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

New Performance Grades

This year has seen the arrival of new updated exam syllabus’ from Rockschool as well as the arrival of new exam assessment criteria. One in particular is Performance grades from the Registry of Guitar Tutors (RGT) validated  by the London College of Music (LCM).

These grades as completely focused on assessing the performance of pieces and pieces only.

Students can choose which pieces to perform for the exam but have to make sure it covers the technical criteria required for the desired grade. Myself or your tutor would be able to advise with this.

Another plus side is that exams can be taken at home! Simply record your performance on a video camera or audio and send it for assessment.

Great if you get nervous in exams.

Also the prices are slightly cheaper than ordinary exams.

A great new way to complete guitar exams.

This service is offered by vincent hearn guitar tuition, RGT / LCM and guitar lessons petersfield.co.uk for more information please get in contact.

Getting the “Gig” Job insight for Musicians

This article is designed to provide some insight into finding work and opourtunities as a musician. When finding work as a musician it is important to be self sufficient, outgoing and able to work potentially self employed a majority of the time. This excludes employed positions such record labels and music shops etc.

First off lets look at the following routes….

Performing solo / band / act

It is important when working with other musicians and going for auditions that you maintain a professional attitude at all times and be approachable. Knowing your stuff and being able to do the job is important but also consider that every meeting with other musicians or individuals within the music industry is networking opportunity. Therefore an opportunity to make a potential contact. Even if you didnt get the job if you made a good impression you may be able to get other oppourtunities from the same source.

If your looking to start a band or get involved with other musicians there are lots of websites that can help.

Starnow.co.uk – a site that lists jobs and auditions, paid and unpaid for actors, musicians, models etc. Has some good postings although costs a fee. When consider jobs from this site remeber even the unpaid ones can lead to good oppourtunities and potential paid work.

Musofinder.co.uk – a social network for musicians. If your looking for band mates or bands seeking memebers consider this site.

Join My Band.co.uk – a great site similar to musofinder but is FREE.

Working on the business side of the industry.

If you have skills and qualifications that are relevant to the business side of the industry. You can find plenty of job listings through the following links.

Music Week – Record labels, PR, Marketing and more. Music industry related posts are here.

Indeed.com – A search site that searches a large selection of job sites in one go including uk music jobs and the guardian.

 

These are just a few of the various sites that post jobs and auditions for you to take advantage of. Another thing to consider is writing and professional CV and developing a show reel of your musical talents and hosting these online socially such as Facebook and You tube but also on your own website. Market yourself online using a variety of sources and network!

Check back regularly for additions to this article.

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! 

Guitars for Beginners

What guitar is best for a beginner?

For contemporary guitarists.

There are loads of guitars out there of different brands and designs so it can be confusing which one to buy for a complete beginner.

My personal recommendations are to play a few guitars in the shop within your price range to help decide which one is comfortable for you for you to play. Reason being is guitars have different neck profiles and sizes so depending on the size of the players hands guitars with larger neck profiles may feel uncomfortable or more difficult to play.

Another thing to look out for is build quality, go for a guitar with a brand name. For a beginner this does not have to cost the earth as many of the major guitar manufacturers have their own beginner range. From experience these typically have better build quality compared to smaller unknown brands and the difference in price is also very minimal.

If your learning acoustic and playing contemporary music I recommend buying a steel stringed guitar as the nylon string guitars are typically classical guitars.

If a standard size guitar is too big for you then some shops and most online stockists will be able to offer 3/4 size guitars or smaller.

Recommendations

Brand names for beginner guitars to investigate…. Squire (Made by Fender), Epiphone (Made by Gibson) as well as Jackson and Ibanez who make their own budget models.

CLICKABLE LINKS ARE BLUE

Ibanez Recommendation

Ibanez GRX70 Click Here

Squire Recommendations

Click Here

Telecaster Model

Epiphone Recommendations

Epiphone Les Paul Special Style

Many of these guitars also come in “Junior” Models for smaller children.

A few stores to check out local to Petersfield, Hampshire and Available online are..

Andertons Music (Guildford)

Nevada Music (Portsmouth)

Guitar Village (Farnham)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advice: Practicing

The word “practice” is a unloved word for loads of students especially the younger ones. Loads of us want to be able to play the guitar but would love it if we didn’t have to practice much.

Encouraging Students to Practice

When it comes to practice the best method with younger students is to encourage them to do it little and often. So 20 minute periods a few times a day rather than an hours sitting. Little routines everyday will typically be more effective at committing information for a longer period of time.

Forcing younger students to practice can also be counter productive. Younger students when forced to practice for long periods of time will typically do the oposite and learning the guitar becomes more of a chore than a choice. Creating activities and introducing music related media into everyday life is a great way to encourage younger students to progress at their instrument and motivate them to practice. For example, sharing a music collection or going to a live performance.

Incentives! for younger students that need a bit more motivation a points system can be created for music related rewards.

Teenagers and Older students should be encouraged to form bands! this will compliment practice considerably and motivates the student to learn. Jamming with friends dosn’t typically feel like practice but the student will be using all the skills developed in lesson and will strive to perform them to a high standard to meet the expectations of his or her peers.

Tips for the Gigging Guitarist

If your already or about to gig or perform, here is a little list of advice to make sure your performance goes smoothly.

If you have some advice you would like to share or add to this list then please do! leave a comment.

  1. Be prepared! not just learning the song but make sure before a gig you change the guitar strings and ‘bed them in’ to prevent on stage breakages and it slipping out of tune too often.
  2. take spares! this includes, spare strings, spare leads, spare batteries for your on stage tuner to name a few! if your really organised, make a gig bag with all your gig essentials in and just keep it like it every time you need to gig.
  3. Don’t annoy the sound engineer! if your working with a venues sound engineer don’t annoy them, they are controlling how you sound and unless you are hiring them they don’t work for you. so be nice! buying them a pint helps.
  4. gaffa tape! have it in the gig bag! you’ll be surprised how many uses there are for gaffa and can help solve those little last minute emergencies.
  5. have a mini torch or keyring torch. it can be dark on stage so if your doing any checks or need to alter anything then this will come in handy.
  6. buy decent leads! and of sensible length! cheap leads lead to buzzing and break easily and most likely when you don’t want them too. they will cut out when you least expect it. and good leads aren’t expensive and a wise investment. if your playing large stages and opt for the wireless devices make sure they made by respectable brands! otherwise expect unreliable performance. take a spare lead anyway!
  7. Take a towel. buy yourself a small black towel to clean the sweat off. Stage lights can make you sweat like crazy and nothing stings more than sweat in your eyes that you cant rub out cause your playing guitar. Also take another towl to clean the sweat off the strings after playing. this will increase the life of your strings.
  8. dont put drinks on top of amps. this is common sense really, if a drink spills on electricals then it probably will blow up! especially as vibrations and the erractic movements of other band members are likely to increase the chances of a spillage. so put your drink somewhere else.
  9. thread your lead through your strap before plugging in to the guitar. This will prevent you treading on your lead and pulling it out the guitar whilst performing.
  10. dont noodle! its the pet hate of many musicians, sound guys and audience members. if your about to sound check and waiting for other band members to get ready or just waiting in general. dont start noodling your favourite riff or that bit of sweet child of mine you learnt last week. Its annoying and unprofessional, check your amp and everything works, sound check and leave it!
  11. use reliable gear, dont take amps or guitars that have problems. Obvious really, if your not 100% happy with the rig its probably going to fail on you.
  12. When writing a set list, print it out in large font so you can read it from the floor!
  13. script what your singer is going to say between songs. Unless your singer is a natural and can work a crowd like james brown its probably wise to script what is said. to prevent chit chat from going on too long and the audience getting bored. It also stops your singer saying something stupid and remebering to plug that important album release.
  14. Make use of seg ways. if you can like a couple of songs together in a clever way then do it. Removes the need for talking to the audience between tracks.
  15. Take a pedal tuner! if you do need to tune your guitar, use a pedal tuner designed for on stage use, these will cut out the sound to your amp when in use. No one else wants to hear you tuning.
  16. Move around and have fun. Audiences like seeing musicians having fun and moving around. Rather than scared musicians or ones that look bored. Make an effort and get into it. If you dance around, engage with the audience and other band members chances are they will do the same. Audiences are there to be entertained visually as well as hear your songs.
  17. Dont turn your back on the audience unless you have too. its rude. Also allows you to keep an eye out if they throw things 😉
  18. use glow in the dark pens or a small light if your using pedals. Simply so you can see them in the dark.
  19. Use a guitar stand, guitars against amps will get knocked over.
  20. PLUG PLUG PLUG! if you have an ep or some free stuff them let your audience know in a creative and casual way. if your banter on stage or off stage sounds like an advert constantly people will lose interest.