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  • Advice for Young Musicians

    Since 2004 we’ve interviewed a number of musicians on Teen Jazz and they’ve offered a ton of great tips for the aspiring musician on everything from practice to having the right mentality and approach to a career in the entertainment industry.

    Each of these tips can be found in the various interviews around the site – and we encourage you to read them – but we’ve also decided to put them together as a free guide for those who sign up for our mailing list.

    The guide, Advice for Young Musicians from Established Music Professionals, features advice from almost everyone we’ve interviewed on the site including Greg Adams, Carol Kaye, Terri Lyne Carrington, U-Nam, Mindi Abair and more.

    And don’t worry, if you’re already signed up for our email list, just re-enter your email below and it will reveal the download link.

    I’d love to know what you all think of the guide and what musicians you would like to see advice from in the next edition!

    GET THE GUIDE:


     

    You can also download this book on Amazon and help support Teen Jazz.

    April 24, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1379

  • Balancing the Business and Creative Aspects of Music

    This past week David Hooper at MusicMarketing.com put out a podcast answering the question of how to balance the creative and business aspects of a music career. It was, in fact, a question that I submitted when he called for questions on his Facebook page, and I think he offers some pretty great tips as part of this episode. You can listen to to the episode at MusicMarketing.com.

    During the podcast, I had the opportunity to offer some of my thoughts and input based on my experience, but I’d like to elaborate a bit further here on Teen Jazz.

    Figure out what you want

    Balancing the business and creative aspects of your music can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. If you go at it each day with a plan, an idea of how much time you want to set aside for each, it’s much easier to tackle, even if other things come up.

    As I said in the podcast, I don’t think that there is any one right way to find a balance – it’s going to be different for everyone and it’s going to be different each day you go at it, but starting with a plan will help you accomplish a lot.

    The first step is to figure out exactly what you need or want to accomplish in the big picture. Do you want to produce a music video? Do you want to put out a new album? Or do you want to go on tour?

    Once you figure out what your long term goals are, you can figure out the steps you need to take to accomplish them. Write them out so that you have a clear picture of what you need to do so that you don’t go at it randomly.

    For any goal there’s going to be both music and business steps to take. For example, putting out an album.

    Creative Business
    Learn your instrument at a high enough level to record an album Write a press release announcing the album
    Write the songs & lyrics Coordinate radio promotion for the single/album
    Learn the songs at a studio-ready level Send out email blasts, social updates, etc. to fans to let them know about the album. In other words, build buzz surrounding the album release.
    Rehearse the songs with the band Do interviews surrounding the release of the album
    Record and produce the album Plan a CD release party
    Practice, rehearse and memorize the music for the CD release Figure out how you’re going to have the album mixed, mastered and manufactured
    etc. etc.

    Once you figure out what your goals are and what you hope to accomplish in the near future, you can create weekly and daily tasks that keep you and your business moving.

    A daily task could be working on the writing/arranging for the album. You can write songs and develop their arrangements a little bit everyday. A weekly task could be updating your fan base about the progress of the project via Facebook, email, your blog, Twitter, etc.

    When you’re working on a project or touring, sometimes it can be hard to step out of it to reach out to fans and music business reps, but you have to find a way to maintain any momentum your business has going for it by keeping in touch. When you’re plugged in to a project and really dedicated to creating it, it can be hard to pull yourself away and do other things, but it’s important to find a balance and make time for other tasks.

    One of the suggestions David Hooper had in the podcast was to schedule different tasks at different times of the day so that you could mentally prepare for them and “switch modes” more easily. I think that this can be a great method, but don’t worry about it too much. Sometimes things may come up and your routine gets thrown for a loop. The most important thing is to be as flexible as you can while staying on track with what you need to accomplish.

    Divide and Conquer

    It’s easy to get distracted with all the different hats we wear as musicians, so prioritizing the work you need to get done helps quite a bit. The easiest way to do this is by dividing your tasks into different categories. As far as business goes, I suggest:

    1. Revenue Generating Tasks – gigs, digital downloads, sending out emails to concert promoters or sending out emails to help you get more people to your shows. These are the most important tasks because they are what earn revenue. Make sure you complete these tasks first!

    2. Relationship Building Tasks – answer questions from fans, send emails to keep in touch with your contacts, etc. These are important but not as important as the items in category #1. Do these second.

    3. Everything Else – updating Facebook, listening to music (aka “research”), blogging, etc.

    As for the “art” side of your business, you should spend as much time (if not more) working on your craft as you do working on the business. It will hurt your business if your product (you as an artist and your music), doesn’t stand up to the marketing and business efforts you’re making.

    David Hooper said, “If you can’t spend at least an hour on your music a day, you should really look at what you’re doing” and I agree wholeheartedly. If you’re serious about pursuing music as a career, you should make sure that you have at least an hour a day to refine your skills and hone your craft.

    That hour (minimum!) should be spent practicing – working on your instrument, your recording technique, your stage presence, etc.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

    If you find that you’re unable to manage the different responsibilities necessary to your business, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes paying someone to do the things you can’t do or don’t have time to do is worth it.

    There are some things that other people can do better and faster than you and you need to decide if it’s really worth spending the time to do it yourself. Yes, you may be able to do it yourself and yes, it may save you money, but sometimes it’s better to bring in someone who has that skill set to help bring your project to the next level. (You can read more about building your team in this guest post by Cyrene Jagger, The Musician’s A-Team.)

    Get Started

    We’ve put together a worksheet to help you plan out this next year and better manage your creative and business tasks. Download our Music Business Planner.

    In summary, I can’t say that my method is perfect, but it has worked for me. If you’ve figured out a way to balance it all, I’d love to hear what it is. You can let me know in the comments.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

     

    April 19, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1710

  • The Musician’s A-Team

    This is a guest post by Cyrene Jagger.

    Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

    Things certainly have changed in the music industry in the past 10 years. With social media, home (pro) studios, record label mergers and acquisitions, declining music sales, and pirating, these shifts and changes were inevitable.

    And with those changes, a tremendous amount of great opportunities came streaming in to many more musicians than those that were available in the past.

    In life, you might have picked up on the fact that changes are certain. We can resist these changes or we can grow and adapt. The latter option, although arguably the better choice, is certainly not the easiest. Change can present a whole host of challenges as we are forced to adapt and learn about what those changes mean.

    The music industry that has emerged from the countless changes over the past ten years certainly presents a number of challenges for every musician and their teams. Gone are the days when getting a major record label contract meant you had the support of a team of pros propelling your music to the masses. Not to mention the deep, deep pockets and financial support of major labels (as of today there are only 3 major labels even in existence: Song Music, BMG Music, and UMG).* 1

    If you thought competition to get signed by a major label was tough before, it’s at least twice as hard today. But here’s the good news – with all the recent changes in the music industry, musicians can now do a lot on their own and become quite successful without the help of a major label.

    Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be excited if you received an offer from the likes of Sony, BMG or UMG. If it ever comes to that point, you should be excited, whether you decide to sign with them or not. And remember, before you sign anything, read it, re-read it and then read it again! Make sure that it’s a good deal for YOU, and if it isn’t, negotiate it until you’re comfortable with what you’re agreeing too. Then, and only then, should you sign. In fact, as critical as signing to a major label is, you would do well to consult with a business manager or entertainment attorney.

    If you’re not one of the few who get an offer from a label, fret not. You can learn to record and produce your music on your own. You just have to decide if it’s worth the time to learn how to, and if are you good enough at it. If not, you may still need the help of a producer and professional studio.

    As an independent musician you can maintain the rights to your music and protect your body of work.You have 100% of the creative control. You’ll also get to choose how you market your music. You can build your own fan base using social media, and even book your own tours.

    There is, however, one aspect of being an independent musician that can be a bit tricky.

    One of the most difficult parts of being an independent musician is finding a balance between the business aspects of your career and the creative ones.

    As an independent musician, there are a lot of hats you’re required to wear to accomplish the variety of tasks necessary to become successful. There’s radio promotion, PR, legal representation, accounting, booking, management, production, licensing, social media, online marketing, blogging, website design and maintenance, artwork design, photography, etc. Accomplishing all this independently can take a lot of time and a lot of money.

    Yes, being an independent musician can be pricey when you try to do marketing, promotion and album production, but don’t go running off getting a day job to pay for it all just yet. Don’t forget that you’re a creative type, so thinking outside the box shouldn’t be difficult. But you also shouldn’t forget that your music is your business, and you have to treat it as such. It isn’t enough to develop your playing and songwriting skills – you should also learn the business side of the industry to be successful.

    So here’s why it’s time to do-it-together rather than do-it-yourself.

    Networking is one of the most important skills you can have as a musician whether you’re independent or not. Attend jam sessions, local events, and concerts in you’re area to meet other musicians, industry individuals, radio station reps and fans. Build a community with others in your area. Trade information, share contacts, team up with other creative types (photographers, filmmakers, artists, etc.) and build your A-Team with people you can trust. And most of all, support other musicians because they can be your greatest allies.

    Your thoughts?

    * References:
    1. Ref – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_label


    Cyrene JaggerWRITTEN BY – CYRENE JAGGER, CEO/PRESIDENT OF JAGGEREDGE PLATINUM ARTISTS

    Cyrene Jagger is CEO/President of JaggerEdge Platinum Artists and represents a number of very talented musicians as an Artist, Business and Tour Manager. She is also Manager for Mctrax International, a multi-media firm and record label own by Rock Icon Andy Fraser (FREE), as well as, Publicist for the nonprofit Discovery Arts, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, that brings music, art, and dance to children who are in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment, she is also an accomplished Voice Actor and Producer.

     

    April 2, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1598

  • 3 Email Writing Tips for Musicians

    Whether writing an email to promoters, venues or radio stations, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of getting your message read.

    1. Be prepared – do research, compile a list of possible venues and be ready to work through them with a friendly and well thought out email. If someone is interested, be prepared to discuss matters of budget, genre, performance and schedule.

    2. Keep it simple – keep your opening email simple (about three paragraphs with three to four sentences in each). Don’t bombard the promoter with a lot of information right away. You need to sell your music and your identity as an artist, so present information in a concise and informative manner.

    3. Don’t give up. You’re going to hear “no” a lot, so don’t be afraid to ask why. If the no is firm, remember that there will be plenty more opportunities that pop up. Be persistent. Keep tailoring your emails so that you find what works best for you.

    A bonus hint: Your email shouldn’t be any longer than this post.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    March 11, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1311

  • The Secret to Being Productive for Musicians

    I am not always as productive as I could hope to be because finding the time to manage various tasks can be quite a challenge. As musicians, we have a diverse range of responsibilities including everything from recording to marketing, performance to teaching, and each of these tasks we may complete each and every day.

    With so many duties, it’s important to find time to fit them all in and be as productive as possible. Personally, I like to be and to feel productive all the time, but being 100% productive just isn’t possible. Sometimes our bodies and our minds just need a break, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to make the most of the time you do work. Here is a round-up of the best productivity advice I’ve found.

    HOW TO BE PRODUCTIVE. PERIOD.

    Make a decision and take action. We can waste a lot of time planning and worrying over the results, but worry and planning are just another form of procrastination. Make a decision and take action, don’t spend too much time weighing and comparing options.

    Deal with emails, comments, etc. once. Don’t leave emails and comments for later. Open them, read them and then respond. Filing things for later ensures that they won’t get done and also requires you do “read” or go back to tasks that you could have finished immediately more than once.

    Do the hardest thing FIRST. Start your day out by completing the hardest thing or whatever you want to do the least first. The rest of the day will be a breeze from there on out.

    Stop whining and/or making excuses. If you have time to whine, then you have time to work. Stop wasting time with excuses and just DO. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can only work/practice/compose when you are in the mood, just sit down to work even when you aren’t inspired. If you get into the habit of creating only when you feel motivated, you can go weeks at a time without practicing/writing/composing/working. Eventually it will feel weird missing these planned parts of your day.

    Track your progress. Having a visible way to track your progress not only motivates you continue being productive, but gives you a way to keep yourself in check. Great apps for this are Teuxdeux which lets you cross of your to do list, Lazymeter which measures your productivity and a simple Don’t Break the Chain sheet which lets you cross off the days you accomplished your goals. I write more about apps you can use to be productive in this article.

    WAYS TO STAY PRODUCTIVE WHILE WORKING

    Arrange your workspace with the things you need most often within reach. Instead of getting up from your desk every five minutes to get a sheet of music paper or a new pencil, keep the items that you use most often nearby and remove everything else that you don’t need (and that can serve as a distraction).

    Pay attention to your posture. Did you know that your posture affects how you think? It’s called “embodied cognition.” Sitting up straight helps your ideas flow more freely.

    Don’t multitask. Dedicate your attention to one task at a time. You’ll not only get more done, but you’ll also do what your doing better. Don’t start a new task until you’ve finished the previous.

    WAYS TO RE-ENERGIZE SO THAT YOUR PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS ARE MORE CONSISTENT

    Recharge daily. Take a break everyday so that you can “reset your batteries” and recharge. There are a lot of ways to do this – some people work in 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks, others work through the day and relax in the evening or vice versa. Figure out what works for you and stick to it.

    REASONS WE STOP BEING PRODUCTIVE AND HOW TO COMBAT THEM

    Thinking Things are “Good Enough.” Remember that there is always room for improvement, so don’t stop finding reasons to learn/grow/produce because you think things are fine or “good enough.” Remember that “good enough” isn’t “great” and “great” isn’t “amazing.”

    Overwhelming Sense of Urgency. Feeling like things need to be completed right now is actually quite destructive and we end up wasting time keeping busy rather than actually accomplishing anything.

    So what do you do to keep organized and stay productive?

    Want to learn more about things like this? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    January 17, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1507

  • A Look Back on 2012 | Music Advice Roundup

    This past year, Teen Jazz has grown back into the site it was when I managed it full time almost ten years ago! I wish I had the numbers to compare, but unfortunately, I only added analytics to the site back in August of this year.

    A few of the most popular searches bring readers to Teen Jazz have been young jazz musicians, young jazz artists, teen jazz reviews, bg duo ligature review and jazz for teenagers.

    The 10 most popular articles on the website are:

    1. A Review of U-Nam’s Weekend in LA – One of the first articles we added to Teen Jazz after its major redesign was a review of his latest album and tribute to George Benson, “Weekend in LA”. It has been the most popular article on the site this past year.

    2. A Review of the BG France Duo Ligature – The second most read post on Teen Jazz is our review of the BG France Duo Ligature.

    3. Teen Jazz Influence Mindi Abair – The third most frequented article and the most popular Teen Jazz Influence is Saxophonist Mindi Abair. We interviewed Mindi back in 2006, and we hope to catch up with her for a follow up interview soon!

    4. Teen Jazz Influence Greg Adams – Our interview with trumpet player Greg Adams follows right behind that of Mindi Abair. The interview is another from our archives, but we also hope to catch up with Mr. Adams too!

    5. Teen Jazz Legend Michael Brecker – Our article on the legendary saxophonist Michael Brecker is the fifth most popular article on the site.

    6. Basic Saxophone Repair Tips – We’re lucky to have contributor Rheuben Allen who writes a series of repair articles for our website.

    7. Fixing a Crack in a Clarinet – Another great article by Mr. Rheuben Allen on repairing a crack in the wood of your clarinet.

    8. Review of Unison Saxophones – My first professional saxophone was a Unison alto that I bought back in 2002 or 2003. At NAMM a few years later, I had the opportunity to try out several more Unison Saxophones and the result was one of the first instrument reviews on Teen Jazz.

    9. College Auditions and Preparation for Sax Players – Cal State Long Beach Saxophone Professor James Barrera wrote this great article for us on preparing for college auditions.

    10. Teen Jazz Influence Everette Harp – The tenth most popular article on Teen Jazz this year was an interview with saxophonist Everette Harp.

    December 31, 2012 • Teen Jazz • Views: 1394

  • The Teen Jazz Guide to Keeping Your Facebook Fans

    Promoting your music on Facebook is important and learning where to draw the line between what irritates fans and what interests them is always a challenge. It’s important to promote a constant and consistent message without overdoing it, so if you’re looking for that “perfect mix” here’s a list of things that you shouldn’t do.

    If your Facebook following isn’t responding to your posts, you’re probably doing one or more of the things on this list:

    1. Constantly asking your friends for “likes.” Every so often it’s okay to ask your Facebook friends to “like” your music page, but constantly updating your status with demands for likes may in fact cause you to lose both friends and “likes.” I think a good rule of thumb is every couple of months. This gives you time to accumulate new friends who may not have seen the update before while leaving a nice window of time for those may have seen it already.

    2. Promoting yourself or your music on someone else’s wall. No one likes it when people do this whether it’s on Facebook, a blog, Twitter, a web site, or anywhere for that matter. The best way to promote yourself is to be engaging not obnoxious. Don’t tag people in events/updates/etc. unless they legitimately have something to do with whatever it might be and don’t post your promotional material on others’ walls.

    3. ALL CAPS and relly bad speling. Make sure that the information your sharing with the rest of the world is quality content. Read and re-read everything you post or share. The way you speak online reflects who you are so make sure it is giving off the image you’re going for. And since we’re on the topic of language, or the way you articulate yourself, don’t swear (unless that’s the image you’re going for).

    4. Constantly asking people to review, buy or promote your music. Provide your friends and fans with more than just promotional posts. Build a community by asking your friends intriguing questions, posting exciting career-related photographs (not random photos of what you ate for lunch) and every once in a while sharing some things about what your doing that are not requests for action. Be interesting not annoying.

    5. Posting whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it. Don’t use your Facebook page as your personal profile and update what you’re doing every few minutes. Whatever you are posting should be interesting and engaging, and not just in your opinion. Don’t force your thoughts and perspective on those around you.

    6. Negativity. No one likes the negative friend in real life, so why would anyone like them online? If you don’t have anything nice (or positive) to say, keep it to yourself.

    7. Not offering an easy way for fans to listen to your music. Hi, like my page. Then find my “about section.” Then find the link to my web site. Then go to the media page on my web site which then forwards you to my youtube channel. Then filter through all the videos where I talk or film things I have to say to finally find that one video of my music. Better solution? Post videos of your songs, soundcloud links of your music or share songs from your bandcamp profile on your Facebook page. CD sellers like CDBaby or Reverbnation even let you build a store and listening station on your Facebook profile so that fans don’t have to search high and low for your music.

    8. Sending new friends and fans a message that sounds something like this: “Hi new Friend/Fan! Thank you for liking my page/adding me as a friend. Since you were up to connecting with me on Facebook, why don’t you check out my Twitter, Linked In, Myspace, Tumblr, WordPress Blog, Last FM, Blogger, Google + and Reverbnation profiles and follow me there too!” Instead, post relevant content on each social network separately (write a status on Facebook and Twitter for the same thing but geared towards each network specifically in regards to photos and character counts) rather than making fans follow you in dozens of places to get the information you want. Cross-promote effectively and your following will grow naturally.

    What are some things you’ve found to work effectively on Facebook and what are some things you hate that other people do? We would love to hear your comments on this one!

    October 4, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1338

  • A Thank You Goes a Long Way

    One of my greatest faults is the fact that I am inexplicably shy. When I confess this weakness, most people are shocked. They can’t understand how I can get up on stage and perform if I’m shy. And they’re right it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    To be honest, I’m not completely sure how I manage to get up on stage either, but I know it is more comfortable for me to be on stage in front of 100 people than it is to be the focus of attention in a small group. But that discomfort is something I’ve learned to deal with and move past.

    No matter how talented you may be, developing relationships with other musicians, those in the music industry and fans is incredibly important. You can’t afford to be rude or shy if you want to be successful, and my shyness is a battle I face every single day. Success isn’t entirely based on how well-practiced or outstanding you are as a performer, it’s also about how you interact with the people around you.

    When I was first starting out as a musician, I was often overwhelmed with the actual performance itself and so I wasn’t able to dedicate attention anywhere else. I was always thinking about how to improve because my performances weren’t where I wanted them to be and I struggled with hearing other people tell me that I performed well. If someone said “good job,” I often responded, “no it wasn’t, but thank you.”

    One night during a performance I was more distracted and stressed than usual. As I was heading outside during one of the breaks, an audience member said “good job” in an attempt to strike up a conversation and I shrugged them off with my usual, self-deprecating response for fear of not knowing what to say after “thank you.”

    Another one of the musicians in the band overhead what I said and followed me outside to let me know how disappointed they were with how I handled the situation. It was an important lesson that I might never had learned if they had noticed how my tendency to be introverted affected my ability to interact with others around me.

    That night, I learned that when someone compliments you or your playing, you accept the attention graciously, no matter how terribly you thought you may have done or how uncomfortable you are in a situation that requires you to be more outgoing. If someone takes the time to acknowledge and appreciate you, then the favor should be reciprocated in full.

    The same goes for other musicians – if someone pays you a compliment, return it! And don’t be afraid to be the first one to say something!

    At the time, I could have used my age (I was in high school at the time), my inexperience or my personality as an excuse, but I didn’t. I realized my mistake, because I had, in fact, made one, regardless of whether or not I wanted to admit it. I had made the choice to pursue something I loved and that passion required me to step out of my comfort zone. If I wasn’t willing to do that, then why was I chasing after a career as a performer? I had to make a choice. Would I choose to be uncomfortable or would I choose to give up my dream because I wasn’t willing to push myself?

    I know I don’t need to tell you which path I chose…

    Not everyone is outgoing, but it’s something you can work at. Like anything else, it’s a skill that’s you may find awkward until you spend the time developing it. But with each smile, each handshake and each conversation, it gets easier. A thank you goes a long way.

    It is also important to consider the situation in reverse – if you were the audience member and your idol was performing, you would feel shut down and discouraged if your compliment went ignored. Don’t be that person for your fans! It is crucial to spend time with those who admire you (or just simply appreciate your talent) and want to talk to you.

    We all have things that are required of us as musicians that we may not like. For some it may be making calls, for others it may be playing to a large (or small) audience. Regardless of what it is, know that it becomes easier with time, especially if you’re willing to work at it.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    September 19, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1525

  • One of the Most Important Things to Know as an Artist

    When I was in high school, I had a classmate that was – and still is – a very talented young musician. I often envied his ability to improvise and even though it took me a while, I worked up the courage to ask him what it was that he did different than me. His advice forever changed my thoughts on two things. The first was obvious, his advice influenced every solo I would play in the future and I am grateful for it. The second was less obvious, it was that advice could come from any where and anyone.

    1. The best advice may come from the most unexpected places. It’s easy to feel like it is the responsibility of parents, teachers, or other “adults” to teach us everything we need to know, but relying on “mentors” for our education causes us lose out on the thousands of other opportunities to learn everyday. Sometimes the best learning comes out of an experience or from a peer. Don’t forget to take a look around or you might miss some great information.

    2. You can learn from EVERYONE. Yes, even the worst music performer has something to teach you. It may be a way to stand or move that looks cool while playing, how to talk on the microphone or interact with your audience. It may even be learning what not to do and what doesn’t work. Either way, you’re learning.

    3. Never stop looking for the chance to learn something new. Even if you are – or you think you are – the best jazz soloist in the world, you should always continue to look for ways to grow, improve and learn.

    4. Don’t be afraid to share what you know with everyone else. Our first impulse is often to keep what we know a secret, fearing that passing on what we’ve learned will give others the chance to out-perform or outdo what we’ve done. The truth is, no one can do what you do in exactly the same way you do it. “Better” is only a matter of perspective. There is always room for improvement and so you shouldn’t be afraid to share what you know with someone else. Instead, focus on making what you do better instead of constantly comparing yourself to others. No one can be you better than you.

    Oh, and that advice that I received? It was that I needed to be an artist and not just a musician. I needed to mean every single not that I played and not just play them. The best way to play is to forget all of the theory I’ve learned and just play from the heart. Great composers didn’t use theory, they just wrote the music in their head – the theory came after to analyse what they did. He told me that I was too caught up in the theory and that I confined myself to the changes but the point isn’t to play fast and crazy to impress. It is to touch someone, to move someone with your music. By doing that, you also impress them. Two birds, one stone.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

    September 15, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1447

  • Working as Your Own Booking Agent | The DIY Musician II

    Establishing a career in the music industry takes a lot of effort. Essentially, you need to work ten times for the job. You have to go and find venues that are looking for artists. You have to persuade the person who books the club to hire you. You have to promote the gig once you finally get it to get people there. You have to find musicians who are available to do the gig, chase them down, and book them. As the band leader, you have to bring the PA, the music, all the cables, extra music stands in case someone forgets one, an extra microphone, extra cables, etc. In essence, you have to be your own roadie. Then, after all the preparation for the show, you finally get to go and play the gig.

    But your work isn’t done at that point.

    On the breaks and after the show, you have to work the room and make sure the club owner is to increase the chance that you’ll be given the opportunity to return. At the end of the night, you have to make sure that everyone gets paid like they are supposed to before finally packing up and loading out.

    Then the next time around, you get to go through the whole process all over again.

    It is a little overwhelming, so like most, you are probably wondering what you can do to ensure that this process goes as easily and effectively as possible.

    There’s certainly a way to more efficiently go through each of the above steps (i.e. figuring out what works and repeating it as closely as possible). For example, you can develop a set list that you only need to make minor changes to depending on the venue, that way your music books can include the essential charts, notes and lyrics, you can pack most of your music equipment in ready-to-go bags/locations so that you can load in and out more quickly, etc. But I’ll get to that in another post. For now, I’d like to talk about the first step – booking gigs.

    Things to Prepare When Working as Your Own Booking Agent

    To start out with, you need to have an impressive press kit.

    What is a press kit? What is in it?

    A press kit is basically all the best things about you and your career in an envelope. It consists of your biography, a fact sheet including your name, location, age, important things that you have done, your CDs, your record label and your contact information, a testimonials sheet (really great quotes about you as a performer and about your CDs), press (articles/interviews on you), press photos 8X10 – black and white as well as color, a couple of your best recordings 2-5 tracks, and a cover letter introducing yourself. More often than not, promoters and radio stations prefer one-sheets to an entire press kit, so I suggest using your fact sheet for this (you can include a link to get more information on this just in case).

    Once you have your press kit together, you’re not ready to start sending them out blindly. Sending out unsolicited press kits is usually a big no-no and doing so will get it tossed in the trash even if it is in an attractive package. Making a simple call or scheduling an in-person meeting in advance are the best option, but sometimes sending a postcard can suffice.

    Are you wondering who you send a press kit to?
    1. Booking Agents – if you aren’t interested as working as your own booking agent, you usually send professional booking agents a press kit prior to auditioning for them.
    2. Newspapers/TV/Radio – if you want to be interviewed by any of the above.
    3. Club Owners that have live music in their clubs.
    4. Record labels.
    5. Promoters – these are the people that book big concerts and festivals.

    If you don’t know where to look, finding the right people to contact about gigs seems almost impossible. The easiest way to start is in your own neighborhood. The strongest way to start branching out into other venues is to be established in your own area. Think of restaurants, coffee houses, or other places near where you live that offer live music. Go in to those venues when there is live music and talk to people who work there about who books the music and what they are looking for – see if you can get a phone number for that person, or if they are even there that evening to speak to them. The next step is to call the person that you received the phone number for and tell them you are interested in performing at their venue. Offer to send them a press kit and invite them to your next gig to see your band play. It is key to be persistent and ask as many clubs/venues as you can until one or more says yes. If you do this enough times, you will slowly but surely start to build up work.

    Be sure to remember that when you are sending out a press kit, you are trying to impress and win over whomever you are sending your kit to. So, make it professional. A press kit should be to the point – meaning anything that doesn’t ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BE IN THE PRESS KIT SHOULD NOT BE IN THE PRESS KIT. Nothing should really be more than one page. A one page fact sheet, a one page resume, a half a page long or page long bio, a page of quotes about how great you are. I think you get the point.

    Part Two: The Audition

    Once you’ve sent out your press kit or have met with the venue/promoter, you may be asked to do an audition (even if you’ve already sent/included a recording). Sometimes a club will audition you before booking you for a gig; they do this by hiring you for one night at their venue (sometimes this pays and sometimes it doesn’t), or they may have you come in when they are closed for a private audition, or ask you about another gig you have coming up so that they can see your act live. Either way, this is an often necessary part of getting booked, and you need to be prepared for it.

    For more information about negotiating contracts and ensuring that your gigs that you book go as smoothly as possible, be sure to read Part I: Working as Your Own Manager.

    Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – <a href=”http://www.adviceformusicians.com” target=”_blank”>Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals</a>.

    August 30, 2012 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 1787