Barking Aunts Home Studio Project

Reviews, Homerecording, Free VST Plugins, Indie Music Blog, Free downloads

Free Download: Paradise (down The Highway)

Paradise (down The Highway) is a song writtin in my car, during a traffic jam. The words of the first verse and the chorus more or less ‘came to me’. The second verse (yes it has only two verses) took some more time though. I wanted the song as short as possible and still telling a (short) story.

Recording “Paradise (Down the Highway”)

Some time ago I posted a rough version, recorded using my smartphone, on Youtube. I had the idea to do a country-style acoustic song. But the finished product is more like a rock song. The song was recorded and mixed using Ardour (Linux Audio). The production is very straight forward. Used the Digitech Trio, my Stratocaster, some reverb and compression and limiter plugin on the end bus and that’s it. Vocals were recorded using the BM800 condenser mic. A mic I’ve grown to love a lot, since I think it’s very accurate for my voice.

Hope you like it – you can download it for free at SoundCloud. Click here.

Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series Bass Guitar review

A review of the Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series Bass Guitar. Unboxing, review and testrecording in the home studio.

So, I decided to treat myself! I’ve bought myself a bass guitar, and not just a bass. I wanted it to be affordable, good looking and of course it needs to sound decent.

I found on the internet that many people were pretty enthusiast about the Harley Benton brand and the Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series got a few good reviews. I loved it’s looks (Music Man style, sunburst). So I decided to order it online from Thomann (Germany).

This bass guitar will cost you less than 200 euro’s, shipping included. It was delivered by UPS and I was happy to see Thomann packed it very well since UPS seems to have treated it rough!

In this video I’ll do an “unboxing” and review of my brand new bass guitar, the Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series from Thomann (Germany).

The Harley Benton MM 84A SB Deluxe Series is a very nice bass guitar for starters and/or as a bass for gigs. It’s got 2 humbucker pickups, 5-way Pickup switch, d’Addario strings, Basswood body (not too heavy), Maple top and Canadian Maple neck. Wilkinson MWM4 Alnico humbuckers.

In this video I play it over a (sort of) guitar amp -the “party amp” I’ve reviewed before– and directly plugged in to my mixer in the home studio). For more details and how to order see the Thomann website at

Yesterday’s Coffee – Rocking’ Free Download

Yesterday’s Coffee – a new, rocking, song, has been made available yesterday. The song is recorded and mixed in my home recording studio on the Ardour (Linux Audio) machine. It’s a free download (for now). You can get it here.

The song was recorded using Digitech Trio for drums and bass and I used my Hondo guitar for the rhythm and lead parts.

Yesterday’s Coffee 
2017© R. Brinkman/Barking Aunts

Drinkin’ yesterdays coffee
heated in the microwave
Well it’ll have to do for me
Decided not to shave
Brushed my teeth with my finger

Killing time at the office
A career that looked so safe
Though my work is still flawless
Boredom creepin’ up on me
One day, it get’s to us all

Spending my days,
as a living dead man
Is this what I’ve been born for?
Is this my purpose and goal..
To live a life,
I won’t die for!

Sister’s raising six kids
Her man’s behind them bars
When they grow up heaven forbid
They end up just like him
Dreamin’ they’ll be a rockstar

On the motorway I behave
Spend hours in a traffic jam
Drinkin’ my yesterdays’ coffee
Think about the money I save
and why, I’m still lonely


Indie musician? Do the math!

Ever considered recording your own album and getting it published? Dreamed of selling thousands of albums? Digital downloads? Make lot’s of money off music streaming services? I hate to tell you this but please before even considering recording an album, do the math!

Publisihing indie album do the math

A few days ago I saw a band I know asking people to ‘crowdfund’ the new album they want to record. Their goal is to collect around $4500 for it. So they can go into the studio, record an album and have it pressed on CD. Even though I like the guys a lot and have worked with them in the past, I’m not going to spend money on the project. Here’s why:

  1. there’s no solid marketing plan;
  2. they clearly didn’t do the math;
  3. the rewards they give to backers.

Solid plan?

I’ve been recording and distributing my music trough the internet for 15 years now. Didn’t make much money out of that and there’s a reason for it: I don’t have a “plan” to market the music. It’s also more or less impossible for me to market it. I hardly perform live. To be able to sell hard copy CD’s you need to be a touring band. At the shows you can sell your albums. Saw this when Mirjam published her first album. At the “release show” she sold many of them. Saw other bands do it many times. Online sales are difficult to achieve, digital downloads are even more difficult (because of streaming services).

If you put out an album and want to sell it there has to be a plan:

  1. Marketing plan:
    – how are you going to sell it?
    – Is there a distribution channel?
    – Do you have a way to get airplay?
    – rewards for crowdfunding backers (if you use that)?
  2. are you having a tour planned so you can sell it at concerts?
  3. do you have online distribution trough iTunes, CDBaby and so on?

Do the Math!

Yes, as a musician who wants to do an indie release, you need to do some calculations. If you invest $4500 in your album project, there has to be some way this money will be returned, you will need to calculate your returns (Return on Investment, ROI) to be able to know if you can ever earn any money on it.

I’d say selling 1000 copies of an album would make for a wildly successful independent self-promoted effort. Realistically expect more like 200-300 tops (former touring artist on Reddit)

For example: how many CD’s do you need to sell before you break even? How many streams are needed for it trough spotify, Rhapsody (Napster) or other streaming services? Read this and you’ll be in shock to see what you get paid by streaming services. Now you know why many well known artists like Taylor Swift do not want spotify to stream their music.

A well known blues artist from Finland proudly published on Facebook recently that the sales of her latest album passed the 5,000 copies. That’s a lot these days. To achieve this number of sales she’s touring constantly. She ain’t even an indie but has a record company backing her up. Don’t think you’ll be able to sell thousands of albums out of the blue. You’re no Sufjan Stevens overnight.

How to reward your ‘backers’.

No. I’m not interested in your band doing a live gig in my living room. I’m not interested in a mug, T-shirt or “eternal gratitude”. If you ask people to invest in your product you will need to give them back what they’ve invested in. A “free”, preferrable signed, copy of your album. Don’t be a Scrooge! Hand it back to your backers! Another cool idea is to sell “limited editions”. Like hand-numbered copies. I have one here by David Philips. It’s number is #0012 (he didn’t do crowdfunding, btw). Meaning I was the 12th person ordering it at the pre-sale. How cool is that?

The projects I did invest in all had this one important item: the (signed) album. Some even included hand written notes. I personally still like to buy albums (online and offline). But that’s related to my age I’m afraid 😉

Further reading

► How much do indie artists really make on album sales?
Reddit (discussion)
► Crowdfunding Tips and Tricks

Recording with a Smartphone instead of studiosoftware?

Recording with an Android smartphone (Motorola Moto G4 Plus) plus the J4T 4track recording app. The app does a nice job for recording a demo “on the road” but cannot replace a regular DAW. At least, for now.. 

I’ve been using the J4T App in the past on a tablet, hoping it would be possible to use it as a “mobile DAW”, at least as a simple, yet usefull, tool for recording on the road or when I didn’t want to set up the studio equipment. It never worked out that well, my tablet was too slow and had lots of latency issues. Apart from that, the build in microphone sucks.

Can’t replace a DAW?

Main reason why this alone can’t replace a regular DAW is it’s lack of editing possibilities but on top of that it’s not that easy to hook up a USB device. At least it wasn’t until Android 5.x.

Android wasn’t designed to support USB Audio. But it now can, that is: if you have the extra hardware for it. But when you have a DAW why bother messing around with a smartphone and try to get it working? If you want to go there, the easiest way is an iPad with Garageband. But it will cost you serious money.

Another nice option would be hooking up iRIG to your iPad, iPhone or even Android device. The demo video’s are great and give the impression it works very well. Check out the iRIG website for details. But again, that’s pretty expensive…

USB? OTG cable

The cheap way out would be hooking up an OTG cable to see if that works. An OTG cable gives you a regular “USB” connection so that would make hooking up USB devices possible. However, this was not the idea of my review. I wanted to use it as ‘standard’ as possible. Of course I will buy such a cable in the near future, … 🙂 they ain’t expensive and I still have this hope to be able to use mu smartphone as a good, small, “mini studio” for on the road or recording a quick demo’s in the livingroom..

Motorola Smartphone & J4T

Back on topic! Some time ago I bought a new smartphone and installed the J4T app again. It was running smoothly on the new smartphone and Android 6+. Apart from that, the build in mic of the Motorola (Lenovo) smartphone is “good”. Not CD quality of course, but good enough to do a rough demo. So I played around a little with it and made this video about this app.

It has a metronome build in as well as a basic mixer, effects (Chorus, Reverb, Compressor) and some other great functions. It can export the finished tracks to mp3 and WAV format audio files. It does cost a few dollars but it’s worth it!

So, in conclusion? 

Great tool when you need to do a fast recording on the road. Good enough to demo and send that to your friends or band members. Four tracks should be more than enough to give other people a basic idea of how you want your final product, the song, to sound. And I like it’s ease of use, the interface and it’s fast. Very fast, especially on modern smartphones or tablets. Audio isn’t stable though, as you can hear it has it’s flaws. But anyway – it’s fun to play with!


Videocredits: all rights ©2017 Barking Aunts


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