Saturday, February 16, 2019

Be Ready for an X Factor Audition

X Factor, logo, audition, review,

"Sending your song for review is like auditioning for X Factor"


You have done all the hard work. Writing and composing the song, recording and mixing and now it's ready for distribution. You are proud of your creation and so should everyone else. So, you send it out to blogs and publications for a music review.

the scream, audition, review, critic
The Scream
This is where the indie artist has to realize that they are now in almost the same position as if auditioning for X Factor. There is no guarantee that the 'judges' i.e. the reviewers are going to see your creation in the same light. 

The feedback you receive may be encouraging or it may be negative and not presented in a way that is very palatable either. What you do next is important to your future development and can damage or grow the following and fanbase you have worked hard to build up.

In this blog article, I'll look at negative reviews as these are the ones that need to be carefully managed and are the ones that lead to a better understanding of your music. Assuming the review is from a rational source and not a social media troll (although it may feel that way).

How to Turn Bad Reviews into a Positive Experience

Bad reviews can cut deep. So initially, let it out! Get upset, angry or whatever it makes you feel. You need to go through this in order to end up with a positive experience and be in a position to re-evaluate your creation. 

Don't take the bait. I have found it best not to make any comment about negative music reviews while you're still in the hurt phase as this can be the period when you say something you may regret. If you do reply be polite as this is just one person's view. 

Bad reviews really can be a learning experience. I have had many and at the start, you give it the 'they don't know what the f@ck they're talking about'. But after I let the hurt subside a little I take a look at the song again. Putting aside purely personal dislikes, I often find that there is something in the criticism and this is what should be taken away and used to improve future productions.

Everybody's tastes are different. All music is such a personal thing and likes and dislikes vary widely. This is something I have come to terms with long ago. It should be easier for you to accept that someone just doesn't like your style of music because there will always be someone that loves it. 

Bad publicity is better than no publicity.  This is a saying that has been around for a long time and makes even more sense in this social media algorithm driven world. One of the things that help with Google ranking is backlinks (links between websites). Sending out reviews and getting them published with a link to your websites helps with SEO. So even if you receive a bad review you can have the last laugh by knowing they are helping with your ranking.  

It's your music so play it if you want to. At the end of the day, it's your music, your creation, so be proud. Rise above any criticism, learn any lessons and make any action you take a positive one. A bad review doesn't mean all your music is bad. 

Take a lesson from the world of literature. Best selling author James Patterson became the Guinness World Record holder as the author with the most No. 1 New York Times best-sellers. His first book was rejected 31 times by publishers.

What do critics know?

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Are Street Musicians and Buskers Hiding a Secret?

Miss Megoo (Megumi Mesaku) 
Plays to a Mafia & Fluxy Rock steady Riddim


The marketing gurus say the secret to success is getting your music out there and promoting it for all it's worth. However, for the indie artist, a lot of the promotion will be undertaken by themselves. Some of this will be through social media via pictures and videos on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. If you have a following then showcasing your music at gigs is another possibility. You can also send demos to radio stations and record labels but it is hard to stand out from the crowd.

However, one of the oldest tried and tested methods to get close to the public and possible passing influencers is performing on the street or busking. You may think this is the last resort but, some of the music world’s biggest stars started off performing on the street and busking.

Ed Sheeran, street performer, busker, busking
Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran one of the world's best selling artists began by sleeping on couches of friends and busking on the London underground (metro) before gaining the attention of an influencer.

Tracy Chapman, street performer, busker, busking
Tracy Chapman

While at university, Tracy Chapman would sing in the sought after Harvard Square that required a permit to perform there. A fellow student Brian Koppelman brought her to the attention of his father who ran a record label. That was the break she needed and she was eventually signed by Elektra Records and the rest is history.

BB King, street performer, busker, busking, Beale Street, Blues Boy,
BB King

Before Beale Street Blues Boy became “B.B. King” he started off just as a wannabe kid playing the guitar on the streets of Mississippi for some spare change. King would eventually perform all over America gaining fans wherever he went and become one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time.

So, street performing or busking can deliver, if you are lucky.
pos payments, street performers, busking
In many cities, street performers are seen as a tourist attraction and when it comes to street musicians and singers there are some exceptional artists out there.  However, the reasons for being a street musician can be varied:
  • Musicians just starting out looking for a break
  • Established musicians who still like street performing  
  • Music students wanting to raise a bit of extra cash 
  • Backpacking musicians wanting to subsidise their trips
and many other reasons. With technology shrinking equipment, street performers can now have surprisingly good backing and PA with them which allows a better overall experience for the public. Even the payment of gratuities has not been left behind in the technological revolution. With the use of POS (point of sale) machines or dedicated text or phone numbers used by the street musicians or buskers for the public to make donations.

Street performing goes back hundreds of years but in the 21st century, it is still relevant. A good street performer will be captured on many mobile phones. The images or videos uploaded to platforms like Instagram and YouTube where they could be shared over and over again. The street performer can now be a YouTube star by capturing the public's imagination and so use this to their benefit.

So the next time you pass a street performer you may be looking at a star of the future. Ed Sheeran, Tracy Chapman and B.B. King are testaments to that.

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Is Releasing a Music Album Worth the Effort?

Vinyl Album

"So is the album concept a thing of the past?"


The way consumers listen and buy music has changed. There are so many platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Deezer available for downloading and streaming music. Although CDs are clinging on to existence and there is a revival of vinyl, digital listening is now the norm. With albums, consumers can now listen and purchase on a track by track basis. What does that mean for us creators of music?

records, albums, cd, dvd
Albums and CDs 
There was a time when an album could be sold off the back of a hit single from the album meaning the other tracks did not necessarily have to be of the same quality. It was quite common for some tracks to be 'filler' tracks i.e. they would not stand on their own as singles. However, often, this did not stop the album from being in demand.

Nowadays, the digital platforms list albums by tracks. The consumer can listen to individual tracks and purchase the tracks they like without purchasing the whole album. So is the album concept a thing of the past? Well, an album is still recognised in the industry as having intrinsic value. There is still recognition by the top award organisations and even having an album nominated gives the artist tangible benefits.

Grammy Award

However, for the typical indie artist trying to get their music out there, track by track purchase means that for the production of an album there is a greater burden on production and song quality. Unless the album is a concept album where each track has a part to play in the unfolding of the concept and therefore need not be capable of standing alone, each album track now has to be seen as a potential single. This means that as an artist or producer you really need to take a view on the return on investment of time and money in the production of an album.

Many commentators state that for success and growing your fan base getting content out there should be the main objective. So is taking 18 months to put an album together really worth the effort? Many artists recognizing the continued status of an album, especially if you are a touring artist, have gone down the road of EPs. This can make a lot of sense as producing four or five tracks is a lot quicker than a full album.

An EP or full album is always a great basis for a tour or launch event and a great addition to the merchandise table.

At the end of the day, the decision whether to produce an album depends on where you are in your journey and the resources available in respect of time and money.

The options are definitely worth looking at. Is it better to produce a single every month and keep your fan base engaged? Is an EP every six months better than an album every eighteen months?

In this new consumer-driven industry the market is now track based. The consumer can now make their own albums with the advent of playlists. Playlist curators now hold some sway on platforms especially those with large followings. Although artists also have this facility using services like Spotify for Artists.

Albums still have a place and I don't think they will disappear. They are a means of telling a bigger story and maybe this is how creators of music need to adapt them. After all, nobody would buy just one chapter of a novel and even if they could, hopefully, that would lead to the purchase of the remainder of the work.

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