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What’s your pre-show ritual?

By Chris Robley
April 11, 2014{ 8 Comments }

shutterstock 186174944 240x300 Whats your pre show ritual?

The day of the show has arrived. You gather your gear together, pack up the van, and drive to soundcheck. You find parking, unload, line-check, dial it all in. Then what? Between soundcheck and your set time it’s easy to feel suspended in your own weird world of nerves.

Many seasoned musicians have developed ways to deal with the pre-show jitters: a band chant, a long prayer, a shot of tequila, running through a couple songs backstage without amplification, going outside for a breath of fresh air, reading a favorite book, etc.

How do you fill those minutes or hours of anticipation before your concert? What’s your pre-show ritual? We’d love to hear what your habits are for getting amped up or grounded (whichever you need most) before you play live.

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5 splash-making celebrity tweets and the lessons they offer to musicians

By Guest Blogger
April 11, 2014{ No Comments }

SplashMakingTweets Obama 5 splash making celebrity tweets and the lessons they offer to musicians 1. 790,000 re-tweets for a hug 

After being re-elected, Barack Obama’s official Twitter account posted a picture of him romantically holding the first lady in his arms.

790,000 users fell in love with the presidential tweet – and made it the most re-tweeted of all times.

Lesson learned: there’s nothing like a sneak-peek into someone’s little personal moments; share those with your followers; let them experience the person behind your great music. Just ask Obama’s campaign team, who waited 3 months to post this pic, which was actually taken back in August 2012. Someone was just waiting for the right tweet. Read more »

Do you consider Green Day a punk band?

By Brad
April 9, 2014{ 2 Comments }

Green+Day++1994 Do you consider Green Day a punk band?Green Day’s breakthrough album and major-label debut, Dookie, just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and in a few articles I’ve seen about the milestone, writers are still referring to the group as a “punk band.” In some of those same features, Green Day talk about how the Berkeley punk-rock scene that birthed them turned their backs on the band the minute they signed to Reprise, considering it an egregious affront to the DIY ethics many see as the purest foundation of punk.

Of course, you could view Green Day’s signing to a major label and releasing an album with that name, with a monkey on the cover preparing to fling a handful of poo, with an ode to masturbation as the lead single, as an infiltrating-the-system-and-taking-it-down-from-the-inside sort of situation, which some might consider punk in the snottiest, savviest sort of way. But “Time of Your Life“? I can’t think of any other song by a “punk” band that was so tailor-made to soundtrack cornball high-school graduation videos.

So is it a case of “once a punk band, always a punk band,” or do artists like Green Day lose their cred once they cross over to major labels, wider audiences, and bigger shows? Or was Green Day ever even a punk band to begin with? Read more »

The 5-minute musician website makeover

By Chris Robley
April 9, 2014{ No Comments }

Website update The 5 minute musician website makeoverGot time for a little light spring cleaning on your website?

Most people that encounter your music will find you online. That means it’s crucial to keep your band website up-to-date. If your site looks like a ghost town, your fans might stop visiting, stop sharing your content, and stop recommending your music to their friends.

Let’s not let that happen. Now that we’re well into spring, take five minutes or so to clean out the cobwebs and spruce things up a bit.

1. Remove outgoing links to websites you don’t use

Still linking your fans to an old MySpace page you haven’t updated in 7 years? Yeah, you might want to delete those links. Best to keep your fans on your own website where you can control the experience, rather than sending them to a social media dead end.

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How one band collected $1800 they didn’t even know they’d earned

By Chris Robley
April 8, 2014{ 1 Comment }

OrionImage How one band collected $1800 they didnt even know theyd earned“With CD Baby Pro, we’ve already made $1,800 we wouldn’t have made otherwise.” – Orion Simprini of The Orion Experience

The Orion Experience has never toured internationally, yet since signing up with CD Baby Pro, the NYC-based indie-pop band has been paid $1800 in foreign mechanical royalties — royalties that, had they not been claimed, would have eventually been paid out to major-label artists.

Success can come from unusual places.

With so many ways to make money from original music, each successful band is bound to connect the dots differently. In the case of The Orion Experience, a few unpaid song placements on MTV and Nickelodeon started generating a lot of publishing royalties in foreign territories, but they had no way of knowing this money was out there.

With the help of CD Baby Pro, though, The Orion Experience set themselves up to collect all the money their music was generating from international download sales, global streaming, and more. Singer Orion Simprini now finds himself in a far more promising position than when he was signed to a major label more than a decade ago.

I was in a signed band in the 90’s that never made a dime,” he says. “But now we’re able to fund our projects with the money we’re making.”

Now that their hard work is paying off, The Orion Experience is thinking differently about their musical goals. They’re taking their concerts, Read more »

Marketing Your Music 101: how to create and tell your band’s “story”

By Chris Robley
April 8, 2014{ No Comments }

marketing your music Marketing Your Music 101: how to create and tell your bands story

In a previous article I talked about the importance of STORY when it comes to marketing your music. “Story” is a vague catchall word, I know. But what I mean is this: an extra-musical impression that develops in a potential fan’s mind, something visual or biographical or thematic which captures their imagination and makes them want to listen to your music right away!

In a crowded marketplace where literally millions of other people are creating music, competing for gigs, and asking for fan support, a good story — and how well it’s told — can mean the difference between obscurity and stardom. A good story is also essential when approaching the media; it makes it easy for the press to write about you and your music. If you present something that already reads like an article, or at least has a good hook that will excite their readers, you’ve basically done their job for them.

But what IS your story?

In order to effectively communicate your story, you have to know what it is first. Is it your bio? Your musical achievements? Your struggles and triumphs? A description of your sound and style?

It can be all of these things and more. But most importantly…

1. Your story should be focused

Your story won’t reveal all of the Read more »

Why you need a live performance checklist for your next gig

By Guest Blogger
April 8, 2014{ No Comments }

Screen shot 2014 04 08 at 7.15.26 AM 1 260x300 Why you need a live performance checklist for your next gigHave you ever played a sold-out gig in which you didn’t sell as much merch as you would have expected?

Have you ever performed in front of a seemingly enthusiastic crowd, only to have very few of them sign up for your newsletter after the show?

We’ve all been there, and there are a variety of reasons why results can vary and even disappoint at times. However, a breakdown in communication is often at the root of the issue.

Where Is Your Communication Breaking Down?

Here are several common places where communication tends to break down:

You aren’t communicating effectively. From lack of enthusiasm to mumbling, it’s entirely possible that your message just isn’t getting across to your fans. If you suspect that this might be the case, Read more »

How to get your music on Pandora Internet Radio

By Chris Robley
April 4, 2014{ 51 Comments }

TEMP Image 6 1 How to get your music on Pandora Internet RadioSubmitting music to Pandora is easier than ever

Over the past decade, Pandora Internet Radio has become one of the go-to destinations for music discovery. The popular radio service allows over 76 million active users to create customized stations based on their favorite genres and artists. Pandora’s recommendation engine (built on extensive human input) then streams a playlist that is altered by user engagement in real-time. In other words, Pandora is pretty smart at picking the playlist to start with, but the listener can give feedback (a simple thumbs up or down) and then Pandora gets even smarter!

For independent artists, getting music on Pandora can be a great way to build an audience without spending thousands on radio promotion or advertising. If you sound like Coldplay, whenever someone creates a Pandora station based on the music of Coldplay—bam!—your music could get served up, hopefully earning you a new fan or download sale (since Pandora also displays buy links).

But how do you get your music onto Pandora as an independent artist? It’s pretty easy, actually, especially since they began accepting submissions for digital-only albums a few months ago. Yep, pretty easy — except for one small detail, which we’ll discuss below. But first, here’s the simple steps for submitting music to Pandora.

How to submit your music to Pandora

1. Make sure you control the legal rights to your work.

2. Make your music available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, or Bandcamp. (Hey, if you’re a CD Baby artist, you’ve already got this covered!)

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Stop using the phrase “rock star” to describe people who aren’t rock stars

By Brad
April 3, 2014{ No Comments }

rock star 198x300 Stop using the phrase rock star to describe people who arent rock starsI went to a job-related training class a few weeks back, and upon successful completion of the course, one of our instructors informed us that we were all “rock stars.” What had I done to achieve rock-star status? I sat in a room with 10 other people in business-casual attire for three days, hunched over a laptop. We did have lunch delivered every day, though, which I imagine was exactly like eating off the Jack Daniels-soaked deli tray on the dirty floor of Nikki Sixx’s dressing room after he threw it at a roadie during Crüe tour in ’86.

Rock stars are mythical, dangerous, and everything most of us aren’t, shouldn’t be, and couldn’t be. Rock stardom is a dream; a one-in-a-million shot that comes true for very few musicians. It’s something to aspire to, emulate, and marvel at. And when you slap that label on “Keith from accounting” because he got his budget numbers done early for the second week in a row, you’re tarnishing the legacy of every dirtbag who’s ever unbolted a TV from a cheap-hotel dresser and winged it into a swimming pool five floors down.

Also: the term is “rock star,” not “rockstar.” Rockstar is an energy drink, a video-game company, and a really terrible song by Nickelback which no one would ever want to be compared to, associated with, or forced to listen to.

The worst offenders? Job postings on Craigslist. Do a search for “rockstar” on your local CL to enjoy a sampling. Here are a few absolutely real ones from our neck of the woods:

“If you have an outstanding ability to multi-task and can communicate like a rockstar, we want to hear from you! :)”

But what if I communicate like the rock star Shane MacGowan?

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A letter to a young songwriter, from Mary Gauthier

By Guest Blogger
April 2, 2014{ 12 Comments }

MaryGImage A letter to a young songwriter, from Mary Gauthier

[This post is part of a series of letters from established artists to young musicians. We're honored to have the incredible singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier contribute the very first entry.]

“Nearly everything that matters is a challenge, and everything matters.” — Rilke

You’ve watched your musical heroes take the stage to thunderous applause, adulation and love, and you burn for that, for yourself, and you want to be a professional writer of songs. The songwriting call has whispered in your ears for years now, and you’ve decided to answer it. You are ready to embrace it, to begin your journey as a songwriter. I congratulate you, and would offer you a few considerations (if you are open to hearing from someone who has trudged this path for decades now).

Warning: a songwriter’s life is not what you think it is.  

Music is more than a bouquet of sweet vibrations; it is something from a higher world, which we humans have been given the power to invoke. Artists are alchemists, with our hands in the holy. The Sacred. Yes, there is great power in creating music, but also great danger. The journey of the artist is filled with pitfalls. Where there is great beauty and the power to move millions on this path, there is always great risk.

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