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Tag: "How To"

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8 Do’s and Don’ts Of Making Your First Video

So you’ve spent hours in the studio tracking your epic debut concept double album. Now what? If you’re thinking of making your first music video as the next step in your career, don’t get all flustered yet. You don’t have to be OK Go to make an awesome budget-friendly video but you do need some good ideas, a healthy amount of pre-planning, and some serious dedication. With that in mind, here are a few things to strive for and to avoid when shooting your first silver screen masterpiece.

Do: Stage a live performance

The live performance video is a classic for a reason. It’s simple, easy to set up, and doesn’t require your awkward bassist to pretend that he knows how to act. Perfect. Just remember to have adequate lighting – even workman’s halogen lights will do – and a tripod so that you can capture at least one full steady take of the band in addition to your cameraman’s love of zoom-in close-ups. Just remember to synchronize your playing with what’s actually happening in the song. You don’t want to look like this:

Continue reading ’8 Do’s and Don’ts Of Making Your First Video’

DIY Public Relations: What You Need To Know

Three years ago I started a music blog covering local and national musicians, and aiming to showcase those with not only talent, but passion. Although at first the press releases came in slow and steady, they quickly became overwhelming. This is especially the case when you’re running a one or two person team, as many blogs are.

Though it might be easy to fall into the assumption that labels, magazines, blogs and radio stations are overstaffed and underworked, I’m here to tell you that for the most part, it isn’t true. Although it is true that most music industry professionals want to break the next big thing, they are often not only understaffed, but overworked, and sifting through hundreds of press releases a day can become not only tedious, but impossible.

That’s why making yours stand out is so important. It’s also why so many bands and companies hire PR professionals to handle their publicity. But for those on a budget (and really, who isn’t these days?) we’re here to help you craft your own PR campaign, with a few simple steps. Check them out after the jump. Continue reading ‘DIY Public Relations: What You Need To Know’

Electropolis: Monthly Wrap-up – Arps, Dynamics & Phrasing, and Rough Mixin’…

Wow, it’s been an entire month since the first Electropolis post and now it’s time for January’s recap! As musicians ourselves, we’ve read and discovered many flaws associated with explaining complex digital music topics within a variety of publications. One of these flaws consist of fifteen to thirty second audio demonstrations that merely skim over the applicate of the topic throughout an entire song. If you’ve ever taken guitar lessons from one of those dudes at the music store, you can see how these very short demonstrations are quite similar to learning a snippet of Van Halen’s “Eruption”. You may learn the technique very well, but can you incorporate it into your own music? Therefore, we’ve discovered that the best way to inspire your musical evolution is by providing an original tune produced with all, and only, the topics discussed. Although seemingly complex, it’s possible to make a very original piece of music by combining a bunch of random ideas. Let’s hear the tune, then revisit and do a little review on what we’ve discussed.

Continue reading ‘Electropolis: Monthly Wrap-up – Arps, Dynamics & Phrasing, and Rough Mixin’…’

OurStage Makes It Easy To Sell Your Music Online

Facebook recently announced that they will be holding f8, a developers conference, on September 22nd. Rumors are circulating that the popular social-networking site is going to introduce some type of music dashboard to the user experience, although nothing has been confirmed. We can only guess what this development could possibly mean for music makers and music lovers using Facebook. Could it integrate music sales for artists on the site? We say, why wait to find out? Start selling your music now!

Here at OurStage, we’re all about doing everything we can to help get your music heard! When you create an OurStage profile and upload your music, you can choose to put it up for sale (to do this, head to “Account Preferences” in the “Edit Profile” section of your Dashboard and check off the box that says “Allow OurStage to sell my music”). This means that whenever another user is judging a channel or just exploring music on OurStage and they hear your song and LOVE it, they can purchase it right away! We make it easy and accessible—just click the “Buy” option (shown below).

 

You’ll be able to check up on how many songs you’ve sold whenever you like! When you log onto OurStage, scroll to the bottom of your Dashboard to the “Sales” section and the information is right there. Each individual song is sold for $.99 and artists will receive a percentage of the transaction. Our Premium Members can make even more money from their sales! To learn more about becoming a Premium Member on OurStage, check out this page.

 

Punk On The Rocks: Punk Halloween Costumes

Halloween’s just a few days away— have you picked out your costume yet? If not, don’t fret. This week’s Punk On the Rocks has some tips on how to create some easy, last-minute punk Halloween costumes from items you probably already have. Special thanks to the awesome OurStage interns for volunteering their time and modeling skills.

Intern Rebecca as Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone
What you need: Skinny jeans, Converse, ratty t-shirt, leather (or “leather”) jacket.
If you’re anything like the OurStage crew, you can find most of the pieces for this costume in your closet. Long hair and round, John Lennon-style shades are easy ad-ons that really complete the Joey look, but the costume basics can be adapted to any Ramone.Go as the group with some buddies or fly solo as your favorite member.
Total cost: $10
Variation: Lose the jacket, add some bling & questionable tattoos and you’re Dee Dee Ramone during his ill advised rapper phase!

Interns Rebecca and Martin as Sid and Nancy

Sid & Nancy:

What you need (Sid): Skinny jeans or plaid pants, safety-pinned t-shirt, punk pins, spiked collar necklace, snarl.
What you need (Nancy): Disheveled blond hair (real or fake), heavy-handed makeup, mini skirt, fishnets, leather jacket.
Another costume you can put together with items from your closet. We only had to buy the wig, fishnets & t-shirt. What better way to scare the neighborhood kids on Halloween than by showing them what their future will look like if they don’t “just say no”?
Total cost: $25 (both costumes combined)
Variation: Don’t have a Sid? No problem! The Nancy look also doubles as a Courtney Love costume.

You can only push interns so far

Blink-182

What You Need: socks, Converse or skate shoes, a smile
Recreate Blink’s infamous streaking “What’s My Age Again?” video this Halloween for little to no cost (Note: total cost of costume does not include any fines you may incur for lewd or indecent behavior)! We chose not to photograph this one for obvious reasons. You can only push your interns so far.
Total cost: $0
Variation: add some black clothes and some eye liner and you can be Tom from his “serious musician” days in Angels & Airwaves.

Intern Munson the Destroyer as MC Bat Commander

MC Bat Commander of The Aquabats

What you need: Teal shirt, felt, stick-on felt, elastic, safety pins, scissors.

The perfect for those of you who dig wacky ska-punk but break out into a cold sweat at the site of a sewing machine. Use the stick-on felt for the details, then safety pin everything together! Voila!

Total cost: $12

Variation: Honestly, there’s not much you do to transform this outfit, but with a costume this rad, who cares?

What will your costume be this year? Let us know in the comments!

Tune Up: Caring For Your Guitars

Many guitarists send their instruments in for repairs and setups, so we’re devoting this week’s Tune Up column to giving pointers on guitar care and offering suggestions for when to have them. . .wait for it. . .“tuned up”.

Storage and Environment

One of the biggest mistakes guitar owners make is where they store their guitars. If you’ve worked at a music store or spoken with any of the repair technicians, you know how many guitars (particularly solid wood acoustics), have come in with warped tops and separated bridges. This is an expensive fix (often several hundred dollars) because it requires the technician to completely remove the bridge, straighten out the warped top then reattach the bridge. So, in order to prevent this, make sure you store your guitar in its case whenever possible in a room within the ideal humidity range. While this range differs from instrument to instrument, most guitars should be fine within a level between 40 and 70%. Above or below this range can cause problems for the wood and result in warping.

If you live in a house or apartment where you don’t have any “ideal” room options as far as humidity management, there is an alternative. Many providers sell acoustic guitar humidifiers that you fill with water and place on the guitar (often right into the sound-hole opening). You can also use one designed for violins or cellos called a “Dampit”. When kept wet and inside the case with the guitar, the guitar is kept in a decently humid environment. Be sure to check the humidity charts often supplied with these accessories.

Intonation and Setups

For guitar owners, action, playability and intonation are common concerns. Many guitarists like low action (strings being pretty close to the neck) so that the instrument is easier to play. Others, however, prefer high action so they can play the guitar really hard without buzz (for more rock-oriented settings). While one can adjust the “bend” of the neck by twisting a hex nut at the end of the truss rod (often located at the base of the neck or where the head meets the neck), we recommend bringing the guitar into a repairman or music store to have them adjust the neck as part of a setup to eliminate the risk of damaging the guitar.

This brings us to the concept of setups and intonation. First of all, you may know that tuning a guitar’s strings will put the open notes in tune. But, if you fret higher up on the neck, you may notice that the string is out of tune. This is because the guitars overall intonation is off. This can be caused by a number of factors including the saddles on the bridge or grooves in the nut of the guitar. You can adjust this yourself, but it is difficult. Therefore, we recommend bringing your guitar to a service that does setups. Buy some new strings and know what type of action you want. Once given this information, the guitar tech will be able to return your guitar to you in great playing condition.

How often does a guitar need to be set up? This all depends on the amount of playing that is done and the manner in which is is done. A touring guitarist will probably need a setup on their guitar at least every few months (most guitar tech’s on tour know how to do quick truss rod adjustments and intonation checks). For the average guitarist, we’d recommend whenever you feel that one is needed. If the action isn’t to your liking, or you find a lot of intonation issues, then the guitar probably needs a setup.

At the end of the day, the most important thing about guitar care is longevity and playability. If there is cosmetic damage, don’t worry (unless you’re a collector). Keeping it in tune, intonated and safe are priorities. Storing guitars at the right humidity level and getting them set up appropriately will give you a guitar that lasts as long as you need it.

New Music Biz 101: Band Management

There is a certain point in an artist’s musical career when everything begins to pile up and slowly becomes overwhelming. Whether its juggling tour schedules, handling band finances, communicating with band members and fans or working on the next release, it’s tough to stay on top of everything in an organized manner. Luckily help is on the way.

There are resources out there for musicians and managers alike to get organized and become more efficient. BandCentral is one of these resources, and a very good one at that. It’s a intuitive and sleekly-designed online platform where you can organize everything about your band. The site has loads of very cool features, including:

Communication – A single online “basecamp” to track all your internal communication between you and your team.

Band Calendar – A simple calendar that allows you to keep track of gigs and everything else you need to stay on top of.

Files – Upload and store your music, artwork and videos to the site to be able to access them anywhere.

Band Money – Get detailed information on all your revenue and expenses.

Social Network Syncing – Sync and send status updates through BandCentral on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Tasks – Keep track of all of your to-dos from anywhere in the world.

BandCentral’s pricing is pretty reasonable, only 92 dollars per year. Their trial version last for a month as well, so you can really get a good sense of the product before you commit.

You’ll know when its time to get involved with a service like BandCentral. When your career takes off and you need extra help with organization, this is a nice place to turn.

New Music Biz 101: Online Music Creation

In this blog series, we’ve focused a lot on marketing your music to the masses. This particular post will delve into the music creation process. Of course, because we’re on the topic of the “new music industry” we’ll be taking a slightly different approach. Indaba music is a web-based company that allows musicians to come together to collaboratively record, edit and mix tracks online.

Indaba recently underwent some exciting changes, launching a major update to the site. Notable changes include an upgraded interface along with new music sales features which let you sell on iTunes and directly to fans while keeping 100% of the revenue. You can also easily share royalties with your collaborators. In addition, Indaba upgraded their media management allowing you to increase your storage to 50gbs and control your account from one place.

What does it cost to participate? Believe it or not it’s free! Of course, there are premium accounts which give you additional functionality. Their pro version is $50 dollars per year, and their platinum version is $250 per year. For those just interested in making music and having fun with this platform, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two accounts.  However, the paid accounts do let you use their premium effects and audio clips. The premium accounts seem to focus on the distribution process of the new music you create on the site with an online store and iTunes distribution.

Overall the idea is really great, and it truly does let you collaborate in ways previously impossible. Check out the site and let us know what you think. If you’ve created any tracks using the site, we’d love to hear them!

Behind the Mic: Fan Funding

Being a musician is an expensive occupation. From gas money to rental fees to gear purchases, the costs constantly seem to be racking up, and there never seems to be enough money coming in to offset the expenses.

In the past, you’d probably have to land a bunch of paying gigs (and we all know how rare those are) or sell all your merch just to pay for studio time or tour expenses. Now, you can ask your fans to help you fund your next musical endeavor.

Justin Branam's iPhone Sessions

Sites like Kickstarter.com and SellABand.com allow fans to donate money to their favorite artists and help them fund their next tour, album release or merch order. In return, the artist provides exclusive rewards, which become better as the donation amount increases. For example, a fan who donates $20 to an artist may receive an autographed copy of the finished album, but a fan who donates $1000 may get a private concert at their home.

OurStage artist Justin Branam, who was hailed as an “artist to look out for” by AOL Music, used Kickstarter to finance the making of his new album. His goal was to raise $3000, but with the help of seventy-one fans, he was able to surpass his goal by $275.

In addition to the fundraising itself,  Branam also used technology to create a unique donation incentive: an EP called iPhone Sessions. As you might have guessed, the EP was recorded entirely on Branam’s iPhone, but the album art and promo videos were created on it, as well.

One of seventeen incentives offered for donations to Justin Branam's Kickstarter project.

Branam’s campaign lasted one month and offered fans some incredible incentives, such as having their name in the new album’s liner notes, a record from Branam’s collection or a one-on-one webcam chat with him. Fans who donated money got the prize at that level and also all of the prizes for lower donation amounts (fans could earn all seventeen rewards, plus Branam’s original demo CD from when he was sixteen-years-old, for a donation of $5,000).

Fan funding is the future, and has proven to be successful for many artists like Justin Branam. Not only does it engage fans, but it is a great way to directly reward their support and generosity. Hard work on both sides will pay off,  making the relationship between fan and artist even stronger.

Check out “Dial Tone” from Justin Branam’s iPhone Sessions!

Music Videos 101: v.2010

A few years back there was a trending opinion that the music video was dead. The most obvious sign was that MTV had all but abandoned music videos to focus on reality shows, etc. Record labels, which were constantly losing money in a spiraling industry, were cutting music video budgets, video departments and most of the infrastructure that previously was an integral part of any promotional plan for an artist. And with the digital age cutting deeper and deeper into the bottom lines, promotional tools like the music video were an expense ripe for cutting.

But then, when all hope seemed lost, the music video was resurrected, thanks in large part to the digital age that almost killed it off in the first place. The two main factors behind the resurrection are declining music video costs  and YouTube. YouTube deserves it’s own column, so for now we’ll stick to focusing on cost.

It used to be that to make a quality music video, you needed a sizeable budget to afford tape stock, cameras, lighting, makeup, crew, etc. Now we have digital cameras, professional editing in programs like Final Cut Pro, and a vast array of post production options built into the software that can do just about anything. All of this makes the cost of making a music video infinitely more affordable, almost to the point where it is a must-have for any band concerned with the visual component of their presentation. Obviously, you need a good video concept as an anchor. Still, if you are able to wisely stretch your dollars and maximize your budget, a great product can be had for a great price.

Buyer beware! The old adage of “you get what you pay for” still rings true, even if you’re not paying that much. Just like Garage Band makes every amateur with a microphone and a computer think he is a “producer”, there are no shortages of wannabe “directors” who will claim to be the bees knees because they have access to a Sony RED Camera and Final Cut Pro. Do your research, ask to see a reel of their work (any director worth their weight in salt will have one), be sure they have a vision for the video and find someone who shares your enthusiasm for you music! And remember, the work on a music video doesn’t end when the shooting stops. There is post production time for editing, color correcting, output, etc., so you will need to make sure you have someone who can reliably deliver you a finished product in a reasonable period of time.

A music video is often a significant investment of time, money and resources for an independent artist but with a little planning, researching and assembling the right team, it can be one of the ultimate bargains in your portfolio.

Rob Fitzgerald spent the past five years living, breathing, and sleeping music videos and witnessed the evolution of the product first hand. As a music video promoter, he works with various players—from major labels to independent bands— and takes special pride in helping unsigned artists.

 


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