How to Get More Gigs.

This weekend I was reading some articles online and in a famous guitar magazine. These articles had features on how to get more gigs and had some great tips in but also some bad advice for current and future musicians.

With expertise in this field here are some of our tips to get you getting more gigs.

1. Invest in yourself.

This is quite a broad point. But perception is important and investing in your product as a peforming artist is important. Invest some money in producing a good EP or single for distribution and also invest in some killer graphics to get you noticed.

Investing a bit of cash at the start of your career will get you taken more seriously and show that you care about what your doing.

Some readers may disagree with the above statement but its true. Think about the things you buy and why you buy them. If you present yourself more professionally you will get more recognition than your competitors.

Don’t produce “demos”. If you have the time and money to record then get it right the first time round. Recording studio time and home recording equipment is getting cheaper and cheaper. There is not excuse not to kill two birds with one stone and produce a record that will get you gigs and that you can sell at gigs and promote yourself online.

2. Is Pay to Play a con?

As mentioned in one of the top guitar magazines currently out there its written that artists should never pay to play and that promoters asking this should be avoided. We feel this advice is misleading.

We have experience in performing gigs and organising events and the “pay to play” scheme is common and on some levels acceptable especially as a starting artist.

Many promoters invest time and money in putting on an event. Therefore its not unreasonable for a promoter to ask the band to sell some tickets on the behalf of the promoter.

There are many venues and promoters big and small that employ this practice but usually offer a commission based sales inventive to the artist for every ticket sold. We used to pay the artist a percentage of the tickets they sold as a thank you. However we never expected the artist to sell any or made it a requirement that they needed to sell a particular amount in order to play. This method was simply to open up a distribution channel for artists family friends and local fans.

Especially in some cases this was the only distribution channel a younger fan with no credit or debit card could acquire a ticket.

If the promoter asks for money up front or that you are required to sell a certain amount of tickets then this is not great practice and should be avoided. But don’t be put off an event should a promoter enquire how many tickets you could sell and whether you would be willing to help sell tickets to fans for a commission.

This kind of leg work really does help your cause and is worth doing. A large amount of promoters that book small bands do employ these tactics but for the right reasons.

As a new band you should expect to put in some leg work and co-operate with promoters (to a reasonable extent). You should also not be expected to be paid until you are worth paying for. If you don’t get involved with marketing and invest in your product then why should anyone else? especially the promoter.

3. Play nice and Network!

Make sure your nice to other bands, sound engineers and promotors. These guys are all potential contacts that can help your bands career. So be nice! get some phone numbers and build your network of music industry professionals.

4. Put on a good show!

Goes without saying really. Make sure you perform your best and impress your audience and other artists. You want them all raving and tweeting about how great you were and buying your merchandise.

5. Don’t just promote online.

Although as a new band the investment in posters and flyers can be seen as a waste of money it is still important to get your image and brand out there into the public via any medium possible. Keep the investment in flyers and posters to a minimum as many could end up in the bin within minutes. Instead go and place them in strategic locations.

Promote your music! do a you tube video, release a track on iTunes. Get people sharing your content across, Facebook, twitter, myspace etc. Offer an incentive to fans who invite their friends to your page or event or share your posts.

Press and radio! get involved with local press and radio. They want to know about you and what you have to offer. If you have something to promote then send a few emails.

The unsigned guide is a great resource for music industry contact information for only around £35. So a worthwhile investment. But best bit of advice is DO NOT SPAM! take time to get you know your contacts and avoid sending mass emails. Once you get marked as spammed too many times the likely hood of anyone getting your emails is slim.

6. Play anywhere.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of a good gig. Sometimes the really unappealing gigs can turn out amazing! Charity, pubs, clubs, fetes. Don’t be picky.

7. Merchandise

Have some decent merchandise for sale. Get some snazzy merch properly made. Its not as expensive as you think. Check out EBAY for small companies that provide some great custom CD printing and sleeves as well as t-shirts.

Also have something for FREE. Whether it be a free download with a link on a flyer or QR code. Its good to have something for FREE available for fans to take away. As a reminder to check you out online when they get home.

Stickers are also good for this purpose.

 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion make sure you put on a good show, consider all your performance options, don’t let your ego get in the way or successful networking and make sure you have something to promote before getting out there and performing.

Should you have any more tips you would like to add to the above list please feel free to get in touch

Essential Items for Beginners

When learning the Guitar there are a few basic items (in addition to the guitar) you will need or need in the future.

1. Guitar Tuner

This is the most important piece of kit. You will need to tune your guitar every time you play. Therefore purchasing an electronic tuner is essential to help you tune your instrument.

Price £5-£15

Recommended models Korg CA-1 available from Amazon

Chromatic tuners are more versatile and therefore are recommended over standard tuners. Electronic tuners are better and easier to use than traditional pitch pipes.

2. Capo

Capos are useful for playing more adventurous songs and some songs that may exceed your current ability as a beginner at the time.

These can be as cheap as £2.99 and go up to £12. Ebay is a great source for Capos as bargain prices.

There are several types of capo. There is one particular that uses a fabric strap to attach to the guitar. These are not ideal as the fabric stretches and wears out over time. Ideally a sturdy metal capo is best. See pic below.

capo

3. Spare Strings

Spare strings are essential simply to replace ones that break. Check the gauge your guitar came with and then buy some spares from a local shop or online.

4. Spare leads

Leads break. Therefore having a spare is a good idea.

More essentials coming soon!

Artist Advice: Who is your Audience?

This week I’m going to show you some simply ways to help get to know your target audience and monitor your fan base.

It is important for bands and artists to know who their target audience are so that you can market your music using the correct methods and plan gigs and tours more effectively.

Most bands now use Facebook to engage with fans online. Advertising new tracks and events as well as get feedback from listeners on new releases. This is a key platform to help you get a better understanding of who your audience is, where they are from, what age they are etc.

Essential information especially if you’re promoting yourself for an event and need to know how many people in the area may attend. Or if your planning a press release and need to know what magazines your target audience read.

Collecting this information about your audience can be tricky though as there limited resources to show you your current follower demographic.

However there are plenty of services available that can provide such information and analyse all your social platforms and provide you with the audience statistics you desire. Many as well have handy features to help you get more followers. One service for $9 a month is http://sproutsocial.com

However there are some 100% free ways to collect information about your fans online. For instance why not set up an online form that asks a few simple questions like, Name, Age, Sex, Postcode / area and email address in exchange for a free download or discounted gig ticket? This will provide you with your statistics and help build your online mailing list.

To create a form that’s free sign up to google docs. docs.google.com

Simple! Just a few ideas to help you monitor your progress and plan your tours and marketing efforts to appeal to your audience demographic.

 

 

 

 

Home Studio – Monitors

Good Monitors is Essential for a Good Recording.

Monitors are essential for anyone wishing to record. To be able to record successfully you’ll need to be able to hear exactly what your computer is recording and what it will sound like on playback.
If you are using conventional stereo speakers or built in computer speakers to monitor then you will not be hearing everything that you have recorded.

Studio monitors are designed to be able to play back a large frequency range and present a true representation of what has been recorded.

Conventional speakers found in stereos, hi-fis and computers will have various abilities and frequency ranges that they can play back so will therefore be unable to present a true representation of all the audio frequencies captured in the recording. This is not ideal for recording. Therefore investing in some good studio monitors in your recording set up is pretty essential to achieve a professional result.

Another thing to consider is in most commercial studios the control room / mix enviroment will be acoustically treated. This is where the room has been specifically designed or modified to not add any character or affect the sound during playback. For example a room made of plasterboard or with a lot of hard services will affect the audio played back through speakers making it sound brighter or with more treble. Therefore not producing a true representation of the sound recorded.

This is typically the main reason most home recordings do not sound professional or sound different depending on the machine its played back on. To be confident that what you have recorded and mixed will sound the same regardless of player or environment its important to invest in good quality studio monitors and mix in a treated space.

 Acoustic Treatment  / Room Optimisation  the Technology Way

Thanks to modern technology optimising your speakers for mixing / acoustic treatment is accessible to beginners without the need of a studio designer or acoustics specialist. There are some great pieces of technology on the market such as the IK Multimedia ARC system and the KRK Ergo. These are two devices that can help you establish an acoustically treated environment in minutes allowing you to reference with your monitors in complete confidence.

 

Both of these devices will optimise your speakers in your mixing enviroment without the need to invest in expensive acoustic treatments such as foam etc and an expert (Although applying some foam and setting up your room correctly is inexpensive and a good idea anyway).

The differences between the two is 1) the price, KRK – £499, ARC – £340 and the KRK is a standalone external piece of equipment. So will not use up your computers processing power whilst mixing. Where as the ARC system requires a software program to be running as you mix.

If monitors arn’t your thing there are headphones that boast the capability of being suitable to reference recording. Such as the KNS 8400 from KRK. If you have a limited budget or space these are ideal but will need to be connected to a suitable audio interface for effective mixing.

Another item of technology that will compliment that use of  headphones to monitor mixes is the Focusrite VRM box. This again is a cheap piece of kit and software £79.99 that works in almost the same way as the ERGO but instead provides you with virtual enviroments to test your mixes before committing to release.

For more info on the VRM box please visit http://www.focusrite.com/products/audio_interfaces/vrm_box/overview/

Anyway I hope you have found this article helpful, please check out future info from this series of articles. If you have questions or would like to add to the article please email it over! 

Improvisation Techniques

Recently I have been teaching quite a few lessons on improvisation. Being able to perform off the cuff riffs or solos to a variety of live or recorded backings.

So here are a few tips for those who are practicing improvising techniques…

1. Know your scales

Goes without saying really you need to know your scales and be able to play them in the same key as the backing track you are playing too. Knowing more than one scale helps and prevents you running out of ideas from lack of available notes.

2. Less is more

Improvisation is not about playing as many notes as possible. Its about composing an appropriate riff / melody / solo that will work with the track. So keep it simple! if you find your playing constant notes with no evolving tune consider adding space and limiting yourself to certain notes / frets or strings to create a riff.

3 Research

If you dont know where to start and need some inspiration learn some riffs from other artists that sound similar to what you aim to create. For example if your playing over a latin rock track consider learning some santana licks and modifying them for your piece.

4 Create a Hook

Create a riff / phrase that will act like a chorus that you can return to adding organisation to your riffs. Returning regularly to a catchy phrase will give your improvisation structure.

5. Add Space!

Silence between riffs is just as important as playing notes. If you can’t work out a melody consider adding more thinking time.

6. Dont forget the track!

Listen carefully and dont ignore the track! your aim is to creat something that is appropriate and suitable for the track. Its about making music not breaking the fretboard speed record for notes per second.

7. Add decoration last

Slides, picking, tapping, general showing off does not make the solo. It helps but make the melody first before adding all the cool stuff.

 

Well hopefully this little insight helps! if you have some more tips to add please post them or email them over.

 

How to Read Guitar Tab

How to read Tab (Tablature)

Tabs tell you how a song is played on the guitar. Its different from traditional notation as it uses a series of numbers instead of symbols to tell you the notes to play.

Guitars usually have six strings. The first thing you have to know is the name of the six strings.

The names of the strings from the thinnest string at the bottom of the guitar to the thickest string at the top of the guitar go in this order…

E B G D A E

One way to remember this is to memorise a saying such as…

Every Bunny Gets Drunk At Easter

or the more child friendly version…

Every Bunny Goes Dancing At Easter

You will need to have tuned your guitar strings to these notes before commencing to play a song using a digital tuner or tuned piano.

The top string is the thickest string, and it is called the 6th string or E-string because when played on its own (when you don’t hold down any frets and just pick the string) it will resonate an E note. The next string is called 5th string or A string. The other string in order are 4th or D string, 3rd or G string, 2nd or B string and 1st or e-string (thinnest string). As the 1st and 6th string are both E notes.

Tabs are written on six lines that represent the six strings of the guitar. That look like this:

The names of each string are written next to the lines from thinnest E at the top to the thickest E at the bottom. This is the standard way in which guitar tabs are written.

Numbers placed on these lines represent frets. 1 means 1st fret, 2 means second fret and so on.  A 0 (zero) means open string (play the string without holding it down). You place your finger between the metal bars on the fretboard to play the notes. So the area before the first metal bar will be represented as a 1 for the first fret. You do not place your fingers directly on top of the metal bars.

Below is an example of written Tab:

The tab is read from left to right. So, this tab means, first you play D string at open fret, then G string at 2nd Fret, then B string and 3rd fret and so on.

When numbers are written in sequence you simply play them one after another creating a riff / melody / solo.

However if the numbers are written one above each other in a line as shown below…

You need to play all the written notes at the same time making a Chord.

Tabs will not show or tell you which fingers to use to play these chords but will simply tell you the notes that have to be played at the same time.

To play a Chord you typically strum the marked strings to play in unison.

If an X appears on the Tab you do not pick or strum this string.

If a chord needs to be played multiple times it will simply be written multiple times.

Tabs will also not tell you the rhythm of a piece of music therefore you will typically need an audio track for reference.

And that is how you read tab! If you have any questions or wish to add to the article please comment below or email the site.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! from Vincent Hearn Guitar Tuition and guitar lessons petersfield.co.uk

Thank you to all my customers over the past year. Its has been an enjoyable year and I look forward to teaching you all again in 2012!

Also would like to wish all my clients old and new all the best with their current ventures which include bands, recording projects and those recently joining full time music courses.

For new students looking to book or furfill their new years resolution please email me to make a book or enquire for further information.

Also join me on facebook and check back for lesson posts and new developments in 2012!

Happy New Year Everyone!

A Few Songwriting Tips..

Gave a lesson the other day on songwriting and though I would publish a few of my notes online…

10 IDEAS FOR SONGWRITING

BLUE PRINTS

A great way of writing a song or developing a current idea is to listen to other artists work for inspiration. Listening to one or several songs from other artists is a great way to create a blueprint from your song to take shape.

I’m not suggesting that you should steal or copy ideas note for note from other works but typically as a songwriter your ideas have been inspired by artists you listen to anyway.

For example if you have composed a riff / melody / chord progression and your having trouble figuring out where it should go or how it should link to your next idea. Listen to other artists that sound similar to what your composing. Listen critically to the ideas they have employed and how they have merged verses and chorus and the arrangement of the song. Listening to several artists of a similar genre and listing the various different ideas you can hear will prevent you from “ripping off” a particular song or artist.

SET YOURSELF A QUESTION / BREIF

Setting yourself a specific question to answer or brief is a great way of creating a plan for your writing your song and organising your ideas. It can be a very academic way of writing a song but its also used in real world applications.

For example advertising agencies will usually ask composers to compose a piece of music to a specific brief that will mention genre, instrumentation and a specific timeline or mood the music will need to portray. Sometimes these briefs will contain reference to other songs or artists works.

Another example which I personally encounter frequently is “GCSE” and “A-Level” Coursework briefs. Which ask the student to compose a piece for a specific occasion or to a specific genre.

Listing characteristics of types of song or genre will help you with thinking of ideas for your tunes. Or making a mix CD as a form of research of artists songs that are similar to what you want to create a basis to work from.

E.g. Song for a funeral…

Slow tempo, minor chords, simple, instrumental

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Keep it simple! Don’t over complicate your songs. Remember who your audience is and most of the time your not composing for other musicians and “clever” is not typically a comment people use to praise their favorite song.

It is possible to compose a song using a few chord on continuous repeat. However to make it sound more interesting consider the following…

  • Using different chord voicings
  • Create dynamic between song sections
  • Different tones
  • Instrumentation

When composing verses and choruses etc typically slight variations of 1 idea are a good starting point. If you come up with two sections of music and wonder for ages how to fit them together, then possibly those two sections aren’t made for the same song.

WORK WITH OTHER MUSICIANS / SONGWRITERS

Working or jamming your ideas out with other musicians is a great way of completing a song and hearing your creation come to life. Be open minded to other musicians ideas and allow them to contribute to your work. Other musicians with different inspirations and music tastes can potentially add some great ideas to develop your work.

 PLAY SOME INSTRUMENTS YOU DONT KNOW

Might sound crazy to some but messing around with some new instruments is a good way to beat writers block and gain some new ideas.

RECORD SOME DEMOS BEFORE LAUNCHING THE SONG

Doing some “rough” recordings of the song and sharing it with friends and family to get their opinion will aid the development of a piece. However not everyone is technically minded and be able to give you an in depth answer as to new ideas and to what should be changed. Therefore preparing a set of questions that can help determine more detailed answers about specific sections of the song will help shape your song and cater towards your final listeners ears.

Doing some market research and publishing your works on a survey website will allow you to gauge your listeners perception of your tracks and give you some valuable input. Just remember to spend some time catering your questions carefully to get detail from the answers.

PLAY AROUND WITH TECHNOLOGY

Having a recording set up to record down your ideas makes developing a song easier. Recording technology is becoming cheaper and cheaper and more sophisticated and accessible to everyone. With this in mind learning a few music production skills wont hurt. Playing around with your ideas on a computer and applying effects or laying instruments can help create some interesting ideas.
BE OPEN MINDED

Listen to new things, even random tracks in different genres! raid your parents / friends CD collection or obscure radio tracks. Your research is what your listening too so listen intently to new music and collaborate the ideas you like from multiple sources into your creations.

Obviously don’t put them all into one song. Spread your ideas out over all your work to keep things fresh without making a song overcrowded and cliche.
JAM WITH THE TV

Put on a music channel and try and play along with the tracks. Whilst trying to work out some of the tunes you’ll probably make some mistakes and come up with some cool riffs of your own. Or even try and play some ideas that will work over the top of the tracks your hearing. Making mistakes = new ideas inspired by your TV! or radio.

 

Sounds like a slightly crazy idea but I have often used it to come up with ideas for my tracks. Although the more I have done it the better I have got at just working out the tracks im hearing and somehow defeating the point.

DON’T FORCE IT

Be open to new ideas and don’t get shy about sharing your ideas with other people. I have worked with a lot of students that have regularly dismissed ideas that to them aren’t as good as what they hear on TV. Never tie yourself down for several hours to write a song and never attend a band practice without taking some ideas with you. Aim to write a little bit most days and the ideas that work will typically write themselves.

Guitar Pro Arrangements

Like many musicians and guitar enthusiasts and we all own or use music transcription software to produce scores. This is great especially those that callaborate online and submit them for all to enjoy. Using services like ultimate guitar .com

I originally started using power tab that unfortunately got shut down but immediately transition to guitar pro, that to be honest wasnt great to start with but still gave guitarists the oppourtunity to creat something worth while to share with the world.

As a tutor I must say I do use guitar pro scores as well as write transcriptions for my students and over the years notice the majority of submitters do not make use of repeat markers, codas, signs etc. I agree with some songs this may be tricky espeically when considering several instruments but arrangements would make the submitted scores so much better!

By creating lead sheets you not just saving paper your creating a functional and more professional score that could only be rivaled by the printed product or downloads from sheet music direct.

So if you use guitar pro, sibelius or any form of transcribing please consider using repeat makers! it makes perfect sense and will make written music miles better for the performing and recording musician.

If you are not familiar with repeat markers in the near future i will be posting some lessons on them 😉

Spread the word! guitar pro submissions could be so much better!

Children In Need

Christmas is looming so Guitar Lesson Gift Vouchers are now available as a perfect accompaniment for purchase of guitars.

For a limited time 20% of any guitar lesson purchases will be donated to children in need.

You still get the full voucher value and help a worth while cause at the same time.

click the guitar vouchers link to make a secure purchase online.