Bandvista Blog

 
 
 
Nov 22, 2017

SoundCloud - How To Get Your Music Noticed

In the 1990s I worked as a talent scout and band manager. I loved scouting for labels. I was lucky enough to work with a number of small independents and a major label. I would spend my nights visiting rehearsal studios and live music venues.

During the day I would work for the bands I managed. I would spend hours phoning labels and making new contacts. I would spend a small fortune duplicating demos, stuffing them into mailers and taking them to my local post office.

Now the game has changed. In one way it is a lot easier to get your music seen by the right people. In another way, it is a lot harder for artists to get noticed.

With thousands of hours, of new music added daily. SoundCloud is an ocean of new music. It is also one of the number one tools used by talent scouts.  Many artists continue to make the same mistakes when using this service

Only The Best

Many artists use SoundCloud as a showcase for their music catalog. They upload everything from demos to live performances. This is a mistake if you want to get signed.

Your Soundcloud page should be for the best, the very best. You should treat your SoundCloud page as a showcase. When I was stuffing cassette tapes into an envelope in the early 90s. I would only have three tracks on a tape. The very best three tracks. Artists are much more fortunate now. They can showcase entire albums. But they should be selective.

If the music on your page sounds old and not up to your current standards remove it. If songs are badly mixed and edited remove them. If badly mixed tracks from live performances are there, remove them

Get Plays

Getting plays on SoundCloud is easy. It just requires a little effort. SoundCloud is a community that rewards interaction. The best way to get thousands of plays and look popular. Is to find other SoundCloud users with similar music and tastes to your own.

Interact with them, like their music. If you like their music they will come looking for your music. Keep interacting, make new friends. This is a music platform and we all love talking about music.

Get friends and family to play and like your music and get them to comment. I would set up a SoundCloud account for my granny if got me a few plays and I nice comment. They all count.

The final thing you can do is spend $5 and buy 1000 plays of a specialist company. A quick Google search will throw up lots of companies who provide this service. I know some people frown on this. Personally, I don't.

If a SoundCloud page has nothing but paid for plays it is easy to spot. As the play count will be high and there will be no comments or interactions. If a page has lots of interactions and a block of paid plays somewhere in the middle. Nobody will ever know. Music scouts look for talent and popularity above all other things. Play the game a little. Major record labels buy plays all the time (cough, allegedly). So why can't you? Just do it in a smart way, just like they do.

If you use SoundCloud in a clever way. You can have thousands of plays and followers in a very short period of time.

Create Your Image

You want your page to look popular and professional. It is not hard to create a good image for yourself and look professional. Design a logo.  You can do this yourself with free software or a pencil and paper. There are a million and one ways to create a good logo.

If you can not do it yourself. You can get a graphic designer of a website like Fiverr for $5 and they will make it for you. It is so easy to look good and it does not have to cost the earth.

Write an interesting biography, don't be boring, Be creative. Give your listeners something to read while they listen to your music. If they are engaged and interested in your page they will stay there for a longer time.

You can then use your logo and bio across the rest of your social media. This will create a unified image and make you look professional and like you mean business. Use the same logo on everything. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Band Camp.

Music fans love this, talent scouts also love it. You will love it. As you will feel professional. If you use SoundCloud effectively, you will gain followers who genuinely like your music. You will also have a brand and a page that looks attractive to talent scouts.

Nov 21, 2017

Musician Versus Performer - 5 Key Differences

The terms “musician” and “performer/performing artist” are used almost interchangeably these days, but these terms are not actually synonymous. Musicians can certainly be performing artists, but performing artists cannot always be strictly considered musicians; musicianship involves a broad array of different skills; whereas performance involves a somewhat more limited set of them. Here are five key differences between musicians and performing artists.

Theoretical Training

A musician will always have some level of training in music theory, whether they undertook it in degree studies or via online classes and texts. A performing artist may have some theoretical ability as it applies to their professional practice, but they will rarely have the deeper understanding of music theory that a musician may have.

Aural Skills

A musician will also typically have training in aural skills – the ability to analyze and learn music based on hearing. Performing artists, however, may have a sharper ear for tone, dynamic, and trouble spots, due to their extensive time spent with singing or playing music; a musician may not spend nearly as much time on performance as a performing artist. Some performing artists learn their instrument entirely by ear, and subsequently develop aural skills independently of academic training – in some, this can be more effective than the kind of aural skills drilling practiced in many music degree programs.

Compositional Ability

Musicians will, due to their theoretical training, generally have at least basic compositional ability whether via notation programs or on manuscript paper. Performing artists who are strictly that will generally not write their own music or lyrics; musicians who are also composers are often hired to write music for them.

Instrumental or Vocal Training

Generally, both musicians and performing artists will undertake academic training or private lessons on their instrument or for their voice part; but performing artists may spend somewhat more time training on their instrument(s) than musicians with more general practice. However, trained musicians often spend years – even entire lifetimes – receiving training on their instrument, whereas performing artists often only take lessons for a few years before embarking on their careers.

Educational Capability

Because most musicians are trained, either privately or academically, they possess a greater array of tools (music theory, aural skills, and instrumental or vocal instruction) that permit them to pass the skills of musicianship to students. While some performing artists occasionally instruct, most performing artists have not gained the intensity and depth of musicianship necessary to teach as trained musicians have (though there is certainly crossover, as previously mentioned).

Ultimately, the role of the musician is broader, while the role of the performing artist is more focused; and dependent on the situation, either role may have an advantage in the creation or interpretation of music.

Nov 21, 2017

Keyed Up: 5 Awesome Keyboards for Beginners

If you're a budding keyboardist – or an aspiring one – no doubt you've looked at tons of brands and models, trying to figure out which one might be best. While the pro models are certainly worth investing in, finding your way around a simpler board while you're still learning the keyboardist's tricks of the trade can help you master a more complex one later on. Here are five of the best keyboards for beginners.

Yamaha S03

The Yamaha S03, while being one of the older models of synthesizers, nevertheless is on par with other brands of its generation. This easy-to-navigate synth features sixty-one keys, over seven hundred different voices across three patch banks, drum kits, and MIDI capability with an interface included. The backlit screen is easy to read and navigate, allowing the player to easily switch between voices on the fly – and the keys feature smooth and dynamic-sensitive action.

Casio CTK-6200

This keyboard comes loaded with all kinds of brilliant features, including sixty-one keys, a CD/MP3 player interface for play-along, MIDI capability, and seven hundred patches. Fairly lightweight, the Casio CTK-6200 also makes an excellent touring keyboard for musicians who play keys live. It also includes a metronome function, an arpeggiator, and a pitch bend wheel capable of up to twenty-four different semitones on the same note.

Axus Digital AXP25

A more obscure brand but no less for all that, the Axus Digital AXP25 is an excellent board for the true beginner. Featuring sixty-one keys, three hundred patches, a sturdy sheet music stand, and built-in lessons – an ideal board for the budding pianist or those who want to teach themselves keys. The AXP25 also features USB connectivity for MIDI control via a software interface, a sustain pedal, and headphones output.

Yamaha PSR-e353

This basic, lightweight keyboard model is nevertheless chock-full of advantageous features for the aspiring keyboardist, including the Yamaha Education Suite with several stages of successive learning and more than a hundred built-in songs, nearly six-hundred voices, and MP3 player hookup for play-along. Like the S03, the PSR helps to bridge the gap between pro-quality sound and affordability.

Nord Electro 3

A standard in the goth industrial community and a must-see for those interested in modular synths, the Nord Electro 3 features sixty-one or seventy-three keys. With hundreds of voices, a sample editor, and a wide range of sound effects, the Nord Electro 3 is a fantastic keyboard that still caters to the beginner while allowing a huge range of creativity in sound creation.

Each of these boards has something different to offer – and for the musician on a budget, also offer up great bang for the buck. If you're an aspiring or beginning keyboardist, consider one of these boards – and even once you've become a polished keys player, one of them might still end up on one of your albums!

Nov 21, 2017

The Finish Line: Organizing an Album Release

You've spent months – maybe even years – producing your material. Countless hours have been logged in the practice room, in the studio, or at your machine. But after that big push, there are always some loose ends that have to be tied up. Whether this is your first studio release or your twentieth, check out these tips that can help you organize a studio release.

Make a Spreadsheet

For those who are visually oriented, making a spreadsheet of the album can be an enormous help. In the first column, list each track – preferably in the order you want for the final release. In succeeding columns, list components of each track – vocals, keys, guitars, and subcategories like keyboard notation, vocals recording, and the like – and mark where each phase is at in production. This will help keep you on task and let you know at a glance where the album is in terms of completion – which means no nasty surprises if you realize you forgot to do something critical near the album deadline.

Make a Promotions List

Once your album is complete, you're going to want start promoting it. Whether you use an app like Wunderlist or just a straight word processing program, make a list of magazines, online publications, promoters, DJs, and radio stations that you want to receive your album – whether in digital or hard copy format. Write down the physical or email addresses of each outlet and check off each one as you send out material. You'll want to start generating your list a couple of months before you finish your album – and once it's complete, you can probably finish materials submission inside an afternoon.

Start Generating Buzz

Although you'll want to announce your commencement of making a new album almost as soon as you begin, start generating an online buzz a few months in advance of the release. Getting your fan base excited about what you're going to release can take many forms – you might post promo images from a music video you're producing for the album, or offer up a free downloadable track from it. Once your album drops, you'll want to have cultivated a sense of excitement over what you've produced – which will generally mean better album sales.

Organize a CD Release Party or Concert

Starting around the same time you start generating buzz about your new album, start looking around for promoters or venues that will help you organize a CD release party or concert. Talk with other bands and artists and get them on board to present a well-rounded bill, or talk with local promoters and see what their recommendations are. CD release parties are great opportunities to sell albums – especially if you offer an exclusive discount to folks who purchase your new album at the CD release party.

Organizing the release of a new album can seem daunting, but these four tips will help you break down the process – and release your new album with panache and style.

 

Nov 21, 2017

“You Must Have It So Easy!” - The Challenges of Music School

Attending music school is often met with exclamations of “Oh wow, your courseload must be so light” or “It must be so easy getting to study something you love.” And while certainly it is a rewarding experience to study music for lots of reasons, an easy thing it is not. The object here isn't to discourage people from attending music school. It's a tough furrow to plow, to be sure, but it is also extremely fulfilling for those who have their head screwed firmly in place. The point here, rather, is to talk about some of the most difficult parts of music school so that next time you hear one of these statements, you can just direct them to this blog and watch them blink in disbelief as they ponder things they've never known about attending music school. Here are five huge challenges music school.

A Heavier Courseload

Students attending school for a degree in music always have a heavier than average courseload than other majors. The average university student will take five courses a semester; music majors typically take seven or eight. Because music degrees are so highly specialized, in addition to general education classes music majors have to take a lot of specialty classes each semester, from private lessons to performance concentration master classes.

Hours of Practice

Music majors don't just get out of class and go home to do their homework; in addition to all the essays, papers, and quizzes to be completed in gen ed classes, they also have to practice for hours to learn and master their solo material, ensemble material, and any music for instrumental technique classes they are taking. This effectively doubles the amount of time they have to spend on work outside the classroom in comparison with other majors.

Juries

Juries are scored musical examinations in which music majors perform on their main instrument and are graded by a jury board of professors, which will typically include their private instructor, the head of their internal department and sometimes the dean of the school. Juries are incredibly high pressure – because if a music major bombs their juries, they can be placed on academic probation or even removed from their degree program. Juries are in addition to all the other examinations students have to take each semester, and often times are assigned in advance – which usually results in music students having to negotiate exam times with other instructors, since jury times can almost never be altered.

More Credits Per Degree

Lots of music classes offer fewer than the standard three credits per course. Private lessons are often just two credits; ensembles, like chorus or orchestra, can be as little as half a credit. This translates into students having to take more classes overall than other majors, as mentioned earlier; and on average, music students usually wind up with more than the requisite hundred and twenty credits for their undergraduate degree.

Lots Less Time

All the work music majors have to do winds up resulting in a lot less time for activities outside their studies. One of the reasons music majors seem like such an insular group is that other music majors understand very well the pressures of a music degree program, and won't take it personally when one of their friends or the person they're dating says, “Can't, I've got rehearsal” or “I want to but I really have to practice/do my theory homework/etc.” Music majors experience burnout regularly because they have so little downtime – going for a music degree is not for the faint of heart, and some music students have to take routine time off from school to recover.

Music school is an immense challenge, personally, academically, and professionally. So the next time you hear someone say to a music student, “You must have it so easy!”, you'll know that they're wrong – and you can correct their assumption.

 

Nov 21, 2017

5 Guitars for Beginners

If you're just starting out with guitar – either acoustic or electric – the choices you'll find in any music store can be overwhelming. But there are a few guitars that stand out as good choices for beginning students in guitar – a blend of quality and simplicity. Here are five guitars for beginners.

Gibson Maestro Acoustic

One of the least expensive acoustic guitars on the market, the Gibson Maestro nevertheless boasts good quality and sound for the price. With beautiful curves and a tremendous dynamic range, the Maestro Acoustic boasts a rosewood fingerboard and a spruce veneer, and can often be bundled with a gig bag, picks, shoulder strap, and spare strings for a nice bit of savings.

Fender Stratocaster

In the mid-range for pricing, the Fender Stratocaster is one of the best-known electric guitars of modern rock and roll and is seen in the hands of students and professionals alike. An excellent choice for guitar students who plan to enter the professional arena after an appropriate amount of instruction, the Stratocaster boasts a classic rock and roll sound at home with every genre from metal to alternative rock.

Squier Strat

Ideal for both student and hobbyist, the Squier Strat is one of the most inexpensive electric guitars available. With limited capability but decent sound, the Squier Strat is often sold as part of a bundle intended for the beginner, with a gig bag, amp, picks, and strap included. While some professionals might disdain the Strat for its lesser versatility, it is nevertheless a great choice for both students and those on a tight budget.

Seagull S6

A mid-ranged acoustic guitar, the Seagull S6 is another guitar ideally suited to students who intend to transition to professional practice later on. With good tonal quality and solid construction, the S6 is the recipient of several awards for sound quality and craftspersonship, and includes plug-ins for amplification and a built-in tuner.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Another mid-priced guitar, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard electric guitar is one of the best-known models in the guitar world. With solid construction, clear sound, and a gorgeous body, the Les Paul Standard is just that – a standard among guitarists and students of guitar alike.

Regardless of what you want to do with guitar – whether you want to take it up as a hobby or become the second incarnation of Jack Black – one of these instruments is likely to suit the direction you intend to take for many years to come.

 

Nov 21, 2017

5 Best Free (or cheap) DAWs

If you produce electronic music, record, or do anything else that involves a digital audio workstation, you'll already know the big names in this industry. But for musicians who might have a tight (or nonexistent) budget, affording one of those big-name DAWs can be a challenge. If you're looking for an inexpensive – or even free – DAW, check out these five awesome free or cheap DAWs.

Acid Pro Xpress

Acid Pro Xpress, produced by Sony, is a fantastically comprehensive digital audio workstation that permits ten tracks per project and basic mixing capability. Free to download, Acid Pro Xpress can be easily upgraded to a fuller version of the award-winning music creation platform – but if you're looking to save cash, upgrade to an earlier edition of Acid Pro to get tons of tracks per project, sound effects, and even more mixing tools.

Audacity

One of the original freeware DAWs, Audacity is simple but effective if you're doing basic audio editing. However, if you push Audacity to its limit – and you have a decent processor – you can turn Audacity into a decent powerhouse, with the capability of pushing out semi-professional sounding tracks. For musicians who are just starting out, Audacity is a perfect beginning DAW for setting up demo tracks for online distribution.

Giada

Giada is a totally free open-sourced DAW that functions wonderfully as a loop and drum sequencer, MIDI trigger, and live sampler. Created especially for live musicians and DJs, Giada is a powerful program whose minimalistic interface might fool the unwary. Well worth the learning curve, Giada is an excellent alternative to high-priced software programs of its type – and if you love it, you can donate to support further development.

Garageband

Available exclusively to Mac OSX users, Garageband is a highly capable DAW, jam-packed with a ton of recording, editing, and post-production tools. With up to two hundred and fifty tracks per project, this awesome professional-grade DAW is free to OSX users – and rumors of a Linux simulator for the software are floating about, too.

Rosegarden

Originally a Linux-only DAW, Rosegarden is now available on Windows machines as well. Open-sourced and free, Rosegarden serves as a highly capable DAW and MIDI sequencer, and is well worth the learning curve that comes along with it. Robust and packed with tools, Rosegarden is among the best free open-source digital audio workstations on the market.

Whether you're on a budget or just love to support independent and open-source projects, each of these digital audio workstations is worth checking out – not to mention utilizing for your next album or live music project!

Nov 20, 2017

When A Show Goes wrong – 5 Tips for Handling It

Every musician, no matter how experienced, has bad gigs from time to time. It's an inevitability, and while it's always a stressful experience, having a show go wrong can be handled with professionalism and grace. Here are five tips for when a show goes wrong – and how you can save the day.

Stay Calm

When something goes wrong at a show, it's a totally natural response to feel panic and even fear. It can be especially palpable if it's your first show, or it's in the middle of a tour. If something goes wrong, take a minute to focus yourself, take some deep breaths, and get centered. Staying calm will help you from both a social and a pragmatic standpoint – you won't have any fans or other professionals witness you having a full-blown freakout, and if you're calm, you'll be better equipped to solve whatever the problem is.

Focus On Solutions

Don't spend time arguing over whose fault it is or how it happened – focus on fixing it. Whether it's a blown drumhead or a technical issue, focus your efforts on solving the problem. Argument and speculation won't help you fix the problem, and it will cost you precious time in a live environment. Your only speculation should be about possible fixes for whatever's wrong.

Don't Get Confrontational

Even if it's obvious that an issue is a particular person's fault, don't get confrontational with them. Include them in the process of helping to solve the problem, whether it's one of your bandmates or the audio tech assigned to your event. If you handle things professionally, they will usually be much more on board with enthusiastically collaborating to solve the issue, and it's likely that they'll apologize for the mistake, too. Confronting them will put them on the defensive and make them less willing to help – and you might not get an apology, either.

Ask How You Can Help

If you're not personally handling the issue at hand, ask the person or people who are how you can help. If there's nothing you can do to assist, just stand back and let them work through the solution process; but if they ask you to do something that you are able to do, do so without complaint or delay. Helping will hasten the process of solving the problem; but even if you can't help, the person whom you offered to help will probably be better disposed towards you and may work harder to solve the problem quickly.

Follow Up

Sometimes it is appropriate to follow up with the venue or promoter – for better or for worse. If you were faced with an issue that was resolved quickly and professionally, give props to the problem solver. If your show was a complete disaster due to lack of professionalism or skill, that is also something the venue or promoter should know about. Be courteous and professional with your follow-up, but be honest – the venue may need better staff, and if you want to play there again, that will help you too.

There is always potential for something to go wrong at a show, whether a minor issue or a legitimate disaster. However, these tips will not only help you weather things better, they'll help you build a good reputation as a helpful and reasonable person and a musician who is easy to work with – and those sorts of musicians are favorites among venues and promoters alike!

Nov 11, 2017

10 Steps to Better Music Marketing

Much to the chagrin of most musicians, marketing often takes up almost as much time as the creative process itself. For musicians who aren't on a major label and don't have access to a dedicated marketing team, marketing management is a vital skill to develop. But marketing your music doesn't have to be a headache-inducing endeavor – there are lots of ways to streamline the process and make it easier to get your work in front of people who want to hear it. Check out these ten steps to better music marketing.

Know Your Core Demographic

Knowing who you're marketing to is key. Know the kinds of people that listen to your genre(s) of music – where they go, what they do, what they like, where they're from. Knowing your audience will help you better target your marketing – and in turn will help you sell more music and book more shows.

Choose a Platform 

Social media marketing has become an incredibly important part of selling and promoting just about anything, and choosing a social media management platform can help you streamline and manage your social media posts – not to mention save you lots of time. Take a little time to research relevant social media platforms as well as available platforms for social media management, and choose carefully in accordance with your needs and budget.

Occasionally Review Analytics

Analytics show you how frequently your social media posts are viewed and which ones are performing the best. Reviewing social media analytics will help you get better at marketing by showing you what kind of posts are performing bests and even which times of day your posts tend to do well.

What's Paying Off? 

Do your video posts perform well? What about pictures and text posts? Good marketing generally translates into sales and opportunities, so pay close attention to what's getting the most responses, particularly to would-be music buyers and promoters.

Regularly Release New Material

While some bands go years between albums, you should at least occasionally show your audience what you're working on. Post some audio tracks you're working on, photos from the studio, or pics of your new instrumental setup – anything that gives your audience the inside track on your process is good to share.

Engage With Your Audience 

If you get comments or messages, don't ignore them – respond to them as much as you possibly can. If you get a lot of these – and we'll talk about this next – gather up common questions and comments and address them in Q+A sessions, whether you do static videos or livestreams. An audience that feels listened to is going to keep listening.

Q+A

Q+A sessions can be lots of fun for your audience. Whether you do one a month or one a year, bands with engaged followings usually get a great response to them. As mentioned before, collect questions via comments or messages, and encourage fans to view the Q+A sessions or participate in the livestream. Livestreams are becoming super popular among creators, so see if it works for you.

Post Shareable Content

The best marketing relies on people discussing what you're doing with one another. By posting highly shareable content – especially videos and photos – you're more likely to get post shares and video clicks, and, ultimately, more fans.

Regular Posts

Making regular posts across social media platforms and blogging sites is one of the best ways to keep people regularly engaged. Posts daily or every few days are a great bet, and this is one area you can use your analytics data – see when the most people are viewing posts and schedule them via your SM management platform for around those times.

Don't Overpost 

While daily posts are probably just fine, a dozen posts a day will probably drive people away. It's a crowded marketplace, to be sure, but don't be the screaming harpy. Keep your posts regular but not overfrequent, and keep them on point.

Most musicians don't want to spend their time on marketing, but it's especially important for indie artists of all stripes to gain knowledge of this area. Knowing how to market means you might not have to do it yourself for too long – because getting your music in front of the right people is the path to every musician's success

Nov 09, 2017

3 Steps to Choosing a Good Band Manager

Having a good band manager is a key ingredient to the long-term success of professional musicians. Band managers assist musical talent in handling the business side of their careers, and help to promote their music, secure shows, and book tours. They also handle scheduling for non-performance events, like meet and greets, signings, and label interviews.

Choosing a good band manager can be a challenge – but these three steps can help you with your search.

Ask Around

Musicians talk to each other – and a lot. Chances are if you're in the market for a band manager, some of your compatriots will have recommendations (or warnings). Start asking around, particularly within the scene of the genre you work in, if your fellow musicians or even DJs have recommendations for someone who can effectively manage your music career. Make a list of the names you hear and start making connections with them – this is the best way to see who may not only be a good fit professionally, but personality-wise as well.

Review Their Track History

An experienced band manager will have some successes to share regarding the acts they've managed in the past. If you see that the acts they've worked with have enjoyed steady success (even if it's slow), that is likely a combination of the band's dedication and their band manager's professional skill. If they've worked with a lot of acts that have dropped them in a year or less, or the acts they've managed have not really gone much beyond playing all local venues, it could mean that they're not the person you're looking for.

Stay Alert to Red Flags

If you hear more negatives than positives, pay close attention to what people are saying and why. In particular, be on the lookout for band managers who have been accused of taking payment from acts but not doing their job, taking total credit for the act's success, doing drugs on the job, or just straight-out lying to the acts they manage about things they're working on for them that never quite seem to materialize. If these are the kinds of reports you're getting, don't work with them – and warn other musicians against it, too.

All dedicated musicians take on a band manager at some point in their career, and it's important that you be selective about who you hire for this very important job – they will be responsible for helping you secure a large part of your income as a musician as well as representing you to labels, venues, and tour managers. These three steps will help you find the best fit for your career needs as a musician – and will help you foster a years-long association with your band manager that will benefit you both.

 

Nov 02, 2017

The Most Important Things to Consider When Buying Studio Monitors

When you are recording and mixing music, it is important to have access to a good set of studio monitors. Studios spend thousands of dollars on monitor speakers, but you can find excellent new and used monitors for under $200. If you are willing to spend a little more, you will find incredible sounding studio monitors for under $1000.

The final mix and Dynamic range

Good quality monitors bring so much to the final mix. Home studio engineers often get a little carried away when recording. They start adding many elements of fine detail to tracks only to lose those fine details in the final mix. The cause for fine details disappearing is often due to poor monitors.

If your monitor speakers are not powerful enough to deliver wide dynamic range elements of your music, it will become lost in the mix. This is often due to poor studio monitors. That part of your music is there. It is just that your ears can not hear it due to a weak dynamic range.

Speaker power is very important

The more power you have in your monitors, the better. This is not for volume, but to deliver a greater dynamic range in the songs you are mixing. You want as much "headroom" as possible. The higher the wattage, the greater the dynamic range. This means you have more to mix with.

When you have a monitor system that is powerful. It is important to learn that loud is not always best. Don't drive your speakers to full capacity, as you will experience elements of clipping and distortion.

If you are driving your monitors too hard, you will lose the more delicate elements of the track, and your mix will become dependant on the more dominant aspects of the track, making the final mix sound bass heavy or top heavy.

Room adjustment and EQ

Even in the budget ranges, studio monitors come with room controls. That is designed to help you tune your speakers to the acoustics of a room. More expensive monitors have automated digital processors to achieve the optimum sound from a particular environment.

There are two important things to consider with room adjustment controls. First, This is not a magic, miracle-working tool. If your room has an echo, it will always have an echo. Bad acoustics are bad acoustics. There is nothing you can do about it unless you start acoustically treating your studio space.

If your studio space has good acoustics, the adjustment controls will make your monitors sound amazing. You can tell the difference when a good set of monitors have been tuned to the room they are in.

On budget studio monitors do not expect much from the room adjustment controls. I find on some budget monitors the room adjustment controls can make a bad room sound worse, as the manufacturers have used cheap EQ controls. This is fine; I would rather see budget speaker manufacturers concentrate on the actual speakers and not the room EQ.

Amplification should always be a factor

You have found the perfect monitors. But what about the amplifier. Incredible speakers will not sound incredible unless you have an amplifier, that will do them justice. You do not have to spend the earth on an amplifier as you will probably have spent most of your budget on speakers.

You need an amplifier that is powerful. The same rules apply to amplifiers as to speakers. You need to consider the dynamic range The more power you have. The more of the dynamic range will be delivered to the speakers. Don't get caught up bi and tri amplification unless you have a big budget. Look for a good quality amplifier with more than enough power to drive your speakers.

Speaker placement

For optimum sound, you need to find your sweet spot. You monitor speakers should be placed at an angle, pointing at you. The speakers should be equal distance apart from each other. Your head should also be at an equal distance apart from the speakers.

In short, You head and the speakers need to be the same distance apart, forming a triangle. With the speakers angled towards your ears. This will create a sweet spot. The spot where the stereo is at its most perfect point. And the most accurate frequency response can be delivered.

Oct 27, 2017

No Class Act – Why Elitism Has No Place in Music

Music is a universal language. No matter what country you live in or what regional culture you are a part of, music is a way to communicate, express feelings, and signal calls to action all over the world. With music being such a universal concept, elitism in music makes for a totally bizarre and unacceptable practice.

This attitude is particularly prevalent in classical music, along with other more obscure genres. Music students as young as kindergarten will brag to one another about the cost of their instruments or lessons, and down other children who had to purchase less expensive instruments or borrow one from their school. This attitude – taught to young musicians from a very early age – persists well into adulthood, and even musicians who go on to successful careers in music still adopt a “adults versus children” attitude toward their peers, who may have not had access to more expensive instruments or training.

Among professionals, musicians are not chosen for their roles based on the quality of their instrument; they are chosen on the basis of ability and attitude, as with almost any other career. But rather than respecting the hard work of their peers – who very often had to work far harder to get where they are in the face of financial hardship – the opposite is very often true.

But elitism doesn't stop with classism. Elitism can be based on a number of other things, such as how extensive another musician's repertoire is, how wide a range of music they listen to, and their personal taste in music. Elitist musicians don't often stop to consider how exposure to the arts varies wildly from person to person, depending on background and culture, access to technology, and personal aesthetic. One of the most common forms of elitism is denouncing others for enjoying music that is considered highly accessible, like pop or minimalist composition.

The problem with this attitude is not that it's wrong to enjoy more obscure forms of music, or music that's inherently complex; the problem is with denouncing more traditional or accessible forms of music as being unworthy of the listener's time because it's “easy.” Musicians who throw proverbial stones at artists who enjoy or perform more accessible forms of music not only remove themselves from music they may genuinely enjoy (whether or not they admit it), but also dismiss the skills and hard work of musicians who choose to perform more accessible material.

Music as a universal art is meant to include anyone that wants to participate in it or perform it, and subsequently, elitism in music denotes a very particular kind of ego-stroking that has no place in any professional context. The idea that a musician who is well-off and can afford access to the best quality instruments in training - and whose musical taste is hallmarked by obscurity and complexity - is somehow better than other artists in light of these concepts is, frankly, ludicrous. Music as a field is not advanced by egotism or bullying – it is advanced by inclusion, mutual respect, and joint creativity.

So before sneering at a musician who pulls out a used instrument rather than a brand-new one, or tells you that they enjoy Britney Spears or Fall Out Boy, ask yourself, and your fellow musicians: “Does this serve our craft or our development as artists?” You will always find, regardless of context, that the answer is a resounding “No.”

Oct 16, 2017

5 Ways Music Can Aid a Community

Music is a powerful force to bring people together. And like most such forces, it operates in a number of ways to unify people. Music can comfort people in despair. It can give of itself to save lives. It can bring many together under a common banner to better the world. Here are five ways music can aid a community.

Fundraising

Chances are you've either been to a fundraising concert or heard about one happening in your town. Concerts are organized for all manner of purposes, from helping to pay for a child's cancer treatment to paying for new water systems in townships. Whole music festivals are organized around charity for various causes, whether it's to improve the educational system or help a hospital improve their infrastructure.

Lifting Spirits

Music, among its many functions, has the ability to lift people up in times of distress or despair. A lot of studies have taken place on music's effect on the human psyche, and just about every study has found that music makes us feel better. It helps us process emotions, and it helps to comfort us when we are down, angry, depressed or grieving. This is among the reasons live music is so popular – experiencing that lifting of spirits around others experiencing the same thing intensifies it.

Spreading Awareness

Music has the power to create awareness of lots of things, from political and social issues to global health issues and food shortages. Helping to increase awareness of an issue, particularly on the local level, is one of the many things music can do to draw people together to solve a problem.

Motivation

Sometimes, music festivals and concerts are aimed at getting people fired up – they serve as calls to action. Whether it's directed at getting people out to vote or encouraging people to help clean up the city streets, music can motivate people to make their communities a better place.

Creating Bonds and Friendships

Almost everyone who goes to shows has friends that they've made through the power of music. Bonding together over something you really love can create intense friendships – ones that may last a lifetime. It can help musicians create professional connections, too – some of which can be life-changing. Music is a unifying force on a number of fronts, and that power shows in its communities.

Music represents one of the most potent ways in which people can come together for the common good. If you're a musician, you can help harness this power to better your community – and the world.

Oct 12, 2017

Beyond Performance: 5 Jobs for Musicians

Being a musician doesn't just mean jumping around a stage every night. The field of music is a vast and many-faceted one, and numerous opportunities exist for musicians of every stripe, skill set, and personality type. If performance isn't particularly your style, here are five jobs for musicians beyond performance.

Music Therapist

If you love the idea of healing with music, this may well be the profession for you. The field of music therapy is growing rapidly, and institutions from hospitals to schools for disabled children have music therapists on their payroll. This job requires a minimum of a master's degree in music therapy, but also represents one of the best-paid professions in music.

Session Producer

Session work is often the bread and butter of working musicians, and the role of the session producer can be an especially lucrative one. Session producers oversee the organizing of session musicians and scheduling of studio time, and frequently have more than just a hand in the creative aspect of managing instrumentation, writing, and producing. Session producers may have degrees in music with a variety of specializations including performance, audio production, or composition, but many also have risen through independent study.

Songwriter

If the idea of writing songs for some of the biggest names in music while sipping coffee in your pajamas out on the balcony appeals to you, this job might be for you. Songwriters are often commissioned by studios and record companies to write music for and with performing artists – and while they might be required to spend time in the office at least from time to time, a lot of that work can be done from home. If writing music is your first love – especially if you have a composition degree or music songwriting certificate – this may be a great path to stroll down.

Private Instructor

The role of the private instructor is perfect for those who have a passion for teaching, but are perhaps less enthusiastic about doing it in a classroom of thirty. Private instructors typically must have at least a bachelor's degree in music or music education, but not always – instructors may qualify to teach at a music studio or store with sufficient experience of one or more instruments. Private instructors are typically fairly well-paid, particularly if they remain with the same studio or shop for many years.

Promoter

Promoters are often working musicians or DJs themselves, and spend a lot of time behind the scenes helping to market other musicians, organizing shows and tours, or booking interviews. If show organization and marketing are passions of yours – especially if you did a music degree with a minor in marketing or business – the position of promoter may be one you'll want to chase, particularly with well-known music or media production companies.

Not all musicians are destined for arena tours – and not all musicians want the rock star life. Each of these jobs represent important roles within the music industry that the more introverted musician may find incredibly fulfilling.

Oct 07, 2017

It's Personal: Creating from Personal Trauma

Personal trauma can take a variety of forms. From mental illness to a history of abuse, trauma changes the very fabric of our brains, transforming the way we think, feel, and respond. In the wake of Chester Bennington's suicide, fans the world over came together to mourn his death – and to discuss how much his work had changed their lives and, in some cases, saved them. Bennington created whole albums rooted in trauma – and although his eventually claimed him, he was able to move millions with what he had created from that pain.

Musicians as a collective are disproportionately affected by mental illness and disorders. And yet, throughout history, they have used their pain and suffering as wood for the creative fire. Hector Berlioz, composer of “Symphony Fantastique,” was posthumously diagnosed with depression with psychotic features. But from the blackness of that mental state, from the hallucinations he experienced during psychotic episodes, he created some of the most brilliant symphonies that the world has ever heard. Tchaikovsky suffered from bipolar disorder, and worked through his episodes of mania by feverishly working to create incredible works of music. Kurt Cobain's signature guitar melodies and cynical lyrics inspired a new generation of rock music and musicians.

Musicians creating from personal trauma has given rise to extensive discussion of using that trauma to heal – and to help others. It has also generated a discussion about whether or not musicians should feel obligated to share their personal experiences with their fans outside of the context of their music, though the general (and entirely appropriate) consensus is that they should by no means feel obligated to share deeply personal issues with virtual strangers.

Music has a great ability to heal wounds and help people – whether they are writing music or listening to it – in coping with moving past truly dark experiences. From depression to schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder to schizotypal personality disorder, one of the greatest gifts of any musician is the ability to create beauty, redemption, and validation from intense pain and suffering. It goes without saying that the romanticization of mental illness and trauma is a thing to be devoutly avoided; however, the vast body of neurodivergent experience has given rise to some of the greatest works of music in history, and, in turn, has helped to save lives and alleviate suffering.

Whether you create from personal trauma or strongly relate to musicians who do, music created from the darkness of trauma gives rise to the triumph that all creation brings – and, very often, goes on to heal another generation.

Oct 03, 2017

Pay to Play: 5 Reasons to Say No

The pay-to-play model – in which bands are required to sell tickets, pay for venue space, or otherwise part with cash for opportunities to play or air their music – has becoming increasingly popular. Despite industry backlash from artists against this model, young and emerging artists are continually parting with money to play their music – or even get it heard on radio stations. But the pay-to-play model is not only unsustainable, it assigns all the risk to performing artists – rather than artists and venues or stations sharing the risk. Here are five reasons you should say no to pay-to-play.

Most Can't Afford It

In a great number of pay-to-play models, artists are required not only to sell tickets to their own performances, but may even be required to buy “leftover” tickets if they have not reached the ticket sales requirements by the date of their performance. This can add up to hundreds of dollars that many artists simply don't have. Some radio stations also require money from artists to submit music to be played on their station – and some charge exorbitant fees. While some artists are financially successful enough to be able to afford these fees, they need the promotion far less than the artists who can't afford it.

Advertisement Revenue, Not Artist Revenue

Venues and radio stations often benefit from advertiser revenue, particularly if they work with high-profile brands or companies. For example, a lot of venue owners will allow product demos to take place at their bar or club – product demos that the company running the demo will pay the venue generously for. Radio stations run principally off advertisement revenue as well, airing commercials between song sets. A well-managed club or radio station has no need to take money from artists; instead, they should be looking to generate revenue not only from their patrons, but from advertisers.

It Creates an Unfair Standard

Endless complaints have arisen from artists who went with a pay-to-play model about essentially playing to empty rooms after shelling out hard-earned cash to have the chance to perform – and then making no money back on the enterprise. Pay-to-play creates a standard in which the the artists assume all of the financial risk, while the venue takes on absolutely no risk at all. While some level of risk will always be present when it comes to booking talent – especially emerging talent – for the venue or promoter to require the artist to undertake one hundred percent of the risk with fewer assets on hand is desperately unfair.

It Allows Venues to Not Promote

If artists take on all the work selling and promoting tickets, the venue doesn't have to do anything – they don't have to put up flyers, do digital marketing, or anything else that involves marketing the show the artists are attempting to put on. This puts performing artists at a distinct disadvantage, particularly emerging or lesser-known artists – they don't necessarily have the connections that the venue may, and there is a tremendous number of people they won't be reaching for their performance if the venue does nothing to promote. Once again, it assigns all the risk to the artist – and none to the venue or promoter.

It Deprives Artists – and Venues - of Income

In addition to potentially having to shell out money, pay-to-play often deprives artists of income they might have earned from a show if the venue doesn't promote or help drive sales. An appropriate professional relationship between artists and venues or promoters will help to generate more income for both sides – so rather than simply having their costs covered, a venue will generally make more money if they don't opt for a pay-to-play model, as will the talent they've booked.

No matter what stage of your career you're in, each of these is a good reason to say no to pay-to-play – and to encourage other artists to do the same.

Sep 28, 2017

5 amazing guitarists you should know

The best guitarists aren't always the ones we most immediately think of. But from classic rock to symphonic metal, some of music's finest guitarists are reinventing guitar technique, applying old tricks to new and brilliant sounds, and touring stages the world over. Here are five amazing guitarists you should know.

Steven Archer

A brilliant songwriter and guitarist, Steven Archer of Baltimore-based Ego Likeness applies both traditional and unconventional guitar techniques to EL's darkwave industrial sound. Utilizing guitar as both a supportive instrument and equal partner to the vocals, Steven's technique with guitar playing hearkens back to the era of lieder – art songs – where instruments and voice are equal partners musically. With intensive energy and yet a sonorous quality rarely heard in guitar, Steven Archer and his wife, singer and writer Donna Lynch, tour regularly throughout the United States.

Rahb Eleven

Guitarist to industrial rock band Doomsday Virus, Rahb Eleven delivers an intensity with guitar that many guitarists lose to years of training. With more than two decades of experience in guitar, Rahb combines brilliant technique with a unique rawness rarely heard even in this driven genre of music. Rahb is the mastermind of the avant-garde industrial project Destroy Eleven, and additionally teaches and creates art in the Capital District of New York.

Tony Lechmanski

Longtime guitarist to goth rock band Bella Morte, Tony Lechmanski has a high level of skill in creating intense and yet incredibly melodic guitar strains to flow within the band's varying and yet cohesive sound. Tony has worked with a number of other artists, including synthpop performer Shawn Decker and singer Lauren Hoffman. Married to stage and circus performer Opal Lechmanski, Tony lives in Charlottesville, VA.

Nicole Maher

With a melancholy nostalgia and chordal precision, Nicole Maher is a quintessential example of the young singer-songwriter. Nicole studied audio engineering at SUNY Schenectady, and as a performing artist produces both original material as well as cover songs. In addition to guitar and voice, she plays violin, and lives and teaches in upstate New York.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Though she is no longer among the living, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was both mother and midwife to rock and roll. A lifelong recording and performing artist, Rosetta was described as “the original soul sister,” she was the progenitor of many guitar techniques we now recognize as standards in rock – and many of the performance techniques she pioneered are still studied by modern guitar students. She passed away in 1973 in Philadelphia.

Each of these guitarists represents a different styles, genres, and levels of technique – and each one presents a unique approach to the guitar that is well worth listening to.

Sep 23, 2017

5 Steps to Better Guitar Playing

There are lots of guitar players in the world, but becoming a great guitar player? That's a challenge. Dedication, hard work, and determination can make you a fantastic guitar player, and with a few good habits, you'll be solid as a rock when it comes to technique and performance. Here are five steps to better guitar playing.

Practice Daily

No matter what instrument you play, daily practice can't be overestimated. Whether you practice for half an hour or a full afternoon, practice scales, songs, and techniques on the daily. Don't feel like you have to practice for hours on end to become a good guitar player; focus on doing what you can with the time and energy you have.

Play Along

Whether you play along to your favorite pop tunes or some symphonic metal, spend some time now and again playing along with music that you already know and love. This is a great way to develop versatility in technique, so experiment with playing along with as many genres as you can, from jazz and folk to rock and metal.

Record Yourself

Recording yourself is a great way to hear how you're developing. Record a couple of sessions a week and regularly listen to the playback – it will help you to hear where you're doing better, and to identify which areas need improvement. Over time, if you're practicing regularly, you'll hear a big difference.

Take Lessons 

If you're serious about being a pro musician, lessons are an absolute must. In addition to an instructor helping you to develop solid and versatile technique, but can help you adapt those techniques to your unique style – as well as help you develop methods to work around any limitations you might have. 

Focus Up

If you're limited in how many hours you can practice per week, utilize your recordings to figure out where you need the most work – scale fingering, strumming technique, and the like. Spend most of your practice time working on the areas that need the most work until they're solid, and then just continue to cycle through what needs more of your attention. 

Good guitar players are important parts of any decent band, and these tips will help you diversify and solidify your technique – so you can riff your way to greater professional success.

Sep 21, 2017

5 Secondary Careers For Musicians

While most musicians have the ultimate goal of doing nothing but performing or composing for a living, most artists – at the very least when they're starting out – still have to have the proverbial dayjob to make sure the bills are paid while they're making their way to the top of the charts. But don't despair – you don't necessarily have to clerk at a shop or cashier at a bank while you're forging your career in music, and some of the jobs that musicians are best suited to wind up also being lifelong career choices within the industry. Here are five great secondary careers for musicians.

Private Instructor

One of the most popular options for practicing musicians – especially those who have a degree in music – private instruction is an excellent part or full-time job for musicians. Most major metropolitan areas – and even some suburban and rural areas – have a number of music studios or shops where you can ply your trade by training new artists to the rigors of music. Most studios allow you to set your own hours, and many have guaranteed payment agreements month to month – so you'll still get paid even if your students miss a few lessons.

Promoter

From organizing club nights to putting together shows, promoters handle the marketing aspect of live music making and Djing. Typically, promoters will take a cut of whatever the show or event grosses at the door, with the rest usually going to performing talent, audio techs, and security. While promoting isn't necessarily always a full-time job, it can certainly be a well-paying option for promoters who are professional and dedicated.

Industry Writer

If you're a seasoned musician who also happens to be a good writer, writing in and about the music industry can prove to be an excellent option, particularly for musicians who are all about making their own schedules. Whether you write for a popular music magazine or an online blog, industry writing can make for a fulfilling and interesting side career for musicians – and for writers who are particularly skillful, the paycheck can certainly be fulfilling, too.

Music Critic

If you've gone the industry writing route and you've proven your skill, consider approaching hard copy publications about critiquing music. Music critics are not only often well-paid, but they are frequently given comped tickets for everything from operas to rock shows. Not every newspaper has a music critic, but many of the major ones do – so if you've got a lot of experience writing about music and have a good ear for technique, the way of the music critic might be the one to take.

Stage Manager

Stage managers are found at work in almost every venue that hosts music, theatre, or comedy, from bars and clubs to theatres and speakeasies. If you've spent a lot of time on stage – and especially if you've done behind-the-scenes work like lights tech or stagehand work – stage manager can be an excellent side gig. This can be a tricky role to negotiate for performing artists, since a lot of stage managers work weekends – but it can be rewarding and well-paying if you work for a successful venue.

Musicians develop all kinds of ancillary skills during the course of their career. Each of these secondary careers caters to a different skill set – and can support you while you're working towards making music your full-time job.

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.

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