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

by SHAUN LETANG

 

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.

Conclusion

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

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It’s called the music business for a reason | Disc Makers

Here are 12 pieces of advice from a CPA/business manager to help you manage the business side of your music career

music business advice

It’s called the music business for a reason — yet for many indie artists, organizing and maintaining the business end of a music career can rank just above dental surgery when it comes to activities of choice.

It doesn’t have to be that way, says Errol Wander, a veteran CPA, business manager, and partner at Citrin Cooperman who works with artists like Gavin DeGraw and Dirty Projectors (and who also plays a mean guitar in his spare time). Following just a handful of straightforward suggestions will streamline your music business existence and help you avoid common financial pitfalls that can eat up precious hours and energy. The result? More time, creativity, and money to make your art the best it can be.

Here are some of Wander’s top tips, strategies, and philosophies to help you get on the right track:

Understand that better business leads to better music

“Having a career in music is an amazing thing,” says Wander, “but it’s not pre-ordained and it’s not a birthright. It’s hard work, but it can be done, and being responsible with your business will help you reach your goals.”

As much as you might not enjoy integrating things like diligent record-keeping into your daily musical existence, Wander affirms that any time invested to such ends will pay you back in dividends, and good business practices are equally important for major touring acts and indie up-and-comers alike.

“No matter what level you’re at, you’re going to be able to spend the most time on your art if you treat your art like a business,” he says. “I hope that’s not distasteful to hear, because it’s necessary. Otherwise, it’s a hobby. If music is a career you want, it needs to be treated like a career.”

File your taxes – always

Regardless of how much money you may have earned or lost in any given calendar year, you must file your taxes, says Wander. And even if you only earned enough from your music in 2013 to buy yourself a cup of coffee, failing to file at all can have unexpected consequences.

“I had one guy come in with six years of returns to file,” says Wander. “He thought it was going to be this big crisis and he was going to owe lots of money, but in fact, he had refunds owed to him.” The problem? After three years, your refunds go away, regardless of how much money may be owed to you. “Because he’d waited so long, he lost those first three years’ worth of refunds, which is money he really could have used. That was pretty awful to see.”

Wander also points out that many self-employed musicians, as opposed to people who work in salaried, forty-hour workweek jobs, need to pay estimated taxes four times a year. “Unless you’re on payroll from an artist, a school, a Broadway show, or something like that, taxes need to be paid quarterly to avoid penalties,” says Wander.

For an overview of estimated quarterly taxes, check out this article. Requirements can vary quite a bit from musician to musician, so Wander also recommends checking in with a music-friendly accountant or business manager to hone in on your own quarterly reporting needs.

Make it easy to look back

Wander recommends keeping consistent records of the money you spend and earn making music — both for your own records, and in case you ever get audited by the IRS.

“Keep a simple diary, either on your phone or laptop or in a journal, particularly of things like gratuities, expenditures where you don’t get a receipt, and even non-cash items as well,” says Wander. “It’s always helpful to be able to look back and say that on a certain day two months ago, you had lunch with these two people for this reason. In the case of an audit, if you’re asked why a certain bill is so big, you can point to your diary and say that you were taking out people from the label, or having a meeting with a new manager. With the IRS during an audit, the more details like that that you can give, the better.”

As far as paper receipts, Wander recommends holding on to any that might have a relationship to the business-side of your music. “Even if you’re saving them in a haphazard way, just tossing them in an envelope, which is pretty painless, at least you have them,” says Wander. “When looking at your business expenses during an audit, the IRS does want backup and is okay with credit card statements, but they may want more details — so yes, save your receipts, or at least scan them.”

Separate your finances

Especially early in your music career, it can be easy to pay for your groceries and guitar strings, Mother’s Day gifts and instrument cables, all from the same credit card or bank account. But when you start to get serious about the business side of your music, Wander advises, make sure to separate your professional finances from your personal ones.

“A good first step is to have separate bank accounts, so it’s easy for you to look back and see what you earned and spent on business, rather than having to go through, item by item,” says Wander.

Wander also recommends putting as many of your music business expenses on a dedicated business credit card as possible, especially when you’re on tour. “It’s much better than using a personal card,” he says. “It makes your bookkeeping so much easier, especially if you ever get audited. Also, make sure that you request a year-end statement or annual report from your card company, so you can have all of your expenses in the same place in front of you.”

Avoid IRS triggers

Whether you’re doing your own taxes or working with an accountant or business manager, be sure to avoid certain practices that will make you a target for an audit.

“One major no-no is clothes,” says Wander. “To someone who isn’t really looking into details, that seems unfair, because many musicians buy special outfits to wear onstage. But the IRS is very strict on this. To them, professional clothing is a nurse’s outfit or an industrial worker’s protective gear. If you just bought an outfit that you feel is outrageous, or even if you buy a $3,000 tuxedo to go to the Grammys, those aren’t tax deductions.”

Another area where indie musicians often end up in trouble is home office deductions. “The IRS has very specific guidelines about this,” says Wander. “You need to have a specific workspace in your home that qualifies, and then you take the square footage based on that workspace as compared to your whole home.” What if you write most of your music at your kitchen table? “Shared space doesn’t count,” says Wander. “I see people often make that mistake and claim sixty-percent of their apartments as home office on their taxes, and that’s no good.”

One final pitfall to be aware of: underpayment. “The IRS assumes a certain amount of money that you need to live and survive in a given city or area,” says Wander. “They have a list of what you roughly should be spending on rent, groceries, and other things, depending on where you live. If you’re not claiming enough income on your taxes to cover those amounts, they’re going to ask, where’d you get the money? Did you borrow it or spend it out of savings? Their suspicion in asking all of this is that you made money as cash and are not reporting it as income.”

Look into worker’s comp and other insurance

“There’s a common misunderstanding amongst a lot of artists when it comes to paying people who work for you,” says Wander. “A lot of people consider hired musicians to be independent contractors, but by definition, they’re really not. Even if they only work for you for a short period of time and don’t earn a lot of money, they’re employees.”

So what? If you have employees, Wander continues, you may be legally obligated to pay payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and workers comp. “Workers comp is the worst by far,” says Wander, pointing out that problems generally occur when a musician you’ve hired files for unemployment benefits and lists you as a former employer — which can lead to the apparent conclusion that you’ve been employing people without paying for proper coverage. “We’ve seen notices up to forty or fifty thousand dollars delivered to artists who definitely can’t afford it,” Wander says.

Even if you’ve hired tons of musicians and this is the first you’ve ever thought about things like payroll taxes and workers comp, don’t worry. Laws can vary state to state and band situations can be vastly different from artist to artist — so make sure to check in with a qualified music lawyer, accountant, or business manager and find out what sort of coverage is best for your situation.

On the topic of coverage, Wander further recommends insuring your gear whenever you hit the road. “Bands can go to events like SXSW and, with so much going on, suddenly find out that their van and all of their equipment was stolen. Insuring your gear is important, and also making sure that everyone listed on your car insurance as an authorized driver is a good idea. If you’re driving for hours between gigs in the middle of nowhere, you may not think about it, but if something like an accident happens and the driver is not listed on your car insurance, you could have problems.”

Maintain (or resuscitate) your credit

Whether you’re heading out on tour or getting ready to purchase that handcrafted bass you’ve been dreaming of, having robust credit can be a big help in your music career.

“Credit is important for musicians to have, especially when you’re on the road, because there will be some things that you have to pay up front,” says Wander. “If you’re doing everything on a cash basis, things like booking hotel rooms, renting equipment, and car rentals can be hard or impossible.”

A lot of musicians suffer from lack of or bad credit, Wander says, but there are ways to repair it. “Some banks offer secure credit cards, which can help you in the right direction. It’s a really good thing to do.” (For some basics on secure credit cards, check out this article.)

Get help when you need it

Though it’s perfectly reasonable to do your taxes yourself using software packages like TurboTax, there may come a point in your career when you need help.

“When it’s financially feasible, I highly recommend getting a business manager, and not just an accountant to help you prepare your taxes,” says Wander. “A preparer who isn’t experienced in the music business may not think to ask about management or agent fees or how much you’ve spent on supplies like cables, batteries for your pedals, drum heads, or equipment repairs. You really benefit from working with someone experienced in the business.”

Hourly rates for such services can run high, so when is it right to make the jump and swallow the expense? “You need a business manager when you no longer have time to do everything yourself. When you need that very valuable time to write, practice, or do whatever it is that you do, having a business manager can take that worry off of your mind and free you to better practice your art.”

Stay on the books

At the end of a club date, the manager hands you a wad of twenties or, when everyone’s packing up to go home, your hired horn player asks to be paid in cash, rather than the check you’re trying to hand him. What do you do?

“Sometimes you’ll work with cash, but remember that it’s never okay to not declare income,” says Wander. “Income is always taxable, unless it’s a very specific case, like a municipal bond, where it’s stated otherwise.” In other words, if you are paid in cash, Wander advises noting the income in your diary and not just tucking it away with a wink and a nod. “With income, it’s always better to have a trail,” he says.

And if an employee of yours requests cash payment? “We hear this all the time,” says Wander. “Crew members, side musicians, they don’t want to declare the income because they don’t want to pay taxes on it, but as the artist, you need to be able to write off any money you pay as an expense.”

If you do end up paying someone in cash, Wander recommends having him or her sign a voucher, affirming that a cash payment of a given amount was made. And if someone pushes back, saying that her or she wants an under-the-table payment? “Your answer is, ‘I’m sorry, but I need to claim this as an expense on my taxes,’” Wander says.

Be patient and use common sense

No matter how wild your creativity and huge your musical ambitions, don’t forget that applying a healthy dose of down-to-earth sanity to your business activities now will lay the groundwork for any stratospheric successes that come your way. Just keep the long game in mind.

“Pay your bills and avoid debt by living within your means,” advises Wander. “You can dream big, but keep your feet planted on solid ground. Don’t spend money you haven’t made yet. That money will come, but things take time in this business. Success, or what we call success, will likely come before the money does.”

“Let’s preserve and nurture the beautiful career you’re building,” he continues. “This is all part of that.”

Disc Makers’ regular contributor Michael Gallant’s debut trio album Completely received a four-star review from DownBeat magazine and a five-star review from Critical Jazz, which stated: “This, my friends, is the future of jazz. Fresh, invigorating, progressive – there are simply not enough positive adjectives to list here.” Learn more, download now through iTunes, jam along with the new JamBandit app, or purchase through CD Baby. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Gallant or on Facebook.

Build a superfan base one video at a time | DiscMakers

by BEN SWORD

Engaging with your fans involves “check moves” – opportunities for positive interaction – and online videos are one way to build an audience on YouTube and beyond

build an audience on YouTube

This lesson comes from Ben Sword, founder of Music Marketing Classroom, with an excerpt from the “Superfan Building” module of their training. Click here for the whole shebang.

If you’ve done any research about music marketing, you’ve probably heard a lot of people telling you you need to be on social media “engaging” with your fans. Sounds good, but what does that mean? Good question! The mission of this lesson is explain what engaging means, give you practical steps you can do each day, and help you build an audience on YouTube and beyond in the ultimate quest to take your music promotion to new heights.

The “check move” theory

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure why I needed to bother engaging with fans until I discovered the “check move” theory. This concept tells us that the more positive interactions (or check moves) fans take with an artist, the closer the connection will be, and that will ultimately lead to more support – whether that be financial or with promotion bringing in new fans by word of mouth.

I think this is an especially powerful idea for musicians because it means we don’t have to hammer the fan base with slightly cheesy sales messages all the time, and can just focus on putting out super-duper stuff that they WANT to interact with.

It all starts with “capture”

In other words, get a smart phone and press record a lot, because often you can entertain your gang by just bringing them into your world and making content based around what you’re already doing.

The way this might look for a band on the road is that each member would be documenting the wild ride from their own point of view and posting it to Dropbox, and then your social media dude edits all the best bits for posting. (Of course, if you’re on a budget, the “social media dude” could simply be Bob the crazy drummer who likes playing with the computers).

But for some even that might seem like a little bit too much like hard work, so why not run a competition to have one of your die-hard fans come on the road with you to capture all the cool behind-the-scenes happenings? For an amazing example of this check out Ozzy Osbourne’s Facebook Page.

Seeing your journey from a fan’s point of view will mean they’re in a great position to know what’s going to be interesting and relevant. BOOYARR! You’ve just created a world class digital content strategy and it did not hurt one bit.

So how on earth do you set up a check move?

The mission here is to remove all the head-scratching from your social media marketing by giving you a set of tried and tested posts ready to go, and video is a great way to tell a story through more than just words. And you don’t need to just make a music video every week, there are dozens of ways to create video content that can help you engage with your fans. Don’t believe me? Here are 23 ideas to start with.

    1. Behind the music
      Let people in on your wild ride in the biz. Your first band, first song, first guitar, first love (or maybe not), challenges and setbacks, magic moments, and plans for the future. To do this, get a piece of paper and draw a picture of yourself as a just born baby on the left hand side, then draw a picture of yourself last week on the right. Now fill up the space in the middle with all the epic stuff that’s happened to you during that time. BTW, you don’t have to make a whole movie in one go. Bite-sized pieces will actually work better for holding interest.

 

    1. Interviews
      Interview every cool person you meet along the way – producers, managers, your crazy bassist, other bands, family, friends, fans, the sound man, tour manager and the driver who never seems to sleep. Here’s a good example to get you started. WARNING: There is a 93% chance this video will make you laugh, so if you’re at work maybe watch it later!

      how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 1

    2. Cribs
      Make a video to show folks around your home town and even your house if that doesn’t feel weird. Travel to important landmarks in your career like where the band got together, or where you performed your first successful stage dive. If you can’t be bothered to actually leave your house, you could do this using Google street view.

 

    1. Backstage
      Post dressing room shenanigans, the after-show party, and even that particularly tasty treat you got on the rider. And if Jimmy Page shows up and wants to play with you, film yourself getting ready for the gig!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 2
    2. In the studio
      Video yourself during recording sessions. This is an awesome method of keeping fans in touch while you would normally be off the radar.

 

    1. Live footage from your latest gig
      There is a cool tool called Switch Cam which will turn your whole crowd into one big massive film crew and then you can come back later and make a wicked movie using all those different viewpoints. It’s the future baby!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 3
    2. Tour diary
      Video diary updates when you’re on tour that include where you’re playing, how the shows are going, which band member is starting to make you crazy, what it’s like inside the van, and reviews of the accommodations.

 

    1. Sound check videos
      You might think this seems a little boring (and honestly I would agree), but folks outside of the biz love learning how things work from your perspective, and these kinds of music videos seem to get a ton of views. There could be interested people who will appreciate the look inside.

 

    1. Rehearsal footage
      Give your fans a sneak peek of brand new tracks from the practice room.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 4
    2. Gear heads
      Show people around your gear and how you get your EPIC sounds. “This one goes to 11.”

 

    1. Music from your past
      Dust off those demos you made when you were a kid or in an early band. I think it’s cool to show people how you got to where you are now musically. Don’t be bashful about it!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 5
    2. Merch!
      Live from the merch booth meeting the fans and the people who run your table.

 

    1. Song-meanings and inspirations
      Share what you were thinking and feeling when you wrote a song, if that doesn’t feel too personal.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 6
    2. Alternate versions
      Record yourself playing acoustic versions of your more popular songs.

 

    1. Covers
      Record yourself playing interesting arrangements of music you love. (Don’t forget to get a sync license if you’re doing this!)

 

    1. Covers by fans
      Post a little “guitar lesson” for one of your most popular songs and then challenge fans to come up with the best cover version on video and post it.

 

    1. Say thanks
      Make a real personal video to thank fans when you reach important milestones in your career. Jackie Chan did this when he got 50 million Facebook fans. Just look at the way he pops up. Classic!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 7
    2. Making of
      The “making of” your video with director’s commentary, like the extras on a DVD. This would basically be a couple of key players talking about how the whole thing came together.

 

    1. Answer questions
      Host an “ask me anything event,” online open mic session, or do what Noah Guthrie did and answer Twitter questions on video. It’s a multi-media bonanza!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 8
    2. Outtakes
      Compile outtakes and bloopers from your recording sessions and video shoots.

 

    1. Chat with a superfan
      Make someone’s day and make a video out of it.how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 9
    2. Shopping
      Go thrift shopping for stage clothes or props and document the whole adventure on video.

 

  1. Make a music video
    Every cool tune should have some kind of music video, even if it’s real simple. Here’s something I made with no budget in just a few hours. Moving forward, I’ll be making mostly “fans create the footage” music videos because then the check move factor goes through the roof!how to build an audience on YouTube ex. 10

Here is your action step

OK so now we’re at the end of this lesson you’ve got two options.

1. Close this page and think, “Hmmm, ain’t that Ben Sword a cool and sexy mofo, he gave me a ton of ideas that I really should use one day and I must buy him lots of beer next time he’s in town. But then, ha ha ha! Look at those funny talking cats dancing on YouTube … what was I doing again?”

Apart from the thing about buying me beers, that ain’t going to do anyone any good, so the only option you should really consider is:

2. Pick one thing from this list, do it right now, and give yourself an hour to complete it. Often work will swell to the amount of time you allocate, so setting a short deadline means you’ll be really action focused and proactive.

Then if you’re feeling brave, do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and for the next 30 days, until you got the habit locked in for the rest of your career. Being that consistent will pretty much guarantee you’ll find an audience at some point. It’s like a law of nature or something.

Sure, what you produce at first might be crappy, and that’s totally cool – in fact that’s what’s supposed to happen. But after a while, making great stuff will be just like eating maple syrup and bacon pancakes with a thick Oreo cookie milkshake (i.e. EASY!)

Good luck, I’m rootin for ya’ and please contact me if you got questions because I’ll be making follow-up lessons.

Ben Sword is the founder of the Music Marketing Classroom, on a mission to help musicians create sustainable careers with a simple four level marketing philosophy. Learn more at MusicMarketingClassroom.com.

Read more: Build a superfan base one video at a time – Disc Makers http://blog.discmakers.com/2014/03/build-a-superfan-base-with-videos/#ixzz2wPyiDord

Why indies should still care about radio | Disc Makers

shutterstock 1941665841 Why indies should still care about radio[This article was written by Erica Sinkovic, CD Baby’s Web Product Manager and general music enthusiast.]

Whether you’re an independent artist or signed to an independent label, you’re sure to have a lot on your plate already. Between booking shows, debating merch, planning your next big marketing move, juggling social media-insanity, oh yeah, and writing new material, the last thing you want to add to your plate is a radio campaign. Indies have all but abandoned this once-career-establishing source. Some say it’s because their audience isn’t listening to radio anymore, some say it’s because radio is only for Top 40 major label artists, and others simply don’t have time or resources to even consider it in their marketing mix. I’m here to tell you: don’t abandon radio.

Even though many people, particularly teens, are listening to music via YouTube and other on-demand platforms, discovery tends to happen through other channels. Just two years ago, in 2012, Nielsen reported that 48% of people surveyed discovered music most often through the radio (compared to YouTube’s 7%). Today, in 2014, Nielsen reports that radio listenership is on the rise from 243.7 million in 2013 to 244.4 million weekly listeners in 2014. They cite the localization of stations and their curated content as a key factor to becoming so easily interwoven in peoples’ lives…something to keep in mind come tour time.

I’m not here to tell you “drop everything and focus all of your time and money on radio.” I’m here to tell you that radio is not dead, DJs are still the tastemakers in every town, and radio still has the power to bring artists of all genres to the next level in their careers, at every level.

In my experience of working with incredible artists, labels and distribution companies, I’ve seen the difference that radio can make – taking unknowns to globally recognized names (yes, there are many more millions of people listening internationally). Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Childish Gambino, Robert DeLong, these are artists that Glassnote Records took way up the charts in both airplay and sales by focusing much of their efforts on radio in every single market (touring also being a major factor). You can’t turn on a college radio station or satellite radio channel without hearing Arcade Fire (#1 on Billboard), Grizzly Bear (#7 on Billboard), First Aid Kit (#12 on Billboard Independent), Passion Pit (#4 on Billboard) and so on.

Don’t give up on radio because there are millions of people still listening, still trusting and still anxiously awaiting the next “new thing.”

How do you get your music on the radio?

Depends on your resources.

1. Radio marketing services such as Pirate! or The Syndicate. Some publicists offer this service in varying degrees as well, but relationships are key here.

2. Radio mailing services offered through boutique distribution companies for an additional fee (single or album-based).

3. Print out a one-sheet, get a box of promos, and start looking up key stations (Will you be touring there? Do you have sales there? Is there an influential tastemaker station there?) to mail or digitally deliver your music to.

* Helpful hint #1: your one-sheet should tell readers immediately why they should care to listen to your music.

* Helpful hint #2: if you want to confirm that someone has listened to your music, pick up the phone and call them.

Have you gotten your music on the radio as an independent artist? Did you hire a promoter, or handle the radio promotion yourself? Let us know in the comments section below.

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