1. A GOOD RECORDING
it - if you're going to do more than play gigs at the local
hot spot - if you're passionate about your music and you want to make
great money from it - you need to have a product to sell. Making a good
quality recording seems like a simple idea, but how important is it
when it comes to achieving bigger dreams? What can you do to reach the
powerhouse people who have the resources to make your music known in a
big way? Taking the road from demos to masters can be exciting, and
rewarding especially if it's done well.
Each time you record, think of who the listener is going to be, and
what their level of "listening" is. Are they a record
with golden ears, a publishing house selling songs (not production), a
management company who wants the story (not just the tape), the public
consumer? What level of quality are they used to hearing every day? Do
they hear lots of good demo's every day, masters, commercial
recordings? Considering what the listening level is, how do you think
you sound next to the competition?
Who is your competition? If you're an
artist, it's logical to think that other like-artists in your area are
your competitors. But this isn't the case. If your cd gets in the door
of a record company, you are primarily competing with people who are
already signed, or who have at one time worked with a signed artist.
instance, Stevie Wonder's band is on tour with Vanessa Williams,
and Stevie's bass player starts talking to her drummer: "I've written a
couple songs, would you like to hear them?" "Sure." Next thing you
know, they decide to start a project when they get home and submit it
to Vanessa's management company (who they already know on a first name
into the studio (where they recorded tracks for In Sync and
Gloria Estefan a month ago), and since they know the engineer they get
an "off-hours" deal (because the engineer knows who's hands the tape
will end up in)... they call in the keyboardist from Sting's band (who
they met in the studio) and cut some amazing tracks. The contacts they
have are gold, and they treat their music that way. They call up
Vanessa's manager the next week and make an appointment for lunch and
it goes from there...
how important is it to make a quality recording? With today's
digital technology you can make a good recording in your own bedroom,
and this is more appropriate if you are looking for a publishing deal
(yet even publishers hear a lot of quality stuff these days). But as a
artist or band your commitment to making a great production should be
very high on your list. Check my site
for more helpful articles, or contact the studios
here at the Headway Music Complex.
2. GOOD MASTERING
is a powerful process for your music. It's where the final
product gets refined - levels and eq matched and consistent - song
order and creative editing - even adding effects and crossfades for
that professional polish. Mastering can make the difference between a
potential record company liking your CD, or wanting it. There's plenty
of mastering info on this site, so let's move on...
3. LOOKING GOOD or HAVING A GREAT IMAGE
pretty well understood that record labels look for (1) the songs
(2) the singer (3) the performances (4) the star quality (5) the
production (mix, arrangements, hooks, cool sounds...) and (6) a solid
businesslike attitude (includes knowing the value of creating a
"buzz"). They want to know if you have what it takes to make them
money. Very little label money goes into developing artists any more,
so spend time being unique and interesting to look at in some way. Make
your product unique, too.
CD arrives on a record companies desk (along with another 50
that day) you need it to stand out. The music may be the best produced
and mastered in the world but remember, you never get a second chance
to make a first impression. So don't spend thousands of dollars on
production and $50 on the CD booklet! Budget your money to include a
good professional design for your CD cover. Here at the Headway Music
Complex, Chris Barber (PawsHere
has years of dedicated graphic arts experience, and is
highly regarded within the business for her CD duplication services.
She alone could make a record company want to play your CD first just
for the way it looks.
4. PLAYING GIGS (And lots of them)
prepared to play and play and play. If you don't have a gig, MAKE
one. Set up benefit parties or concerts and donate the proceeds to
different charities. Be sure to contact local newspapers and have them
come see you. Be sure you get copies of the articles written about you.
(Giving to a good cause is an amazing way to open doors. One of our
client's donates 1/3 or their profits to CARE, and they have sold over
21,000 copies practically single-handedly because of the enthusiasm
people feel about this kind of compassion and generosity.) The more
free press you get the better (put copies of articles in your promo
promotion at your gigs is very important. Don't be afraid to ask
people if they would like to buy your cd! Sometimes people are waiting
to be asked. Playing at your local coffee shop, or opening for a big
name artist - it's all the same - you want people to listen to your
music. If you are determined to make it, be prepared to play sometimes
for nothing. These gigs could benefit you in other ways (like selling
your CD) so pick up the phone (Self Promotion again) and make yourself
available. Playing a "Live" venue is very important and so are the
rules of playing "Live" (tons of tips on touring, management, and more here).
5. UNDERSTANDING FAMILY & FRIENDS
artists and bands can never understand why family and friends
never understand the late nights, the playing for free, the obsession
with gear... The nonmusical family and friends think that you can wake
up one morning and make music and money like the Beatles... but we know
this is not the case. Take charge, and in an easygoing way, educate
those around you about your plans. Warning! Be prepared for some
resistance and skepticism! (Just tell them that Walt Disney declared
bankruptcy 7 times in his career!)
know that you will be going out to play (possibly) with no
immediate return. Ask for their assistance if you need a ride to a
venue at one time or another. How about the 'big one" when you need
time alone to write that Number 1 hit! Take every opportunity to
communicate with them, tell them your goals and dreams and tell them
it's going to be challenging for you as well as them from time to time.
But with their support it could make all the difference. (Those fund
raisers for charity is a great way to get family support, too.) If you
don't get the support from family, find it in other people who you are
close to. The support is out there - create it - never be victim to not
6. FREE CD'S
your CD to record companies or managers is part of the process
toward getting signed. But like most things in life, it's not what you
know, but "Who you know." Well, you say, that's a Catch-22 situation.
How do I get to know people if I don't know people, or live next door
to them? It's easy. USE EVERY OPPORTUNITY RELENTLESSLY. Stop believing
you know no one. Your state of belief is like a guidance system. Every
person knows at least 20 people on a first name basis. Talk. Ask.
Inquire. Research. Drop IN! Our client (who's sold 21K copies so far)
would make it a point to walk in to at least three industry companies
every time he went out of town. In 2 years he had introduced himself to
15 companies, and signed a foreign distribution deal.
find yourself in a bar or local store talking to somebody about
your music,be prepared to give them a Free CD to pass on to someone
they know. Relentless Self-Promotion again. Always carry some with you,
you never know who you will talk to next. Remember one of our golden
rules, be prepared to spend as much on self
promotion as you did recording your CD so when you set your
business plan (remember this is a business), give yourself a budget for
7. THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
with many artists in England who have told me "I can't believe
we didn't get a phone call." Remember, record companies can get 100's
of promo's each week, so make sure you are targeting the right company.
If you play country, save the postage on cds to send to a hip-hop
manager. Be be prepared...
record company says "Thanks but no thanks" don't get upset, think
positive. There is nothing more attractive than confidence, poise, and
businessmanship (that's like showmanship). Send them a letter thanking
them for taking time out to review your CD, and tell them your you'll
be happy to send them your next project. A record producer friend of
mine in England was so shocked to receive such a letter he took time
out to visit the band at there next gig - just to see for him self if
he had missed anything. This led to a three-album deal and a close
friendship with the record company. So don't be afraid to let them know
where you are playing. (Relentless Self Promotion AGAIN)
8. RESPECT ALL COMMENTS (Good or Bad)
Blunt fact: To a professional
record company, your enthusiasm starts the engine - but THEIR
enthusiasm is what puts it all in gear and keeps it running. So... what
you think is the best song in the world - I will guarantee - someone
else will think is NOT the best at all. So what! We all have different
tastes when it comes to music, and we all hear things in a different
way. That is just part of the what makes the world varied and
somebody tells you that your songs just don't do it for them, then
respect there opinion (there's that confidence again). Listen to what
people say - it could just change the way you write your next song for
example of a true situation: If you listen to Billy Joel's
song, "Only the Good Die Young" that song rocks, but when Billy Joel
wrote the song, he wrote it with a reggae feel to it. When he ran the
idea of the song to his long time friend and drummer Libitey De-Vito,
he told Billy that he hated it with that feel! Billy Joel listened to
him, and went back to his piano and rewrote the tune, and the rest is
history. Billy knows that the opinions of others count, and he was
prepared to listen to them.
9. GOOD SELF-MANAGEMENT
artists today think if you have a manager that it's time to
sit back and let them do all the work for their 10-20%, and this is why
lots of bands fail. If you have a management deal, enjoy it... but you
and the rest of your band should also manage yourself. Don't sit around
waiting for the phone to ring, without stepping on anybody's toes,
PROMOTE YOURSELF RELENTLESSLY!!! Your manager may have another 10 bands
on his (or her) books, so his priorities may shift from time to time.
SELL YOURSELF with confidence and enthusiasm. That kind of commitment
will be noticed, and it will generate more enthusiasm at many levels.
(Sometimes managers and producers purposely WATCH to see who's really
committed to the whole team.
10. NEVER GIVE UP
all your excuses. A choral music teacher I had in school put
it this way: "Can't never did anything." Keeping a can-do attitude will
get you that record deal faster than buying into your obstacles. Many
artists and bands have had to work long and hard and get plenty of
knock backs before somebody signs them. (It took Great White ten years)
Be prepared to work long and effectively at your project, take the
knock backs, listen to any feedback that comes your way, take
everything that may be thrown your way good or bad, and "Never give up."
take years before it works. It took Colonel Sanders (Kentucky
Friend Chicken) till he was 80 years old before he made millions from
his recipe. Walt Disney declared backruptcy 7 times. Be ready to take
whatever time it takes. Remember, a building is built one brick at a
time. Don't "beat yourself up" if it doesn't happen over-night.
giving back to our clients is to share some of the important
points we feel may help you in the music business. You can look at
greater depths of how to make it by visiting the Industry
or going right to GetSigned.com.
time to GO for it!