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Building an incremental album with singles

By Chris Robley
August 17, 2015{ 2 Comments }
Boyz in the Woods at Tro-Heol

Boyz in the Woods at Tro-Heol

Earlier this month we talked about ten different kinds of singles you can release — and ten different ways to release them.

 Today we’ll talk about the incremental album. It’s a super simple concept, and one that is perfect for the social media age where fans expect frequent access to your creative process at the very least, and participation at best. They want to feel connected to a musical journey, not JUST consume the finished product.

And if that’s the ideal fan experience, waiting a year or more to put out the perfect collection of songs all at once, as a traditional LP, could actually be costing you.

With an incremental album, you have dozens of chances to get your fans involved

Read more »

Louis C.K.’s performance advice for songwriters and singers

By Guest Blogger
August 14, 2015{ No Comments }

Louis C.K.'s advice for songwriters and singers[This post was written by guest contributor Anthony Ceseri.]

Recently I heard Louis C.K. being interviewed on The Howard Stern Show. After Howard asked Louis if he ever changes his act when he’s performing at bigger venues, like Madison Square Garden, Louis revealed some great advice for performing songwriters and singers to latch onto. He said:

I never change my act no matter what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter… In the end it’s what you do. When I watch guys on… America’s Got Talent… When I watch singers on TV… I always wish I was a judge. I would ask them… “Do you know what the song’s about? That [song] you just sang?”

They always have this look like, “I want to be a star!” It’s what they’re saying with the song.

I remember a guy on American Idol. He was singing “Folsom Prison Blues,” and he’s, like, excited…

Do you know what this song is about? He shot a man in Reno just to watch him DIE… Now he’s lamenting his mother and… has no way to turn back. And you’re singing it like you’re excited. Like it’s a birthday party. Read more »

How to get a cover song license, then LOSE IT for good

By Guest Blogger
August 13, 2015{ No Comments }

Re-upping your cover song licenses

The importance of re-upping your mechanical licenses

It started out as a lark, the product of a late-night joke with your bandmates.

“Why don’t we bring the cassingle back?” you asked. “We could put out a cover of that Human League song — you know, the one about the waitress in the cocktail bar.”

Your bandmates agreed with you, so you recorded an alt-country cover of “Don’t You Want Me” in the basement home studio of your brother’s house. You found out what a J-card was (those paper inserts they put inside cassettes), then designed one for the single. You mixed the sessions, then mastered the mixes. You even went to a website that sells cover song licenses, like Loudr Licensing, to purchase and pay for the rights needed to legally sell your cover both as a cassingle and an iTunes single.

You probably thought that you were ready to put the project to bed after shipping the masters to the cassette duplication plant and clicking “Submit” on CD Baby. However, you only purchased a cover song license for 100 cassingles, the number of copies you made, and 200 digital downloads, the number of copies you expected to sell on iTunes. You may not have remembered or thought you needed to keep track of the numbers as fans continued to buy up the cassettes and rack up digital downloads, especially after BuzzFeed featured you in a listicle about great 80s covers. Read more »

Soundcheck your rehearsals for great band sound

By Guest Blogger
August 13, 2015{ No Comments }

How to soundcheck before rehearsal[This article was written by Alex Andrews of Ten Kettles Inc. It originally appeared HERE. Check out the  new music theory app from Ten Kettles — “Waay: Music theory that matters.” Click here to learn about its video lessons, interactive exercises, progress-tracking tools, and more.]

You’ve just arrived at rehearsal and you’re really excited to dig in. You plug in your instrument, jump into the first jam and… you can barely hear your instrument. So, you turn up… but now the drummer says you’re too loud. The vocalist then complains that her microphone keeps electrocuting her face, and under it all, you can’t help noticing that the bass sounds like a swamp. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you should start soundchecking your rehearsals. This article explains how.

First, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume a couple things:

* Your band has a pretty typical “rock band” instrumentation: drums, bass, guitar/keys, vocals.

* All instruments are amplified, except for the drums. (That means that the vocals are going through a soundboard and speakers.)

Even if your situation is slightly different, a lot of the same principles apply, so read on.


Once you step into your jam space, one of the first things you should think about is where the amps are sitting. Make sure two things are happening: Read more »

Behind the Black Curtain: what really happens when you master a track?

By Guest Blogger
August 11, 2015{ No Comments }

Mastering studioThe challenge of home producing is that what you want your audience to hear is rarely what they will hear.

When I started out, my studio was totally barebones, just a small desk shoved in the corner of a skinny, vinyl floored room…

Monitors? I didn’t have monitors; I had headphones.

And yet, I expected my bedroom recording to stand up to the big guys. I wanted the drums to explode!

This was a tall order because where you mix – and what tools you have to mix – really impacts how your track sounds to other people.

And that’s where mastering comes in, making sure your audience hears the track the way you intended – no matter where it was created.

Here’s how.


If you’re happy with your final mix, your ears aren’t broken, it probably is that good. But unfortunately, you can’t invite everyone to your house to hear it how you hear it.

Read more »

How to protect your music against piracy

By Chris Robley
August 11, 2015{ 2 Comments }

Five years ago, I was of the opinion that protecting your music from piracy on a case-by-case basis was a waste of time.

You could get a Google alert on Monday notifying you that some site had just posted your MP3s for free, and if you wrote to that site’s owners asking them to remove the music, by Tuesday there would be two more Google Alerts in your inbox.

Trying to address each instance of piracy could quickly become a game of whack-a-mole, and meanwhile you’ve got gigs to play and music to promote.

Besides, isn’t piracy a form of exposure? Shouldn’t you be happy that people want to download your music for free?

Well, that’s debatable, for sure. Some labels and artists have really been hurt by music piracy, while others have been able to build their careers around free music on torrent sites. Like most things in this industry, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for distribution, pricing, and copyright issues. It comes down to you, your fans, what you’re willing to deliver, and what they’re willing to pay for (and how and when).

If you see it as a plus that your music, even when unauthorized, is widely available for free online, great — no need to combat piracy! Hopefully those fans are compensating you in other ways (coming to see you live, telling friends, following you on Instagram, creating UGC videos with your songs, etc.)

But if you DO want to remove your music from pirate sites, things have changed quite a bit in the last few years, and you’ve got options… Read more »

The Healing Power of Your Voice: 7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Sing

By Guest Blogger
August 10, 2015{ 4 Comments }

7 reasons everyone should sing: the healing power of the human voice[This article was written by Maya Rogers, a singer, composer, educator, and former member of the CD Baby team!]

I believe that everyone who is physically capable of making sound with their vocal cords can and should sing everyday. I know what you’re thinking, but just for a moment, I’d like to ask you to suspend your disbelief.

I’m not implying that everyone should become a professional singer, or even that all voices are conventionally pleasing to the ears. What I am suggesting is that human beings are quite literally made to sing.

Two years ago, I was involved in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. As a result, I was no longer able to sing, play my instruments or read music. Even listening to music caused a great deal of pain. My lifelong relationship with music and my voice seemed to have come to a halt, and this realization was devastating.

My recovery took a turn for the better when I gave myself permission to try to sing again. At first, I could only sing for a few moments before I would burst into tears. But I persisted, and eventually I could sing through the tears. Finally, after months of this, the tears stopped. This turned into singing with others and eventually into teaching music again.

Read more »

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15 tips from music producers who’ve changed the game

By Guest Blogger
August 6, 2015{ 13 Comments }
Music producer tips from Eno, Deadmau5 and Spector

[This article, which originally appeared on the LANDR Blog, was written by Rory Seydel, a musician and Brand and Community Manager at LANDR.]

In an era where one billion new songs are produced every nanosecond, it’s more important than ever to find your own sound.

After all, it’s what makes you stand out.

So here are some quotes from the music producers who’ve changed the game, to inspire you in your own sound journey.

[Editor’s note: all of the following quotes are from male music producers, which points to two problems — 1) music production is still a male-dominated industry, with as few as 5% of producers being female, and 2) we need to do a better job of highlighting the production work of women. Check out THIS ARTICLE for a list of women who’ve produced classic rock, pop, folk, and hip hop records.  And THIS ARTICLE for a list of current female producers/artists in the world of EDM. And THIS article, where 13 women talk about how to change male-dominated studio culture. Now, with that being said…]

Phil Spector

“I felt obligated to change music to art, the same way that Galileo proved the Earth was round to the world and that the Sun did not stand still.”

Read more »

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EQ tips for eliminating background noise from your mixes (a table of note frequencies)

By Guest Blogger
August 6, 2015{ 1 Comment }

Eliminating background noise from mixes[This article was written by Alex Andrews of Ten Kettles Inc. Their new music theory app, “Waay: Music theory that matters” is now available. Click here to learn about its video lessons, interactive exercises, progress-tracking tools, and more.]

What’s the frequency of C, and why should you care?

It’s 261.6 Hz. Why would we ever need to know this? Well, there could be a few different reasons, but one has to do with mixing audio. When equalizing (EQing) an audio track, one common challenge is filtering out background noise—especially if the track was recorded with a microphone. Here’s what the mic might be picking up:

* The rumble of a streetcar or truck going by in the distance

* An accidental knock of the microphone stand

* A door closing somewhere in your building

Your best route to eliminating background noise is to cut it out at the source, but in many cases (barring time travel) that’s just not possible. So we use an equalizer, or EQ, to lend a helping hand.

Take a guitar track for example. What’s the lowest sound you’d expect to come from a guitar? If it’s in standard tuning, the lowest string is tuned to E2, which has a frequency of 82.4 Hz (see the table below). This means that any sound below ~80 Hz is not guitar. So, if we filter out everything below that frequency, we cut out the low noise (like the streetcar rumble) but keep all that great guitar sound. Not bad! The name for this kind of filter is a high-pass filter, because it lets all the high frequencies pass—and keeps out the low ones. Read more »

Promote your music on YouTube

By Guest Blogger
August 5, 2015{ No Comments }
Watch CD Baby's Artist Sessions with Black Milk (with Nat Turner)

Watch CD Baby’s Artist Sessions with Black Milk (with Nat Turner)

How to build a loyal following with your YouTube videos

[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

In the last article, we went step by step through the entire process of making a really great YouTube video from video concept, to filming and editing. It all starts with great content, but now we’re going to talk about what happens after you press that upload button as you try to get more visibility on the platform. If you want to get more tips to promote your music on YouTube and on other social media channels, you can download this guide for free.

1. Understand That It Takes Time

The first thing to remember about YouTube is that it takes time. Just like building a fanbase, it’s going to take time to build up a subscriber base that watches your videos consistently. Yes, there is a small chance that you could hit it out of the park with a viral video, but don’t count on it. Your best bet is to take the time to build up your channel one step at a time.

While we’re on the topic, it’s best to focus your efforts on building up your subscriber base instead of just racking in the views. Just go to your analytics and you’ll see that subscribers have a significantly higher watch time than people who just stumbled upon your video in search. Read more »