5 Ways to Make Your Website More Linkable | CDBaby.com

by Chris Bolton

link building on the webThe Web is called ‘The Web’ for a reason. It consists of billions of pages, knit together by a vast network of links. This ‘web of links’ gives the Internet both form and function. If they didn’t exist, we’d all be stuck on the same webpage for an eternity and it would be quite boring. But links do more than just create the structure of The Web; they also allow us to travel through it. Links serve as portals from one web page to another. Over time, links also become an indication of the popularity or success of any given website or webpage. Popular webpages naturally get lots of links, as well as shares on social networks. Search engines then use this link data to asses the usefulness or popularity of a given page, and websites with a large quantity of quality links get more traffic from Google and other search engines.

(Note: a ‘quality link’ can be described as a relevant or helpful link that comes from a reputable website. Poor quality links from spammy websites aren’t very helpful in search rankings.)

While this is an oversimplification of the vastly complex algorithms that search engines use, it’s safe to assume that an increase in quality links will usually lead to an increase in search engine rankings and therefore traffic.

Quality links = higher traffic.

Higher traffic = more exposure, more sales, new fans, etc.

Getting links

As artists, our success depends on growing our fanbase both online and off, so you can see how important growing your website’s link profile is. But, it can also be difficult. Asking politely for links from strangers isn’t usually very fruitful. If a webmaster doesn’t know you, chances are your email will end up the trash bin. The bright side? Most successful artists have never done one iota of link-building. Why? Because links happen naturally. When you create great content, people will share it and link to it. No, it doesn’t hurt to go out there and ask for links. But there are many great techniques formanually building links, and if you create great content you should be able to grow your links naturally.

The concept is simple: put interesting content on your website that people will link to, and do it consistently. Make sure to share your posts on social networks. Rinse and repeat.

5 tips for creating linkable content

You may have heard the term “linkbait.” It’s not my favorite way to describe creating linkable content, but these techniques would probably fall under that category. (Further reading on Link Bait at HubSpot)

1. Make sure there are “like” and “share” buttons on your website

This is super important. You’ve got to make it easy-as-pie for people to share your content, because social shares and ‘likes’ will include a link back to your content. Adding share buttons is an easy way to optimize your content for linking.

2. Put the focus on your fans

Have you ever been featured in an article or on a website? Have you ever received a notable award or been referenced by a celebrity or political figure? Whether you have or haven’t, it’s not hard to guess what you might do if something like this happened. You’d probably proudly create a post on your favorite social network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and link to the website that talks about your achievement. You might also write a blog post about it and link to the site that featured you. Heck, even if you didn’t post anything,  one of your friends probably would.

What I’m getting at is this: you can create this same linking effect by featuring your fans on your site. Create a blog post where you interview a fan on video, feature fan artwork or music, or post audience photos. If you do this regularly and make sure your featured fans know about it, you will get links. Also, don’t feel shy about asking for a link or social share in these cases–your flattered fans will most likely be happy to.

3. Interview other artists or musicians

An artist interview, even if it’s just conducted via email, is a great way to generate links and social shares. Not only will this add some great new content to your website, but it will broaden your network and present linking opportunities for the artist and his or her fans. It’s a win, win, win!

4. Post it on your website first

Here’s a great habit to get into. Instead of uploading that awesome photo to Facebook, sharing your new demo on Soundcloud, or writing that witty post on Tumblr, put your content on your website and then share a link to it. This way you are creating a link to your website and giving everyone in your network a chance to share (and link to) your website. Not only that, but they might just visit your site and find something they want to buy. Cha-ching!

5. Leverage online relationships with your content

One of the best ways to encourage linking is to build relationships with people who have influence online. Seek out bloggers, journalists, and artists who have active online audiences. Start by sharing their posts and letting them know how much you appreciate their work. Chances are they’ll return the favor. When one of these influencers creates an article or post that resonates with you, write a commentary or response, post it on your blog, and be sure to link back to their site. Often this will be flattering to the influencer and gain you a link, some social shares, and a thank-you.

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Have a very disco Christmas, everyone!

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How To Archive Your Recording Projects For Future Use | Digital Bear Entertainment

Here’s a little video we did about our archiving process.  This is what everyone should do when you’e finished a project.  The key is making files and stems of each part in the session so that you can recreate the work without relying on the DAW or the plugins being available at the time that you need them.

Also, understand that backup and archiving are different.  Backup is making sure you can recover from immediate disasters while you are working on a project.  That’s difficult and requires some planning.  Archiving, on the other hand, is preserving your work for future use long after you’re done with the project.  That is much more difficult and more important still.

Remember that your storage medium won’t last forever either, so use a RAID, and copy forward all of your work as new, larger drives become available at reasonable cost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 7 reasons the media did not cover your last album | CDBaby.com

shutterstock 106973525 300x240 Top 7 reasons the media did not cover your last album

Music PR mistakes you can avoid next time you approach the media

[This article was written by guest contributor Dmitri Vietze, CEO/founder of StoryAmp.com, and publicist of 16 years.]

You spent a big investment of dollars and time, took all of your learnings from rehearsals and performing on stage, absorbed everything you could from your mentors and inspirations and produced the best recording of your career. Maybe you even borrowed money from friends and friends, or maxed out your credit card to master and manufacture albums. All of your hopes and dreams were wrapped up in your last record. But for the life of you — you couldn’t get it reviewed by the press or blogs, couldn’t get it on the radio.

What happened?

As more and more artists take their careers into their own hands—skipping the old method of getting a record label deal to launch their careers—the scenario above is becoming more and more common. You’ve heard that you can now D.I.Y. your way through your career, from recording to production to release…  but in reality there are certain pieces (like publicity and touring and marketing) that require more than just yourself, if you want to be successful. You have to rely on other decision-makers, and it’s tough to know how to influence them to take action on your behalf.

Here are the top 7 reasons why the media may have not covered your release.

1. You did not have enough of a runway.

This is by far the biggest reason why musicians do not get press coverage for an album release. Most independent musicians produce a record or put it up in iTunes through a service like CD Baby and call that the release date. “I got my CDs from Discmakers on Monday, so Monday is my release date,” they think to themselves. “Now I have to market it!” or “I gotta turn on this money source and make back my debt or investment.”

They email their fan list (if they have one), they post it on their Facebook and Tumblr band page, on their website blog, and maybe their personal Facebook page as well, and they tweet about it: “Today is our release date! Please download or buy it now!” they tweet or post. Only after that they think, “OK, how do I get more fans, more people to buy? I know: the media!”

So another few days or weeks go by and they come up with a plan to get their album out to some media or blogs. They might enlist a PR person or do some research on local newspaper contacts or blogs with generic email addresses to send a pitch letter to.  But they are doomed before they even start. Why?

Media outlets generally want to cover an album release very close to the release date. Not days or weeks or months after it has come out. There is a reason the word “news” contains the word “new” in it. They do not want to be thought of as “The Olds.”

Pilots have a saying, “The runway behind you cannot help you.” When you are flying a plane, it is not a good idea to start your acceleration at the middle of the runway before take off. If you use the full length of the runway, you have more options if you have to make a last minute pivot. Give yourself enough runway. Maybe the first batch of media targets are not responding or not interested. You could use some extra time to research and target some other media outlets.

Generally speaking, it is best to start pitching (convincing) the media more than six weeks before the official release date. That means you need to plan when the music will be fully recorded, mastered, sent to manufacturing, and scheduled for release through your distributor. The best way to handle scheduling a release date and publicity campaign start date is to have finished manufactured CDs in hand before you set the release date and to ensure that you have at least six or more weeks before that release date for PR and marketing. But if you have more confidence and control in your production process, you can schedule these dates in advance. Make sure to leave two weeks for writing up your “pitch,” the convincing story you will use to try to engage the interest of journalists, editors, and producers. (You can download StoryAmp’s free 60-page e-book on how to write a good pitchhere.)

If you have a six-month-old release right now and were thinking of starting a PR campaign… don’t. You missed your chance. Spend that energy booking a tour. You might be able to score some album reviews in conjunction with some live performances in a city you’ve never performed in. If the record was recorded six months ago, but does not have a release date on iTunes or Amazon, you can still treat it as a new release, so give yourself and eight-week runway and go for it.

2. Your music doesn’t speak to your press targets.

This is a very touchy one. Most bands do not get coverage because few journalists like their music. While the barriers to entry in making a record have been removed almost completely, musicians now must nakedly face that they may make music with no validation from the outside at all. In the old model, if a record label executive believed in you, you could point to many reasons other than your music why you might not have built the fan following you had hoped for. Because at least some record label believed in you. They validated the music you made. Even worse than the fact that journalists do not like your record is that music fans do not like your music. Even if you hire the best, most experienced, hottest, most expensive publicist on the planet, you might not get any media coverage.

But even if your music is not going to be the pop hit of the year, or even come close, you might get more media coverage if you target outlets suitable for your musical genre, cultural style, or market saturation. If you work in an eclectic genre, you might be a good candidate for National Public Radio or the New York Times, but probably not for USA Today. If you are a classical artist, do not expect to be the very rare classical artist reviewed in Rolling Stone. If you appear to “crossover” within your genre of jazz or country or Latin, try to put yourself into the shoes of a total pop fan before pitching a total pop outlet. You probably are not crossover from their perspective. There is one sure way to tell: read the media’s coverage. And keep in mind that more adventurous niche outlets are generally more likely to cover adventurous niche recordings.

If you target outlets that cover music in your genre, your popularity ranking, etc., you increase your chances of getting covered. Yes, shoot for the stars. But shoot for the stars in the same galaxy as you. And have a back up plan for getting realistic media coverage for your music.

3. Your album cover was ugly.

This one is very simple: If your album cover is ugly or does not fit the style that a press outlet covers, you probably never made it into the journalists’ ears. If you are the type of person who grabs the closest pair of jeans (or Dockers) for that matter every morning for your wardrobe, you probably shouldn’t be your album cover designer. Either hire a professional who knows your genre or think about who is the coolest looking person you know and have them do it. DO not underestimate the power of your visual brand in getting attention. It is the first thing an album reviewer will see.

4. Your story is non-existent or full of clichés and hyperbole.

Journalists are storytellers. If there is no good story to tell, it’s that much harder to write about your music. A story bound to increase your readership: “Here’s another band you’ve never heard of with music that is filled with tired lyrics and stale guitar riffs. Their life as a suburban child was so rough because their parents just didn’t understand them.” Not really. If you can articulate what is compelling about you or your music, it increases your chances of coverage. Music is one of the most crowded marketplaces. You have to stand out from the crowd: musically, visually, and anecdotally.

There are many techniques you can use to get to your story: musical inspirations, lyrical origins, technical innovations, personal revelations, war stories from touring, fan interactions, and more. Read about them in detail in StoryAmp’s free e-book here.

5. You do not play live.

It may seem counterintuitive that in order to get album reviews, you need to perform on stage. However, live performance can double your chances of press coverage. In traditional press, there are more column inches dedicated to live music than to record reviews. Any concert coverage will likely mention a new album if not go into further detail. Sometimes concert coverage is paired with an album review. Or the coverage is the album review with a spotlight on the concert details. Local media outlets are more likely to cover you at all if you are playing in their town.

Furthermore, one of the biggest reasons media outlets cover an artist is because of buzz building around them. One of the biggest builders of buzz is when someone sees you play live. Touring other cities helps you build that buzz as well as gives you a reason to target many more media outlets in each concert city. You might not have gotten covered in the past because you didn’t tour.

6. You sound just like someone else; someone bigger.

Nobody likes a copy cat. If you have become super frustrated that an artist that sounds just like you always gets media coverage and you never do, you need to realize they now “own” that sound. You have to do something that makes you different; not complain about how you are the same.

There is a balance within each musical genre to demonstrate that you are a part of the genre, but that you have an individual voice within that genre. When you hear people say “I hate country music” or “I hate rap music,” generally those people do not understand which characteristics define the genre and which characteristics define the individual. You must be a master at this with your genres of choice. You must be the best at defining the genre and connecting with the tribe of people who like that sound and you must be even better at crystallizing and expressing your individual musical contribution to that scene.

Characteristics that may define your genres or individual voice include lyrics, melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres, instrumentation, embellishments, technical mastery, or fashion. Tweak the right variables to express your individuality within your scene. In other words, press coverage only comes after musical mastery within your scene or the larger society.

7. You didn’t follow up.

Sending your music by mail or email with no follow up is unlikely to get you coverage. There is so much “white noise” and members of the press have a narrow bottleneck of time with lots of music getting shoved through it every single day. Many journalists get hundreds of submissions per week. They cannot possibly review it all, and certainly cannot listen to it all. Which ones shall they listen to: The ones with a warm body following up, or the ones haphazardly slapped into an envelope with no return address? The ones with the shy or rude or entitled voice on the other end of the line, or the persistent, creative, clever, diplomatic one?

Understanding Preproduction: The Key To Making Meaningful Recordings | Gibson.com

Ted Drozdowski

Preproduction is the ultra-important process of getting everything in place to make the best album possible. It has an indelible impact on the recording process and the quality of the album that results. The sad fact is, it is overlooked entirely or in part by most new artists and by a shocking number of established recording and touring acts. That’s a major reason why so many albums suck. A lack of preparedness always results in mediocrity, whether you’re a garage band or Bob Dylan.
Cerwin-Vega cvm 1224_If you’re planning to record an album and you’re interested in creating something that has artistic value and integrity, consider this article a nudge in that direction. And remember one overall rule: if at all possible, do not rush any of the steps of the preproduction process. And if you need help making decisions along the way, seek it out, whether in the form of a producer or a knowledgeable friend with a broader grasp of the fundamentals of recording, arranging, songwriting and project management.

Another thing to consider is that there are no absolutes in preproduction other than the need to fully understand the artist involved and the nature and goals of the album being recorded. That dictates exactly what needs to be done for each project. Understand also that all of these elements are typically approached concurrently, which helps give a project momentum and establish a clearer overall picture of the final results.

This is complex, so let’s try to break it down into a few areas of discussion:

• The Artist: Every album that’s meaningful says something about who a band or artist is. Green Day’s American Idiot, for example, defines the group as thoughtful, socially committed individuals with an anti-authority attitude who use punk-rock-based music as a mode of expression. Tom Waits’ Bad As Me reveals him as a poetic writer and musical character actor with a wide berth of reference points on the search for new musical narrative forms – but with a strong foundation in established forms — and committed to experimentation. Nevermind defines Nirvana as a punk and classic rock fueled band, interested in examining the human condition and celebrating individuality, but in a way that is clearly accessible to more than a cult audience.

It’s easy to back analyze albums this way, but to really understand one’s own music and how it should crystallize in the studio requires self-examination, which means artists needs to have a sense about where their roots lie, what motivates them to create as they do, and other important factors.

A good producer can help an artist figure this out. And a good producer will spend time seeing live performances and getting to know a band or artist before entering the studio. Sure, there’s always the option to just go in and blast down a bunch of songs and hope for the best, but “the best” is easier to achieve when there is an attuned sensibility guiding the project that’s based on understanding the artist that’s recording. And that sensibility can belong to a producer or to the artist him- or herself.

• The Songs: If you’re doing two or three songs so you’ve got a demo to get regional gigs with or to get played on the local college station, there’s nothing wrong with going in and blasting those songs down. But if your goal is to make a good album that has artistic merit, material should be carefully culled and cultivated.

This process can be as simple as sifting through songs that have been written and demo’d in advance (making demos is important and educational, regardless of one’s experience level) or as complicated as soliciting tunes from outside songwriters, sifting through the recordings of other artists or finding a co-writer with whom to pen the necessary numbers. Only a genius should write songs in the studio, as the clock ticks and costs rise.

If you’re planning to make an album or producing an album for another artist, make sure you have more songs on hand than you need. And if you’re producing, you need to have songwriting chops so you can fix things that don’t work in lyrics and arrangements.

Ideally, start with 18 to 20 songs for a projected 10- to 12-song album, and winnow those down to the best. There’s nothing like playing songs in advance live to learn if they’ll stand the test of an audience or the studio. And if you’re producing, seeing a band live can provide fantastic insights for arrangements, rewriting and more — as can good demos on GarageBand or fully audible live recordings from the board or other sources. If a song doesn’t feel right for any reason, don’t force the issue. File the song away for later, since more performances or musical growth might reveal the improvements it needs to rise above the pack.

• The Experience Level: Not every band or artist is ready to make an album. If you’re not ready for the studio, don’t force it. Bad recordings exist on the Internet, on YouTube and on CDs for a long, long time. And they will be held against you. It’s best to wait until your playing is dependable enough to generate solid results. Try to be dispassionate in judging your or your band’s abilities.

Practice, playing live gigs and working on fundamental weaknesses can be viewed as long-term preproduction strategies, at a basic level. Doing demos on GarageBand or another simple hard-drive based recording system — or even live recordings on a Zoom or other self-contained, easy to use recording device — is a great way to prepare for the studio.

A good producer will level with an inexperienced band or artist, offer them some advice and be available later when they’re really ready to make an album.

• The Cast: A good producer or a self-aware band or artist will also know when to look outside for musicians in order to realize the best recordings possible. Think of the producer or artist spearheading the recording project — and there should always be just one person who is the ultimate creative decision maker — as a casting director. He or she needs to know who to call to play the right role in the recordings.

Always get the best players your connections and your budget afford. Always. And if you’re not sure who you need to play that Hammond B-3 organ part, or who the best local musical saw maestro is, ask friends and other artists for leads. These don’t have to be high-priced session musicians and perhaps shouldn’t be if you’re looking for something outside the box. They can be club players and mavericks, too — just like you.

A good producer should have a contact list that covers just about all requirements, including the phone number for the right engineer for a project, if that producer isn’t also manning the mikes and faders.

Thinking beyond the limitations of one’s own band is an important growth point for an artist. It is a sign that the music the artist makes has taken on a life of its own that extends beyond a comfort zone and regular reference points. It is a sign of creative maturity.

• The Studio: These days it’s possible to make cool albums in a bedroom. Tom Waits once used a metal Quonset hut in the desert as a makeshift studio. But it’s often hard to beat a professional or, at least, well developed home studio for big sounds, due to the design of live recording rooms and the selection of microphones, compressors and other cool gear that good studios should offer.

When looking for a studio, consider your budget for the project — including food, lodging and transportation for musicians; determine whether the cost includes the engineer and other personnel; you might want to investigate credit or payment terms; and if it has any meaning for you, look at the gear list. If you’re not technically informed, read the list of artists who have recorded there. That will be revealing, since each of them also went through the process of choosing a studio. And listen to recordings made in the studio. When the stars align, you’ll know.

Also, don’t go in over your head. These days very, very few indie albums recoup their recording costs. It’s simply the nature of the business and the times.

• The Goals: Know why you’re making an album before you start a recording project. Do you simply want a calling card for your band? Do you want to make an album that will take you to the next level? Do you want to compile recordings that might be ripe for film, TV and other synch licensing? Do you want to make a profound artistic statement?

All of these considerations may require different strategies — strategies that affect what kind of songs you’ll record, how you’ll record them, how many tunes will be part of the project, whether guest “stars” are appropriate, how you’ll mix… the list goes on.

Understanding a project’s goals – the “Big Why” in making an album — is very, very important. And many artists in today’s absurdly difficult music business environment haven’t answered that “Why” or even thought clearly about it.

For example, if you independently released an album 10 months ago that was never promoted to radio or marketed, sold only a couple hundred copies and is mostly sitting in boxes in your basement, why — in practical terms — would you consider making a new album? And yet so many artists and bands do, and slide down a slope of frustration and debt. Understanding why you’re making an album and analyzing the likely outcomes is a way to avoid both of those demons.

Stop Shredding Your Vocal Cords | Discmakers Blog

by CARI COLE 

Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole talks about proper vocal care and five things you can do to avoid major vocal health issues

Vocal Care tips from Cari Cole

Ever wonder why stars have issues with their vocal health? Why do professionals lose their voices and need to have surgery? Does it happen to everyone eventually, or are there proper vocal care techniques that can help to avoid these situations?

It’s not inevitable, but it’s highly probable that you will have vocal problems if you don’t learn to use proper vocal care. Your voice is an instrument inside your body, and how you treat your body will reflect upon your voice.

First things first, your voice is not an instrument to screw with. Your vocal cords are not replaceable. You only have one set, and the way you care for them will determine whether you follow the road of deterioration that befalls so many singers or take the high road to vocal care, preservation, and health for your career.

It’s not easy to be out on the road singing for a living and keeping your voice in great shape. There are many things you can do to care for yourself and keep your vocal instrument in good shape that aren’t exclusively related to vocal technique and vocal performance (see my earlier post titled 8 Ways to Improve Your Vocal Health), but I want to talk about vocal technique and preserving your voice while you sing. I want to give you some vocal tips and teach you how to master your instrument, and address the key things you can do to ensure you never experience major vocal problems.

Of course there is MUCH more to explore regarding vocal care than what I can present in this article, but I picked out the biggest contenders that cause issues as they relate to the technical voice. Let’s take a quick peek at what some of these problems are and how they develop.

Common vocal problems

Vocal abuse or misuse, such as excessive use of the voice when singing and talking or smoking, coughing, yelling, allergies, reflux, or inhaling irritants can cause abnormalities of the vocal cords, such as nodules, granulomas, polyps, or cysts. The difference between these abnormalities is mostly a function of what kind of tissue is involved.

Symptoms of vocal problems include vocal fatigue, hoarseness that doesn’t clear, chronic throat clearing, throat pain, cough (sometimes with a little blood), and the feeling of having a lump in your throat. Surgery is a less optimal treatment for throat granuloma than vocal therapy, although “granulomas are often slow to regress,” according to NYU Voice Center’s website.

Most all vocal problems are caused by a combination of health, diet, and a lack of good technique – and are reversible with a little work. The best path is to first identify what created the voice disorder. In many cases, a brief period of voice therapy is the best approach to learn good vocal care and technique, including proper breath support and eliminating high pressure at the vocal mechanism.

How to avoid shredding your vocal cords:

1. Avoid coughing.

Coughing shreds your cords. When you have an infection, the body will naturally cough to get rid of it. Fight your infection with organic garlic capsules (nature’s antibiotic) and quell that cough with Bronchial Soothe (available at Whole Foods or Amazon.com). It’s the only remedy I’ve ever found that actually stops a vicious cough. Coughing will prolong your recovery time by twice as long.

2. Don’t glottal.

Glottals occur when the edges of the vocal cords bang together in over-closure most always on a word that begins with a vowel. This results from poor vocal technique. The way to fix it is to add a soft “h” to the onset of words that begin with vowels, i.e.; “h-uh-oh”,“h-everyone”, “h-“I”; “h-always”. It can happen in the middle of a word too: “st-ay” – st-h-ay”. A really good vocal coach can teach you more about how not to glottal, however keep in mind that from my years of experience I have noticed that most inexpensive or mid-level coaches do not have this kind of expertise and can even cause vocal problems. It’s important to find someone that has a good vocal health philosophy as part of their practice.

3. Get your voice out of your throat.

Speaking low in your throat, or in a monotone can cause vocal problems like hoarseness, vocal fatigue, nodules, cysts or granulomas. Associate your voice with less pressure and move it higher into your mouth or head cavity to avoid undue pressure. Speak higher in pitch and raise the soft palate to move out of the throat and let the voice “ring” in the head, mouth, and sinus cavities.

4. Stop talking so loud!

Don’t yell or talk excessively for long periods of time (or speak over loud music regularly – bartenders beware). Yelling and speaking for an extended time can cause immediate vocal fatigue and hoarseness and can damage your singing voice. Keep in mind to speak at a normal volume as whispering also strains your voice. If you know your speaking voice is a problem, find a speech therapist or vocal coach who understands speech therapy to help you get back on track.

5. Study vocal and breathing technique.

Find a great (not just a good) professional vocal coach who specializes in fixing vocal problems and knows a thing or two about how to speed you back to health. Having a great coach is your secret weapon to keeping your speaking and singing voice healthy for life. Until then, check out my Singers Gift Vocal Warmups that not only warm you up, but strengthen your vocal instrument the healthy way.