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7 Tips for Building a Website for Your Music

Keyboard Hug

Simply having a website is not enough . . .

Music fans expect to quickly and easily figure out what you’re about and what you sound like before they make a decision to buy.  Here are 7 essential elements every music or band website should have.

1. Sample Tracks

Let them listen. People don’t usually buy music unless they’ve heard it first. This means you should make at least 2 or 3 full-length tracks available to stream. Music videos are also a good way to allow friends and fans to sample your music before they buy. This is also important so that bloggers and journalists can easily listen to your tunes for reviewing purposes.

2. Purchase Options

Believe it or not, your fans want to support you. Make it easy to buy your CDs, MP3s and merch. Give your fans multiple purchase options. Use the CD Baby music store widget and link to iTunes and Amazon so that fans can choose their preferred method.
How to Pick a Recording Studio

3. A Description of Your Music

Give your site visitors an easy way to describe your music and they may just recommend it to a friend using those same terms.

Can you describe your music in just a few sentences? In just a few words? If not, it’s time to start practicing. Ask your friends and fans to write down their own description of your music. Here are some tips on describing your music.

4. A Story

Yep. You read that right. Good stories are engaging. They’re viral. If you can condense the story of your music project into a few action-packed paragraphs, chances are that story will be retold. Here are some tips for crafting your story or Bio.

5. Photos and Video

Show your fans who you are. Take advantage of the brief time that a visitor spends on your site to show them your personality in as many ways as you can.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a video is worth a thousand pictures.

Interview your bandmates. Interview yourself. Check out this tutorial on band photography.

And here’s some great advice on creating music videos.

Tips for Being a Better Singer

6. Social Media Buttons

Make sure your fans can “like,” “follow” and “share” your content online. This will allow you to further engage with them down the road.

If you are a HostBaby client, make sure to enable your share buttons on your settings page.

7. Event Calendar

I’ll excuse those of you that never play live, but if you play concerts or events–it’s essential that you have an up-to-date concert calendar on your site.

Even if you don’t play live, announcing album release dates and other happenings will make your site appear current and give fans reason to come back to your site.

Do you have all of the above on your website? What do you think is essential content on a musician site? Answer in the comments below.

(via blog.hostbaby.com)

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Twitter Tips for the Music Industry

Tweet Your Music!

Twitter doesn’t come with a rule book, and the most common reaction for a new Twitter user is, “um, what am I supposed to do now”? Overwhelming though it may be when you start out, Twitter is becoming more and more important for the music industry. It’s a great place to promote new releases, connect with fans and stay on top of the latest music news. Want to maximize your Twitter success factor? These tips will help:

  1. Be A Real Human Being: Don’t expect to set up a feed from your site to your Twitter page and wait for the followers to flock to you, and don’t be afraid to mix a little personality in with your business stuff. Business connections on Twitter tend to thrive with a little help from the personal connections, so let people know who you are. That’s not to say that feeds are a bad strategy – in fact, if you have a blog, a feed can be an important part of promoting your work on Twitter. Just don’t sit back and let your feed do all your talking.

    While we’re on the subject of feeds and automatic updates, most people on Twitter aren’t fans of automatic direct messages, either. Don’t do it.

  2. Be Nice!: Twitter is set up for fostering conversation and debate, and you don’t have to be a blind cheerleader for whatever people say. However, remember that when you’re using Twitter for your music career, you’re in a “business casual” environment. Stay professional. Tweeting “I think @soandso is the biggest idiot on Twitter” makes you look bad, not them. I’m not saying you won’t THINK that from time to time, but – and this is especially important if you’re working on the business side of the music industry rather than an artist – resist the temptation to engage in public humiliation. Who wants to work with someone who lacks discretion? Plus, the music industry isn’t as big as you think. You don’t know what bridges you’re burning when you’re a Twitter bully.

    If you see something you disagree with and want to know where that person was coming, ask them. Politely. If what you have to say could potentially embarrass them, direct message them instead. Again, conversation – good. Belligerence – bad.

    The best recording studio prices in Los Angeles

  3. Build Relationships: The great thing about Twitter is the way it connects you to other people who are trying to accomplish the same thing you are. Reach out to them. See how you can help each other. Tweet each other’s shows, link to each other’s sites, let your followers know when one of your colleagues does something cool – it all helps.
  4. Avoid the Numbers Shuffle, The Follow Test and Other Twitter Mind Games: A lot of people spend a lot of time on Twitter checking out how has the most followers, who is following more people than follow them back, culling their own follow list and so on and so forth. Other people follow someone, wait for a set period of time, then unfollow them if they aren’t followed back. This kind of stuff is exhausting, counterproductive, and more than a little bit third grade.

    Remember that you’re on Twitter to further your own projects and learn from others. The relationships you cultivate there can’t be quantified by a number on the screen, and you’re better off working on connecting with like minded folks in your network than frantically trying to manipulate your volume of connections. Just keep your eye on your own project and contribute to the community as best you can. The rest will fall into place.

  5. Let People Hear from YOU: Retweeting what other people have written is a great thing, and you should do it. Tweeting quotes that have caught your ear, song lyrics and so on is cool, too. It gives people an idea of who you are. But don’t forget to just jump in there and say what’s on your mind. Your words, your stories, your life – people in general respond more when they feel like that know you as a person, and if you’re a musician, this is the kind of stuff your fans really want to hear from you. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry in 140 characters, but being yourself is a good business decision in the Twitterverse.

     

  6. Don’t Get Spammy: Setting up a Twitter account and randomly tweeting people to promote your new project is not effective – at all. In other words, “@randontwitterperon Check out my song!!!! bit.ly” repeated 200 times on your Twitter page is not winning you any fans. In fact, this is one of those attempted promo moments that not only fails to make an impact, it can actually actively make your LOSE fans. Ditto for formulaic direct messages to all of your followers.

     

  7. Relax!: Twitter is useful, but it’s also supposed to fun. Don’t get all wrapped up in developing the “perfect” Twitter formula. It doesn’t exist. Sure, you’ll see a lot of people spending a lot of time critiquing Twitter approaches. You know, it’s just not that deep. Getting too sucked into in any of these social networking tools can be counterproductive when it comes to actually making progress with your music career, if you let it. Just use Twitter the way that feels right to you – you’ll figure it out, and people will respond.

     

    Find Musician Booking Agents

    (via musicians.about.com)

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How to Clean Your Cymbals

Cymbal Wonderland

To clean or not to clean, this is the question for many drummers when it comes to their cymbals. Some players believe that a certain amount of grime and grit and smoky residue adds to the character of the cymbal. No doubt a certain bar room neglect may give your cymbals a certain roadhouse ambience. But for those who are interested in extending the life of their cymbals and keeping them shining like disks of pure sonic gold under the stage lights, here are some helpful tips.

How an indie studio is supposed to look: Recording Studio Pics 

Many new cymbals are sprayed with a protective coating to keep them from tarnishing in the store, so your cymbals may need less cleaning during the first six months, depending on use. During this time, a solution of warm water and liquid dishwasher soap will clean fingerprints, dirt, and grime. As your cymbals age, we recommend using a professional cleaning cream to remove stick marks and tarnish. Put a small amount onto the surface with a soft cloth and rub in the direction of the tonal grooves, until the metal appears through the film. After the polish has dried to a haze, buff gently with a clean, soft cloth. Clean only a small section of the cymbal at a time. Always avoid using steel wool, wire brushes, scouring pads, or metal cleaners that are abrasive. These products will scratch the surface of your cymbal.

Want to know which studio gear is best? Here is a list of Studio Gear for your home studio.

(via community.musiciansfriend.com)

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10 Ways to Fight the Musician’s Discouragement

Keep Playing

Each artist has “these days” when he feels relentless creative impotence. I’m pretty sure you know that feeling when you sit down behind your instrument in order to create new piece of music, but you find… total emptiness in your head. That’s fine. These days, after some time actually results in the vibrant and creative ideas!

Here are some tips on how to get up from the music pit:

1. Listen to good music and get inspired

Dug out old LPs from your basement. Listen to a dusty tapes, vinyl records. It’s a good “Back to the Future” moment re-discovering music you used to listen many years ago. Just feel the energy that you experienced in youth. I remember those days like the mist. Just to get back from school and turn on the Led Zeppelin album on full volume.
Listen to the music in the car, your room, headphones – doesn’t matter. I’m sure this will trigger lots of memories in you.

Here is some great Indie Music

2. Detune your instrument

Just try to change the tuning of your guitar completely and start to play on it. Tune your drumset like a jazz set. Change the way your approach to making music, reduce restrictions. It may contribute to inventing new and interesting musical theme.

3. Change your sound

Play around with the gadgets – we’re surrounded by toys that can make a violin with a guitar and the violin with the trombone. I am not suggesting here that you should buy a MIDI converter. What I’m suggesting is having fun with discovering new things around your sound. Bored with your ampifier’s current sound? Mess up with the knobs and see what happen. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a role model and inspire somebody?
The same goes for drummers – try to rearrange the instruments in your kit and start playing differently. Maybe it is time to taste the open-handed play?

4. Play-along to your unfamiliar genre

You play bass in death metal band? How about playing solo in the funky song? Or maybe you’re a jazzman on a daily basis, and would like to try to play hip-hop? Horizons are still wide! The Web is full of play-along tracks, you just have to know where to find them. Get involved and get to work

5. Listen to your old records

Sometimes it’s good to look back and go back with the memories to your past achievements. Find your tape (ok, let’s say it’s CD ) you recorded four years ago. Listen to it. Watch a video of your first concert, or listen to archival interview with your band. When you analyze the past successes you achieved, you’ll want more!

6. Design your new album

Certainly you have in mind the idea of your new masterpiece, which will raise the world. Run the sort of brain storm and create a whole album in your head. Synchronize your thoughts with reality.
– Place the alleged playlist
– Think about the cover design
– Plan time for inventing, complementing and recording tracks
– Think of the name of the new album
– …and so on Visualize! It always helps.

Get your Album Recorded

7. Take a jam session

…and show me what you can! Play with some other people. It’s different experience from each and every rehearsal with the same guys. Maybe you’ll play with musicians much better technically, much richer in the concert experience than yourself. Don’t be discouraged and play. That would certainly broaden your horizons and teach you something new.

8. Give yourself a rest of the music

Sometimes the solution is relaxing. Every day we’re attacked by the chaos of sound. Turn off the computer, leave the gear for some time and take a walk to a nearby park. Give your ears a rest. Gain new strength.

9. Replace your instrument

Flip out of your immortal Fender with your friend’s guitar. Discover the power latent in your riffs, playing them on different instruments. Let go of the reins of fantasies! Have you ever wondered how your heavy guitar solo would sound on banjo or ukulele? If you are a drummer – try to focus for a week on ethnic instruments like bongos, congas, djembe or darabouka. It’s fun!

10. Tweak your instrument

Maybe you are bored of the color of your drums or guitar body? Try to paint your instrument, or remove the veneer. Paint the timber with lacquer, replace the strings / drumheads / electronics and so on. Your instrument is your voice, but it’s good when it also looks nice…

(via themusictips.com)

 

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To Gig or Not to Gig: How to Get Ahead in Your Town’s Music Scene

Why you want gigs.

There is a fine art to becoming a successful working musician. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be Picasso to do it (however, no finger painting, please). Half the battle is as simple as believing in your product. That’s right. I said your “product.” When you are a professional musician, you are in the sales industry. Don’t sweat it, though. You’re selling something you absolutely love: music!

Here’s a proof positive way to get ahead in your town’s music scene:

1) Fine tune your act. Whether it’s acoustic or a 7 piece funk/fusion band, you need to have a professional sounding product to turn some heads.

2) Explore Open Mic Nights. Where and when are they happening? What time do you need to be there to sign up? Grab the local city paper, scout it out online or in person. Be there early, shake a few hands, and get to know the other musicians. Most importantly, always be on time and make sure people know you are a reliable artist. That’s a rare commodity in the industry and you will shine amongst the group. Open Mics are a great resource to get your career started. Not only for the exposure, but also for the networking possibilities. I can’t tell you how many Open Mics I’ve done that have led to amazing opportunities.

Tips for Polishing Your Songs

3) Start thinking about how to market your product. You first and foremost need a Demo to start the grassroots campaign that will lead you to stardom. Don’t be afraid of rockin’ a Garageband demo. No need to be snobby about production quality—the most important thing is to have a solid song you can put in a future fan’s hand (we don’t notice how many hand claps are in your tune, and how they are mixed in perfectly with the snare drum).

4) Start handing out that Demo (with a flyer of your upcoming gigs) to every music lover you can find. “If you build it, they will come.” Sooner than later you’re gonna see some familiar faces at your shows. Sell your CD’s when you can, but don’t be afraid to hand them out in the beginning; consider it an investment in future merchandise sales.

Make a PRO Demo

5) Lastly, don’t forget to start an email list. Social networking is great, but Facebook and MySpace aren’t the alpha and omega. Fans still like getting personal emails from their favorite artists. On that note, give your fans a place to go besides typical social networking sites. Get an official website running where they can chat about how the new version, of that one tune, where you substituted a #9 chord for a regular old dominant seven, was mind blowing.

It’s a simple process, but it by no means takes minimal effort. Music is a business—the quicker you come to grips with that, the quicker you will see significant results. Most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, believe in what you’re doing. It will show through to your audience and the influential booking agents around you. Believe in what you do. It will take your career a long way.

Until next time, happy gigging!

(via Mark Hopkins @ berkleemusicblogs.com)

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The 5 Foes of any Musician or Producer

As any artist will tell you, we are usually our own worst enemy. The following 5 roadblocks are something we all have to deal with. This will hopefully help you recognize the problem and give you some tools to overcome them.

Your main enemies are…

Foe 1 – The Absence of a Vision…

You want to be clear about which type of life you want to create as an independent musician and producer.

Do you want a life where you spend most of your time on a day job, with your music production pushed back to the status of a part-time hobby? Do you want to earn all the money you need by doing music full time?

It’s an important question to ask yourself…

“What type of music-business-life do I want to create?”

Create a clear picture of what you want to do as an independent musician or producer. The more clear your vision, the easier it will be to stay on track when times get tough.

Foe 2 – The Presence of Doubt

Your doubts will come back to haunt you again and again as you progress with your music career.

How you deal with your doubts will determine the pace of your progress.

You may have doubt in your talents. You may think you have no ability to make your own music or that your music will not be appreciated.

You may hear a new track in your genre and be so blown out of the water by the quality you start to feel hopeless because of your own lack of progress.

The list goes on.

The main thing to remember when in doubt is that you would not have an urge to do something without the ability to make it happen.

The urge you feel to make and share your music is the energy which you can transform into music and income through focus, discipline and practice.

The best thing to overcome doubt is to do one thing straight away which brings you closer to your vision. Even one small step in the right direction gets you started, that’s usually all we need.
Foe 3 – Lack of Skills and Experience

You’ll find listed below just some of the skills you must have as an independent musician and producer (or be willing to pay for)…

Music production and performance skills, studio skills, business skills, marketing/promotion skills and administrative skills.

You can see there is much to learn as an independent artist and producer.

The way to overcome this obstacle is to adopt an attitude of the perpetual learner.

Learn a bit each day about the most important things in the key areas you’ll be involved in with your music business.

You know there is a learning curve involved, so be patient with yourself and do little bits at a time, constantly.

Before you know it you will have both the skill and experience you need to make your own music and get it heard.
Foe 4 – The Reality of the Job

You work a full time or part time job just to have money to live with. Your life overheads need to be paid. So you do it to get by.

Do you love your job? Well, maybe you do if it’s a very new job or you are part of a small minority who has a job you actually love.

No matter how you feel about your job, the reality is this…

A full-time job takes most of your waking time and your best energy, leaving you with very little left to invest in to your career as an independent musician and producer.

You may get money and even be able to build your studio, still, your music will always have to fit in around your job.

You can make your own music, and make it well, as long as you have the time and energy it takes to produce music.

The way to overcome this obstacle is to create automated income sources using your passion or expertise in order to replace your job income.

My suggestion is to create stable business income which requires less-and-less of your time to maintain as you go along. You then feed your money, time and energy into your music production, performance and promotion activities.
Foe 5 – The Lack of Support

Friends and family play a vital role as they need to understand the demands music production makes on the true artist.

They may want your attention, and to balance music production and family life can become quite a tricky thing to do.

You will be well off advising people close to you how much you want to make music and explain to them the amount of time this requires from you.

Make time for friends and family though because these are the people who will be there when you need help, so it’s not wise to neglect them.

Apart from family and friends you also need the Support of fellow artists and producers for inspiration, advice and most importantly, critique of your works.

Your network will also be the first people to Support your work when you release it, so treat them well! 😉

You can also join professional organizations and bodies to further expand your network and support group. You can avoid the lack of Support by maintaining sincere relationships with the people around you.

Be mindful of the above 5 Foes and your career as an independent musician and producer will be much smoother.

(via Renegade Producer)

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