“It is the plate served to the customer that counts”

Channel surfing and paused on MasterChef for a moment (yes I know… also it was the last series) – but as it happens it was lucky I did  – one of the comments is a great reminder for those in production, performance. The comment was……
It doesn’t matter how many plates you break or make a mistake with in the kitchen, it’s the plate you serve the customer that counts”.

Similarly was a message on an email today from Joe Gilder (mix engineer) ………..
“My wife and I like to watch that TV show “HGTV Star.” (It used to be called “Design Star,” which was a far better name.). It’s a show where several interior designers compete each week on different design projects. Each week, someone is eliminated, until we’re left with the winner. One week they’ll be designing a blank white room. The next week they might be designing a kitchen or an apartment living space…you get the idea.

At the end of each episode, the judges walk through the contestant’s finished space and critique them. The only catch is this – the contestants aren’t there for the critique.They’re out riding around in a van or something.
One of the contestants last night commented on how nerve-wracking it is to not be there when the judges go through her space because she can’t explain away any mistakes, can’t give them any disclaimers………The room has to stand on its own.

And that is SO true of anything artistic, especially mixing music. 
People (and clients) don’t want to hear why the kick drum doesn’t sound as great as you wanted. They want to hear the music. When you’re mixing, you need to produce a finished piece of art that stands on its own, no disclaimers needed.
That’s the goal. And it takes practice…lots of practice. But it’s worth it.”

 Think about it

  • Unless you’re a comic and it’s part of act – audiences really don’t really want (or probably care) if you have a cold, had a fight with your partner, if the kid has been grounded…and that is effecting your performance (or your mind set) or worse, your attitude to the audience members ……
    Audiences wont come back to see an unprepared performer, an act who is obviously unpracticed, members of a band that dont know their parts or, especially musicians that cant be bothered to ensure their instruments are in tune……….

    Audiences want to be entertained, that’s what they paid for and that’s what they deserve – 100% of you on the night 

  • Most people (other than family and close friends) wont buy another CD from someone who sells a home burn as something more than that or, just as bad ‘I did as good as I could, it’s not bad’. A product they bought in good faith that isn’t ‘red booked burnt’ and wont play on their older players………
    People wont keep listening to a demo they have bought that doesn’t sound ‘good’ or isn’t balanced or finished (and again lack of ‘relistenability’ will lead to lack of future support) ………

    Production needs to be good, as good as it can possibly be, take as much time as it takes to get it right when it is put out there to be sold

So its not about excuses, apologies, how much practice is needed, how many times you re-arrange – you need to do whatever it takes to ensure the end result of whatever you are doing is what you want/need/should present to put the ‘best plate on the table’ when it needs to be served.

Thoughts and input welcome 😀

 

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A quick follow up post for those looking to compose for film or TV

Following the post last night – I happened to spend the first part of the morning (coffee in hand rather than wine) watching an interview with Robert Duncan (composer, post production for a number of films and many TV series including Buffy, The Unit, Castle, etc)  – he offered some general thoughts for those entering into this area which I thought I’d share …….

 Songs and scores serve two different masters. With songs its all about the hook, its fully self contained. With composing for film or TV,

  • The music is there to support the vision, the emotion of the picture or film, not your own
  • Don’t leave your footprints/express yourself over everything – you are a cog, part of the whole – do what is asked of you to support what is on the screen or what is not is on the screen but inferred.

The point being – “Make sure you are serving the right master”

Another – is the character of the film/TV which, if you get it wrong, can overshadow and destroy a scene – when it is right, it enhances.  Music can be the ‘spike’ (think volleyball) of a moment really well. If the acting, directing has set up the ‘scene’ and the intended emotion beautifully, then the music can enhance, cement, tap it really well. The music needs to be there rolling with the flow, setting up the hits, the cues. However, if the music comes in first and pre-empts what is coming, it can easily feel like a ‘cheap sell’, trying to force the viewers emotion rather than guide it/let it come out naturally with the vision.

Another – don’t be surprised at the time it may take. Once he is ‘into’ a series it can be a lot quicker, but when working out the palette of a new show, he can easily be spending 2 or 3 hours per minute of vision to get it right.

Communication and understanding between all parties is essential. Make sure you are aware of the lingo, and know what is wanted (get them to talk about the emotion and write to that), otherwise you can easily go down the wrong track and the music you pitch can be easily rejected. Leave your ego somewhere else – you are there to serve them, not the other way around.

Another – it is essential that a composer is aware of the current trends in music and sounds – like fashion, elements come and go and the composer needs to be able to speak to the current trends.

For example, a  lot of film scores today occupy the lower frequencies more, be more subliminal rather than giving away the score/bring out emotion to early.

Cheers,

One for the Songwriters and Composers

After one of the last blogs I was asked to input something for songwriters and composers – – so here is another little rambling collection of thoughts, ideas and opinions as a start for those who write and compose.

Let me start with some thoughts around the song writing itself

At APRA’s Song Summit every year a repetitive theme from the majority of speakers was

  1. A good song is a good song – it will stand up whether played live by a singer with guitar/keys as easily as it will with a fully produced arrangement, and
  2. A good arrangement/production of a song is when all (every) element work together to support and enhance the message, the emotion, the story that is the song.

 An example in relation to the latter point, it might sound obvious – but it doesn’t sound ‘right’ singing a sad song with the same happy voice as a love song – but it happens too often. When I work with singers we often discuss the need to ‘emote’ or ‘live’ the song through the voice.  Without the accompanying visual element of a live performance to help, when preparing to record a vocal, it is even more important that the emotion in the voice is another supporting element to the story/emotion in the song.

 And so it is with all the other elements of the instrumentation (or lack of it), movement, dynamics, etc flow to support what is being said in the story of the song.
Do the verses flow (regardless of the chorus)? Does the chorus or refrain have a relational purpose and place in the song? Is there a build from start to finish or a journey of emotion that the listener will be taken on (even if it is a light pop song)?

 What makes a good song? Basically a good song

  • gets across the intent of the piece, what you wanted to convey (musically and lyrically)
  • tells a story in a way that flows – the end is a logical place to finish from the start (and the middle joins them)

More than that would take a series of articles in itself as it can change on the context, genre etc. There are lots of courses you can take, stuff on the net, etc …. but here is one exercise that may be helpful…………………………..

Listen to lots of music in your genre of choice, but listen with purpose. Focus especially on those songwriters whose works are considered classics (classics of longevity and also the best of what’s happening now). Always be thinking about what makes those songs so good while you’re listening to them. Try to pick up on song structures, arranging tricks, things that are ‘different’, and remember them. Make a note of any you particularly like. This isn’t stealing — it’s studying. Film makers have been doing it for years and make no secret of the fact. Singers do it with ways to move on/off/around notes, instrumentalists when listening to a cool run, lick, strumming pattern etc.
It can become part of your ‘arsenal’ to draw on, another element you adapt and use the concept in your material.

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 Whether advising an individual on a song they have offered for comment, arranging a piece for a recording or, judging entries in the TSA Country Music Song Contest, Australian Songwriting Contest, the MAMA’s or otherwise ……. there is a two-fold fundamental question that is one of my fundamental criteria, things I search for (or try to achieve) ….
What is it that makes this XX (song, musical piece, etc) fit squarely within its genre (so it appeals easily to its intended market)? ……

BUT while doing that …….

What makes it stand out from the pack (a ‘point of difference’ in some way to make it stand out/attract attention)?

In my opinion (and of a number of people I know in the industry) Almost all songs ‘sound like’ others in some way – Sure, in the more electronic music area where sounds can be morphed, distorted, synthed into something else etc there is a chance to be a bit different – but generally, It can’t be helped really when you think about it. There are only 12 notes in Western music scales and therefore a finite number of combinations of notes, chords, etc. So it seems logical that there will be similarities, doesn’t it? Even if not sections of the melody, it may be purely because of instrumentation selection and the ‘sound’, or a basic chord movement or something.

Now before I move on let me say something about this  – –  some people find this an issue, something bad and get very offended when it is suggested they might ‘sound like XX’  – –  — BUT from a marketing point of view I don’t find it an issue and in fact it can be helpful.
If your song sounds ‘similar’ (NOTE I said SIMILAR, NOT THE SAME) to another song (especially if one by a popular songwriter/performer) then it will sound ‘familiar’, and therefore possibly of interest, to their followers.
If your song sounds ‘similar’, it is easier for radio stations to categorise in their playlists; for stores to place appropriately on their shelves; for you to meta-tag, keyword, put down ‘follower links’ in online sites; etc..
If your song is ‘unique’ a lot of that ‘leveraged marketing’ cannot be undertaken.  

Similarly there are things you need to be conscious of, and if you want success, you probably need to adhere to. For example to get radio airplay in popular music there are some basic structural and arrangement elements you need to have in place …….. If your piece doesn’t comply – you may need ‘radio remixes’, etc

  • Hook, Hook, Hook, Hook, ………Repeat themes/main lines/hook – something can be grabbed and held on to
  • **** For radio – the chorus must come in for the first time in less than a minute and preferably around 30sec.
  • If you want to ‘pitch’ your song to industry and the chorus is longer than a minute in, wasting time
  • To really improve your chances – put the chorus up front (not necessarily in full form – may be acappella, just vocals and beats or a guitar riff, etc) …. This also opens up more for later in the song instrumentally/middle 8 etc to have it be repeated and repeated often (in a variety of ways)
  • Ideal radio length? – – – – – -3min 30 sec
  • Lyrics – third party/general enough for the listener to put themselves in the picture and relate
    Eg   “Jane left me for Tom and Bob my dog died” – won’t be related to that well in the most case unless your lady’s name was Jane, she left you for Tom, etc …….. But if  “my lady left me for that guy she knew” and “my faithful dog and friend died” – people can add their names into the scenario if they can relate to the story

Having said that please make sure you don’t copy, plagiarise, etc anyone else’s work – not only is it not cool, it’s illegal.   Being similar is not being the same…. there is a difference!!!  
This leads me to the follow on point …..

While being similar and ‘in the genre’ – you also need to ‘stand out from the pack’.
Why would anyone want to buy your CD, or download your song if it is ‘just like’ XXX or everyone else in the genre?
Why would they outlay their money on an unknown when they can get the same from an established, proven source?

So what makes your song/musical piece “of interest”?
Is it the lyrical journey? Does that say something different from what is currently out there?
Would putting in some subtle chord variations, a modulation, a different movement, do that for your work?
Does it need a different form? Something that still flows but isn’t just ABABCBB or something.

I could keep going on with a range of thoughts – but let’s continue on a different tangent for a while

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Let me spend a minute talking about ‘being in the business as a songwriter.

 In 2011 Taylor Swift earned just over $35 million putting her firmly on top Billboard’s annual list of the Top 40 Music Money Makers in the pop area. Swift’s 2011 tour earned her $29 million, BUT the fact that she wrote all 14 songs of her quadruple-platinum-selling album “Speak Now” (and therefore earns songwriter royalties) explains how she earned the #1 spot.

In the same year Adele ranked 10th – however, she hardly toured due to throat infections, other illnesses and a fear of flying. The vast majority of her revenue was from sales and publishing – she has written or has co-writing credit on the majority of her songs – and therefore receives royalties – which again were a significant % of her 10th place earnings.

So being a songwriter/performer or a writer of works that are performed by a popular artist (which may be you), band, orchestra, musical/theatre etc   – can lead to some very nice income (and most of it ‘leveraged’).

How to do it? – break into that market?  Going through that would take up more time than we have in this post ……. But basically …..
Work, networking, marketing, opportunity and persistence  … Work, networking, opportunity, persistence…. And adapting (especially as direct revenues from music sales reduce….)

Where are some other areas songwriters are making money?
Probably one of the biggest areas is the Licensing/Sync market – music used in such areas as:

  • Commercials
  • Films
  • Games
  • TV Shows
  • Apps
  • Corporate  – product, launches, themes

 In future blog articles, I will pursue some of the opportunities, skill sets, the advantages and disadvantages, in these and other areas for the song writer/composer.

In the meantime if this is of interest, we do offer an advisory service helping people with their marketing and planning – as well as have a service taking music into the sync/licensing area. Check out the relevant tabs on our website (pavmusic.com) and contact us if we can help.

 Cheers,

 Ian

Grand designs made some statements relevant for those in the music industry?

Sunday night, relaxing watching Grand Designs with a glass of red – & a couple of statements at the end captured me.

I thought they can be applied to anywhere including for those in the music industry.
So I thought they might be worth sharing (with a little adaption and comment) for you to delve into and see if something resonates…………………….

1. “Everything that is ‘really worth it’, requires effort in some form or another”…   “people don’t win Gold Medals for strolling along the street”

Maybe think about that (and with possibly some reference to the previous blog) in relation to the effort you are putting in as it relates to your expectations of you and your musical career ………… ie If you are dreaming of ‘gold medal’ results, aclaim or rewards,  are you putting in the required training, effort, practice etc to get there?

2. This one (with a little adaption) was a great thought in possibly helping us step back a little and be in sync with more people in the music industry (and generally)
“Your taste isn’t my taste, but both are valid. Even your taste may not be your taste 5 or 10 years from now (now that’s an interesting thought isn’t it). So if we park the issue of taste to one side, we probably really can instinctively recognise and agree on, what is great craftmanship (ie. music ability/skill, etc) and quality (whether of production, composition, context, etc)…… and, if put taste aside, perhaps we can also agree on what is just beautiful (in our case – music within what it is meant to be/its context).”

Food for thought?  Hope of interest.

Cheers.

Ian

Have you factored in the ‘what if’s” to be in the music business?

Just recently I have had requests to input into a few emerging artists as to how they can progress in their music careers.

When I noted that a lot of it is hard work, and explain what that may mean, a few haven’t been happy – that I ‘killed their dreams’, thought it would be done for them, made it sounded so hard, etc ……….a shame. But, in the long term, would they have been happier if I painted a rosy picture, a view through rosé coloured glasses, that ended up proving incorrect and ended with them failing, leaving the industry, blaming me, etc.  I doubt it! (And I wouldn’t be comfortable or true to myself anyway).

Anyway, the increasing level of inquiries and responses has prompted me to share a more detailed explanation and general commentary on ‘being in the business’ (or if you like ‘what does it take to be in music full time’).  It’s long but covers a fair bit of ground.

Please note:
I am not talking about the person who has music as something in their lives, but it is a sideline, a hobby They have a full time job and are happy to just play with friends, at parties, whenever a gig comes up or just at home for themselves…. Not that there is anything wrong with this at all. In fact, if you like your full time work (and the money it brings in) and just want to enjoy music,  this can be a very nice way to ‘do music’ …no pressure, just fun, etc.

However, if you want a ‘career in music’, build your music side of life to be full time or at least the focus, ……then this rambling general article of a range of thoughts, ideas and observations may be helpful in framing your perceptions, planning and progress.

As well, while looking at the ‘full time involved’ person, I am also not saying you need to do it all now. In fact if you are starting out, wanting to transition to a full time music career, then some of what follows may help you work out stepping stones, skills you need to acquire (or hire), stuff you need to get in place along the way  – or all at once – and  may help you progress to that goal over time.

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So first, let me answer the obvious question to put a base to the rest of the argument.
…….. Do I think it is it possible to still be full time, make a nice sustainable living in the music business?
Obviously and absolutely YES!  As I, and many others, are. ……….BUT ……..

 I have said it often and so I will start by saying again…… With the presumption there is some actual talent for what you are doing (and even if not in some cases).. in my humble opinion, the number one reason most people don’t establish sustainable careers in the music industry is?….. They don’t treat their music ‘business’ as a business!

They don’t give the appropriate time, learning or effort to the ‘have to’ stuff that lets the ‘fun’ stuff happen regularly.

 For most-

  • it’s not going to be ‘easy’ – if it was really easy everyone would be having success, and not everyone does
  • most working sustainable musicians, etc are doing more than one thing (whether that is teaching, production, session work, co-writing, support in few bands, in a music store etc). There are very few who do well enough to ‘just perform’ or similarly one activity only (yes there are exception areas but even those are multi-tasks)  
  • someone has to be doing the organising, marketing, getting gigs, admin, finding an paying musicians, etc etc etc – it has to be done…..and if not you, then you are going to have to pay someone else to do it for you.

 It seems to me that a lot of artists are looking for the someone (hopefully the right person) or people who will magically get them gigs, promote them and elevate their careers to the next level.  There is nothing wrong with searching out people to help you advance your career and the right agent or manager or publisher could do wonders for your career.  But, at the end of the day, no one cares about your music and your career more than you do….. if you are not prepared to put in the hours and effort yourself, why should they (unless you pay them accordingly of course)?
And if you are unknown, dont have any ‘proof source’ that you can do the job, put in the effort, be reliable when it counts….. ‘produce the goods when it matters’ – why would they take the chance (again unless getting paid regardless and sure the payments will happen) – that wouldn’t make good business sense from their side now would it?

The music business has changed drastically over the last couple decades.  Artist development is a thing of the past. (In general especially the big labels) people want to see you are working, you put in the effor, you have a following, getting gigs etc before they will invest in you. …. So, the further you can advance your career on your own, the more likely that you’ll attract the attention of the people who can ultimately help you get your career to the next level.

I think the proper mindset to have as a musician in 2013 is: you’re going to do everything you possibly can on your own and if the right person comes along to help you move things forward, great, but if not, you keep going regardless.
If you learn to think this way you’ll go much further and you’ll also feel much more empowered.  Be your own manager until you attract someone else to do this for you.  Your own booking agent, or publisher until you attract the right booking agent or publisher. Organise the right studio, engineer, producer (hint, hint) for our CD project and so on.

Okay, still with me? Let’s go a little bit further.

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There is a basic business premise in establishing any business, that if you can think of all the ‘what if’s” and can cover those/live with them  – then you move forward from an informed sustainable base. If you can manage the expectations and understand “worse case scenarios” then you are ready for the valley experiences and can get through them to the next mountain top comes along.

So let’s look at a few “have you thought about” areas to be sure you have …………….

Are you a gigging musician or want to be? Do you have a family? Young children?
If you were/are single and childless it can be different  – you can go for the dream, live on nothing when needed, travel as need, sleep where you can, etc – If you and your partner met while you were in the business and its been part of your relationship since, then it probably works, but if this is a new direction/venture (as with any) it takes adjustment.

If in a family situation you have other mouths to feed, to clothe, to support etc (or co-support) and someone has to cover these costs as well as rent/mortgage and other living costs. If not you, then your partner has to cover them while you ‘play’ and there is probably only so long that will be comfortable (and hopefully they dont have employment issues) ……….. but what about the non monetary considerations?

Are you prepared to compromise the time you spend with your partner and children? Or do you wait until the children are old enough to be independent? And your partner is happy to see less of you?

All of those I know in the business have, without exception, found it tough as family have come along and have made compromises to the time they have with family and children……….or to their careers for a period. Partly this is because

  1. To maximise income from gigging etc you need to be working long hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights  – as well as probably Sunday arvo and maybe mid week as well
  2. You need to be available when the gigs are on – whether back up singer or own band
  3. Then there is time in rehearsal as well
  4. There is the issue with gigs cancelled should a child be ill (and what that does to reputation) Also if full time you have to factor in that if you dont work, no income flows – obvious I know – but again if you become sick/voice issues, child has an “issue” that needs you – etc etc  –
  5. There is the need to have enough ‘savings’ or build funds – for when you cant do it anymore, need to stop for a while, have a holiday (even if just for the kids etc), no gigs on but expenses continue etc etc
  6. And, there is an understanding of the possible things you will ‘miss’/not be there for – – eg school concerts because the gig was too well paid to reject, etc etc as well as weekend nights when parties are on etc and your own  social occasions you will miss (as you are part of other people’s social times, etc)

There is no right or wrong here – its understanding possible issues and effects on the path you want to follow, considering alternatives and coming up with something that suits you. However, part of that is the need to be sure of family relationships, understanding what you are sacrificing to do what you need to do (and making sure your partner and child do to).

Can you be comfortable with the transient, non regular lifestyle and possibly income flow?
Gigs come when they come, opportunities arise when they do, clients for the studio ‘appear’ when they have a need (and the time of when they want to record may have to be at their convenience not yours), money may not always be available when its best for the project to start, etc.

A lot of what you want to do is/will dependent on the decisions of others. You can help minimise the ebbs and flows (and the choice of accepting/rejecting work) by being ‘out there’, marketing, networking, etc enough to keep the inquiries flowing  – but it is still based on their need and timing.    

Happy with that? Does your expenses, budget, ‘fat factor’ allow you the security to be comfortable at times when things arent flowing?

In my experience, this inconsistent nature of the business is another major reason why people dont ‘last’. And usually hasn’t been factored in to their decison making.

What about entering the music industry through a transition phase?….. ie secure some base income but give you the freedom to move your dream closer to reality…..by either:

  1. Having a ‘dead head’ job that doesnt require any thinking/after work mind distratction etc  – something you just go to, can do easily, that pays the basic bills so you don’t have to have that stress and then do the music stuff part time  – (well probably full time equivalent again once get busy as you still have to do a lot of the booking/prep/rehearsal as well as gigs) … but the dead head job is so easy it allows you to keep you mind focussed on the music, even during work (and maybe making calls etc during breaks)
    Or
  2. Get something with some interest to it (and probably bit more money), part time (preferably Mon-Wed/Thurs) – so can stop, shut it off and become ‘full time musician’ Thursday-Saturday

This is actually a great way to move forward, progress in stages, get your ducks in a row, and even test that you have what it takes to be full time.
Of course it does mean that you have to

  • Be able to shut off  from one when at the other
  • Not be available for either when doing the other (and accept the consequences)
  • Be ready to leave the ‘big income’, established job
  • Realise that this will delay being ‘full time’ and stretch out the dream a bit (but knowing that if you go from the transition to full time you do so in an informed basis having ‘tested it out’)  
  • Realise the image of what you are doing, availability etc will effect what people will rely on when considering you as an artist, potential booking etc

 Anyway just an idea

Now remember I did say it was possible, enjoyable and can be done – we are covering the “what ifs” ………. Still going?  

“I want my own band” – is going to take a while, as is a huge responsibility and costing.
Your band means your responsibility. Your requirement to organise, get the gigs, organise the contracts, collect and distribute the money. Your need to market, promote……. etc, etc.
For example, you need to pay band members regardless of income (if not enough $$, you can be out of pocket real quick). There are more emerging artists touring today than ever before with just 1-2 musicians (who are also backing singers) and the rest on backing tracks because they can’t afford to run a full band – or …. as in a lot of rock bands – the whole band is part of the ownership and deal and all taking a risk – sharing responsibility but also ownership and decisions (so you need to be happy relinquishing control). Until you get enough bookings to justify the full line up, other options will get you out there.
So again maybe a transition phase?
If you are a singer and find a compatible guitarist or keyboard player who works well with you and with whom you can rehearse together easily – would allow you to access the ‘duet small spaces’ earlier. EG hitting restaurants that have music, small bars/lounges etc  – and hopefully being good enough to get a regular gig (initially monthly as part of a roster of acts and then more frequent as get a following) …. a very good base/regular cash flow way to start???
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A few final points (some of which are repeats from other posts)

  • Any venue will book you easily if you can get enough bums on seats
  • The management, promoter, etc will come and people will approach you to help (and take a share of your money) when there is enough ‘hype’ about you.
  •  Finally. for the gigging musician there is the learning, time and ……… networking
    Again there is learning and it takes time. Besides facebook (and networking there for your business not just social) etc – you need to take time to network – you need to be
  • Googling and searching for stuff (venues, people, contact details etc etc)
  • Going to venues and seeing bands, coffee with XX
  • Meeting people at music shops, studios, getting to know locals, teachers etc etc
  • Doing open mike nights etc etc to get known in advance of booking approach
  • Being up to speed with industry information, gossip and local happenings – so connected to online info, newsletters and magazines that give you the info – and then be reading/scanning and acting on something that might be beneficial
  • Going to restaurants and cafes with live music to see what they do, how they do it, meet management and the acts
  • Etc etc etc

Usually the best way to do this is to plan and allocate specific time.
Online – dedicate an hour or two a night (at least initially) to do your searching/connecting/friending etc.
Physically –  work out a couple of time in a day and a couple of times a week (eg 2 lunchtimes, 1-2 coffee times, 1 day straight after work) and a couple of nights a month – and dedicate them to this activity … and thats when organise to visit, be there, arrange meetings etc ………. and again that way have it programmed so you know other elements of your life can be organised

So in summary.

  1. Work out the ‘costs’ to you, family, financial issues etc etc of going down this road
  2. Then work out what will work and when it will work (the ‘look’ of it – number of nights/days/when etc)
  3. Start on the networking/industry contacting/meeting activity
  4. Learn develop and grow (you can never stop learning, upskilling, practicing, developing your knowledge (abou what you do and your business)
  5. Just start doing it – dont wait till you are totally prepared – you never will be as the business itself keeps changing you need to be in it to flow with the changes.

    You will only really know what the whole thing will feel like and look like once you are out there doing it. Try a few things, probably only one or two to start (as in the actual music activity) as there will be conflicts. So try something and continue if it works, try something else if it doesnt.

  6. Have fun where you can and look forward to the fun when you can’t.

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Well, there ya go ……….It is a bit ‘all over the place’ and rambling I know but, there is so much to cover …….so its a start and hopefully a point or two will be useful to you.

More to come in the future.

Cheers,

Ian

3 Twitter Hashtag Secrets – # #

Saw this post in one of the online social media mags we subscribe to (Post by Bobby Owsinki so his ideas just relaying) – and thought it great for people here.

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 “If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’m a big proponent using Twitter as a promotional tool. The key to using Twitter that way is by including hashtags in your tweets, or the # symbol before a keyword (like “#makingmusic”). This is one of the ways that people can find your tweet when they do a search for a particular topic.

If you’re using them already and you don’t find your followers increasing, check out the following “secrets.”

  1. Don’t be ironic.
    I know that it’s the cheeky thing to post something like #badcupofcoffee or #rudepeople, but that doesn’t help you reach the people that you want to reach. To find the right keyword, go to search.twitter.com, plug in the keyword that you think will work, then check out how popular it is and what some of the other keywords that people are using.
  2. Limit the number.
    It’s been proven that using more than 2 hashtags in a tweet is counterproductive. It just confuses people reading the tweet. Stick to only 1 or 2.
  3. Target your audience.
    Once again, do a search to find which hashtags fit for the audience that you’re trying to reach. I have a list of about 20 that I can mix and match depending upon the nature of the tweet and which audience might like it more. For instance, the list is different for the tweets from say a business blog as compared to one about music performance say. To narrow it down further, may have one targeted to musicians (#drums, #drummers, #guitars, etc.) or ???????.

Using hashtags isn’t hard and they can bring results beyond anything you might expect. All you have to do is use them correctly.”

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Good advice  – hope you found it of interest and beneficial.

Cheers,

Ian

Creating Magical Moments In Your Live Music Performance – part 2

Part two of Echoes’ interview with renowned live music performance producer Tom  Jackson
To kick off a live music performance, many bands simply string together three or four songs, back to back, and don’t stop to listen to the audience. According to veteran live music performance producer Tom Jackson, “That’s the equivalent of meeting someone for the first time and talking non-stop for 15 minutes without listening. No one likes that.”

Here are three of the common on stage mistakes that musicians should avoid if they want to really build a rapport with their audience during a live music performance.

1) Talking too much. some artists are blessed with the gift of gab, but simply talk way too much. It’s more effective to pick a few spots in advance during your set where you can open up and create a moment by sharing a personal connection to a song.

2) “I Let My Music Speak for Itself.” This artist thinks he doesn’t have to speak with the audience other than mention a song’s name and say “thank you” afterwards. That’s a mistake and a lost opportunity to let the audience get to know you as you build your set. Remember, converting an audience member into a fan can only occur when they feel they have gotten to know who you are as a person.

3) Resorting to clichés. “Is everyone having a good time tonight?” isn’t the best line. Unless you happen to be Bruce Springsteen, the answer for most of your audience is probably, “I have no idea!” So try to avoid clichés that don’t really help you connect in some way with the members of your audience during a live music performance. Instead, if you actually take the time to learn how to engage and read an audience, you will make much more money out of your performances and at the merch table.

You use the concept of pouring your personality into your show to engage the audience. What are some ways the artist can do this besides the obvious intro such as “I wrote this song after a romance went on the rocks…”
Back to the comparison between Eddie Van Halen and Vince Gill. They each use tone, phrasing and song selection as a few ways to put their unique personality into their show. That’s what defines their voice musically. First, though, they got to the point where they never have to think about what they’re going to play and how to do it effortlessly. They put in the 10,000 hours to develop their own style. Some people may display their personality on stage through clothing or staging, but that’s not enough.

One of the best ways to put yourself into the show is through tweaking the arrangement for a song, so that you can pour yourself into it. For most artists, the song is in control, not the artist; especially if it’s arranged for radio, with a tight predictable song structure. When I’m working with an artist, what I do to help them create moments is to identify themes and characters. First, we’ll look for the themes inside a song for the best spot to modify. This is often an extended intro, a solo or even the bridge, that can be developed into something really cool. Once we’ve identified the theme, we’ll next decide which character or member of the band will pour their personality into that moment. A good example would be a song that has a short 8- or 12-bar guitar solo on the record. For the live show, that solo can be extended as long as it is effective and the guitarist is the character who can really be featured musically and visually on stage.

Another example might be a tune that has a vocal bridge that’s passionate, but short and sweet to be radio friendly. If that bridge can be developed into an emotional moment, then it doesn’t matter if your vocalist repeats it two, three, or five times to let the maximum emotion pour out. Just watch a video of Bono or Springsteen take a bridge or chorus and work it that way. By the end of that moment, every single person is up on his or her feet screaming.

I have a simple rule: Sing fewer songs, create more moments. When asked to play a half hour set, most bands immediately think, “How many songs can we fit in?” Instead, if they thought “How many moments can we develop?” they’d be much further along. Not understanding how to create a moment and constantly seeing where they best fit into your set is going to limit your success.

Some of our readers are in bands, but quite a few are solo performers. What are some suggestions to help them use your methods?
Number one, you have to tell yourself, “I am the band!” There is a lot one musician can do right away to expand his or her sound, such as using a guitar for percussion, getting a loop device to set up some patterns to play or sing against, or switching instruments for a few tunes. We think it’s all about the song and the lyrics — and there’s no question, songs and lyrics are huge while performing. But they are not enough by themselves, you have to ask “How can we engage an audience using our songs?” We’ve got to tear a song apart, get to the sections that can be developed, and turn them into a moment that will get the audience to respond. Get them to laugh, dance, sing along, clap or cry, some moment that will connect with the audience emotionally is how you will make them fans.

A singer/songwriter doesn’t have the drums and screaming guitars, so there is a subtler spectrum that you work from. Something as simple as taking one step to the left to play a rhythm guitar part, or moving from standing at the mic, to getting on a stool and doing a more intimate mini-set can make a big difference. Doing a song a capella, changing the tones on your guitar, scratching the strings, whatever you can develop to stand out. You need to vary the ways you connect with your audience visually, musically and emotionally over the course of your set.

I’ve recently been working with an artist who performs with a band and who also built a strong solo set. That way, she can go into a label or manager’s office and have the same kind of impact. She is now able to perform so well and spontaneously in any situation that she can win every time she picks up her guitar. Of course, a singer/songwriter has to lean more heavily on their verbal skills and their songs than a band. But even a solo artist has to change visually, because if your songs all look the same, they will start to sound the same. Every audience hears with their eyes, 55% of their impression is formed by the visual image you put on stage.

What are some of the elements that make for a good set-ending song? Is it energy, message or just your best song? How much does the venue affect what song to use?
I always like to close a concert leaving the audience wanting more. Ideally, the closer can be an original, but I like a song that starts kind of low and then builds, builds, builds and pushes the audience along with it to its peak. That way it will demand an encore. How you do that will be different in a club than in an arena but in both situations, the audience has got to understand where you will be taking them. And then when they get there, everyone will feel satisfied.

Ultimately, though, a good show has plenty of energy, it’s not only about jumping around. And it’s not just about performing the best songs, having the best voice, or the tightest band. Those are all important elements, by you have to look at yourself through the eyes of an audience member. The audience is largely ignorant of the gear you use and what notes you are playing. To a musician, all that stuff matters, but it is useless information to a general audience member.

If you are serious about having a career performing your music, you have to learn to answer the questions, “Why does the audience go to a show?” and “Why do they pay attention?” If you do that and learn to engage the audience, and to bring them on a journey through your set, which is filled with moments that they can follow, you will have a viable career. You just have to learn to exceed audience expectations every night while you build a following. It really is that direct.