December 7, 2017

The 12 best FREE VST plugins

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It’s Not All About the Music You Know, Package Your Release Better

They say “never judge a book by its cover” however I’m 99,99% sure that I’m not the only person on this Earth to do exactly that and the same goes for music. So, when you have your hot new release it’s important to put the same amount of blood, sweat and tears into the cover art as you did into the crafting the release. Plus, it’s good to stand out visually on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and the rest…

It’s not important only so that the release is packaged with a pretty, striking or necessarily revolutionary image, it’s important because it is the first thing any fans, and potential new fans, will see and judge before hearing your track (apart from Spotify playlists, but let’s not get into that now). Unsurprisingly, it’s more likely that if a listener doesn’t like your cover art, they won’t be hitting play on your hot new track. Read more

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Guide Cover

The 12 best FREE music guides

Around Christmas in Iceland it is traditional to sit inside eating lots of chocolate and reading books. But to be honest if it was that cold outside where I lived, I’d probably do that too…

No matter where you are in the world, this list of the 12 best FREE music guides are all must-reads for any independent artist.

In the lead up to Christmas we’ve given you the 12 best free VST plugins to make music, the 12 best free promotional tools to get your music out there, and now last but not least, we have the best online guides on a range of topics from songwriting to mixing, music theory and more.

So grab a *insert hot drink of choice here* and settle down in *insert preferred reading spot here* and educate yourself as an artist with these informative guides.


1. How To Be Creative – Hugh MacLeod

Inspirational illustrated advice book to spur you on to finish your tracks



2. Music Marketing – Shaun Letang

Sign up for a free Music Marketing Ebook from musicindustryhowto



3. The Head Voice and Other Problems –  D. A. Clippinger

Free your voice to do even more with this book



4. The Mechanism of the Human Voice – Emil Behnke

Learn how to use your voice



5. Understanding Basic Music Theory – Catherine Schmidt-Jones

Learn about the basics of music theory



6. Learning to Read Music – Peter Nickol

Whether you want to learn how to play an instrument, or just refresh your existing capability, whether you sing in a choir, or would simply like to follow scores while listening, this book will help you achieve your aim, letting you read music with ease.



7. Guide to Mixing – Nick Thomas

Learn how mix your own tracks



8. Free Piano Sheet Music – Edward Weiss

Put your skills to the test and learn how to play one of these tracks



9. Ultimate Guitar Sheet – Hal Leonard Coroporation

Piano not your instrument? No problem, here are some guitar chords for you to strum your heart out



10. Songwriting on a Shoestring: Writing, Producing and Promoting Your Own Songs – Mary Wheelan

Written by a songwriter for songwriters wanting to produce good music without going broke, drawing upon her experience in an effort to help songwriters save money while producing quality songs.



11. Take the Oath: A Practical Pocket Guide for the Career Indie Musician – Don Harrison

This book is a first hand account on what has worked not only for the author, but for other artists he personally knew who were making a money from performing music. Step by step, detail by detail, laid out in a simple, easy- to-understand language



12. Music Production Made Simple –  Bjorgvin Benedktsson

Email sign-up for a comprehensive guide on music production to start work on your demos.



That’s it for our FREE Christmas gift series! We hope you’ve enjoyed our free tools and stay tuned for more from the Spinnup blog in 2018! 

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music = life

The 12 best FREE promotional tools

Last week we gifted you with the 12 Best Free VST Pluins, and this week the season of giving continues with the 12 best FREE promotional tools to get you and your music heard by as many people as possible! Alright, let’s get these goodies inside and unpack one by one…


1. Canva 

You know the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well people do, and they will judge your artwork. You don’t need to be a professional designer, just use this online graphic design tool to create bespoke and professional looking artwork

2. Pexels

Copyright free stock images – this means you have permission to use them for anything!

3. Mailchimp

An easy-to-use email client to send good-looking and engaging emails to your users. Read this guide for email marketing to make sure you’re up to scratch on the ins and outs of email marketing. If you have collected any fan email addresses, put them to good use and start connecting with your fans directly to their inbo


A presskit tool “designed responsively, so they look great on any device”

5. Noisetrade 

Offer your song as a free download to build your fan base

6. HootSuite

Schedule all of your social media in advance to make the most of your content

7. StageIt

Host a free virtual show and give your audience the option to donate to you! This is a great way to host warm up gigs before listing your bigger gigs on BandsinTown

8. Nextbigsound

Track your social media growth and analyse what content and days/times work best for posting

9. Dizzyjam

Create a Dizzyjam store & sell your merchandise for free

10. Woobox 

Create social media competitions and campaigns (such as fangates) for free

11. FanDistro

Create online campaigns, which you can then invite other artists to share to help grow your campaign in their own networks. Get your community of artists together and get going!

12. Club Flyers

A cool trick is to order several hundred of these with a custom design that includes a URL to download your music!

That’s it for this week! Stay tuned next week for the third in our Christmas gift series of the best free things for you to use to amplify your music!

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Laptop mixer

The 12 best FREE VST plugins

Here at Spinnup, you make it feel like Christmas everyday for us with all of the music we receive all year round. *AAAWWWWWW*

So this year, we want to give you something back to you all for all of your hard work…consider it a thank you and Christmas present wrapped in one!

We’ve spent quite a bit of time scouring the internet to find you some of the best VST plugins around (don’t know what a VST is? Click here) so, in honour of the “12 days of Christmas”, we have created a list of 12 of the best, that are – wait for it  – ALL FOR FREE! (…yes, we know there’s *17* days ’till Christmas but as Mariah puts it)

Now there is no excuse to not finish off your masterpieces and bring them to us to kick of 2018 with a bang! Ready?

  1. Sweetcase

    What is it? A sample-based electric piano VST plugin.
    Download Sweetcase Free
    Watch a demo below


  1. Acoustica Nightlife

    What is it? For window users and EDM, dance and trance makers, this synth is the one for you!
    Download Acoustica Nightlife Free
    Watch a demo below


  1. NUSofting Sinnah

    What is it? Analogue synth but on your computer (Whaaaaat?!?!)
    Download NUSofting Sinnah Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. Synister

    What is it? Described as an “easy” yet flexible synthesizer (with built-in virtual keyboard) to create both bold sounds and rich atmosphere.
    Download Synister Free
    Watch a demo below

  2. Orion Sound Module

    What is it? Royalty free loops and samples at your pleasure!
    Download Orion Sound Module Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. Grooove BPB

    What is it? One of the best free drum samplers around.
    Download Grooove BPB Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. HISE

    What is it? This sampler lets you essentially programme your own vst synths.
    Download HISE Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. Digits 2

    What is it? A minimalist synth that lets you create “warm pads, glitchy sounds, dirty basses, filthy sweeps, screaming leads, and anything in-between”
    Download Digits 2 Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. Ample Guitar M Lite II

    What is it? I can speak from experience when I say if you can’t play guitar, you can now with this beauty!
    Download Ample Guitar Lite II Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. Ample Bass P Lite II

    What is it? Can’t play a real bass either, Ample have got you covered!
    Download Ample Bass P Lite II
    Watch a demo below

  1. Lord Of The Springs

    What is it? Pretty much every metallic sound you didn’t even know you needed
    Download Lord Of The Springs Free
    Watch a demo below

  1. MT Power DrumKit 2

    What is it? Your very own drum kit in your computer
    Download MT Power DrumKit2 Free
    Watch a demo below

And if you’ve been good this year, we may give you even more free stuff for you to play with…

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Stuck on How to Promote Your Next Release? Here Are 5 Things to Consider

The recording is done ✅ The mixes are in ✅ The master is amazing ✅ Now it’s time to prepare for your next release and you’re a little stuck on how to promote it. Luckily you needn’t look any further, here are 5 things that you can do to promote your next release (distributed by Spinnup of course 😉).

Make a lyric video and get your fans singing along

A lyric video can be a whole lot cheaper to make than an official video and the added benefit of including your lyrics, well, is there anything better than having your fans sing along with you to your latest track at a show? I think not 😎 Our friends over at Rotor Videos can make these amazing videos for you for an affordable fee.

Gifs are the gift that keeps on giving

Is there anything more flash than bringing the cover art of your next release to life and sharing a little sample on Instagram, Twitter and all the rest? It’s a great way to announce your next release as well as having your fans share it. You can even add it as your Facebook profile picture or adapt the image so that it works as a Facebook banner (it’s all the rage nowadays). Spinnup UK duo Indigo Palace recently did this with their latest release, you can check it out below.

EGO OUT NOW Link in bio

A post shared by Indigo Palace (@indigopalace) on

Exclusive, exclusive, exclusive

Have you ever considered inviting a bunch of your fans to an exclusive listen of your next release and then treating them to a live show? I bet you are now. Giving back to your fans and making them feel part of your musical journey is what they love so this is the perfect chance to do that whilst also creating some buzz for your upcoming release date. Inviting some bloggers and journalists wouldn’t go amiss too! ✍🏼

Utilise Facebook Live (Rhyme intended)

With a whole lot more engagement with Facebook Live videos as opposed to normal videos, it’s a noteworthy way of communicating with your fans, announcing your release or even performing a little acoustic number of your next release. You can even pre-empt the whole live event just so you know you’ll have some viewers tuning in! Utilising Facebook Live is also a great way to drive traffic to your Facebook page at a time where making your page visible becomes increasingly challenging. The Academic lads took a unique approach using Facebook Live…

And finally, select a release date…

It may seem a little obvious however how are you going to promote the release if you don’t know when it will be going live? Surprisingly, we see a whole lot of releases come through the Spinnup platform with no release dates set. Don’t be left in the dark, know exactly when your release will be going live on Spotify, Apple Music and the rest. 📅 On Spinnup you can select a release date 10 days in advance to guarantee your music goes live exactly when you want it and sync with your release plan (just not at the end of the year due to Christmas deadlines).

So go, go and play with some ideas and promote your next hit! We look forward to seeing the campaigns unfold. And remember, there’s no rulebook to follow.

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Spotify for Artists Guide

Updated October 19, 2017 

Spotify is without a doubt the giant of the music streaming world, and a very good friend to artists (signed and unsigned) worldwide. One of the things we love most about Spotify, is their artists-only tool Spotify For Artists.

As a music service but also a tech company Spotify is constantly evolving so we have put together our one-stop-shop for understanding Spotify For Artists, which we will continue to update each time there is a new feature added to the service.

In this article we will explain: 

• What Spotify For Artists Is
• How To Get Verified on Spotify
• How to edit your Spotify artist profile & bio
• How to add team members to your Spotify For Artists account
• What data you can find in your account

Getting verified on Spotify is now easier than ever!

Spotify is very important to us here at Spinnup – it is one of the major online retailers we distribute to, and we collect important Spotify trend data which is displayed in every artist account under ‘Stats & Activity‘ to help artists gauge how their releases are performing from day one. Plus they started in Sweden, just like us!

Lately Spotify has been going through some changes, which can have an impact on each and every one of you, both as artists and as listeners. So if you find yourself asking, “what’s new with Spotify? And how will it affect me?” Well, we got you covered.


Fan Insights / Spotify For Artists

Back in late 2015 we told you all about Spotify’s beta version of Fan Insights, but now *drumroll please* Fan Insights has been renamed ‘Spotify for Artists‘ and is available to all artists!

In the two years since Spotify launched data tools for artists, they have been talking (and listening) to artists and management teams all over the world to optimise this aspect of their service and make it as useful as possible.

Spotify describes the reincarnation of their data tool as “a one-stop shop designed to guide you through Spotify.” What they mean by this is Spotify for Artists will help you access improved audience insights, song data and play listing information

This helps you get to know your fans better by finding out where they live, how old they are, what features they’re using to discover your music, and what other artists they are listening to. Just read the testimonials of artists who have used the new Spotify data to make more informed touring and release decisions, which means you can too. 

As well as improving their data insights tools, it is now easier than ever to manage your Spotify artist profile and…

Get Verified!

No longer do you have to wait until you have 250 followers to even be able to apply for verification. Instead, now all you need to do is have access to Spotify for Artists!

If you don’t already have access to Spotify for artists, click here and follow the steps to access your account.

But if you’re already verified don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything to keep the pretty blue tick on your profile. The new verification system means you’ll use Spotify for Artists to add and remove playlists from your profile, but use your personal account to create and edit them.

What does this mean for existing verified artists?
  • You will keep your verification and all playlists will remain
  • You will now add and remove playlists in Spotify for Artists, but you create and edit them from your personal account, like always
  • If you’re using Fan Insights, you need to switch to using Spotify for Artists
What if I’m not verified?
  • You can become verified really easily, simply by accessing Spotify for Artists, no more 250 followers!
  • You will need to add/remove playlists in Spotify for Artists, but create and edit them from your personal account
  • You may need to wait a few weeks for the blue tick to appear on your profile.


Artist Profile & Bio 

Now that you’re a bonafide and verified Spotify artist you are able to freely edit your public profile! Get your creative hats on because now you can update your artist image as often as you change your outfit – sounds like a lot of work, but each to their own! You can also show people what music you’re jamming to by choosing your ‘artist’s pick’ that sits at the top of your profile, and add playlists – either ones you’ve created or your favourites that you want to share with your fans.

In September 2017 Spotify announced that artists can now directly edit their artist bio, which was previously unavailable. This is a great place to let fans know more about you or your band, and convey your personality, creativity or sense of humour. Have fun with it, but don’t go too overboard!

Electronic musician Caribou keeps his bio short and sweet, but is a nice touch!

 How to edit your artist bio, step by step: 
  1. Go to your Spotify For Artists profile and scroll down to ‘Artist Bio’
  2. Write your amazing, brilliant, creative, thoughtful bio in 1500 words or less
  3. Add links to your music, music you feature on, playlists – anything on Spotify! Just use the ‘@’ symbol to look up playlists, artists or albums
  4. If you have a Wikipedia page (if not, why not create one? It’s free and easy!) you can add a link to that here.

Team Members 

In September 2017 Spotify added an extra feature to Spotify For Artists, allowing artists to add team members to their account. Being a musician is a tough business, and having a team around you to support and grow your career goes a long way to helping you become a success! Now your team can help you even more by accessing your data and profile.

All artists can add team members to their Spotify For Artists account in three different access levels:

  • Full Access – users that you grant complete access to all your features, including artist profile, stats, and the ability to invite and edit team members
    Recommended for: Band members, managers 
  • Edit Access – these users can update your artist profile, view streaming stats, invite new team members for edit or view access, and view all members and their contact information
    Recommended for: Booking agent, promoter, publicist 
  • View Access – these guys can view your streaming stats only
    Recommended for: producers, collaborators 
How do I add Team Members?

To add as many members as you would like to your team, simply signup or login to Spotify For Artists, and click the arrow next to your name. In the dropdown menu select ‘Manage Team’, which opens a page where you can input email addresses for the lucky few you will give access to, and set the access level for each.


Spotify Data

It’s no secret that here at Spinnup we love data, and lots of it. Which is why we were so excited to hear that Spotify has added even more data and analytics to the Spotify For Artists platform. You can read all the info about it here, or read below of a breakdown of what you can expect in your own SFA account.

  • Stats for all songs – no longer do you have to earn 1000 streams to see your data, now you will se absolutely all of it for your top 200 songs. Don’t have 200 songs yet? Well what are you waiting for? Get recording!
  • Time filters – you can now view your data by 7 days, 28 days (so 4 weeks, really), or two years! The reason this is so useful is that it will give you the chance to see if any big pushes (think PR cycle, a particular gig, social media campaign etc) really made an impact to your fans and streams.
  • Follower data – your followers are your super fans, the ones who love your music so much they want to be notified every time you release something new. In your SFA account you now have a Follower Timeline to be able to track, and hopefully grow your follower count. More followers = more fans = more streams… you get the picture.


There is so much on offer here for you to take advantage of, so access Spotify for Artists and explore the full rundown of new features on the Spotify blog.

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Do You Want the Best Sounding Recording Live in the Stores?

I learned two valuable lessons when studying Music Production at a University that shall not be named. The useful lessons that our lecturer told us all were that “if you want a good drum sound, get a good drummer!” and my personal favourite, “you can’t polish a turd“. Tuition money well spent I’d say. He was referring to recording and audio quality of course, and funnily enough, he was right. You really can’t polish a turd. So here are 5 things to consider to achieve the best sounding recording you could possibly have ready for Spotify and iTunes.

1. Don’t fix recordings in the mix

“We can just fix it in the mix”. “No god damn it, you fix it there and then”. Mixing is great and all when tweaking minor aspects to get that killer sound, but it should be used to enhance sound not fix it. If you’re recording your parts in and there are some minor issues that you could potentially fix in the mix, it’s always better to resolve the issue there and then and get a take that you’re proud of, not one that you’re quite happy with. It will make life easier.



2. Record a lot of takes

There will most likely be one part of a take that you’re not too keen on or could do better. If you record several takes then you should be covered, you can chop and change and get that killer take. Don’t just settle for two good takes, settle for 4-7 great takes and then the choice is yours!

3. Don’t over compress!

The loudness war may be coming to an end with the streaming and download stores playing everything at the same volume, but dynamic range still speaks volumes (no pun intended… okay maybe it was). It’s what makes your chorus – you know, the main focal point of a track (90% of the time) – be the standout section of the song just by simply allowing natural dynamics to do their thing in the mix. You wouldn’t want the whole track to be on the same level for 3 minutes 30 seconds now would you?

4. Don’t over compress…again

Be wary of the fact that the streaming platforms compress every track that is sent to them so that all tracks play at the same/very similar volume. There are two things that you can do to prepare for this:

• Similar to point 3, avoid over compressing the master as the stores are just going to compress on top of that.
• Make sure that when recording, the track is as loud as you can possibly get it without over doing it. If your track is super quiet, God only knows how much compression and gain will be put on that track by Spotify.

5. Never bounce to an MP3

And last but not least, bearing in mind that “you can’t polish a turd”, never ever bounce tracks or convert to an MP3. You may be able to convert an MP3 file to a WAV or FLAC so that it fits our upload requirements, but does it have the sound quality of those superior files types? Well, the answer is NO, it’s an MP3 in disguise. It’s always best to bounce from a DAW to a WAV or FLAC straight away, then, in that case, you always have the best sounding file.

So there you have it, 5 important things to consider for the best audio quality. Simple!

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5 common pitfalls to avoid when commissioning videos & visuals

Creating music videos, design and photography is an incredibly important job in any release promo campaign. Great content is vital, and with music video production in particular being the most costly line item of the campaign budget – not to mention quite time-consuming, the music video experience can be quite disastrous if things go wrong. This article and our service aim to help you get the best music video, photography and design possible, every time – plus we’ll share a great discount for a contract…

Here at Radar we look for promising new creatives worldwide and connect them to labels, managers and artists. Radar is a free service for commissioners – we make our money through charging creatives a monthly subscription.

We’ve helped thousands of commissioners, from major labels to brand new up and coming artists and here we hope to help focus on success and avoid common pitfalls.


1. Write a good brief and set a good budget

  • The music video, design or photography should be consistent with the artists’ look and feel; give guidelines about what you mean by your look and feel.
  • ‘Open to all ideas’ isn’t as helpful as you’d think. Give creatives parameters to work within, share your likes and dislikes with them. Give examples of other content you like and say why you like it.
  • The opposite – giving creatives a shot-by-shot description of what you’d like – is unlikely to be successful either. Creatives by nature will want the opportunity to express their own creativity.
  • A good brief will strike a balance between making it broadly clear what kind of content is going to make you happy, and giving the right creative enough room to contribute their own expertise and creativity.
  • Spend time preparing your budget – there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ budget.
  • If using Radar, you have to state the budget up front, as part of the brief. As over-runs on budget are a common feature of music video production, we have a valuable feature to deal with that – fixed budgets. Commissioners have to agree they will pay the budget stated if they commission – and equally, creatives agree they will make the content they pitch, for the budget agreed.
  • Bigger budgets attract more of the better creatives.
  • You can indicate you’re willing to release more budget for the right ideas – this encourages creatives to pitch on spec for a bigger budget.


2. Shortlisting creatives and pitches

Analysis and research are a critical part of shortlisting a fantastic creative.

  • Is the pitch well-presented and written, does it give you a realistic and clear picture of what you can expect to see in the video, design or photography? Does the idea seem achievable within your budget?
  • Past work is the single best indicator of the quality and type of content you’re likely to get with this creative. What is their other work like? If they are a director can you see complete videos? Don’t rely on reels – it’s easy to edit excerpts from average videos into a good-looking reel. All Radar pitches contain a link to the creative’s profile, where you can see creatives’ work.
  • Check the creative’s Radar profile for reviews (this is a new feature, so don’t be put off if creatives don’t have many/any yet) or contact the creative and ask for people you can speak to.
  • Social proof. Do all the website and social links in the creative’s Radar profile work? Are there any weird gaps in their story? eg they say they’ve made 5 music videos but you can only see 2.
  • Beware of creatives offering to work for less than the budget to get the work – it might encourage you to overlook other issues you might later decide are important after all.
  • How do you feel about working with these people? Ability – can they be clear about how they’ll create the content, or are they a bit defensive or obfuscating? Attitude – are they polite and responsive? Or a bit arrogant, defensive or smarmy? If the creative is active on social media, do they talk like someone you want to work with?

3. Storyboarding

  • Being able to see a preview is one of the two most useful tools you need as a commissioner, particularly for commissioning video. It will give you a way to better understand what your prospective creative is planning and will give you essential insight into how the finished content will look.
  • As you’re still shortlisting at this stage, it’s not fair to ask for too much detail from the creative – but you do need enough information to build a competent picture of what the content might be with this person. (nb, It is fair to ask for more detailed storyboards or shotlists as soon as you have commissioned a creative)


4. Contracting

A contract is the other most important commissioning tool at your disposal. A good contract will take you through all of the below issues and more:

  • storyboarding/shotlisting.
  • sign off/ approval on casting, not forgetting dancers – check dancers’ credentials.
  • rights ownership.
  • delivery date.
  • We recommend 50% up front and the rest on delivery. Never pay 100% up front. Ask creatives during shortlisting how they are planning to cover the 50% costs which won’t be paid until you get the finished content.
  • approval schedule (often tied into cashflow). Clarify what you can expect at each point, eg first cut, rough cut, fine cut, delivery (you don’t need all these stages – discuss with your creative).
  • production insurance.
  • kill fees. These aren’t necessary, but you could agree to make a payment less that the total budget to finish the relationship if you’re not happy with the quality of the content by a certain point in the schedule.

5. Delivery and Production

The discussion and agreement you’ll have had when setting up your contract will act as a confident guide, taking you through the actual making and delivery of the content.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a contract. If we ever hear about things going wrong with a commission, invariably it’s because they have not used a contract for whatever reason (“it was such a low budget it didn’t seem worth it”, “we got on really well at the beginning” etc etc). Make your life easy – use a contract!

Nb – if you’re in the UK, here’s a contract for £25 for music video, courtesy of Radar and via respected media production lawyers Wiggin. Go to

At this URL, login and choose the Video Production Contract at the bottom. When you’re given the option to apply the discount code, use 1PY3WQYC for your special Radar discount.



This guide will help you avoid the more obvious problems of commissioning content. It can protect you from commissioning creatives with a bad track record, commissioning ideas you’re not a fan of, and ultimately protect you from losing your money.

You’ll notice we recommend you spend time researching and briefing – possibly more time than you were expecting. Take your time, ask for the storyboard, agree a good contract and with a fair wind, you should all end up happy.


This post is brought to you by Radar Creatives. Radar is the biggest & best creative directory of filmmakers, designers & photographers for music marketers worldwide.

Want to post a brief for your next video (or to find a designer or a photographer? We’d love to hear from you – our service is free, no fee, no %!
Post your brief here or contact

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