“Musician Advice” Articles

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

July 28, 2014{ No Comments }

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

July 24, 2014{ No 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 »

How to earn more music publishing royalties

July 24, 2014{ 3 Comments }

publishing2 How to earn more music publishing royaltiesIf you write original songs then you stand to earn music publishing revenue, most of it in the form of mechanical royaltiesperformance royalties, and sync licensing fees.

That’s right, someone owes you money every time your music is played on the radio, streamed online, performed in a venue, downloaded internationally, or used on television. With CD Baby Pro, we’ll make sure you get paid everything you’re owed — worldwide.

Lots of artists ask us, though, once they’ve signed up for CD Baby Pro, “What now? How can I earn more music publishing royalties?”

 Here is a list of things you should do to increase the publishing royalties you earn

1. Pursue sync opportunities for the usage of your music in film, TV, games, commercials, and more. Read more »

Finding the right publicist for your band

July 23, 2014{ No Comments }

shutterstock 187157954 Finding the right publicist for your bandLike many aspects of the music industry, effective publicity is about teamwork and good communication. There are many great music publicists out there (and many more not-so-great ones) who’ll work independent releases, but that doesn’t mean just any publicist will do. You’ve got to find the one that feels like the right fit for your goals, budget, genre, and more.

Here’s a list of things to consider when you’re trying to find the right publicist for your next album or tour

1. Budget — Can you pay them the fee they’re asking? Even if you only hire a publicist for 3 months or so, it’s probably going to cost you thousands, so think about your band finances first. Then find the publicist who fits your budget.

2. Track record — Have they had good results doing PR for other acts? What magazines and blogs have they gotten other bands positively featured in? You want to make sure you’re hiring someone who has already established solid relationships with writers, editors, and media producers in the music press. Read more »

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

July 22, 2014{ 4 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?

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?

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

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

July 18, 2014{ 22 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

July 16, 2014{ 13 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 »