“All music is used to make money”

Singer/Songwriter Ralph Murphy shares his insight and experiences from his 30+ years of being in the music “business”. This is a fantastic lecture that took place at Layola University. He stresses over and over about how this is a business.

He also stresses that all artists need to know how to craft a song so that it appeals to your audience/fans. If you can keep you fans entertained and wanting more then you will remain in the business and potentially make a pretty good living. If you neglect the basics of songwriting you will more than likely not be in the business for very long.

Below are a couple of gems I picker out as points to remember for up and coming artists like yourselves.

“What brings you to a song 100% of the time is melody. What keeps you there is lyric.”

“For you artist or singer songwriter a song is not a song, a song is a linear lyrical conversation between you and every single person in that room.”

“Music is the underpinning of society.”

“The three things you ask yourself when you’re finished with your work are, what’s in it for the listener? What’s in it for the listener? What’s in it for the listener? If there’s nothing in it for the listener you’re wasting your time.”

 

What made your favorite record memorable?

This is a great question by Steve Guttenberg, CNET Blog Network author. He  asked…

What’s the best-sounding record you ever heard?

This might be a tough question for a lot of people: defining what good sound is, and separating sound from music isn’t easy.

It might be impossible to distill it to just one album or song. We tend to like the sound of music we like, and conflate good sound with good music.

That’s understandable, but when the sound jumps out and draws your attention, take, for example, the sound of Jimi Hendrix’s feedback. It was Hendrix’s distortion, not his songs, that forever changed the sound of electric guitars.

Paul McCartney said it was the sound of the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album that inspired the Beatles to radically change their sound and make “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

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Becoming an overnight success in music isn’t for everyone.

Here’s a post from Brian Thompson over at MTT. He raises some very good points about the downside of becoming an overnight success. I posted a comment on his original article, but I’ll reiterate some of my points here.

I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve seen artist come and go. Sometimes they burn out, maybe they want something more or they simply want a laid back lifestyle. Starting a family and creating a “normal” life is probably the biggest reason for voluntarily leaving the music business.

More often than not, however, the biggest reason an artist or band is no longer in the business is because they received too much too soon. They weren’t prepared for the potential consequences of being an overnight success. If you’re in the music business, no matter what level, you want to make a living creating art. We all do. There are, however, some pitfalls and I think Brian has outlined a few below that most new artist should be aware of.

When one of my clients says “My dream is to get signed and become famous!” I always reply with “Be careful of what you wish for. It just might come true.”

10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wish For Overnight Success

Be careful of what you wish for.

1. You won’t be mentally prepared to deal with all of the fame, fortune, and international attention.

2. You won’t be well-rehearsed or experienced enough and your performance won’t be ready for overnight global attention.

3. Critics and fans will eat you alive for every little misstep you do, crushing your soul and spirit in the process.

4. You will have a very short career. Overnight successes do not create life-long fans.

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5 Ways To Spruce Up Your Live Show

This is a post I found on Echoes, Disc Makers blog, about how to add some punch to your live shows. As a mix engineer I think about this topic quite a bit. How do you keep things fresh while playing the same material over and over? For those of you who aren’t professional mixers we will listen to the same song from 5 – 12 hours in a row to set the proper EQ and levels that will make the song great. That’s our job and we live for it.

As a touring musician, however, you play the same set of songs for months at a time. How do you stay interested in the material and make sure your audience doesn’t think that you’re bored of playing it? Well, Cheryl Engelhardt explains a few tips below so that you and your audience stay interested. Enjoy!

Freshen Up Your Live Show – 5 Ways To Spruce Up Your Live Music Performance

by CHERYL B. ENGELHARDT

Make a lasting impression and your fans will return in droves.

There are lots of reasons to want to freshen up your live show. Maybe you hit a point where you are performing songs off your new-but-not-that-new record and feel like the show is getting stagnant – not just for you but for your fans. Or maybe you feel like you haven’t found the sweet spot of what your live show should be. Perhaps you want to experiment a bit but don’t know how.

The good news is that there are some easy ways to shift your performance, from “ever-so-slightly” to “total overhaul,” and you can gauge the results immediately – i.e. people start coming out to hear your live music, stay the whole set, buy more CDs, have great comments afterwards, YOU feel great, you feel like you hit a stride, etc.

Here are 5 ideas and performance tips to help you freshen up your live music performances without losing yourself in the process. Take one on, or all five and really shake things up. (And add some of your own in the comments section!)

1. Go crazy with cover songs
No matter what cover song you do, as long as you do it authentically as you, you really can’t go wrong. To me, cover songs are about stretching yourself, giving the unexpected, and being playful with your audience. I’ve covered Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” (and folks, for obvious reasons, it doesn’t get much different than that) as well as Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker.”

“…Branching out into the amazing history of delicious hits is a fun musical expedition.”

2. Change arrangements
I can’t tell you how bored I get when I do solo tours. Me and my piano, every night. On the other hand, I LOVE playing with my band (electric guitar, drums, bass), but I can sometimes overdo putting on the same show over and over. So, recently, I switched it up and did a show at Rockwood Music Hall in New York and had my guitarist play acoustic guitar and brought in Kristine Kruta, a cello player who played on my record.

3. Involve your audience more
I’m talking before, during, and after the show. While promoting on Facebook, Twitter, fan emails, ask people what songs they want to hear. Ask them what merch they’d like to see at the next show. Have a contest to see who can share the event page the most. Just before you start playing, go up to a fan and ask them to take on passing around your mailing list mid-set. Tell them you’d be grateful and honored and offer a free CD.

4. Switch up your lineup
This doesn’t mean permanently fire your band and hire new people with no reason other than you’re spring cleaning. It means making friends with some other musicians, doing a few gigs with them to see if anything sparks. Maybe these gigs are acoustic, or duets, or something other than your normal schtick. If you always play with the same people, it’s great to see what other musicians can do with your music. You may get ideas to bring back to your original players, and you may also forge a new relationship and want to add them to your regular lineup.

5. Change venues
Tired of the coffee house scene? The loud bar scene? The background-music restaurant, ski resort, hotel bar scene? Whatever it is you usually play, look into something totally different. Ask a friend to host a rooftop party. Call the booker for a bigger rock club you’ve been wanting to play and ask for an early slot six months from now, or start pounding the pavement to get an opening slot for a band you’d like to tour with.

“If you’re always playing loud venues, do a stripped-down show at a coffee shop to showcase your songwriting.”

You can read the rest of Cheryl’s article over at Echoes, Disk Makers blog for up and coming musicians.

A Guide To Recording A Killer Lead Vocal.

The article below comes from the latest edition of Electronic Musician (emusician.com). It was written by Michael Cooper who really seems to know his stuff. It’s a long article, but if you are serious about recording great vocal performances you should read this in its entirety. I’ve been in this business for about 15 years and even I took away some great tips. At times it gets a bit technical, but continue reading. He blends advice for techies and newbies alike quite nicely.

Best of luck and please remember to contact us if you have any vocal tracking needs or simply want to discuss a technique in Michael’s article. We love to talk shop!

A SOUP-TO-NUTS GUIDE TO RECORDING KILLER LEAD VOCAL TRACKS

By MICHAEL COOPER

Recording a Killer Lead Vocal

"Pamper the Talent", Michael Cooper

THERE’S A good reason why music-production illuminati dub the lead vocal the “money track”: If it’s not fantastic, you don’t have a record. To casual listeners, it hardly matters how good the instrumental tracks sound. The lead vocal is the thing that grabs their attention and impels them to listen to a recording, or hit the Skip button.

In this article, I’ll detail the techniques that have worked for me when recording lead vocal tracks over the past 30 years. My focus will be on overdubbing vocals to existing instrumental tracks, but much of what I’ll cover applies equally to tracking a singer simultaneously with a band. It all begins with common-sense tips.

Prepare Ahead of Time Nothing drains a singer’s mojo faster than waiting forever while his mic is set up, a preamp and compressor are patched into the signal path, a new DAW track is created, and a headphone mix is devised and routed to his cans. If possible, make sure all these tasks are completed before the singer arrives at your studio. That way, you can immediately get down to making magic together after a couple minutes of ice-breaking chitchat.

I’ll talk in-depth about equipment selection and setup shortly, but a few words about mic choice bear discussion now, before your session begins. If you’ll be working with a singer for the first time, ask her well before the session what her favorite mic is for recording; that is, one that has yielded flattering results on her other sessions. Try using the same mic model if you own it. If it’s not in your arsenal and you can’t justify renting it, choose another mic from your collection that has a similar frequency response, polar pattern, and bass proximity effect.

An alternative tack is to set up a few of your best vocal mics before the session and have the vocalist briefly sing into each one so you can hear which is the best match for her voice. The drawback to this approach is it takes time, something that the project’s budget might not allow. Fortunately, there is a simple way to choose the perfect mic on the spot. But first, a little feng shui is in order.

The rest of this article includes topics like…

  • Pamper the Talent (I wrote a similar article recently titled, Putting a singer at ease in the studio)
  • Hang it High – Microphone placement
  • Patch in Preamp and Compressor Before the Talent Arrives
  • Tweak the Cue Mix
  • Fix Now or Comp Later
  • Using Polar Patterns to Shape Tone
  • And much more.

To continue reading please head on over to Electronic Musician.

How to Write Songs That Stick!

Below is an excerpt from an e-course I subscribe to by Morgan Cryer. Morgan is a Nashville based songwriter who has had airplay and hits on commercial radio.

That said, he is also a songwriting coach amd internet marketer. He’s the author of the e-book Strong Song Writing. I don’t pay attention to most e-books, but Morgan’s seems different. He cares more about providing in-depth guidance than fluffy content.

I don’t own his book, yet, but I do plan on purchasing it very soon because my next big music endeavor is going to be based around songwriting. 

So if your main focus in this business is writing songs you’re going to want to pay attention to my next few Round Ups. They’re going to be all about how to sculpt the best song you can write – every time.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy Morgan’s view on starting your song strong.

 

GET DOWN TO BUSINESS IMMEDIATELY

By Morgan Cryer

Morgan Cryer

Songwriter, Morgan cryer

One of the most overlooked secrets to writing strong songs is so simple you’ll think it’s stupid.   And yet it’s so important that I don’t know why songwriting authors and “teachers” have not made more of a big deal of it.

Here it is:  ALWAYS start your songs strong.

It sounds too simple to even be called it a “tip.” I can hear you saying it,
“Everybody knows that!”

But do they?  Out of 100 songs I hear at writer’s events, 97 of them will have weak first lines (actually weak first and second lines).  Just think of how crazy this is.  You book a flight, pay a registration fee, make sure you’re in the right room for the critique session, and then you patiently wait through all the other writers’ stuff.

It’s finally your turn!  They announce your song title and your name, and press
“play.”  ALL EARS ARE ON YOUR SONG!  AND…because you didn’t
start strong, all that rapt attention just bleeds out into the carpet while your first
two lines dribble out of the speakers like warm mayonnaise.

No (or low) impact.  By the time your lyric gets up to speed it’s too late.
The audience has quietly slipped you into the “just another wanna-be songwriter”
category along with 96 other people.

**Actually, you have 2 other “first impression” chances even before they hear
your first lyrics:  1) Your intro, which should “arrest” everyone quickly and reset
their mood, …even before that, 2) The moment you walk onto the stage, or into
the room, or into the publishing company office, your personal presence can
greatly help or hurt your chances of being taken seriously.

In my book, Strong Songwriting, I go into great detail about how to “ace”
all these first impressions.  You can check that out by clicking here.

How to write songs that stick!

WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING FOR?

Your goal is not to make every song’s first line into an epic event.  Sometimes a song calls for an understated beginning.  However, understated is not the same thing as boring or un-engaging.

Here’s what I believe you should shoot for in EVERY first line you allow out of the house:

“Your first line should entice, dare, tease, or otherwise promise the listener that if they will listen to the next 3 lines, they will be happy they did.”

Remember that a song is a two-way communication.  A listener must literally give your song the time of day to even experience it.  If you don’t make (and keep) a worthwhile promise right up front, a split-second decision will be made
to bypass your song.  So keep this simple thought in your mind:

“Make the promise in the first few seconds, then keep the promise with the rest of the song.”

For Morgan’s next tip, he’ll talk about the simple differences between boring songs and interesting songs.

To be a successful musician you have to network.

In today’s world of social media it’s still a great idea to go out and meet people face-to-face. I love meeting new people online and sharing our common experiences within the business of music. There’s never been a greater time than now to mingle with other musicians around the world. But wouldn’t it be better to meet in person while having a beer?  

In the article below, Leena Sowambur over at MTT tells us How to Talk To Strangers.

How To Talk To Strangers

BY: LEENA SOWAMBUR

Networking in the music business

You can't go it alone. You have to network.

Networking online or in person (eventually it is necessary to do in person) involves talking to complete random strangers. People you don’t know, people who might be untrustworthy, people who might have an agenda, people who might take from you, people who might steal from you, people who might harm you. We don’t like talking to strangers. Strangers are bad. Strangers will hurt you. Strangers have negative associations.

Yet we are all strangers to other people.

I’m not a shy person. I’m outgoing, chatty, and extroverted. I still don’t like talking to arbitrary unfamiliar, alien people. Why? I was always told not to talk to strangers as a child. As children our parents drum that rule into us, and it’s a good thing. We need to be aware of danger. However, we also need to be aware that the psychological tools that we needed to keep us safe as kids are not always appropriate in the varying situations we find ourselves in as adults.

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