Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips for Designing the Best Cover Art for Your Album

Summary: Tips and insight into designing the best album cover for your music.

When someone is flicking through albums at a record store the first thing they are going to notice is the graphics. If the graphics aren’t eye catching then they are going to go right past that record until they find one that grabs their attention. If they’re interested then they will listen to, and hopefully buy that record. So it is key that when you’re putting together your artwork that you make it as noticeable as possible. 

Think about what the music on the album is saying. Does it tell a story? Are there characters in your songs? What atmosphere does your music project? Based off of the answers to these questions take the time to come up with some kind of imagery that really conveys your message. Also, make sure that your cover fits into your genre of music, otherwise a potential listener may pass it by thinking that it isn’t going to be their taste in music. 

When adding text to your design, whether it be the main title and band name on the front or track listings on the inside you want to make sure that the text isn’t too cluttered or difficult to read. Also limit the number of different type faces that you use. The design can become overly complicated and in-consistent by using too many fonts. In addition, it strains the eyes. The main title and your band name should be easily recognizable so that someone who is viewing your album knows exactly who they’re looking at. 

Whether you are coming up with the design yourself or are hiring a designer to put something together for you, you should think about these points. A designer will be able to come up with a much stronger design if they are aware of the answers to these questions. If you do hire a designer, make sure to keep in close contact with them during the process. If you do not like something, don’t be afraid to be honest. After all, you are the one who will be using the finished design. 

By: Cat Wise

Cat Wise is the Head of Graphic Design at Distrophonix LLC.  Distrophonix  LLC is a music marketing and distribution company based in Baltimore, MD. They design graphics and designs for musicians, as well as offer digital distribution, CD pressing, and mastering.  

Easy Ways to Self Promote Your Gig

Summary: Ideas for inexpensive and free self promotion of your band.

Many start up bands miss easy opportunities to get people in the seats of their upcoming gigs. Below we will discuss a few inexpensive ways to self promote your garage band, indie band, or established act. All of these ideas are simple yet cost effective ways to promote on a budget.

The first step in self promoting your band is word of mouth. Basically everyone in the band needs to take a proactive role in getting the word out on future shows and gigs. Word of mouth includes telling your family, friends, coworkers, and anyone else your band knows that may be interested in your bands genre of music. For example, have your parents or relatives tell their coworkers or friends and so on. It can be surprising how many seats you can fill by simply by word of mouth through family and friends.

Secondly, have flyers printed for your next show. This can be done fairly cheap at any local copy store in your area. This is a cost effective self promotion tactic. Design a simple flyers with your band name, logo or artwork, genre of music, original or cover tunes, date and time of show, Band website, Contact information, and phone number and name of the club or venue where you will be performing. After designing your show flyer, send a few to the club or venue where you be playing. It may even be a good idea to hand deliver the flyers and ask if you may hang a few yourself. This way you can make sure your flyer will be seen by patrons of the club. Another idea is to place flyers on bulletin boards at music stores and other places where you may find a crowd for your gig. One word of caution, always get permission to place your flyers. For example, if you decide to place flyers on cars in a parking lot get permission from that lot owner. Some people tend to throw the flyers on the ground and cause a mess for a lot owner. The lot owner also has your contact info from the flyer so he may take legal action. So the moral of the story is get permission before placing flyers.

Next, contact any local or regional newspapers or entertainment type papers in your area. Most of these newspapers have weekly band listings in their entertainment sections. Email or call the papers until you find the proper contact and send them all the info they request. Usually you'll want to send Show Place, Date, Time, Band Name, and Cost of show (if applicable).

Lastly, search for concert calendars on the internet for free listings in the city or regional area your playing the gig. Many concert calendars will list your shows for free. Find some of the more popular ones that may get more internet traffic. Do a search on Concerts listings, events listings, free band listings or something of this nature, and add the city to the search.

Above are a few ideas for inexpensive or free self promotion of your band. Try to use all or most of these tactics for every show you self promote. Remember, the more fans you get to the show the better the chance you'll have of getting booked there again and building a career in that city or region of interest. Good Luck!!!


How to Get Gigs

Summary: How To Get Gigs For Your Band, Local Band, Or Garage Band

How to get band gigs and shows for your local band?  It's not always easy to get out of the starting gate and get a gig. You can get a show booked for your garage band, local band, or indie band with a little hard work. Your rock band should have a strong music set, quality song material, and should play well in a live setting. It is now time to take the next step and book gigs for your band.

Press Kit - The first thing your indie act or garage band should do is to get a band press kit together. The press kit, press package, or media kit will have everything you'll need to get started. Visit our Press Kit Page for tips on getting the press kit together. Once you have your press kit, you'll have a vehicle to start promoting your indie band.

Demo CD/Tape - For most gigs, a club owner or party planner will want to hear how your music sounds. So record your indie band Demo CD or Tape. You may want to buy or rent a portable home recording studio at your local music store. Make sure your songwriting is of professional quality. Songwriting is a trial and error process and may take time. Many rewrites may be needed when writing songs. It's just part of the songwriting process.  Portable home recording studios or computer recording software should give you sufficient quality for most local venues. Once your act is more established, you may want to get into a local reputable recording studio. Many professional indie bands use a computer program called Pro Tools or Cubase software for recording. While this is an expensive venture, it may be just as cost effective to learn the software than booking studio time.

Open Mic Nights - Start off playing open microphone (Mic) nights at local clubs. Not only will this give you a little experience on stage, you'll actually have a built in audience. Many open mic nights are hosted by more established local bands or indie acts. Make valuable contacts for the future with the hosting bands and other local bands playing at the open mic night. Check your local music newspapers, perform an internet search for open microphone nights in your city, or search music websites to find this information. This is a great starting point to play gigs and shows in your area.

Offer to Open for Free - The reality is that your not going to get paid when you first start out. Offer to be an opening band for free for a local band you know. Network with bands than you may have met at an open microphone night.  E-mail more established indie band in the area and offer to play an opening gig for them.  Many indie bands love opening acts. They don't have to pay you much and they don't have to play as long of a show set. This is the time to start promoting your garage band too.  Hand out business cards and press kits to any clubs you play. Make sure to follow up with the venue after you have given them your press kit. Call or e-mail to make sure they get back to you. Be persistent. Booking agents and club owners are always getting approached by prospective indie bands and garage bands.

Solicit your Press Kit - Now that you've played gigs at open mic nights, start calling clubs and soliciting your Press Kit and Demo. It's a good idea to visit clubs that play your style of music and talk with the booker of the club.  Leave them a press kit and demo CD. Give the club booking agent a day or two to listen to your demo.  Call back and get some feedback. Ask for the gig or show for your band. Again, be persistent. 

Approach Town Fairs, County Festivals, or City Concert Venues Another way to get exposure is to gig for a large audience at a local fair or festival. Most of these gigs your band would play for free to get exposure. Some festivals do pay bands once they get a following or fan base. Do some research on the internet to see what local agencies take care of bookings for festivals or town fairs. Give out your band business cards at the show.  This is a good promotion tactic. Someone in the audience may want to book your indie music act in the future. 

Booking Agents - Most booking agents take a percentage of the money that you get for a gig. Booking agents can be a valuable resource for getting some better paying gigs. Do a lot of research and be sure they are reputable.  Do a search on your local yellow pages. A lot of booking agents only take well known acts, so shop around and see if they will deal with your local band. Stop by in person and take your demo and press kit. 

E-mail Local Newspapers - Have your show dates added to local newspaper concert listings. Most papers will list your gigs for free. Contact any free papers that list band show dates. Also, see if they will do an article on your garage band or review one of your gigs or your CD. 

Band Manager  - Look into having a band manager who will help out with promotion. This person can help book you indie act. Has someone that you have known taken an interest in your garage band or music career? See if they would help book your indie band. Relatives may do this for free or a small fee designated by you. Watch out for people that get to meddlesome in your band and try to control your band goals. Negotiate for fees charged for such services. 

Battle of the Bands - Send your demo and press kit to any local battle of the band competitions. Most competitions locate up and coming talent in the area for battle of the bands shows. The great thing about these competitions is that you can network with the promoters, other bands involved, and get exposure. Many of the competitions are promoted on the radio, internet, and newspapers. The winner usually gets a decent prize like studio time or free promotion. Have your business cards ready at every portion of the competition.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Using Social Media to Market Your Band

Summary: Five tips on how to use social media to promote and advertise your band.

So, you're in a band, and all your members embrace social media as a promotional platform for your music. With an online presence already established on social media websites such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Purevolme, you continue to post, tweet, update, and comment.

But unfortunately, you're not getting the results you expected. Nobody is checking out your Myspace, Facebook, etc., nobody is sharing your music with others, and nobody is buying your merch. On top of all that, it's always the same group of friends and handful of fans that attend your shows. So what's the problem? Well, your band probably does not have something unique to offer, does not use an effective method of marketing, or both.

Social media becomes a powerful marketing tool only when you know how to use it. Sending countless spam messages and friend requests is not an effective way to market your band. As a fellow musician and friend to numerous independent bands, the following are a few tips that I've come to learn, which can help you effectively and efficiently use social media to market your band.

Build relationships. Social media is all about connecting and communicating with others. Use Twitter and Facebook to engage with your fans on a deeper level. Don't simply put out content. You must create interaction, participation, and involvement. Get to know who your fans are and let them learn more about you. But always remember to maintain a personal feel and not to use social networking purely as a promotional tool.

Increase awareness. Clearly, your band's goal for using social media is to spread your music to as many ears as possible. However, this does not suggest that you set up accounts to as many social media websites you may find. Instead, focus your time and effort on a few. You want to be able to increase your impact and awareness to those communities. In addition, when creating content, update it regularly with timely information.

Start networking. Social media sites such as Myspace and Purevolume allow you to find other bands that share things in common with your band. By networking with a group of artists or an indie music scene that fits your band's identity, genre, or style, it will certainly benefit your band. The bands in your scene can share fans, promote each other, and belong to something bigger, a community with shared common tastes and interests.

Generate traffic. Creating content is essential in getting your band out there. The more content you generate, the more likely people are to discover your music. By linking all your sites and advertising your band, shows, and music on each channel, your band can benefit from generating traffic.

Measure success. Tracking your social media success rate with Band Metrics is the best way to know if you are doing a good job in promoting and advertising your band online. Built just for musicians, Band Metrics can measure the way your fans interact with your band and content. As a result, your band receives valuable information of what your fans respond to.

Overall, there isn't one specific formula that works for everyone. Social media is used for numerous reasons and the how it is used may vary from others. However, by following the tips proposed, as well as maintaining a commitment to your strategy and goals, you can effectively use social media to market your band.

By: Martin Abcede

Martin is a Marketing Specialist for Distrophonix LLC. Distrophonix is a company based in Baltimore, MD specializing in music marketing, distribution, Rock Band Encoding, CD pressing, and mastering for musicians worldwide.

16 Music Promotion Tips

The following tips are essential, life-long suggestions, for any and all musicians to remember as they establish and/or maintain their music careers.

1. Stop sending unsolicited demo recordings to record labels, and instead concentrate on building your own music name and reputation by creating longterm relationships with your growing fanbase. They are your ticket to success.

2. Take the time to learn what the professionals in the music business do for a living. What are their job titles, who do they report to, and what do they do everyday when they go to work? The contacts you make in the music industry can make or break your career because your potential success is directly linked to any possible growing success of the industry people who are climbing their own ladders to success. The music business is built on the "buddy system." Everyone is attached to everyone else in this industry. As you go, so go your business contacts.

3. Before contacting any music business professional have 1(one) prepared question for them that will not make you look or sound like an ignorant person. i.e. Do not ask them how to become a atar, or how to get a recording contract. No one has the time to answer such sweeping and naive questions.

4. Create two contact lists: One for professional people you actually have as a business contact. Another contact list made up of all your fans. Keep both lists updated and using common sense, reach out to both contract groups only when you have something very important to ask of them and/or to share with them.

5. Prepare a short 30 second description of your music. Memorize it and use it every time you are asked "What kind of music do you make?" Don't go on and on describing your music... your statement should clearly describe your genre or style of music quickly and in compelling language that will perk up the person's ears and find yourself with an interested and potentially valuable new contact ready to support you.

6. If you have trouble defining your music style, try this exercise... define the word "originality" and note that within that word is another word... "origin." Perhaps this will help you focus on what makes your music unique. Never say your music is "unique," explain HOW it is unique. This exercise will help you write your 30 second statement.

7. Remember this always: People in the music industry who's job it is to find and support new acts don't know what they are looking for...BUT...they will recognize it when they hear it.

8. Find a concise "Image" and follow it everywhere. This is important because the first impression to someone unfamiliar with your sound is a VISUAL experience most of the time. i.e. Your Logo design used to spell your name, the title of your CD, or the design of your website, merchandise etc. is crucial to attracting industry and music fans. Image IS everything in show business, and in case you didn't realize it, music is part of good 'ol show business. Research your favorite acts and study their image.

9. People only respond to music they can personally relate to. What is it in your songs and compostions that has inspired your current fanbase and will grow to attract more fans and industry support? Think hard on this point. It is a true key to any possible success. Music contains emotions, so what emotions do your songs deliver to a listener?

10. Does your music sound too much like another artist or band's music? This is the biggest complaint from music business professionals... too much music today sounds like retreads of already successful artists. And, your fans are sensitive to this issue too. There is way too much :redundant-sounding" music out there today.

11. When you perform live does your stage pressence reflect the image conveyed in your songs? Are you well prepared, well rehearsed, and do the songs in your live set flow into each other in an exciting and well balanced way?

12. It can never be said enough. Great songs, Great compositions are the basis of all potential success, but "grunt work," everyday down-in-the-trecnches boring work, like updating your blog and website, keeping your websie and social networking pages updated and staying in touch with your fans regularly are tough jobs. Only you can tackle these jobs and other jobs like putting up flyers for shows (on and offline), updating your press materials, looking for gigs, rehearsing... all these tasks require your commitment to carry them out without complaining. Remember, only YOU can care the's YOUR music, YOUR career that we are dealing with here.

13. There is no such thing as an "overnight sensation." Behind every act referred to in this way are countless hours of hard work and dedication that got that person or act to be able to take advantage of the breaks they got, and remember too that the breaks you are looking for should be more than "a record deal" or a "production deal." Look out for the ever increasing demand for uses of your songs online, in films, TV shows and ads... the list goes on. But you have to work consistently for these breaks to happen.

14. Home recording is as common today as home cooking use to be, but don't get trapped in the rut of staying at home and working on your computer or home recording setup. GET OUT regularly and show up at clubs and other concert venues on a regular basis. There is that old saying "They only come out at night"... well that's very true when it comes to music business personnel as well as music fans. So, get out there and socialize IN -PERSON wherever you might live.

15. As your fanbase grows create more and more merchandise to sell online and at your live shows. Be sure your LOGO is on every piece of merchandise you sell. (back to that statement-"Image is everything.")

16. This last tip may be the most important of all. Conduct your business from your heart. Yes, the music industry rarely operates from that place, but don't worry about the industry, concern yourself with your SELF... be righteous. Be upstanding. Be a professional in everything you do. If you do that, believe me you will stand out from from the crowd.

By: Chris Knab

Guide To Preparing Your Song For Mastering

Summary: Guide to getting your music ready for high quality mastering results.

Getting the best possible mastered song starts with sending the best sounding mix to your mastering engineer. Here are some tips to getting your song ready for mastering.

Eliminate Noise In Your Mix. Go through your recording with your engineer to eliminate any pops and clicks in your tracks. You should also filter out any hums from air conditioners, refrigerators, and computers. If you have a track that can’t have the noise eliminated through gates and filters now is the time to rerecord it.

Get Your Levels Right. So many times we have artists contact us here at Distrophonix asking us something like when we master the track, can we bring up the vocals or lower the volume of the drums. Unfortunately this is not something that can be fixed in the mastering process, it needs to be fixed during mixing. Make sure that the song you send to your mastering engineer is mixed exactly the way you want it.

Don’t Make Your Mix Too Loud.  The loudest part of your song should peak at no more than -3db. To get the best master possible you should leave the final dynamic control and level engineer. Doing this allows the engineer to make sure that the master you receive back is exactly what you want. The volume and punch you desire should always be added by the mastering engineer.

Do Not Over Use Compressors. If you over use dynamic compressors on the final mix it can make it extremely difficult for the mastering engineer to do his job properly. It’s best to use it sparingly or not at all.

Send The Best File Format Possible. Make sure that you are sending the best quality file to your mastering engineer. Traditionally, AIFF and WAV are best. Make sure that the files you send are kept in the same resolution as what the song was mixed in.

Don’t Be Afraid To Talk To Your Master Engineer. We here at Distrophonix want to make sure that you are 100% satisfied with the work that we do. If you have a particular way that you want your song mastered please let us know and we will accommodate it.

By: Brenden Bosmans

Brenden Bosmans is a Marketing Consultant to Distrophonix LLC. Distrophonix LLC is a music marketing and distribution company based in Baltimore, MD. They design marketing plans for musicians, as well as offer digital distribution, CD pressing, download cards and mastering.

Seven Helpful Hints to Financing Your Band’s Next Recording

Summary: Seven helpful hints to financing your next recording

Before you start thinking about recording your music, you need to be aware that nothing is free. Most new bands can really only afford to pay for their equipment and musical instruments and therefore have little to no money to spend on recording costs.

1. Loans. If you do not have the money to pay for the recording upfront you may have to consider getting a loan to do so. You can do this in one of two ways:

-Go through the traditional banking system or credit cards. The downside is that interest rates can be very high.
-Use; You choose the loan amount that your band desires and you pay a monthly fixed rate that is distributed to your investors. Investors can then review your listing and invest in the listing if it meets their criteria.

2. Slice the pie. raises money for artists by first paying people to review and rate music and then those successful artists are able to go on and raise money for their next E.P. or album.

3. Company sponsorship. A band can try to get a business to help sponsor its recording. In return, the band will market the business, and put its logo and information on their CD’s and merchandise.

4. Ask your local college. Most colleges have recording studios that students can record in for free, or a reduced charge. Many colleges also allow musicians that are not students to record in return for a small charge; or if you are lucky, free.

5. Post your ideas that need to be funded. Posting music on this site is a great way to start. More than one person can invest, however you need to reach your goal in the allotted time or your needed amount will not get funded.

6. Barter. You may have a talent or skill that you can trade to a recording engineer in return for getting your music recording. We have had friends that have been successful in getting free recording in return for yard work, car repair, and hauling junk to the dump.

7. Share the cost with band members. I know that this is the obvious one, but none the less it should still be mentioned. Sharing the cost amongst several band members can make the recording much cheaper for everyone.

By: Michael Landa

Michael is a Financial Consultant to Distrophonix LLC. Distrophonix LLC is a music marketing and distribution company based in Baltimore, MD. They design marketing plans for musicians, as well as offer digital distribution, CD pressing, download cards and mastering.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Designing the Right Logo for Your Band

Summary: Tips and insight into designing the best logo to represent your band and music.

When people see your logo, they need to be able to recognize it as you instantly. A logo needs to be able to communicate who you are in a single glance. Here are a few tips about coming up with something that will let people know who you are as a band and musician.

1. Who is your audience? Think about who you want this logo to attract. Use this information to come up with images that will appeal to your desired demographic.

2. First impressions count. Your logo may be the first thing your future fans see. What is the message you want these fans to get from your logo?

3. Less is more. You don’t want to over-complicate your image. Use a limited number of colors and try not to use too much text. The more complicated your logo is, the harder it will be for your audience to remember; You want to be remembered! In addition, if your logo is complicated it makes it harder to read when it’s small. Logo’s need to be able to be viewed in all sizes, whether it’s on the corner of your album cover or a large banner on stage. Either way it needs to be easy to read and needs to identify you as a band and a sound.

4. Plan ahead. Take some time to think about what your plans are for the future. Will you be changing your image or sound any time soon? If so then you need to think about whether your logo will fit in with any changes you make, or if it will be able to be easily modified to reflect your new style.

Before you start designing your logo please consider these four points carefully. If you are hiring a designer to help you make sure you supply them with this information so they can create the best design for you. In addition, if you do hire a graphic designer don’t forget to keep the lines of communication open, and of course don’t be afraid to be honest about the results. After all, you are the one who will be using the finished design.

By: Cat Wise

Cat Wise is the Head of Graphic Design at Distrophonix LLC. Distrophonix LLC is a music marketing and distribution company based in Baltimore, MD. They design graphics and designs for musicians, as well as offer digital distribution, CD pressing, and mastering.

How to Sell More Merch at Your Shows

Summary: 7 tips to help you sell more merch.

You can have the coolest band merch in the world, but what’s the use of having it if you can’t sell it? Follow these tips and your merch will be flying off the table in no time!

1. Put A Light On It!
Venues/Clubs/Bars are dark areas. Having a light on your table helps to attract attention and makes people want to check out what you are offering.

2. Make an Interesting Merch Display!
Get creative with how you present your merch. One of the coolest setups we have ever seen was for the acoustic band, The Apathy Eulogy. They set their merch up in vintage suitcases. It gave their merch an indie, almost bohemian feel, which tied in nicely with their music.

Here are some other tips that could make your merch display more interesting:
- Use digital picture frames to display pricing.
- Use props like trunks, plants, mannequins, etc.
- Set up wire racks behind your table to hang t-shirts on.
- Arrange your CD’s into pyramids.

3. Bundle Your Merch Together!
Instead of selling your CDs, stickers, t-shirts, etc. individually, try bundling them together for a small discount. For example, if you sell your CD for $10 and t-shirt for $15, offer both for $20. This will cause your fans to purchase more than they might normally.

4. Advertise Your Merch From the Stage!
While you are still on stage and have everyone’s attention, don’t forget to mention your merch. Also, tell people that you are going to be at your merch table right after you get off stage so they know where to find you.

5. Meet Your Fans at The Table!
When you get off the stage, fans always want to talk to you. Instead of meeting your fans at the front of the stage, go back to your merch table. Talk to your fans there. This increases the chance of making a sale.

Usually, there is a rush to get your equipment off the stage before the next band starts. Before you go on stage, designate a few band members to be responsible for the equipment. This will allow at least one person in the band to head directly to the merch table.

6. Accept Credit/Debit Cards!
Let’s face it: We are almost a cashless society. Don’t lose out on sales just because you only accept cash. There are a lot of apps out there right now that allow you to process credit/debit card transactions right through your phone.

If you do not have a smart phone, another option is to just use a laptop where wifi is available and run transactions through a PayPal account.

7. Give Something Away For Free!
Always have something free to give away to your fans. You do not want your free item to cost more than a few cents each so we would recommend handing out small stickers, pens, key chains, etc. with your band name on it.

Another great option is to print up music download cards with a sample of your music and hand them out for free. Download cards allow fans to download your songs and put them on their iPod, Zune, etc. You can get these cards from companies like ours, Distrophonix for around $99 for 1000.

Here are two suggestions:
- For anyone who visits your merch table, give out something for free. Better yet, use the free item as an incentive for them to sign up for your mailing list.
- At the end of the show hand out free download cards, stickers, etc. to people as they leave. The goal of this is to make sure that everyone leaving the show has something to remember you by. This will help you grow your fan base and sell more merch in the future.

By: Brenden Bosmans

Brenden Bosmans is a Marketing Consultant to Distrophonix LLC. Distrophonix LLC is a music marketing and distribution company based in Baltimore, MD. They design marketing plans for musicians, as well as offer digital distribution, CD pressing, download cards and mastering.