So You Made an Album

 

Promoting your band’s first album in a structured way begins by building a strong,very relevant network of contacts. This describes how to acquire, organize and maintain your network of contacts to How to promote your bands first album. Use the practical tips and tools described to start building and using your promotional network today.

Building relationships in the digital world.

Just like in the real world before the arrival of the internet, a big part of promoting your band is about building relationships. In other words, getting to know the music writers, publishers, A&R managers, venue bookers and so on. Unless you are a big established name, sending out un-solicited emails is not going to bring you far. If being read at all by the receiver, it can quickly generate dislike, giving you a bad name in the long run.

Be sincere and relaxed.

It is obvious you like to promote your band but take it easy. Getting introduced to somebody doesn’t mean you need to start promoting away from the start. If you are not genuinely interested in the person you are trying to get acquainted with then why should they be in you? It is often better “not Promote” your band on the first introduction, but talk and listen. Learn about what the other’s interests are, have fun and relax. After some time, when you do promote your band, the other person will be happier to receive the info and check it out.

Acquiring and organizing contact information.

When you start meeting people and acquiring contact information, you need to store and organize it in a way that will help you “utilize” it when you are going to promote. One of the easiest ways to do this is using Google Documents. This web-based tool lets you create, store and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations,

It is not only important to save all contact information but to organize it properly so its easy to use. Keep the following things in mind while doing this:
-Save contact info Name, Function, Email, Phone number, website in a Spreadsheet
-Add useful info for future reference such as the Date the contact was added or you had Last Contact with
-Add a column to keep track of things you discussed or actions you need to perform “contact again for possible show mid-October.”

Then organise your acquired contact information into a spreadsheet with categories such as:
-Venues
-Blogs
-Magazines
-Websites
-Festivals
-Radio stations

Maintaining your contacts/relationships life cycle.

The most important thing to understand about promoting your band is that it should be a continuous and longterm process, not a one-off event. Wether you are just starting out or already an established name, promotion needs to be frequently done. Wether its new shows to be booked, a new album to promote, an anniversary to celebrate, a bandmember that joins, promotion is ever-present. If your promotion drops away (even for a brief moment) you will likely notice it, at least in the long run.

To prevent your promotion to be random and scattered, it is important to categorize your types of “information/events” and the frequency of “contact moments.” For example, it works better to be in regular contact with venue bookers to get shows instead of emailing them a week before you want that show. The most killing to your precious network however is not following up at all with your valuable contacts. Running a band is busy at it is and if you don’t schedule your follow up it will easily be forgotten.

Filtering types of events and scheduling your followup.

Begin by filtering your different types of events/information you like to promote. A couple of examples:
-New releases
-Upcoming shows
-Booking shows
-Band member changes

For each type determine how frequently you plan to promote or followup on a previous contact. Some examples:
-New releases (a month before release)
-Upcoming shows (when ticket sales open)
-Booking shows (bi-monthly contact venue bookers and agents) (or ask them when they like to be contacted)
-Festivals (ask them when they accept band entries, usually so much as six months ahead!)

Set Google Alerts to harvest information
The internet is so vast it can be a waste of time to manually search for information. A good way of automatically staying up to date on specific persons, topics and venues is to set Google Alerts keywords. Whenever there’s a new online entry mentioning the contact person’s name, venue or another keyword you set, you will get an email notification. Set your band name as Google Alert as well, to learn what is “buzzing” on the net about your band.

 

 

 

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Producing Music at Home

If you wish to produce music at home, there are simple ways to procure and install even the most complicated audio equipment to give you studio-like production quality. The list can get pretty long if you want a professional setup, however, we have a list of the basic equipment you need, to set up a pretty sophisticated production studio at home. Here is the equipment you need, feel free to leave out stuff you feel will not be necessary:

An Audio Interface

You could simply use your computer’s microphone or a low-end microphone plugged into the sound card but if you want to level up the production quality, you will be much better off with an audio interface as built in sound cards will not provide any control over the signal. While an audio interface will give you the ability to use high-quality microphones and other equipment for recording. A few of the affordable ones include the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 and Presonus AudioBox 22VSL, all of which come with high recording quality and two microphone inputs.

Microphones

Whether you plan to record vocals and/or instruments you will definitely need multiple microphones. You can drastically improve the sound quality by using good microphones. Although different microphones are used for different sound types and instruments, you could go for affordable ones with versatile capabilities like the Samson C01 or the Behringer C-1. More importantly, a quiet and echo-free recording space or room is necessary to even realize the benefits of a good microphone.

Studio Monitors

Like the name may sound, they are actually not displays but speakers which reproduce recorded sound as accurately as possible. You can go with good quality sound speakers too if you feel that these are unnecessary but they can help you get a good sense of your recorded audio, especially if you listen to your own voice.

MIDI Keyboard or Controller

You may want to use only live instruments, in which case, you may not need these but if you plan to make use of virtual instruments in your music you will need a good MIDI keyboard to play these virtual instruments. These are available at a cheap rate and you will not need any expensive ones for home recordings. Most MIDI keyboards provide the basic controls you need.

Cables

You will definitely need some cables to connect all of the hardware we just mentioned. In general, any device that is USB-based will come with USB-A to USB-B cables so you will not need to buy them separately. However, microphones always use an XLR interface and you will have to purchase XLR cables for each of the microphones you use. The studio monitors we mentioned will also need XLR or 1/4″ TRS cables for connection.

DAW or Digital Audio Workstation Software

You will need good software to make the most of all the hardware you purchase. One of the most popular ones is Cubase. It is powerful and flexible and runs on both, the Windows and OS X platforms. You can start with a free trial and later purchase the power packed entry level version for under $100.

All of this should be enough to help you produce some great music at home.

 

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Basics of Music Production

Your best friends when you record something are Compression, EQ, and Reverb. Be kind to them, and they will be kind to you.

You need to give your ears a rest once in a while. Taking the rest of the day off from working after you finish recording, again after you finish arranging, and giving your ears a couple of days to recuperate before you start mixing is a good idea.

You need to get a pair of studio monitors. Now I don’t mean you have to have two screens, although I do and it’s nice to have the extra work space. No, what I’m talking about is a special kind of speakers called studio monitors.

EQ is best used to cut down frequencies that are too loud. There is a temptation to use them to boost things in a sound, while a limited amount of that can help, too much will make it sound wrong. Use your EQ to sculpt your sounds, and as a wise man once said, sculpting a horse means taking away the parts of the stone that don’t look like a horse.

The best way to record drums is to do it with an electronic kit you can hook directly into your computer. After that using a software drum machine, or old fashioned cut and paste will work too.

Recording a real drum kit without a studio is hard. You need a minimum of 2 mics recording at the same time. One on either side to record in stereo. Having a third set up dead center is better. Having a mic kit for a drum set will require several mic ports, probably more than you can handle at one time.

Speaking of mics, you don’t have to break the bank to get your project done. The Shure SM57 and SM58 Dynamic Microphones are the industry standard. You will find them in every studio, and on pretty much every stage and they only cost about 100$. Sure, they don’t record vocals and some instruments as well, but they are sturdy and get their job done.

You can plug an instrument like a guitar right into the computer by using an audio interface, but it tends to make it sound too clinical. You know what I mean? Too clean. Use the Guitar Amp and stick a mic in front of it. Adjust things till you are getting good recording results. The amp will mess up the recording just enough to make it sound real.

Effects are like frosting on a cake. Most of the time you want just enough to sweeten it, but as a kid, we sometimes tend to add too much. Start with a little bit, and work your way up till it sounds good. That’s one of the best things about producing with a computer; most programs let you listen to the sound while you add and adjust your effects. You can’t do that recording old school.

Typical production wisdom says you want to record with as little natural reverb as possible so that you can add it later with effects. Sometimes that’s not the way to go. Sometimes you want the ambiance of the room you are in, especially when recording a live gig.

In music production, there are no rules for every situation, only guidelines.

Experience will serve you better than the expense. Just because it costs a lot of money, does not mean it will do anything to help you if you don’t know what you’re doing. Read your manuals, and do some experiments to get a feel for your gear. Never stop using what you have, never stop practicing.

 

 

 

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How to Promote your Band

There are plenty of challenges these days when it comes to having a band. Some things are easier than others to cope with, but promoting your band online is really a challenge that everyone runs into. There are numerous methods, many tools, methods and techniques used to deal with getting your band noticed .Promoting your band can be tough. But with the right tools, a band can cement their status and acquire themselves a steadily building fan base.

The very first thing every band should do is to create a press kit. Press kits are relatively easy to create, but it is important that they look professional. Press kits should include music samples, information about the band and its members, professional photos and contact information. Create a memorable logo for your band, one that you can stick with for years to come. Distribute them to every record label and music promoter you can and make sure your contact information is in the press kit.

The internet is one of the best and first ways to connect with your fans. Creating a band website makes your band easy to search for and locate on the internet. Make sure your band logo is prominently displayed on the website, but make sure to keep the site clutter free. On your website there should be a page with bios of band members, information about the band, and a complete list of tour dates. If you can, add a stream of selected songs from your most recent album. Your page should stay professional, as anyone can find and view it.

YouTube is turning into a prime spot to get your band noticed. The band Ok Go made clever music videos for their songs that turned into viral sensations. Be creative and be different. Create a video that people will want to see and send to their friends, post to their Facebook pages and spread throughout the internet. Standing in front of a camera and playing a song will does not a viral sensation make. It will require effort, planning and a little inspiration.

The best way to endear yourself to fans and for those fans to then spread the word about your band is to give them free music. In addition to the live music stream on your website, include one or two free song downloads. You will not be giving away the entire album, but the songs will be a teaser that leaves fans wanting more. This serves to encourage fans to buy the album. Be sure to include links to places like iTunes and Amazon.com with the free downloads, pointing fans towards the sites they can buy the full album.

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Use tools like your website, YouTube and free downloads to connect with your fans. Fans are your most important resource for free and fast promotion. Create Facebook and Twitter pages for your band and keep a steady dialogue going. Respond to emails from your fans. Word of mouth can spread faster than a viral YouTube video! If a fan feels connected with your band, that fan is more inclined to spread the word about you.

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How to Write a Song

As a song writer, your ultimate goal should be to write solid, usable music. A music composer doesn’t write half a song and call it whole. Over the next few minutes, we’ll discuss how to write a song by using some of my personal favorite tips.

Generic music is a nightmare for any song writer and music composer no matter who you are. We all want to be innovative and creative in all aspects of our music. Generic songwriting can stem from no practice and no exercising of the mind. Settling for just anything just to get it finished is a good way of falling in generic music writing. We have constantly practice and exercise our writing mind. If something is becoming monotonous then stop it and come back later with a fresh approach.

Ideas for how to write a song can come from other place aside from emotions. Sometimes fusing a style together or mixing typically slow lyrics over a fast beat or just trying anything out of the ordinary can be inspirational as well. You may not come up with anything usable but then again you may. Figuring out how to write a song can come from an wide variety of places, not just emotions and experiences.

Everyone knows that friends and family are most likely to be honest about your music. If you want an honest judge of how good your writing is going, then run it by these people. Take into consideration all that they say, regardless of if it is positive or negative. Sometimes as a song writer, we can get tunnel vision or hearing in this case so it is nice to take a step outside the tunnel and hear what others have to say.

Believe it or not, one of my tips for every song writer is to keep yourself healthy. This is a strange tip but your brain needs fuel to operate at it’s highest level. A music composer needs a healthy brain to write great music and that comes from being physically as healthy as you can. Get good sleep and eat right because psychologically this is the best thing for you. If you do this, you will find that you will be able to work more efficiently and for longer periods of time before burning out.

Music theory is a powerful tool for every music composer but you don’t have to be overly technical. Yes, music should fit together and sound great but don’t force yourself to follow set rules. Adding different chords or unusual sounds to your music can benefit your overall sound greatly.

Lastly, when working on how to write a song, think of textures. Every single instrument, melody, harmony or vocal has texture. Keep all this in mind when brainstorming and writing. Music is full of an infinite variety of sounds and all the world is your stage.

As a song writer, your possibilities are truly endless. Make sure you really concentrate on creating exciting and stimulating textures for your songs. The idea is to stand out and be creative as possible. Being a song writer and music composer is supposed to be fun so take breaks if you feel burnt out or overworked so you can keep the fun and excitement alive in your music.

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We are working on a few great articles to share with you but while you’re waiting for us to get them finished, take a look at this video that talks about how to build your own recording space.