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Sep 19, 2017

5 Operas You Should Listen To

Ah, opera – the soaring vocalises, the rich (and sometimes wonderfully gaudy) stage sets, the costumes, the drama. Opera as a tradition is among the younger traditions of voice, but appreciation for opera is re-emerging in the twentieth century as a new generation of performers take old operas into a fresh century. Opera as a musical form has influenced a great number of genres, from symphonic metal to darkwave, and far from being boring, is a tradition well worth exploring. Here are five operas you should listen to.

Carmen

Depicting a fiery young woman who earns the love of a great many men – but gives very little of her own her would-be paramour, Don Jose – this famous opera by Georges Bizet is the very one that the famous “Habanera” aria is from. A classic tragedy, this opera in four acts depicts not only the struggles of love, but the struggles of the common man in a post-war scenario. The music of Carmen has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements of orchestration in opera, and boasts one of the most engaging scores of the French opera tradition. 

La Traviata 

Penned by the celebrated composer Verdi, La Traviata depicts a courtesan, Violetta, and her lover, Alfredo. La Traviata is another tragedy – it depicts the plight of many a working courtesan that contracted tuburculosis or another then-fatal disease, who eventually dies of it, to the sorrow of their lover (or lovers). La Traviata is among the most-performed operas of all time, and in a few instances has been performed in a contemporary twentieth-century setting, with according costuming. Considered a standard in vocal music, La Traviata is one of opera's most-mined scores for soprano and tenor repertoire. 

Il Trovatore

Another great by Verdi, Il Trovatore tells the story of a nobleman in love with a noblewoman – who is rivaled by a court performer or troubadour. The story also features many Romani characters, who have revenged themselves on the nobles for the death of one of their own, burnt at the stake as a witch, by stealing a baby. Host to the famous “Anvil Song,” Il Trovatore is a thrilling opera to listen to, with energetic music and emotive arias throughout.

Giulio Cesare

Composed by Handel, Guilio Cesare is based on the Roman Civil War that took place 49 – 45 BC, and the relationship between Julius Caesar and Egypt's great queen, Ptolemy Cleopatra VII. With soaring arias and an intense examination of the relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra, the story told by this opera is as much one of love as one of state.

The Magic Flute 

Easily the most famous of the twenty-two operas composed by Mozart, The Magic Flute depicts the Queen of the Night seeking to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from under the rule of the priest Sarastro. Pamina falls in love with her would-be rescuer, Tamino, and both undergo remarkable transitions throughout the opera. As much a story of the supernatural of love, the opera's most famous aria, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” is one of the most widely sung among repertoire pieces for the coloratura soprano voice, and is often simply referred to as “The Queen of the Night aria.” 

Each of these wonderful productions has something different to offer the listener – from gods and demons to ordinary everyday people, each tells a remarkable story – with equally remarkable music.

Sep 19, 2017

5 Instruments You've Never Thought About Playing

As much as we focus on the standard instrumentation of the western world – whether those found in a standard rock outfit or a philharmonic orchestra – the world of instrumentation is huge, and includes a tremendous variety of instruments that have incredible character and sound. Whether you're a strings player or a percussionist, here are five instruments that you might never have thought about playing. 

Hurdy-gurdy

The hurdy-gurdy is a haunting, spooky string instrument that can also take on a tremendously comical quality. The hurdy-gurdy is operated by cranking a lever that gives power to the instrument while simultaneously pressing different buttons that produce different tones. Hard to master but beautiful to hear, the hurdy-gurdy is starting to make a comeback in modern classical and folk music. If you want to hear an example, check out Stephan Groth, the hurdy-gurdy player in German medieval folk band Faun.

Koto

The Japanese koto, sometimes referred to as the Japanese table harp, is a plucked string instrument that produces elegant, stirring, and graceful music. The koto is a standard in many Japanese orchestras, and is frequently given solo parts, particular in music that reflects romance or is meant for relaxation. The koto can be played with a variety of string types, depending upon the preference of the player. While few koto instructors are to be found in the west, those with a passion for eastern music may find it well worth the effort to study it in an exchange program or during a sabbatical. To hear this beautiful instrument, have a listen to koto player Michio Miyagi.

Kantele

A Finnish string instrument, the kantele is taught as a standard in Finland to young students in much the same way American children are taught the recorder. Centuries old, the kantele has a clear, high, and yet melancholy tone that suits folk music exceptionally well. The kantele has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, with Finnish musicians delving deeper into their musical roots in order to reconnect with the ancient traditions of their forebears. Want to hear more? Check out kantele player Ulla Katajavuori.

Oud

The oud is a centuries-old lute-style instrument originating in the Middle East. It is played in nations across the Middle Eastern region, North Africa and the Mediterranean basin, including Persia, Turkey, Somalia and Armenia. Don't let its appearance fool you, though – the oud hosts eleven to thirteen strings grouped typically in pairs, and takes many years to master. To hear this soulful, beautiful instrument, have a listen to master oud player Naseer Shamma.

Pipa 

If you've ever seen the film “The Forbidden Kingdom,” you'll be familiar with this plucked string instrument that Golden Sparrow is occasionally heard and seen playing throughout the film's journey. The pipa originates in China, and has a bright and yet fraught tone to it. Held upright, the pipa is usually plucked with either long nails or finger plucks that players attach to their fingers. To hear an example of the pipa, check out pipa player Liu Fang.

 

All of these instruments represent innovation and rich history from all over the world. Whether you fancy studying world music intensively or want a unique instrument to accentuate what you already produce, consider one of these!

Sep 15, 2017

10 Tips for Auditions

Going on an audition, whether it's for a conservatory or a band, is one of the most stressful experiences of any musician's career. The jittery nerves, the clenched muscles, the sweating hands and brow – most musicians have experienced them before heading into an audition. But the key to managing the stress of auditions is to be well prepared, so here are ten tips for auditions.

Get Plenty of Rest

Make sure to get a good night's sleep the night before. If you have trouble falling asleep, do some soothing activities like reading, taking a hot bath, some yoga, and so on. Don't let yourself stay up until all hours the night before an audition – you'll regret it!

Remember to Eat

While some musicians may become stressed enough that eating is difficult, don't skip out on nutrition. If necessary, eat small and easily digestible meals to keep you sustained throughout the day. While you shouldn't eat immediately before an audition, try having a snack an hour or two before your audition time.

Hydrate

No matter what your instrument is, make sure to drink lots of water. Water helps your brain stay sharp and functioning at peak capacity. Keep a reusable bottle handy and hydrate throughout the day so you'll bring your A-game.

Start Early

Whatever you're planning to play for your audition, start preparing your material early. Know your pieces intimately – the lyrics, the melody line, the dynamics. The earlier you start, the more confident you'll be – and the less stressed out you'll be, too.

Ask for Feedback

If you study with an instructor, ask them consistently for feedback when you're preparing your audition material. Ask other musicians as well. After the audition, make it a point to thank the auditioners for their time and for feedback on your performance. This kind of feedback will help your future auditions go more smoothly if you know what you need to work on.

Be Prepared to Talk

A lot of people you'll audition for will ask you questions about yourself, like what your personal interests are, where you grew up, and other information of note. Be prepared to talk about yourself – it's a great way for both sides to see how you'll integrate into a new department or band.

Come With Questions

Don't go into an audition room, play your piece, and then just leave without asking anything. Ask what the goals of the act or department are. Ask what they are seeking in terms of contribution. Cook up a few questions you'd like to ask prior to the audition and remember them.

Be Prepared to Play More than Pieces

For music school auditions or auditions for large or prestigious ensembles, you'll have to play more than just the pieces you've memorized. Scales, arpeggios, and sight singing exercises are often part and parcel to an audition, so prepare those skills accordingly.

Know Something About the Organization

If you go to an audition knowing nothing about the school or act you're auditioning for, you'll come off as lackadaisical and disinterested. Know a little bit of its history and achievements before you attend your audition, and if it comes up, remark on what you know.

Treat It As a Performance

Every audition is a performance, and it's okay to have fun with it. Go into every audition with the intent of putting on the best performance you can – treat it like a miniature concert. Thinking of it this way will make it an opportunity to have fun and show off your best stuff.

Most musicians will go on hundreds of auditions during their lifetime, whether for music degree programs or ensembles they want to join. These tips will help you audition successfully – whether it's your first or your hundredth.

Sep 13, 2017

5 Reasons to take Music Lessons

Musicians come in every stripe and flavor, from conservatory-trained opera singers to guitarists who learned their craft by watching YouTube videos. The age of information has offered hundreds of ways for budding musicians to learn how to sing, play, and perform. But the value of taking music lessons with university or conservatory-trained professionals – for any instrument or voice type – is unmatched when it comes to the professional, personal, and physical development of musicians. Whether you're a veteran or brand-new to the music scene, taking music lessons is a great investment for your career – not to mention your health. Here are five reasons to take music lessons.

Learning Great Technique

While there's zero shame in being a self-taught musician, self-teaching means imperfect technique. Over time, this can pose some serious problems – not only will you not be able to fully master your instrument or voice without quality technical training, but imperfect technique can cause a number of health problems, from arthritis and bone spurs in instrumentalists to vocal nodes in singers (an especially expensive condition to treat, since insurance doesn't cover node removal unless the nodes are cancerous). Taking lesson will help you perfect your technique – and keep yourself safer from health issues associated with poor technique.

Becoming a Master of Your Craft

It's certainly true that you can learn a great deal on your own as a musician without benefit of a formal instructor – from blogs to YouTube, tons of information and instruction on all things music are available as learning resources. However, music lessons not only help to address unlearning bad habits and mastering technique, but having a one-on-one instructor that you personally work with helps to adapt technique to the individual musician – something you just can't get with books or digital resources.

Networking

Having a music instructor can definitely help to boost your networking as a musician, particularly if you impress your instructor with your dedication. They may know other musicians, promoters, or agencies you don't, and can help you connect with them – boosting your career opportunities. They may know of competitions, open mics, and other performance-focused events that can help you show your best in front of brand-new audiences of thousands. Either way, most music instructors know the lay of the land when it comes to their local music scenes, and it's worth your time to work and connect with them.

Increased Employability

Getting better at what you do almost always results in better and more frequent work opportunities, and this is especially true in music. Taking lessons will absolutely help you get better at what you do, and this ultimately will help you find and land work opportunities that less skilled musicians may not have access to, like select or juried shows or session work.

Becoming a Music Instructor

While most music instructors have degrees or credentials in music, this isn't always the case. Some have simply studied independently and taken music lessons for years – and become just as qualified to teach as those with university degrees. If you think teaching might be a route you want to pursue in music but don't want to attend university or conservatory for a degree, start taking lessons – and if you study long enough, you may find yourself being approached by new musicians who want to learn from you, or job opportunities at local studios (maybe even the one you've studied at all those years!).

Regardless of what genre you work in or instrument you play, music lessons are a vital investment to any dedicated musician – and taking lessons will help you advance and expand your career.

 

Sep 11, 2017

Straight to the Top: 5 Traits Every Successful Musician Has

No matter how skilled a musician you are, personal temperament has a lot to do with the success of every musician. Even if you have a degree in music – or have taken lessons for years – certain ingredients combine in the individual to generate a path to success in this extremely demanding instrument. Here are five traits every successful musician has. 

Work Ethic

Above all else, musicians must have a strong work ethic in order to succeed. The music industry is a taxing one, and the path to financial and creative success is a longer and harder one to furrow than it often is in other industries. It goes without saying that you don't have to be a workaholic to be a successful musician, but without a strong work ethic and dedication to what you're producing – long-term – you won't be successful.

Determination 

Determination means that you continue doing what you do regardless of what other people say or do to discourage, embarrass, or shame you. Determined people continue to live the way they choose in the face of adversity. During your career, there will always be people who criticize you, from family members who chastise you for not choosing something more lucrative to the critic who totally pans your album in that magazine you submitted to. Determination means you won't bow down to their negativity – and that you'll eventually rise above.

Approachability 

Even if you're a tremendously successful musician already, your continued success depends on you being approachable. This doesn't mean having no boundaries – because after all, everyone should maintain them – but it does mean being receptive to people who approach you with opportunities or questions, from reporters to fans. It's perfectly acceptable to draw the line at dealing with people who openly harass you, but being approachable will gain you a good reputation in the music industry, particularly among your fans.

Resilience 

Emotional resilience is a must-have in the music world. The disappointments of the industry will sometimes outweigh the victories, and dedicated musicians must be able to endure those disappointments with grace – and without it destroying them or their goals for their career. Resilience doesn't mean ignoring the negatives – it means processing them and moving on from them while still knowing your worth and ability.

Creativity

Of course creativity is essential to music-making, but creativity is a quality that's applicable to absolutely everything, from marketing your music to packing your tour van properly. Creative people are often able to find solutions to problems that others may not have thought of, and subsequently is a quality essential to every area of your music career.

From performers to music educators, these five qualities are must-haves to the success of every musician.

 

Sep 07, 2017

Politics and Music

In times of crisis, music isn't just entertainment – it's inherently political. Music both shapes and is shaped by sociopolitical occurrences, whether it is to mark events that have already occurred or to inspire people to action.

These days, we hear a lot of talk about musicians needing to “stay in their lane,” “mind their own business,” or “stick to entertaining.” But what some of these naysayers forget is that musicians are not just entertainers; they are people. Musicians are citizens, taxpayers, voters. They are students, parents, teachers, businesspeople, and so much more. And since so much of our public identities are linked with what we believe politically, it stands to reason that music and politics are inextricably linked.

This isn't a new tradition. We have music hundreds of years old that speaks on political issues and occurrences, from lays sung of great battles to bawdy songs about the misdoings of kings and queens. And it does not stop there – plays, books, epic poems, paintings, and every other art form has served as political commentary or as a call to action. For this reason, in times of political crisis, the arts have sometimes been strictly censored – even to the point of executing artists for what they produced.

And yet the arts have served to call attention to important events and people that the citizenry may not have been aware of, or a perspective that they may not have previously considered. The arts have great power; they are both a hallmark and cornerstone of civilization. The arts have made and unseated rulers, have incited rebellions against injustice, and comforted the oppressed. They have irritated and even incensed the powerful, and infused the people with strength and determination.

For all these reasons, musicians – and all artists – should feel free to ignore statements that they should not use their art to call attention to political issues, whether in their own nations or in countries abroad. Nightwish's “Creek Mary's Blood” was written about the oppression and genocide of the Native American peoples, in spite of the fact that the band is Finnish. Serj Tankian's “Yes, It's Genocide” was written about the Armenian genocide by the Turkish, also referred to as “The Great Wrong” and rarely taught in American schools. Music connects peoples worldwide – in both shared suffering and shared power.

Music as a political force cannot be denied. So musicians, the next time someone tells you to “stay in your lane,” remind them that you're not only in your lane – you're participating in a millennia-old tradition of helping to shape and inform history.

Aug 31, 2017

Five Ways to Manage Your Health on Tour

For a lot of musicians, touring is the experience of a lifetime – whether it's your first or your twentieth. But touring takes its toll, from organizing dates with promoters and band managers to the long flights and the longer drives.

Being on tour presents unique challenges to musicians in terms of managing their health – many, if not most, tours are fraught with bad food, little sleep, and loads of stress. But a little planning can go a long way in staying healthy and rested while you're on tour, making future tours much more likely. Here are five ways to manage your health on tour.

Schedule Downtime

One of the biggest keys to good health is getting enough sleep, and on tour, getting enough rest is even more critical. For musicians with incredible stamina, touring for a month straight with little sleep might not tax them as much; but no matter how strong, fit, and healthy you already are, you'll want to make sure to schedule downtime during your tour. Think of your tour the way you'd think about your job – working too many days in a row with no days off at all wears you down and, eventually, can make you sick. Schedule days off throughout your tour where you can sleep in, relax, and prepare to move on to your next tour location. It will make all the difference to your energy levels – and help keep your immune system strong.

Don't Overdo It

All dedicated musicians care about putting on a fantastic show, but a lot of musicians totally overwork their bodies onstage, resulting in both short-term injury and long-term mobility issues. Many a musician has had to see a doctor or visit a hospital following a show because they absolutely shredded their bodies during the gig – and over time, doing this too much can result in a number of long-term physical maladies like arthritis, bursitis, and shin splints. It's normal to be a little sore after a show, but don't work so hard that you're in real pain.

Skip the Booze and the Energy Drinks

Both alcohol and caffeine heavily dehydrate the body, and dehydration interferes with everything from cognition and memory function to restful sleep and muscle responsiveness. Sure, having a drink here and there is fine, but don't booze up before and after your shows, and take it easy on the caffeine. If you  really need a boost, try an espresso over an energy drink – or try foods or supplements that slow-release big amounts of energy over time, like granola, protein bars, or power green smoothies.

Eat Real Food

This is one area of touring where planning is especially careful, because while a lot of touring musicians live off fast food and Waffle House while they're touring, not eating real food seriously depletes your energy, leading to sickness and exhaustion. When you're making your tour schedule, look at where you might really need to stop off for food rather than making something – like if you have two locations far enough apart where you have to drive hard and fast to make it in time. The rest of the time, though, make time to hit the stores and farmers' markets to get real food. Eat whole and nutritious foods – including lots of produce, lean proteins, and whole grains – and it will make all the difference to both your overall health and your energy levels throughout the tour. Even if you can't cook, a sandwich and a piece of fruit are still a way better bet than just stopping off at Taco Bell.

Don't Overextend

It's tempting to pack in as many dates as you possibly can into a tour – but the biggest temptation is to extend the tour if you get a lot of gig offers. Even if you're taking care of yourself, touring is exhausting, and more than one musician in the annals of touring history has had to spend months recuperating from a lengthy tour once they got home. Generally, you'll want to limit your tour to four to six weeks, max – and that's if everyone in your act is in relatively good condition with few or no chronic health conditions to manage. If you're getting a ton of gig offers, take the ones that make the most sense, and take a rain check on the others for your next tour.

Managing your health on tour isn't the easiest of tasks. The heavy amounts of travel, the late nights, and the constant on- and off-stage activity can be grueling even to the most seasoned musicians. However, taking the time to ensure you're getting enough rest, enough nutrition, and enough relaxation will make for not only a better tour, but better performances – for the tour you're on and the tours to come.

Aug 29, 2017

5 Ways to Write Better Lyrics

From operas to pop ditties, writing good lyrics is a keystone skill of any good musician. Whether you write ska or punk, art songs or song cycles, here are five ways to write better lyrics.

Read Poetry

Lyricism is a form of poetry, and so it stands to reason that reading (and writing) poetry can make you a better lyricist. Read all forms you can get your hands on, from pantoums to iambic pentameter, by poets from all over the world. You'll eventually land on a few forms and poets you really love – and will inform your lyrics writing.

Listen to (a LOT) of Music

Of course, almost all musicians are total music junkies, and we waltz through the word to our own eternal playlists. But listening thoughtfully is a whole other level. Listening thoughtfully means mentally recognizing themes – like love, death, humor, or sadness – rhyme schemes, word flow, vocabulary, and everything else that we see and hear in the use of language. Pay close attention to vocal music that really moves you, both melodically and linguistically. Figure out why you love it, and if you want to model your own work after those styles.

Practice

No one ever became a brilliant lyricist overnight, so make sure you practice! Writing lyrics frequently – even if you wind up not using them on that next album – will help you develop your chops and really flesh out your personal style. Sing or speak them aloud – how do they sound? Do they have the impact you're looking for? Try sharing them with other musicians as well to see what they have to say – constructive feedback can help you grow.

Explore Themes

Themes are incredibly important in good writing. Some writers make thematic lists that they consult before they sit down to write, and if you're the kind of person who likes to take things in steps, this might be a great method for you. Whether you want to write about death and zombies or love and romance, read material that features those themes and their offshoots.

Don't Regurgitate

While that old saw “nothing's original” certainly has something to it, rehashing old work over and over – whether yours or someone else's – is never the way to go. If all your lyrics sound the same – or sound too much like someone else's – consider what you might need to do to develop. Maybe you need more practice, more study, or more feedback; maybe you need to expand your subject matter. It's impossible to be influenced by other writers without some similarities cropping up, but make sure you're not just regurgitating.

Lyrics writing isn't just for performing artists – whole teams of lyricists work for record companies and studios, contributing their talents to some of the most famous voices of the day. Whether you write for yourself or for other musicians, becoming a good lyricist is yet another key to success in the music industry.

Aug 17, 2017

Bang, Bang: Guide to Better Drumming

Drumming is more than just providing the beat. Good drumming guides the entire band – the backbone of its rhythm section. It both supports and enhances good music, and for that reason, the drummer is arguably one of the most important members of any solid band. If you're a beginning drummer and want to be the bee's knees when it comes to holding down rhythm, check out this guide to better drumming.

Practice Daily

To get better at any instrument, daily practice is absolutely. Daily practice doesn't mean you have to spend hours in a practice room, though – whether you do twenty minutes or two hours, do what you can in the time that you have available. Whether you spend that time learning new time signatures or improving your snare roll, you'll learn something every time you practice.

Study Other Drummers

Studying the technique of other instrumentalists can help you not only get better, but can help you to diversify your technique. If you see a drummer who really rocks at weird time sigs or shows off a killer solo, pay close attention to what they're doing and how they're doing it. Even better? Talk to them about their work and find out what resources they've used to become a great drummer.

Take Lessons

A lot of drummers are self-taught, and even some of the greatest drummers alive didn't start taking lessons until well into their careers – but lessons will help you perfect and advance great drumming technique. Even if you only take a couple of lessons a month, having a private instructor will help you get better faster – and will help you adapt your drumming to your personality and physiology.

Do Drills

If you've been letting all those tech books collect dust on your bookshelf or under your bed, now's the time to dust them off and put them to use. Doing drills isn't the most fun activity (at least for most), but doing them will help you to master foundational techniques of drumming and develop speed, accuracy, and mastery of dynamics. Incorporate drills into your practice sessions a few times a week, and marvel at how your precision develops.

Good or great drummers are not a dime a dozen, and a skilled drummer can find themselves much in demand for everything from live shows to session work. If drumming is your greatest love, following these steps to better drumming will help you advance your technique – and your career.

Aug 16, 2017

Versatility Equals Employability: Why You Should Play More Than One Instrument

Naturally, every musician has an instrument they're best at – their primary instrument. But your primary instrument shouldn't be all you play – you should have secondary instruments, too. Whether you're a singer that plays viola and keys or a guitarist that plays percussion and bass, expanding your versatility as a musician is a major key to employability.

Most serious musicians want to make music their only career. And regardless of what shape that career takes – from performing and composing to teaching and tutoring – knowing how to play more than one instrument will only add to your credibility as a musician. Here are three reasons why you should play more than one instrument.

More Session Work

Session work has been called the bread and butter of performing artists, and that's the hard truth of it. Musicians who do session work successfully are often paid excellent wages for what they do, and they'll frequently work with the same studios and recording companies for years at a time. Playing more than one instrument – particularly if you're a singer – will open up a lot more opportunities for you to do session work, especially if you play instruments that aren't super common.

More Performance Work

If you're down to work with more than one musical act at a time, knowing multiple instruments can help you land multiple work offers – sometimes with prestigious groups. Some groups will only hire musicians that play two or more instruments, in light of the fact that they want to keep the lineup small but still have versatility of sound.

More Educational Work

Some musicians go the educational route, but even if you have an advanced degree in a specific instrument, educational institutions also value versatility. If you've studied a variety of instruments and can play several with proficiency, you're more likely to be able to effectively teach students outside the area of your main instrument.

If you plan to teach or coach, take the time to study multiple instrument groups while you're in university or conservatory – like one from strings, one from brass, several from percussion, and so on.

Versatility is a valuable commodity in the music industry no matter what you do. Versatility also often demonstrates commitment to excellence in music – and that commitment will impress your seriousness about music on everyone you work with. No matter what secondary instruments you decide to take up, know that doing so will enhance your career in music as well as help to ensure greater creative and financial success.

 

 

Jun 12, 2017

Stay Connected With Newsletters

Staying in touch with fans via email is essential to any artist's success, and that's why we are excited to announce our newsletter feature upgrade. In this blog post, we will go over what's new and how best to use new features.

Before we dive into the fun stuff, keep in mind that to send newsletters, you'll need to set up email using BandVista and your domain name. If you do not have one already, log in to your account and visit the 'Mail' option at the top of your page, selecting 'mailboxes' and then add a mailbox you want to send from. All of your email addresses will be available to send from when setting up your newsletters.

Now that you know what email address you are sending from, it's now important to know who you're sending to. Email subscribers can join your list from your site if you have the newsletter widget enabled. You may also add email addresses by pasting them in or by uploading a CSV file. Make sure when you add the email address on your own, that they are valid subscribers that are expecting to hear from you. 

When adding a CSV file, you may also add custom fields that will allow a more advanced use of your fans both in the newsletter and in future product updates. Your spreadsheet may include first name, last name, email, and physical address. You'll be prompted to match these fields to your list during upload.

Make sure when you add the email address on your own, that they are valid subscribers that are expecting to hear from you. Otherwise, you are spamming, a violation of our terms of service.

Okay, now it's time for the fun stuff! You now have four templated options when sending newsletters, so let's dive right in to what each of them does.

Free Form

The free form option is great for sending plain text email updates to your fans. Customize your emails by adding a featured header image, and if you have your full contact information uploaded to BandVista, add a personal touch by adding the {firstName} wildcard in your introduction to address each of your fans by name.

This option also allows for HTML for custom newsletters you may want to send. To do this, simply click the 'source code' icon in your editor, where you can then paste your HTML. Keep in mind; you are responsible for any third party HTML you use.

Blog

As the name suggests, this templated option allows quick and easy delivery of your latest blogs to your fans. Select the blog you would like to email, and this option will automatically insert your text and featured image from the blog post. If you don't have a featured image on the page or want share something different in an email, you can upload a new image.

Upcoming Events

Keeping fans informed on where you'll be playing is probably the most important thing you can do, and this template makes that very easy. This template pulls from your current events calendar, so make sure to send it right away or schedule it once your calendar is up to date. This template shares everything your fans need to know, though links to your events on the page are included.

Store

Releasing a new track, or a new batch of merch ready to be mailed to fans? Send the store template to share items your fans might like to purchase.


We hope you like the new upgrade. If you need help using it or any feedback for us, chat with us online in your builder or give us a call at 1-877-875-4470.

Mar 22, 2017

Your Site is Secure

Making that most important connection between artist and fan is a top priority for all of us, and your website plays a key role in that. To help earn fan trust, we are happy to provide an extra layer of security by enabling HTTPS for all current BandVista platform powered sites. So lets review why this change as made and how it benefits you.

Added Security and Trust!

The added layer of security on your website insures all information entered through it is encrypted. While your login pages and eStore payments have been secure for a long time now, offering it site wide tells users everything they enter on your site will be. Adding that s at the end helps gain their trust when they see the green lock and secure text in all modern browsers.

Improved Search Results

Major search engines like Google indicate a ranking boost for sites that are secure. While that is only a modest signal to the search engines right now, all signs point to this being a more significant factor in the future.

It's FREE with BandVista

While purchasing certificates can range from $60-$250 per year, your BandVista powered websites come with this for FREE thanks in large part to Let's Encrypt, a free service our development team worked to implement on your behalf. The Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) works hard to help create a more secure and privacy-respecting web.

Thank you for powering your website with BandVista, and we look forward to sending you more feature rich updates in this blog very soon!

Dec 20, 2016

How To Build A Solid Home Recording Studio

Home (or “project”) studios have become so common in today's music industry, that even well known artists with access to commercial studios have been known to do tracking and production from the comfort of their home. Whether you're looking for a place to explore your hobby and master your craft or you plan to build your career as an artist, producer or recording engineer, having a proper studio at your fingertips is of utmost importance. With the right space, materials, tools and budget, almost anyone can build a project studio.

Finding The Right Space

The first and most important aspect of building a studio is handling the acoustic space. If you just moved into a new home and have the option of choosing a room for your studio, you'll want to choose one that isn't a perfect square shape so as to avoid common reflection and frequency issues. Other ideal room characteristics may include odd and larger dimensions, a walk-in closet that could be used for a vocal/instrument booth, and room dimensions that are not divisible by each other or the same number as Home Studio Corner advises. Once you decide on a room, grab a tape measure and get ready to have some architectural fun!

Analyzing Acoustics

Now you'll want to measure the dimensions of the walls and ceiling to determine what type of acoustical treatment will work best for your studio. Every room is different, so don't make the mistake of just buying a foam kit at a music shop without determining the proper set up. The RealTraps and Auralex websites provide great resources for the science of where to place acoustical treatment and what kind might be needed for your listening space and iso booth based on the room dimensions. There are also room measurement kits such as Room EQ Wizard, as well as special microphones that can record the frequencies of your room for honing in on specifics as to how to arrange your listening position.

Absorption and Diffusion Materials

As AudioRecording.me explains, sound absorption refers to removing sound from a room, while diffusion means to distribute the sound waves throughout the room. In a properly balanced studio, there should be a combination of both processes occurring. Perhaps one of the most important elements of absorption in your control room is reducing the buildup of low frequencies. You can either build or purchase bass traps that are typically placed in the corners of the room that will reduce the excess of these powerful low frequencies. Bass traps are most effective (and affordable) when you take the DIY route. Along with absorption panels for your walls, bass traps can be created using rock wool insulation (which you can purchase for cheap at Home Depot or Lowe's), wood slabs and linen. Absorption panels and foam wedges for walls and ceilings are also very important as they will reduce more mid-range and higher frequencies. Taking an extra step by installing plastic or wooden diffusors to evenly spread the sound waves also can't do you wrong.

Monitoring, DAWs and Recording Interfaces

The world of recording equipment can be overwhelming, as there is an endless supply of hardware and software options at your fingertips. Fortunately, sites like Sweetwater, Sound On Sound and Gearslutz provide great resources for reviews,ratings, how-to's and specs on a range of products. Studio beginners might start with basic but trusted studio monitors such as KRKs. However, if you have a heftier budget, opt for more professional caliber monitors, such as Adams or Dynaudios. When choosing a recording interface, you'll want to make sure you find one with the right amount of inputs and outputs for your tracking and routing needs. Focusrite, RME, Apogee and Digidesign all make solid quality interfaces. Your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is your recording and production software. There are many resources that will help you weigh the costs and benefits of DAW options, but the main contenders are Protools, Logic, Cubase and Ableton. There are versions of each DAW ranging in price depending on how deep your usage will be, so be sure to read the descriptions thoroughly.

Building a home studio is a learning process that involves everything from the science of sound waves to computer software knowledge. The learning will never stop as you will find yourself updating and maintaining your space and equipment to reflect the evolution of your craft and skill. However, once you have your initial studio set up, you can finally focus on what motivated you to build it in the the first place—the music!

Dec 14, 2016

How to Write Songs with a Band — Without Wanting to Break Up

While it's true some bands have a principle songwriter or source from an independent professional, some bands tackle songwriting as a team.
If you've ever endeavored such a feat, you're likely all too aware of the unique challenges posed by writing songs with a band. Between conflicting personalities to nailing down the most efficient songwriting process, it's not necessarily for the faint of heart.
But if you find your stride, writing songs together can help bolster your band in a big way. The following are a few sound strategies for approaching the process.


1. Establish a "leader"


If there are only two people in your band participating in the songwriting process, you can probably get away with approaching from a co-writing perspective. But if you have three or more members working on songwriting together, you're going to want to have a designated "lead." This person would be responsible for mediating in the event of creative disputes and, ultimately, making executive decisions should the group as a whole come to an impasse.


2. Be humble


Particularly if you're the quote-unquote leader or the person in the band who is considered the head songwriter, be humble. If you come at your band mates from a place of condescension or superiority, the process will be over before it ever really begins. For songwriting as a band to be successful, it has to be collaborative — and people are much less likely to communicate openly if they feel alienated.


3. Don't get defensive


When defenses go up, momentum goes down. Nobody likes to hear their work critiqued, but in a group setting it's highly unlikely everyone is always going to be on the same page. Besides, sometimes a suggestion or edit to an original idea leads to something even better. When bands write songs together, everyone has to be open to suggestion or you'll just end up butting heads non-stop.


4. Set aside the time


Songwriting is a creative process, sure, but it should also be treated like a job. If you commit to writing songs as a band, you should schedule time to devote your attention fully to doing so — your group isn't going to write the next lyrical masterpiece if half the band is too busy playing Titanfall 2. When you come together for a writing session, writing should be your top (read: only) priority.


5. Talk about logistics


Once your band's brainstorming yields some solid lyric and you've set those to music, you're probably going to be ready to hit the ground running. However, if it isn't a conversation you haven't already had, you need to talk about the technical and/or legal logistics. How much does a band member need to contribute to the songwriting process to get a byline? Will non-writing members of the band share any credit or income? How will revenue be divvied up? These are all crucial questions you'll need to answer before you ever begin recording or marketing the music you've just written. Decide as a group, and then put it in writing.

Nov 30, 2016

5 Ways to Keep Dead Air from Killing Your Live Shows

Imagine you're in the middle of an engaging conversation and the person you're speaking with simply stops talking or puts you on hold. Sure, it happens — we've all experienced awkward silences at some point — but that doesn't make them any less annoying.
For fans, that's essentially sums up what it's like when dead air strikes at a live show. And while audiences are willing to forgive minor inconveniences, we all know they can turn on you if you let dead air become the star of the show.
Onstage, silence isn't golden. If it does happen to befall you mid-show, don't beat yourself up for too long (it's likely a lot more common than you think). Instead, shift your focus to the following tips and tricks for avoiding dead air onstage.

1. Don't lead with silence.

Have you ever been to a show where there is no music playing as the stage is being set up? It can be painfully awkward for everyone to stand around in the venue making small talk while waiting for the talent to appear — not to mention the collective letdown every time a PA enters the stage from peripheral view and the audience realizes the show isn't about to start. Since a show can't happen without the setting up process, you can't avoid it. However, you can set the mood with pre-show music that'll take the audiences mind off of the fact they're waiting.

2. Keep the audience informed.

If you need an extra minute between songs, give the audience a heads up. If there's a miscommunication about your set list between band members and you need a second to sort it out, just be honest. The more authentic a musician or band is, the more relatable they are to their audience. Plus, it's far better than the alternative of letting fans sit in silence wondering what's going on.

3. Come prepared.

And not just to play . . . that much should be a given. Come prepared for as many contingencies as possible. Plan for the worst case scenarios. What if someone forgets the lyrics mid-song? What if the mic stops working? What if someone breaks a guitar string? Knowing what you'd do in the event these things happen will keep you level-headed when they actually do, and being level-headed will help you avoid the dreaded dead air that often accompanies stage disasters.

4. Don't underestimate the power of small talk.

Granted, you don't want to talk through half your set. However, strategic small talk can act as social camouflage when something goes wrong. If you hit a glitch and need a few minutes to get it squared away, engage the audience. For the most part, fans only get to see the performance version of musicians. When they feel like they're getting to see a more personal side of you onstage, it makes you more memorable. The more memorable you are, the more likely they'll look you up again.

5. Be on the same page before you start.

Chatter between band members should be minimal once you hit the stage. Why? Because you've already had the big discussions beforehand: exactly what songs are on your set list, what order you plan to play them, how you'll handle transitions, etc. When a lead singer covers the mic and turns away from the audience to discuss something at length with a band mate, it's a segue straight into dead air. Plus, it comes off as amateur, which is never a good message to send to your audience.

Nov 29, 2016

9 Ways Musicians Can Make Money Online

There's an expression that goes, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." Such may come to mind when someone tells you there are ways you, as a musician, could potentially be making money online. And, hey, that's understandable — you can't swing a stick these days without hitting a scam.

However, there really are tried-and-true ways to make a few extra bucks (and in some cases, a lot of extra bucks) online as a musician. Are they easy? Well, easy is a relative term but it's safe to say that anything worth doing requires a little effort.

But if you're willing to put in the effort, the following methods of making money online could give your bank account a boost.

1. Listing your goods and services on online classifieds.

People are always, always looking for a good deal on great musicians to book for special events — whether that be a gala for work or to find a singer for their own wedding. Another idea? Music lessons! Most of us know at least one person who has expressed an interest in lessons, so why not capitalize on that interest? Offering music lessons for children and young adults may prove to be particularly popular. You can also try your hand at selling your music and merch through these sites (think Craigslist).

2. Searching the "gigs" section of online classifieds.

Another idea for Craigslist and other similar sites is to search the "gigs" section. Jobs for musicians are generally listed under the "talent" tab and vary in size and scope. In full disclosure, it's probably best to do a search in the gigs sections for "bands" or "musicians" — otherwise, you're going to have to sift through quite a few ads looking for "females interested in modeling" and "glamour models."

3. Sell directly through your website.

There are many benefits to selling your EP or album directly through your own website, namely that you don't have to shell out a big chunk of your revenue to a secondary seller. Stocking your online store with band merch like t-shirts and car decals also isn't a bad idea. Those sales won't make you rich, but they'll add up over time and aren't too cost-prohibitive to create.

4. Offering pre-order sales.

If you have an EP or full-length album in the works, offering pre-order sales accomplishes a few things. First, it obviously establishes a revenue stream for the release to build upon. Second, it hypes the release. There's hype inherent with pre-orders, because fans like feeling like they will hear the music they love before the proverbial masses. The more momentum you're able to build prior to release, the better yield you'll have once the album drops.

5. Auctioning gear and other music memorabilia.

There's a market for pretty much everything online, and music gear and memorabilia is no different. Is your band upgrading sound systems? Find an auction site that accepts used music gear (Google "auction music equipment") and list your old sound system. You can sell essentially anything this way, as long as you are willing to follow the rules of the auction site's reserve.

6. Blasting a flash sale.

Using your mailing list — if you don't have one, start building one now — send "flash sale" newsletters to your subscribers. Everyone loves a deal! By building special sale campaigns around special events (i.e. an upcoming show) or holidays (i.e. Christmas), you can unload everything from albums to merch to signed prints at a discounted rate. It's a smart way to move inventory that has been collecting dust.

7. Maintaining a YouTube presence.

While being discovered via YouTube and becoming a seeming overnight success isn't the most likely outcome, keeping your YouTube channel filled with fresh content will help you build a following. In turn, this drives traffic to your website, potentially boosting sales there as well as attendance at your shows. Just think of your YouTube channel as a living, breathing business card.

8. Submitting "bids" through online job sites.

As a musician, you are an expert in your field — you can levy that expertise on job sites like ODesk, Guru.com, Get a Freelancer, etc. The catch, of course, is that most of these sites are primarily a resource for writers. That can work in your favor for a few reasons, though. First and foremost, you are an actual musician who can generate music content based on personal experience. Second of all, the fact that you are a musician first could set you apart from the pack. At the very least, it's a great way to meet and make connections that could lead to gigs down the road.

9. Trying affiliate marketing.

This one definitely requires some thorough research and an understanding of what affiliate marketing is before you can determine if it's the right fit for you or your band. However, it goes without saying that there are plenty of bands who use affiliate marketing through their websites to generate income successfully. You can find a decent briefer from ProBlogger here.

 

Oct 31, 2016

Earn More With Tip Jar!

Cash is quickly declining as a way to pay, with even the smallest items like a cup of coffee or a soda frequently charged to a card or through a mobile device. Even vending machines have card readers these days! This trend is terrible for your tip jar with fewer fans having cash on them while enjoying your music. 
 
Now's your chance to earn more with your online Tip Jar! Adding this new feature to your site allow fans to show their support while using their payment method of choice, Paypal, credit card, check or direct from their bank account. 
 
Adding a Tip Jar to your site is easy. From the site editor, simply drag and drop the feature to any page. Add any text you like to the Tip Jar. If you already have your Store configured, no further steps are required. If not, click into the feature and configure your store by verifying your Paypal address and the currency you would like to receive. 
 
Make sure to promote your new feature on social media and at your shows! 

 

Sep 27, 2016

7 Bad Habits Bands Should Shake Off, Stat

Hey, don't feel bad — we all have habits we need to break. I bite my nails. My husband sometimes wears socks with sandals. But these things haven't affected our careers (at least not that we know of, although that socks-and-sandals business is pretty dicey). There are some bad habits that musicians are particularly prone to, though, that could very well curb a band's potential and growth. In other words, they need to go.

While it's never easy to admit you could be doing life a little better than you are, accepting that certain behaviors are problematic is the first step to fixing them. And fixing them? Well, that could be the first step toward putting your band on the map.

Check out the following issues bands often grapple with so you can be more mindful not to make them moving forward.

1. Not playing to your strengths

I love a good cover of "Simple Man" as much as the next person, but I'm also very aware that I don't have the vocal range of the late great Ronnie Van Zant (or Johnny Van Zant or Shinedown's Brent Smith, for that matter). I'm also not fronting a band trying to build its following, in which case I would want to downplay my weaknesses . Some songs just aren't a good fit for everyone. If your vocalist is struggling to hold onto long notes or your guitarist can't seem to master the riffs, don't include it in your set ... no matter how many times that one guy in the front row keeps yelling, "Play some Skynyrd!" The very best bands are the ones who know their strengths and highlight them.

2. Skipping out

Band practice may not be as exciting as standing on a stage pandering to a pumped up crowd, but skipping it is a bad idea. It'll essentially ensure you'll suffer some mortifying moment in your band's career that could very well have been prevented if you'd logged a bit more rehearsal time. A vocalist's voice is his or her instrument, and it must be trained. The other members of the band aren't off the hook, either — drums, guitar, and keyboard are all crafts that require practice if you expect those skills to stay sharp. Even worse than skipping out on practice, though? Bailing on a booked gig. Barring true emergency situations, you should never cancel a performance. It's a pain in the ass for the venue to find a replacement, and it could lead to bad word-of-mouth. You don't want to practice (and/or live, no judgment) in the basement forever, do you?

3. Trying to be something you're not (like, for instance, perfect)

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: you're not perfect. You'll never be perfect. No amount of practice in the world will make you a perfect performer, because perfection is unattainable. It's like the horizon — an invisible line that recedes the closer you get to it. The most seasoned artists in the world with tell you the same, so stop wasting your time and energy trying to be a flawless version of yourself. Sure, keep striving to be the best version of you that you can be! But don't forget that it's human to err, and it's our self-perceived flaws that make us unique. In an industry as competitive as the music scene, you need something that makes you stand out. Your "flaws" can be your selling point if you simply learn to embrace them. Fans crave authenticity. Give them something authentic to remember you by.

4. Bailing on other bands

If you're booked to perform at a gig and two other bands are scheduled to come on after your set, try to stick around — especially if the bands are local. It's important to support your local music scene to cultivate interest and connections. It's also important not to seem like a bunch of dill-holes who think they are too good to stick around and listen to the quote-unquote competition. Granted, if you have a super early gig the next morning or have to hit the road early that night, by all means bow out. Do so gracefully, though, by telling the other bands booked that night to break a leg (and mean it only in the nicest sense of the expression).

5. Changing your band name

When it comes to a band's brand, it all starts with the name. Your band name is the first thing people see or hear about you. It's what is printed across the merch they buy when they become your biggest fans. It's the thing they scream when you come out on stage. In other words, a band's name is an integral part of their image. It's important, then, to pick a name and try to stick with it. Every time you change your band name, you risk losing the brand you've worked so hard to build. There are extenuating circumstances, of course, such as starting with name that lacks brandability or being forced by a larger band to change your name for infringement reasons. But if you've simply grown tired of your current name, think twice before making a change.

6. Expecting music writers to make the first move

Music writers and bloggers can be a band's best friend. You want them to take a vested interested in your story. You want them to promote your music. If a potential fan knows nothing about you and wants help deciding if your sound is worth pursuing, they turn to music writers to fill in the blanks for them. And, occasionally, you might hear from a music writer who came to one of your shows or whose curiosity was piqued by your buzz. But, as an entertainment writer, I can tell you there's not enough time in the day to pursue all of the pitches sent our way and still have time to reach out to every local band out there gigging. Don't expect coverage; work for it. If you were to email me and tell me I'd be missing a huge opportunity if I didn't interview a band as badass as yours, I'd email you back. Be respectful, but be persistent too. It could mean all the difference in the kind (and amount) of coverage you get.

7. Feeling bad about self-promotion

When asked about why they don't use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote their music, many bands will tell you they feel bad about barraging their friends, family, and fans with updates. In not doing so though, you're failing to capitalize on one of the easiest tools of self-promotion available that — bonus! — also happens to be free. The key is to find the right balance. If you under-post, you likely won't see much movement in your fan base or community involvement. If you over-post, you risk alienating your followers. Start by creating a few band-specific posts per day and work up or down from there. The people who dig what you're doing musically will want to hear what you have going on. Don't feel guilty! Get out there and get the good word out to the people.

Sep 20, 2016

Welcome to the Slideshow

Welcome to the slideshow! We just released a new feature that allows you to quickly and easily add a multi-image slideshow to your website.

Adding a slideshow is a great way to keep your site looking fresh and add some visual flair. Show off each member of the band, a new album release or different shots of your live performances. It literally takes just seconds to change up the look and feel of your site.

We offer three different configurations for the slideshow feature:

 

Carousel Fade: Select this for a smooth transition from one image to the next.

Carousel Slide: Each new image quickly slides from right to left.

Page Reload: This shows a new image each time a user reloads or visits a new page.

 

The video example below shows the 'Carousel Fade' setting, which is the most popular choice so far. Try each of them to see what works best for you!

To try your own slideshow:

 

1) Login to your account and click the change image option from your site editor, or navigate there by clicking design at the top and selecting the header images option.

2) Drag and drop new images or add to slider galleries from your existing media library. Create new galleries for later use, inserting them into the page when you are ready, and easily discard old galleries with the quick click of the remove button.

 

We'll be adding more to this feature in coming weeks and would love to hear your feedback on how we might improve this for your experience! Shoot us an email or give us a call if you have questions or comments.

 

 

Aug 10, 2016

The 6 Must Haves in your Digital Press Kit

There are many possible benefits of having a press kit accessible on your band’s website. It’s a section of your website that is dedicated to giving a professional snapshot full of useful information and images that people from the media can in various different ways. By putting this information together yourselves, you avoid the possibility that the media will use whatever photos or sound clips of your band that they can find online. It goes without saying that this has the potential to be very unflattering.

It’s best to take the whole situation into your own hands before this happens. Here is a list of some of the important things that you should be including in your band’s press kit:

 

Bio

Take the time to sit down together and write out a well organized biography for your band that really captures the image and purpose of your music. You should include different levels of information for those who might just need a quick bio and for those that might want to include more information. You can do this by writing a brief bio, one that is more descriptive, and then one that is your full complete biography.

 

High Quality Photos

Having photos that are professionally taken available on your band’s page is invaluable for preserving your public image. By having these available for the media to use for their blogs, events pages, and write-ups you can avoid having images put out there that are old, unprofessional, or unflattering. You should include several band photos and individual photos of each member of your band.

 

Contact Info

Make sure that you include a way for people to get in contact with your band whether that be an email that your band uses or the contact information of your booking manager. It’s important that the media can get ahold of your band in case they are interested in getting more information on a show, your band, or getting a quote for their article.

 

Links To Your Social Media Pages

Social Media is vital for bands in today’s cyberworld. It is an amazing tool for fans to stay connected with their favorite bands and stay up-to-date on tour information.It can be difficult to find your band’s page, however, especially if you have a name that doesn’t particularly stand out. Many people working in the media might not take the extra effort to try and look you up on their own, but, if you have links to all your pages on your media kit page, they will be just a quick click away.

 

Demo Music

You should include about three or four of your band’s best songs on your media press kit page for those wanting to write about your band. This is the perfect solution for those who might not be willing, or have the time, to make it out to your shows. This gives them an opportunity to hear a high quality recording of your music to get a good grasp of your sound. This also prevents them from having to resort to listening to fan recorded video on YouTube that might not be very representative.

 

News Clippings

A collection of your band’s previous interviews, reviews, and articles are a valuable asset to have on your press kit page so other writer can quote them, and get a good feel of the public opinion of your band. If your are using links from a news outlets page you should regularly check to make sure these links are still working as news outlets often take down older stories. You can avoid this by buying digital copies of interviews and stories from them for a small fee.

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