9 things you should never do on stage | Disc Maker’s



It’s good to know what you should be doing to advance your music career, but it’s also important to be aware of the things you should avoid. Don’t do these things during a music performance.

Music performance no nos

This post on music performance tips was adapted from an article on Music Industry How To. Reprinted with permission.

I’m sure you’ve read guides and posts and advice about how to move your music career forward. While it’s good to know what you should be doing to advance your music career, it’s also important to be aware of the things you should avoid. Unfortunately, doing the wrong things can kill your career a lot quicker than doing the right things can push it forward.

With that in mind, I want to share with you nine mistakes I’ve seen musicians make during a music performance. I’ve tried to leave personal opinion out of it, instead focusing on what will make for a poor show for your audience. After all, it’s them you’re there to entertain, right?

Here are nine things you should never do on stage!

1. Tune your guitar to start the show

Play guitar? Don’t go on stage and spend the first few minutes of your set tuning your guitar. It’s not fun for the crowd, and it just shows how unprepared you are. Practice tuning regularly so you can get it sounding right fast, and plan for time backstage to prepare yourself and your instrument so you’re ready to play when you’re on

2. Argue with the venue staff

Things don’t always go to plan. The show might start later than advertised, there might be a smaller audience than expected, or the sound engineer might not get your levels right. Despite all of this, don’t go on stage and vent your frustration over these issues – or worse, directly argue with staff during your show time.

Believe it or not, I’ve seen this happen multiple times. It’s easy to feel entitled and like you want to get it off your chest, but there’s a time and a place. When you are on stage, you’re there to entertain the crowd and have fun, so be professional and perform to the best of your ability – whatever the circumstances.

3. Make it obvious when you make a mistake

Mistakes happen. What should you do when they do? Simple: carry on with the show! Unless it’s something major, like a part of the stage has fallen down, chances are the audience won’t even notice. And even if they do, if you carry on as normal, it probably won’t bother them. Don’t make a big deal out of mistakes or highlight them, just keep on with your set.

4. Do more talking than performing

Ok, so it’s important that you let people know where they can catch you next or that they can buy your merch during or after your set. That said, no one wants to hear you talking about it for ages between each song. This gets boring and breaks up your show.

Be sure to incorporate short busts of promo across your gig, but keep it entertaining. Mention things in intros while the music is still playing, at the end of songs, and to backing music briefly between tracks. This lets you get out what you have to say without killing the vibe.

5. Disparage other musicians

The last thing you want to do is call out another band. Don’t criticize, mock, or laugh at another artist while you’re on stage. If you’re touring and have been invited to gig at somewhere outside your usual circles, treat the local musicians there with respect. There are so many “scenes” out there currently that are known for bands who just bash each other for no good reason. Chill out and enjoy the music.

6. Let your ego get in the way

On a related note, it’s important to never boast about your act or music while you’re on stage. Keep your ego in check. In fact, get rid of your ego. Keep that all to yourself. As a crowd member, it’s so laughable to see band hype themselves up on stage. If you think you’re great, be great. No one likes musicians who are too full of themselves.

7. Shout into a microphone at close range

As a musician myself, I’m fully aware that it’s easy to get excited by a crowd that is really into your show. If you’re going to raise your voice and interact with your audience, it’s important to be conscious of the volume. Never shout in to a microphone at close range. It’s not always a scream that gets a crowd going.

8. Split up

Never quit your band while you’re on stage! I remember waiting to see a local band for the longest time when I was younger. I finally got an opportunity to see them, and in a really great venue. We got to the show just as the guitarists we’re setting up and tuning.

After catching a late bus, I recall feeling so lucky that we hadn’t missed any of the set. Just as the guitarist on stage had finished tuning, there was a loud banging noise from the other end of the room. As I glanced back, the drummer had left the stage and the guitarists began to pull out the cables. By now the crowd, who had been waiting patiently for a little over twenty minutes, started to panic.

Noise and confusion circulated around the room very quickly. A moment later, the vocalist took to the mic. “Eh, we’ve actually just broken up. Sorry.” And that was it. To this day, I have no idea why. There was no explanation, and from an audience perspective, it has to be one of the worst things I’ve ever witnessed. Leave band differences for after the show your paying audience has come to see.

9. Forget why you’re there

Probably the most important part of your attitude on stage is to never forget why you’re there in the first place. The stage is the number one way to showcase your music and increase your fan base. If you have ambition and goals as a band, then never forget why you’re there when you’re on stage.

Bonus! Don’t leave your ears unprotected

As a musician, your ears are one of your most important assets (they’re pretty useful in day-to-day life too). While it may not affect your relationship to your audience, what many musicians don’t realize is loud music can damage your ear drums and cause tinnitus; a constant ringing in the ear. Unfortunately, I’ve got this. It’s not fun. While I’ve learned to live with it, for over a year it caused me serious sleeping problems and other issues.

Don’t make the same mistake I did, protect your ears. Don’t have music unnecessarily loud, and when you’re gigging and rehearsing, wear ear plugs. You need your ears, so take good care of them.


Gigging is a top form of promotion and one of the truly fun things about being a musician. If you want more advice on effectively promoting your music, have a look at my free marketing eBook for musicians. It’s one that’s already helped thousands start doing the right things in their music career. Hopefully it’ll help you too.

Read more: 9 things you should never do on stage – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/06/9-things-you-should-never-do-on-stage/#ixzz36HDtRTnp

The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs | Disc Makers


mic2 The one thing you have to understand to get more gigsNot all gigs are created equal: how to get the right gig for you

So you want to play more gigs.

It seems like other artists you know are performing all the time, so surely there must be a secret formula to getting gigs. That, or all the other musicians up on stage are friends with the venue owner or have a manager getting the gigs for them, right?

Maybe. But nine times out of ten the singer up there on stage has no insider information, no manager, and no friendship with the venue owner whatsoever.

So the burning question is….what is the Secret Formula to booking gigs?

I could reel off a few quick bullet points to whet your appetite, but to be honest that wouldn’t help you very much and here’s why: if you came up to me tomorrow and asked me how to get gigs, the first thing I’d say is, “What type of gig do you want?”

You see, not all gigs are created equal. Some gigs will pay well but won’t help you build a following; some gigs will pay next to nothing but will be massive fan builders; and some gigs… well they don’t get you fans or money but can still be valuable if used properly.

Confused?  I don’t blame you.

You see, before you can get gigs you need to understand the type of gigs that are out there and what each one can do for you. Once you understand this, it makes going after gigs a whole lot easier because you can look for a gig that is going to help you with your business (yes, you are a business) and is suitable for where you’re at in this phase of your career.

Have a look at the Gig Matrix below. These are examples of just some of the types of gigs, placed into a matrix that works on a scale of high versus low pay and high versus low fan building.

Gig Matrix 620x650 The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs

Note: This works for any musical genre; you just have to rename the gig slightly. For example, the musical theatre  equivalent of an ‘Open Mic Night’ is doing a community theatre show for free.

Bear in mind that this is not an exact science. The music industry is highly unregulated and I know that some musicians have done very well with ‘low pay/low fans’ gigs like busking if they go on a regular basis, however this is not always the case. To make things even clearer, let’s take a look at each of the areas of the Gig Matrix and find out what the benefits of each category can be for you.

Low Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

If after looking at the Matrix you thought that you would scratch Low Pay/ Low Fan gigs off your list straight away… well, think again. Every gig in the Matrix has its purpose and each is more accessible to you depending on what stage you are at in your music career.

For example, busking and open mic nights are a great way to test out new material or to gain performance practice when you are just starting out, and they are the easiest gigs to obtain; you can busk in most places by obtaining a simple busking licence and open mic nights take pretty much anyone.

In fact, I personally use both of these types of  gigs for this very purpose.  I’m currently working on some new folk material and am playing guitar for the first time (I’m usually a jazz performer and play piano and sing) so when I’ve got my material ready, I’ll hit up an open mic night to take my new songs and skills for a test drive.

Similarly, if you are in musical theatre, the best way to grow your resume is by doing free community shows. You’ll meet people in the industry and can work on your performance skills while you hunt around for new opportunities.

High Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

On the flip side of the Matrix  there are High Pay/ Low Fan gigs. These are what I call ‘Bread and Butter’ gigs because basically, they pay the rent. For contemporary singers, these might be bar/ club cover gigs where the venue pays you to play music their clientele will like, which usually means well known covers.

For me as a jazz musician, these are corporate gigs at some stuffy legal firm’s cocktail client night and I’m there to provide background music and look pretty. Yep seriously. Why else would they hire a band if they just want background music? It’s all for show. This is definitely not the place to pull out my massive ‘Nicola Milan’ banner, set up my merch stand complete with flashing lights and plug my CDs at the end of every set. You’ll be lucky if you get to hand out a few business cards during the break and get a quick thank you from the head honcho.

Use these gigs to fund the Low Pay/High Fan building gigs that we’ll have a look at next… and make the most of the free canapés while you’re there. icon wink The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs

Note: Some musos only want these types of gigs. This is when it’s not so much about building a name for themselves than it is making money as a musician without having to leave their local area (Which is totally fine by the way. I know plenty of very good musicians who make their living this way) — but for those of you who want to make a mark, raise your profile, and reach for what can happen when you do start becoming known (i.e. a higher charge rate, better gigs, a deeper connection with fans, getting your message out there, and all the possibilities that come with being a person of interest) then read on.

Low Pay/ High Fan Gigs

I love/ hate these gigs. I know they are going to be good for my profile but I also know I’m going to run at a loss and as someone who relies solely on income derived from music, the costs involved can bite.

Many support gigs with better known artists will fall under this category (initially at least.) As anything in the music industry, there will be exceptions but when you have no fans apart from your rent-a-crowd mates then you don’t really have much value (in terms of business dollars) to add to a gig and the opportunity to perform with a band that does pull a crowd is a good opportunity for you, because it means you get to play for fans of a similar sounding band. If they like that band, then they may become your fan too. However, it’s not such a good deal for the venue or the band with the bigger name.

The reason is because these type of gigs usually operate on a pay by door sales basis. If you have no fans then your ability to help with the door sales intake is going to be minimal and therefore you shouldn’t expect to be paid for something you didn’t provide. The catch here however, is this: if you are a singer who uses an accompanist or session musicians in your band, then you still have to pay your musicians and you will have to fork out of your own pocket to pay them. It is easier if you have a band dedicated to doing any gig they can to ‘break in’ but for singers, this is frequently not the case.

The good news is that if you make the most of these gigs, you should start building fans from the first gig and it does get easier. That, or you can do a heap of advertising to get people through the door… but that is a topic for another blog post.

The bad news is that every time you want to break into a new market (location) you will have to repeat the support gig process, unless of course you have a major radio hit and venues are clambering over each other to book you… and we all know this is definitely not the norm.

However, playing support gigs is the fastest way to go from zero to fans and get you one step closer to the juicy gigs we’ll have a look at next.

High Fans/ High Pay Gigs

Ah yes, now we reach the realm of the Rich and Somewhat Famous and I can hear you thinking ‘Now we’re talking. Ok Nicola, just tell me how to get heaps of these gigs, really well paying and in front of heaps of fans.’

My answer? “Patience, Grasshopper. They are not YOUR fans… yet.”

I’m not saying this to hold you back by any means because on average, festivals and promoted shows with advertising dollars behind them are hands-down the best way to get your name out there as an artist. The gig in itself would be enough, however most Festivals are accompanied by advertising dollars to spread your name further and have media salivating over the opportunity to get you on their interview list. Yes these are the best gigs to get, but they are also by far the most competitive.

Festivals are expensive to put on and so the Festival Promoter needs to ensure they will attract an excellent turnout each year. They do this by booking artists that they know will draw a crowd, which means that you need to be doing pretty well and have a solid following  to get one of these gigs (that, or be good friends with whoever is in charge.)

Don’t worry, there’s a catch to Festivals which is your secret way in. Create a list of the Festivals that support your type of music in your local area (and beyond if you can afford the travel costs). Most bigger Festivals don’t even accept artist applications so scratch those off initially. Your best bet is to target smaller festivals and then build up from there.

Keep an eye out for contests to play at bigger Festivals but realise the competition is going to be fierce. Some Festivals do offer busking opportunities which you can snap up if you perform solo and acoustic, then make the most of it; get your banner out, play loud and promote, promote, promote!

The other type of show that can sit either under this category in the Gig Matrix or under the Low Pay/Low Fans category is a show that you put on yourself. You hire a venue or agree to a split of the door sales and then it’s your job to book the support acts and get people through the door (this is where that rent-a-crowd friend base comes in handy).

These gigs are great for a reason to promote yourself in the local media and can be decent earners if your door numbers are solid. Do a good job and your rent-a-crowd might actually become true fans and bring more friends along next time.

So let’s go back to the start and revisit our original question: how to get gigs. Now that you can have a think about the type of gig that you want, doesn’t that make it easier to know where to start looking?

My advice is to pick the gig according to what your needs are as an artist. If you are just starting out, go for the Low Pay/Low Fan gigs where you can get some performance practice singing in front of a crowd. That way, if you stuff up, it’s not going to be such a big deal. If you’re past this stage, then have a look at the bands gigging in your local area that sound similar to you and reach out for a support gig.

Whatever the stage you are at in your music career, go for the gig that will benefit you the most… and once you have it, make the most of it.


Author bio: Nicola Milan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and vocal coach. On her website Singer’s Secret, she shares tips on how to improve your singing, gain confidence, and get gigs when you’re just starting out.

So this guitarist walks into a recording studio… | Disc Makers

Here are 15 practical tips for recording guitar in any studio environment to help make the experience as smooth and trouble-free as possible

tips for recording guitar


Entering the recording studio can be a stressful task. Our friends at Cakewalk have outlined 15 basic tips to help you prepare for recording guitar before walking into a tracking session.

  1. Change your strings every 24 hours of play time

    Guitar strings can take a beating in the studio, especially if your plan is to record an entire album’s worth of material. To keep strings from becoming dull and bland, make sure to switch them out every 24 hours of play time. If you switch them right before a session, make sure to properly break them in before the red light goes on.

  2. Improve pick attack and dexterity

    One of the reasons you might struggle getting the sound you want when recording guitar is that your pick attack is not as hard as it needs to be. This will vary depending on the style of music you play, but much of the time in rock and heavy metal recordings, the guitar sound drives the song. If that sound is not the right tone and aggressiveness, then the track will suffer. In any genre, having dexterity and proper technique will shine through in your recording – and so will poor technique and control.

  3. Practice, practice, practice (with a metronome)

    Practicing your parts before recording guitar goes without saying, but it’s also a good idea to practice to a metronome and internalize the clicking. Don’t tap your foot or make noises to count the beat to yourself. You must feel the metronome in your playing or else you will have a hard time staying quiet in a recording booth while tracking.

  4. Practice playing full takes

    Recording full takes is definitely one of the hardest things to accomplish in the studio. To be comfortable nailing all the parts of a song or solo, practice the songs in their entirety – or even practice recording the songs. Sometimes recording part by part is a quicker task, but only if each part is practiced to perfection. If you must record each section part by part, the music may be out of your comfort zone.

  5. Practice with headphones

    The studio may bring many levels of discomfort, one being playing with headphones. Practicing with an amp can be useful when rehearsing for live shows, but little details about your performance could go unnoticed with that type of setup. The studio is a place where you are put under a microscope and are expected to play your best. Using headphones is part of the monitoring setup most recording studios. Do yourself a solid and pick up a pair to understand how you sound “under the gun.”

  6. Adjust pickups in case they are too far from your strings

    Electric guitars rely on the pickup systems to output a proper signal. Make sure your pickups haven’t sunk into the body of your guitar. The farther these are from string, the more the signal suffers in sound. The fix is easy for most pickups, simply take a screwdriver and adjust the screws that sit on the pickups. Count your turns so that each side of the pickup is the same distance.

  7. Get a new guitar cable plus a backup

    Brand new guitar cables are very important. Different companies make different kinds of cables out of all different types of materials. Take the time to make a few purchases to see what the differences are in cables. Check online reviews, and maybe even find out what studios recommend for guitarists. Check the cables that you are using between guitar pedals and make sure that they are all undamaged. Don’t kink your cables, and make sure you wrap them correctly.

  8. Make sure your intonation is correct

    This is one of the biggest issues in a sub-standard recording. An easy way to check your intonation is to tune your guitar’s open strings and then play octave chords above the 12th fret. If something sounds severely out of tune, then your guitar needs to be intonated. This is true for bass guitars as well.

    You should have your guitars setup with the change of every season. The weather can affect the wood severely and cause intonation issues. Getting your guitar set up will also help adjust things like your action and truss rod.

  9. Clean your fret board

    Use a flat-head screwdriver where the frets meet the wood. Make sure you do this gently, and make sure there’s no grime or residue in this area of the neck. Even a little bit of grime can make the guitar sound out of tune when it’s perfectly intonated and tuned. Fret board cleaners are also worth investing in, and a quick clean when you change your strings is a good habit to get into.

  10. Pedal maintenance

    If you are using effects pedals in the studio, make sure they are hardwired with AC or have fresh batteries. A dead battery can hinder the signal, create hums, ground loops, or process in a way that chokes the signal. Also make sure the pots and connections are dust free to limit static and unwanted noise.

  11. Make sure all the electronics in the guitar are working

    If you have noticed that you have a loose pickup selector, noisy knob, or a unstable cable jack, make sure you get that worked out well before your studio date. The last thing you need is for something to fall apart in between takes. Make sure you do not have any loose screws or bent hardware on your guitar. Sometimes this kind of damage can produce more problems.

  12. Ohm matching when using one or more speakers

    Matching impedance (measured in Ohms) needs to be done correctly. If not matched correctly, it could result in a blown speaker or blown head. Make sure to be particularly careful about this when working with more than one speaker or differing loads.

  13. Buy a backup pair of tubes for your amp head

    Make sure you purchase new tubes for your head before entering the studio. Blowing a tube during a recording can cost you precious hours in the studio. Make sure to purchase the same kind of tubes you had before. Different types of tubes can alter the sound of your tone.

  14. G-string constantly out of tune?

    If your guitar’s G-string constantly falls out of tune, here’s a quick fix. Take a #2 pencil and gently roll a bit of lead in the nut-groove where the G-string lies. This helps add a level of friction where the string and the nut meet and keeps the string from sliding around during your performance.

  15. Stay calm

    Don’t be afraid or intimidated by the recording studio if it’s your first time going in. Everyone makes mistakes their first time and the best thing you can do is practice your passages until you can play them cold. Read up on your favorite guitarists to see how they prepare for the studio, or talk to guys that you know record a lot.

Image via ShutterStock.com.

Cakewalk is the leading developer of powerful and thoughtfully designed products for the modern musician. These products include award-winning digital audio workstations and innovative virtual instruments. Millions of musicians worldwide – including Grammy® and Emmy®-winning producers, composers, sound designers, and engineers – use Cakewalk products daily to produce audio for the professional music, film, broadcast, and video game industries. The Cakewalk blog offers technical tips, tutorials, and news relating to their products and audio recording.

Singing tips for vocalists in any genre | Disc Makers


Singing tips from recording to maintaining vocal health to improving your vocal performance will help you on the road to being a better vocalist

Singing tips for vocalists - learn how to sing well.

Video: Vocal warm ups for your upper register (April 2014)
Learn vocal exercises for singers in our videos for vocalists series. Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific professor Daniel Ebbers explores the upper register in these vocal warm ups videos.

Video: Vocal warm ups for singing to connect breath, vibration, and resonance (April 2014)
Daniel Ebbers, voice instructor at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, shares insights and vocal exercises for voice resonance and connecting the breath in our video series for vocalists.

Elevate your vocal performance: focus on rhythm and intention (April 2014)
In a standout vocal performance, how you end a note is as important as how you attack it, and rhythm and intention can be as relevant as note choice and intonation.

Producing great hip hop vocals (January 2014)
If you produce hip hop music and hip hop vocals, these production tips from Grammy-nominated Ken Lewis can help make your experience recording and mixing hip hop vocals and your final product a whole lot better.

Stop Shredding Your Vocal Cords (October 2013)
Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole talks about proper vocal care and five things you can do to avoid major vocal health issues.

8 Ways to Improve Your Vocal Health (September 2013)
Your voice is an instrument housed inside your body, and taking care of your mind and body is essential to optimal vocal health.

Improve Your Singing: Make Vocal Exercises A Morning Ritual (July 2013)
Daily vocal exercises will improve your singing and produce lasting results.

Singing Tips – How to Sing Better Right Now (May 2013)
Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole shares five singing tips to make your voice sound better.

Singing Tips – A Vocal Warm Up Is Key To A Great Vocal Performance (January 2013)
This excerpt from The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing, and Performing focuses on the importance of warming up before a vocal performance.

Singing Tips – Don’t Tax Your Voice Before a Vocal Performance (November 2012)
Resting before a vocal performance is key, but environmental things, like being in a place where the decibel level is too high, can adversely affect your capacity to sing.

How To Record A Great Vocal Take (August 2012)
Capturing the ultimate vocal performance can require push and pull between the producer and talent, and the tact and technique of the producer plays a pivotal role in the quality of the performance.

Vocal Health Basics – How to Properly Care for Your Voice (January 2012)
Vocal health is often taken for granted, but problems can stop you dead in your tracks, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

Creating a Great Composite Vocal Recording (February 2010)
We take a look at the techniques used to create composite lead vocal tracks, referred to as “comping” the lead vocal by studio engineers.

Read more: Singing Tips For Vocalists | How To Become A Better Singer– Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/05/singing-tips-for-vocalists-in-any-genre/#ixzz32M0hhGGP

Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks | DiskMakers

shutterstock 170956478 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks

[This article was written by Alex Andrews of Ten Kettles Development.]

The equalizer (EQ) is a very powerful tool that is EVERYWHERE. Seriously. Open up iTunes and click on the “Window” menu. There it is. As a musician, you’re going to see some form of EQ on virtually every soundboard and amp you play through. This is fantastic, because if you spend a bit of time developing your EQ skills, you’ll suddenly be able to bring a lot more control to your sound—no matter what venue you’re playing in. This article is for new bands looking to take control of their sound and bring it to the next level. Looking to get your head around the basics? You’ve come to the right place. Welcome.

Primer: what’s an EQ anyway?

There are many different types of EQs—graphic, parametric, semi-parametric, and so on—and though they’re each used a little differently, they all do a very similar thing: an EQ makes a group of frequencies louder or quieter. For example, think of the “Bass” knob on a stereo: it’s just a simple EQ that controls the low frequencies. Getting comfortable with the idea of frequencies is a great first step in gaining control of your live sound. 

iTunesEqualizer 1 Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
The graphic EQ in iTunes controls 10 frequency bands

Let’s take a look at the iTunes equalizer (if you have iTunes, just click “Window” and then “Equalizer”). You’ll see a 10-band EQ like the one on the right. Those numbers at the bottom of each slider are the frequencies—e.g., the slider labelled “32″ controls the very low sound around 32 Hz. Our ears generally hear between around 20 Hz and 20 000 Hz (that’s 20 kHz), so this EQ has us covered!

Different frequency ranges have different qualities, different characters, different feels—and knowing this stuff is the foundation of your future EQ mastery! For example, too much volume around 1 kHz is going to sound nasal; too little 8 kHz will sound dull. Knowing this, we can just turn up or down the right sliders to fix the problem. We’ll hear some examples of this once we get to the video!

EQing the band: it’s a team sport!

Before we get into some specifics, there are two HUGE points often overlooked by beginners, and I can’t emphasize them enough:

1. Even if all instruments sound great on their own, they may not sound good together. EQing a group of musicians is about making sure they sound excellent as a unit. If you take a great sounding band and have one member play on her own, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t sound great: a bass may sound dull, a guitar or vocal may sound thin. That’s OK! All these instruments leave a bit of space in their sound so they can jigsaw together into one impressive band sound. At a show, you play together—so that’s how you should EQ too. EQing is a team sport.

2. To make one instrument sound its best, consider everyone’s settings. For example, if the bass guitar has its highs turned up loud, the guitar may not pop through. Just turning that guitar up—instead of tweaking the bass’s settings—could cause more problems.

So what do you do? A rule-of-thumb for beginning EQers is to let each instrument own a zone. In a classic four-piece (guitar, bass, vocals, drums), give the bass the lows below ~200 Hz (turn these down on the guitar and vocals), give the guitar the mids (up to roughly 1 Hz), and let the vocals pop by owning the high-mids (around 4 kHz). A simple way to cut high-mids on an electric guitar or bass is with the tone knob usually found on many electric instruments. And this can be quite a small change too — even just a 1/8 turn can do wonders.

The vocals: making them pop

To get a good vocal sound out of a basic soundboard, you can do a few simple things. (We focus on vocals here, but many of these tips will apply to all instruments.)

Turn down the lows. Women generally don’t sing much below 200 Hz; for men it’s 100 Hz. So, any sound below those frequencies that makes it into the microphone is probably not what we want. Maybe it’s the rumble of nearby traffic, or some low-frequency electrical hum. Let’s get rid of it!

The next step depends on your equipment. You’ll likely have at least one semi-parametric EQ for the vocal track mids. (Wait, what’s a semi-parametric EQ? It’s just two knobs: one for the frequency, and one for the level.) Now listen to the vocals (with the whole band playing), and pick the problem that’s most obvious: muddiness, a nasal sound, lack of warmth, or lack of presence. Picked one? Then follow the instruction below that fits. If you have four of these semi-parametric EQs, then you can move onto the other three instructions when you’re done. If not, you’ll need to choose carefully!

SemiParametricEQ Make your shows shine with these simple EQ tricks
A semi-parametric EQ controls the volume of sound at a specific frequency.

Turn up the presence range. Sometimes you put on a record or go to a show, and you can clearly hear everything: lead vocals, harmonies, guitar, bass, drums—it all sounds terrific. And yet, you find one particular instrument is highlighted—usually the lead vocals. While you hear everything, you find yourself listening to that one instrument above the rest. You can place an instrument at the forefront, just like this, using the presence range (around 4 kHz). For example, if you want the vocals to really pop through, turn up this range on the vocals and turn down this range on everything else. Changes of even 3 dB (that’s small) can do a great deal.

Cut the mud or increase the warmth. The muddiness/warmth region is around 250 Hz. If your vocals are muddy and the words just aren’t making it through, you may want to cut this region. On the other hand, if the vocals sound weak and need some warmth, you’ll want to raise it.

Reduce the nasal sound. The nasal region is around 1 kHz. If you find the vocals are getting too nasal, cutting this range a little can make a noticeable improvement.

Finding the frequency. Now that you know which frequency range to adjust, let’s improve that vocal sound! We’re going to assume you have a semi-parametric EQ control for mids (explained above). To start, crank the level knob most of the way high or low, depending on if you’re cutting (e.g., to reduce mud) or boosting (e.g., to increase presence). Then have the singer sing normally (not just say “Check.. 1… 2…”!), with or without the band, as you slowly turn the frequency knob around the frequency range you want to change. For example, scan from 2 kHz to 8 kHz for presence. Somewhere in that range the effect will really stand out—that’s the magic frequency, and it’s a little different for everyone. Bring the level back to something a bit more subtle, and you’re good.

Remember: when you’re EQing the vocal, your goal is to make it sound good with the band, not just on its own. Make sure you always do some EQing with everyone playing!

The caveats: EQing is great if

Building your EQ skills can lead to a giant improvement in how your songs sound to the audience. But, just like any effect, they aren’t a fix-all: songs still need to be awesome, and the performance should still be both engaging and tight. Music comes from the heart, makes its way through your instrument and sound equipment, and connects to your audience. Knowing your effects, like EQ, makes sure it gets there in one piece! And for you vocalists, know your distance to the mic! If in doubt and you’re using the usual SM58-style microphone that you’ll find in most clubs—stay very close!

Train those ears: enter hearEQ!

Developing good EQ skills involves building both knowledge and experience—and that practical experience can be tough to get at first. That’s where hearEQ comes in. If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can check out the hearEQapp—a 99¢ app that teaches you about different frequency bands, and then helps you practice EQing using custom exercises—all on your very own tracks. Understanding how the different frequency ranges sound—so you can say “hey, sounds like the bass could cut the highs a little” or “vocals could be warmer, let’s boost around 300 Hz”—is a powerful skill and hearEQ helps you get there. We are super proud of this app, and we hope you find it as useful as we have. Check out our video below to learn more—it’s also got some cool EQing examples!

hearEQ: Ear training for musicians, engineers, and audio lovers from Ten Kettles on Vimeo.

Bio: Alex Andrews is an engineer (B.Sc. Engineering Physics, M.Sc. Electrical Engineering), active musician, and Founder and CEO of an app development company called Ten Kettles. After ten years working with some terrific research labs—from physics to music psychology to cochlear implants—founder Alex began Ten Kettles as a creative, productive, and thoughtful company. He is passionate about creating software and mobile applications that have a positive, meaningful impact. Based in Toronto, Canada, Ten Kettles focuses on apps for music and education.www.tenkettles.com

Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists? | DiscMakers

shutterstock 180210833 Do traditional tours still make sense for independent artists?

[This article is written by guest contributor Jason Schellhardt, writer for the live entertainment concierge service Rukkus.]

Few things in the music industry are more romanticized than the image of the battle-tested road warrior. The old rock and roll narrative suggests that being a musician means going out on tour for months at a time, hitting any and every market along the way.

This used to be the most effective way to build a fanbase outside of your local scene, but like most other things in the music industry, the internet has changed that. Booking cross-country tours no longer makes sense for newer independent artists.

The advantages of social media have been well documented as it pertains to independent musicians. It has provided an unprecedented connection between artists, fans, media, labels and so on. Artists can record a track at home, post it on their SoundCloud account and share it via Twitter or Facebook without any other means of production or distribution.

While this has been a major coup for the independent artist, there is another major advantage to new media that is often overlooked. While it is great to know who is listening to your music or following your band, it is just as important to know where these people are.

Brett is a D.C.-based indie-pop band with a unique perspective on this issue. Though Brett is a fairly new band, all of its members have had experience touring the country in previous projects. They have seen the pros and cons to the lengthy, expensive traditional tour and the more cost-effective, targeted approach.

In an interview with DMVicious last year, guitarist Kevin Bayly and vocalist Mick Coogan explained how traditional tour schedules have become somewhat counterproductive for new artists.

“The whole concept of promoting your band by hopping in a van and touring the country is ridiculous. It’s backwards now. It used to be that way,” said Bayly. “We did that when we were younger, that’s how you had to get out there and meet people. Now it’s all online. It’s cheaper and you end up playing quality shows instead of Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”

“For the next year we plan on hitting [D.C.], New York City and Los Angeles. Those are the most important markets for us,” added Coogan.

By paying careful attention to the band’s online presence, Brett has pared down its most important markets and focused its attention squarely on audiences that have shown that they are receptive to the band.

The pros to this approach far outweigh the cons for a newer band looking to establish itself. Once a band has built a following online and in its targeted markets, national tours make a lot more sense. But, until then it is most often a massive drain on the band’s resources.

Here are a few geo-specific strategies to help you target your band’s prefered markets:

1. Build a strong social media presence and pay attention to every single one of your followers. This one sounds like a no brainer, but it is an invaluable resource. Figure out where your followers are located and if there is any obvious trend among them. If you notice a handful of fans in the same region, you are probably onto something.

2. Maintain your website and monitor the analytic data. Similar to the social media idea, using Google Analytics, or similar tools, to monitor your web traffic can tell you where each view is coming from. Many young bands forego their own websites in favor of maintaining their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but they are all equally important.

3. Keep track of any media coverage you may get. Another major factor in your band’s web presence is the amount of coverage you are getting from online media. Keep track of any blog or website that posts your music and find out if they target a specific geographic location. You can set up a Google Alert to make this easy to track.

4. Develop relationships with media in areas you intend to target. In addition to the last item, you should seek out blogs that are prominent in certain markets and try to arrange coverage for your band. This step would be most helpful once you have established a couple of areas you intend to target.

5. Pay attention to similar artists. Imitation is an age old tradition in the music industry. Find a more established band that is similar to your own, and look at the markets where they have had success. Chances are, you could find some success there as well.

Every band is different, and what works for some may not work for others, but this geo-specific strategy is a great jumping off point for any band looking to expand its audience beyond the hometown crowd.

If nothing else, this strategy will keep you from burning a ton of money and playing empty rooms in “Duluth, MN, on a Tuesday.”

Hearing Protection and Your Music Career | DiscMakers


When it comes to hearing protection for musicians, it’s worth finding a solution to prolong your career and livelihood


[Ed: This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  Please get protectors that aren’t the squishy things.  They don’t block low frequency energy which is where most of the power is.  Get the Etymotic Musician’s Earplugs.  They run around $100 but that includes a hearing test, fitting, and post manufacturing test to be sure they work.  I’m on my second pair, and they’re the best money spent!    – JT]


Hearing protection for musicians

About a decade ago, I worked with a drummer who refused to use any sort of hearing protection when playing, even though many of our rehearsals and gigs were decidedly decibel-heavy. “I just let the sound wash over me,” he told me.

After a year or two of not playing together, I had another conversation with that drummer, who, not surprisingly, was beginning to experience ringing in his ears, which could be a sign of tinnitus and other potential hearing damage. He was on his way to an audiologist to get an exam and custom fitted musicians ear plugs.

When it comes to hearing, the truth is your ears don’t care how good the music is, how hot the jam, how deep the connection, or how much you let the sound “wash over you.” Noise is noise, and too many decibels for too long will permanently damage your hearing. (For more on this, check out my article in M: Music and Musicians magazine on hearing protection).

That said, many musicians feel that ear plugs act as an unwelcome barrier. Whether foam, plastic, or silicon, plugs make it difficult to connect with the sound or audience, or muffle the nuances of a player’s instrument, the argument goes — so ears go unprotected.

In my own experience, I’ve found that working with ear plugs as much as possible during practice sessions and rehearsals — especially when mics and amplification are involved — helps me maintain my connection to the music, the audience, and my bandmates without putting my ears at undue risk. I try to practice the same songs or techniques with and without hearing protection – and sometimes with one ear plugged and the other open. This sort of repetition gives me a frame of reference, so when I hear something with ear plugs in, I more quickly imagine what it would sound like with ear plugs out.

Living in New York City, I also have ample opportunities to protect my ears from loud subway screeches or bus air breaks, and I sometimes wear my musicians ear plugs out and about during the day. The more time I spend with them in, especially while engaging in conversations on the street or bouncing around the city, the more comfortable I become with them in general, and the less like I’m walking around — or making music — inside a bubble.

It’s worth experimenting to find the hearing protection solution that works for you. While specially molded musicians earplugs are my favorite choice for now, plenty of players opt for other options, including inexpensive foam ear plugs that you can get from any drugstore. The key is to see what works given your instrument, decibel level, and performance habits, and not to give up on hearing protection as a whole, just because one solution is not be the best fit.

As musicians, we’re in this game for the long haul. Ears are a precious asset, and anything that can be done to maintain hearing acuity while still connecting with your performance is energy well spent.

Read more: Hearing Protection and Your Music Career -Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2013/09/hearing-protection-and-your-music-career/#ixzz2fG8ql3ta






Improve Your Live Music Show – Get Visually Creative! | Disc Makers



Your songs don’t sound the same, they shouldn’t look the same when you perform your live music show

Be visually creative in your live music show

If you watched a video of your live music show with the sound muted, would it be hard to tell which song you’re playing? Does every one of your songs look the same when you’re performing?

I ask this question everywhere I teach, and usually I can hear a pin drop in the room. The most common response I get is, “What are we supposed to do?”

First of all, I believe your live music show should be as creative as your music. One of the keys to a great visual show is to keep the integrity of the song. The music will tell you what the song should look like. There should never be movement just for the sake of movement! The song, in a sense, is the script.

From a musical perspective, the reason you sing different melodies and lyrics, have different rhythms, change tones on a guitar, and switch instruments is to capture the essence of a song. Musically, it’s a no-brainer. But visually, it’s a huge problem for almost every artist I see.

I always wrestle with how (in a short article) to give you things you can take away and start using, but here are five things you can work on to get started with being more visually creative on stage.

1. Intentionally move to different places on stage. Own the area you’ve moved to and don’t be in a hurry to leave it. In other words, don’t wander. When you wander, you lose authority.

2. Singers, use the right mic stand and learn how to use it. If you’re a front man/vocalist who isn’t playing an instrument, there is no reason to use a boom stand.

3. Singer/songwriters, when playing your instrument and not singing, take a step to the side of the mic stand and engage your instrument. This will direct the audience’s attention to what you’re playing and set up anticipation for your vocals.

4. When asking an audience to clap along with you, put pressure on them. For example, say “help me out” or “put your hands together,” step forward, and look them in the eye. And if you’re in a band, everyone who is not playing should be clapping, too – otherwise you’re telling your audience it’s OK not to clap.

5. Guitarists, do your solos from different spots onstage. Don’t stand behind your pedals to play the entire night; don’t even go to the same spot when you move. Find another spot or two to play your solo on the other side of the stage. Not only will this change pressure on the audience, but the people on the other side of the venue will feel connected to you, too.

I hope these ideas help a little. I’m really just scratching the surface with ideas and fundamentals that need to be a part of your live music show. Let me know how they work for you!


The Art of the Set List: Choosing the Right Songs in the Right Order | CDBaby.com

Screen shot 2013 08 19 at 8.32.42 AM 300x300 The Art of the Set List: Choosing the Right Songs in the Right Order

A well-crafted set list can mean the difference between a superb, decent, pedestrian, or down-right awful performance. Hand-in-hand with talent and presentation (attire, lighting, segues, etc.), a well-crafted set list can help a novice come across as professional, and a professional come across as remarkable.

When crafting a set list, the following elements are essential to keep in mind:

* Audience

* Key

* Tempo

* Feel

* Transitions



Who are you performing for? What do they expect? Will the audience be listening, or will they be dancing? Your material should be chosen appropriately. A listening audience need not be exhorted to “Get up out of your chairs!” In fact, if the venue is not dance-appropriate, getting people up out of their chairs to dance might get you 86-ed from that venue forever. Be aware of what the venue expects and design your set list accordingly.

Keep in mind that a dancing audience is more likely to respond best to songs with simple lyrics and anthemic, sing-along choruses. (“I wanna be sedated!” “I fight authority!”) Conversely, story songs, or songs with pithy lyrics and/or complex arrangements, might be difficult to sell to a dancing audience. Yet the same songs should work quite well with a listening audience. Regardless, be appropriate to what the venue proprietors and the audience that frequents that venue are expecting.


The key of a song is its tonic chord: E, C#, Am, etc. The rule of thumb for a song’s key center is do not play more than two songs in the same key in a row. Although an audience might not be able to put into words why a band “kind of sounds all the same,” the foundation for that response is having too many songs in the same key played in a row.

Importantly, note that every key has a subtle but quite real sound quality. This is a function of sound waves and how they fit within the scope of equal temperament, the tuning concept that was adapted by Western music a few hundred years ago. Equal temperament is a tuning compromise that allows fixed-pitched instruments (piano, harpsichords, etc.) to sound “in tune” across many keys. The physics behind this concept have to do with harmonic overtones that sound when a note is played. For instance, take the fundamental A sounding at 440 hertz (Hz). The overtone series that sounds above 440 include 880Hz and 1760Hz. Play a Bb, however, and both the fundamental frequency and overtone series are, as you would expect, different than those sounding with A.

To get an insight into the veracity behind this concept, try this exercise espoused by the ear training professionals at perfectpitch.com: sit at a piano with a box of crayons and a sheet of paper with a grid that includes all twelve keys (C natural through B natural). Close your eyes and play each note in turn, in any order. Listen closely, think in terms of color, then literally find that color in your box of crayons and use it to fill in the grid next to the key center. When you have finished all twelve keys, you might be surprised by the heat (red or orange) or coolness (blue or green) that seem to emanate from each key center.

A good set list, then, mixes up the tonal centers. Moreover, it keeps track of minor keys, regardless of tonal center.Too many songs in minor keys in a row can also have a detrimental effect on an audience. If when you create your next set list you incorporate only this one concept of separating keys, your audience’s ears should remain alert and engaged throughout the performance.

Getting back to “color,” if you are one of those people especially sensitive to tonal centers, also keep in mind that an audience is only going to respond so many times to “heat,” so many times to “coolness.” If you play too many consecutive “hot” or “cool” songs the impact of either lessens. A truly well-crafted set list balances heat and coolness and all the key “colors” in between.

And finally, especially helpful to a good set list are songs in non-guitar keys like F-sharp, B-flat, E-flat minor, etc. One or two scattered about the set can really help a good set list’s tonal balance. (Conversely, for a horn band already playing in non-guitar keys, a few songs in guitar-friendly keys will help add tonal balance.)


Tempo is literally a song’s metronomic setting. Most rock and pop music falls into one of three general tempo categories: slow (between 60 to 80 beats per minute), mid (between 80 and 112 beats per minute), and fast (everything above 112 beats per minute). Obviously, a good set list mixes up the tempos in the same way it considers key. Play too many mid tempo songs in a row and your audience will grow restless, sensing something is “off,” but not quite knowing why. This is a performer’s death knell. If your audience finds itself questioning, not responding, to your music, you lose them.

Especially off-putting to an audience is the double combo whammy of playing too many same tempo songs in the same key. If you want to witness an audience go brain numb right in front of your eyes, play three mid-tempo songs in the key of B-minor in a row. Regardless of the lyric content, which may be wildly diverse, your audience, while not being able to put their finger on why, will be undoubtedly be convinced that everything you play sounds the same.

Note that an argument could be made for a fourth tempo category: very fast, or tempos over 140 beats per minute. For an average folk, rock or pop act, this is probably an unnecessary extra step to consider, but for a band that plays a lot of fast songs, it does become important. A punk band, for instance, might not have any material that falls into the slow or mid tempo ranges, or maybe just one or two. In this case a finer honing of the tempos is important. If 90 percent of the songs in an act’s repertoire are above 112 beats per minutes, then mix the tempos into fast, faster, and fastest. And if one mid tempo song does exist, that one can be very effective in setting off the others. If key centers are also kept in mind, then an engaging, professional set list is still easily within reach.


Closely related to tempo is feel, the rhythmic nuance of a song. Is it a shuffle? Straight rock? Reggae? Sixites pop? A song with a given tempo could have any one of these feels. Played back-to-back, a song with a tempo of 112 beats per minute with a disco feel could sound entirely different from a song with the same beats per minute but played as a shuffle. This is especially true if the two songs are in different keys. But don’t push your luck. You might get away with sequencing three songs with the same tempo but with different feels and keys one after the other, but any more than that would start pushing the “why does this band sound all the same?” envelop too far.

(Note: regardless of Feel or Tempo, when it comes to Key two songs in a row should be a hard and fast rule. Just don’t do it.)


A transition is the method and/or methods a band uses to get from one song to the next. Maybe it’s the drummer counting with his sticks, maybe it’s the front person shouting out the count Bruce Springsteen style. Maybe it’s funny/poignant story told from the stage about the origins of the next song. Hopefully it isn’t the band members looking around at each other saying, “What’s next?” or “How does this one start?” That kind of dead air can kill a performance. You don’t have to blitz from one song to the next. Especially if you are getting a good response, a lot of applause and whooping, both you and your audience want to bask in the communal glory for a few seconds. But as soon as that excitement starts to wane, to quote Ren Hoek, “Get on with it, man!”

Closely akin to Transitions are segues, which are pre-arranged, usually clever, transitions from one song to the next. Similar to medleys, which are transitions between snippets of songs, segues are song-to-song transitions. For instance, my band segues between two cover songs we play. We end “Times like These” by the Foo Fighters (Key of D) on a C chord. After an appropriate number seconds (different every time based on audience reaction) I play the opening riff to “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens, whose tonal center is C. Besides the different tonal centers, the songs have different feels, different tempos. We certainly don’t have our entire set segued, but we do have a few clever moments like this, which just add to the professionalism to which we strive.

Unless your group is playing Las Vegas-type shows, which are usually segued from top to bottom, a couple of two- or three-song transition clusters scattered about a set are handy for helping create a set’s sense of flow and excitement.


Timbre is the quality of a sound. A middle C, for instance, played on different instruments (piano, trumpet, harmonica, etc.) will be easily distinguishable from one another based wholly on the instrument’s timbre. This is equally true for the human voice—which non-coincidentally voice coaches refer to as a singer’s instrument. Each voice has a distinct timbre, just as non-voice instruments do. Yet singers can also modify their singing styles, switching from growl to croon to shout, etc. When it comes to your set list, this issue also needs to be considered. Just as with the previous concerns of key and tempo, too many shouting songs in a row can cause your audience to tune out.

And if you have the luxury of more than one lead singer in your group, your set list should be mindful of this as well. You might, for instance, have a singer who belts and one that croons. Neither style is inherently better than the other, but using them as contrasts can vary a set list nicely. After a shouter of a song, changing the tempo and key, then bringing in your crooner not only creates variety, it also propels your set forward, keeping your audience engaged, their ears satisfied.


This final section could have been entitled “Shit Happens.” You break a string. An instrument gets unplugged. A drink is spilled. Any one of these or a million other occurrences can obviously effect your set. To keep things rolling, what do you do?

First and foremost, panic never solves problems, so take a deep breath. Then consider contingencies.

You break a string. Can the rhythm section vamp the beginning of the next song while you quickly replace that B string? I’ve seen guitar players do this while actually talking to the audience, making light of the situation. Importantly, if breaking strings is something that happens to you on even a semi-regular basis, you should have string singles and whatever tools you need readily at hand. Or simply have a back-up guitar, in a stand, pre-tuned and ready to plug in. (If you do keep a back-up guitar on hand, please also pay close attention to the next paragraph.)

An instrument gets unplugged. Similar to a vamp, can you comp a rhythm sans bass? The disco band Chic was famous for their no bass sections, the rhythm guitar, drums and percussion propelling the song forward. Most importantly, if you’re the bass player, please do turn down your amp before you start searching for the plug, thus avoiding the obnoxious electronic zap! when you finally do re-plug in the cord.

A drink gets spilled. If you’re a drinking band, have some bar towels, both damp and dry, scattered about the stage for such emergencies. Clean up quick, engage the audience with some clever banter about “party time,” etc., and then get on with it.

And sometimes, if the shit that’s happened is too much for a quick “during the set” fix, it’s also okay to let the audience know you’ve got an equipment malfunction and that you will be back just as soon as possible. And when you do return, it can be where you left off with your set, a melding of what’s left of set one and set two, or just starting up your second set from the top.

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 http://blog.discmakers.com/2013/04/seven-strategies-for-local-music-promotion/#ixzz2RzDpObLk