State of the Industry: 18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money | Bandzoogle

Dave Cool

One of the biggest challenges facing musicians is generating income. Gone are the days when a band could rely solely on music sales and touring to earn a living.

Part of the reality of being a working musician today is the need to diversify your revenue streams. Although sales of recorded music have gone down significantly in recent years, there are new sources of income available to musicians.

A mix of traditional and more modern income streams can help today’s musicians earn a living. Here’s a list of 18 ways to generate revenue for your music career:

18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

1. CD Sales: If you’re going to be playing live shows, having CDs on hand is still a good idea. They make great takeaway souvenirs that can easily be signed by band members.

2. Vinyl Sales: Vinyl sales surged 30% in 2013. Again, if you’ll be playing live shows, printing a small batch to have at your merch table can help generate extra income.

3. Digital Sales: You should be selling digital music through your own website to make the most money, but also through online retailers. Keep in mind that online retailers take a percentage of sales (ex. iTunes takes 30%, Bandcamp takes 15%). Some digital distributors that place your music in stores like iTunes and Amazon will take a cut on top of that.

4. Streaming: Although per-stream payouts from streaming services tend to be small, they can add up over time. Keep in mind that these services also help new fans discover your music, and shouldn’t be seen solely as an income generator.

5. Live Shows: Money made from live shows can vary greatly, but it’s still one of the best ways to earn income. Not only can you make money from selling tickets, but it’s also one of the best ways to sell merch. Be sure to read our blog series “The 4 P’s of Playing Live” to make sure you’re getting the most out of your gigs.

6. Physical Merch: Income from physical merch can depend heavily on the amount of live shows you play. If you go out on tour, be sure that you have some t-shirts, as well as smaller items like buttons and stickers that you can sell to fans after the show. For more tips about merch, read: Get Your Merch On: Generating Revenue from Merchandise

7. Digital Merch: You can also sell digital merch items like PDFs, videos, and images to your fans. Things like lyric books, live concerts, sheet music, exclusive photos, artwork and more. Check out this post for ideas of digital items you can sell through your website: Using the new File Download feature: 20 Items you can now sell

8. Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding can be a great way to generate income for your music career. A well-executed crowdfunding campaign can help you raise enough money to offset the cost of producing and marketing your album. Read this excellent post by Dave Kusek (New Artist Model) about how to approach crowdfunding: Crowdfunding the Right Way

9. Publishing Royalties: You should be signed up to a performing rights organization so you can collect royalties on your music. This includes public performance royalties (radio, TV, live venues), mechanical royalties (sales through retailers, streaming, etc.), and sync royalties (commercials, film, TV).

10. Digital Royalties: Whenever your music is played on services like SiriusXM radio, Pandora, and webcasters, they must pay royalties. Sign up for a free SoundExchange account to make sure you’re collecting those royalties.

11. Live Performance Royalties: When performing original material, you can earn royalties from live performances. Whether you perform at a bar, restaurant, club, or other music venue, Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) will pay royalties from those live performances.

12. Licensing: If you get your song placed in a film, commercial, or TV show, chances are they’re going to pay you a licensing fee. These fees vary greatly, depending on the budget for the project, and how badly they want your particular song.

13. YouTube: On YouTube, whenever your music is used in videos that are running ads, YouTube pays a portion of that advertising money to the rights holders of the song. Digital distributors like TuneCore and CD Baby can help you collect that money, as well as Audiam.

14. Sponsorships: If you’ve built up a fan base, some companies are willing to sponsor musicians to reach those fans. Sponsorships can range from cash, to free products, services, and gear. Read this excellent guest post from Dave Huffman about sponsorships: Musicians: How to Get Sponsored

15. Session Work: Another way to make some extra money is to put yourself out there as a session musician. As a singer or instrumentalist, you could do session work for other musical projects, or even in advertising.

16. Songwriting/Composing: If you’re a songwriter, you could write songs for other musicians, or compose music specifically for film and television.

17. Cover Gigs: Playing cover gigs at bars, restaurants, weddings and other private events is frowned upon by some musicians. But those shows can pay really well, and allow you to get paid to play your instrument. There’s no shame in that.

18. Music Lessons: Many musicians teach their instrument to others to help generate revenue towards their own career. This can be a nice way to supplement your income, and allows you to hone your craft at the same time.

Tracking Your Income

With all of these different income streams, it will be important to track your progress. This will allow you to gauge which ones are working best for your career, and where you should focus your attention.

To help keep track of your income, you can download our sample music marketing budget here.

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Music instrument insurance questions answered (in English!) | Disc Makers

by GEARTRACK

Does insurance speak make you cross-eyed? Give you a migraine? Scare the pants off you? Fear not, we’ve found a music instrument insurance translator.

 

Music instrument insurance questions answeredIf you’ve ever been curious about the ins and outs of musical instrument insurance, but don’t speak insurance, our friends at GearTrack can help act as interpreters. They spoke to Thomas Riley, a music instrument insurance expert from The Anderson Group, and here’s what they learned.

What’s the difference between musical instrument insurance and a standard homeowners policy?
There are several differences. $2,000 is the maximum value covered under homeowners policies and it doesn’t cover professional use. It also doesn’t cover flood damage, accidents, breakage, cracking, falling, earthquake damage or loss, nor “Agreed Risk” or replacement. Your deductible comes into play as well. Most deductibles are in the $500 to $1,000 range.

Translation: Your homeowners insurance is for your hobbies, dummy. And even if music is your hobby, there are all kinds of reasons to look into musical instrument insurance, like maximum value limits and damage and loss coverage.

Does music instrument insurance cover damage and repair?
It does, as a normal rule, though subject to the policy itself. As long as the damage is not listed in the policy’s exclusions, a musical instrument would be sent to a repair shop and the estimate sent to the loss adjuster. If the instrument suffered a loss in value as a result of the damage and its repair, this “diminished value” would be reimbursed (a very valuable part of this insurance).

Translation: In general, yes. Read the fine print about what types of damage are covered. Bonus: if your gear is damaged and loses value after the repair, your music instrument insurance carrier will pay you the difference!

How are quotes and values formulated?
The prospect fills out the application which goes to underwriting. According to the value (either by appraisal or documented information) and the exposure (for instance, a collector versus a performer), a quote is formulated (between $.525/$100 and $1/$100). Memberships in professional organizations and high value instruments earn appreciable discounts.

Translation: Insurance cost depends on how you use your instrument and how much it’s worth. They do some magical figuring and give you a quote. It doesn’t hurt a bit.

What documentation does an instrument insurer require?
Many times, if we have a serial number and pictures per our guidelines, no appraisal is requested. High value and vintage instruments need appraisals.

Translation: Insurers care about original and replacement value. The more expensive or rare your gear, the more documentation you should have.

How do I know if I need instrument insurance?
$150 per year covers up to $24,000 of scheduled items. It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on instruments and not spend the $.40 cents per day to protect them and have the ability to replace them.

Translation: If you use your gear to make money or if you have enough money in instruments (more than your low deductible), you should at least look into it. You’ll be surprised by how affordable it is.

What happens once I make a claim?
You file a claim stating “what, when, where, why, how, who” with dates of occurrence and a police report (if applicable). In the case of damage, an estimate from your repair shop is needed. Most claims can be handled when the repair is completed or even more promptly when a total loss or theft is involved.

Translation: After you follow the five Ws (plus H), all you gotta do is get yourself a repair estimate if necessary, and wait for the check to come in. But really, that’s why you get insurance. They won’t get it back for you, but they will replace it.

What if I get my instrument back after having made a claim?
It is the property of the insurance company; you may refund the indemnity check and keep the instrument if you wish.

Translation: Would you rather have a new instrument or your precious? Up to you. You have to give them their money back if you want your old gear.

Is music instrument insurance affordable? 
Sho ’nuff.

Translation: YES!

Image via ShutterStock.com.

GearTrack is an online registry that aims to deter music instrument theft and aid in recovery. Instrument owners can itemize their collections and victims of theft can send stolen alerts to the WatchDog network and access tools for search and recovery. Buyers and sellers can easily search serial numbers before trading and selling their gear. Learn more and register your instruments at Gear-Track.com.

Thanks to Thomas Riley of The Anderson Group for answering our questions. Anderson was started by a musician, for musicians. They know the difference between a violin and viola, and they understand what instruments mean to musicians.

Read more: Music Insurance | Musical Instrument Insurance – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/05/music-instrument-insurance-questions-answered-in-english/#ixzz330lhnIeQ

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

by 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

Pre-production tips for recording drums | DiscMakers

by DAN GONZALEZ

Every studio recording should begin with pre-production – here are tips to help you prepare for a drum recording session

pre-production and recording drumsThis post on pre-production tips for drummers originally appeared on Cakewalk’s blog. These tips apply to drummers, producers, and engineers preparing for a session recording drums. Reprinted with permission.

1. Practice to a click track
If the drummer in a session isn’t rehearsed, you will either spend a lot of time in the studio or a lot of time editing drums. Spending time in the rehearsal room practicing to a click track is much easier than spending hours and hours behind an editor. Sit in on rehearsals and even record them to get an understanding of timing and how proficient the drummer is. Here are some solutions for drummers who have a hard time playing to just a click:

• Have someone else in the group play along with the drummer
• Use song demos as guide tracks
• Record in shorter sections, instead of longer sections
• Try different percussion as click tones (e.g. cowbell, woodblock)

2. Demo songs before you record them
Prepping for a studio recording is the only way to successfully take advantage of the time you have and cut the best performances of your songs. Practice recording yourself playing your band’s songs to understand how your tracks will come together in the recording studio. Review your recordings and focus on the group and your parts to understand where improvements need to be made to lock down the tracks. Take the time to finalize specific drum fills, hits, and patterns.

Techniques vary from drummer to drummer: some play behind the beat and others will play ahead of the beat. Sometimes drummers do not realize how hard they need to be hitting the drums to get a proper sound for recording. As an engineer or producer, you want to eliminate all the possible surprises before entering the studio.

3. Find the right type of drum head for the music you are recording
Different jobs call for different tools, and pairing the right drum head with a music genre is an important factor in the final sound of any record.

Single ply. These are some of the most common drum heads. Their sensitivity is perfect for light hitters. Single ply heads produce high-end frequencies when hit, and their pronounced tone and sound can be useful in arena rock shows as well as quiet jazz ballads. Single ply heads are typically made from one layer of 7 mil Mylar and are considered the thinnest of all types of drum heads. Unfortunately this means their durability can be sacrificed if they are hit too hard.

Double ply. Double ply heads have two layers of Mylar and can vary in thicknesses, the most common being two 7 mil layers. Double Ply heads do not produce as many overtones and frequencies as single ply heads, and the two layers of Mylar provide more attack and better control of the sound. Double ply heads are typically easier to record in studio applications.

Coated. “Coating” a drum head means that some degree of dampening has been applied. There are many variations of this, but the goal is to soften up the sound of the head so that it produces a warmer sound. Drum heads that are coated are sprayed, covered with Mylar film, or have some sort of other substance applied to make the drum sound warmer and less like abrasive.

Pre-muffled. Eliminating overtones and resonant frequencies from a kick drum is common practice for many styles of music. Rock, metal, pop, and country typically keep the tone of the kick drum from ringing in order to achieve a blend of the “thud” of the drum and “thwack” of the beater against the batter head. Pre-muffled heads come pre packaged with foam or other damping features to suppress unwanted frequencies, which can be important in a recording studio setting.

Once you’ve found the head you want to use, start the session with new and seated (broken in) heads. Make sure to have spares on hand.

4. Tune your drum heads, and continue to tune them as you record
Drum heads always need a good tuning before any recording. They start to change in tone as they are played or left idle and should constantly be re-tuned as you record for long periods of time. Drum tuning does not necessarily mean the drums are tuned to a set of pitches. They are usually tuned so to sound compatible when played in succession. Each size drum head has an optimal range for its tone, and tuning your drums outside of this range can result in strange aliasing or cause other drums to be pushed out of their own optimal tuning range.

5. Prepare in advance for tempo and time signature changes
Tracking a session that has multiple tempo and time signature changes can get complicated if your metronome track is not set up in a way that makes sense to the drummer. Once you get your hands on some demos of the group, tempo map the songs so you can give the drummer a decent click track to practice to before entering the studio. Getting used to multiple tempo changes and time signature changes can be a tricky task, and you do not want to break the drummer’s spirits by surprising him or her with a confusing or inefficient click track while they are trying to record. Prepare a track before you enter the studio with cues and count-ins.

6. Consider using triggers
A trigger is a transducer that is placed on the head of a drum. Once the drum is hit, a signal is sent to a sound generator which sends the programmed sound of a drum or MIDI information. A drum trigger can come in handy regardless of what style of music you are recording. You can record the MIDI information of the drum for easier time adjustment, to enhance the acoustic sound of your drums by blending the two, or to use the information to better understand where the attacks of each transient are. In music styles that are kick-drum centric, a common practice is to use a trigger to level out the differing hits in order to achieve an almost inhuman sound. As an engineer, the use of triggers has not handicapped my session flow or drum editing at all. In fact, it has made certain situations a bit easier.

7. Be prepared
Here are a few items that you as an engineer or producer should always have on hand with you when tracking drums.

• Moving blankets. Use these to isolate kick drums, cover hard/reflective surfaces, and change the acoustics within a room.

• Spring camps. Helpful for holding loose cables and moving blankets.

• Bungee cords. For tying up blankets, loose cables, etc.

• Counterweights. Counterweights are useful when working with inexpensive microphone stands that can fall and lose their placement.

• Extra tuning keys. Tuning keys always get lost. Purchase a few of these to keep on your keychain.

• MoonGel. This is a blue dampening pad that you can buy to place on drum heads during recording. It reduces the ringing and decay of a drum.

• Measuring tape. When setting up overhead microphones, you need to make sure the distance from the snare to both overhead microphones are the same distance.

• Gaffers tape. This tape is great for the studio because it is strong and does not leave a residue when removed.

• Acoustic foam. It is always good to have extra foam on hand if you need to muffled drums.

• Pillows. Removing the front head of a kick drum and stuffing it with pillows can reduce resonance and bring out more attack from the drum.

• Cinder blocks. Placing one of these in front of the kick drum can keep the whole set from moving forward in a room with a slippery floor.

• Camera. Take pictures of the mic placements to save for the future in case you need to re-track.

• DI box (triggers). Most trigger outputs are quarter-inch jacks, you will need this patch into a tie line box that only has XLR inputs.

• Spare snare head. 14” coated snare head. A broken snare head can bring a session to a sudden halt.

Read more: Pre-production tips for recording drums – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/pre-production-tips-for-recording-drums/#ixzz31hIT592b

Vocal Health Basics – How to Properly Care for Your Voice | DiscMakers

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.

It seems that hardly a month goes by where a top singer isn’t forced to interrupt a tour, take a break, or undergo a medical procedure due to problems with their voice. Vocal health is often taken for granted, but once problems develop, they can stop a singer dead in his or her tracks, and in some cases require surgery and a lengthy post-surgery period of rest and recovery.

While we don’t normally think of singers as world-class athletes, some medical professionals are making the case that the demands put on one’s voice when singing one to three hours a night is as intense as those made by an Olympic marathon runner on his body. Additional factors such as nutrition, smoking, drug use, noisy environments, and proper voice training (or the lack of it) all play a role in a singer’s ability to hit the stage night after night and perform at their best.

Like many health-related issues, prevention is much easier and less expensive than having to undergo surgery, so it’s important to understand how to keep your voice in good health.

Superstars Losing Their Voices
In 2011, three major recording artists dropped out of circulation due to vocal health issues. Each developed a slightly different voice problem that required rest and eventually surgery.

Adele's vocal health issuesArguably the most valuable voice in pop music, that of the talented British pop singer Adele, was silenced when she was required to cancel seventeen US dates mid-tour and have laser surgery due to the condition of her vocal cords. Her condition is just one example of a high profile artist facing problems maintaining their vocal mechanism. Adele’s condition, reported in the press as two hemorrhages of the vocal cords (the terms vocal cords and vocal folds are often used interchangeably), was likely exacerbated by the stresses of touring.

Steven Tyler's vocal health issuesSuch hemorrhages are often the result of phonotrauma, the physical stresses caused by vocalizing, upon the tiny blood vessels of the vocal fold. Loud singing or pushing the voice when it is tired or if one is ill may predispose a singer to such vocal hemorrhages. The latest news reports suggest that as Adele’s recovery progresses, she will start back very slowly taking what she has described as some “very basic voice lessons.” She will likely take the first half of the year off from performing to help ensure a full and complete return of her famous voice. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler was reported to have struggled with the same condition in 2006, requiring a similar surgical procedure as Adele. Noted voice expert, Dr. Steven M. Zeitels, a Harvard Medical School doctor who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, treated both artists.

Keith Urban's vocal health issuesCountry icon Keith Urban also underwent surgery in November 2011 to remove a vocal polyp, a lump that may develop near the midpoint of a singer’s vocal cord. (According to the glossary found at voicemedicine.com, a polyp is a specific and clearly demarcated mass – the word polyp means “lump” and does not imply a cancer or pre-cancerous lesion). The midpoint location of such a polyp suggests that it too may be the result of phonotrauma. Urban was ordered to take three months off from singing as his recovery was monitored by a team of health professionals.

Singer/songwriter John Mayer was another major artist to recently face vocal health problems. In October 2010, his manager announced that after a series of extended rest periods, Mayer’s voice was not improving and he decided to have surgery. Mayer’s condition was described as a granuloma, a benign growth that results from irritation or trauma to the vocal fold. It’s often found at the back of the vocal fold, over a part of cartilage called the vocal process, which lies just underneath the membrane covering the larynx. As with Adele and Keith Urban, Mayer stopped work on his album, taking the advice of his doctors to not resume singing until his voice has fully recovered from the trauma and surgery.

While it may seem like there’s an epidemic of vocal health issues affecting the music industry, there are various common-sense factors that play into the increase in high-profile artists addressing these challenges.

First, awareness and treatment options have increased dramatically since the 1990s. Dr. Zeitels was quoted in the New York Times as stating that the use of fiber optic cameras to scan performer’s vocal cords for abnormalities and miniscule injuries has become more common over the past fifteen to twenty years. At the same time, vocalists have become more aware of the possible long term consequences of letting small problems go untreated and now consult more readily with health professionals.

Another factor is that, since recorded music sales often represent a smaller part of an artist’s overall revenue stream, touring schedules have become more extensive. To further maximize touring profits, concerts are often scheduled back-to-back on consecutive nights, placing greater stress on the vocal instrument, which can benefit from having a day or two rest between performances whenever possible.

Paul Stanley's vocal health issuesTo prove the point, Paul Stanley, front man for the legendary rock band Kiss, had vocal surgery to tweak blood vessels in his vocal cords. Commenting on his forty years of touring in which the band’s shows were packed as tightly together as possible to maximize profits, he offered that “the nature of rock singing is a strain on the voice, and when you compound that with [the number of shows we play], you’re not giving yourself enough time to recuperate and the problem is compounded. I was finding myself working harder and harder to do what was once effortless, and having passed through puberty, I was surprised to hear my voice cracking.”

How to Properly Care for Your Voice
While there is no doubt that singing in front of a rock band requires practice and stamina, vocalists who sing for hours at a time with no amplification, over a full orchestra in a packed house holding 4,000 people, place even greater demands on their voices. Enter the opera singer and those who train them, such as Dr. Lynelle Wiens, Professor of Voice at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA.

Dr. Wiens is a former faculty member at the Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice in Philadelphia, and at the Pacific Voice Conference in San Francisco. She was also a recipient of the prestigious “Van L. Lawrence Fellowship” that is awarded jointly by the Voice Foundation and National Association of Teachers of Singing in order to foster interdisciplinary education among laryngologists, voice scientists, singing teachers, and speech pathologists. Dr. Wiens has taught aspiring classical singers for more than thirty-three years and offers a number of simple, common sense tips that can help any singer to reduce the risks to their voice.

Like any other musical instrument, the voice needs proper care in order to be ready when called upon to perform. Wiens counseled, “In order to function properly, the voice needs to be well lubricated. The effects of alcohol, cigarette smoke, marijuana, and other drugs cause dryness of the vocal instrument and can lead to vocal fold edema and inflammation.”

Wiens advises that “It’s essential to drink lots of water before, during, and after performances. It’s also very important to get plenty of rest and exercise and eat properly between performances. To the extent that is possible, try to avoid noisy places where you will have to shout to be heard.” For example, trying to be heard above the sound levels backstage during an opening act or in a typical van traveling for hours on the freeway come to mind as situations that might lead to further strain on one’s voice.

Dr. Wiens cautions that “throat clearing, yelling or screaming, singing too loudly for an extended period of time, singing a song that is pitched too high or too low, or putting too much pressure on your voice, all increase the strain on it. If it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. Listen to what your voice is telling you.”

Over-singing on stage, especially when the monitor situation is not optimal, is another potential cause of vocal strain. Especially for musicians on tour, Wiens counsels, “You have to prioritize what you absolutely need your voice for and then make the best decisions to protect it.” So if you are out on tour and have been nursing a sore throat, maybe the band’s guitar player can give the interview and appear at the local record store for autographs while you stay back at the hotel to rest your voice for that night’s show. Wiens added, “Taking care of your body and learning to manage your physical and emotional stress are also key factors in maintaining good vocal health. Perhaps the best preventive care is good training. Finding a good coach is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Dr. Wiens advises that a singer should seek a professional if they have a concern about their own vocal health. “If there is a sudden change in your voice from what is normal, or if you experience persistent hoarseness and/or vocal fatigue for more than two weeks, I would suggest you see an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) who is experienced in caring for singers. Be sure to ask for a strobovideolaryngoscopic examination in order to get the most thorough assessment of the health of your voice.”

If there has been damage, a singer should ideally be treated by a team of professionals that may include an ENT doctor, a voice teacher/vocal coach that can help a singer avoid any techniques that may exacerbate problems, and if appropriate, a speech pathologist who can assist with proper rehabilitation of the voice.

“The voice is a delicate mechanism,” Wiens concludes, “so it makes sense to take preventive measures in order to help ensure a long and productive singing career.”

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

Read more: Vocal Health Basics, How to Properly Care for Your Voice – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2012/01/vocal-health-basics/#ixzz31hHDQbcQ

Vocal warm ups for singing to connect breath, vibration, and resonance | DiscMakers

Daniel Ebbers, voice instructor at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, shares insights and vocal exercises in our video series for vocalists

You wouldn’t see a top athlete compete without going through a comprehensive set of warm up activities, and if you are a vocalist, you need to do the same kind of preparation every time you sing. Professor Daniel Ebbers has been training singers for more than twenty years, and in the following vocal warm ups for singing videos he explains the benefits of warming up and takes us through a series of vocal exercises.

Vocal Exercises video #1: “Why Warm Up”

Loosening up your vocal instrument allows you to “take the pulse” of your voice, and connecting the three main parts of your instrument will allow you to produce your best sound and help ensure you are ready to perform at your peak the next time you head to a gig, recording session, or rehearsal.

 

Vocal Exercises video #2: “The Basics”

In Video #2, “The Basics,” Daniel takes his student Ricky though a series of basic warm up vocal exercises to loosen his instrument. Focusing on your breath and connecting the three elements of your instrument (breath, vibration, and voice resonance) will prepare you to sing your best.

 

 

Professor Daniel Ebbers is a classically trained singer and voice instructor on the faculty at the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA and was a major contributor to Disc Makers’ The Vocalist’s Guide to Recording, Rehearsing and PerformingIn addition to his teaching, he performs regularly in both concert and operatic settings throughout the U.S.

Keith Hatschek is a regular contributor to Disc Makers Echoes blog and directs the Music Management Program at University of the Pacific. He’s also written two music industry books, How to Get a Job in the Music Industry and The Golden Moment: Recording Secrets from the Pros.

 

Read more: Vocal Warm Ups For Singing | Vocal Exercises | Voice Resonance – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/04/vocal-exercises-warm-ups-for-singing/#ixzz30KBd6J6s