What is the best MacBook for music production?

Image Credit: Apple

Apple’s redesigned MacBook Pro 14 and 16-inch with the new M1 Pro and M1 Max are the most powerful laptops from Apple.

Apple first announced their transition away from Intel and to their own silicon Macs at WWDC 2020. Their first three products featuring the M1 chip were the Mac mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, before also coming to the iMac and iPad Pro. These five products were praised for their power and efficiency. Since the launch of M1, pros have eagerly been awaiting something higher end. At Apple’s latest event, we finally saw the launch of the new MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max, along with new AirPods, HomePod mini colours and Apple Music Voice Plan.

With up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU, M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBooks are perfect for editing massive spatial audio projects with hundreds of high quality tracks and effects. After the event, Apple updated their pro music creation software Logic Pro with spatial audio features, royalty-free Producer Packs and extra power to take advantage of all that extra power. Apple says the 10-core CPU in both chips allow for up to 3x more Amp Designer plug-ins in Logic Pro when compared to the previous-generation high-end 13-inch model.

Beyond performance, Apple redesigned the entire laptop with an improved display, battery life, camera, audio system and connectivity. Connectivity is improved with more ports including a headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones. The audio system is improved with “industry-leading, studio-quality” microphones that have an even lower noise floor, for clearer calls and recordings, plus a high-fidelity six-speaker sound system, from two tweeter and four force-cancelling woofers, ensuring a clearer soundstage and 80% more bass. The new speaker system supports spatial audio, bringing a three-dimensional, theatre-like listening experience to music and movies in Dolby Atmos.

Video Credit: Apple

The MacBook 14 and 16-inch with M1 Pro and M1 Max are available to pre-order today online. They will be in stores and start shipping on Tuesday 26th October. The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. Both laptops are configurable with different chips, memory and SSDs.

While these new laptops are the best option for those looking for the most powerful music production notebooks, the older and less expensive M1 Mac mini, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac are still great computers for lighter workloads on a tighter budget. Beware of potential updates coming to MacBook Air in the next few months. We are also expecting to see M1 Pro/M1 Max chips to hit products such as the higher-end Mac mini, larger iMac and a Mac Pro next year.

Social networking for musicians

Social media is the best free marketing tool you have as an artist. Start with these ideas for social media music promotion.

Like it or not, we all spend a huge slice of our lives online, and a big portion of that time on social media apps like Instagram and TikTok. How musicians use social media massively affects how many fans they manage to reach.

Social media sites, for musicians, are where you make connections and find new work opportunities online. Even the most technologically terrified artist needs to spend time social networking. The unfortunate truth is that in these uncertain times of the pandemic, having a strong online presence has never been so important.


What are the best social media platforms for artists?

All of them! On that note, make sure your profile picture is the same across all your accounts. A presence across the social media spectrum is good so that fans can always find you whatever their app of choice.

But as tempting as it is to schedule the same posts across all your social media accounts, their algorithms won’t thank you – an Instagram Reel with a TikTok watermark won’t do as well as making a Reel from scratch, for example.

Social media platforms like it when you use whatever new feature has just been rolled out. The reward? Better exposure. So put up a mixture of different posts, always looking at your analytics to see what reached the most people at what time.


What should musicians post about online?

Social media users can smell a promotional post a mile off, so try and keep your content natural. Behind-the-scenes content always does well – fans want to see the real you off the stage.

Posts don’t have to take a lot of time to plan. Whack up a TikTok about the sandwich you had for lunch. Try a live stream of a jam session, or Q&A’s and polls on Instagram Stories.


Get in the social networking mindset

What do listeners do when they hear your release on Spotify? Look you up on Instagram. Or TikTok. Even if they Google you, the first thing that comes up should be linked to your social pages. Promoters, booking agents, your future record label – they’re going to want to see your online presence.

Think of social networking as networking, just like you would be doing at a live event. Connect online with other bands and follow industry professionals, so you’re always in the loop. That can be as simple as sharing, liking or commenting on other artists’ posts – they might well return the favour, and when you meet them in the real world they’ll feel like they know you.


Think about your brand

As an artist in 2021, you need to have an online brand. That sounds pretty corporate for an independent artist, but it doesn’t have to be a restricting thing. Spend a little time thinking about what kind of artist you want to be. Little things like cultivating an aesthetic on Instagram by posting using the same filter make you seem more professional online.

Branding is a chance to pull everything back to the music. You’ve got to promote your product at every turn. Don’t forget hashtags, make sure handles are correct, and in the run up to a release strike a balance between putting up a lot of promo content and everyday posts.


Be yourself and play to your strengths

So you’re set up across all your socials. If you find that you naturally gravitate towards a particular app, that’s okay. More theatrical artists might prefer TikTok, the current affairs-engaged might like Twitter, an artist with a big local following might favour Facebook. If your analytics show you’re doing particularly well on one app, then it’s fine to spend most of your time online there.


TikTok is big for musicians right now

TikTok is having a crazy effect on music charts and music discovery – it’s fast becoming the top place for people to find new music.

Join in the fun and get yourself a TikTok account. Then use RouteNote to get your songs on the TikTok sound library for free, and people can use your song in their videos. You’ll even collect royalties each time someone makes a new post using your sound.

But don’t rely on being discovered and your song going viral. Why not start your own trend by using your song in your own TikToks. Just have some fun with it – try not to focus on the amount of likes and shares. TikTok is all about organic, random content.


Know your boundaries

When you use social media you give a little bit of yourself to complete strangers, and that can feel draining and overwhelming. Recognise when it’s time to stop sharing.

There’s a delicate balance between being yourself on social media and being your brand. We all adopt an online persona on social apps – constantly thinking about what the reaction will be, even with the most off-hand posts.

Lastly – don’t over-rely on social media. Remember the Great Facebook Down Day of October 4th 2021? How could we forget.

Have a backup plan in case of outages. Set up an email account to send out newsletters so you have a ready made fanlist to still be able to contact people. This will also help if you ever find yourself being hacked. While we’re on that subject – get two-factor authentication on your accounts.


Make your music available on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok with RouteNote for free and promote your music easily online. Every time your music is used in posts on the social apps, you’ll earn royalties. Find out more about RouteNote’s free distribution and sign up here to get your music online.

How to get an Apple Music artist page

Image Credit: Apple Music

Once you claim your artist page on Apple Music you can keep track of your stats and customize your profile.

Smart artists use every tool available to boost the reach of their songs. Once you’ve got your music on Apple Music with the help of RouteNote, check out the Apple Music for Artists app. The platform lets you keep on top of your releases. Once you’ve created your page, you make it your own, so listeners get to know you and your music.

You can easily add an artist image and bio. Your Apple Music for Artists dashboard is also a gateway to your stats, giving you insights into where in the world your fans are based, what’s working well for your releases, your Shazam data, and the next steps you should take with your campaign.

Apple Music needs to verify you are who you say you are, so first you need to request access. The process is the same on the iOS app or in browser.


How to set up an artist profile on Apple Music

  • Download the Apple Music for Artists app or head to https://artists.apple.com/
  • Either sign in with your Apple ID, or create one if you haven’t already. Click Request Artist Access, and search for your artist name (you can also paste an iTunes Store artist link).
  • Select one of your albums to show you’re claiming the right artist page. Tell Apple Music what role you’re filling – artist or artist manager– and then fill out the rest of the application.
  • Your status will now say “Pending.”

Give as much information as possible, including social media accounts, to make the application process quicker. Any updates and Apple Music for Artists will let you know over email.


Does your music distributor give you unlimited releases for free? RouteNote does. Head here to find out more about our free music distribution to Apple Music and all the other major streaming platforms.

How Spotify personalizes music according to Spotify’s Vice President of Personalization

Image Credit: Spotify

Oskar Stål, the Vice President of Personalization at Spotify talks about how Spotify recommends listeners new songs based on those they love.

In an interview with Spotify For the Record, Oskar Stål talked about how personlization came to Spotify, how it works and where it’s going in the future. When the service launched 15 years ago, Spotify functioned more like a library, letting users find and play the songs they already knew and loved, but with tens of million of tracks available on-demand, streaming opened up possibilities that the online music stores before them could never have done.

Perhaps the best examples of personalization and a favourite feature among fans are Spotify’s discovery playlists Discover Weekly and Release Radar. Updated every Monday, Discover Weekly is a collection of unheard songs based on the songs you love, while Release Radar, updated every Friday, is a collection of new songs from the artists you love. Both playlists are perfect for finding new music tailored to you. But personalization on Spotify doesn’t end there. The music streaming service has personalization baked into the experience from the home page the moment you sign up.

Spotify are constantly working on new and exciting ways to implement personalization across the platform. Launched earlier this year and updated daily, Spotify Mixes is a hub of playlists sorted into genres, artists and decades that you’ve shown an interest in. Each playlist is full of songs you love and the ones Spotify thinks you’ll love. Launched just last month, Spotify Blend merges two listeners’ taste profiles to form a playlist updated daily that combines the favourite tunes of both users. The most recent feature Spotify Enhanced is a toggle that adds suggested new songs that fit well into your custom-made playlist.

Image Credit: Spotify

Perhaps you’re a 46-year-old dad with three kids and no time to discover music by yourself, or a student looking for inspiration. It’s most helpful when you’re served something up and know it will be a mix of what you like and what you might like. Then you’ll stay for more.

If we really wanted to make you stay on the app three more minutes, we would play your favorite song. All we’d ever have to do is play your favorite 20 songs on a loop. But that would mean you’re not discovering anything, and you’d eventually get tired and bored of the audio experience.

Oskar Stål, Vice President of Personalization, Spotify
Image Credit: Spotify

Personalization goes deeper, with editorial curated playlists offering up the perfect playlist for every occasion without have to trawl through endless songs.

Songs to Sing in the Car might not look personalized, but it is. Each person is seeing music that fits that categorization, but that is also in line with what they enjoy listening to. In fact, there isn’t just one Spotify experience. There’s more like 365 million different experiences—one for each user—that’s deeply personalized to their wants and needs.

Oskar Stål, Vice President of Personalization, Spotify

How does personalization on Spotify work?

Personalization on Spotify uses machine learning. Improving over time, each song is recommended using a complex code-based system with thousands of inputs.

Imagine you and another person have similar music tastes. You have four of the same top artists, but your fifth artists are different. We would take those two near-matches and think, ‘Hmm, maybe each person would like the other’s fifth artist’ and suggest it. Now imagine that process happening at scale—not just one-on-one, but thousands, millions of connections and preferences being considered instantaneously, and always updating. Every day, half a trillion events, whether they are searches, listens, or likes, take place on Spotify, powering and guiding our machine learning system.

Breakthroughs in machine learning have really allowed us to rethink how we can help users discover new audio content. While in many instances machine learning has remained focused on solving for the immediate click—‘You like this song. Let me offer you more of the same kind of music’—we’re now able to better understand content and the ways listeners and creators relate to it.

Oskar Stål, Vice President of Personalization, Spotify

The future of personalization at Spotify

As they continue to dominate the market, Spotify sees opportunities for further personalization in podcasts. However Spotify stress it’s much harder to gage whether listeners are enjoying a show or episode as it takes longer than the typical 20 seconds it takes for most to judge a song.

We’re investing heavily in developing the world’s best-recommendation algorithms to power connections between podcasters and listeners. We already have a really good system in place thanks to over 10 years recommending music, and it turns out that we can even predict what kinds of podcasts a listener might enjoy based on their taste in music.

Oskar Stål, Vice President of Personalization, Spotify

Personalization on Spotify doesn’t only benefit the listener. Spotify provides a fantastic opportunity for smaller artists to break into the mainstream and develop a global audience.

Personalization is really a two-way street. The insights we’ve gathered allow us to see that there might be a Finnish artist who has music that would be a hit in Latin America. And we have the opportunity to bring that music to those listeners in Latin America through our personalization channels. This then introduces the artist to a more global audience that might not have been able to discover them on their own.

Personalization is essential to the listening experience. What we’re really working towards is creating a more holistic understanding of listeners by optimising for long-term satisfaction rather than for short-term clicks, offering them a more fulfilling content diet. Listeners are on a journey of discovery, and we want to help them have the best experience as they discover the millions of audio content available on Spotify.

Oskar Stål, Vice President of Personalization, Spotify

To get your own music on Spotify and discover your next biggest fans, sign up to RouteNote today for free global music distribution.

How to get royalties from YouTube

Creators and artists can earn royalties from YouTube in a number of ways and RouteNote can help you make your earnings.

YouTube is the largest home of creators in the world with over one-billion hours of videos watched every single day from content makers in every corner of the globe. Video creators and music artists alike can reach a huge audience of viewers and listeners through YouTube and they can earn money for every play.

There are many ways that creators can upload their music and videos to YouTube and as such different ways that they can receive royalties from views and streams of their content. At RouteNote we work with artists and video creators around the world to get their content in front of people on YouTube and YouTube Music and ensure they receive earnings whenever they’re played on YouTube.

Artists can upload their releases to YouTube like they would to a traditional streaming service, putting it on YouTube Music as well as the main site. At RouteNote we offer free distribution to YouTube of any artists’ music. Artists will then receive their earnings monthly, 45 days after the end of each month. For example; YouTube will send us the earnings from January in time for March 15th when they will be added to artists’ RouteNote accounts.

Artists can upload their music to YouTube Content ID with RouteNote to earn money any time their music is used in other creator’s videos. Payments from Content ID streams will also be added to users’ accounts 45 days after the end of each month.https://www.youtube.com/embed/GHn0NgutaN4?feature=oembed

For video creators, you can earn money from your non-music videos too by joining the RouteNote YouTube Network. We work with a huge community of creators to help creators go further and earn money from their content on YouTube.

For more information on earning royalties on YouTube click here.

How to sell my music online

How do I get my music on Spotify and other streaming services for free, and start selling my songs online?

We see you – the band that’s just finished your first song, the producer sitting on a hard drive full of tracks. You’re starting to feel that people are going to love your music as much as you do.

What are you waiting for? Time to get your music online.

It used to be the case that musicians, bands and producers needed a record deal to release songs and albums. Those barriers have been blasted aside in the age of streaming. Now anyone making music can sell songs online, without signing away the rights to your music or getting twisted up in record label contracts.


How do you get your music on streaming services?

Artists can’t upload their music to Spotify or other streaming platforms by themselves. Instead, digital music distributors sell your songs online on your behalf.

Because distributors act as a middleman to upload your tracks to download stores and music streaming services, you want to know they’re a service you can trust. You’ve spent hours making your music and when you release it to the world it needs to be in safe hands; not with a company who will take a big slice of the credit, not to mention the profits.

Enter RouteNote. We’re an independent music distributor and since 2007 we’ve been helping unsigned artists and indie record labels sell their music online – for free.


How is RouteNote free?

Remember what I was saying about trust? We’re completely transparent about how our distribution works.

You create your account at RouteNote.com and upload your songs, choosing which streaming platforms and stores you want your music to be released around the world. We cover 95% of the digital market, and our partners are growing all the time, from Deezer to Tencent to Anghami.

Once your songs are online and you start earning royalties from people streaming your music, you keep 85% of revenue. That’s the extent of the small print. No matter how many stores you choose or how many songs you upload, there’s never any extra costs.

You keep all the rights to your music – we don’t own your songs, so at any time you can remove your tracks, switch distributor or change which stores and territories you release music to. You can even use us to upload your music to only a couple of stores that other distributors don’t cover. You’re never locked in and stay in control.

We also get your songs on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok so users can put your music over their Reels and Stories, and protect your music when its used in YouTube videos with YouTube Content ID (more on that here). That’s free too.


RouteNote Premium distribution

For established artists and labels who know they’re going to generate a lot of streams, check out RouteNote Premium. Premium has all the same perks as Free distribution, but you keep 100% of royalties in exchange for the small fees outlined here. You can switch between Free and Premium at any point.


680,000 artists sell their music with the help of RouteNote. If you’d like to join them, find out more here and sign up today. We’d love to meet you.

Five top tips for mixing and mastering music (video)

Master your songs and get the sound you want with our most invaluable advice for the final mixdown of a track.

Polishing a track can easily scare off even the most seasoned of producers. Once all the ingredients are there, getting the space, the levels, the EQ, and the general atmosphere of a new song right isn’t always easy. It’s not only subjective to your own vision for the sound but is often also the final step before your music goes out into the world – making it difficult to let it go and decide “it’s done”.

Nonetheless, it has to be done to complete your music and release it out into the world! With that in mind, we’ve made a video with some of our best advice for getting your track finished without going into too much technical jargon so that whatever your understanding of mixing techniques you can approach the final mixdown with confidence.

Is Spotify better than Apple Music?

The two most popular music streaming platforms are Spotify and Apple Music, and at first glance they seem to offer similar content. The question is – which should you choose?

Which music streaming service is best for you is personal and depends on what you’re looking for from your streaming experience. Things worth considering when you’re choosing a streaming subscription include the extra features on offer, the catalogue of songs available and, of course, the all-important price.


Is Spotify cheaper than Apple Music?

The cost of music streaming might be a deal breaker. Compared to Spotify, Apple Music is the same price. Both platforms are $9.99 a month, with varying options like Student and Family depending on what subscription you’re going for.

While Spotify has a free version with ads and limits on skips per hour, Apple Music has no free offering. Spotify Premium, Spotify’s paid subscription and equivalent of Apple Music offers unlimited streaming and skips, free of advertising, with offline listening. Those are all features offered by Apple Music, too.


Which music streaming service has the most songs?

As of 2021, Apple Music has 75 million songs – more songs to stream than Spotify, which currently has 70 million tracks available on both free and Premium.

In terms of song discovery, Spotify is generally considered to be excellent at recommending new artists and putting together playlists, with a fearsome algorithm that seems to read your mind. But… the discovery features of Apple Music are also very good, with similar artists playing automatically after tracks and personalised playlists that introduce you to songs you never knew existed.


Extra goodies

Spotify tends to offer the best podcast selection, whilst Apple Music has exclusive radio stations if you enjoy the human connection of broadcasting.

If the quality of audio is a deciding factor for you as a listener, Apple Music offers HiFi streaming. This year it jumped the gun on Spotify’s HiFi streaming announcement by introducing lossless audio at no extra cost, as well as Spatial Audio – 360 degree surround sound, on compatible devices.

Saying that, the launch of Spotify HD must be just around the corner – we’ve seen rumours and back end activity over the last few months – but there’s no set release date yet, or news on whether the feature will be built in like Apple Music and Amazon Music HD or available on a pricier tier like Deezer.


Which should I choose?

Spotify’s free version is a great choice if you don’t mind adverts and are looking to save some cash. But if you’re an Apple user, Apple Music’s savvy integration with devices might nudge you towards its streaming service.

You’re probably still undecided, so I’d suggest signing up for a free trial of both Spotify and Apple Music, one after the other, and seeing which service you prefer. You might be more drawn to the aesthetic and user experience, or find that you get better song recommendations from one over the other. Apple Music currently has a three month trial and you can also try Spotify free for a month.


What about selling my music – is Spotify or Apple Music better for artists?

For artists looking to sell music online, it’s important to have your music on as many platforms as possible. Therefore, getting your tracks on both Spotify and Apple Music is a must. Listeners are unlikely to subscribe to both, so you’ll target more listeners by spreading your releases over a lot of streaming services.

With RouteNote distribution, there’s no extra cost no matter how many platforms you choose to release your music. We cover over 90% of the digital market, in territories that span the world from Flo in South Korea to Kuack in Latin America. That’s true global reach for your music.

And by the way – it’s free to release your songs. No, really. There’s no confusing contracts, and no sneaky fees.


Learn more here, and sign up to RouteNote today.

Secret DuckDuckGo music tips and tricks

Image Credit: Dawit

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is loaded with a BPM calculator, rhyme finder, guitar/ukulele chord helper and more.

DuckDuckGo markets itself as an alternative to Google without the personalized results and tracking, but did you know it’s got a couple of music-related tricks up its sleeve? These handy tips were found thanks to Create Digital Music. All of the results below work on both desktop and the mobile site.

BPM Calculator

DuckDuckGo’s built-in BPM calculator is a super fast way to find the duration of each note at that speed. Type any BPM and DuckDuckGo will show you the length of each note type in milliseconds, as well as values for triplets and dotted notes. To learn more about each note type, just click one of the boxes.

Type “… BPM”


Rhymes

An easy way to find all of the words that rhyme with any chosen word, via RhymeBrain. Perfect for lyric help.

Type “what rhymes with …”


Guitar and Ukulele Tabs

Find how to play any guitar or ukulele chord with a simple search term.

Type “… guitar tab” or “… ukulele tab”


Note Frequency

Finally, DuckDuckGo can also find the frequency of a note in A440 tuning. Great for programming your synthesizer.

Type “note frequency …”


It may not be quite as private, but Google recently built a guitar tuner into their search results.