want to look elsewhere.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones need to be comfortable to wear for all day desktop use.

over ear
Panasonic RP-HT161 – $15

Soft padding ensure they’ll sit on your head for hours on end without causing any discomfort. While the long cable makes them perfect for a PC under the desk in the office or gaming.

  • Powerful sound
  • Comfortable
  • Long cable
On-Ear Headphones

On-ear headphones should be fantastic for day-to-day use and easy to travel with.

On Ear
Sony MDRZX110 – $15

The Sony’s are one of the best rated pair of headphones on Amazon and for good reason. They achieve everything on-ear headphones should at a bargain price.

  • Great sound
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
In-Ear Headphones

Much like on-ear headphones, in-ears need to be great for day to day use while being even smaller to fit in a pocket or under a hat.

in ear
Panasonic RP-HJE120 – $10

The Panasonic earbuds produce an impressive sound for such a small set. Their changeable in-ear tips provide a great seal for all ear sizes and block out a decent amount of noise.

  • Sleek
  • Multiple colours
  • Three tip sizes
  • Good seal
Closed Back Studio Headphones

There are two types of headphones you’ll want to look into when building your home studio setup. Closed back and open back headphones. Closed back are perfect for recording. If your budget can stretch to $100 checkout out our ‘Top 10 tools for music producers’ for some truly professional grade headphones.

closed back
Tascam TH-02 – $20

These studio headphones provide a tight fit, leaking virtually no sound, while producing a flat frequency response, perfect for recording.

  • Balanced frequency response
  • No leaking
  • Great for recording
Open Back Studio Headphones
open back
Samson SR850 – $50

Choices are very thin on the ground when it comes to open back headphones when your budget is limited to $50. These semi-open back choice will be the best you can get for the price.

  • Super comfortable
  • Wide frequency response
  • Great for mixing

None of these choices are the best headphones you can get in each category, but if limited to $50 you get some surprising good cans.

The 5 best free plugin synths available now

There’s no better time to load up your DAWs and get creative with a selection of brand new and exciting plugins.

These are the 5 best synthesiser plugins that we have found that are completely free for you to download and use. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other amazing digital synths out there or that you have a personal favourite that doesn’t appear.

Share your best free finds in the comments below. Here are ours:

Voltage Modular Nucleus

This whopping modular synth package has been made free for the “foreseeable future” (sorry to any readers in a potential future where this no longer applies) to keep you isolators entertained and creative. With 22 modules and over 130 presets to play from you’re not short of fun here.

VK-1 Viking Monophonic Synth

This synth present a promises of authentically emulating a classic monophonic analog syntheseizer. Whilst you try to guess which classic synth it’s based on you can play with the incredible array of control on offer through this powerful yet free synth VST.

Tal-Bassline

For all you low-end lovers out there this wonderful synth gives you bass sounds with heaps of customisation on top. Featuring a -18dB low pass filter it has been designed to feel warm and analogue. Oh and, of course, it’s free.

Dexed

You won’t be short of potential with Dexed with more potential for custom sounds than you could discover in a lifetime. It’s a brilliant plugin to spend an evening with exploring the potential and working out just how it all works!

TyrellN6

Want to get a truly unique sound form a synth? Try TyrellN6 for a new, warm experience that puts you in mind of indie game music and sound effects – so if your creativity lies near that then do try this synth.

Marshmello, A$AP Ferg and others curate brand new artist playlists on Pandora

Pandora have launched a new series of playlists with some major artists sharing the music they love right now.

Listen In… Pandora have recruited some beloved artists to come on to their streaming service and share the music they love. Each playlist is entirely curated by a different artist and resembles the music of the moment for them. They’re sharing it with Pandora so that their users can Listen In.

They’re planning to get even more artists to come and share the tunes they want you to Listen In to. Future artists creating personal playlists include All Time Low, Broken Social Scene, Fitz and the Tantrums, Jeezy, Jim James, Prince Royce, amongst many others.

Here are all the artists you can Listen In With right now:

A$AP Ferg: Rapper and songwriter A$AP Ferg put together a playlist packed with bangers to have you jamming from sun up to sun down (and beyond). “I’ve got a lot of music I’m listening to, artists I’m loving, artists I’m discovering,” the musician explained to Pandora, promising that his picks get a little “crazy.” From Bad Bunny to Kendrick Lamar, crank the volume on Ferg’s choices, ahead.

DaniLeigh: Singer, dancer and rapper DaniLeigh is making sure you get through this strange situation with a jam-filled soundtrack to keep you going. Her picks include her own collab with DaBaby, “Levi High,” as well new bops from Lil Uzi Vert and Megan Thee Stallion. “I hope everyone is safe and spending time reflecting on life right now,” she told Pandora. “Wash your hands, stay inside and enjoy your downtime!”

Godsmack: Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin and Tony Rombola want to make sure we all jam out together, even if we’re doing it from afar. “We picked a bunch of songs that pretty much represent our musical styles,” the hard rock musicians said of their playlist, which is packed with plenty of guitar solos and killer riffs from bands like Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Oasis and AC/DC. Hear a message from Rombola and Larkin ahead, as well as their musical choices.

H.E.R.:Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter H.E.R. put together “a mid-day, mid-tempo playlist for days in quarantine,” featuring Snoh Aalegra, Rihanna and Frank Ocean. As H.E.R. says, she hopes to “keep the mood light” with “easy vibes.”

Kiana Lede: Singer, songwriter, actress and pianist Kiana Ledé is making sure you get through this unusual situation with a jam-filled playlist featuring R&B picks by Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Baby Rose, Daniel Caesar and more.

LeAnn Rimes: Singer, songwriter, actress and author Leann Rimes pulled together a playlist full of songs that she promises will “uplift the spirit and remind us of the beautiful days we have ahead.” Her selections span multiple genres and include tracks by an eclectic group of musicians like U2, Andra Day, Bon Iver and more. Rimes added that “music can speak for us in moments when we can’t find the words, and remind us of lighter days in dark times,” so take a deep breath and press play, ahead.

Marshmello: Electronic music producer and DJ Marshmello curated a pulse-pounding list of 20 of his current favorite tracks to keep your energy up while you’re staying in. From Galantis to Slushii to his own collaborations with Kane Brown and A Day to Remember, find out what Marshmello has been listening to lately ahead.

Meghan Trainor: Fresh off of the release of her third album, ‘Treat Myself,’ singer Meghan Trainor created an exclusive playlist for Pandora packed with pop hits from Lennon Stella and Harry Styles, as well as high-energy tracks by Summer Walker, SZA and more. “I chose these songs because these are the jams my husband and I bond over,” Trainor explained. “They get me happy and excited, and remind me why I love music.” Hear her picks ahead!

Rod Wave: Singer, rapper and songwriter Rod Wave put together a playlist packed with both rap classics and contemporary bangers. From 2Pac’s “Staring Through My Rear View” to Drake’s “Weston Road Flows,” crank the volume on Wave’s picks, ahead.

Tate McRae: Singer-songwriter Tate McRae, who you might know from her viral pop performances on YouTube, put together a list of the top 10 songs she’s listening to right now, including two tracks from Summer Walker and a single off of The Weeknd’s new album. “There are so many different genres in these 10 songs,” she explained, noting that her playlist are always “all over the place.” Listen to McRae’s picks, ahead.

The Chainsmokers: The Chainsmokers — aka DJ duo Alex Pall and Drew Taggart — have joined the cause, sharing an exclusive Pandora playlist full of uplifting, energetic bops that they hope will “transport” fans from their living rooms to somewhere a little more exciting. Ahead, hear songs by Christian French, The Weeknd and more.

Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves: Hard rock singer and songwriter Tommy Vext, who fronts the band Bad Wolves, is making sure we rock out together. “It’s a good time for us as a community to share music with each other,” he says of his exclusive playlist, which he describes as “all across the board” thanks to mellow tracks from Lana del Rey, as well as pulse-pounding songs by Suicide Silence, Korn and Ozzy Osbourne.