Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians
4 Times You Shouldn't Take the Gig
The Number One Mistake Bands Make Right After Booking a Gig
The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for Every Common Instrument
15 Reality Checks Young Artists Need to Hear

News, Opportunities

Jul 10, 2013 05:20 AM

Isabel

Music is power: How non-profits are working with musicians

Various musicians have been teaming up with non-profit organizations in unique, creative ways that both benefit a great cause and introduce how music can be a part of it. Think about it: music is power. That's a statement most people will agree with, as music has the ability to empower and move people in a very big and inspiring way. Protest songs have long been a part of historical, social movements, but how does that translate to current movements, both big and small?  It's always cool when release likes "Hope For Haiti Now" and "Chimes Of Freedom" bring together celebrity artists for a good cause, but, nowadays some non-profits are starting to team up with more indie musicians on creative, music-related campaigns that raise awareness year-round.  And it's brilliant.

While some orgs have built relationships with more well-known artists, others are working with indie musicians to promote their causes while also introducing their supporters to great, emerging talent. It's the best of both worlds, really: you (as the audience) get to support a cause you care about while simultaneously discovering a new artist; and you (as a musician) can share your passion through both a charity and your music. As a performer, you probably won't make any money from being a part of a benefit concert, but, why not donate your music to a worthwhile cause? Volunteering through art is a rather unique way of giving back  and music is a powerful way to send or support a message. So, if you're interested in using your music for good, here are a few non-profits working with artists in creative ways that you should know about:

1. Invisible Children

How to be your own manager - DIY Band Edition



If you're just starting out or are gaining a following, what do you do when you don't have a manager yet? Trying to make it big as an artist is a rough ride met with a variety of good and bad experiences. It's even harder when you're an indie musician and trying to manage yourself, build your following, write your music and, on top of all of that - book shows. Moreover, if you're not earning money yet, you're probably in school or working a part-time job, so, what do you do when you don't have a manager or friend with enough free time to try and organize your life? Sure, mastering the art of DIY band management can go great, but you probably want to have a manager - so how do you find structure so you can get someone to notice your potential? PledgeMusic did an interview with band manager Gav McCaughey, where he discusses the relationship between a band and their manager. But, maybe before you let someone invest in you, you should take a moment to assess a few things about your career and find structure so you understand how someone could help you:

1. Where are you at? If someone reached out to you today, what would be the first thing you'd want them to help you with? Let's start simple: Do you even have an EPK? Are you trying to build your online presence? Maybe you're looking to build a strong YouTube page and need help figuring out what that is?  Ask yourself these questions and determine which is your starting point. Figure out where you're doing well and where you need some work so you can focus in on where you're at and how to get where you want to be.

2. Time and Money It might not be the most comfortable conversation, but this is something you should talk about in a honest conversation with yourself or your bandmates. Ask yourself how much money you are willing to spend on your music. What are you spending it on: studio time, web stuff, design/branding or travel expenses? What's making you money now, anyway? Similarly,  how much time are you willing to devot to your music right now? Are you playing enough shows? Is your time unbalanced between actually creating music and managing your social media life? Just be honest with yourself about where you're spending your time and money; take a step back and look at what you're investing yourself in - that will help you figure out what you should be investing in.

3. What brings you down? The point of this blog is to get you thinking about your weaknesses and strengths and then to do something about it. So, ask yourself "what is it that's bringing my career down?" Is it a lack of motivation? Are you not getting enough gigs or not hearing back from venues? Do you want someone to be that buffer between hearing a "no" so you're not feeling those emotions at full force?  Do you feel like you need a manager to organize your life or just because you need someone to root for you on the sidelines? If you don't fully understand where your discouragement is coming from, how can you explain what you need help with?

4. What keeps you motivated? Now, think about what keeps you motivated. Let's be honest for a second: why are you a musician? Maybe that's silly to ask, but, reminding yourself of that answer could be the trigger you needed to pick yourself out of this mess. What is it that you love about performing? What's your ultimate dream - do you want to win a grammy or open for your favorite band? Think big and small; it doesn't matter how far-fetched your goal may seem because, by asking yourself these questions, you're determining how serious you are. The more you understand your own motivations or those of your band members - the better your work ethic will be.

5. What is the next step? Ask yourself three questions: who are you, what do you want and what is the first step. This sounds like a cheesy, motivational stepping ladder method, but, maybe that's what you need to do in order to get yourself to actually take that first step. If you want a manager but don't have one now, you're probably more likely to get help from someone if they can easily recognize your potential. And if you don't recognize your own potential and start taking chances on yourself - what reason are you giving anyone else to? Maybe that was harsh, but in all honestly, you should be thinking about those things if you're really serious about your career.   I think musicians are an interesting form of entrepreneurs because you're not just investing in an idea you've had, you're investing in yourself, fully, completely and you're trying to get others to do the same. That's a big dream to chase after and it's obviously going to be discouraging at times. Structure and organization can help keep you motivated and sends a message that you're a serious investment. If you want a manager, an agent, a label or a a fan to commit to you, make sure you understand what you're aiming for, so they can to. But, remember that so many people look up to and admire artists not just because of how great your music is, but because you, as a person, have devoted your life to your craft. When someone sees that part of you, they'll jump at the opportunity to help you out.

Features, Booking Gigs & Touring

Jun 27, 2013 10:57 AM

Isabel

Band Banter: What Should You Say in Between Songs?



Band banter can sometimes make or break a concert – and it's something that's especially important for a musician who's just getting started. But every band is different: some are really good at being slightly awkward and making a small joke while taking a sip of their water... and others, not so much.

It's not something that comes naturally to everyone, but it is something that can be learned over time if you practice enough. Tom Jackson at Discmakers wrote a helpful  blog article with specific tips for what musicians should say on stage. As an audience member, here's what I like to see in those small moments:

1. Show emotions



Don't be afraid to get a little emotional in between breaks. I don't mean that you need to cry, or try and make us cry. But if you get a little teared up because it's your biggest show, or that last song is very special to you, your fans will always remember that you showed them your soft side. It makes us feel like you trust us, and that makes us want to support you even more.

2. Introduce yourself

It's always nice when a band takes a moment to say hello and introduce themselves. If you're an opening act and people don't know you, tell us about yourself so we feel invited to get to know you a little more. If we find you interesting, chances are we'll be interested in your music, too. If you're the headliner, we probably already know everything about you, so use that to your advantage in a fun but humbling way. Or, share something we might not know – we love when we can tweet something new and interesting about you!

3. Share stories 



If there's something (appropriate) to share that happened on the road, share it. Fans love to hear about what you did on your days off, because we love getting a little glimpse of what you're like as a real person. Tell us about how you miraculously made it to a gas station when your van's tank was empty, or the famous restaurant you tried in town, or the drunk guy you had to kick out of your last concert. It doesn't have to be a long story, but if you tell it well, we're already falling more in love with you.

4. Engage us

When you're an emerging artist, it's important that you keep your audience feeling engaged, especially if you're an opening act and people haven't heard you before. Ask us how that last song sounded or if we're excited to see the headliner – you'll definitely get a response. Or, start playing the opening riff to the next song while someone takes a drink. Nothing is more exciting to us during the concert than when we can recognize what the next song is or, better yet, when we know our favorite song is about to be played. If you really don't know what to say,  just take out your phone and tell us you want to Instagram or tweet a photo of us. We'll eat that up!

5. Talk to your bandmates



This sounds simple, but we love watching you guys communicate with each other. If one of you is really great at bantering, poke fun at the others or engage them in some way. We like feeling like we're just watching our friends play, so when you guys talk to each other, we feel like we're part of the conversation.

My best piece of advice is to just be confident in remembering the fact that we're at your show because we already love you or were looking to discover you. If you find yourself feeling awkward or saying stupid things, don't keep doing it, but remember to be a little more prepared for the next show. Or, just admit that you're not very good at banter, but that you're working on it, and prove that to us at your next gig. We're at your shows to support you and, even if you're a little awkward sometimes, we're still going to love you.