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Why live music events stopped being fun, and how to remedy that right now

By Chris Robley
July 22, 2014{ 5 Comments }

1682199 DavidBowie 4 212x300 Why live music events stopped being fun, and how to remedy that right nowRyan Bort, in an article for Esquire called “Why Concerts Stopped Being Fun,” talks about how we’ve grown indifferent to live music experiences because:

1) We’re distractible and addicted to our smartphones, and thus not investing in the art being performed in front of us.

Or as Jack White puts it, “People can’t clap anymore because they’ve got a fucking texting thing in their fucking hand, and probably a drink, too!”

2) Everything sounds homogenous. There isn’t a whole lot that distinguishes this band from that band, so we kinda just assume it’s all just… meh, and we reach for the distractions mentioned above.

Bort, talking about the kinds of events that exist between the small bar venues and the megastar arena shows, describes this phenomena thusly: “… in the middle of these two extremes, from Jack White on down to an exceedingly plentiful crop of indie bands popular enough to tour nationally but not really distinct enough for anyone to get overly excited about, cell phone checking and repeated trips to the bar predominate.” Read more »

You’ve recorded your music; now what?

By Guest Blogger
July 22, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 151961636 300x225 Youve recorded your music; now what? [This article was written by guest contributor Anthony Ceseri.]

If you’re an indie musician, you also have to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. The problem a lot of entrepreneurs run into is they want to get really great at what they do (whether it’s music, directing, skiing, or whatever) and let someone else handle the part where you have to tell the world about your greatness.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t really work. This is one of the main reasons why I tell indie songwriters they need to be knowledgeable about five things: 1. songwriting, 2. performing, 3. recording, 4. their instruments, and 5. marketing.

That last one is crucial, but it’s so often neglected. You need to learn marketing to get your songs out there. The book Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins is a great resource to get into the right mindset as an entrepreneur. It’s a quick read that provides valuable marketing information.

A lot of times, songwriters get programmed to think “making it” = getting lucky and having “someone” find your music on YouTube. Then you magically become famous, somehow. But for the 0.00001% of the time that actually happens, it isn’t enough to make it a real strategy. It’s just what we PERCEIVE to be a strategy, because it’s a great story. So when it happens, we hear about it. Read more »

How does YOUR vocal range compare to the greatest singers of all time?

By Chris Robley
July 21, 2014{ 1 Comment }

Screen shot 2014 07 21 at 7.48.03 AM How does YOUR vocal range compare to the greatest singers of all time?

With this fun, interactive chart from Distilled, you can compare the vocal ranges of today’s top artists with the greatest pop, rock, and soul singers of all time.

The chart allows you to sort singers based on the highest and lowest notes they ever hit in the recording studio, as well as by their overall vocal range. (You can hover over the bars to see the songs on which they reached those notes.) Read more »

Three ways to offer music lessons online

By Guest Blogger
July 21, 2014{ No Comments }

Screen shot 2014 07 21 at 6.39.05 AM 1 Three ways to offer music lessons online[This article was written by Claire Cunningham and Chris Ott of Lessonface.com.]

Teaching music lessons can be a great way to both spend more time with your instrument and generate primary or supplemental income. With the migration of music lessons online in recent years, just as digital distribution expanded how consumers access music, digital integration has delivered new, convenient ways for music teachers and students to connect in the online space. Today, just as musicians are more easily able to spread recordings online, they are likewise more easily able to share skills, expertise, and personal experiences with potential students around the world via the internet.

To a big extent, how you approach online music teaching depends on your level of digital savvy, your schedule, and what you want to achieve. By piecing together free resources, or using a platform built specifically to facilitate online music education, you can effectively spread your musical knowledge to students all over the country or the world. Read more »

10 places to take a shower on tour… and we’ve actually tried #7

By Chris Robley
July 18, 2014{ 25 Comments }

mud BJ blue Mike Tre gree 10 places to take a shower on tour... and weve actually tried #75 serious suggestions, and 5 more if you’re really desperate

How many days can you go on tour without showering? Three, seven, fourteen? The answer probably has as much to do with your bandmates’ tolerance for funk as it does with your own hygiene preferences. Yes, you can Febreze your jeans and steal a fresh t-shirt from your merch booth when things get rough, but one thing is certain: every band has its breaking point — and when you’ve hit your limit, you need to find a shower, and quickly.

Sometimes your tour itinerary will provide you with some obvious shower opportunities. Other times you’re in a van racing through the middle of nowhere, counting billboard signs for The Thing or coming up with your set list for the next show, and you have no idea where you’ll find a good bath on such short notice.

Here’s a list of options for both the careful planners and those prone to B.O. emergencies

1. Truck stops — Did you know you can rent a shower and/or toilet room at many truck stops? Check out this page on the Pilot Flying J site for a list of cities where rental showers are available. It’ll cost you about $12, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping your bandmates from tossing you out of a moving vehicle.

2. Day rooms — If you’re renting a hotel for the night, well that’s a no-brainer. Take a shower, fool! But even if it’s not in the budget to get a hotel in each town, you can still rent many hotel rooms at “day room” rates, meaning you’ll have access to a room for a couple hours to shower, nap, get dressed, and get out. Not every hotel offers this service, but it’s worth asking. The hotel can make some cash off the room, clean it after you’ve gone, and rent it to someone else for the night.
Read more »

How to make album art videos for your songs on YouTube

By Chris Robley
July 16, 2014{ 17 Comments }

Screen shot 2014 07 16 at 12.07.27 PM 1 How to make album art videos for your songs on YouTubeIndie musicians are earning more and more money from the usage of their music on YouTube. Every quarter, the amount of YouTube ad revenue that CD Baby pays to artists grows impressively.

The giant video streaming platform has already become the go-to destination for younger music fans, and older listeners are catching up quick. That’s why your YouTube presence may be the most important component of your overall music promotion.

But you can’t make money from YouTube if your music can’t be found on YouTube in the first place.

One remedy for that is to encourage your fans to upload their own videos to YouTube using your music. Through CD Baby’s YouTube Monetization program, YouTube will sonically ID your music, serve up ads on those videos, and pay you any revenue generated.

But another simple way to to get your music onto YouTube is to create album art videos for all your songs.

What is an album art video?

An album art video is simply a YouTube video consisting of the audio of one of your songs and an image of the associated album cover. Read more »

Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 6 (the conclusion)

By Guest Blogger
July 16, 2014{ No Comments }

Screen shot 2014 07 16 at 6.57.25 AM Deep in the Kickstarter trenches, Pt. 6 (the conclusion)Lessons 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, part 2 HERE, part 3 HERE, part 4 HERE, and part 5 HERE.]

The Jazz & Blues Revue’s 40-day Kickstarter campaign ended last week on Friday July 11, at 2:00 PM.  It was a resounding success: we hit our goal of $18,000 on Monday July 7, and by Friday we ended up with 250 backers pledging $19,818. I am still a bit in awe of the accomplishment – we were able to raise almost $20,000 to create an album of jazz and blues music that would never be considered by the major record labels – and I didn’t even have to call in my “rich uncle” at the last minute.

This is Part 6 of a blog I started to document the actual process of going through a successful Kickstarter campaign. There are countless guides you can find that teach you how to create a crowdfunding campaign, but  I think this may be the first one that carries you through the process. In the end we hit and actually exceeded our number by 10%. The dust has finally settled a little. It is time to reflect on what I actually LEARNED from this experience:

1. Set a goal that is a stretch, but is doable. Read more »

4 ways to promote your album independently

By Guest Blogger
July 15, 2014{ 7 Comments }

shutterstock 170976539 4 ways to promote your album independently[This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]

You’ve worked long and hard on your new album, but all that work is for nothing if no one knows about it! That’s where promotion comes in. The key with album promotion is to start early and to be really active. Just changing your Facebook cover photo to the album cover and announcing the release the day of isn’t going to cut it. You need to build up hype over time and keep on going even after the album drops.

The fact of the matter is you don’t need the marketing department of a record label to launch an album campaign of your own. With all the tools available on the internet, you can spread the word for little cost, or even for free. In fact, the creative campaigns executed by agile indie musicians tend to be more effective than the one-size-fits-all strategies employed by big labels. Here’s four cool creative strategies you can use for your next album release.

1. Employ your fans

For the most part, as an indie artist you need to make things happen on your own, and that includes marketing. But, you actually have a whole team of marketers out there just waiting to spread the news – your fans! While you can’t email them a plan and expect them to finish appointed tasks, you can, and should, build a strategy that incentivizes them to share. Read more »

This is what musicians really think about the “image” issue

By Chris Robley
July 14, 2014{ 18 Comments }

RiffRaff2 650x392 This is what musicians really think about the image issueImage: what is it, what’s yours, and why does it matter?

Last month we published an article by Brandon Seymour called Your image is more important than your music – especially if you’re an indie artist.” As you might be able to tell from the headline, it inspired some heated comments, both in agreement and dead-against.

Here’s an excerpt from the article to give you an idea of Brandon’s argument:

The music industry (and I use that term very loosely) isn’t concerned with art or expression. It’s not about identity or originality. And it’s definitely not about talent. It’s about money. I’m not saying that you won’t ever be appreciated as an artist. I’m also not saying that being an artistic genius precludes you from mainstream success. I’m saying that the music industry as a whole doesn’t care who you are unless they can profit from what you have to offer – regardless of how amazing or awful you actually are. It’s not evil, it’s just business. As with any other business, even the greatest products can’t sell themselves; the image or brand perception is what makes people want to buy. Read more »

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 »