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A winning formula for writing great music for TV sports

By Guest Blogger
July 11, 2014{ No Comments }

Screen Shot 2012 09 10 at 11.59.15 PM 1 A winning formula for writing great music for TV sportsOne branch of my professional path has focused on writing music for sports shows on television. There is an art to this.

In my career, I have composed theme songs for shows on ESPN, Fox Sports (SNY), Comcast SportsNet, Big Ten Network (BTN), Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), and SportsNet NY (SNY) (samples). The search for the right topical theme that reflects the direction and vision of the Network/Producer is a professional challenge that I very much enjoy!

The theme song must be “topical” based on the show’s content. The game of football has a different rhythm and pacing than baseball; as such, the themes one writes for these two sports can be vastly different. A highlight/sports recap show will have a different pace and feel than a sporting event.

If you’re thinking of getting into composing music for TV sports, here are a few things that should be taken into consideration:

Sonic branding

What makes composing for television challenging is that you are Read more »

Thanks, but no thanks: Shook Twins tell American Idol to take a hike

By Chris Robley
July 10, 2014{ 3 Comments }

1392822276000 Shook Twins Publicity Image 1 1  300x225 Thanks, but no thanks: Shook Twins tell American Idol to take a hikeLast week, CD Baby artists Shook Twins (a folk-pop band fronted by identical twin sisters) received an email from the producers of American Idol asking them to audition for the show. The email stipulated that the sisters “would have to audition INDIVIDUALLY OF COURSE!”

Here’s how Shook Twins responded (quoted from the band’s Facebook page):

Dear American Idol,

Thank you for reaching out to independent Portland Musicians. However, we find it very surprising that you research established and successful bands to compete individually.

You said in your email invitation that, “You would have to audition us individually of course.” It’s interesting that you assume that would be OK. Sure, “Of course” we would abandon ten years of hard work and career building as a duo to be the next new “Pop Star” singing songs that we didn’t even write.

As many singers would love to audition to be the next American pop star, we respectfully decline your invitation. We are proud to be making a living off our art and being successful independent artists by our own design.

This is what we value as “indie” musicians: Read more »

Don’t force people to steal your music

By Chris Robley
July 9, 2014{ 1 Comment }

shutterstock 192598955 300x300 Dont force people to steal your musicRich Juzwiak wants to buy a song by Elle Varner — but can’t.

Right now the single is only available on SoundCloud until some future date when, presumably, the full album will be released on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Rich is pissed. He thinks Elle is behaving according to an antiquated “anticipation business model.” He believes…

Actually, Rich says it best, so here it is:

This new song exists only on Soundcloud. It is not available on iTunes. Why? Why can’t I have this song now? I want it now. I would buy it now. When it is officially available, I will likely have already downloaded an illegal rip of it or ripped it myself or forgotten about it all together. What is this stupid anticipation business model the music industry is still trying to make happen? Haven’t we proven that if we want something, we’ll take it regardless of the legality? Hasn’t that collapsed the business of selling music? Will they ever learn?

A commenter then asked why, if the music is that important to him, Rich wouldn’t want to just remind himself to buy it later when it’s officially released. Here’s his response: Read more »

Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 5

By Guest Blogger
July 9, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 181152611 300x205 Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 5Lessons learned in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign

[This article was written by jazz pianist and CD Baby artist George KahnRead part 1 of the series HERE, and part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE, and part 4 HERE.]

The Jazz & Blues Revue is now 35 days into our 40-day Kickstarter campaign: Five days left. We just hit $15,891. It feels like an amazing achievement, but we still have $2,109 to go to meet our goal. And, since Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” fundraising site, we have to still hit the $18,000 number or it all turns to dust.

I remember having a discussion with the band members months ago when we were planning our launch. How high should we set our target? When I ran the numbers, I felt it would be realistic to set the target at $18,000, since Amazon and Kickstarter take almost 10% of the total in fees. So our $18,000 goal is really only a $16,200 budget, and I knew that producing and manufacturing the album of 13 songs would cost at least that. I did not want to short-change the process in the hopes of hitting a lesser goal. We set it at $18,000, and I am still confident that in the next 5 days we can raise $18,000.

Are there moments of panic? Absolutely. Is there fear and embarrassment? You bet. But there is no time to waste on doubt and false evidence that appears real. It is time for action.

By the time you read this, our project will be ending (it ends on Friday July 11,2014 at 2:00 PM in the afternoon), and I know it will be successful. Why do I know? Read these last lessons I learned during the process: Read more »

Getting your music on the radio

By Chris Robley
July 9, 2014{ 1 Comment }

A live discussion with radio promotion guru and Harvest Records general manager Jacqueline Saturn

At 1pm EST today you can take part in a discussion between radio promotion expert Jacqueline Saturn and Steve Rennie, former manager of Incubus. 

Saturn played an integral part in breaking acts like Karmin, Rage Against the Machine, Sara Bareilles, Pearl Jam, Incubus, The Fray, Oasis, The Script, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand and many more while holding positions at Savage Records, Epic Records and Harvest Records over the past 20-plus years.

Are you curious how artists get sustained radio play for their music? Call 310-469-9067 (or join the live chat HERE) during the discussion and ask away! Read more »

Cube: Google’s new six-sided music video player

By Chris Robley
July 9, 2014{ No Comments }

The folks at Muppet Labs… I mean Google, have invented a gadget that they’re hoping will help unlock new possibilities for visual artists, musicians, and designers.

It’s called Cube, a virtual 3D media experience (available only for Chrome and Android of course) that syncs multiple music and video elements across six different sides of the player. The user can rotate the Cube manually to choose which part of the video they want to watch at any given moment. Read more »

Protecting your voice and preventing vocal cord damage

By Chris Robley
July 8, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 144686600 300x200 Protecting your voice and preventing vocal cord damageAs a singer, your instrument is your entire body, not just your lungs, or lips, or vocal cords, or tongue. The way you treat your whole body — from the food you eat to the quality of your sleep — will affect your singing, and either help or hinder your ability to connect with your audience using that most vulnerable and human instrument.

So how can you keep your voice healthy for the long-haul?

Check out the following articles, many of them from our friends at Disc Makers (who’ve written a free guide all about good vocal technique, care, and maintenance):

1. How to prevent vocal cord damage

2. Vocal health basics

3. Eight ways to improve your vocal health Read more »

House concerts made easy: ten songs, for ten people, for ten bucks each

By Guest Blogger
July 8, 2014{ No Comments }

TenTen Concerts 300x192 1 House concerts made easy: ten songs, for ten people, for ten bucks each[This is an excerpt from Fran Snyder’s forthcoming book, House Concerts and Modern Touring for Small Acts. Snyder is the founder of ConcertsInYourHome.com, which is the most active house concert community on the planet. Stats and opinions in this piece come from 8 years of watching and helping thousands of house concerts take place.] 

You’ve undoubtedly heard of house concerts, and how they’ve become consistent “life-savers” for small touring acts. It’s tough to beat a show that gives you a place to stay and eat for free, a captive audience, and 100% of the money. Consequently, many touring acts are trying to inspire their fans to host shows for them, and that’s great. Except they’re doing it all wrong.

Yes, it is very gratifying to play a house concert for 30-40 people and make $500-1000. However, if these are the expectations you set for fans you’ll have three main problems:

1. You’ll get very few takers. Most will think their space or list of friends is too small.

2. Those who try will want to host weekend shows, especially Saturdays, instead of the key off-nights that threaten the profitability of your tours.

3. Many newbie hosts fail to draw enough people to make a weekend show worthwhile. You’ll fall short on nights where you need to make the most money (Saturdays), and leave yourself and well-intentioned fans disappointed.

For most people, it is very difficult to get 30 people to show up at your house and pay to hear an act they don’t know. Read more »

How to suck at social media: bad advice for bands

By Chris Robley
July 3, 2014{ 7 Comments }

Conan the Conquerer 1 247x300 How to suck at social media: bad advice for bandsWhen it comes to building your music career, Social Media is a zero-sum game. Your fans should only like one band: your band. There’s simply not enough social media to go around. As an artist, you must either conquer social media outright or leave nothing behind but scorched earth. Here’s how.

Some important things to remember if you want to win at social media

1. It’s all about you — Duh. They’re your “followers,” after all. Treat them as such. Your fans’ only social media medicine should be a daily injection of 100% maximum YOU. And make it clear you’d prefer your monologue to run without interruption.

2. Be a brand, not a band — Don’t let your fans forget the reasons why they followed you in the first place: your corporate sponsorships, your clean website fonts, your newest line of t-shirts. Don’t draw attention to your art or your humanity,… that’s just weakness. Embody the brand and the brand will embody you, making you all-powerful. For extra impact, be sure to use terms like “direct-to-fan” and “value-added” whenever you post on social media.

3. Don’t ever talk about politics, religion, or your personal life — Sure, these things might be important to you. They might even be central to your identity and to your music. But you risk offending people when you get real. So don’t get real. Don’t you dare. Stay polite at all costs, or even better: stay fake. Let’s pretend, though, that you DO get into a disagreement. Well the only correct course of action at that point is to crush them. Make an example of them. Show no mercy. Read more »

Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 4

By Guest Blogger
July 2, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 119079004 300x200 Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 4Lessons learned in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign

[This article was written by jazz pianist and CD Baby artist George KahnRead part 1 of the series HERE, and part 2 HERE, and part 3 HERE.]

The Jazz & Blues Revue is now 27 days into our 40-day Kickstarter campaign. Yesterday we crossed the $11,000 mark on our way to the $18,000 goal.  We are 62% funded, and with only 13 days to go the pressure is on.

My back is aching from too many hours on the Internet, sending emails, posting blogs, sharing in groups. But I feel a sense of calm. The events of the last week have made me more certain that we will reach our goal in the next 2 weeks.

Part of actualizing the result is having a complete vision of the final product.  This week I interviewed (and booked) a Grammy-award winning studio in Los Angeles for the recording session, started confirming the musicians and the album art. As they say, “What you think about you talk about, and what you talk about you bring about.” The more complete the picture, the easier it is to bring it to reality.

Four weeks in, and more lessons: Read more »