5 Social Networks Every Musician Should Master

The deluge of social networks and websites for musicians is starting to get out of control. With a lack of services to filter through these networks, the life of the working musician can quickly become filled with updating and not with practicing and improving.

Keep in mind that not all networks will apply to all types of music and all types of fans.

Work on building your presence on a few key networks. Once you have your presence established you can move on to the more niche oriented sites. Doing it all at once will only waste time and leave you exhausted.

The important thing to remember about social networks is to choose the ones that are right for you and your music.

With that in mind here are 5 social networks that every musician should consider using and mastering before branching on to other niche networks.

5) Myspace: Though a profile here is becoming increasingly irrelevant, Myspace still has a network of millions who can discover your music through the site. Tip: Keep your profile simple and clean. Excessive scrolling and long load times are a no-no. Think of Myspace as a way to capture new fans, those who just want a quick sample of what you’re about. If they find your music interesting and want to learn more, they can move on to your website or other networks.

4) Facebook: A Facebook Fan Page is great tool to communicate with fans and spread awareness through the Facebook community of 400 million users. Fan pages are an easy way to interact with fans and they provide you with visitor statistics and demographics of your followers. Events are also a fantastic tool to promote individual shows in certain areas. While not easily customizable, fan pages are still a great way to get information about your shows or events to spread virally to a large group of people.

3) YouTube: Have your own youtube channel dedicated to releasing your videos. Everything from interviews, music videos, live performances, clips in the studio and anything else you can think of should be uploaded here. Remember, the more unique the video the better chance of it being noticed and going viral. Tip: Keep your videos as short as possible. Use the statistical tools provided to see when people are getting tired of your previous videos and use this knowledge to improve future uploads.

2) Twitter: This is the easiest way for fans to communicate with you and vice versa. Use this as a tool for fun facts, setting up contests, pictures of you recording a song as it happens, or promoting new songs. Be careful not to constantly promote shows and music as this can drive people away. Instead, use the 12 to 1 rule, by promoting others over yourself the majority of the time. Keep your posts interesting and avoid the mundane. Let your personality shine through.

1) Your Website: This is the most important place on the web. Think of your website as the Hub where all fans should eventually end up. Use your site to socialize with fans, provide news and information, sell directly to your audience, collect email addresses, and build a community of like-minded people around your music.

Remember to take the time to build your networks.

You may want to have a very basic profile on many other popular networks, but only update a few key sites and build your fan base through those. Once you’ve established yourself on these networks expand and think of other social sites where your fans might hang out.

If you sing about boats, try to find a social network for boaters and sailors and establish a presence. Same goes if your music depicts a certain lifestyle or attitude. The goal here is not to spend your time adding friends and followers, it is to connect with fans and maintain relationships with the ones you have.…

Tweeting When You’re All Out Of Ideas

Social networking comes naturally for some, and it can be a painful process for others.

Sometimes, it can feel draining, or like your time could be better spent elsewhere.

Like anything, you get what you put into it in the first place.

If you’re afraid or hesitant to communicate with your fans on Twitter because you just don’t think you have enough to say, here are a few ideas which can be used repeatedly in order to keep your Twitter feed interesting.

Tour Stories

Life on the road is an irresistible tale full of wonder and mystique to people who aren’t musicians (of course we the musicians know that this isn’t usually the case).

Yet, exciting things do happen occasionally. So keep your fans interested by regaling them with stories of your past and present tours and anything noteworthy that happens along the way.

Inside the Studio

The sheer notion that music is made here makes the recording studio awe inspiring for those who never get to step foot in one. When you’re in the studio share pictures, videos, and updates of what’s going on whenever you’re recording new tracks.

Introduce all the characters (producers, engineers, interns, other musicians, etc.) and make your audience feel like they are right there with you.

When Inspiration Hits…

If inspiration has hit for a new song, tweet about the experience after you finish writing it. Remember, tweet when it’s comfortable to you. Don’t drop everything and send a tweet during the middle of writing a song if it’s going to hinder your creative process.

Always follow your own path and do what feels right.

What works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Experiment with different methods and share what you feel comfortable with.

Backstage

Tweet from backstage before the show starts. Make your content more interesting by snapping pictures of the dressing room or rider if you have one.

Similarly, send a tweet after the show is over letting your tweeps know how it all went down.

Were there any memorable moments that happened on stage that night?

What’s on your iPod?

Sometimes, it’s great to share what it is that you’re listening to.

You’ll have the double effect of tweeting good content and sending some traffic over to other artists that you enjoy. Promoting other musicians is never a bad thing!

Try a few of these ideas, and see how it goes. Along the way you can always tweet about your new music, upcoming shows, and whatever else you have coming up. Just make sure that it’s not all about you.

Always, remember that the mere fact that you are a musician, is interesting to a lot of people.

You’re already interesting, just convince yourself of it now.

These are just a few of the ideas to get your started. I’d love to hear in your comments below, other ways to keep your fans engaged through Twitter.

What do you tweet about?…

The Keys To A Successful House Concert

ouse shows are one of those great alternative venues that can help break the monotony of the endless bar circuit.

In most cases you will have a much more interested audience and the opportunity to make more money than a traditional venue would pay you.

When playing a house show there are a few important things that will ensure it goes over well and gives you a chance to be invited back.

Be Respectful

This is not a dive-bar, it’s a persons home. Remember that.

Don’t scratch up the host’s walls while setting up your equipment or leave beer stains on their floor. These are personal spaces, no matter the size of the home. So treat them like you would your own place.

Learn To Adapt

The secret to playing a great house show is your ability to play to the room. In most cases you will be playing on a floor, maybe in a living room or a basement. with a few dozen people in front of you. This isn’t the place to break out the Marshall stack and 32 piece drum kit.

Retool your songs so that you can easily go from playing loud to soft without having the song suffer.

If you can master this, you can play anywhere!

Read The Crowd

If people are there to relax and hear some music while sipping on a glass of wine, notice that. Play quieter acoustic songs that fit the vibe.

On the other hand, if this show is a celebration, turn up the volume and get people dancing.

Reading the vibe and atmosphere at house shows are important. Are you playing:

  • A quiet living room show?
  • A giant backyard shindig?
  • Or a college frat-house?

Each location requires a different performance on your part in order to make the best possible musical impact.

Involve The Audience

Since house shows by nature are usually intimate venues, be prepared to interact with the crowd to keep things flowing smoothly. Try to come up with some interesting anecdotes before hand about your songs, especially if you have trouble making things up on the spot.

You could also consider having some audience participation during your set. It will make the night much more memorable to everyone at the show and might even persuade a few of them to come see you again at the next house show.

Again, read the crowd. Would they be into this kind of thing?

Mingle

This is a small gathering of people. Don’t show up, play, and then leave. Take the time to meet everyone, and collect a few email addresses for your mailing list. Have a small informal area set up to sell CDs and other merchandise.

People at house shows are usually much more receptive to buying merch, especially after you break the ice and talk to them personally.

Thank The Host

Lastly, make sure to thank the host for organizing the event and make it clear that you would love to do something like this again in the future.

Create a database of all the successful house shows you’ve played, so that you can contact the hosts the next time you are playing near their area.

House parties are a great source for alternative venues and offer you the possibility of making some good money.

But, most importantly, they give you direct access to your audience and the chance to make some real relationships with people, hopefully converting them into lifelong fans.

What are some of your house show experiences?

It’s Not Always About The Music

There’s that figure of speech, I’m sure you’ve heard it, ”Jack of all trades, master of none”. It often gets repeated in a tone that conveys this as being a bad thing.

However, that’s not always the case.

In fact, that saying used to be repeated as “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one“.

Now that, I think, is more like it.

While, you want to be a master at your music, obviously, there are many other areas of expertise which you can learn about that will help your music career progress.

Whenever you find yourself with some free time, pick a few of the following skills to become proficient at. You don’t need to master them, but having a working knowledge of many of these can help your music career in many different ways.

Web Coding

This is a big one. Your website is your hub. The place where you broadcast your music and brand to the world, and where your fans should come to congregate.

Learning intermediate levels of web design layout, HTML and CSS coding will be a great benefit to you, and a huge money saver.

Getting professionally designed websites can be expensive, if you can customize a WordPress layout on your own, while still making it look one of a kind, you are already on your way.

Photography

Take a photography class and learn the basics.

While you might want to splurge on a professional photographer for your main press photos, this is still a great skill to have for everything from taking great pictures on tour, to constant content for you website.

Graphic Design

Get a copy of Photoshop, or similar design software, and learn the basics. This will help you with everything from general design sense, to poster layouts, cd artwork, and more.
An understanding of the different file types is also a great advantage when you are dealing with print houses and trying to get artwork printed at a certain quality.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t hire professionals. However, you can’t afford professionals all the time, so buy their services when it really counts, and do what you can on your own the other times.

Writing

Learn to write. This is an important one. Improved writing skills will help you with everything from biography writing and blogger email requests to song lyrics and engaging tour stories for your fans.

Video Editing

With the dominance of YouTube and the rise of videosongs as an art-form, it would be a good idea to get your hands on some video editing software, and learn how to use it.

This can help you with everything from editing together your own videos to creating tour stories and live videos of you on the road.

This is just a small portion of the skills that will help out your music career. It goes on much longer than this.

But, don’t be overwhelmed by this list. Pick one skill that vaguely interests you and take it from there.

Grab a book from the library, or read a blog on the subject and get started. It’s always my philosophy to learn as much as you can, while you can. You can watch TV later.

What other areas of expertise do you think would help your music career?…

Crafting The Perfect Set List

There are no absolutes when creating the perfect setlist.

It must be adaptable, keeping in mind factors like the audience, the venue, and time limit.

A perfect set list should have an ebb and flow.

Songs should follow each other in some sort of meaningful progression that enhances the audiences’ enjoyment of the show.

There are a few major factors to think about when trying to create a perfect set list.

The Venue

Think about the venue you will be playing in. Is it a coffee shop or stadium? Grungy rock bar or wedding hall?

The type of venue should determine your volume levels as well as your song choice. In small, intimate venues, lean more towards acoustic-based songs with a laid back vibe, while cavernous clubs need a mix of loud songs with a beat.

Your Audience

Although you generally want to play on bills with other bands that fit your genre, sometimes this is out of your control. Check out which other bands the promoter has booked before leaving for the show.

The music of the other bands will give you an idea of the audience you will be playing to.

So, who makes up the audience?

If you’re playing a show with a set of hard rock bands, you’d want to stick with your hardest songs, while if it’s a folk night, you might consider stripping it down and matching the style of the show.

Vibe

Do you want to create a night of music that starts off with a bang and then ebbs and flows? Or do you start off the night acoustically and work up to a huge spectacle ending?

Maybe you want huge impacts for your intro and ending, with a breather in the middle of the set in the form of a slower, quieter song or two.

It’s really up to you at this point.

Similar, to a album tracklist, your set list needs to create maximum impact, without any lulls or chance for the audience to become disinterested.

Participation

Perhaps you want to maximize your audience participation. In that case, the perfect set list might be one where the audience calls the shots.

Enable fans to use your website to vote for setlist songs, or just have people call out a song they want to hear sometime during the show.

This is a great way to get the audience involved and make the show a memorable one.

Collaboration

Perhaps the best set list for a specific night involves an encore between you and one of the artists you’re on tour with.

This is usually a great way to end the show with a bang as well as create meaningful relationships with other musicians while on the road.

This is by no means a be-all end-all list. There are plenty of other things to consider which might affect the perfect set list.

How do you create your perfect set list?…

Choosing A Recording Studio That’s Right For You

Even with the prevalence of home-based recording these days, sometimes there’s no substitute for the experience of recording in a professional studio, with an experienced engineer.

A talented sound engineer can hear things in a track you can barely distinguish, and watching them work will only help to make you a better listener.

When choosing a recording studio there are a few things to look out for which will help determine the one you ultimately choose.

Price

While you should never choose a recording studio on price alone, it’s smart to start your search by looking at studio rates and seeing if they fit into your overall budget. You don’t want to blow your budget on an expensive studio, leaving you with only one half-finished recording by the time your money runs out.

At the same time you don’t want to choose the cheapest studio, because although this will give you the greatest recording time possible, it’s more than likely that the person recording you is not very experienced or knowledgeable (in which case you’d be better off recording in a home studio).

The Room

When you’ve figured out your budget and narrowed down some studios in your area. It’s time to take a tour. Never book a studio without first going for a tour of it.

Take a few minutes to look at the space and decide how you feel in it. Is this a room where you feel in?

Make sure you get the full tour, including the control room, the live room and any overdub rooms, as well as the various facilities the recording studio might have.

Can you envision yourself, and your music being made, here?

The Gear

While an experienced engineer can coax great sounds out of even the worst gear, more often then not, these same engineers will have spent a good deal of their time hunting down vintage equipment to make their sound even better.

Make sure to take into account the available equipment in the recording studio. Is it a cheap computer with a protools rig, or does the studio offer many different recording formats and microphone options.

Does the studio include piano’s, guitars and other instruments for your use, or are you required to bring everything yourself? Find out before hand so that you aren’t surprised when you go to record your piano piece, only to find that the studio doesn’t actually have a working piano in it.

The People

When you go on a tour of the recording studio, try to set up a meeting with the producer and engineer to discuss your project. It’s important to get to know these people and get a feel for their style before you start working with them.

A recording can quickly go downhill if the producer and artists have totally different visions for the music.

Get to know the people making your recording. Do you feel comfortable with them? Will you be able to spend hours at a time working with them? Do they seem knowlegeable? Are they excited or eager to work with you? Have they worked on any music similar to yours?

You’re working relationship with the producer and engineer is a huge factor when determining the overall success of your recording.

While recording at a professional studio may not be right for you at this time, it’s something that all musicians need to experience. At the very least so you can compare the end result to the home recordings you’ve been making.

Have you ever recorded music in a professional studio? What was your experience?…

7 Reasons Why Writing Well Will Help Your Music Career

As crazy as it sounds, the art of learning how to write well will immensely help in your journey to make a living with your music.

Everything from properly targeted emails to self-penned biographies and album press releases are areas where writing well can have a direct impact on your success in the new music industry.

 

The great thing about writing is, it’s fairly simple to learn. Set a goal, and write a set amount of words per day. It just might help you in the following ways:

1. Blog Reviews

Want music bloggers’ to review your music? Then you need to create a personal, well targeted email directed solely at them. If your message looks like it’s been cut and pasted to 500 other blogs, you probably won’t get many reviews.

Develop your writing to create relevant emails, that will catch the attention of each individual music blogger.

2. Traditional Press

The secret to getting traditional articles in the paper, can sometimes be as easy as writing the article yourself. A well written article in the tone of the paper you are submitting to, will save journalists from having to find out and craft all the information themselves.

If you’ve done your research and written in the style of the publication, they may use your complete story, or incorporate your writings into their own.

3. Getting Gigs

Using clear language, proper grammar and correct punctuation goes a long way to show your professionalism when approaching promoters about a possible gig. It’s amazing how many artists send emails all in capitals or with no regard for grammar or presentation and yet do not understand why they aren’t getting booked. Keep emails simple and to the point.

Learning how to write well helps form these habits from the beginning!

4. Effective Newsletters

This is a big one. Newsletters are important for contacting your fans and keeping them updated. Study writing and marketing techniques so that each newsletter makes an impact on the reader. These letters can directly impact sales for a new album, or attendance at gigs, so make sure they are engaging, easy to read, and contain a call to action for every reader to perform.

Newsletters should not only inform fan about shows and new releases, but also should encourage them to perform a certain action (download a song, buy merch, vote on something, answer a survey etc.).

5. Press Releases

In some cases, you might still want to go the traditional press route. Usually you would hire a PR firm to craft a suitable press release for you. But the atypical artist who writes well will cut out this cost and take control. Study other news releases, and take notes.

Be warned, these are tricky beasts to master, but once you’ve got a handle on them you can write them yourself and send them out to news-outlets whenever you have a good “story” to tell about your music. Keep in mind that a good story is not a new album release or a show date. Usually it involves an angle; something that will be interesting to the regular reader (a big charity event, a local band touring a faraway exotic place etc.,).

What story can you weave into your next release or gig?

6. Social Media (Status Updates)

Here, grammar doesn’t matter quite as much (think Twitter), but you still need to be able to write well to make status updates effective. Social media is your listening and broadcasting point. How you interact on these forums will determine how your fans view you. If you have a persona on stage, use this persona in your updates. If you’d like to display yourself as a regular person, make sure your status updates aren’t presenting you as someone you’re not.

Learning how to write good headlines is a useful skill when trying to piece together status updates.

7. Artist Bios

Artist biographies are a necessary evil when you need to provide quick information for journalists and bloggers. The ability to write an effective bio for yourself is an amazing skill to have, as bios need to frequently be updated with every new release or tour. Collect five biographies that you enjoy and try crafting your own in a similar fashion.

Once you’ve mastered this skill, you will be able to keep your bio updated and never let it languish (like so many other artist bios before it).

I often say that atypical artists need to wear many hats, as you can see, becoming a good writer is no exception.

As you become more established, the ability to write well will remain useful. It will essentially provide you with the opportunity to get an article published on any topic relevant to you or your music, without waiting around for journalists to write about you.

Is learning how to write worth the time and effort? What do you think?…