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What's your songwriting process?

If you’ve been writing songs for awhile, you’ve inevitably been asked, “Which do you start with - words or music?” It’s not always that simple!

I usually work from a title. When one hits me, I’ll rough out some stream-of-consciousness prose to make sense of it. It could end up meaning something completely different than what I thought it meant at the beginning. Next I’ll flesh out the song structure and melody. Then I’ll mold the useful bits of my garbled prose into a lyric. The production goodies come at the end - typically the hardest part for me. At that point, I just want it to be done. I can only spend so much time finessing automation envelopes.

How about you? Where do you draw your inspiration? What hits you first — a lyric, a melody, a groove, a bass riff? What’s your songwriting process?


How Do I Get Booking Agents To Take My Band Seriously?

The answer to this question is simple, straightforward, but not necessarily the easiest to stomach. So here goes….. Drum roll…..The best way to get booking agents to take your band seriously is…..

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What artists should know about thesixtyone

thesixtyone is quite simply my favorite music site, both as a listener and and artist. Billing itself as “a music adventure,” t61 is like a massively multiplayer game, complete with reputation points, levels, quests, and achievements. It’s a fun way to discover and be discovered. The rules are constantly in flux, so I’ll omit the fine details and walk you through the broad strokes of establishing yourself as an artist.

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7 Insider Tips On Getting More Gigs For Your Band

It’s the famous old question on every hungry band’s mind - How To Get Gigs?

I can hear your pain from this computer screen - “Everyone else can get gigs left right and centre but my band is still struggling to figure out how to get gigs…..”

The truth of the matter is that getting gigs and playing live shows isn’t really that hard, you just need to understand the sensitivities of how the live music system actually works.

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Popular Music Think Tank Posts


Tighten the low end of your mix with a frequency analyzer

This is the second in my series of “mix tips” articles. You can read the first here.

Most mix engineers don’t hear the bottom octave (20-40 Hz) because their monitors can’t produce it. Unless your room is 300 square feet or larger, and professionally tuned, adding a subwoofer will probably do more harm than good. Whether or not you can hear it, it’s important to balance the sub bass with the rest of the mix. You want deep full tone from the bass and a healthy “chest thump” from the kick without blowing out any speakers.

A common DIY solution is to simply roll off the whole mix with a highpass filter (HPF, also known as a low cut or LC), but that’s ugly and imprecise. Even if the frequency and slope of the filter leave an appropriate amount of sub, the EQ will color the mix, usually in an undesirable way. Instead, we want to sculpt the low end on a track-by-track basis, balancing out the sub bass and shaping competing elements to produce a clear and powerful foundation for your mix.

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Don’t go over the self-promotion cliff; crush your local radio station instead.

The more that I read about the latest and greatest music marketing trends, the more I want to stand up on my desk and shout “don’t go over the cliff with the rest of the lemmings!” But, given the current hype and the herd mentality that artists usually exhibit, twenty-four months from now 5,000,000 artists will be using Twitter and fan relationship management tools to attempt to acquire fans and/or to boost average-revenue-per-fan (ARPF). When I think of the prospects of millions of artists traveling down this road, ARPF is exactly what I want to do. Three years from now, most artists will be disappointed and a new crop of artists will be jumping off a different cliff altogether (remember the MySpace cliff?).

The famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is; a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” In this post I want to uncover the obstacles to self-promoting music and suggest an alternate path that will take you where the puck is going to be.

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Basic Marketing Principles For Artists - Part 1: Increase Your Fanbase

As many of you know my company Cyber PR specializes in Internet Marketing, Social Media and PR. I am an avid Internet Marketing student and I gather the nuggets I learn from my studies of musicians.

I recently spent two intense days in Los Angeles, where I attended an Internet marketing retreat led by my mentor, Ali Brown. I belong to her mastermind group and participate in her yearlong program.

It was a whirlwind, and the core principles I learned were both basic and critically important.

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What makes a good "manager" in the DIY world?

The meaning and role(s) of a “manager” have changed dramatically over the last decade, as the traditional CD/Radio/Retail business model has given way to the “new” music business. Traditionally, a manager managed an artist’s efforts to get signed to a label, and once signed, he/she managed the relationship between the artist and the label. The label itself managed marketing, distribution, artist development (ah, the good ol’ days), radio promotion, producer and writer relations, etc.

But given the state of labels today, the unsigned artist must assume that he/she will never be signed - and build a career accordingly. A traditional manager is often unable and ill-equipped to successfully manage and develop an artist’s career in this new “DIY” environment.

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Is Jango payola?

old radio

My last article on Jango sparked spirited discussions on the Just Plain Folks and CD Baby forums, and in the comments. Words like “scam” and “payola” are recklessly thrown about. We need to dispel these unfair and inflammatory accusations before we can have an honest debate.

Is it a scam?

Absolutely not! It is a service that delivers everything it promises. Jango sells airplay, not results. To put it in perspective, I’ve spent $4,000 on Taxi since becoming a member in 1997. I’ve had over 100 forwards, but no deals. I’ve spent $7,000 on traditional radio promotion, with literally nothing to show for it. That doesn’t mean that Taxi and traditional radio promotion are scams. They just haven’t been effective (YMMV).

Is it payola?

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What artists should know about Jango

Would you pay $1 for a new fan? Would you pay 2 cents to have your song played to a fan of your favorite band? I would, and did, with Jango Airplay. Jango offers free internet radio that plays listener-selected artists alongside similar artists. Tell it which artists and songs you like and dislike, and it adjusts accordingly. Basic social networking features are included, allowing listeners to share music and compare tastes. Jango Airplay lets artists buy their way into Jango’s recommendation engine, promising guaranteed airplay alongside your pick of popular artists. You can buy 1000 plays for $30, 2000 plays for $50, or 5000 plays for $100. I started with 5000 plays, and was so encouraged by the results that I spent another $200 for 10,000 more.

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Is A&R Still Necessary In Today's Music Industry?

In the olden days, A&R was king in the music industry. Young, hip guys in street clothes found the latest “big thing” in music. The A&R rep romanced said band, persuaded them to sign an exclusive contract (which still exists today), hand-picked tracks for placement on albums released by said band, and more importantly selected which tracks from the album were to be the “singles.”

Said band’s “singles” went on to get major radio play, the radio play led to press coverage and both the press coverage and radio play led to said band’s albums selling off the shelves. It was a GREAT thing to have competent A&R reps with a “good ear” back in the hay days of the music biz when music was an art form above all else.

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Forget MySpace: How To Build The Ultimate Website To Interact With Your Fans

Being a musician these days can be wonderful as well as a daunting - there are so many opportunities out there (especially on the web) to distribute your music, it can be very easy to forget what the ultimate goal is - to acquire new fans!

That being said, many musicians are not very business or tech savvy and can get lost in all the networks and tools everyone is raging about. Should I concentrate on MySpace? WTF is Twitter? How can I get on iTunes?

While all of those tools are wonderful opportunities for musicians to connect with their potential audience, they are just tools, and not a means to building something that’s long term; you need to use them, but your ultimate goal should be to use those tools to get new fans to come to YOUR own website.

Why is your site so important? Isn’t it just the same as a MySpace page?

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The New Music Gatekeepers: Fans & Workload

It’s the most common frustration I hear uttered by independent artists and promoters: The workload.

How can I find the time to do all this social networking and guerrilla marketing stuff?

I’ve got so much on my plate already, how am I supposed to add even more to my overflowing to-do list?

I hear you. I know. And ISN’T IT WONDERFUL?

Huh? What in Jehovah’s name is so wonderful about being overburdened by all that needs to be done to succeed with music?

I have a good answer. Let me explain …

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