Online Session Drummer | Mark Feldman

markfeldman

Switch Your Pro Tools Mix to Mono by Twisting Just One Dial

Introduction: Why Would an Online Session Drummer Want to Mix in Mono Anyway?

Why should you care about this little shortcut I’m offering you? Why would you even want to quickly change everything to mono? That’s a good question. As I’ve been learning about mixing, one interesting concept I stumbled upon is that of mixing in mono. You can find a lot of information online about the theory behind this, but here is a short explanation of why you might consider it.

Turn Your Mix to Mono Instantly Illustration

When everything is in mono, every layer of sound and every instrument is occupying the same audio space simultaneously. When you pan things in stereo, you create more space by literally putting instruments in separate physical aural spaces. It’s easier to make your mix sound good when you’re in stereo. Why? Simply because there is more space.

But by forcing yourself to make a mono mix, you have to use EQ and all of the other tools at your disposal to make the mix clearer. Of course you’ll begin by getting your static levels right, but there will definitely be more to it than that. You just don’t have the extra space in your mix that stereo panning naturally gives you. But consider the notion that if you can easily hear every instrument and voice on the track while in mono, your mix should be even more clear and spacious once you return to panning in stereo.

But here’s the kicker and it’s something that is often overlooked. Your listener won’t always hear the stereo elements properly anyway. How frequently are people using headphones or sitting exactly in the center of two balanced speakers? The exact numbers are not known, but you can be certain that a big chunk of listening does not occur in a way that allows the stereo image to be heard properly. Think about it: if you’re sitting in your car, you’re definitely on one side or the other–you’re never in the stereo sweet spot. And listening to the crappy phone speaker definitely doesn’t give you anything but mono. It just makes sense that a lot of listening happens in ways that don’t allow for a real stereo experience.

See the point? You really HAVE to make your mix sound good in mono anyway. Lots of people are simply going to hear the music in mono. You ignore this at your own risk.

If you are interested in learning more about this, just Google “mixing in mono” and I promise you’ll find plenty to get you up to speed.

This Tutorial Video Will Show You The Stereo to Mono Trick for Mixing

And now; the video. Just watch and you’ll see a great way to easily switch your mix from stereo to mono without unpanning everything and then re-doing it. Check it out:

But for those of you who hate watching videos, I’ll spell out the details below. The reason that I wanted a way of quickly making everything mono was that I’d started mixing and done a bunch of panning already. Then, having already done all that work, I realized that I really should work in mono to make my mix better.

I got frustrated thinking that I was going to have to un-pan everything and then keep track of every panning setting I made and THEN redo all the panning after all of that. That definitely sounded like too much work to me.

So, instead, I did a little research and discovered that there is a free plugin in Pro Tools called “Stereo Width.” It’s made by AIR. If you simply put this plugin on your master mix bus and set the width dial to ZERO, your mix becomes mono instantly. That’s it. Just one little dial and you’re in mono. When you want to go back to your stereo mix you can remove the plugin or just set that same width button back to 100%.

Pretty easy right? I thought so too. You’re welcome!! 😉

Post Script: Why Pro Tools Tips for Beginners?

I want to explain why I even began this little series on Pro Tools. There are plenty of Pro Tools tutorials out there both in blog posts and videos. But what I’ve noticed, just like in a lot of the arts, many of the pros just don’t want to write about or create beginners content. My theory is that it’s too boring for them. Most great guitarists or drummers or audio engineers want to make content about the cool advanced stuff they know. And I think I understand why–it’s more fun for them to make that content. Perhaps there is a bit of ego involved. But the truth is that beginners need love too. Everyone was once a beginner and beginners need help. Thankfully, I’m not bored by it at all. In fact, at my blog about drumming, I’ve made a lot of content for beginners on that topic. You can check out some of that content here: The Drumming Blog

My point is that I’ve scanned the web and noticed that in “Pro Tools land,” there is also a shortage of content for beginners. I’d like to help remedy that, and thus, the “Pro Tools Tips for Beginners” series was born.

By the way, the first entry in my Pro Tools Tips for Beginners series can be found at this link: Beginners Pro Tools Tips 1: Why Does the Cursor Keep Jumping Back to the Beginning?

Thanks for reading!

Beginners Pro Tools Tips 1: Why Does the Cursor Keep Jumping Back to the Beginning?

Why Pro Tools Tips for Beginners?
In this series, I’m going to give you beginners some tips that I think might be helpful. It wasn’t that long ago that I was just learning Pro Tools, and I vividly recall many of the things that drove me crazy. I’m hoping that these articles will save you from some of the frustration that I experienced early on.

When I first started using Pro Tools, one of the things that made me nuts was that I’d play back a track or tracks and when I stopped the playback, the cursor would jump back to the beginning of the track automatically. That just didn’t make sense to me. My intuition told me that the cursor should stop and STAY where I left off during the play back.

The “Blue Arrow” in Pro Tools

Here’s the little thing that I didn’t understand, and it’s really easy to fix.

What is That Little Blue Arrow?
First of all, you have to understand what the little blue arrow (real name: “play start marker”) means and does. Look at the image to the right. See that pink circle? Inside it is the “blue arrow” I’m talking about. Wherever that blue arrow is, that is where the the playback will begin. That is the default setting in Pro Tools, and why the cursor jumps backwards. It’s moving back to the play start marker. And that will always happen unless you use the tip I’ll show you below to make your playback work like a tape machine.

One Handy Shortcut: if you want that blue arrow to move to the beginning of your track, simply hit the “Return” button and it will snap back to the beginning immediately.

The problem I described at the beginning of the article (having the cursor snap back to the beginning of the song) happens when the play start marker is located at the beginning of the track (all the way to the left), but it can be just as frustrating when the cursor snaps back to the blue arrow regardless of where it is located in the timeline.

As mentioned above, by default, the cursor snaps back to the play start marker. But I often want the cursor and playback to behave like a tape machine would; such that the playback will begin again where I left off when I stopped the last playback. I’m guessing some of you would like to make your playback work that way too. Read on.

Here is the Answer: Pro Tools Tip for Beginners #1
Have a look at the illustration to the left. That button inside the pink circle is the “insertion follows playback button.” In the image, that button is blue which means it is engaged. Simply click that button (you’ll know you’ve clicked it when it’s blue) and you’re good to go; playback will now “act” like a tape machine. Wherever you stop the playback is where it will begin again when you next hit the play button.

Simple, right?

And for those of us who don’t read user manuals, thank god for Google.

By the way, here are two other blog posts you might find interesting:

1) I’ve compiled a list of 31 useful keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow in Pro Tools. You can find my article about that here: 31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac: a Cheat Sheet on PDF

2) I made a tutorial on being able to change your mix from stereo to mono with the turn of a single virtual knob. You can watch that video and read about how to do this here: Switch Your Pro Tools Mix to Mono by Twisting Just One Dial

Feel free to ask me any questions.

31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac: a Cheat Sheet on PDF

As competent as I’d become at using Pro Tools, there was a point about a year ago when I realized I was working much too slowly. I could certainly get the job done, but I was sure I could speed up my workflow. And after all, going faster would effectively mean that my hourly rate would go up, so I decided to look into speeding things up.

The most obvious way to do this was to learn some keyboard shortcuts. So, I studied, read, watched videos, and asked my producer and engineer friends. And I learned a bunch of them. But I had some trouble remembering them.

So, I created this little cheat sheet and I taped it on my wall right above my audio workspace. And now, I can’t live without this page. At some point I’ll have it memorized, but until then, on the wall it stays, because it’s a time-saver.

I also realized that this was the PDF that I really could have used when I first wanted to learn this stuff. Getting my hands on a “cheat-sheet” like this would have saved me some real time in the learning process. Instead, I had to spend a lot of time watching videos and reading articles. But the truth is that all I really needed was this one page.

You won’t have that problem. Here’s my cheat sheet with “31 Pro Tools Shortcuts for Mac.” I hope it makes your audio engineering life easier and faster.

Download the PDF: 31 pro tools shortcuts for mac

By the way, as I’ve learned more and more about Pro Tools, I began to compile some tips based on things that confused me when I started. The first of these can be found here: Beginners Pro Tools Tips #1

“Green River” with Evan Kremin, Jay Shepard, Gary Bristol and Mark Feldman

One of the producers I’ve been working for consistently is Keith Foley, out of NYC. He puts together a great crew of top-notch players (mostly based in New York) and in 2020 I got into the mix (no pun intended), doing my thing as an online session drummer to track for him.

Last summer we recorded Creedence’s “Green River.” I tracked it in my Aunt’s beach house on Cape Cod, where I was hiding out all summer from COVID. You can see me in the video; lower right hand corner. Doesn’t it look like a little beach house bedroom? It was!

One of the things I like about this track–besides that I think all the players are killing it–is that the drum sounds I got in this tiny room sound pretty damn good. That’s a good example of the notion that you can make great sounding records these days all “in the box,” as they say. That’s part of the fun of being a remote studio drummer–audio engineering yourself and working on getting great sounds.

Here’s the video. Listen with headphones if you can, because the sonics are great. It’s a clear, airy mix under the steady hand of Mark Dann, with JP Bowersock producing and Keith Foley Executive Producing. Me? Just playing drums!

Oz Noy’s “Steroids” Play-Along for Drums

One of the side benefits of putting my recording studio together is that my videos sound way better. A couple of weeks ago, I filmed and recorded a version of “Steroids,” written by my friend Oz Noy.

The first released version of “Steroids” is very different from what is represented in the video I made. “Steroids” first appeared on “Oz Live,” which was released in 2002 on Planula Records. You can check out this version at the Spotify widget on the left. I haven’t been able to find track by track personnel credits anywhere, but both Anton Fig and Keith Carlock play on the release and it sounds to me like Keith played on this live version of “Steroids.”

This new video version was made from a play-along that Dave Weckl produced and that you can buy on his website. The personnel on the track: Oz Noy on guitar (of course), Will Lee on bass, and me making a “guest” appearance.

You’ll find out by watching/listening, but what is so different about this new version is the tempo. It is much slower than the original. And interestingly enough, it works great. Funny how tempo changes can so dramatically change a song…

There are also some drum breaks near the end of the song, so stick around for that if you’re into that sort of thing.

Check it out below.

By the way, both Oz and Will played on my band’s debut EP that was released in 2019. You can check out a video from that release here: Mark Feldman’s LEVEL5 plays “Sybil”

The Most Powerful Music Producers 2021

the most powerful music producers 2021

I thought it would be really interesting to have a look at who the most powerful producers are. The obvious question you’ll be asking is “what does ‘power’ mean when it comes to music producers?”

Right.  I believe that if you look at the world the way it really is–not by thinking about any of the older paradigms–what creates the most power in music is reach.

These days reach is measured in terms of streams.  It’s not measured by Grammys or inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or even (gasp) positions on the Billboard chart. So…

Since Spotify has the largest market share of the music streaming services, it makes sense to look at total streams on the service. I see Spotify like the music equivalent of Google. No one comes close, so why not use them as a bench-marker? By the way, as of this writing, Spotify has a 36% market share of music streams.

What are the most streamed songs?

On Wikipedia, there is a “dynamic list” called “List of Most-Streamed Songs on Spotify.” That list is frequently updated (hence the title “dynamic list”), but for this article, I used the list that was published and visible online on February 25th 2021. The list is limited to 100 entries.

Interestingly, that list does not include the producer credits. To give you a sense of the producers responsible for the most streamed songs, I simply added the producers’ names to the chart, which you can find below.

That should give you an idea of who the heaviest producers are–at least based on streams. Check it out.

RankSongArtistProducerStreams
(in Millions)
1Shape of YouEd SheeranEd Sheeran and
Steve Mac
2,725
2RockstarPost Malone feat
21 Savage
Tank God and Louis Bell2,124
3Dance MonkeyTones and IKonstantin Kersting2,105
4Blinding LightsThe WeekndMax Martin,
Oscar Holter,
The Weeknd
2,004
5One DanceDrake feat
WizKid and Kyla
NIneteen85, 40 and WizKid1,981
6CloserThe Chainsmokers
feat Halsey
The Chainsmokers1,952
7SunflowerPost Malone and SwaeleeCarter Lang and Louis Bell1,827
8Someone You LovedLewis CapaldiTMS1,783
9SenoritaShawn Mendes and Camila CabelloBenny Blanco, WATT, Cashmere Cat1,751
10Thinking Out LoudEd SheeranJake Gosling1,711
11God's PlanDrake40, Cardo,
Young Exclusive and
Boi-1da
1,695
12Bad GuyBillie EilishFinneas O'Connell1,691
13Say You Won't Let GoJames ArthurAlex Beitzke, Bradley Spence 1,651
14PerfectEd SheeranEd Sheeran, Will Hicks1,645
15BelieverImagine DragonsMattman & Robin1,625
16HavanaCamila Cabello feat
Young Thug
Frank Dukes1,582
17Lucid DreamsJuice WrldNick Mira1,552
18 PhotographEd SheeranJeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie1,547
19StarboyThe Weeknd feat
Daft Punk
Daft Punk, Cirkut,
Doc McKinney,
The Weeknd
1,520
20Love YourselfJustin BieberBenny Blanco1,519
21Sad!XXXTentacionJohn Cunningham1,519
22Something Just Like ThisThe Chainsmokers and ColdplayThe Chainsmokers1,486
23New RulesDua LipaIan Kirkpatrick1,476
24ThunderImagine DragonsAlex Da Kid, Jayson DeZuzio1,448
25Lean OnMajor Lazer and DJ Snake feat MOMajor Lazer, DJ Snake1,446
26XO Tour Llif3Lil Uzi VertTM88, JW Lucas1,425
27Bohemian RhapsodyQueenRoy Thomas Baker, Queen1,424
28Despacito (Remix)Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat Justin BieberMauricio Rengifo, Andrés Torres1,424
29SorryJustin BieberSkrillex, BloodPop1,419
30ShallowLady Gaga and Bradley CooperLady Gaga, Benjamin Rice1,413
31All of MeJohn LegendDave Tozer, John Legend1,405
32HappierMarshmello and BastilleMarshmello1,394
33HumbleKendrick LamarMike Will Made It, Pluss1,389
34Don't Let Me DownThe Chainsmokers feat DayaThe Chainsmokers1,387
357 RingsAriana GrandeTommy Brown, Charles Anderson, Michael Foster1,385
36Better NowPost MaloneFrank Dukes, Louis Bell1,370
37Jocelyn FloresXXXTentacionPotsu1,386
38Sicko ModeTravis ScottChahayed, Hit-Boy, OZ, Cubeatz, Tay Keith, Dean1,358
39Stressed OutTwenty One PilotsMike Elizondo1,356
40I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix)Mike Posner and SeebMike Posner, Seeb, Martin Terefe1,352
41Faded Alan WalkerAlan Walker, Jesper Borgen, Mood Melodies1,350
42Let Me Love YouDJ Snake feat Justin BieberDJ Snake, Andrew Watt, Louis Bell1,350
43Take Me to ChurchHozierRob Kirwan1,348
44GoosebumpsTravis ScottCardo, Yung Exclusive, Cubeatz, Mike Dean1,344
45Don't Start NowDua LipaIan Kirkpatrick1,340
46CongratulationsPost Malone feat QuavoMetro Boomin, Frank Dukes, Louis Bell1,331
47LovelyBillie Eilish and KhalidFinneas O'Connell1,314
48Let Her GoPassengerMike Rosenberg, Chris Vallejo1,305
49Stay with MeSam SmithJimmy Napes, Steve Fitzmaurice, Rodney Jerkins1,303
50CirclesPost MalonePost Malone, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes1,301
51Treat You BetterShawn MendesTeddy Geiger, Dan Romer, DJ "Daylight" Kyriakides1,288
52Thank U, NextAriana GrandeTommy Brown Michael Foster, Charles Anderson, Ariana Grande, Victoria Monet1,271
53Uptown FunkMark Ronson feat Bruno MarsMark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, Bruno Mars1,266
54I Don't CareEd Sheeran and Justin BieberKarl Sandberg, Karl Schuster, Fred1,264
55UnforgettableFrench Montana feat Swae LeeJaegen, 1Mind, C.P Dubb, Mike WiLL Made-It1,258
56Cheap ThrillsSiaGreg Kurstin1,256
57Girls Like YouMaroon 5 feat Cardi BCirkut, Jason Evigan1,248
58Too Good at GoodbyesSam SmithJimmy Napes, Steve Fitzmaurice, StarGate1,236
59Wake Me UpAvicii feat Aloe BlaccAvicii, Arash Pournouri1,229
60Without MeHalseyLouis Bell1,228
61DespacitoLuis Fonsi feat Daddy YankeeMauricio Rengifo, Andrés Torres1,212
627 YearsLukas GrahamFuture Animals, Pilo1,201
63Roses (Imanbek Remix)Saint John and ImanbekFallen1,191
64Can't Stop The FeelingJustin TimberlakeJustin Timberlake, Max Martin, Shellback1,188
65Counting StarsOneRepublicRyan Tedder, Noel Zancanella1.185
66I Like ItCardi B, Bad Bunny and J BalvinJ. White Did It, Tainy, Craig Kallman, Invincible1,182
67Can't Hold UsMacklemore and
Ryan Lewis feat
Ray Dalton
Ryan Lewis1,180
68StitchesShawn MendesDaylight, Teddy Geiger, Danny Parker1,179
69That's What I LikeBruno MarsShampoo Press & Curl, The Stereotypes (co.)1,171
70MoonlightXXXTentacionXXXTentacion1,170
71Cold WaterMajor Lazer feat
Justin Bieber and
MO
Major Lazer, Benny Blanco, Jr Blender, King Henry1,168
72I Fall ApartPost MaloneIllangelo1,168
73What Do You Mean?Justin BieberMdL, Bieber1,167
74The BoxRoddy Ricch30 Roc, Datboisqueeze, Zentachi1.164
75The HillsThe WeekndIllangelo, Mano1,161
76See You AgainWiz Khalifa feat
Charlie Puth
DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Andrew Cedar1,157
77RiptideVance JoyJames Keogh, Edwin White, John Castle1,154
78PyschoPost Malone feat
Ty Dolla Sign
Post Malone, Louis Bell1,151
79HeathensTwenty One PilotsMike Elizondo, Tyler Joseph1,150
80One KissCalvin Harris and
Dua Lipa
Calvin Harris1,149
81I Like Me BetterLauvLauv1,143
82RadioactiveImagine DragonsAlex da Kid1,135
83EastsideBenny Blanco,
Halsey and Khalid
Andrew Watt, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat1,131
84AttentionCharlie PuthCharlie Puth1,130
85Old Town Road (remix)Lil Nas and
Billy Ray Cyrus
YoungKio. Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross1,130
86Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)Omi and Felix JaehnOMI, Clifton Dillon, Felix Jaehn
1,127
87DemonsImagine DragonsAlex da Kid1,125
88Youngblood5 Seconds of SummerAndrew Watt, Louis Bell1,117
89Taki TakiDJ Snake feat
Selena Gomez,
Ozuna, and
Cardi B
DJ Snake1,116
90SugarMaroon 5Ammo, Cirkut1,114
91Can't Feel My FaceThe WeekndMax Martin, Ali Payami1,112
92This is What You Came ForCalvin Harris feat
Rihanna
Calvin Harris, Kuk Harrell1,108
93In My FeelingsDrake40, TrapMoneyBenny, Blaqnmild1,105
94We Don't Talk AnymoreCharlie Puth feat
Selena Gomez
Charlie Puth1,104
95HelloAdeleGreg Kurstin1,102
96IDGAFDua LipaKoz1,099
97ChandelierSiaGreg Kurstin, Jesse Shatkin1,098
98I'm YoursJason MrazMartin Terefe1,095
99When The Party's OverBillie EilishFinneas O'Connell1,092
100Work From HomeFifth Harmony feat
Ty Dolla Sign
Ammo, DallasK1.092

It Factor: “Dog the Bounty Hunter”

Release Date: May 2, 2006

In 2006, It Factor recorded 5 short tracks for inclusion in an episode of “Dog The Bounty Hunter,” the popular TV series on the A&E network.

Click on the “Cloud” Icon, above, to hear one of them, “Vavoom.”

Personnel: Arnie Miot – Guitar, Steve Hervatic – Bass, Mark Feldman – Drums

In line with the vibe of the show, the music is aggressive, hard and guitar heavy. That kind of means “Metal” doesn’t it? Well. There you have it.

“Dog the bounty hunter” (Instrumental music played on the A&E television show).

Recorded at Arnie Miot’s home Studio in Long Island, NY

Joe Taylor: “Darker Garden”

Release Date: 1988

This was the first “real” recording on a real label (ProJazz) with real distribution that I was ever a part of.  I only played on a few tracks, but I remember being thrilled that I was going to be on a record at all.  Joe was really friendly and easy-going, and that made the experience even better.  I remember being at the gym one day a few months later and hearing one of the tracks I played over the radio there.  A huge thrill in my young life.  
 

Produced by Joe Taylor and Tommy Mandel

Hearts and Minds (self-titled)

Release Date: January 14, 1990

Signed by A&M Records in 1989, Hearts and Minds’ self-titled debut was produced by Mike Wanchic (guitarist for John Mellencamp) at Belmont Mall in Bloomington, Indiana.  Belmont is Mellencamp’s own recording studio, where many of his albums were recorded.
 
It was at these sessions that I met Kenny Aronoff, which was an important event for me.  He and I both played on the album and that was hugely important for my development as a session player.  Imagine being able to hang out and watch one of the best on the job every day for a few weeks…
 

Produced by Mike Wanchic

Personnel:

Bruce Henderson – guitar and vocals
Andy York – guitars
Toby Meyers – bass
Mark Feldman and Kenny Aronoff – drums

Bruce Henderson: “The Wheels Roll”

the wheels roll - bruce henderson

Release Date: May 20, 1997

Bruce Henderson, who I met in the late ’80s in NYC when he was the bassist in a band we were both in called Seven Beauties, went on to form a great rock band, Hearts and Minds (there’s a discography entry for that you can have a look at). Over the years, I was privileged to play with him frequently, including here on his solo debut from 1997. 

With a true all-star cast of session players, the album got terrific reviews. It’s one of the only releases noted here that I only played percussion on (Shawn Pelton played drums), but regardless, I’m grateful to have been involved with this project.

Bruce Henderson “The Wheels Roll” (OMAD/Paradigm)

Produced by Stewart Lerman

Personnel:

Bruce Henderson (vocals, guitar); David Mansfield (pedal steel guitar, violin); G.E. Smith, Andy York (electric guitar); Charlie Giordano (organ); Paul Ossola (electric bass); Shawn Pelton (drums); Mark Feldman (percussion).