The Function Musician – Online Promotion and Marketing for Musicians

As a guitarist for hire at weddings and events, I would like to share my experience of the marketing side of things when it comes to being a freelance musician. There are many ways to promote yourself in this fairly crowded market, and below is a list of the more effective routes…

1. Build A Website

The obvious central hub for your online promotion. There are two aspects to creating a strong website:

Content.

The content needs to be captivating and conservative, in other words very well written, no exclamation marks, swear words and so on. Your audio/video demos need to be accessible from the home page, and preferably start up automatically on entry to the site. Past client testimonials are a must. Set lists should be arranged by genre, and as vast as possible.

It is possible to create a website yourself through a website template service, or you can employ a web designer.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

This is how your website ranks in the search engines, and there are many factors determining the outcome. One factor is content – a simple guide is the obvious; if a potential client types a search query into Google etc, how relevant would the text on your website be? It is important to identify relevant keywords and phrases and place them strategically in various parts of your website, not just the main text but in page titles, picture captions and so on. The other major factor in quality SEO is your site’s backlinks – the number of links on other relevant and quality websites pointing to your website. Therefore a major ongoing task is link building, by registering your link on other websites. There are a number of good sources to get going with, such as local/musician directories.

There are many good tutorials on SEO for beginners found through the search engines. Go for the top ranking ones, they obviously know what they’re doing..

2. Register With Musician Agencies

There are many quality music agencies in the UK who accept artist applications. If accepted the agency will ask for music/video, photos and a short biography together with client testimonials. Most agencies are free to join and take a percentage commission fee for every gig they book for you.

3. Social Media

It is vital these days to set up and maintain social media pages, simply because the way people act as ‘consumers’ has changed; people demand interaction and attention before committing to purchases. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites should host your details, and each page should point to your main website. As an example I use my Facebook page to collect other Facebook client testimonials, and these serve as a genuine source of positive comments on my performances. Every time I interact with a Facebook ‘fan’ I reach out to the friends of the fan, increasing exposure in a natural cost-free way.

4. Advertising

To really climb above the competition sometimes a little investment is needed. There are a few options for the function musician to explore…

Google AdWords – pay per click advertising from search results.

Facebook Advertising – pay per click/1000 impressions targeting different demographics.

Specialist directories/magazines – eg. wedding directories.

These cover the main areas of promotion for the working musician. There are many other avenues to explore, many of which I have yet to think of. The key to success is to be as creative with the marketing as possible. Find places where people have failed to spot potential clients. Keep your target audience fairly local to minimize competition. Be persistent – as long as your content is of a high quality, it’s just a matter of time before you’re receiving so many enquiries maybe it’s time to start an agency…

How Do I Clean And Maintain My Bass Guitar

The first thing to begin with before cleaning your guitar is clean hands. If you’re getting dirt and fingerprints back on the guitar you’re cleaning, you are not doing any good.

To clean the HARDWARE, all metal parts, which include, strap locks, tuning heads, and bridge. These parts could be kept clean using a soft cloth to remove dirt and keep them looking polished. If there is more of a build-up on the hardware, you may use a mild metal polish.

When cleaning the BODY of your guitar, you should always use a soft cloth and a polish specific for guitar and bass applications. I would not recommend using every day furniture polish as they may contain wax and solvents that may be harmful to the type of finish you have on your guitar. The NECK should also be cleaned in the same manner as the body of the guitar in most cases. Just be careful not to get any of the polish on to the fret board.

The best time to clean the FRETBOARD, is obviously when you are changing strings. The fret board should be cleaned at least every other time you have a string change. You should not apply lemon oil to a maple neck, as it can make the maple neck crack if you do it wrong. The woods that are used to make up the fret board are very susceptible to drying out. If you do not have a maple neck, apply good fret board oil with a clean cloth to the wood. After oil dries, wipe any remaining access oil from fret board.

The STRINGS can also be maintained by applying string cleaner to your bass or guitar string and then wiping them down with a dry cloth after every use. This helps to keep them lasting longer and sounding their best… You may also use a small amount of rubbing alcohol, just make sure you do not get any on the fret board or it may contribute to drying it out lose playing quality.

When cleaning the PICKUPS, just simply use an air cleaner or a cotton swab to clear away any dust that may have been built up that will keep the pickups sounding the best that they can be. You definitely do not want to use any liquid type cleaner here. Contact with liquid may disrupt the magnetic field causing your pickups to lose sound quality or even completely fail.

Daft Punk Gives Music Back to Humans

Daft Punk is a robot duo. One is silver. The other is gold. They produce music. Their new album is called Random Access Memories. It will make you dance.

If Daft Punk were to write their own review for their latest album, I feel that it would somehow consist of no more than the above paragraph. As any public appearance consists of their faces being masked by large, opaque helmets, it is obvious that the two French music producers (sorry, they are not robots) have no desire to share their personal lives with the public. In fact, they have described themselves as being the Batman or Wizards of Oz of the modern pop music scene, and it seems they aim to keep it that way. And they ARE in the business of pop music. The success and radio play of the new single “Get Lucky” are evidence that their music is tangible enough for anyone to grasp.

But remember, this is Daft Punk. It’s that second word in their name that I think helps to understand the motivation behind those shiny helmets. Since their 1997 album Homework, the duo has strived to extend the boundary of what a majority of individuals would consider “good” music. Working from the base of electronic music producers, they proved that music containing very little of the typical “human” elements could still be a hit.

That “human” element, nevertheless, is what Daft Punk realized was lacking from their previous creations and what they decided needed to be present for their work to evolve and to have a deeper connection with their audience. Ultimately, this decision required that they go back in time. For Random Access Memories, the group hired a series of well-seasoned studio musicians to take the place of synthesizers and software in producing the repetitive beats and melodies for which they are known. These musicians include Paul Williams, Nathan East, Omar Hakim, Nile Rodgers, and many others. While these names are not familiar to the public eye, the artists these mastermind musicians have played behind most certainly are-Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Madonna, Sting, and so many more. This decision was certainly one of the greatest made to modern music in recent memory. Where, in the past, these perfectionist musicians drove the integrity behind some of the most revered popular music of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, here they are laying down inventive, contemporary grooves created by the robot duo. The fit is almost unreasonably secure.

Not all credit can be given to these “top-of-their-game” studio musicians, though. Gathering such a mass to create one single piece of art is no simple task, but it is one that Daft Punk completes with the utmost success. While each track on the album certainly has its own life, there is a roundedness and singularity to the whole that is all too absent from most modern releases. The opening “Give Life Back to Music” does just what an opening track should do-introduce you to the tone of the album while getting you pumped to listen to it, while the ending “Contact” is a swirling discovery of something akin to last segment of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The midway “Touch” is, likewise, a lengthy soundscape that will force your emotions to change along with its orchestral-hewn melodies.

Grounding all of these grand, progressive ideas is the fact that Random Access Memories is still a pop album. Several of the tunes are played at bars and on the radio, and almost anyone could (and hopefully will) dance to them. Just like the music from decades past that the featured musicians collaborated on, the album’s accessibility is built on perfected musicianship and precise engineering and production. The album, recorded mostly on analog tape at New York’s Electric Lady and L.A.’s Capitol Studios and printed with the classic “Columbia” logo, is an ode to the greats of years past. It begs to be listened to on a home stereo. With heavy reminiscences of Steely Dan and Pink Floyd mixed with full orchestras and synthesizers, it’s a musician’s heaven-sent dream.

Classic Rock Drum Evolution Through the Ages

There’s a vast difference between the sounds that Ringo Starr and Neil Peart gave their respective bands from behind the drum kit over the decades. Beyond that, the technology to record and shape percussion sounds has transformed into something artists in the 60s and even 70s probably never could have envisioned.

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Power-drumming is nothing new. Drummers have always liked to be loud, and the elder generation of Keith Moon and certainly John Bonham kept that tradition intact. But capturing the sounds of these diverse sounds of drummers was somewhat limited in the 60s. Classic performances from Ringo, The Doors’ John Densmore or Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones were often grabbed in a single take with a solitary overhead microphone. Stereo wasn’t a mandatory element just yet, and with a limit of perhaps four tracks to get an entire song laid down, acts had to actually perform with some proficiency in the studio. Computers were still a Star Trek novelty and the ones that did exist filled entire rooms and labored to power the Apollo spacecraft.

By the 70s, bands like Pink Floyd and The Who were experimenting with stereo and even quadraphonic sound. As more recording tracks became available in studios, drummers might even get two or–at the outside–a whopping four tracks to capture the sounds of their instruments and performances. Led Zeppelin’s guitarist/producer, Jimmy Page started to experiment with distant miking of John Bonham’s drumkit, and with songs like ‘When the Levee Breaks’, we got some of the most potent, crushing drum performances ever laid to tape.

But technology wasn’t the only thing that was evolving. Drummers like Carl Palmer and Styx’ John Panozzo were crafting weighty, almost orchestral drum parts for their bands. Probably one of the standout drummers of this era–and even today–was Rush’s Neil Peart. Immediately grabbing the recording world by storm with complex, adventurous drum parts that still capture the imagination almost 40 years later.

In the 80s, electronic percussion started to become the norm. And while this afforded drummers a greater range of sounds and syncopation, record producers often took the invention to an unfortunate end, to the point where many drummers were actually never even recorded, but had a Roland drum machine or a Synclavier subsituting in their place. While certain pop songs benfited from this new, digital evolution; many drummers were incensed that the art and craft of their place in a band had simply been eliminated by suit-and-tie record executives.

The 90s saw a knee-jerk reaction in the other direction as grunge took hold, and while phenomenal drummers like Nirvana’s Dave Grohl brought the uber-drummer back to his throne, some of the drum sounds of the grunge-era records came off dated and derivative, though drummers like Grohl and others continued to advance the state-of-the-art.

With decades of tape in its archives, classic rock now catalogs an incredible variety and evolution of drummers, recording techniques and whether you’re a Stewart Copland (The Police) fan, a head-banging Niko McBrain (Iron Maiden) loyalist or someone who would love to hear that Keith Moon/John Bonham drum battle in heaven, you have an incredible variety of drum sounds, performances and recording evolution to choose from in the annals of classic rock.