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.

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, 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 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.