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Chris Jacobie

If you're a singer-songwriter, duo, or band and...'ve played a gig and it didn't sound great. Or, if you couldn't hear yourself, you're in the right place.

There's some kind of strange phenomenon that happens at live gigs. When you're at home, you're playing your guitar and singing and it sounds awesome. You can hear yourself perfectly.

Then, you go to play the gig and what happens?

Your Acoustic Guitar Transforms Into An Icepick Of Doom That Jams Into All Available Eardrums.


And your voice sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown.

You can't hear anything.

Oh, and your well-rehearsed performance?

It goes down the tubes because you're frustrated, angry, and distracted. Your audience probably doesn't notice when you make a minor mistake but...'re going to have a hard time connecting with an audience when you're in your head and thinking about cruddy sound.

I know how you feel.

In fact, I've felt like this many times before as an acoustic bassist in several acoustic groups. We'd sound great in the living room or the rehearsal studio, but on stage it was just awful.

Have no fear, I've found tips for you to take your live sound out of this audio desert and into the promise-land so you can:

  • Hear yourself.

  • Relax and have fun

  • Connect with your audience

You may be thinking:

"Yeah, but I don't know anything about audio engineering and I'm allergic to knobs."

That's okay because I'm going to hold your hand through every step of this process.

In Fact, The Less Knobs You're Touching, The Better.


In audio, it is very tempting to try to fix problems with fancy gizmos, boxes, knobs and things like that. But generally speaking, it's best to fix problems at the source.

To talk about source, the example we're going to look at today is a common scenario. Someone singing while playing acoustic guitar.

In this case, the sources are the vocal and the acoustic guitar.

This week we'll deal with the the acoustic guitar. Most people tend to plug their acoustic guitar into a direct box (D.I.)

It's a little box on the floor that you plug the cable from your acoustic guitar into. From there it sends to the sound system.

Most acoustic guitarists use D.I.'s despite them being the number one contributor to "icepick of doom" tone. They do this because they're the "industry standard" and they see a lot of professional people doing it. Oh yeah, and they're marketed as a fix-all for acoustic guitar woes.

But let me tell you, there are quite a few scenarios where this isn't the best option.

  1. If you have a drummer behind you, you need to use a d.i.

  2. If you have an electric guitar or anybody else with some giant amp behind you, you need a D.I.

  3. If you are playing a loud venue such as a bar. A venue full of people talking and clinking beer bottles. In that case, you might as well use a D.I. because no one's is listening anyway. While you're at it, find a better gig...

  4. Last but not least, if you walk around the stage while playing, you need a D.I.

Like I said, we're talking about an acoustic guitarist who's singing and playing guitar. Most likely they are staying in front of the microphone because they're singing.

If that's the case here are your options:

  1. One microphone for everything.

  2. Two microphones. One for guitar and one for vocal.

The first option I would try is what musicians did back in the day before sound systems got so complicated. They would...

Stick A Single Microphone Up, Circle Around It and Play. 


It sounds really great.

It's important that you balance yourself. But this, again, is not rocket science. Whoever is singing the melody should be closest to the microphone. If you're taking a solo, step up to the microphone. Easy peasy.

In the case of you singing and playing guitar, put the mic halfway between your mouth and your guitar. This might not work if you are a heavy strummer and a soft singer.

Simple fix though: Move the mic towards the voice. Done and done. Best singer-songwriter sound ever.

If you find you want a little more control, try two microphones. Put one on your voice and one on your guitar.

One of my favorite duos ever, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, do this all the time. They have four Shure SM57s and they place one on each guitar and one on each vocal, and that's it. Sounds incredible.

Wait - If You Rush Out and Try This Today You Might Feedback!


Here's a perfect example of what would guarantee feedback to occur. Jamming a microphone in front of a speaker and turning it up.

You see, the speaker is feeding sound into the microphone. Then microphone's feeding it right back into the speaker. It's created an infinite loop of deafening pain.

Repeat after me:

I promise to never set my microphones up in front of the speakers. I promise to never set my microphones up in front of the speakers. I promise to never set my microphones up in front of the speakers.

The few times I've seen bands struggle with the one mic setup in an otherwise perfect venue. This is why. They setup the mic in front of the speakers. Take a few steps back or move the speakers forward, but whatever you do, be behind the speakers.

If you're going to put these microphones in front of you and then use a monitor, you're going to feedback. Because isn't that the same scenario I just described?

Now you know two awesome ways to save your acoustic guitar from sounding like a quacking duck and from feeding back.

In next week's blog, I'll teach you how to get rid of that muddy, unclear voice-of-God that's ruining your voice.

Happy strumming,


Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

A few months ago, I sent an email to my subscriber list and I asked them,

"What questions do you have with regards to crowdfunding?"

One of the questions I received was,

"Can you tell me more about the expenses that we can expect after recording. Expenses related to the release, distribution, and promotion of the record?"

The artist that asked me this question crowdfunded his last record. He reached his goal and made his record. But when it was time to promote it...

...there was no more money left!

He ended up having to pay out of pocket for things, and it put him in a tough place financially. Understandably, it bummed him out.

I know exactly how he feels because I felt the exact same way when I made a five-song solo EP in my early 20s. I scraped together money, did a lot of things myself, and I just put it out there. It flopped. I got no traction at all because I didn't have any money to promote it.

Lucky for you, I'm going to list all the potential costs that can pop up when you release your record.

It's very important that you factor these into your budget. Otherwise, you're going to make a great record that no one ever hears.

With each of these, you're going to have to weigh:

"Do I want to do it myself? Do I have this skill set? Or do I need to find an expert?"

Maybe you're a great photographer, or you know how to build a website, but you don't know how to do some of the other things. I want to encourage you: if you don't know how to do something, don't waste time trying to learn how to do it.

Your job is to build a fan base, not become a web developer or an expert photographer. Find the people or services that know what they're doing.

Be okay not everything. It's only going to slow your career growth down.

The first things you're going to need are great press photos and great album artwork. For the photos, hire someone that takes really great ones if you can't do it yourself.

For the album artwork, the same thing. You might want to give it a shot developing your own. You can use Canva, it's a free service. Your other option is using a freelancing website such as Fiverr, Upwork, or 99Designs.

Once you've got all the visual design aspects taken care of, you can start using those to design great merch. So factor in the cost of creating the merch.

Side Note: I recommend that any time it's possible to do print-to-order, do it. Don't end up with boxes of merch that no one wants in your garage.

Double Side Note: Test merch designs before you print anything! If you've got a small list of followers or subscribers, ask them, "Which of these three T-shirts do you like?" The one that wins, that's the one you print. Don't go print three and then find out later that no one wants two of them.

Next up, if you're printing physical copies, factor in your duplication costs.

You're probably going to distribute through streaming services, so factor that in. It's usually about $50.00 per album, per year, and you can do this through TuneCore or CD Baby.

Next up is promo videos. There are a lot of people that listen and discover music on YouTube, so if you can have a video for every song, that's great. Again, if you don't know how to do this, find a freelancer that knows how to do it.

You can get lyric videos done super-cheap through Fiverr. Of course, a proper music video is going to cost you a little more. Factor that in too. Find your videographer, get a quote, and put it in your crowdfunding budget.

Last but not least, is your advertising budget. You're going to want to use, at the very least, Facebook ads.

Your advertising costs should be at least $10 a day.

I'll add a quick note on this. (This is something I'm going to have to get into in a longer blog post.) You want to be able to track the ROI of your ads. You need to know: if you spend a dollar on advertising, does it bring back more than a dollar? If it does, then you need to pump as much money as possible into that ad campaign until it stops working!

For now, know that if you're not getting money back from the ads, it is an expense. You want to turn it into an asset, where you put a dollar in and you get two back. When that's the case, you can do that all day long.

It's like a vending machine that prints cash!

This is how successful businesses grow, and how you should think about growing yours.

At this point you should have:

  • Clarified your next release's expenses.

  • Started thinking, "Who do I need to hire? Who do I need to get quotes from? What can I do myself?"

  • Learned the basics of what a successful ad campaign is.

Thanks so much for reading. Until next time,



Chris Jacobie

Last May when my client, Nick Dahlquist, came to me and he was stressed out. He was busy wrapping up a semester at school and getting five songs ready to record. On top of that, he was launching his crowdfunding campaign.

He sent me a short message that simply asked,

"Which Is The Best Platform For Crowdfunding?"

And at that time, I felt horrible that I didn't know the answer to this. It would have taken a lot of stress off his plate.

Lucky for you, I've narrowed it down to the only two that you should consider for your recording project.

Here they are:

Go To Crowdfunding Platforms For Recording Projects

Avoid PledgeMusic, because they take 15% of whatever you raise.

In the end, Nick went with Kickstarter, and it worked out great. He funded his entire EP that way.

Here's what Nick had to say about working with me:

Chris created a recording environment that was the ideal blend of professional and casual. He gained my trust quickly as my producer, and even quicker as my friend. The questions Chris asked and the challenges he posed along the way broadened my understanding of myself as a songwriter, and of the craft itself. Chris helped me find my signature vocal sound that will undoubtedly shape how I approach all my future albums. — Nick Dahlquist (St. Louis, MO)

Happy Crowdfunding!


P.S. If you'd like a copy of the exact words we used on KellyMarie's crowdfunding page so you can use it as a template for your crowdfunding campaign...

...simply click here now to download your copy of "KellyMarie's Successful Kickstarter Swipe File" for FREE.

P.P.S. Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

When my client, KellyMarie, first came to me, she was really excited about recording her first EP but…

...she was a bit nervous because we were a few months out and she only had a third of the money.

She wasn't expecting a big windfall anytime soon. She knew that she would have to raise some money to do her project right.

Some artists at this point would make an EP of lesser quality or maybe opt to do it themselves. KellyMarie was different. She knew that successful artists are not only great performers but that they're also great at business. And part of having a business is raising money to do things right.

She announced to me that she would be doing some crowdfunding, but she didn't know how to start.

She wondered, "Should I go with Kickstarter, Indiegogo, PledgeMusic, or something called Patreon? How much should I ask for? Will people think that I'm being greedy?"

Thankfully, I have an answer to all these questions, and as close to a scientific process as you can get for running a crowdfunding campaign. In fact, when KellyMarie started her project she literally had less than 100 'likes' on her Facebook music page, a personal Instagram account and no email list. With my help, she raised over $10,000 in 45 days.

Before we even get into the specifics of running a crowdfunding campaign, understand this:

The Reason You Should Crowdfund Isn't To Raise Money, It's To Engage Fans.

Crowdfunding gives your fans an opportunity to buy into your creative vision and build something with you. This is why I would suggest that you crowdfund ...even if you can afford to fund your record out of pocket.

It's psychologically very different to give someone $10 for an album versus giving someone $10 to make an album. For instance. My friend, Scott Arick, is a budding filmmaker in Austin, TX. He used Kickstarter to fund his new movie, Magnets.

I saw his post promoting the Kickstarter page on Instagram, and I immediately clicked on it. I saw how much he was trying to raise, and my first thought was not, "Oh my gosh! That's so greedy. How dare he ask for that much money?"

My only thought about the goal was, "Well, I guess that's how much it costs to make a movie...." I didn't think about it again.

I read about all the people that would be involved in the project. I heard about how cool the movie would be and what I would get if I gave him some money. I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough to donate to the project.

A Few Days Later When He Hit His Goal, I Felt Like I'd Accomplished Something.

And then a few months after that when the film was finally done, I was so excited to see it and so happy for my friend. I've even recommended the movie to some friends of mine.

This is how your fans will feel when they give to your crowdfunding campaign. They will:

  • Feel like they're a part of your tribe.

  • Become raving fans.

  • Spread the word about your music to all their friends that didn't have an opportunity to give on the Kickstarter.

  • Excitedly wear the free T-shirt that they got from donating.

  • Listen to the music.

  • Come see you play shows. ...and if they get a chance to talk to you, they might even mention how cool it was to be a part of your crowdfunding campaign.

Now you realize it's more about engaging your fan-base and less about asking for money.

I hope you also realize that...

It's Not At All Wrong To Ask For What You Need To Make Your Vision A Reality.

The only one who's feeling any resistance to the big number on the screen is you.

(Of course, you don't want to become some greedy horrible person, but that's why you're going to take this money and put it into your project, and not into a Tahitian vacation.) Onward...

How To Run A Successful Campaign.

Step one, have some skin in the game. Don't ask people to give you money if you haven't put in a single dollar of your own. I would recommend that you put in at least 20%, much like a down payment on a house.

Step two, before you launch your campaign, you want to personally approach all the people you know are going to donate. It's probably your closest family and friends. Coordinate with them so that they give to the campaign on day one.

Here are the reasons why:

  1. The crowdfunding platforms (especially Kickstarter), will be more likely to feature your page if, after one or two days, you're already close to 50%. They're going to put that on their homepage so people can see it, which means you might get some extra donors that you weren't expecting.
  2. People like finishing things. You need your campaign to look like it's going to reach its goal as soon as possible.

Imagine going to a page and it's 29 days in. They've only raised 14%. You're probably not going to give to it because you're thinking there's no way they're going to reach their goal in the amount of time allowed.

Whereas if you go to a campaign that has raised 51% in 48 hours, you're thinking,

"This one is going straight to the top - this is a bandwagon I want to jump onto!"

Now you know that you need skin in the game, and you need to make sure you coordinate your donations so that it looks like you're going to reach your goal as soon as possible.

The last thing is: you need to make sure that when people come to your page, the copywriting (not copyrighting. I'm talking about the words on the page) is all about them.

The times that I've seen crowdfunding projects bomb, if you read the words on their page, it's basically this, "Hey, I want to make a really cool record. Give me money please."

No one wants to give to a campaign about that.

Remember, Your Fans Only Care About Themselves.

The way you should write it is like we wrote it for KellyMarie's page. To sum her page up, it was basically this, "Be the first to hear Kelly's project and get a lot of cool stuff. Oh, and by the way, we've already put in a third of the money, and we just need you to help us complete it."

That's a very different message and has a profound effect on the reader.

In fact, on her page, we only had a few brief lines about who she was and what the music would sound like. It was all about what people would get from being a part of the project. Here's what KellyMarie has to say about working with me.

I’m so thankful to have worked with Chris Jacobie while recording my first EP.  He was so helpful every step of the way and really made it feel as stress free as possible.  Working with him was fun in the studio and he helped make all my songs even better.  He took my vision, lyrics, and melodies and helped make an album that is true to me.  During my Kickstarter campaign, Chris provided feedback that lead to reaching my goal. I loved working with Chris and hope to have him produce many more albums in the future! - KellyMarie (McKinney, TX)


P.S. If you'd like a copy of the exact words we used on KellyMarie's crowdfunding page so you can use it as a template for your crowdfunding campaign...

...simply click here now to download your copy of "KellyMarie's Successful Kickstarter Swipe File" for FREE.

P.P.S. Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

Once you’ve decided on a budget, you’ll likely start thinking of ways to fund your recording project. Here are the pros and cons of each funding option:


  • Pros: No interest rates means money in your pocket sooner once you recoup. You’ll often get a break on pricing by paying in cash versus credit as well.

  • Cons: None.


  • Pros: If you have a credit cards reward program you can get points/miles to use to fund future touring endeavours.

  • Cons: High-interest rates if you don’t pay off immediately. Credit Card fees added to total when paying for the record.


  • Pros: Lower interest rates than credit card.

  • Cons: Difficult to convince a bank to loan you money for a startup in the Arts & Entertainment industry.


  • Pros: Flexible payment structure. Potentially interest free. Lowest interest rates.

  • Cons: If you’re record doesn’t recoup OR you decide you don’t want to keep pursuing a music career, this could make your familial relationships tense.


  • Pros: Anyone can start a crowdfunding campaign. Side note: Even if you can afford to fund the record on your own, I would still recommend crowdfunding because it's a great way to engage your fans and let them feel like their a part of building something with you. 

  • Cons: Depends on the platform but there are situations where you won’t see a dollar unless you reach 100% of your goal. Often artists promise too much to donors and are unable to fulfill promises after project completion. More on this next week...


Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

When my clients, Ryvoli, first came to me they were overwhelmed and confused.

And why wouldn’t they be?

They’d read blogs and online forums that professed that D.I.Y. home recording methods were the way to go. Yet, when they’d tried to record themselves, it was frustrating and fruitless.

They’d realized that most of the people on the Internet singing the praises of home recording make their money through affiliate commissions or they're hobbyists...

They noticed that successful artists were too busy building their fan bases to be bothered with posting on forums.

They also noted that when they researched who worked on their favorite records… 80%+ had producers at the helm.

Being convinced that they would need a producer, their next question was naturally…

“How much is this going to cost?”

Unfortunately, the answer is, “it depends.” Before anyone can answer that for you, you need to able to answer these questions:

  • “Why do I want to make this recording?”
  • “What’s the intended outcome?”

Answers usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. I want to take my music career to the next level and a great record is the first step in that direction.

  2. I love making music and want to document mine. I want my family, friends and future generations to hear. Plus, recording sounds like a fun thing to do.

If you fall into the first category... 

You should be thinking about ROI (Return On Investment). A recording isn’t an expense. It’s an asset that can continue to work for you in the years to come. It can pay for itself and then continue to put money in your pocket over time.

A recording can also gain you new fans. Those new fans will then spend money in the form of concert tickets, merch, and future recordings. Recordings always have been and always will be the lifeblood of an artist’s career, no matter the state of music distribution channels.

Imagine investing $30k in a 10-song album. You could pool your own resources, crowd-fund, take out a small loan, or even use a credit card to pay for it.

Now, imagine the record recoups (i.e. pays for itself) after the first year. Any record sales after that are pure profit! And imagine, it keeps recouping again and again. Year after year. Over a 5 year period you could potentially...

Net $120k Off That One Album

Then you could put out a new album every year (live album, 2nd album, Christmas album, 3rd album, etc.).

It might take a few years but eventually you could get to a point where you won’t even need to tour. You could live off album sales alone.

Can you say, ‘passive income?'

For those of you thinking “no one buys records anymore” or “there’s no money in streaming.” That simply isn’t true. If you build a loyal fanbase, your fans will buy your records to support you. (Especially in the form of pre-sales, bundles, vinyl and tour-only releases.)

In fact, I just had a conversation with a long-time client this week. He was ecstatic that his band had finally hit the passive income milestone and that touring is now optional for them.

If you fall into the second category...

A good way to think about your budget is like a vacation.

When you take a vacation you’re not concerned with ROI (Return On Investment).

The questions you ask yourself are: 

  • “What kind of vacation do I want to take?”
  • “Can I afford to take this vacation right now?”
  • And provided it's a good experience, “Will I be able to do this again on some kind of regular basis?”

So, likewise, ask yourself:

  • “What kind of recording experience do I want to have?”
  • “How much can I afford to spend on this recording?”
  • “How soon will I want to do this again?”

Now, I want to give you the full spectrum of total investment amounts that you might run across in the wide-world of record production...

Let’s start at the top. The top 1% producers charge sky-high rates. I recently heard that Rick Rubin quoted a well-known band...

$237,000 for ONE SONG.

I’ve heard that T Bone Burnett charges $10,000 for the privilege of crediting him as “Executive Producer.” This means that he didn’t actually produce the record but he did give it a listen and give his stamp of approval.

Outside of these producers operating in the stratosphere, most major label project budgets start in the $50,000+ per album range. You’ll find established producers, Grammy winners and nominees here.

Somewhere below that, you have up and coming producers requiring lower investments ...if you’re lucky snag them at the right time in their career before they ascend to the next range.

Lastly, on the bottom end of the spectrum you have guys on laptops working out of their Mom’s basement. They’ll be eager to do it on the cheap or even for free so they can “gain experience.” Sadly, they’re usually the only ones that come out ahead. You get what you paid for and they learn from the mistakes they made on your music. Maybe in a few more albums they’ll be good but you don’t have time to wait for that, do you?

At this point, you know what your goals are and you can begin the process of contacting producers that you admire.

That’s exactly what my clients, Ryvoli, did after seeing my name on the back of a Penny & Sparrow record. Here’s what Ryvoli has to say about working with me on their latest batch of songs:

Working with Chris was the perfect balance of planning and then just seeing what the hell happens! His posture and home-studio environment were so welcoming and professional. For our band, it was an absolute dream working with this next level producer. Chris is an insanely talented audio engineer and musician. He fostered a very laid-back, creative space where we could let the songs really take shape in the moment. As a producer, he just gets the big picture of where you are coming from and where you want to go. He helps protect the sound you want while at the same time exploring new ideas. We cannot wait to go back!! —

Happy hunting,


P.S. If you want to know...

  • What a record producer actually does?

  • How a record producer can help you not only capture your sound but also virtually shave years off of your journey from day job to pursuing music full-time?

  • The difference between a recording engineer and a record producer?

  • How to choose a record producer?

Start here.

P.P.S If you’re ready to start planning your recording project or if you have any questions about my services, you’re invited to either:

  • Send me an email.

  • Fill out a brief questionnaire to let me know what you're up to, what music you like and what your current goals and challenges are. Then I can get back to you with some strategic tips to take your career to the next level.

Even if we don't end up working together, I’ve dedicated my business to educating artists and I’d be more than happy to help you in any way that I can.

P.P.P.S. Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

Imagine singing your heart out. Then, after the take, you turn to the recording engineer and ask for his or her opinion on your performance.

9 times out of 10, they’ll say:

“Well… I don’t know... I think it was good… What do you think?”

And you won’t know.

It’s Extremely Difficult To Judge Your Performance While It’s Happening Or Even The Moment After.


I produce music for other people every day. Yet, when I try to produce myself, I end up frustrated because I have no idea if my performances are any good.

It seems that recording in a commercial studio should be better than recording at home.

It isn't. It’s just different. And it’s certainly worse when you don’t have a producer.

To illustrate, here’s a home building analogy:

To build a house you need a carpenter...

...but you also need a plumber, an electrician, a painter, etc. And you need someone to make sure these people are doing their job and working toward a common goal. That’s the general contractor’s job when building a house...

...and it’s the producer’s job on a recording project.

If you book time at a recording studio without a producer, it’s like hiring a carpenter and expecting to end up with a house.


A good producer figures out where the artist wants to go then maps out the most efficient and cost-effective way to get there.

Sometimes the artist doesn’t need a big, fancy studio or session players.

Sometimes they do.

The point is: you need to know what tools and personnel are necessary to take you where you want to go. Or you’ll never get there.

Sound is very subjective. One man's masterpiece is another's unlistenable junk.

If you walk into a recording studio without a plan and ask for a “good” sound, who knows what you’re going to get?

For example, an engineer might know ten different ways to record an acoustic guitar. The producer is there to choose the ONE TECHNIQUE needed in that situation.

‘Good’ must equal ‘good for the project’.


A recording engineer might know what your project needs but, more often than not, he’ll just use his go-to techniques.

You’d better hope those techniques serve your music!

More importantly, wouldn’t you like to know if your song and/or performance is up to snuff while you can still fix it?

A Producer Offers Much Needed, Real-Time Feedback On Performances.

An engineer ensures the equipment is ready to capture those performances.

My friend and client JP Ruggieri is a world-class singer-songwriter and guitarist. He knows what good music is. He's plays on other people's records and is perfectly capable of critiquing a performance. But when it comes to recording his own tunes, he struggles to see the forest for the trees. Here's what he had to say about working with me:

My favorite part about getting to work with Chris is how he obsesses over everything. Those are the type of people that I love to work with. He gives it everything he’s got! I don't know enough about sound and audio to say why, but I know that when I work with Chris, I can trust that he knows what I want. And that's totally kickass! — 

Happy Hunting,


Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

Good question.

After all, GarageBand comes on every Mac. Shouldn’t anybody be able to produce their own recording?

I wish I could say, “yes” ...but I’d be lying.

I know what you’re thinking. “But what about Bon Iver? He recorded his debut album alone in a cabin. And Nirvana made their first record for 600 bucks. And David Gray made White Ladder in his home.”

These are the exceptions. Not the rule.

Most of your favorite recordings had producers at the helm and cost a lot more. Including all of the other records made by the artists listed above.

If you’re skeptical. I know how you feel.

In fact, I felt the same way when I was in college, so I went ahead and produced and recorded myself.

Then I found that

Trying To Produce Yourself Is A Waste Of Time.

I'm not going to dissuade you, by all means, rent a cabin and buy some cheap gear. You might just get lucky...

Here’s what I see more often than not when people try to produce and record themselves. I’ve dubbed them...

The 8 Steps To Musical Obscurity

  1. Read home recording equipment reviews and online forums.

  2. Save up money.

  3. Buy some equipment.

  4. Hole up in your room and try to record yourself.

  5. Get frustrated.

  6. Buy more gear in hopes that it will solve your problems.

  7. Become even more frustrated over the lack of anything to show for your money, time, and effort.

At this point, your options are:

  1. Start over.

  2. Move on to Step 8: Convince yourself that what you made is “good enough” and release it anyway.

You’ll have to tell yourself, “Well I only spent ‘x’ on it and I recorded it in my bedroom, people can’t expect it to be good, can they?”

Guess what?

They can and they do.

Listeners Don’t Care How You Made It.

They Either Like It Or They Don’t.


And here’s the worst part if you choose to follow the above process. While you’re combing through user forums, manuals and YouTube videos in an attempt to keep your acoustic guitar from sounding like it was recorded underneath a pillow, the artist who invested in himself and hired a producer:

  • already has a record out.

  • is making money and building a career

  • is landing the opening gigs that you want

  • is assembling a team of managers and booking agents (the ones that won’t give you the time of day)

That Artist Is Building A Relationship

With YOUR Potential Fans.


It’s worth mentioning here that the odds of having a successful career decrease rapidly at age 28.

Yet, I often see artists spending their 20s fiddling with home recording equipment. Then they “wake up” in their early 30s, still working a day job, and unable to launch their music career.

My good friend and client Jarrod Dickenson made one homespun demo in high school and promptly realized that recording wasn't his unique ability. Writing songs and performing is. Of course he's had to wear lots of hats over the course of his career but the reason he just released his major-label debut on Decca UK is this: He's talented AND relentless. He works hard but he also works smart. A big part of working smart is delegating tasks that fall outside of your unique abilities. If you try to do it all and D.I.Y. your way to the top, you'll never get there...

Here's what Jarrod has to say about working with me:

“Chris is a talented guy in a lot of ways but the thing that sets him apart is: He has some of the best ears and ideas in the business! Plus, he makes an artist feel at ease and welcome in a studio environment.”— Decca Recording Artist: Jarrod Dickenson (Nashville, TN)

Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

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Chris Jacobie

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When my clients Sam & Jenn from Ryvoli, came to me they were understandably a little apprehensive...


Because they'd already attempted to record their songs with three other producers. They weren't happy with any of these recordings. In fact, they were even ashamed of some of them.

Luckily, they were smart enough to keep searching but still...

How often have you tried to work with someone on your music and it just wasn't a good fit? If you want to avoid this painful situation in the future, read on there's hope.

You start by understanding...

The Two Ends Of The Producer Spectrum

On one end, there’s the “my way or the highway” producer and on the other end the “where do you want to go?” producer.

The “my way or the highway” producer does “their thing” regardless of if they’re producing you or any other artist.

It’s their record and, to them, you are a means to an end.

A perfect example of this type of producer is Berry Gordy, the creator of Motown. Before founding Motown, Gordy worked on a Lincoln-Mercury assembly line in Detroit, MI.

When Gordy quit, he applied the assembly line principles to music production. It looked something like this:

  • Songwriters write formulaic pop songs.

  • Session musicians crank out the instrumental recordings.

  • An endless stream of young kids sing on the recordings.

These types of producers still operate in many mainstream genres. With this type of producer, it’s very important that they work in the genre you’re looking to work in.

If you go to a producer that works this way, it’s important that you’re okay with forfeiting your opinion 100% of the time.

If you have a strong vision for your music, this will be clash central.

However, if your only goal is stardom, this could be a perfect fit for you.

On the other end of the spectrum is the...

“Where Do YOU Want To Go?” Producer.

This type of producer asks the artist, “where do you want to go?” Then guides them there.

This type of producer doesn’t have a sound. Instead, they manipulate the different production variables to achieve your goals.

That’s not to say that this producer doesn’t have an opinion....

...they do and they’ll be happy to voice it when you need it. Otherwise they’ll keep their thoughts to themselves.

A perfect example of this is Sir George Martin aka “The Fifth Beatle.”

Sir Martin produced nearly everything the Beatles put out. Before that, believe it or not, he produced comedy albums and classical music.

You see, no matter which type of project he took on, he figured out how to make it as good as it could be.

After working with the Beatles, he did work with quite a few bands that sounded Beatle-esque. That’s not because he couldn’t work in other genres but because he was typecast as “The Beatles Guy.”

If you have a strong vision for your music...

Working With This Type Of Producer Will Be Heaven!

Of course, no one falls perfectly into either camp. It’s a spectrum.

What’s important is that YOU find a producer that complements how you work.

It’s all about that perfect fit.

Here's what Ryvoli had to say after working with me:

“Working with Chris was the perfect balance of planning and then just seeing what the hell happens! His posture and home-studio environment were so welcoming and professional. For our band, it was an absolute dream working with this next level producer. Chris is an insanely talented audio engineer and musician. He fostered a very laid-back, creative space where we could let the songs really take shape in the moment. As a producer, he just gets the big picture of where you are coming from and where you want to go. He helps protect the sound you want while at the same time exploring new ideas. We cannot wait to go back!!” - Ryvoli (Lexington, KY)

Ready to take the next step toward pursuing your music career?

Head to now and download your FREE copy of 'The 8 Elements You Need To Launch Your Music Career Right Now' Checklist.


Chris Jacobie

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A few months ago, a young singer-songwriter messaged me on Facebook. He wanted to setup a time to talk.

Even a few seconds into the conversation, I could tell by the sound of his voice...

  • He was frustrated about the state of his career.
  • He was overwhelmed with not knowing how to take his career to the next level.
  • He was scared that he wasn't going to be able to get his career off the ground before he'd be stuck...

Stuck working a day job he hated and squeezing music in on the side.


I dug a little deeper into his personal and professional goals. I asked him what he'd been up to with music. What types of gigs was he playing. What he'd tried marketing-wise and if he'd recorded before.

Once I had the full picture, I knew exactly the type of record he needed to make. More importantly, I knew how his record could fit into a bigger plan to get his career off the ground.

But before I had the chance to launch into that, he said

You know I'm a little ashamed. I should know the answer to this but... what does a record producer actually do?

Here's what I told him:

Your record producer oversees and manages the recording of your music. Your producer’s job is to make sure your project achieves your goals, stays on budget and meets its deadline.

Because no two artists are the same, how a producer does this changes with each project.

Quick note: historically, a producer is NOT someone who makes beats and sells them. That’s a beatmaker.

Here Are 9 Examples Of How Your Producer Can Help You


Your producer will...

  1. Handle either writing or sourcing songs for you, if you don’t have your own songs.

  2. Make sure they’re as good as they can be, if you do have your own songs.

  3. Choose musical keys that highlight your voice.

  4. Decide on an appropriate tempo or feel for your song.

  5. Map out the best workflow for your project.

  6. Hire the perfect session musicians to complement you and your music.

  7. Hand select the right recording, mix and/or mastering engineers for your project.

  8. Coach you through your vocal and instrumental performances.

  9. Act as a sounding board for any questions you may have about your music career.

This is exactly how I've helped Penny & Sparrow grow from recording their first 3-song EP to quitting their day jobs and playing their music all over the country. Here's what they have to say:

From the very beginning of our career, Chris Jacobie has been there. His name is spoken with love and gratitude in every interview we give that pertains to our music. He is the Swiss-Army knife of talent that's been in the producer's chair for us during 4 full length albums & our first 3 song EP. He and Mel and Norah Bones are family to us. If music got taken away, there would always be that kinship, but we aren't done with him yet. If he'll let us, we aim to bleed that talented SOB dry of every last brilliant idea he has. The only problem is, he seems to be an unstoppable source of freshness. He is an empathic learner, a multi-instrumentalist, a trendsetter, a production chameleon, and a kind hearted sound-savant. He makes us better men and musicians. We love him. - Penny & Sparrow

Hope that helps. Next week I'll explain the two types of producers and which type is right for you.


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Chris Jacobie

A few weeks ago, I asked an aspiring singer-songwriter what her biggest challenge is. Her response was one I've heard from every musician I know at some point: 

I just don't have time to practice or write songs. My plan is to get out of town for 3 months next year and hunker down to practice and write.

I know how she feels.

I've felt like that so many times. I often think: wouldn't it be great if I could pause my life, head out into the woods Bon Iver-style and finally get some shit done? 

Unfortunately, I've found that I can't ever seem to make that happen. Instead, I've found developing helpful routines tends to take me further.

To illustrate routine building, I'll use an exercise analogy.

First, Here Are Two Ineffective Techniques


Option #1: 

  • Put on gym clothes. 
  • Head to gym. 
  • Run as hard as possible for 30 minutes. 
  • Head home. 
  • Pass out 
  • Never go again. 

Option #2: 

  • Become a barefoot, trail-running maniac for 3-6 months at the expense of the rest of your life. Finally suffer from over-training and quit running altogether. 

Yep, I've done both of those. 

Instead, What If You Approached It Like This? 

  1. Wake up a little earlier than you normally do now, put on gym clothes, and drive to gym. 
  2. Sit in parking lot for 2 minutes. 
  3. Repeat Step #1.
  4. Walk into the gym and stand there for 2 minutes. Go home.
  5. Repeat Step #1.
  6. Stand on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Go home.
  7. Repeat Step #1.
  8. Walk on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home.
  9. Repeat Step #1
  10. Run on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home. 
  11. Repeat Step #1
  12. Then start SLOWLY creeping up your time until you reach 30 min/day. 

Get it? Baby steps... baby steps... 

Try applying that to writing music or practicing. Start by sitting down and holding your instrument. Then after 2 minutes put it up. No matter what, do not let yourself noodle around. That's reinforcing a bad habit. Then, write it down in your practice journal. "Sat with guitar for 2 minutes." 

Do that for 21 days and you'll have developed a practice routine. 

Now, what are you going to get done? Post it in the comments.


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Chris Jacobie

...even if you don't have a ton of time to practice

If you want to learn a new instrument or take your current instrument up a notch you've come to the right place. In this post, I'm going to share with you how I went from struggling to hold a drumstick to competence in only 3 months. 

Before I share the secrets, here's what not to do: buy a drum-set and start trying to play your favorite song. That's what I did on piano in 4th grade to learn the Star Wars theme song. I still can't play that song and still suck at piano. 

Okay, so how did I do it this time around? 

I broke it down to the fundamentals. Before playing music, I needed unconscious competence with my hand and foot technique. 

You can't write a novel if you're thinking about how to hold a pencil or how to type. 

To pull this off, I found an accountability partner. This is key. Think about it: if you don't have a friend or trainer meeting you at the gym, it's a lot easier to skip, isn't it? It also helps if that accountability partner knows about what you're trying to learn. 

I couldn't exactly afford it but... I know that successful people invest in themselves so I hired a teacher that is a hand technique wizard. We Skyped every week or two and he baby-stepped me into developing proper hand technique. 

In 2 months, we NEVER played a song or even talked about playing a song. 

Some of you might be thinking... "That sounds great Chris but I don't have time to practice." Yes, you do. 

The final step is this: you have to use Parkinson's law to your advantage. Parkinson's Law says, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". This means that you need to put something permanent on the calendar that's a bit scary. What I did was planned a production 3 months out and... didn't hire a drummer. 

So to conclude here are the things you need to do: 

Become unconsciously competent on fundamentals before ever playing music. 

Hire an accountability partner to keep you on track. 

Use Parkinson's law to your advantage. 

Enjoy your new found competence by making better music with more ease. 

If you'd like to read more about practice techniques start here:


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