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Snap! How to Take Great Band Photos with your Smartphone

Long gone are the days where bands absolutely have to invest in pro photography to create gorgeous press images. While it's no bad thing to hire a professional photographer to shoot your photos, you can still take killer photos with a good smartphone and a bit of background knowledge. Here are several ways you can take great band photos with your smartphone.

Make Sure to Have a Good Onboard Camera

No two smartphones are created alike, so if you're intent on using your smartphone to take semi-professional quality photos, make sure your onboard camera is decent to good. If you're in the market for an upgrade or even a totally new smartphone, experiment with different models to test the difference between cameras, and choose the phone with the best camera that fits into your budget.

Almost all smartphones have both front and rear-facing cameras now, but making sure that you have both is an added bonus – because it's always a good idea to take selfies with your fans at shows, onstage or off!

Invest in a Tripod

For still shots of your band, regardless of locale, invest in a tripod. Tripods can be adjusted to a variety of heights depending on what angle you want, and removes the need to hold your phone while you're shooting. A lot of tripods feature smartphone slots now as well for just this purpose, so browse around online or in photography shops to find a tripod that fits your phone (or has an adjustable smartphone slot).

Choose Your Locale Carefully

Wherever you shoot, make sure that the locale fits the image of the band and the mood you're working to convey. If you shoot indoors, make sure the room you're shooting in is tidy and well-organized (many a good shot has been nearly ruined by the presence of too much clutter) and is adaptable to your purpose. Additionally, make sure that you either have ample natural light, whether direct or filtered via trees or clouds, or that the indoor setting you choose can be suitably lit to create great photos. Too much light can cause photos to be overexposed, though, so be prepared to adjust accordingly.

Even if you're not a pro photographer, you can still use a smartphone to capture beautiful images of your band – for press, for CD covers, for posters, and anything else you might need. So get your band together, grab your smartphones, and start snapping – you'll be surprised at what you can create.

Drum Tracks and The Best Budget Microphones

The recording of live drums in the home studio environment has become increasingly rare. Most artists who record at home choose a drum machine or a sequenced drum track.

There is something special about a drum kit that's recorded live. A live kit can make songs that are recorded in a home studio sound like songs that have been recorded in a professional studio. Live drums give songs life and power. A well-recorded drum kit will give songs a certain power and feel that can not be replicated with a drum machine.

If you are lucky and you have the time, budget and space to record a drum kit, you will need microphones. Selecting the correct microphones is the most important part of the process. The correct microphones positioned correctly can make a home recording sound like it has come out of a professional studio.

The Kick Drum

This is one of the hardest parts of the drum kit to record. It is very easy for a kick drum to sound dull and muffled. The positioning of a kick drum microphone is all about trial and error.

Whatever your budget, one of the best kick drum microphones is the AKG D112. You can buy them for under $200. This is a large diaphragmic microphone built with the kick drum in mind. The AKG D112 has a reputation for being the best kick drum microphone ever made. This is why you will find the AKG D112 in nearly every recording studio in the world. They also sound great with Bass guitars.

Snare Drums

The snare drum can be a nightmare when it comes to positioning microphones. You want your snare to sound bright, with no ring and as little interference as possible from the rest of the kit.

You want your microphone to sit close and at an angle to the snare. In a Professional studio, an engineer will often spend most of the first day positioning microphones on a drum kit. The drum kit is all about trying and trying again. It can take a long time, but when you get it right, they sound amazing.

One of the best snare drum microphones is the Shure SM57. This microphone is an industry standard for the snare drum. It also sounds great on acoustic guitars, electric guitars and high hats. In my opinion, this is one of the best all-around microphones you can have in a home recording studio. Another great thing about the Shure SM58 is its price, at under $100. They are perfect for the home studio.

High Hats

Great sounding high hats are crisp and clean. If you are on a budget, consider overdubbing and using the same Shure SM57 you used on your snare drum. If your budget is bigger and you want the full live kit experience, the Shure SM94 is an excellent choice.

I have recommended the Shure SM94 for use with acoustic guitars. This microphone has a low and wide frequency response, making it perfect for high hats. It is a little expensive, costing just under $200. If this is beyond your budget, you need to look for a good quality condenser microphone, similar to the AKG C214. The best thing about the AKG C214 is, you can use the same microphone for guitars and vocals.

Overhead Microphones

You can do so much with overhead microphones on drum kits. You can create a great ambient sounding kit through the selection of just two microphones and some good positioning. The Shure SM57 is a good pick as this will give you the best all-around sound. It is a good idea to start with the overhead track as your start point, and build the rest of the mix from here.

5 Weird Bands You Should Check Out

Every so often, a musical act comes along that makes us prick up our ears and exclaim, “Wait, what?!” But weirdness – whether musical or visual – has helped propel many a highly creative artist to success and renown. From pop to industrial, here are five weird bands you should check out.

Death Grips

Founded by vocalist and rapper MC Ride, the Death Grips are about as bizarre as you can get in terms of both musical style and stage performance. The group is known for a highly experimental hip hop style combined with industrial and electronic influences, and their stage performances feature everything from drumming in handcuffs to destroying instruments. If you're looking for a uniquely bizarre musical experience, the Death Grips are not to be missed.

Zolar X

A truly original glampunk band, Zolar X was well-known for nearly convincing people that they were truly from outer space. They wore silver vinyl onstage for performances – along with alien-head masks – and, wonder of wonders, talked to one another utilizing a unique “alien” language that they had constructed. Though these alien enthusiasts disappeared from the scene in the early eighties, their style has yet to be fairly imitated.

Captured! By Robots

Jay Vance or JBOT, the founder of Captured! By Robots, built an entire army of instrument-playing robots powered by air compression. A mixture of musical comedy and performance art, Captured! By Robots has released five studio albums to date in the style of thrash metal and ska influences. Currently, JBOT is at work on a sixth release.

The Monks

Picture a band of classic garage rockers – wearing monk robes and with heads shaved in the classic monastic style – and you'll have the Monks, a rock band that utilized unique instrumentation and stream-of-consciousness style vocals. A group of friends stationed together in Germany in the 60s, the Monks went on to become one of the most talked about groups on the rock scene.

Teddybears

A curiously adorable hardcore band, the Teddybears were a direct response to the cliched death metal scene of Sweden in the nineties. The Teddybears performed extensively, and made their name by remixing a huge range of songs in varying genres and styles in a vociferous and unusual fashion – all while wearing teddy bear masks.

If the fringe element and the truly bizarre is your thing, make sure to check out all five of these skilled – but incredibly weird – bands, and prepare to either giggle in amusement or furrow your brow in confusion (maybe even both!).

The Best High-End Studio Monitors For Under $300

When mixing music, it is important to have the cleanest and most natural sound possible. There are many tricks employed by professional sound engineers to get the perfect mix. If you speak to any sound engineer, they will all say the same thing.

Good quality near-field monitors are essential.

A lot of professionals are a huge fan of the Yamaha NS10 monitor speakers. For decades they were the industry standard. They are now considered old, though they still work great, and you can find a pair on eBay for $800.

A pair of good quality studio monitors does not have to cost the earth. There are some excellent, well-balanced monitors available for under $300.

Yamaha HS7

They are the grandchild of the NS10s. The HS7s even looks like the NS10s, featuring those iconic white cones. For a pair of entry-level studio monitors, the Yamaha HS7s are an excellent choice. With a price tag of only $250, you can not go wrong. Yamaha has been a market leader in monitors for years, and The HS7s are no exception.

They come with low and high trim, allowing you to adjust these monitors for the acoustics of your room. They have a flat response and have been calibrated to reduce any vibration, allowing for a clean, natural and robust sound. Making them a solid set of monitors suitable for mixing all types of music.

The iconic white cone woofers are 6.7" with a 1" dome tweeter. Both have been mounted in the same way as the more expensive professional monitors in the Yamaha series. This is an excellent choice for entry-level studio monitors, as they bring you professional grade solutions at a price that is affordable to home studio engineers.

JBL LSR 308

The JBL Three Series has produced some impressive monitors in recent years. These are a more powerful monitor than the Yamaha HS7. The JBL LSR 308s comes with a powerful 8" woofer and bi-amplification, giving them a fine bass response. That supports a clean and crisp middle to top range frequency response.

They feature the "image control waveguide" that is found on the more expensive monitors in the JBL Three Series. This allows for a wider field of sound and a larger central sweet spot, making these monitors ideal for larger rooms, where you can use the increased power from the bi-amplification. To let these speakers ring out. I think this is a great set of monitors for mixing driving rock tracks.

They also feature HF and LF trim, allowing for adjustments to match the acoustics of your studio space. This is a more powerful monitor, but remember, power isn't everything. It all depends on the size of your studio space and the music you are mixing.

Focal Alpha 50

Focal have been producing high-end studio monitors with an equally high price tag for many years. There are thousands of recording studios worldwide that swear by the Focal brand when it comes to monitors. The Alpha 50s go a long way in proving the Focal reputation. This is a solid set of monitors suitable for all types of music, from delicate acoustics to bass-driven beats.

The Alpha 50's work slightly differently to the other monitors mentioned. They don't work with a focal point or sweet spot. Instead, the sound is evenly distributed over a wider area. This allows you to take a step back from your mix and hear the bigger picture. In an ideal world, you would have a set of Alpha 50s and a set of near field monitors in a home studio. It is always good to hear some space and get some perspective when mixing.

Bringin' Tha Noise: 5 Industrial Acts You Should Know

Industrial music is one of many modern offshoots of the gothic school of music. From industrial rock to hardcore, this powerful genre of music is heard often in goth clubs from Fort Lauderdale to Berlin, and can sometimes even be heard on your local radio station. Well-known for thunderous beats and aggressive lyrics, the industrial genre has blossomed in the twenty-first century, giving birth to a wide range of new and skillful merchants of its sound. Here are five industrial acts you should know.

Ad-ver-sary

Founded by Jairus Khan and based in Toronto, Ad-ver-sary is an industrial act that combines the hard rhythms of industrial and aggrotech with the smooth and sonorous melodies of darkwave music. Khan has toured with a number of notable industrial acts, including Terrorfakt, and has played at several industrial festivals, including Kinetik, one of the most famous worldwide. Ad-ver-sary reached further acclaim when Khan openly criticized the use of misogynist and racist imagery by other industrial acts as a way to promote their music, and has continued to call for these trends to end.

Doomsday Virus

Based in Albany, New York, Doomsday Virus was founded by vocalist Ndru Virus and is one of the region's best-known industrial rock bands. Although the lineup has changed over the years since its creation in the nineties, Ndru and guitarist and backup vocalist Rahb have returned to performing and production after a several-years-long hiatus. Their most recent album, “Mutually Abusive,” was released in 2016 to incredibly positive reception among both fans and music publications. The band combines driven industrial percussion with hard rock and equally aggressive vocals.

Suicide Commando

Suicide Commando's heavy sound has influenced modern industrial in a big way – and they are among the most requested bands in goth and industrial clubs around the world. Founded in 1986 by Johan van Roy, Suicide Commando combines hard industrial beats with a variety of synths and artificial and organic vocals. The act has played at numerous industrial and gothic music festivals around the world, including Kinetik and Wave Gotik Treffen.

Feindflug

A classic industrial band, Germany's Feindflug is a must-listen for anyone a fan of industrial and aggrotech. Feindflug exhibits true stompworthy style with harsh synth and vocal sound, riveting beats, and exploration of sociopolitical themes, particularly with regard to military history. An entirely instrumental act, Feindflug's only vocals are sampled from film and recorded speeches, especially military-themed ones. Though Feindflug's demonstration of political and military themes in their music has occasionally earned them enmity, they have continued to insist that their music is meant to inform on the issues it discusses – not to support violence or prejudice.

Centhron

Founded in 2001, one of industrial's youngest children has nevertheless made an impact on the German and global industrial scene. Centhron combines classic industrial with EBM, harsh scream-style lyrics, and darkwave, and explores the themes of sex, violence, and global politics. Their latest release, Allvater, is slated for release before the end of the year.

If you're looking for something to get you out of your seat (and maybe onto a dancefloor), each of these five bands boasts danceworthy sound, thought-provoking lyrics, and adrenaline-boosting beats.

5 Tips for Emerging Artists

If you're just getting started in a career in the performing arts, the number of things to do can seem incredibly overwhelming. From marketing to getting booked, the emerging artist always has a great deal to do. But breaking down the most important areas to tackle first can take a lot of the stress off. Here are five tips for emerging artists.

Focus On Your Debut

Before you get to anything else – marketing, shows, anything – you want to complete your first album. You can't market your music if there's nothing to market, and you can't play shows unless you have an opening slot's worth of material. So if you're just starting out, focus all your energies on making a great debut album – and don't touch anything else until it's finished.

Establish Social Media Channels

Once you've got your debut wrapped up, establish your social media channels. Make sure you have a presence on all the major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and definitely establish base camps on music-based platforms like SoundCloud, LastFM, Bandcamp, and ReverbNation. If you have a budget for it, invest in a social media management tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to save yourself loads of time.

Submit to Radio Stations

Now that you have music to distribute, start sending out to local radio stations. Don't discount college radio, either – lots of people listen to college radio stations, and they'll play almost anything that's decent and anything that's good. Just run a quick Google search for radio stations in your local area, make a list, and start submitting – most stations have an online option for submitting digital files, so you won't have to drive or mail discs over like in the old days!

Network, Network, Network

Don't stop at telling your family and friends what you're doing. Find other bands and promoters in the area that work in the same or similar genres as you do, and make it a point to connect with them. Going to club nights or local music festivals are great places to network, and if you bring business cards and download codes with you, you'll get the word out much more quickly.

Go to Shows

Going to shows falls in line with networking – it's one of your best opportunities to meet other working artists and bands. If you haven't started playing out yet, this is also a great chance to discuss organizing shows with other bands that do similar work to yours. Sometimes you can meet other professionals in the music industry too, including promoters, talent scouts, and magazine reps.

Working as a musician is a time-intensive job – in and out of the studio and stage arena. If you're just getting into the industry, these five tips will help you prioritize what needs to be done to get your music heard by the people who want to hear it – and lower your stress levels so you can focus on creating more music.

5 Great Resources for Music Students

Being a music student is a challenge for a lot of reasons – not least of which is finding comprehensive resources to help you advance your theoretical skills (or your music library). If you're a music student – or a pro musician looking to improve your chops – here are five great resources to explore.

Teoria

Teoria.com is a fantastic resource for classical musicians to advance their music theory and meta skills. It offers up tutorials, exercises, articles and more for any and all musicians who want either a refresher course or brand-new exposure. It's free, but you can donate to support its maintenance if you love it.

Children's Music Workshop

Don't let the name fool you. Children's Music Workshop isn't just for kids – it's chock-full of highly comprehensive exercises and tutorials on everything from intervals training to sight singing and ear training drills. The best part? You can test yourself on almost every skill to see how you're measuring up, and you can choose how many questions per drill or exercise you want to do.

IMSLP

IMSLP is hands-down the biggest free resource for sheet music. This incredible database has been called the classical musician's best friend, and that's a great way to describe it – you can download hundreds upon thousands of different pieces in the public domain, from operas and art songs to oratorios and string concertos. No matter what instrument you play, IMSLP will have lots of great repertoire for you to download and study – or to assign to your students if you teach.

Musician's Health

This one is pretty straightforward – Musician's Health concerns itself with the holistic health of all musicians, and contains articles and advice on health issues from vocal nodes to carpal tunnel in piano players. Whether you need advice on nutrition, preventing injury or treating a current malady, Musician's Health is the place to go.

“What Makes a Great...?” Series on YouTube

This amazing series just for singers discusses great singers of the past and present, their achievements, and their challenges. Featuring singers like Diana Damrau and Placido Domingo, this beautifully produced video series will offer both student and professional singers historical insight and inspiration into their craft.

Whether you're tackling your first jury or are years past your master's degree, these resources will help you keep your musical chops up – as well as that of your current or future students.

5 Reasons to Maintain an Active Blog for your Band

Blogging is a simple and low-cost form of marketing – but not all musicians recognize the inherent value of having a blog for and about their act. Blogging can help to establish your band or act as a brand – and in addition, it gives you in-depth content to plug in to your social media channels. Here are five reasons you should maintain an active blog for your band.

It's Easy

Blogging is one of the easiest forms of marketing you can possibly engage in. Most blogging platforms are highly comprehensive and easy to use (Including your BandVista blog tool) and a good blog post can be cooked up in almost no time at all. With decent writing technique and some engaging images, a good blog post can be as satisfying to read as a good book or article. 

It's Low-Cost

The vast majority of blogging platforms offer free options, or extremely low-cost options, like the one included in your BandVista subscription. Because it essentially amounts to a free marketing resource, it's one of the marketing tools musicians should be most actively using, especially if they're on a budget. 

It Creates Instantly Shareable Content 

A lot of blogging platforms offer instant sharing tools to a variety of social media platforms once you've completed a post – so once you've written the post and tagged it accordingly, you can instantly share it to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and any number of other social media platforms. Some blogging platforms even allow you to schedule the time and date it will post a link to the social media platforms you're using, making your band's non-targeted marketing more effective. 

It Can Become a Learning Resource

If you're a professional musician, writing about your band's work and experience can translate into a living learning resource for other musicians, promoters, and other music industry professionals. It goes without saying that this takes a good deal of time; however, that time is an investment in your professional reputation and marketing efforts that can translate into increased opportunities over time, whether for performance, composition, or instruction.

It Increases Social Media Engagement 

Because sharing blog posts is so incredibly easy, blogging regularly is a fantastic way to increase engagement on your band's website  and social media platforms. Marketing research shows that increased social media engagement translates to increased sales and income later on – and subsequently maintaining a blog is a worthy investment of your time.

So why wait? Start or update your blog now when you login or create a new site with BandVista by using the buttons below. 

The Evolution of Goth

Goth – that dark, romantic, and elegant tradition of music – is a many-faceted genre that found its roots centuries ago in the Romantic era of classical music. It has given birth to a great number of related genres, like synthpop, gothic industrial, and goth rock. Here, we'll take a chronological look at the birth and evolution of goth music.

The Romantic Era

The Romantic era of music was filled with emotionality, as well as beautiful melodies, extensive experimentation with instruments, and intense lyrical content. Hallmarked by the symphonies of Berlioz and the lieder of Schubert, the Romantic era laid the foundation for musical traits that would later be explored by gothic artists. The Romantic era of music did not officially conclude until the early twentieth century.

American and British Rock 

Skipping forward sixty or seventy years, the melancholy and emotion of the Romantic era had been extensively explored through various mediums, including literature and art. In the sixties, gothic rock bands – including, technically, The Doors – had begun to emerge, and American and British rock gave birth to a number of post-punk and gothic acts, including some of the best-known acts of the genre like Bauhaus, Siouxie and the Banshees, and The Cure. As the eighties emerged, goth was a thriving genre that a number of musicians plugged into, including David Bowie and Joy Division. Although this “golden age” of gothic music was perceived to be relatively short-lived in comparison with other musical genres, goth continued to evolve.

The Synthpop Era

As the nineties boomed, a number of synthpop bands – bands that used almost entirely electronic means of producing music to produce dark, emotional, and even spooky sounds – emerged. Covenant, VNV Nation, The Cruxshadows, and many others became some of the best-known faces of the gothic music movement, and in addition to some of their predecessors, these bands are still performing and producing into the twenty-first century. Synthpop became a dance floor standard in goth clubs around the world, with its driven beats and sonorous melodies creating an energetic – if sometimes sorrowful – mood.

Twenty-First Century Goth 

As goth has continued to evolve, synthpop, industrial, darkwave, gothic industrial and even post-goth renewal has made the rounds, with different subscenes under the gothic umbrella creating a uniqe cultural exchange that few other genres of music have given birth to. In modern gothic clubs around the world, one can hear everything from the original parents of goth, like Siouxsie, to modern industrial and aggrotech bands like Centhron or darkwave standards like Blutengel and Assemblage 23. The goth movement has also influenced other genres lyrically and musically, like symphonic metal (Nightwish, Epica) and hellbilly rock (Rob Zombie).

The goth movement, rather than dying out, has continued to evolve and expand into a wide body of music that we can hear today – whether in the clubs or even on the radio. Even if Bela Lugosi is dead, goth definitely isn't – and its influence will be felt for a long time yet.

5 Great Music Schools Worldwide

From the Americas to the Far East, there are thousands of amazing music schools and conservatories at which musicians can study and develop their craft – and connect with alumni the world over to hone their craft following graduation. Here, we'll look at five of the best music schools around the world. 

Sibelius Academy

The Sibelius Academy is Finland's only musical conservatory, but is considered one of the best schools of music in Scandinavia and Europe at large. With a rigorous entrance examination procedure, SA's applicants compete fiercely for study places – but in return, they receive high-quality training, ample opportunities to perform and compose in the local and national community, and are connected to a global network of alumni for career development later on. SA recently began charging tuition fees to non-Finns, but scholarships are available to those who demonstrate financial need. Several famous stars have studied at SA, including the cellists of Apocalyptica and singer Tarja Turunen.

Tokyo College of Music

One of the east's most celebrated conservatories, the Tokyo College of Music is world-renowned for intensive and high-quality instruction. Students additionally benefit from frequent master classes, international relationships with other schools and instructors, and opportunities to travel. The Tokyo College of Music Symphony Orchestra has toured internationally, and the college also hosts a high school for young musicians.

Cairo Conservatoire

The Cairo Conservatoire is part of the Academy of Arts Egypt, and is not only the premier conservatory in Egypt, but one of the best on the African continent. Its inclusion in the Academy offers music students extensive opportunities to collaborate with artists of other disciplines, including dancers, filmmakers, and visual artists. A number of notable musicians have completed their education at the Conservatoire, including composer Khaled Shokry and oud and violin player Essam Rashad.

The Crane School of Music

The alma mater of famous opera singer Renee Fleming, the Crane School of Music is part of the State University of New York at Potsdam. An All-Steinway School, the Crane School of Music is internationally recognized as an American standard of excellence in music, and has turned out a number of highly accomplished performing artists and composers. Crane excels at community outreach as well, and runs a number of programs to make opera and classical music accessible to the public, including an opera education program for youth. 

Conservatorio Nacional Superior de Musica

Established in 1924 with the support of the then-president of Argentina and his wife, a lauded soprano, the Conservatorio Nacional Superior de Musica was founded by Carlos Lopez Buchardo and a number of others. The conservatory began principally with instruction in music, composition, and recitation, and has since expanded its instruction into dance and theatre. Juan Maria Solare, noted pianist, conductor and composer, studied at the Conservatorio.

No matter where you are in the world, chances are a world-class school of music is just around the corner. Find one that works for you and continue to use those programs to grow your own, unique talent. 

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