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Musicians, you might be a jerk if…

By Chris Robley
August 6, 2014{ 12 Comments }

shutterstock 129012440 215x300 Musicians, you might be a jerk if...

1. The only local shows you go to are your own.

2. You cover over other bands’ concert posters with your own.

3. The next band on the bill has to wait forever for you to get off stage.

4. You constantly spam your social media followers and expect them to buy your music, like your Facebook page, etc.

5. You berate a fellow bandmate on stage.

6. Every conversation is about you and your music.

7. You leave before the other bands have finished playing.

8. People keep quitting your band.

9. You won’t turn down your amp, even when the soundman asks you too.

10. Your eyes are always searching the room for someone more important. Read more »

How to promote your (first) gig

By Chris Robley
August 5, 2014{ 2 Comments }

Screen shot 2014 08 05 at 6.09.01 AM 1 300x300 How to promote your (first) gigYou’ve booked a gig. Congrats. Now it’s time to make sure your audience will consist of more than just the bartender.

Here’s a checklist of simple things you can do to get the most people possible out to your show:

1. Ask the venue what they’ll be doing to promote — You don’t want to double your efforts. Sometimes venues will take out adds in the local weeklies, advertise on the radio, and even make posters for you. If so, great! If not, at least you know where you stand.

2. Get a media list from the venue — If you’re just getting started performing live, you probably don’t have an extensive list of contacts in the local press. The venue booker will often have a list ready to send to bands who are touring from out of town, but they can just as easily send that list to you too. It normally contains email and/or phone numbers for local music journalists, editors, bloggers, podcasters, radio show hosts, and more.

3. Contact the press — You want to make sure that your gig is listed in all the local concert calendars, but you also want to see if you can get other kinds of coverage: show previews in the newspaper, interviews on blogs, a spotlight on a locally focused radio show, etc. If you contact Read more »

How to sound your best for online gigs

By Guest Blogger
August 1, 2014{ No Comments }

Studio Mic 650x407 How to sound your best for online gigs[This article was written by guest contributor James Wasem from]

Today I’d like to address one of the most important technical components of doing a successful online event: Sound. You might be surprised at why sound is even more important than video for your virtual concerts, so read on.

As a DIY performing artist and musician, you understand that quality sound is extremely important. You spend a lot of time writing and recording your material, and when you perform it, you want your music, performance, and sound to represent the very best of what you do. It’s the same when doing online performances.

Let me say something early on here: amazing sound does not have to be complicated sound. In the music tech world, there are some of us that just love to play with all the gear and find new ways to use it with our recording or performance setups. The fact remains that the most simple setups are often the best.

So how do you get your sound to be “simply amazing”? Read more »

10 ways to support artists when you’re broke

By Guest Blogger
July 31, 2014{ 11 Comments }

support local music 10 ways to support artists when youre broke[This article was written by guest contributor Praverb, and it originally appeared on]

Are you struggling to support artists that you love? Do you find yourself using the same response every time someone tries to sell you their music?

The truth is we all have moments when we can’t support artists financially. Maybe something unexpected happened. Maybe you are waiting for your next paycheck. Maybe you bought a new toy for your child. Maybe you wanted to show your romantic side by buying roses for your significant other. In this article, I will share with you 10 ways to support artists when you are broke.

1. Leave a comment

Leaving a comment is one of the easiest ways to show support. Take the time out of your busy schedule and leave a comment for your favorite artists. You can leave comments on blogs, iTunes, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. Read more »

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10,000 hours to master anything? Nonsense.

By Guest Blogger
July 31, 2014{ 4 Comments }

shutterstock 145132324 10,000 hours to master anything? Nonsense.

[This article is written by guest contributor Joe Marson.]

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Somehow this notion made its way into the mainstream consciousness and is considered by most to be fact. It’s a statement that attaches an objective number value to a completely subjective outcome.

What is a master and who determines that status?

I have my personal heroes and people I think are masters, but, to loosely quote The Big Lebowski, “That’s just like my opinion, man.”

There is no objective Master Zone that you can work toward by punching a time clock. No one makes it to the top of Mastery Mountain and resides there in ecstasy. In fact, most “masters” I’ve heard talk about their craft clearly state that they still feel like beginners. I don’t think that’s false modesty speaking. I believe it’s indicative of just how high they have set their sights – and how relative mastery is.

Quality of practice, not quantity

In my younger years, when I thought I wanted to be the next Jimi Hendrix on the guitar, I used to practice five hours at a time. Because that’s what I was told to do – to “shed.” So I would put on the timer and do my exercises mindlessly with an “I just need to hit that five-hour mark” mentality. Years later, I discovered meditation and the power of a focused mind. I realized I would get a lot further if I practiced less and concentrated more. After all, there are not many on Earth who could really concentrate at 100% for five hours. Read more »

5 things every musician should know about copyright

By Guest Blogger
July 30, 2014{ 50 Comments }

copyright image 5 things every musician should know about copyrightCopyright law tends to get thrown under the bus in favor of more interesting topics like marketing and social media, but it’s actually one of the most important things to understand as an indie musician.

Think about it: without copyright law, music would be a hobby. Anyone could record, distribute, perform, or sync your music with video without even asking you, let alone providing payment. In other words, copyright law is the very foundation of your music career, so it makes sense to understand it.

You can leave the finer points of the law to lawyers, but you should have a solid understanding of the basics. Not only will this knowledge help you feel more at ease when discussing contracts, you’ll also be able secure income streams and protect your rights.

Here’s 5 points of copyright that every musician should know:

1. Your Exclusive Rights

As a copyright owner, you get six exclusive rights. Read more »

How to book your first gig

By Chris Robley
July 29, 2014{ 11 Comments }

bw band How to book your first gigMaybe you’ve formed a new band that hasn’t played out yet, but you’re ready to take the stage. Maybe you’re a songwriter looking to transition from open mics to longer shows. Maybe you’re an old pro who’s coming back from a long break and you’re not sure how booking gigs works these days.

Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, but most musicians I know used some variation of this basic approach in order to book their first gigs:

1. Wait until you’re ready

No sense in looking for a gig if your first show is going to be a train wreck. Patience, grasshopper. You only get one chance to have a debut performance.

2. Make a “demo” recording or video

“Demo” is kind of an outdated term these days, especially when so many people are recording at home and have the opportunity to tinker until they’ve built a finished song from what started as a demo session. But think of it this way: you need a way to demonstrate your talent and your style to the booking agent. A recording of your best song or a YouTube video of you performing (presumably in your basement or garage, since you haven’t played live yet) is the best way to show a booker what you can offer. Read more »

A breakdown of song structures by genre

By Chris Robley
July 29, 2014{ No Comments }

Blues 1 650x180 A breakdown of song structures by genre

Of course, of course, of course — the best songs often defy the limits of their genre.

But it’s still fun sometimes to look at compositions as if they’re little collections of songwriting clichés.

John Atkinson did just that with his “Anatomy of Songs” drawing (show below).  Read more »

Touring abroad: tips for independent musicians on international booking, promotion, customs, merch sales, and travel

By Guest Blogger
July 28, 2014{ 1 Comment }

shutterstock 116021449 223x300 Touring abroad: tips for independent musicians on international booking, promotion, customs, merch sales, and travel[This article was written by guest contributor Eric John Kaiser.]

I’m a professional French singer-songwriter, originally from Paris, France, now based in Portland, Oregon. I tour in the US, Canada, and France. I’ve also been fortunate to play in Ireland, and a little bit in Australia. I’ve always played solo gigs in those countries and know the French market best. So I’ll mainly focus on that in this article. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from touring abroad that Chris from CD Baby asked me to share with you. I hope it helps. Smile, be safe, meet great people, enjoy every moment, and have fun!

First step: Booking shows

- Let’s say you are thinking of touring in France. Start by deciding when you want to go and where you will be landing (Paris, Lyon, Marseille…). Be sure to have enough time to book those shows (give yourself a few months at least). Don’t contact venues 3 weeks before you will be visiting; it will probably be too late.

- Make a tour plan. Organize in advance where you want to play, on what dates, and evaluate the distances between each gig. The most difficult part, when you’re starting from scratch, is doing the booking research yourself. Explore the web using tools like Google, Facebook, Reverbnation’s gig finder, Lonely Planet, the American newspaper in Paris (Time out) that lists shows that could be a good place to start, etc. Using keywords are very important. If you google for example “Live Blues music in Paris” you might find a list of venues. Also try to find online forums that talk about the same genre of music you play. For example, there are probably some Blues festivals in the Paris area or non-profits with blues lovers that organize shows there. Read more »

4 ways to make your next gig easy on the sound engineer

By Guest Blogger
July 24, 2014{ 3 Comments }

Unknown 1 650x433 4 ways to make your next gig easy on the sound engineerSimple steps to help you get the sound person on your side

In every concert there are two types of people running around.

Before you sigh, this isn’t turning into a “there’s two types of people in the world” joke.

No, this is about the two personalities that work at every concert.

The musician. And the sound engineer.

As a musician, for a good show to sound great, you need the sound engineer to be on your side. He’s the one that’s looking out for you when you can’t hear what the audience is hearing. He’s the one that’s walking around the venue making sure you sound good.

Sadly, bands often don’t realize the importance of this relationship. As a musician and a sound engineer, I’ve often found myself on both sides of the stage. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about your sound person the next time you’re out gigging. Read more »