Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Internet radio

Each genre has literally hundreds if not thousands of radio stations on the internet that are all free. This also means free advertising if you play your cards right. Most internet sites have a contact form where you can fill in information about your band and submit a song. Check the "About Us" page or "Contact Us" page to find the form.

Some sites you may want to check:

You may also want to get involved in some major sites too that require a demo of some sort:
Get on Last.fm
Pandora Radio

Usually the best way to get on these larger radio stations is to find the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section (usually in the Company Information page or at the bottom of the site) and look for "submitting music". Good luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twitter it up

This will be a pretty short post. Twitter is becoming one of the most powerful social networking sites in the world. Twitter is a good way to keep all your fans informed of what's going on in your lives and what the band is up to. Fans think this is really interesting to them. I haven't figured out why, but they're obsessed. It's also a good way for them to feel confident that you'll have new shows coming up or CD's. http://www.twitter.com/

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Myspace for musicians

Myspace has been falling behind in popularity lately compared to Facebook. However, it is still a huge way to get fans. Sure you can have fans on Facebook, but they can't hear your music. This is where Myspace has the advantage for musicians. There are many sites that allows musicians to upload their music like purevolume.com, but they're all pretty much worthless compared to Myspace. By the way, I would still recommend getting accounts on these sites.

Before doing any marketing make sure you have some songs on your myspace. The better the recording, the better chance you'll get noticed (or at the very least keep people listening to your music more than 5 seconds).

Now you will want to hire someone to make an awesome design for your website. I posted an add for some web design on craigslist and my band ended up with some awesome results.
  • Try to get an idea of what you want first. The more details you provide them, the more accurate of a quote you will get!
  • Do some research on the responses and ask for a portfolio from every response before choosing anyone.
  • Narrow down your choices to who you think fits your style of music best
  • Ask for a quote on how much it will cost and compare prices
  • To avoid getting scammed try to use the 50/50 agreement: You pay half now and you pay the other half when it's done. I recommend this approach even if they want you to pay the full amount after they're done instead. Eventhough this would be in your advantage, it would make them feel safer and therefore more reliable. They'd take you more seriously and get it done faster too.
  • Change your password when they're done!

Of course you can visit freelance websites like getafreelancer.com and find someone that way too. Another option is asking who designed another local band's myspace if they have a good looking one.

Finally, you can go on and market your band via Myspace. Where do you start? Try using the search feature and look for people interested in bands similar to yours (the bigger, the better). If you have cash, there's a program you can buy that will do this for you. You can hire people do this for you too. Try to leave a comment on all your new friends thanking them for adding you.

When you have a show or a CD release coming up, try to comment on all your friend's profiles telling them about it. The more you comment, the more chances you have of a turn out. Also, be sure to blog often. People will get an impression your band is no longer active if you haven't blogged in a month or so.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Transporting the equipment

Transporting your equipment around is more of a daunting task than you could ever imagine. The cheap way to start out by hauling equipment is by using separate cars. If you have an SUV, it will come in handy. Or even one of those box-on-wheels (Scions).

But when it comes to touring or traveling a good distance to each venue forget about this method. You will spend a lot on gas and you will be losing money in the long run. You’ll want to simplify and fit all members in one vehicle and equipment in another. There are 2 methods you need to know.

Method 1: The Touring Van

  • Find a van on craigslist, at an auction, or even at used car dealer. You don’t want to spend too much but you want to get a van with the least amount of miles as possible. You can probably get a good deal for under $2000. Do some research and get one with the best MPG (Miles Per Gallon) you can find too.
  • Get an enclosed trailer to haul your equipment. Sometimes these can go as much or even more than a van. With some luck though, you should be able to find one for about $500 or so.
  • Make sure you get a good measurement of how much room you need. Try grouping all of your equipment in as little space as possible in your practice space (or anywhere really) and measure it. Then add about 2-5 sq. feet on the trailer size you want just in case you forgot how you stacked everything or you buy more equipment in the future.

Method 2: The Touring Bus

  • If you can afford a bus or an RV, go for it. I am not talking about a Volkswagon Bus from the 1970s, but a bus similar to what your local transportation uses (in America it’s Greyhound). Make sure you find one that is comfortable, has low mileage on it and has storage room underneath for your equipment.
  • A shower or a bathroom would probably be a good option too. But don’t use the toilet unless you absolutely need to! Try to stop instead.

Some tips:

  • If you can find a roadie that’s a mechanic, bring them!
  • You will breakdown! Be sure you bring some mechanic books and mechanical tools just in case.
  • Stop frequently. You may get sick of each other. It’s also nice to stretch your legs. It can get very cramped and aggravating traveling all the time.
  • Try to eat healthy. Junk food has an impact on your attitude (not to mention weight).
  • Most importantly, have fun!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Finding the right studio

Finding the right studio is actually a bigger than you think it is. You have a lot to think about like...
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Software used
  • Recording equipment used
  • Will they use analog or digital?
  • Will they mix the tracks?
  • Is mastering included?

There's a lot of things you don't think about that you should too. So where to start off? How about price? What can you afford and how long do you think it will take? A professional band can probably record 2-3 songs in a day. Most bands will take 1 day to record a single song. So if you wan't a 3-song demo plan to stay in the studio for 3 full days, which is about 24 hours.

Each studio has a different pricing plan too. Some will charge by the hour. Cheaper ones charge about $15 an hour which equals to $360 in this example. High quality studios will charge about $50-200 an hour. Typically pricing is based off two factors: How expensive is the equipment and how booked are they? The more expensive the equipment, the more the studio time will cost because most engineers still need to pay back their credit cards. If an engineer is well known, they are most likely booked for at least month in advance and will charge more. Think of it as simple "supply and demand" principles. They already have planned business, so why should they be any cheaper?

Obviously the quality of equipment is something you want to factor in when you choose a studio. The problem with this is that even with the most high tech equipment the sound can still be horrible. How is this possible? Sometimes the sound engineer can suck. I've had better recording sound than some high-tech studios using my entry on how to record on the cheap side. Sad, isn't it?

Some experienced bands have absolutely must use ProTools or they won't record. If you're one of these bands, then be sure to check for that. Honestly, I can't tell a sound difference between which software is used. I can tell the difference on ease-of-use or features each software has.

Be sure to ask the engineer at the studio if they will mix and master the songs or not. Some studios have been known to record only and not mix the tracks. Be sure you get this cleared up before you enter the studio or you will waste quite a lot of money (or not, depending if pricing is specifically based on recording only). Mastering is not a big deal but it's typically better to have the songs mastered at another studio or at least by someone else. Most studios will recommend getting the CD mastered by someone else.

Some final thoughts... Browse around and ask for samples. Most studios have a myspace or a website where you can listen to music they've recorded. If what they have sounds good, most likely you will too. Also, try to find a studio that has experience with your genre of music. It may not sound like a big deal but it really is. Each genre of music highlights different instruments. Remember, just because they're expensive or have the best equipment doesn't mean they have the best sound. Be smart and shop around.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trademarking your name

It's typically a good idea to trademark your name as soon as you choose one. Names get picked up really fast and so do good webpages (like yourname.com or myspace.com/yourname).

So why should you trademark your band name?

Imagine that there are two bands with your name floating around. Let's pretend your band gets popular and you sell some CD's, and the other band plans to sue you for trademark infringement. Here's the problem: they own the trademark to your name. Now you have to pay this band with your same name all the royalties. Doesn't sound fun does it? Imagine if you were on the other side of the ball. That sounds like more fun doesn't it?

How about this scenario? You own the trademark to your band name, but there's already a website and a myspace page with your name with a band declaring their name as yours. Well, now you can fight for both pages!

You may not actually need a lawyer at all in the cases mentioned above. In almost all cases, as soon as you mention you own the trademark, they will work with you to dispute it before the law gets involved. A good example of this happening is the drummer of my current band. His previous band owned a trademark to a band name and there was another band with the same name. As soon as they talked about, my drummer's band ended up getting free gear in exchange for the name.

So where do you go now?


This only applies for bands in America though. If you're from another nation, check with your government's website and check for trademarks and patents.

You may also want to check out http://www.bandname.com/ to see if your band name is taken or not (legally).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Naming your band

When you finally form a band, it's generally a good idea to give it a name. Here's what the name should contain:
  • Represents you - You don't want a band name like "The Lollipop Guild" if you're a death metal band. It may sound funny, but in the long run some people will reject your band all together just because of the name, causing you to loose some fans.
  • Easy to spell - I can't emphasis this one enough. I shouldn't be asking "how do you spell that?" when you pronounce your bands name at a concert. If you're a good band that I want to check out, I'll want to go home and search for it online. If I can't spell it, what use it is? It certainly doesn't help if somone wants to find your album in a store either.
  • Don't make your name too long. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember. Try keeping your name down to one or two words instead of a sentence.
  • And most importantly, it can't be taken!

There are several ways of coming up with a good name, but here's some ideas:

  • A dictionary - Open up to random pages and choose random words. Find one that fits your style of music or the subjects to your lyrics.
  • A thesaurus - If the dictionary doesn't work, think of a word that matches what your band is about. Look it up in the thesaurus and find synonyms, or even antonyms.
  • A book - Books are still used these days. Does your favorite book have a name of someone that represents your band? What about a fake town name? Even the book title works! (Ex: Amon Amarth is an alternative name for Mount Doom based off the Lord of the Rings series)
  • A movie - Same as a book. Just don't call your band "The Matrix", Star Wars or anything ridiculous or I swear I will punch you in the stomach. (Ex: 36 Crazy Fists is named after a Jackie Chan movie)
  • A video game - I haven't heard of this happening yet, but I am sure it exists. Try naming your band after a video game or even a character or location in the game.
  • Song name - Some bands have a group of songs before they name their band. What about using a song name? What about a band that influenced your band, you can use one of their song names? (Ex: Carnal Forge is named after a song by Carcass).
  • Lyrics - Maybe your favorite line in yours or someone else's lyrics are a good band name. (Panic! At the Disco was named after the song Panic by Name Taken)
  • Sometimes a name of a historical figure or town is good. (Ex: Abigail Williams is named after one of the girls involved in the Salem witch trials)
  • Mythological creatures also work, but they're almost all taken. (Ex: Chimaira is named after a greek mythological beast)
  • Dead languages - There's a lot of extinct languages. Think of a word that describes your band and see if there's a translation of it in a language. Latin is a good place to start. (Ex: Dimmu Borgir means Dark Castle in Norse. The language is very well alive though).
  • Astrology - There's a lot of stars and constellations in space. Try naming your band after these.

I hope this article helps you start you creative muscles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Copyrighting your music

It's typically a good idea to copyright your music. Why? Well if someone decides to steal your music and make money off it, you can ask them to either pay all compensation or you will file a lawsuit. Of course, you don't want someone using your music without giving you credit either. So here's two methods:

  1. Assuming you live in the US, you can file copyright either online or by CD for $35 with the US government at http://www.copyright.gov/eco/index.html
  2. The free method is recording a CD and sending it to yourself with postal mail. It doesn't need to sound good. Burn it to a CD and head over to the post office and send it to yourself or one of your bandmates. Do not open it! If you do, consider the copyright void.

View the post on recording a cheap CD to learn how to record.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recording on the cheap side (under $100)

Here's the cheapest way to record anything. This can cost as little as $100 if all you need is a USB interface (assuming you own a microphone, a computer and some headphonse already).

What you need:
  1. Well first off you'll need a computer. Any computer will do just about. Just be sure you have about a 1 GB of space on your hard drive and I would recommend about 1 GB of RAM (minimum 512 MB).
  2. Now you'll need recording software. There an excellent free one called Audacity. Very easy to use and there's plenty of documentation to help you out.
  3. Are you software-ready yet? Now it's time to get the hardware. If you don't have a microphone, you'll need one. If you want technicality, I'd recommend a condensor microphone with a large diaphragm.
  4. To connect the microphone to a computer you'll need a USB interface like M-Audio Fast Track. This may be the only the thing you need to buy. Your microphone will connect to the USB interface, and your interface to the computer. When you're done with this, open up audacity and test the microphone and see if it works.
  5. It's time to record! Now there's 2 ways of doing this. You can do a click track and record each instrument seperately on seperate tracks. Or here's another method (my way)...

Pro-recording with one input:

  1. Recording all the instruments is pretty easy, except the drums! I would recommend recording everyone (except the singer unless it's absolutely necessary) at the same time. If you have a drummer, you will need to concentrate the sound around them. Check out this video and read the description on how to perform this.
  2. Put all the other amps around the microphone so you get an equal sound.
  3. Now it's time to improve the quality. Isolate the drummer from everyone else and give them some head phones (studio headphones are recommended). Connect the headphones to the USB interface. Record a new track without deleting the one the whole band made, and have the drummer overdub (record on top of) it.
  4. Once the drums are completed, isolate the guitarist in the same fashion and have them overdub the same way the drummer did, this time including the drum tracks. I'd recommend lowering the volume of the full band and raising the volume of the drum tracks.
  5. Repeat step 4 for each member of the entire band until you're done.
  6. Go ahead and delete the first track with the full band (and click track if you used it) and you're complete with recording! I'd also recommend using this time to work on equalization and fixing the sound levels.
  7. Be sure to let everyone sit on it over night before completing it. What I mean by this is export the song file as an mp3 and either burn it to a CD or send it via e-mail to each member. Let every member listen to it a few times that night to see if they want to fix, add, change or delete something. The next time everyone gets together, you can make any necessary changes before marking the song as complete.

Some more tips:

  • Audacity will probably record in Mono only. To convert this to stereo, follow this guide at eHow.com.
  • Microphones with a large frequency range are usually the best to record with.
  • This is a long process. If something doesn't sound perfect, keep doing it until it is.
  • Noise cancellation studio headphones are the best headphones for studio work.
  • Snare drums have a tendancy to vibrate a lot. Use moon gel to prevent this. If you can't afford a pack of moon gels, just make a little box with duct tape and tape it to the top of the snare. Do the same with the toms if they're causing vibration problems too.
  • When you're recording, be sure to not go beyond the boundries. While recording, you will see waves on the track you're recording that show up verticle in Audacity. If these waves reach the top or the bottom of the track, then you're recording too loud and the quality will be horrible.
  • Don't put the microphone right in front of the speakers when you're recording the guitars. Leave about 4 inches of distance. They will sound too muddy otherwise.
  • You do not need to spend hundreds to get a program like Pro Tools or Sony Acid to get good quality. These programs only allow more mixing and after-effect processing options compared to Audacity.
  • If you want to submit this as a demo, you may want to take it to some professional to master it. This should only cost $50 at max and they'll make sure all volume, bass, treble, etc. levels are similar.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stay in good terms!

I've noticed this especially in the metal world, but don't have a "bad ass" attitude with everyone you meet. Don't be egotistical and obnoxious. You won't succeed if you are. One of the largest secrets to a successful band is by staying in good terms with everyone you meet.

Be respectful to every band you play with or don't play with. Try to be at the show before the first band goes on (unless it's you of course) and stay until the last band is done. Support the bands and try to be in front of the stage, give them high fives, scream for them, etc. whenever possible. Why would I say this? The other bands will strongly support you and your band in future shows. I remember the first time I stayed and supported another band my band played with. I stood in the front and went wild. Throughout their entire show they said "I'd like to thank [my band] for playing with us tonight! They're an amazing band! Check them out when you get a chance!" Ever since then, we have supported each other by helping each other get shows or just showing up to each others shows just to say hi. In return, we trade merchandise, play shows together and just have fun.

Be friendly with the venues and booking agents you play for. Remember, they're not just booking your band to help you out. In fact, almost 99% of the time they're booking bands to make money. Be sure to thank them during your set. After you're done, personally go over to the booking agent and thank them: "I appreciated working with you and we look foward to working with you in future." Say it even if you don't mean it! You never know where they may end up working at or with. You don't want them telling you "Well, you weren't really nice so thanks but no thanks." Okay, that's an exaggeration. More accurately, they probably won't respond to your email or voice mail. Even if you do get a hold of them, they'll probably say "let me see what I can do and I'll call you back". And they won't. Just remember that they will probably talk to other venues and booking agents to. Stay on good terms with one and you'll stay on good terms with all.

Finally, be kind to members who are trying out and don't make it or former members. What ever happened in the past is the past. Support what ever their decisions are even if it's not in your best interest. You never know if they'll be in a band that could help you get a show or in a record label in the future. A perfect example of this happened just the other day with my band. We were trying out other guitarists and this guy called me before he tried out and said: "Hey, I appreciate the opportunity you gave me but I decided to start my own band." My response: "Well great! Thanks for the call and good luck in the future. Please call me if you'd like to set up a show sometime!". A similar situation happened in a past band and we got shows in another state very easily.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting gigs

Getting gigs are not always easy, especially if you're in a band that hasn't played any at all. So what's the trick?

1. Finding the venues
  • Well a good start is looking for bands with your same style in your area. See if they have a myspace page or some kind of website. Look at their calendars and see where they play.

  • Well you most certainly have gone to a concert before, especially if you're a musician.

  • Drive around and look at bars or theatres. Hop inside quickly and ask if they play bands and most importantly ask them if they host your style of music.

2. Contacting the venues

  • Most venues have websites or a myspace page now. Try finding it and see if they have a contact number, email or a contact form anywhere. Send them a message talking about your band. An example would look like
    Hello, I am in currently in a band named [band name] and we're searching to play at your venue. We play a [music genre] style sound and we'd like to see if you have any shows upcoming with similar bands that we could play with. We are willing to play any time slot and we can bring in a crowd (insert a number of fans you can bring in if it's at least 25. Otherwise don't bother). Thank you.

  • If they don't have a web site, try to find a flyer of the venue you'd like to play at. Usually at the top of the flyer it will say "Blah produtions presents..." or something similar. Try finding their website or a method of contacting them. If the venue doesn't do booking, most likely this booking agency (or production company) books some or all their shows.

  • If all else fails, try physically going to the venue and speaking with one of the staff members directly. Ask who the booking agent or manager is and they'll almost always direct you to the right person.

3. Hire a booking agency

  • Unfortunately, getting a booking agency is not that easy. You will most likely need to have played some shows and proove you can bring in a crowd before a booking agency will even work with you. Most likely, they will interiew your band and come to one of your shows to see the turn-out before working with you.

  • Advantages: Guaranteed booking just about anywhere. They will probably set up tours for you. It may be regional, national or international tours even! They will also market your shows for you! The best way to find a booking agency is again looking at posters of similar artists and seeing if they have a production company. Most booking agencies work through record companies too, so check record label websites and see if you can find information on who does booking for them. If you're interested, see if you can find information on how to submit a demo while you're there.

  • Disadvantages: You will most likely have to sign a contract. Also, you will probably either pay a set fee or a percentage of all ticket sales, or even both!

Please comment if you know any other ways.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Starting the Band

There's a lot of ways to really approach starting a band. The best way, from my experiences is by talking to friends who have similar tastes. Just hope that they know how to play the instruments you need, or are atleast willing to learn fast. If that doesn't seem to work to well, maybe they have a friend that knows how to play whatever instrument you need and they're looking to play music in the same genre.

Most music stores have a billboard somewhere in the store. Posting an ad on these billboards are another great method for finding local musicians. Just be sure you include the style of music you're looking at, some of your influences, and the musicians you need. Most importantly, be sure to include your name and phone number or a method of contact!

The most modern and popular method of finding musicians is using craigslist. I wouldn't recommend this method for the pure fact that there's a lot of flakes out there. If you do, be sure you post enough information that makes them want to be in a band with you.

Question's you may want to answer in your ads:
  • Is this a cover band?
  • Who are your influences?
  • What musicians do you need (guitarist, drummer, singer, bassist, keyboards, etc)?
  • Is this just for fun or is this for real?
  • Do you want a record deal or will you go indie?
  • Do you want to tour?
  • What time and days do you prefer to practice?
  • How many shows do you want to play a month?