Telling People You’re Broke Won’t Help Your Music Career | DiscMakers

BrokeMusician-254x300The starving artist routine can help derail your music career, so focus on the positive

As indie musicians devoting ourselves to the demands of a music career, we know that many (most?) musicians are always broke. Like Ramen broke. PB&J broke. Rice and beans BROKE.

You know who doesn’t know that musicians are broke? Non-musicians. And let’s keep it that way.

Music lovers (your fans) don’t want to hear how you are a “struggling/starving musician.” It’s not romantic. The starving artist thing is romantic to reflect back on (once you’re successful) and you can talk all about it in interviews with Rolling Stone in five years. But don’t talk about it now.

Building a grassroots fan base is about showcasing that you’re on the up and up. No one wants to be a fan of a failing, starving, broke-ass band. They want to support bands who have their act together, have a budding music career, and are about to take over the world. They can then say “I knew them when…”

There is a difference between talking about how broke you are and being humble and (for the most part) transparent. I see bands post all the time on Twitter and Facebook about how broke they are and can’t afford to eat so “buy my music.” Big no no. Guilting them into buying your music never works. You’ll be sure to get an “unfollow” rather than a sale.

You can, however, post about how you’re looking for a crashing pad. Just because you need a place to stay doesn’t mean you’re broke. It could mean that you’d rather spend that $100 on gas, inventory, blow, whatever. Or that you just want the comfort of a friend/fan’s hospitality. Amanda Palmer STILL crashes with fans all over the world and she raised over a million bucks on Kickstarter!

Your fans are living vicariously through you. All of your successes are their successes. If you keep talking about all your music career failures, they’re not going to be so excited to be your fans as they already have enough failures going on in their own lives and don’t need any of yours.

Also, I made the mistake when I first moved to LA by telling everyone I met how tough it was to make ends meat in LA (vs. Minneapolis). I thought people would empathize and we would share in our collective misery. The thing I soon realized was that most people thrive on positivity and enthusiasm out here (not misery — go figure). I lost a few early connections because I revealed too much struggle and not enough inspiring drive.

Sure, misery loves company. But you know what also loves company? Awesome. Be awesome and you’ll attract awesome people.

STAY POSITIVE and keep the uplifting, exciting success stories (as seemingly small as they are to you) coming. That keeps people inspired. Talking about how you lost a gig, can’t pay for gas or food, and are thinking of quitting music because it’s too expensive is just a bummer. Don’t bum people out with your negative tweets, posts, or in person conversations. Leave that for your music.

Since quitting his day job at Starbucks in January 2008, Ari Herstand has played over 500 clubs, colleges and festivals in 40 states, opened for Ben Folds, Cake, Eric Hutchinson, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, and Ron Pope, and had his music featured on popular TV shows like One Tree Hill and various Showtime and MTV shows. Ari relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in the fall of 2010 to begin the next phase of his artistic journey. This year he landed two co-starring roles on 2 Broke Girls and TOUCH, as well as a lead role in feature film. Check out his independent music business advice blog, Ari’s Take.

Read more: The Starving Artist Routine Won’t Help Your Music Career -Disc Makers

Using a MIDI Controller In Your Home Studio | DiscMakers

Practical advice and gear tips for integrating a MIDI controller into your studio set up

The technical nuts and bolts that go into making a modern recording have changed dramatically over the last two decades. Customizable, affordable studio gear allows musicians to make records in their home studios that can often rival the quality of the professional recordings made in the past, and using a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller has become increasingly more commonplace for home recording enthusiast.

A MIDI controller can come in many forms, and can serve a wide range of purposes – for live performances and for recording applications. It’s worth mentioning that a MIDI controller doesn’t actually produce any musical sound on its own, but rather triggers bits of MIDI data from its output to either a computer using a DAW (digital audio workstation), soft synth (software based synthesizer), or analog synthesizer module.

MIDI data protocol was invented by synthesizer manufactures in the early 80’s to create an industry standard that would allow multiple brands to be used in the same musicians’ setup, since the keyboard portion of a synthesizer could communicate with another brand’s sound module.

After MIDI Controller

A more recent rack of sound modules controlled by a MIDI keyboard controller. (Photo courtesy of Blurred Ren.)

Before MIDI Controller

Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman with various analog keyboards and synths in the pre-MIDI era

As the home studio has evolved, so too has the MIDI controller to fit the needs of the musician and the software that has become a part of the studio arsenal. Controllers now have moved well beyond acting as a keyboard for module synths and enhance any musician’s DAW and SoftSynth, enabling one to retain a tactile experience in an environment that seems to require more and longer use of the computer keyboard and mouse.

Bringing your DAW mixer to life with MIDI

One of the components that will expand your home studio’s functionality and flexibility is a controller to handle the mixing functions of your DAW. For the beginner or occasional home studio user, this may not seem like an essential purchase, but there are definite benefits to doing so, especially when you start doing a lot of tracking and mixing.

Mix board controllers can range widely in price and design with some looking more like a traditional analog mixer that you may find in a professional studio and others looking and functioning more like a hybrid DJ/studio mixer. Each knob and slider on this type of controller is assignable and can be programmed to control one or more parameters on the screen within a DAW. (We’ve opted to describe linear controls as “sliders” rather than the analog term “faders” for this article.) Even though some of the more high-end controllers look much like the analog desks mentioned above, they actually replicate a great many of a DAW’s most used functions without the need to be a slave to your mouse and keyboard.

Behringer MIDI Controller

The Behringer BCF 2000 is a good choice for an entry level MIDI controller.

Novation MIDI Controller

The Novation ZeRO SL MkII provides more control options but a steeper learning curve than some basic models.

In the $200 – $350 range there are several cost-effective options that provide a lot of control for the dollar. The Behringer BCF 2000 is a very sturdy controller that offers the basics for a simple home studio setup. A very intuitive layout and motorized controllers make this product a good choice for someone who is looking to just plug and play. There are eight 100mm sliders in the controllers that give the user a great range of motion. With the “bank” feature, you can control as many tracks as you want, and assignable knobs up top give another level of control of the board to the user.

The Novation ZeRO SL MkII will give you a little more control of you DAW’s mixing functions than the BCF 2000, but may take longer to get used to as it has a slightly steeper learning curve. The design of this controller departs from traditional layout of a studio mixer somewhat, and its innovative design allows for Novation to pack more control into less space on its surface. In addition to the eight faders, the Novation has 32 buttons, eight encoders, eight knobs, and eight drum pads. This controller offers a tremendous amount of control in the $300 price range.

MIDI Controller knobs

A close-up of the APC 40’s smart knobs. The LED rings make adjustments a snap on a darkened stage or in the studio.

Akai MIDI Controller

The AKAI APC 40 is a perfect complement to the Ableton Live DAW program.

The BCF 2000 and ZeRO SL MkII are geared more towards tracking-oriented DAWs such as Pro Tools or Logic, but if you’re an Ableton Live user, the Akai APC 40 is the must-have controller. Built specifically for Ableton Live, the APC 40 takes everything on the screen and gives you eight sliders, a dedicated bank of eight “smart” knobs for sends and pans, and another set of eight more “smart” knobs surrounded by LED rings, that adjust parameters to whatever Ableton effect is selected. These “smart” knobs auto update in real time as you select and adjust different features while you see it on your computer screen and hear the difference. All of this is pre-mapped and will work immediately out of the box, so all one has to do is literally plug-and-play. In addition to the mixer/effect controls there is a grid of buttons that control Ableton’s loop clips and give it the ability to be a solid live performance controller as well. It’s a great value and available for $300.

For the musician with a bigger budget there are more elaborate MIDI controllers that more accurately duplicate the functions of an analog desk. Why is that helpful? Because it allows you to spend less time manipulating your DAW with the keyboard and mouse, and achieve a real studio feel by doing everything directly on the board. Controllers at this mid-level will usually range between $900-$1,300, but the added investment will significantly improve your mixing workflow. Being able to mix on a physical layout frees you to use your ear more, and to rely less on pointing and clicking on everything that is laid out on the DAW screen.

Mackie MIDI Controller

Mackie’s MCU Universal Control allows you to abandon the mouse and keyboard to take control of your session needs from the console.

The Mackie MCU Pro Control, which retails for $1,100, is among this class of desktop MIDI consoles, and is a very versatile controller. The system works with all of the major DAWs, which is not always the case with these types of controllers; other controllers may be built exclusively for Pro-Tools or Logic, so be sure any product you are shopping will be compatible with your programs. These controllers have dynamic encoders (meaning they are infinitely variable) on each channel strip that can easily be switched between several control features, allowing you to tweak pan, plug-in parameters, effects sends and returns, and EQ points, without having to be preprogrammed to do so. They typically will include other features such as jog wheels, sturdier construction, weighted/motorized sliders, zoom keys, and all of the function keys from a traditional computer keyboard, all of which keep your workflow concise and eliminate the need for the mouse and keyboard while tracking and mixing (other than to type track and song names).

While it’s beyond the scope of this article to look at even higher end MIDI controllers, Avid and Solid State Logic are just two of the designers that make more elaborate control systems costing tens of thousands of dollars should you happen to win the lottery.

MIDI for guitarists/bassists

Digital audio tools continue to impact the recording world, and evolving from that technology came VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plug-ins that are now integrated into all DAWs. Such programs allow for audio manipulation of thousands of virtual instruments and effects from hundreds of companies, all controllable by MIDI. For any guitarist or bassist recording at home, they’re a great alternative to collecting several head and cab combos, along with stomp boxes, in the quest to get the ultimate tone.

Guitar Rig MIDI Controller

Guitar Rig 5 is the latest edition of the virtual collection of guitar and bass amps, cabinets, and mic set ups that cover nearly every type of gear.

Some of the major players in the amp-modeling world are Waves GTR3, IK Multimedia’s Amplitube and Line 6’s Gear Box, each of which offers an ever-increasing range of sound options as they have evolved. If you want the Mercedes-Benz of this product category, jump right to the Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5, which for $199, models 17 amps, 27 cabinets, 16 mics and 54 effects. All of these modeling software applications can also be manipulated with MIDI controllers (more on that below), while producing sounds so realistic that they are often indistinguishable from the actual amplifier recordings, not to mention they will set you back a tiny fraction of the price of collecting and maintaining the various vintage amps, heads and stomp boxes they emulate.

Guitarists, being the finicky bunch that we are, may complain about playing squeaky clean notes and chords straight into an audio interface and then adding all the tone and color by clicking away on a computer; and really who could blame anyone for that? If you’ve ever stood in front of a half stack and held out a long note with some sustain and feedback, it’s a lot of fun! But if you live in an apartment or your kids are sleeping on a week night, you may have to rethink that option. Thankfully, utilizing a combination of amp-modeling software and MIDI controllers give guitarists, bassists, keyboard players, and even vocalists a range of possibilities from traditional stomp box type setups to out of this world effect manipulation and flexibility that is unheard of for analog setups. Just add a modeled Big Muff-type distortion effect plus ultimate phase shifter with a dash of ring modulation for a weird and wild touch of modeled sonic spice!

Behringer Foot Pedal MIDI Controller

The Behringer FCB 1010 is built for the studio.

Roland Foot Pedal MIDI Controller

The Roland FC-300 is sturdy enough for the stage.

In order to get the most out of these VST amp-modelers, one should consider adding a MIDI foot controller, so that just like with analog pedals, a guitarist or bassist can have all of their effects at the tip of their toe. Some foot controllers to consider incorporating into your studio or live performance set up that could replace traditional pedal boards are the Behringer FCB 1010, which retails in the $150 range and the Roland FC-300, in the $450 range. Both of these offer strikingly similar features when it comes to functionality; the major difference is that the Roland is made with metal pedals and built to take a beating if you take it on the road or have a heavy gigging schedule.

Both pedal boards contain MIDI in/out ports in the back, amp channel controls jack, and power supply sources. To incorporate the pedal board into your setup you’re going to need an audio interface that has a MIDI-in port to connect from the back of the pedal board. In your DAW or VST plug-in program, there will be a place to configure the MIDI routing to make sure that your computer is getting the signal. If you’re having difficulty configuring your MIDI pedal board, don’t stress, it’s likely that someone on YouTube already has done it and will gladly show you how. Once you have a connection going you should be able to assign each pedal to a different parameter within your DAW or VST modeler and use it to turn effects on and off just like an analog setup. An advantage to using a MIDI pedal board is the ability to use banks on the board, which could allow you to have more freedom – instantaneously changing tones, amps and cabinets for different songs and styles (especially handy in a cover band that may have a lot of styles and eras in a particular set.)

McMillen MIDI Controller

Keith McMillen Instruments has a reputation for thinking outside the box with their innovative products.

While the Roland and Behringer offer great alternatives to the traditional analog stomp boxes and accompanying pedal boards that most guitarists are used to, Keith McMillen Instruments have created a pedal board MIDI controller, called the SoftStep, that embraces the fact it’s a MIDI device, and isn’t trying to virtually recreate analog setups. The SoftStep controller does not require being routed through an audio interface like the other controllers; it can be plugged directly into your computer using a USB cable. This controller can be used similarly to the Behringer or Roland pedal boards since it can trigger virtual pedals and effects on your computer, but it does much more. The SoftStep does not have pedals on its board, they feel more like drum pads and have a flexible and rubbery feeling to them. These pads not only detect on and off, but also are sensitive to where your foot is putting pressure on the pad in relation to an imaginary X/Y axis, similar to the way a laptop track pad works. Pressure along either the X- or Y-axis of the controller sends different MIDI data out into whatever is receiving your MIDI information, such as your DAW program, so you can use each pad as an expression pedal if you wish and map it to multiple parameters.

This can be used in a wide variety of ways including controlling LFO rates, chorus intensity, distortion amount, DJ filter sweep type effects, and nearly anything else you can imagine. A controller with as many options as the SoftStep would require a bit more practice for someone who is new to it since there is no analog equivalent, but once it has been incorporated into your set, it allows you to “play” the MIDI controller more like an instrument, as opposed to being a row of on/off switches.

Read more: Using a MIDI Controller in Your Home Studio -Disc Makers

Touring Tips For International Music Gigs | DiscMakers


International music gigs

Playing international music gigs can be a blast, but be prepared for everything

Thanks in no small part to the global reach of digital distribution, more and more independent musicians are finding themselves with opportunities to gig well beyond the borders of their home countries. Whether you’re driving north from the east coast of the United States to play a coffee shop in Montreal, bringing your electro-pop act to a string of clubs in Tokyo and Thailand, or presenting a midnight set at a jazz festival in Germany, performing music gigs abroad can be an incredibly rewarding and cool experience — but one that brings its own set of challenges.

Here are tips from seasoned musical world travelers to help you make your international music gigs run as smooth as possible.

Cover the basics
Many of the steps you’d take to have a good international vacation or business trip are the same steps that will help you have a smooth multi-country gigging experience. In other words, preparation is key.

Common-sense basics include checking with your doctor to make sure that you have proper immunizations and medications for the region(s) you’ll be visiting; printing and copying all vital documents like passports and travel reservations; researching your destinations so you’re aware of any political or public safety issues; checking with your banks and credit card companies about currency exchanges and overseas transaction fees; finding out what (if any) local food or water you should avoid; and so on.

While there are many resources out there for advice on international travel, Lonely Planet is a personal favorite and a great place to start.

Keep the current and connectivity in mind
When it comes to packing, the first thing that Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess recommends is bringing versatile power adapters. “Maybe even have duplicates,” he says. “You don’t want to be in a hotel room and not be able to plug anything in. Having the right cables and adapters is a big concern when traveling in Europe, or anywhere.”

The same advice applies for instruments and amps. “My pedal board is custom made and my power supply works with 110 and 220 volts,” says guitarist Alex Prol. “Make sure you know what type of current runs in the countries you’re visiting, and what plugs you need, and make sure that your gear is going to work.” Your local music retailer should be able to help you find the right sort of power convertor, though custom power supplies or modifications can be helpful as well. “They’re more expensive, but you get exactly what you want,” he says.

Internet connections are also important when gigging internationally, especially if you want to stay connected to loved ones across an ocean, or keep your social media presence up to date. “Make sure your Skype account, or other video chatting capabilities, are up to snuff, and that your video camera is working,” says Rudess. “If you get back to your hotel room after a gig and try to connect to your family but they can’t see you, they won’t be happy. It’s best to trouble-shoot video connections before going out the door.”

If possible, check in with the places you’ll be staying ahead of time to find out what sorts of Internet options, if any, are available. Similarly, if you plan to upload any content from a mobile device using international cellular networks, make sure to check with your local carrier about roaming costs. Using data services abroad can be ridiculously expensive, so know what you’re getting yourself into before you Tweet.

Pack practically
If you’re performing music gigs in major cities around the world, chances are you’ll be able to find a replacement high-hat clutch or a new patch cable relatively easily — but if your tour takes you even slightly off the beaten path, having replacement gear in hand has the potential to save you lots of headaches.

For guitarists, Prol recommends bringing extra cables and string sets and a small tool kit, so you can fix your own axe on the fly if something goes amiss. “If you’re bringing your own amp, always bring an extra set of valves,” he adds. “They break easily, especially if you take them out of an amp before you pack it up for travel, so have at least one extra kit ready.”

For keyboardists, composers, or producers, Rudess recommends bringing a portable rig so you can keep your chops up on long journeys. “You can always throw a Korg Nano keyboard into your suitcase,” he says. “It plugs easily into your computer or iPad and you can use it in conjunction with software synthesizers. There’s no excuse for not having something to practice on!”

One final packing tip from Rudess: “Have all of the details of your travel with you in hand — where you’re staying, where your gig is, how you’re getting to the hotel, who your contact people are. If we’re playing in a country where we know the promoter and he meets us at the airport, great. But if you arrive at an airport somewhere in Asia, nobody’s there to meet you, and you have no idea where you’re staying, that’s not fun.”

Build in a buffer
When you’re traveling internationally, make sure to build in a lot of extra time to get from point A to point B, advises saxophonist Jon Irabagon. “You never know when your first train might be just a few minutes late,” he says. “If you have a rough travel day where you have to catch two or three transfers, those few minutes will make a difference.”

Showing up to a gig late — in a country where you may not speak the language — can be a stressful thing to deal with, so plan ahead to avoid the situation altogether.

Insure your gear
Anything can happen on a plane, train, or crowded club dressing room, so if you’re traveling with valuable gear, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Should a beer end up splashed across your prize analog synth or your custom-built bass suddenly vanish into thin air, a solid insurance plan can help you recoup your losses.

Irabagon insures his horn with a musical instrument insurance company called Clarion, though he points out that there are other companies that provide coverage for comparable costs. When you’re shopping for instrument insurance, be sure to get quotes from a number of different services, check online reviews, and ask your musical friends and colleagues for recommendations; a call to your local Grammy chapter couldn’t hurt either. Regardless of which company you go with, make sure that you explicitly know what your fees are and what level of coverage is offered for international travel.

“Insurance can be kind of tricky, but if you’re traveling with an artist who has tour support, sometimes they take care of your insurance,” says Prol. “Some of them don’t, though, so you need to ask.” The guitarist recalls one instance when he was touring with a major artist and one of his instruments was stolen after a show. “It was only then that I found out that they weren’t taking care of insurance for musicians,” he says. “Now I make sure to ask about everything up front.”

Approach illicit substances with caution
We’ll keep this one short: Even if you only have a tiny amount of marijuana and like to light up and wind down after a show, best practice is to leave it at home — or face the risk of potentially intense consequences. Many countries do not look kindly on foreigners with narcotics, drug-sniffing airport dogs are skilled at what they do, and punishments can be harsh — here’s a story about one touring musician who ended up in Japanese prison for precisely this reason — so if you do choose to engage, proceed at your own risk.

Stay comfortable
Keeping yourself relaxed and rested while traveling internationally can go a long way towards ensuring that you’ll put on a strong show. To that end, make sure to eat as well as you can, sleep as much as you can, get some exercise, and pack things that will keep you comfortable.

“I never know what the neighborhood around a hotel is going to be like, and if it will be safe to go out and get exercise, so I always pack stretchy exercise bands, just in case,” says Rudess. “You can also bring air freshener for hotel rooms that may not smell so nice, and even your own pillows, if you’re sensitive.” Rudess further recommends packing a good set of headphones for the hotel room; if he’s going on a long tour, he’ll also bring a small, portable audio system to put on hotel room desks and chill pre- or post-gig.

Make friends
“Remember to be respectful of promoters and local musicians, or volunteers and crew that you meet on your travels,” advises Irabagon. “You never know when you will run into them again and if they can help you in random ways.”

Rudess echoes the point: “If you want to have experiences in a different country during your time off, it’s best to befriend the promoter that you’re working with ahead of time and ask for advice. Often a promoter can arrange something ahead of time, or hook you up with a local guide. Don’t just Tweet out something like, ‘I’m in Jakarta! Who wants to take me around?’ That can be troublesome. In many cases, people who are inviting you to perform are happy to have you there and might really enjoy showing you around before the gig.”

Stay focused and maintain perspective
No matter how beautiful or fascinating your international musical locale may be, remember why you’re there in the first place. “You’re not on vacation,” says Prol. “People sometimes forget about that and start acting like they’re rock stars. We are rock stars through the eyes of our audiences, but you have to know that you’re working. If there are nice beaches, that can be easy to forget,” he continues, laughing, “but you can’t oversleep, you can’t be late for sound check, and you have to be on top of your game. If you’re not, you probably won’t be on the next tour.”

On the flipside, staying professional doesn’t mean you can’t dive into the local culture and enjoy every minute of your time abroad. “Have fun!” says Irabagon, who advises that touring musicians ask around to find good local spots for food and drink. “It’s an honor and privilege to get to travel and play creative music for people in different parts of the world.”

Michael Gallant is a musician, composer, and journalist living in New York City. Music from his debut trio album Completely was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and received a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “Fresh, invigorating, progressive – there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download through iTunes, or purchase through CD Baby.

Read more: Touring Tips For International Music Gigs -Disc Makers

Seven Strategies for Local Music Promotion | DiscMakers

Building local momentum through gigs and networking is a great music promotion strategy

You’ve spent countless hours writing, revising, and rehearsing, and now it’s time to take your material to the stage and wow some audiences. While a tour bus, road crew, and booking manager are helpful when it comes to worldwide — or at least nationwide — musical domination, gigging locally and building a live following, honing your chops, and refining your performances is the recommended first step. Here are a few music promotion strategies to help you get attention for your music on a local level.

Make your gig an event
If you’re trying to make a splash on a local level, New York recording artist Nisha Asnani recommends a focused approach to your music promotion — plan a single show and make it big.

“Early on, once I’d established some self-confidence in my work and writing and was ready to release my EP, I didn’t just want to put on a little release show,” says Asnani. “If I was going to do it, I was going to do something that people would really be interested to see, something that they’d remember.”

For her EP release party, which happened at The Bitter End in New York City in 2011, Asnani planned months in advance, refining arrangements, rehearsing, and gathering musical collaborators, who ended up including multiple string players and a horn section made up of friends and colleagues. “I wanted that awe factor, for people to be overwhelmed and enveloped,” she says.

By focusing her efforts on a single, explosive event, Asnani created an experience that continues to pay her back in dividends, even two years later. “People still remember that show and talk to me about it,” she says. “When they think about me and my music, it’s something that they can reference, and those memories have helped open doors for me. Most of my shows are pretty intimate,” she adds, “but this was an example of how large I can go in a performance. I’m grateful that it really seemed to stick with people.”

Take risks
If you heed the above advice, take note: The bigger the show you put on, the bigger the choices you have to make, Asnani says, and therefore, the bigger risk you run of making choices that not everybody in your audience is going to like. But that can be a good thing.

“When you make a big statement, you can alienate people, and that’s important to do,” she describes. “Don’t be afraid to be very specific in what you do. Even if you fail, you have a better chance of learning more and being more powerful and effective the next time. If you just go middle of the road and wishy-washy, and try to make everyone happy, you’re going to end up with more questions than answers.”

Making strong choices about your music and performance can also help you find your local audience more quickly; if it’s readily apparent who loves your music and who is angling for the door, you can use that knowledge to better focus your next gig towards members of your community who will truly dig what you’re presenting.

Establish a residency
The Bravery is just one example of a band that effectively grew its career by playing a residency, a.k.a. a series of regular shows at the same venue.

“One good thing about a residency is that, even though people might have busy schedules, it gives everyone who wants to see you multiple opportunities to do so,” says Asnani.

Playing a residency can also give local friends and fans a chance to see you grow and change show to show. “I have a friend who came to a few of my shows and she told me how interesting and exciting it was,” says Asnani. “She felt like she was on the journey with me, getting a glimpse into the process.”

One key element of playing a successful residency is avoiding, as Asnani puts it, “saturating your draw” — in other words, playing too often in the same area so, eventually, nobody shows up. If the venue you’re playing at is a restaurant, bar, or other locale with a regular built-in crowd, this can be less of a concern. But if you’re the sole magnet drawing people in, consider pushing for a residency schedule that has you playing closer to monthly or bi-monthly, rather than weekly — whatever timetable will allow you to do your music promotion thoroughly and get a reasonable crowd through the door.

There’s no hard formula for setting up a residency, but building up relationships of mutual respect with local venue owners and bookers is always a good step. It’s also important to make sure that you have enough material, or can develop new material quickly enough, to keep each show fresh, as it’s a rare fan who will come back to see you play the same eight songs in the same order, show after show and week after week. If you’ve found a venue that feels like it could be a good musical home away from home for a little while, and the folks in charge seem friendly enough to be open to such a thing, bring up the subject and see where the discussion goes.

While playing a residency can help you build a reputation and solidify a following, Asnani is quick to point out that a focus on honing your craft is key to the success of any series of shows. “It’s about getting in and doing the work,” she says. “You get to try new things, see what works and what doesn’t, and come back and do it better the next time.”

Host something
Whether it’s a jam session or open mic night, late-night community radio show or music appreciation meet up, hosting something musical on a local level can help you build relationships within your community, hone your chops as a performer, and serve as great music promotion by getting the word out about you and your music.

“I created an open mic to serve the artistic community that I was connected to and to give everyone an opportunity to network,” says Asnani. “It works great, because I get to help other people like me and see what they’re doing artistically. It’s also great that I often get to perform myself and show my work to a new crop of people each week.”

Asnani emphasizes that the community aspect of serving as a host is key, especially for musical artists with big ambitions. “The label structure isn’t what it used to be, and I believe that artists who band together, come up together, and share resources are all stronger for it,” she says. “If you share ideas and do your best to provide both feedback and connections to people in your community, it can make a big difference when it comes to getting known and getting seen.”

Even if your true musical passion is your own personal blend of trip-hop and bluegrass, don’t hesitate to get your feet wet with other local artists, bands, and projects. Playing, writing, producing, or recording with other like-minded folks can help your name get out within your area ’ and next time you have a local show of your own to publicize, you have that many more people in the music world to share the news with.

Furthermore, don’t forget that more hours logged making music with different collaborators means more unexpected eyes and ears reached. You never know who’s watching or listening, and that killer guitar line you’re laying down to back up your friend’s singer/songwriter set may just be the key to opening up your own next exciting opportunity.

Reach out to local media
Just last month, I wrote about if or when to start working with a music publicist — but when you’re trying to get noticed on a local level, there’s quite bit of effective media outreach that you can do on your own.

Small newspapers, college radio stations, community blogs, and area-based tourism magazines can be good media outlets to target. If you happen to be a member of an ethnic or religious group that has community-specific publications in your area, check out those as well.

Generally speaking, the smaller the media outlet, the easier it will be to get access to an editor, writer, or producer in order to introduce yourself and make your pitch. As with any such interaction, keep your story short, focused, confident, and respectful. If you’re doing something that’s interesting and different, any such publication could well be interested in sharing the latest about your new show or album release with your neighbors.

Keep pushing
There’s no guaranteed timeline when it comes to building a name for yourself and your music on a local level, so persistence and patience are key. “I always think it’s bullshit to wait around for other people to give you opportunities,” says Asnani with a laugh. “If you want opportunities that you’re not getting, it’s your responsibility to create them for yourself.”

Asnani points out that locations like New York City and Los Angeles, by their nature, can offer more opportunities than others. But she also notes that, regardless of whether you’re in a small town or urban metropolis, the same principles apply.

“I always produced my own shows, sought out my own venues, found my own musicians, and so on,” she says. “It’s important to create your own events and opportunities and cultivate contacts wherever you are, to be as present and positive as possible as part of the musical community in which you want to live and work.”

Read more: Seven Strategies for Local Music Promotion | Disc Makers’ Echoes