Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gig Promotion

The saying “The early bird catches the worm” is based in fact. In the professional concert industry, a concert promoter “advances” a show in the months and weeks before a major artist is scheduled to perform. That basically means that he or she will do everything possible to promote the show and bring paying fans to come out. Even if you haven’t hit the big leagues yet, there’s no reason why you can’t follow their example in your hometown.
Some suggestions may be considered “beneath” a normal recording star, but until you reach the top, take every possible advantage to get the word out. These guidelines are based on the best possible lead times, which make it easier for fans and journalists to put your show in their schedules. When you’re performing multiple shows, your promotion duties may overlap a bit. It may not be possible to do all of the things listed here, but the main thing is to step up your guerrilla marketing skills. Rehearsals are not included in this list because it’s a given.
As soon as you get a date from the club booker:
Check a calendar to avoid slow holidays and possible double bookings
Get a poster to the club with photo, show date and time
Make flyers for handing out
Update ALL of your band’s web sites
Four weeks before show:
Send press releases to music editors in local papers. Invite them!!
Send press releases to local and college radio stations.
Three weeks before show:
Follow up with music editors and radio contacts
Send gig notices to community calendar/event listings (fax, email, or snail mail)

21 Days up til the day of show:
Mingle and schmooze at other local band gigs
Go to local music business events
Go anywhere that has potential fans
Hand out flyers and music samplers (if you have them)

14 Days up til the day of show:
Mail snail mail flyers (no later than 14 days before)
Confirm that posters are in a visible spot at the venue
Personally go to the venue and hand out flyers to audiences similar to yours
Perform at an open mic or two. Announce show & give out flyers.
Make sure that local stores carrying your CD are well-stocked.
7 Days before show:
Send notice to your email list
Give an in-store performance at an indie - friendly store
Perform live on a local or college radio show
- Hold an interview
- Give away tickets and/or free CD for lucky listener

2 Days before show:
Send reminder to your email list
Day before show:
Rest. You’ve earned it.
Show Day:
Give nothing less than a great show
Announce the availability of your CDs onstage
Announce your web site address onstage
Have CDs, merch, and mailing list available immediately afterwards
Day After Show:
Send thank you notes & emails
Perform gig followups (updating your blog, posting audience photos, etc)
Start booking your next show
Rinse and repeat this formula for each performance, and watch your fanbase grow!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I think it’s important for every person in every background (not only musicians) to consider this thought:

“No one is coming.”

As depressing as this sounds at the outset, I find it empowering because it is the truth. While it would be lovely to have someone come and shower us with money and opportunities, that’s not the way the world works.

If you really take that thought in, and digest it, your response will make the difference in your career.

When we’re NOT expecting someone to take over the reins, only then can we understand that we are the only ones who can make anything happen. It’s up to us to create the energy and the heat for our career, which in turn will create those opportunities that we seek. Investors and agents are more interested in how you handle your BUSINESS, and they’re mostly interested in how they’re going to get a return on their investment. If you’re not already creating $500,000 worth of excitement for your music, why should they invest $500,000 in you?

It’s easy to assume that you’ll make the big moves AFTER you get the investors, but if you’re not already making $500,000 moves and decisions now (in time and effort), how can you expect to be taken seriously??


So what are you gonna do about that?

Maximize Your Vocals

Sound Bodies....When your body is your instrument, fitness & nutrition should be combined with a well planned set of vocal exercises to keep it in top form.

Singing may well be the most physical demanding way to make music. But, while most serious singers perform vocal exercises to develop range, tone & articulation, they may not realize the benefits of working the entire body. Good general fitness, as well as a well-designed vocal training program, can increase range, improve pitch, & prevent injuries.

The voice is the only instrument that is has emotion, it has temperature, it has fluid. Because of that, singing is a physical, athletic experience. Voice teachers claim the physical part of a singer's training is 2/3 of their training....which means you have to be strong & flexible.

While you do not need to be training for a triathlon in order to belt out your favorite tunes, good general fitness & nutrition allow your vocals to reach their full potential.

Since singing uses the lungs, any form of aerobic exercise....including walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, racket-ball, and useful because it can help develop heart and lung strength as well as physical endurance. Exercises like swimming and aerobics use the breath more than you would for other exercises. Swimming has the added benefit of lengthening the muscles. A singer needs muscles to in their longest form & in their most relaxed form.

Relax & Breathe....Yoga is another popular activity for singers: it relaxes & strengthens the muscles, improves balance, & posture & helps focus the mind on the singer's source of power: THE BREATH.

There are many different kinds of yoga, ranging from very low impact to the intense "power yoga" used by athletes. Kunddaline yoga, focuses on the whole body. It has chanting, it has posture, it has movement, stillness, singing, hand positions & more.

Not all exercises are good for singers....heavy weight lifting is not advisable because it forces muscles to compresses & contract. Lifting weights makes for shorter muscles....which is bad for singers. Developing a "six pack" of abs is not advisable either...singers need to strengthen their cores & Pilate's exercised is a better way to achieve that strength. If you tuck in you stomach really hard, you will feel the tightness in your throat. If singers hold their stomachs too tightly....particularly the upper stomach....they can easily develop vocal problems & stomach nodules & things like that. That area has to be open and expanded. The singer has to learn to use the muscles in the middle of the body in an outward position, not in a tucked-in (contracted) position.

Watch Your Posture....Good posture is important because it allows for the freest movement of air & the most relaxed use of singing muscles. Most voice instructors will tell you to keep your chin level, your knees loose & your shoulders & neck relaxed. Abdominal & back muscles should also be relaxed.

Untrained singers ten to jut their chins forward, which leaves the vocal muscles in a precarious position. They are not grounded or anchored to anything. We need the chin to be IN & the chest to be up, so that the muscles of the vocal instrument can function more correctly. It frees the sound & gives a lot more resonance with less effort & less push.

Many teachers use the Alexander Technique, a fitness regimen that focuses on posture, breathing, balance & coordination. Like yoga, the Alexander Technique involves relaxation to combat tension that causes us to haunch our shoulders, stiffen our necks, & to slouch. Tension in the jaw & tongue can cause singers to go flat, while pelvic & lower body tension can cause them to go sharp because they're "holding & gripping & pushing air." Some singers feel that tightening the muscles gives them power, but, it actually reduces control.

Break Down To The Basics....Some singers need to go back to the basics...take a step back in order to move forward. If you learn the proper use & alignment of the muscles through vocal exercises, your range will grow. If you're not using your muscles correctly, you might have the note in you, but you can't get it out because you're too tight. When you learn how to let the larynx move & tilt the way it is supposed to, you'll hit the notes with no problem.

Like a baseball pitcher has to take care of his arm, a singer has to take care of their voice. Also, like pitching, if you just rely on natural ability, you can get away with it for a while, but you'll never get to be as good as you can be & your risk of getting injured is much higher. If you get a little training, just like a little athletic coaching, you can do better than you every thought you would....& you can do it safer & longer.

Proper training helps prevent injury, too. Learn how to use the chest, abdomen & back muscles to create power, as well as the tissues of the throat, the larynx & muscles efficiently, thereby creating a unique & beautiful voice that carries. If any one of those parts fails to do its job, then singers struggle to compensate....people use delicate muscles in the neck, not designed for power function, & then tissues break down, they get injuries, & they end having to lay off work or even worse have surgery to correct the damage.

Practice Time

How long you practice depends on your level of training & experience. For a complete beginner, go for no more than 20 minutes / day at first & that amount should be gradually increased over a period of months. Never sing if you are ill or suffering with a sore throat or are sounding hoarse. When your voice is healed, start slowly to make sure you don't hurt your voice again.

Warm Up

Like any other muscles in the body, the vocal cords need to be warmed up with excises before asking them to perform. Teachers use different scales, anywhere from 2-note to 5-note scales up & down.

What do those exercises attempt to achieve? There are many muscles....but not all of them are supposed to be involved in singing. It's like playing pick-up sticks: You have to get just the correct muscles involved & eliminate the other ones.

Eat Well to Sing Well

Eat a light meal 2-3 hours before you start your practice or your performance. And drink plenty of water!!! Most vocal coaches recommend somewhere in the range of 8 glasses/day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or acidic drinks like orange juice before you sing because they can dry out the throat or cause excess phlegm.