“Musician Advice” Articles

What’s your favorite scary song?

October 31, 2014{ No Comments }

Let us know your Halloween jam

Thriller? Night on Bald Mountain? One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater?

Whatever song gives you the most goosebumps, that’s the one I want to listen to today. So lemme know the name of your favorite creepy song in the comments below (and leave a link to YouTube if possible). Read more »

How to plan your own tour: using the Internet and your fans

October 28, 2014{ 2 Comments }

dcvan1 298x300 How to plan your own tour: using the Internet and your fans[This article was written by Angela Webber of The Doubleclicks. It originally appeared on their blog. The image to the left is a piece of Doubleclicks fan art created by Jade Gordon.]

We just got home from GeekGirlCon, a wonderful convention in Seattle full of the most adorable child cosplay in the world. During that convention we sat on a panel called “Women in Nerd Music” with Molly Lewis, Sammus, Shubzilla and Minn from Thundering Asteroids. It was a really fun and productive hour, with some insights about band names, sexism and the new portmanteau “thermomenerd” (meaning the song used by a band to measure the nerdiness of an audience).

The last question in the panel, right under the wire, was “how do you book a tour?” — and we didn’t really get to answer it. But guys, I just have SO MUCH TO SAY!

Collected below is basically every possible thing I thought of when I thought about tour planning. It may or may not help others, depending on what you want to know. Any advice is most likely to apply to bands with an existing online audience.

The post below is not very well organized, and it is not comprehensive, but I think it is a pretty clear reflection of our method for planning tours, with all its benefits and flaws. Read more »

Don’t go broke buying merch: a band t-shirt strategy you need to know

October 27, 2014{ 6 Comments }

Screen shot 2014 10 27 at 6.46.03 AM1 Dont go broke buying merch: a band t shirt strategy you need to knowHow to get the most bang for your buck when you print band t-shirts

You might not admit it to anyone, but I’ll bet seeing a fan wearing your band’s t-shirt is one of the secret little highlights of your musical life.

A striking band logo, a sweet design, quality fabric. Of course you want to print up quality t-shirts to sell to fans at your gigs and on your website. And you want to see your fans wearing those shirts out there in the world, helping to spread the word about your music.

When it comes to ordering t-shirts, most musicians hope to get two-sided silk screen printing with lots of colors on dark color tees,… and in small quantities. But here’s the problem: all of those elements are expensive! Set up costs for the order (and screens for each color) are pricey if only amortized over a small quantity of t-shirts. So we asked our friends at Merch.ly if they had any advice for musicians that want to order great looking t-shirts but don’t have tons of cash to drop.

Here’s what they said:

Two-sided printing has double the screen costs of one-sided printing. Dark colored shirts are more expensive to print on than light or white shirts, as an extra base coat needs to be applied on dark fabric to ensure the inks sit and display properly (a cost not required for white and very light color fabric). 

So, what can a musician do to help keep their costs in line and still have a great product that fans want to buy?

According to Merch.ly, you should: Read more »

How to sign up for Pandora AMP (Artist Marketing Platform)

October 24, 2014{ 3 Comments }

Pandora launches free analytics tools for artists

Pandora, one of the most powerful platforms for music discovery, has just launched the Artist Marketing Platform (also called Pandora AMP), providing free listener data to the 125,000+ artists whose music is played on the Internet radio service.

If your music isn’t on Pandora yet, click HERE to find out how to submit your songs for consideration. If your music IS on Pandora, enroll in AMP and get a detailed glimpse into how your music is performing, who it’s reaching, and more.

Some of the data you’ll be able to view (updated daily) includes:

* Song performance (total spins, thumbs up, etc.)

* Number of fans who’ve created a station for your music Read more »

Music Conferences: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly the Ugly

October 23, 2014{ 11 Comments }

shutterstock 170072672 300x200 Music Conferences: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly the UglyWhy one indie artist thinks many small music conferences aren’t worth the price of registration

[This article was written by performing songwriter Joe Marson. It originally appeared on his blog.]

Writer’s note: This piece is mostly disparaging of the small time music conferences that I feel only exist to feed off ambitious, starving artists and dreamers; however, there are nuggets of positive things woven in.   

What is a music conference? It can be described as a one-to few-day event, usually held at a hotel or event space where people in the music industry and artists gather to listen to guest speakers during the day and to performances by showcased artists at night. Unless you are selected as a performing artist, you must pay daily to attend.

Sounds like a great networking opportunity where you might meet some folks who, if they like your stuff, could help take your music career to the next level, right? Unfortunately I have found that these conferences seem to be little more than chance for the oftentimes amateur “music industry” speakers to pedal their services* – as well as to bring some much needed business to a town or hotel during their slow season.

I have been to a good number of these conferences, usually in the form of a showcased performer. Read more »

The Art of Networking: 5 steps to making better music industry connections

October 22, 2014{ 3 Comments }

shutterstock 196599026 300x300 The Art of Networking: 5 steps to making better music industry connections [This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]

We’ve all heard this piece of advice time and time again – in the music industry, it’s all about who you know. However, meeting influential connections can seem a rather daunting task. Connections with major record labels or publishing companies can seem completely unreachable and it can be difficult to identify the independent players in the industry. We’re here to tell you that any connection is completely within your reach as an indie artist, and with those connections come opportunities. Here are five tips for networking in the music industry.

1. Networking on Social Media

The most accessible way to network in the music industry is with social media. Sometimes it can be much easier to reach out to people online. The first step is identifying some industry people you’d like to connect with. Don’t just pick names out of a hat – choose people who work in a field you’re interested in. As an example, if you were a jazz songwriter you’d want to connect with publishers, music supervisors, and jazz bloggers. Also, try to stick with people who work with artists at a similar career level to you or just above. Read more »

NYC busker arrested for playing music (lawfully) in a subway station

October 21, 2014{ 3 Comments }

Over the weekend, Andrew Kalleen was arrested for singing and strumming his guitar in a subway station despite the fact that the New York transit authority allows artistic performances (and the collection of tips) in such locations.

And the whole incident was caught on camera, including the moment when Kalleen cited to the police officer the section of the MTA rule that gave him grounds to stand there and keep singing.

Section 1050.6c of the MTA’s “Rules of Conduct” says:

Except as expressly permitted in this subdivision, no person shall engage in any nontransit uses upon any facility or conveyance. Nontransit uses are noncommercial activities that are not directly related to the use of a facility or conveyance for transportation. The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations.

So why the arrest? Read more »

How to make your music career profitable: 10 business rules for DIY artists

October 20, 2014{ 10 Comments }

shutterstock 200574287 How to make your music career profitable: 10 business rules for DIY artistsBe SMART and treat your ART like a small business

[This article was written by guest contributor Sean Kinney, an award-winning entertainer and filmmaker. His company 1 Stooge Entertainment offers creative consulting to companies and individuals looking to take their brand to the next level.]

Most people hear terms like “the Film business” or “the Music business,” and they only focus on the first part. To be successful in business, any business, you need to be business savvy. If you want to be a working artist, you need to be as smart as any business person in a meeting, or at least smart enough to hire the smartest person in the room.

If you started any other type of business without an accountant or an attorney to guide you, you would be looked at as crazy; however, in the world of art, you are looked at as crazy if you start with them. This is a big disconnect, and you should approach your artistic career from a more logical point of view. Many great artists have lost it all on bad business decisions. The most successful artists have their most successful ventures after they have worked out the business of their art, and put everything in place before their next opportunity. Unfortunately, most starting or “indie” artists try to make a push with only their art, and the business part can be a crushing blow, causing them to feel burned out. Read more »

A Guide to Getting Gigs (Part 2 of 3): How to Look for Gigs

October 15, 2014{ No Comments }

How to Look for Gigs 650x311 A Guide to Getting Gigs (Part 2 of 3): How to Look for Gigs

[This article was written by guest contributor 

This is the second of a three-part article (in case you haven’t yet, check out the first part What to Do Before Looking for Gigs).

As discussed in the first part, before you start looking for gigs you should:

* have your music available in a digital format

* have an active online presence (with a website, email list and social media)

* build a fanbase and connect with other people in music

* think about what you want to achieve with your shows and your “touring preferences

Once you have done all this, it is time to start looking for gigs. Now you have to decide whether you want to carry out the actual gig search yourself or you want to outsource it to a booking agent.

This article focuses on the first option: getting gigs as a Do-It-Yourself musician.

How to Look for Gigs Offline

Read more »

You’re NEVER too old to make it in music

October 14, 2014{ 56 Comments }

shutterstock 103648034 Youre NEVER too old to make it in musicWhy your age doesn’t have to hold you back in the independent music world

Youth has always been a component of popular music culture: Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, Madonna, Britney Spears, One Direction, Lorde — they all got their start well before the big THREE-O. And some of them were still in their teens!

But if youth is a prerequisite for success in the pop music business, well we’ve gotten used to plenty of exceptions to that rule throughout the years.

Celebrated songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, and Mary Gauthier didn’t really break through until their 30′s or 40′s. Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Sharon Jones, Peaches, Thelonius Monk… the list goes on and on. Plenty of artists didn’t find their true voice, or record their best songs, or start to build a loyal following until the September of their years, to quote Ol’ Blue Eyes.

And these days, with the powers of home recording, web marketing, affordable video production, and global music distribution at your fingertips, you have just as much a chance to make money from your music at age 55 as you would at age 15. Read more »