“How do I find a music manager? How do I find a booking agent? I just need to find someone to get my music to the next level.” I’ve heard these questions and statements before, and fifteen or so years ago I sounded exactly like this. As it turns out, I wound up on the industry side of the fence and traded in the crowded, smelly van for a record company desk job – but I do have some answers for you.
Let’s start at the very beginning – do you have anything to manage?
I know – sounds like a stupid question, but is it? I’m not asking you if you have lots of work that you could use help with, nor am I making light of the pure volume of work involved in the creation of both recorded and live music. What I am asking is, “Do you have something ready to bring to market that needs managing or are you still building your product?”
There is no shame (I repeat) NO SHAME in being in the developmental phases of your career. We live in an instant gratification kind of world, which is why I know statistically that a majority of people won’t have made it this far into this article because they’re looking for a “get famous now” button. But my sincere advice is to take your time and develop your product – this will help you rise above the MILLIONS of people who went out to Guitar Center last week, purchased an instrument and recording gear, and had the first song they ever wrote up on MySpace the next day hoping for some kind of miracle that won’t ever come.
But back to management… let’s talk about what you should have together before even considering approaching someone to invest in your career. Notice I said “invest,” because whether or not they spend a dime on you, management is an enormous expenditure of someone’s time and efforts.
Before approaching anyone to manage you, have most of these together:
– No apology recordings of your music.
– Professional looking photos of you or your group.
– A basic, easily findable website (custom URL) you can update yourself.
– A mailing list and a place where people can sign up on said list.
– A social network presence (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube).
– Live performance footage (preferably in front of a crowd).
– A well-written bio highlighting your accomplishments.
These are the building blocks and marketing materials you will use over and over and over again. There are no words, no email sales pitch, and probably not even naked photos of a music executive in compromising positions that will get you taken more seriously than having the items above in place. Some of these items can get pricey, so do your homework and shop around if you feel that any of these items are best done by work for hire. Having these materials will get your more gigs, will get you taken more seriously by your peers and potential fans, and ultimately (if you have a product people want) will help you build a business in music.
“Okay – wait – isn’t this super basic? Does he think we are Idiots?”
No, absolutely not. But I can tell you that statistically aspiring musicians are looking at the wrong things to get ahead. Check out what people search for online for music related terms according to a Google AdWords query in June 2010:
Term: Global Monthly Searches:
“Get My Music Heard Online” – 10
“Get more people to my shows” – 10
“Make a Living In Music” – 46
“Marketing My Music” – 110
“Get a Music Manager” – 590
“How to Get A Record Deal” – 18,100
Draw your own conclusions but I think too many people are looking for a shortcut to fame that, barring an act of God or Justin Bieber, just doesn’t exist.
Rick Goetz is a music consultant and musician coach by way of a fifteen year career at major record labels and various online and television projects.
Music is protected by copyright. The unauthorized downloading or uploading of music is actionable as copyright infringement, even if not done for profit.
Illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted music is often accomplished using “peer-to-peer” (P2P) software installed on individual computers, which allows your computer to exchange files with other computers that are running similar software. P2P services usually configure their software so that any files you download (and any other files in your “shared folder”) are automatically made accessible to anyone else on the P2P network that requests them.
When you use such services to download and upload files, you are not anonymous. Whenever you connect to the Internet, your computer is assigned a unique “Internet protocol (IP) address” from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This unique IP address is used to identify your computer as the source of available files to all other computers on a P2P network. The infringement notice you received is the result of your computer having been identified as engaged in an illegal transfer of copyrighted music. You should immediately take the following steps in order to prevent further infringing activity and to prevent serious legal and other consequences:
Discontinue downloading and uploading unauthorized copies of music.
Permanently delete from your computer all infringing music from all computers linked to the account (for instructions, see #7). If you downloaded the file from a P2P service or a website that seems too good to be legal, then it’s safer to assume it is not legal.
If you do not use P2P software for lawful purposes, delete it.
If you use P2P for lawful purposes (to upload or download files that you are legally authorized to reproduce or distribute), make sure the only files in your P2P “shared folder” are ones you are authorized to distribute in this way.
Secure your internet connection to ensure it is not being used in ways you have not authorized. For example, secure your home Wi-Fi network to ensure others are not accessing the Internet through your connection to download or distribute unauthorized copies of music, and use virus and spyware protection software. Visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website at http://www.us-cert.gov/reading_room/ to obtain information on how to secure your computer in these and other ways.
Talk with family members or guests who may have used your Internet connection in ways you are not aware of.
Remember, distributing files illegally puts you at risk for sanctions imposed for violating your ISP’s terms of service as well as substantial civil and, in some cases, criminal penalties. Intellectual property industries – such as music, film, television and computer software – are central to the health and stability of the U.S. economy. For example, in 2007, the core copyright industries contributed $889.1 billion to the U.S. GDP, equal to approximately 6.4% of the U.S. economy.
Who pays when music is stolen? Singers, songwriters, musicians, album producers, audio engineers, sound technicians, recording studio managers, and many others that contribute to creating the music we love, and who depend on a healthy industry for their jobs and their families’ income.
Music theft also has an enormous impact on music fans around the world. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 albums never break even and fail to recover the costs of making and marketing the album. If music is routinely stolen and distributed over the Internet or on illegal CDs, then it becomes less likely that people will invest in the high quality music we love.
Infringing copyright is against the law and increasingly easy to detect. These violations can affect your Internet account in accordance with your ISP’s terms of service, and can result in lawsuits against you by copyright owners, and under some circumstances even constitute violations of Federal criminal law. In short, it’s not worth it. There are a multitude of legal, affordable and hassle free places where you can find your favorite music in high quality formats and legal and safe sites where content is available for downloading.
The Caribbean Cultural Conference is an annual event designed to bring together entertainment industry stakeholders to explore, examine the obstacles confronting the advancement of the Caribbean entertainment industry.
Through dialogue among industry players, the CCC seeks to bring to the fore, strategies that will positively affect issues related to production, management, intellectual property, distribution and marketing of the Caribbean entertainment product.
They are not rules, but guidelines. Most come from years of experience!
* Practice every day! The top players play every day, and many hours a day!
* Try to get with people who are as dedicated, if not more so, than you are! You will learn more if you work with people who are truly dedicated.
* Take pride in learning your instrument be it guitar, drums or vocals.
* Help your singer! Most bands are afraid to really tell the singer what they know about music. Exchange knowledge, especially with your singer. Many times they do not play an instrument and need a little help.
* Record your rehearsals. Do as much pre-production recording on your own as possible. It may even eventually become your career!
* Master your instrument! The most frustrating moments in the studio are when the musician can not nail his part. Patience goes a long way. Frustration is very contagious. It is always fun when people stay positive and do not get too excited about things. Preparation is the cure for frustration.
* If you are really ready, you will not struggle in the studio, or live or anywhere. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Practice!
* Become an educated musician. Learn music. Learn how to count rhythm. Learn music theory- notes, intervals, scales, chords, arpeggios, progressions, the history behind what you are playing! Take ear training classes — anywhere! Train your ears free online — Google — free online ear training.
* Eat before arriving at the studio. It seems kind of obvious, but you would be surprised how many people show up with an empty stomach because they were running late. Hungry musicians seldom make the best music that they can, and usually get frustrated pretty quickly. Snacks are also good, they keep the work going!
* Alcohol is usually not a good thing in the studio. Strongly discouraged!
* Have your money together before you book time! Too many bands try to leverage others in the band into paying by forcing the project into the studio when the finances are not there. It usually backfires.
* Don’t waste your time or the studio’s. One person should represent the band when it comes to keeping schedules and paying the bill. The studio should not have to chase down individual members of the band to get paid. The band is one entity, and all are equally responsible for payment. If a member does not pay, the others are liable and expected to cover payment at the end of the session.
* Everybody should write music who plays it!
* Get a drum machine or drum software. Learn how to program beats, keep it simple at first. Try even and odd time signatures. Try to come up with something new every day and record it — even a little portable cassette player will work.
* Build up a collection of parts and ideas and exchange them with the other guys in your band. You will be surprised how good it feels when someone in your band discovers a diamond in the rough on your demo tape and gets excited about — especially when you might not have even remembered writing it. Many times it takes others too recognize the coolness of a part.
* Be prolific! Write music as often as possible. I would put my money on a band that could write one hundred songs over a band that has just ten. Write thirty and pick the best twelve or so and record them! Write more material than you need for each recording.
* If you have two guitar players, take the time to compare notes. Make sure that you are playing the songs correctly. Help fill in the gaps in each others styles. Map out your parts so when in the studio, nothing gets forgotten, and your tracks get recorded efficiently.
* Get your guitar set up! Good intonation is never more important than in the studio. Setting your own intonation is easy:
o Use a good tuner – Play each strings harmonic at the twelfth fret and then compare it to the fretted note on the same string at the twelfth fret.
o If the fretted notes pitch is higher (sharp) than the harmonic, detune the string, move the saddle away from the nut (toward the bottom of the guitar) a little bit and then check again with a tuner.
o If the fretted notes pitch is lower(flat) than the fretted note, then move the saddle closer to the nut (the headstock). Check again, and adjust until harmonic is same pitch as fretted note at the twelfth fret.
* Heavier strings get more tone, buzz less and record better because they have less travel (retain more tension). Bring extra packs of the strings you use to the studio – you never know how many you will go through. Many strings are defective and put out more than one note. Really listen to each string ring, and if it warbles and puts out more than one pitch, it is probably bad. This is more common with the wound strings.
* Bass players need to be sure to bring a new 9-volt battery if they use active pickups. New strings on the bass also sound better for recording.
* New drum heads are a must. We like Remo pinstripe heads for toms, Remo ambassador coated for snare, and Remo power stroke 3 kick heads. Just our preference (for most rock projects). Single ply heads dent fast and will not last through a long session.
* Heavier drum sticks will typically sound punchier than lighter sticks.
* Drummers using felt beaters should turn them around! Felt should only be used for jazz. plastic hitting the head is where all of the attack comes from- with felt it comes out blurry.
* Try the DW beaters, they have a lot of mass and sound great!
* Moon jelly is great for dampening resonant drums. Do not choke off your drums with tape and dead ringers. Let them breathe. We like to tune the bottom head to the same pitch as the top head. Again, just our preference!
* The higher the cymbals are placed off of the toms, the better they and the toms will sound. When cymbals are right over and next to the toms, they bleed right into the mics and make it harder to EQ cool high end needed for the toms.
* Try playing a little lighter on the cymbals and a little harder on the kick, toms and snare! I have said this too many times to count!
* Figure out your tempos and tempo changes with a click track before you come into the studio. Map it out on paper if necessary! Time is money! Same with arrangements. Come in prepared with fills planned, and experience with a metronome.
* Every drummer should practice with a metronome a few times a week at least! Practice makes perfect, especially if we are using one to record the project with. Some drummers listen to a metronome when they are not even playing.
* Drummers should get a practice pad and learn all of the rudiments. If you are a double bass drummer, try to apply the rudiments to your feet as well as your hands. Learn to play all of them on demand.
* If you are a singer, buy a keyboard and sing with it every day! Learn the major scale on the keyboard (c d e f g a b c) and sing with it. If you play all of the black keys, you get a minor pentatonic scale, which is the basis for the blues. Singers should master AT LEAST these two scales.
* Singers should get vocal training. There are some great teachers around, and your voice is worth preserving. Singing incorrectly will damage your voice, and the older you get the better you get, so think about the future and keep your voice. If it hurts and you are hoarse at the end of the night, you pushed it too far or you are doing it wrong. How many famous singers were amazing when they were younger, but seemed to lose it as time went on and the were gaining success. Brutal is cool, but not if you lose your voice in the end. A voiceless screamer does not sound very brutal!