Current Digital Trends in the music industry
Current digital trends in the music industry could be everything from the way we record the song to the media which we put the song on to and even the way we promote the music. Because of the digital age we live in multimedia is now the norm. The trend is to DIY as opposed to finding a label to scoop you up as in the days of past. On account of this digital technology available to the consumer, everyone has the tools within reach to record and produce their own album the way they envisioned it from the start. No longer do you have to wait for some fancy studio to allow you in the front door.After you have recorded your cd baby from your living room couch all while drinking a case of Mountain Dew it’s now time to promote this thing by yourself. Build your own website with digital downloads available with a digital sign-up sheet for your mailing list. After the site is built go and get some fans through Facebook, Twitter, and even MySpace. Follow this up by submitting your mp3s to all these podcast stations that are excited to receive your indie music.After you have done all this use that digital phone of yours to keep connected with your fans through apps. After you have your loyal following jazzed up about that new release of yours, start booking your own tour with that powerful little computer in your hand. Point the venues to your digital website and digital press kit online and try and save a dime by telling them to jump on the latest digital trends in the music industry. Save a tree and go digital. That was so yesterday in regards to an 8x10 glossy and a demo CD. No one sends hard copies anymore? Do they?After you have booked that tour don’t forget to take advantage of the other cool features on that digital monster you hold to your ear and text all your friends with by taking some cool footage of your road trip and a live performance of your band rocking at the club.Post all of this on YouTube and tell your story of how you made it famous with all the cool media outlets available to the indie artist these days. Then fire off one more text or tweet or write on your wall and have the fans all download your hot single from iTunes at once so your song soars to the top of iTunes top downloads.Here is to a new matrix for the independent musician. I am looking forward to seeing a live stream of your next performance through my iphone.
Why most indie artist fail
Why most indie artist fail is a simple reason, they don’t realize they are a small business owner. You may be amazing on your instrument, sing like a song bird from heaven, have great stage presence and everyone tells you that they have never seen talent like you before. So why are you still spinning your wheels in the muck and mire of the hundreds of garage bands in your own neighborhood?The indie artist needs to develop their business tools as well as their playing chops. Understanding how to network their connections is going to be the key to their success. But before they start this they must understand their own business better. For example: they must think of their music as their brand they are selling. This means they must identify what their brand is and what is their demographic they are targeting. Are you a screemo band? If so then you are hitting the middle school and early high school kids that struggle with the emotions of becoming an adult. You are relating to the transition from a child into adult hood.Maybe you write love songs. Your target market is going to be probably woman and somewhere between 25 and up. Your audience drinks coffee and wine. Why do I say this? Well, once you identify your brand and target your audience you begin to understand where to put your energy at. You can put your flyers up in coffee shops and wine depots if you write love songs or acoustic projects. If you are a punk or screemo band that is not going to be very wise to put up your bands flyers in a coffee shop now is it? You need to find a skate shop, maybe a tattoo parlor to put up your advertisement.You need to take control of your music’s or arts future. Do it yourself mentality is so vital to your career. Talk to your band mates and see who knows something about graphic design and have them take care of the website and flyers. You need to stay connected to your audience after shows so they won’t forget about you. Remember it takes a small business about 2 years to gain name recognition. That goes for bands as well. The number one mistake new bands make in the beginning is to forget to build their mailing list. This needs to start from day one.This list is your life blood to your career. This is how you get returning fans to shows; build loyal followings that buy your latest cd release. Don’t forget to start his list from the very beginning and send out an email at least once a month. No more than two though. Don’t bother them or they will get annoyed with you.The newsletter should let them know what is going on with you. Are you in the middle of recording some new material? Do you have a show coming up? Answer the basics of any good article. The who, what, when, where. Why, and how.Run a contest for your next show, whoever can write the greatest review of your band wins a trip to your next show in the famous gig van, gets to hang out with the band after the show and hang out at the all night diner with you. Give them a free CD etc. Let’s talk about your website with a little more detail for a moment. A bands web presence is very important for their success. This is where the fans get to hang out on their time. Your site should include the following:1. Upcoming shows2. Mention new songs, albums, and merchandise3. News about some recent success ( A sold out show, a good review from a magazine)4. Links to any kind of press you have online5. Photos from recent shows, studio sessions6. Announce upcoming projects you are working on (This keeps their interest in returning)7. Quote any interesting things that are funny or memorable that a fan said or did or even a band member.Your tabs should be something like this on your website –Contact – your email address, phone number etcTestimonials – Quotes from fans, venues, booking agents, festivals, magazinesMailing list info – have an easy to understand sign up process, let them know how often you will send them something and you will never give their info away or sell it for spam.Bio- This can be about the band, or separate band member bios or all the aboveInformation for bookers – stage plots, contact for booking, press ready photos, downloadable flyers for the venue to print out for promo.Music – mp3’s to download and cd’s to buy – allow them to play the music on the site to bond with it.Photos – pictures of the band both studio, live shows, and on the road.Links – link to any blog, ezine, podcast that features you. Cross promote!Blogs – journal your experience to offer more perspective for the fanVideo – You have to have video now! Use your camera on your phone it doesn’t have to be pro quality. There is no substitution for multimediaSo there are some basics to get you started. One more thing to think about is niche marketing. Music is more competitive now than ever with the home recording studio era. Everyone is producing his or her own music now and trying to make it big.There are thousands and thousands of bands out their trying to do the same thing you are. So how can you separate yourself from them? Try writing songs that target a subject or tell a story that people are interested in. Recently this lady wrote an entire album about sail boats. She got her album featured in a sail boat magazine and the album sold like crazy. I just co/wrote a song with a friend of mine for a film that was about the homeless. We then pitched the song to helping hands, and homeless shelter programs like united, and because it was so niche specific we are getting all kinds of interest. This same interest brings attention to your entire music catalog. Well without writing an entire book I hope some of these concepts will help the indie artist not to fail. Take care and good luck on your next project.
Do record executives know a hit song
Do record executives know a hit song?Do they care to know? I honestly don’t think they care enough about music to research the finer points of what makes a hit song. I guess the question for them would be will it make us money? Is that the definition of hit song? Will the people buy it because they like it? Is that a hit song? The point is that they have a money making template in the industry right now and they are not going to stray away from that. Test have shown that it takes a listener around 40x’s before he or she begins to bond to a song. Thus the reasoning behind slamming a new single down our throat 10 times an hour on the FM dial when the big recording executives release another one of their units out the Wall Street door.The idea is that if you are in a middle of a heart wrench break up and their song is on the car radio dial you will somehow emotionally bond with it. You just had the best day of the summer and their song was playing you will tie in that emotion every time you hear it.So my question is this. Is it a hit song if it sounds pretty much like the other hit song that played the year before? David Cook sounds a little like Chris Daughtry, Chris sounds a little like Nickleback, etc. They will not stray too far from that money making template.No big record exec thought Dave Mathews was a hit when they first heard him because he did not fit that money making template. However, Dave had the foresight and initial drive to give his music the test of time. His independent musical entrepreneurship paid off. His audience grew steady throughout his career. He was not under the pressure of the Major Label make a hit this month or your cut from this deal mentality. With time he had such a loyal fan base outside of the major record companies they big record executives came to him with humble hearts and asked if he would allow them to have a piece of his pie. He said no for many years until they gave him a deal he couldn’t resist. So in his case they didn’t know what he had till he showed them by packing venues all on his own without their help.The labels will not sign real talent right now because they now are under the make money for me now ideology. The new fresh talented artist will not have time given to him for his audience to appreciate his new art. So unless you sound like Pink, Kelley Clarkson, John Mayor, Jack Johnson, David Cook, Black Eyed Peas or someone else that is on top of the charts you will not have a chance for your single to be considered a hit song. Of course this is all my own ninety eight cents worth. But the talk of a hit song the industry today seems almost pointless. A great song and talented artist would not make it in todays music scene. Aeorosmith took almost 7 years before they wrote “Dream On”. I don’t think they would have that kind of time today. The majors won’t give a band or artist much time to be out there for us to bond to his ways of writing. Just like the Dave Mathews example at first we may not like it. Then over a year or so we may start to develop and broaden our musical taste buds. Our pallet will mature over time being exposed to great art. But the big executives in the record industry will only give us what they want. We get spoon fed music from the industry hit making machine. Thank God for internet radio and those tiny little satellites up in the air!
What genre is more useful: Radio or Television?
All we have to do is look at Disney in this conversation. They have figured it out in a day and age where artist are having a difficult time filling the seats to make their tours worth the investment. Not to mention the dismal sell of CD's in the era of digital downloads and piracy. Disney on the other hand has the top selling artist year after year and their CD sells are strong. BMI won't even include them in their charts? Why is this? Could it be that they are embarrassed that the kids are selling a lot more CD's than their adult counter part? Or how about Disney artist are selling out tours in minutes while the recording artist from the top four major record labels are having to do double bills and play in smaller venues to survive.My last example will be you-tube. Independent artist now has a chance to be on television sort of speak and get some of this power within their own hands. It does not replace the big networks just yet but you-tube has been more useful to independent artist than the radio for sure.
are Disney artist doing so well? Television! That is how. They have all of their recording artist on T.V. where we get to know them as a person. We fall in love with their personality and then we buy there music because we feel like we know them as a person. Hannah flippin Montana is the perfect example of this. Is she a talented musician? Yes, but not world class. So why does she sell more CD's than anyone right now? Because she is a cutie patutie and her television show lets you see this side of her. She has a great personality that comes alive on television. She has a charismatic energy that just leaps through the set. This would not be the case on radio. You would not see her endearing facial expressions and cute little manor-isms that make a home in most anyones heart. After falling in love with her because your 5 year old makes you watch the show with her you want to go and buy a ticket to see her in person and follow that up with a CD for a souvenir. Ha!
Disney promotes their artist better than anyone. They put them on television 24/7 and this is how they are so productive with their CD sells. Not to mention any other product they want to sell. Lunch boxes, shoes, dolls etc.. Adult artist have a few shows on MTV and they will go on a talk show here and there but they do not have their own show if you know what I mean. Maybe they will follow suite and figure out that Disney has the blue print on how to make a successful artist?
High School Musical, Jonas Brothers, and Hannah Montana is a prime example of the power of television. But their are two other points to show how the powerful media of television or now, streaming video, can launch an artist from non existence to stardom in no time at all. Just take a look at the success of the show American Idol and how Kelley Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are now two house hold names in the music industry. Do you think they would have been as popular if their debut albums were just released on radio air waves and a few late night talk shows? I don't think so. Seeing Kelley and Carrie week afater week is what got us hooked. Seeing them cry, laugh and smile through all the drama is what bonded us to them.
Fun tricks and tips for recording guitar at home
Here are a few tips or tricks when recording guitar tracks at home.
The living room – Isolation booths can be very expensive especially the portable ones. So try floating your guitar amp by setting it on your couch to help reduce the noise transmitted through the floor. Turn your living room table on its side placing it in front of the amp and try some different diffusion techniques. For example try draping different blankets or comforters over the table to create a booth. For a more in your face sound create a dead room effect by placing a foam pad around the amp. I bought one at G.I. Joes for $12.00 in their camping section. It was nearly the same one Auralex sold for $40.00.
Bathroom – Hopefully you have the bathtub shower combo for this session. Place your amp facing towards the shower while using a standard 57 to close mic. Have a large diaphragm mic to record the ambiance of the bathroom. Placing this mic in the bathtub you can use the multi polar pattern option to shape your reverb variations. You will get various results in your recording by having the shower curtain pulled half way, quarter way or by adjusting the bathroom doors being closed or shut. Try putting a cheap radio shack mic in the toilet just for fun. Put a plastic bag with a rubber band around it and do not let it go in the water!
The closet - We all know that a Marshall Plexi Head sounds best at 11 while playing live. However when we are in the recording process we don’t always have the luxury of turning up to 11. Most likely a man in a blue suit will be showing up at our door. And I am not talking about our beloved Jehovah witness friends. You can get huge guitar tracks from a 15 watt tube amp shoved in a closet full of winter jackets and sweaters. You will be surprised at the results. You may be surprised at some big name guitar records that were recorded this way?
The ugly duckling - Do you have a no name ugly looking guitar that you picked up at a pawn shop or garage sale? Tune that bad boy up and double and triple track that guitar part. You may just get a big interesting guitar sound. If it works use it. We are called recording artist. We create new and exciting sounds!
The long hall way – I had the pleasure of living in a downtown loft for 3 ½ years. It was built in the early 1900’s and rumor has it that it was a brothel back in the day. There was an 80 foot hall way in there and it was fun. Put a close mic in front of your amp and a large diaphragm 5ft, 10ft, 20ft, 80 as far as you can go. Of course you will be time shifting the track to align it but the results are very cool.
Now that we mentioned a few odd and different ways for recording guitar let us have a few practical pointers as well.
1. The more overdrive and distortion you use, the thinner the guitar tone will be. Too much saturation will rob you of your guitar tone. The guitar sounds bigger and meaner when it is cleaner with slight overdrive. This is why tube distortion is what we covet as a guitarist. Allow the amp and guitar to give tone, and push the speakers to break slightly. This is the secret to big guitar tones. Use the distortion pedal to give a little extra boost for your solo or to sprout wings on that note that needs to sustain for ever.
2. Remember guitars don’t have to be loud to sound good in the studio.
3. Add your delay to the recording during the mix down. You can dial in the desired effect to match your recording at the end of the tracking. With todays plug ins you can have sweet sounding delay and have it tweaked into perfect timing with the entire mix.
4. The last goes without saying, you really need to make sure your guitars intonation is set up properly so that it is in tune no matter where you play on the neck.
5. Less is more. If all else fails stick a 57 off axis and call it good!
You can listen to all my recordings on my album at www.thedavidsamuelproject.com to reference my guitar tone. Thanks for your time and hope you have as much fun as I do recording guitar tracks.