The Highs and Lows to Self-Releasing a Record

Technology has advanced to such a degree, that one can record a full album from the comfort of their own home, and still release it to the masses without much effort. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s look at both.

The Highs and Lows to Self-Releasing a Record

The Bad

  • You are responsible for all the costs and time involved
  • There is no brand or agent to hide behind if it is a flop
  • You put in a lot of money, and do not sell anything
  • Unless you know somebody, you are charged full prices at recording studios, manufacturers and for any Public Relations
  • You can be asked to pay for the finished product in advance or upfront before release and sales
  • You will have to pay for Public Relations, newspaper articles and reviews in order to establish your name
  • Building a brand and marketing your band is a full days work in itself:
    • Sales
    • Advertising
    • Press releases
    • Hiring venues
    • Booking gigs to play
    • Burning of album
    • Album art
    • Email lists
    • Promotions

The Good

  • You own everything that you produce
  • Any profits made can go into your own pockets
  • You can work as hard as you want or as little as you want
  • Choose your own style and way of expressing yourself
  • You are not bound by the legal side of an agency
  • You are not bound by the creative limitations of a record label
  • You are in control of the access to your music, including its use elsewhere

At the end of the day, both the good and the bad components still cannot make the decision for you – but whatever decision you do make, be prepared to work hard. Nothing is for nothing and nothing comes for free.

Sometimes if one cannot get their band signed, it may very well be easier to release your own demo to the public. This can be a little risky, but in today’s times of modern technology, it is so much easier to do.

How to Self-Release a Record?

Audience

In order to release a demo or a short album, one will need some sort of audience to release it to. Of course your friends and family will be there, but how do you draw in the rest of the crowds? You need to follow a few steps in order to build a reliable fan base.

  • Offer to play free gigs wherever possible
  • Offer something free for people that attend your gigs
  • Ask people to join a mailing list if they like your stuff
  • Keep people in the loop about how the band is doing

Notifications

It is important to let your audience know where the band is at and how they are doing. If you have built up enough of a fan base, then let them know that you are planning on releasing a record.

How to Self-Release a Record?

  • Let them know when
  • What to expect
  • What is in it for them i.e., first 50 at the door are free
  • Is there a cover charge to pay for the venue

Digital Release

If you cannot build up a real time fan base, there is always YouTube. The wackier the music video behind the song, the better the attraction. But if there is something amazing about your band, you are going to get noticed. The more hits, the better. And once you have a digital fan base, you can release your demo or record.

Always offer something for free if you can – nobody can resist a freebie.

The reality of any industry is that we do not all succeed the first time around. If you have worked hard on a demo, taken the time out to submit it and either didn’t hear back from the record label or received a rejection letter – it is only expected that you would be disappointed. But do not give up, there are other options.

What to do if your recording is rejected?

Re-submit

It can take months for a record label to get a chance to hear your demo. In fact, you may think you have been rejected, when actually they simply have not had the chance to hear it. It can pay to send them an occasional email until you have a definite response.

  • Once rejected, do not assume you can never resubmit to that record label.
  • Always consider other labels if you have not done so.
  • When your band records new stuff, submit it again to the record labels of choice, even if they rejected your previous demo.
  • Email the record labels to inform them of gigs that your band may have coming up – especially notable ones.

Re-record

The quality of a demo is not necessarily the reason that you were rejected, but it can however make a difference in terms of the immediate feelings towards your band.

  • Consider recording your demo again with better software.
  • Consider recording your demo again in a recording studio.
  • Keep in mind that it is the first few notes and chords that sell the song.

What to do if your recording is rejected?

Imagery

A CD cover that looks professional can go a long way in getting peoples attention.

  • Have a friend snap a few band photos.
  • Possibly do low budget photos to include on your CD cover.
  • Have somebody consider your band bio, to spell-check it and if possible, to improve it.

Do not give up

An old Chinese proverb says, “Fall seven times, and stand up eight.” So no matter how many rejection letters you get – keep trying. You sincerely never know who may be listening one day.

Get noticed! Effective strategies for your music videos to become popular

Although disseminating information is easier nowadays, due to the prevalence of mobile technologies and the Internet, marketing products and/or services becomes more difficult and tactical. Music videos for instance, may seem easier to share and promote online, especially since it’s a form of visual content. However, it has become more challenging for marketers as the competition has become highly competitive with a seemingly endless sea of new music online.

In Nashville, entertainment production is one of their most booming industries. Based on a comprehensive study by the Music City Music Council (MC2), the industry has contributed 5.5 billion yearly to their local economy, leaving Nashville with more music industry job opportunities than other city in the United States.

However, with so many bands and artists out there, the only way to rise above the competition is to be unique by going viral. Here’s how you can effectively do it:

Make it appealing for mobile users
It’s no secret that mobile users are increasing in number year-on-year, and in order to successfully penetrate your target market, you will have to include mobile strategies in your marketing campaign. How do you do it, you may ask? For starters, consider the overall appearance of your video on a smaller screen, especially since online content consumption is expected to rise with the increased use of smartwatches and other wearables to access content. Smartphones, vary in size and features, thus you will have to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the device in general. Not all smartphones have powerful speakers like the Dolby Audio surround sound speakers on the HTC One M9 to enjoy good background music, so you will have to consider increasing the audio on your music video before uploading it on YouTube or Vimeo.

Connect with big names
Uploading your video online does not guarantee that it will be popular. You will have to start sharing it for other people to talk about it, and hope that it will go viral. Try to start socializing with influential people whose interest are connected to your niche and market. They are the ones with a high number of followers and connected brands, which are both necessary for your success. Maximize your social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, and even Instagram) in disseminating your video, finding connections, and strengthening relationships with top names in the industry.

Video must be viral-worthy itself
What is the point of marketing a product that does not have a unique selling point or is unlikely to be something that’s talked about? If you are in the stage of recording your music video, it might help to consider reviewing some viral videos online, especially on what made them click with the online users. Mashable has listed 10 of the most successful viral music videos and some tips that can help you get started on your campaign, such as always have fun while making the video and rehearse as much as you can to perfect your formation.

With the help of the strategies we’ve listed, you could be one step closer to your dreams of being noticed by music producers worldwide. To further guarantee the success of your video, you will need the assistance of a professional production team to handle your video recording and editing work.

Exclusively written for The Recordshop Nashville
Submitted by Jen Birch

Oh the tunes that have been emitted from many a Nashville guitar. Gibson’s, Fenders and the likes in the hands of those who have been lucky enough to grace the walls of the hall of fame.

Unfortunately, not everyone can simply afford to go and buy the best or the top of the line guitar – but we can dream. And save.

Things to consider

One must obviously always buy a guitar that is comfortable, especially on their finances. Yes, a beautiful guitar can emit a better sound than a cheaper guitar – but you can buy all the expensive guitars in the world, but you cannot buy talent.

Plucking the Nashville strings

When deciding what guitar to buy, you need to know the sound you are looking for. A country guitar generally has a twangy sound, great tone and can take a decent beating. Keep in mind though, that the top guitars are expensive for a reason and have been at the top of their game for decades. For a top guitar, expect to spend anywhere around $3000’s and up.

Traditional Country Sound

Look for the following characteristics, to ensure you get that country sound:

  • A single-coil pick-up
  • A bright guitar, made out of alder or ash
  • A mahogany or maple wood guitar will give you a warmer sound

Modern Smooth Country Sound

  • Choose a guitar with a warmer sound
  • Look for a guitar made out of tone woods such as mahogany
  • Try out a guitar that has humbuckers that are a little more aged in style

Electric Guitars

All the big names will come to mind, but you may be a little surprised about the names you didn’t think of.

  • Fender Telecaster: maple neck and alder or ash body; two pickups.
  • Fender Stratocaster: maple neck and alder body: three pickups.
  • Gibson Les Paul: mahogany neck and body, deep warm sound, 2 pickups

There are however, a few general electric guitars that will do the trick if you are a beginner.

Under $200’s:

  • Squier Affinity Stratocaster (Fender made)
  • Squier Affinity Telecaster (Fender made)
  • Epiphone LP Special ll (Les Paul made)
  • Epiphone SG Special (Gibson made)
  • ESP-LTD EC-10
  • Charvel Desolation DS-3 ST
  • Ibanez GRG20Z
  • Jackson JS22 Dinky
  • Yamaha Pacifica PAC112J
  • Sterling SUB Silo3
  • Carvin Guitars. (Custom made to your budget and your request.)

Plucking the Nashville strings

Acoustic Guitars

One of the nicer attributes of an acoustic guitar is that one can play it wherever and whenever they want to, without having to drag an amplifier around. There are some really stunning country styled acoustic guitars, and some wonderful choices for beginners on a budget.

  • Takamine Santa Fe (excellent for playing plugged in/live.)
  • Martin D18 (for a picking approach.)
  • Martin D28 (for a picking approach.)
  • Martin D-1R (for a picking approach.)
  • Taylor 414CELTD (for a picking approach.)
  • Gibson Jumbo (for a strumming approach)
  • Gibson Hummingbird

Under $200’s:

  • Yamaha FG700S
  • Fender CD-140S
  • Ibanez Artwood AW50

Whatever your budget, there is a guitar out there waiting for you to pluck its strings all the way to Nashville.

With a world so convoluted with musical talents and expressions, how does one get noticed? There are a few options such as recording your own demo, submitting it to record labels or even publishing it yourself. But if you are one of the few who wants to be “noticed” for their pure talent, then here is where you should start.

US ENGLISH (Snapshots)

Busking

Find a cosy street corner that you know is going to be busy, set out a hat or that old guitar case and get playing. The simplicity of this is that you just belt out some tunes and hope you can be heard over the rush hour traffic. If you are able to, then plug yourself in and try being a little more noticeable about the bustling crowd. Do a few crowd pleasing songs, and of course a few of your won. Mournful ballads are not going to work in this situation – go for upbeat and perky if you can. The bonus is that you may also earn a little moola as passersby throw some cash into your hat or case.

Free Gigs

Inquire at local coffee shops, markets and pubs and see if they would be willing to let you sing a few tunes. You may not be their perfect taste in genre, so do a few covers. But do not forget to slip in a few of your own songs. And use this as an opportunity to gauge how well liked your songs are.

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Freebies

If you have the opportunity, give away a few free items. Everybody loves getting a gift, even if it’s a quirky one

  • Loyalty card: if you attend x many gigs, I buy you x many beers
  • Free shirts
  • A few free demo albums
  • First 25 at door enter free
  • Ask for sponsored items to give away

Whatever happens, the main thing is that you are pleasing the crowd. Nobody is going to notice a miserable, unhappy and sorrowful musician. Play to the strengths of those around you, and they will be eating out the palm of your hands.

The song is clean, the recording is done and now you finally have the guts to send it off. But how does one actually send off a self-recording? Sometimes it is as easy as “who you know” in the business, and other times it is a scramble to get noticed. You have to be sure that you are not just another number waiting in a line.

How to submit a demo to a record company

Planning

It is imperative to know about the genres of music your record label of choice hires. You cannot be sending off a rap piece or heavy metal gig to a classical recording label. So do your research. The internet is a wealth of information and so it is easy to look up different labels and the types of bands they hire. Or one can simply look at the record labels on your own CD’s and who signs the musicians that inspire you.

Step 1: Figure out who you are applying to.

Research

You cannot simply just email a demo. In fact, it requires a little formality. A lot of record companies have legal stipulations.

Step 2: Research

  • Does the record company accept voluntarily sent recordings?
  • Where are you sending it to?
  • Do you need to address the demo to anyone specific?
  • Label your demo with a return address
  • Include your email address
  • How do they like to receive their demos?
    • CD
    • MP3

Keep it simple

Do not waste time with lengthy musical introductions. It is a demo – so very quickly get to the point of what it is you are demonstrating.

How to submit a demo to a record company

Step 3: Keep it simple

  • Choose up to 3 of your best tracks
  • Include a short paragraph on your band or on yourself if you are a solo artist.
  • Include any publicity items such as prints of your band in the newspaper or reviews.

Wait

Once you have sent your demo off, simply wait. Most recording studios do have a notification policy, but if you are unsure then email them 6 weeks after submission.

Step 4: Wait

The world could not have known what was about to hit them, until 1969 rolled around with Woodstock and all its glorious musical heroes. And out of the naked bodies, shared love and a whole lot of other shared intimacies – rose David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

The Smash of Crosby, Stills and Nash

Famous Bands

Before becoming the famous CSN (and sometimes Young when joined by Neil Young), each member had a role in another famous band.

Stephen Stills – Buffalo Springfield (vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist, guitarist)

David Crosby – The Byrds (guitar, singer, song writer)

Graham Nash – The Hollies (guitarist, singer, songwriter)

Neil Young – Buffalo Springfield

Each member had left their previous bands for a variety of reasons including frustration and a difference of opinion, but at a party in 1968 at Joni Mitchell’s house – they suddenly became the vocal legends they are today. A simple song, harmonized in 3 parts, made the three founding members of CSN shiver with anticipation – their voices simply worked together with a chemistry that they had not previously experienced.

The Smash of Crosby, Stills and Nash

Failed Auditions

The first record company, however, did not feel the same chemical explosion, and decided not to sign the band. It was at that point that they decided to call themselves Crosby, Stills and Nash, thereby giving themselves an irreplaceable spot in a band that they knew would make the big times.

Signed eventually by Atlantic Records, they released their first album in 1969 and reached two Top 40 Hits. Neil Young soon came in as a part time keyboardist, who maintained his place in his band Crazy Horse.

Woodstock

By the time this fresh faced group got to Woodstock later in 1969, they had only played live once – the day before. Nervously stepping out on to the stage, they fondly refer to themselves as being “scared shitless.” They however, won a few hearts and grew a fan base that was eager for their 1970 album release.

Solo Careers

The relationships of the band members however, had always been tumultuous and this lead to a stint where they no longer were together as a band. Each one embarked on a solo career, and each had a top 15 entry on the Billboard 200. Continuing into 1972, the individual members were faring well – but 1973 was not a pretty year for any of them, and led to a meeting at Neil Young’s house where they decided to record a new album. It was the unsolved issues between them that caused them to fall apart again by 1974. It was the likes of their original agent from Atlantic (Elliot Roberts), that saw the commercial potential of this band, and in his hands he molded the CSN&Y that has become a favourite in many folk rock homes. In 2014, CSN&Y celebrated their 40 year touring anniversary.

How to make a Demo?

To make a self-recording is to literally make a recording of your voice. Why would you do this? Well for some, the ideas of recording their songs and voices in a music studio are either farfetched or far off the budget for the month. Unless you find some low charging music studio, it can be incredibly expensive. There is a whole bunch of home gear that you can also purchase, but for a novice recording, there are a few easier options.

How to make a Demo?

Where to start

The first step is to obviously have your piece of song perfected, so that it is ready to be recorded. Luckily, there are a few apps available that can help you with this.

Apple

  • GarageBand: This is an easy to use app that offers many people the chance to record their music, as well as to fine tune and mix the songs.
  • Music Studio: It may take a little bit of time to become comfortable with this apps interface, but it offers a myriad of recording options as well as instruments to use in your songs via a few strokes on the keys of your device.

Android

Unfortunately Android devices do not have any serious competition when it comes to the Apple Apps and recording music, but there are a few notable apps available.

  • Recording Studio Lite: Designed to be easy to use, quick and uncomplicated – Recording Lite is a good entry level option. Offering you 2 track recording opportunities, one can upgrade to 24 tracks with the top version. The Lite version does offer a piano to accompany your song, whereas the Pro version offers a wide selection of instruments.

Once your track is complete and you know you are happy with it, it is time to either save it as an MP3, upload it to YouTube or to send it off to that record label you believe will be interested in your music. Best of luck!

How to make a Demo?

Favorite Android Apps for Muso’s

In the days of modern technology, air guitar and digital devices – you won’t often see many of the modern musicians using a metronome or a pitch pipe. Most musicians simply find it more convenient to carry around one Android Device, which offers a myriad of options.

Luckily the Google Play Store is full of fun and handy apps that will tickle the fancy of any musician. From the well tuned player, to the beginner and the groupie – the digital age is here to benefit us all.

Tuners:

GTuner

  • This Android App is a great tool to have when it comes to tuning a string instrument. Far easier and more reliable than a pitch pipe, if allows the user to tune according to a measurement of Megahertz. This instantly allows you to see if you have tuned to sharp or too flat.

Chromatic Tuner

  • This app uses a wheel that spins either towards your instrument being too sharp, or towards it being too flat. It also tells you the exact note your strings are set to, which is great if you want to tune down to DADGAD.

Favorite Android Apps for Musicians

Metronomes:

Metronome

  • In music it is imperative to have a sense of rhythm and timing. However, if you are not so great at keeping a beat, then download the Android App called Metronome. Quirky and user friendly, this is definitely a good tool to store on your device.

Metronome Widget

  • This easy and simple app has been designed by the same creators of gTuner, and happens to be just as useful. Metronome Widget allows for you to keep time, without the hassle of being complicated or overcrowded by other functionalities.

Song writing:

The Rhyme Maker

  • The reason this app is so great, is that it rhymes according to the phonetic sound of the word and not to the spelling. It is as simple as typing in your word, and receiving a vast amount of choices to select from.

Rhyme Zone

  • One of the choice apps that do not require consistent internet access, Rhyme-Zone allows its user to find words that rhyme, or are similar or plainly could just somehow fit. It even allows you to be specific enough to choose how many letters your rhyming word can be made up of. It even gives you a definition to words that you may not recognize.

Favorite Android Apps for Musicians

Chords and Sheet Music:

Guitar Jam Session

  • An all encompassing app that allows for its user to not only view the chords or music they are playing, but also to transpose keys and view other chord or sheet music websites via its in-built web service.

With your Android Device in hand, there really is never an excuse for any musician to say that they lack the resources to play like a professional.