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5 Things not to do in the middle of a gig

Being on stage is a nervous and exposing experience for even the most experienced of artists. The adrenalin can sometimes get the better of you and you can make decisions on stage that you later on will kick yourself for. It’s very important to get into good habits so that you don’t let nervous energy get the better of you and make you do things you’ll regret.

1. Don’t insult the audience

If the audience isn’t paying attention, you can hear them talking or there isn’t enough of them then don’t bring it up. All you’re doing is drawing attention to the people who aren’t enjoying the music. Play to the people that are enjoying it, these are the people that will come again, these are the people that will buy your music in the future, these are your potential fans. Also if you keep the mood and the performance up you might turn some of the chatters into attentive audience members and then fans. You aren’t going to get anyone onside by telling them off.

 

2. Don’t address your friends

First step en route to becoming a professional is behaving like one. People have to believe that you are a professional to invest the attention that a professional warrants. If you are onstage making in-jokes to your friends whilst subjecting the rest of the crowd to them then they’re going to feel alienated and lose interest quickly. You are performing to everyone.

 

3. Don’t slag off the sound

You are completely within your rights as an artist, whilst you are performing to ask for more vocal, less bass in your wedge etc. But make sure that never moves into complaining or apologising to the crowd because you’re not happy with the sound. Why oh why would you draw the crowds attention to a negative. You are noticing it so much more than they are so just do your best and if you have anything to say to the sound engineer, say it nicely.

 

4. Don’t make a joke of your mistakes

If you make a mistake such as forgetting a lyric, hitting a bum note or missing a cue then the best thing you can do is move on as quickly as you can having corrected your mistake, found your place in the song or just ignoring it completely. The chances are the no one in the audience has noticed. Do not attempt to make a joke of your mistake, no one in the crowd will really think its funny and you are only doing it because you’re nervous and embarrassed and people can tell.

 

5. Don’t stage dive (almost ever)

If you are on stage and you are wondering, “Should I stage dive?” Then you definitely should not stage dive. If there is even a moments hesitation in your brain about if a stage dive would be appropriate, then it wouldn’t be. Stage dives should be like Snow Leopards, rarely seen in small music venues unless its a very special occasion.

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Money euro fan

5 Things That Are Worth Spending Money On

If you are a new artist making your way in the world then you might not be over-furnished in the disposable income department. It’s a stereotype but it more often than not is true new that bands in the early stages of their careers don’t have a lot of cash. This being the case you will want to make sure that when you are spending money its not frivolous. You will have to make sure that any money you do have is spent on the right things.

1. Equipment

Don’t feel guilty about spending money on equipment. Just because it’s extremely good fun doesn’t mean that it isn’t also very important. Whether you’re adding to your pedal board, getting a new mic or a new tom for the drum kit it’s all going to enhance the sonic quality of you as a live act. Of course don’t go insane and buy pedals you don’t need or a trombone that you can’t play. But we would say most of the time adding to your set up can only be a good thing.

 

2. Rehearsal time

You’d have to do a lot of rehearsing to get to the point where you doing too much of it. Whilst it might feel like you are overplaying the songs in the rehearsal room, you may be bored, this is hard work, as soon as you get out on stage, full of adrenalin and fear you will be so happy you know these songs back to front and in front of that adoring crowd you won’t feel bored of that song at all!

 

3. Recording

Recording is an emotional and exhausting experience but completely worth the time and money as long as you are ready. There is no use getting into the studio after 10 hours rehearsal and 3 gigs and proclaiming to the world “This is our sound.” Give yourself time to form a unit and develop a strong set of songs. Then and only then get in the studio and prepare to put the time and money in. It’s worth paying the extra here. You’ll be glad when listening back that you did.

 

4. Web design

As a band you’ll want a hub from which all your gigs, social media and merchandise can be found. This along with videos, photos and a biog not to mention a look that gets across your identity and sound. These are things worth paying a graphic designer and a web host for. Obviously you don’t need to employ Rothko to do it, he’d be too expensive and even if not he’s too dead but do make sure the people behind it are competent. The website really should look professional.

5. Gigging

Now, we know what you’re thinking, and yes, in an ideal world gigging would be something you would make money from but for now those days are in the future. In the words of the wall street bankers, who very few musicians have any desire to take advice from, “Speculate to accumulate”.

You may have to rent a room, you may have to pay to advertise, you may have to drive a long way to gig. This is all part of building a fanbase. Obviously, recoup as much as you can through tickets and merch but sometimes you might be at a loss. Even if this is the case the fans you aquire may be fans for life you’ll more than make the money back if things go according to plan. One thing we wouldn’t advice is doing pay to play gigs. If a promotor wants money from you upfront to play a gig then they aren’t a real promoter, steer clear.

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5 things frequently said about record labels (that aren’t true)

Spinnup is here to help unsigned artist become signed, that’s why our scouts uniquely have a direct line into the world’s number one record label Universal Music.

But speaking of record labels, if one of your goals as an artist is to join one then you should be aware that there are a lot of self-declared experts out there who claim to know what record labels are like “these days” but in actual fact really don’t. Fortunately here at Spinnup, because of our ties to Universal Music, we do. So allow us to shed some light on some of the more common misconceptions out there…such as:

1. Everything is run by the ‘suits’ who don’t even like music
Firstly one of the thing that characterises the clothing choices of people who work in record labels is the distinct lack of suits. In fact if you see anyone wearing a suit in a label there’s a very strong chance they’re a visiting salesperson. And getting a job at a record label is usually very competitive. It makes no sense for a label to give one of those sought after jobs to someone who doesn’t even like or care about what they do. Of course what people who say this really mean to say is…

2. It’s all about money, not music
A record label’s job is to find ways of making money from music so that those who make and support music can continue to do so. Nobody gives away money and labels are no different but what does makes them different is that they invest all their money in music and artists. They’re still the primary investors in new music and probably always will be, and they only make money if the music they back makes money which is why they think very carefully about what they will invest in.

3. Labels are only interested in chasing the next big thing
Labels are in the business of selling music so of course they want to be associated with big selling artists. Why on earth wouldn’t they? But every big selling artist was a no-selling artist at first and successful labels like Universal Music have been in this game long enough to know that today’s next big thing can come from the unlikeliest of sources and everyone has to start somewhere.

4. Record labels only want safe and boring artists
Record labels are looking for artists who will connect with music fans and who will become very popular. Record labels release what they think will go down well with people, and then it’s down to the music buying public to decide if they like those releases or not. It really is as simple as that when it comes down to it. The labels use all their resources and skills to make people aware of their artists and hopefully support them, but ultimately it’s the public who have the final say.

5. Labels don’t support artists the way they did 10/20/30/etc years ago
Yes for some people life was always better in the old days. But unlike them you don’t long to live in the past. Leaving aside the fact that this is an inherently subjective opinion and impossible to prove either way, you’re not looking to sign to a record label 30 years ago, you want to sign to one in the present day. So understand how they operate today and leave the wistful ‘everything used to be so much better’ sentiments to those others who have far less important things to do with their time than you do.

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Gig boots close

5 Things All Local Bands Should Remember

Being a ‘local band’ might seem like bizarre terminology seeing as all bands are local to somewhere. Musical communities produce friendships, love and great music, the relationships that bands share galvanisise one another to improve and engenders an environment of common creativity.

Whether it be the early naughties Manchester music scene that Richard Hawley, Elbow and I Am Kloot blossomed in. The West-London music scene of the last few years that has seen Laura Marling, Noah And The Whale, The Vaccines and Mumford And Sons rise irresistibly. 70’s Laurel Canyon saw The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills And Nash, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carol King to name but a few, all come to prominence. Being a part of a scene like this can give you solid foundation from which to grow.

1. Be a part of the community.
Being encouraging, kind and amiable may seem like obvious things to do but so many new artists seem to have ideas of themselves as angry young rockstars thinking that this forced attitude will help to create the illusion of themselves as bad boys. It won’t. People will lose interest in you, avoid you and it just isn’t nice. Going to other local bands gigs and being supportive will create a positive nature of cooperation.

2. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
With so many things for a band to think about when they are coming up it can be hard to know what to focus on. Now this might sound simplistic to the point of madness but … Don’t forget to be good! Now obviously it is always a bands intention to be good, but sometimes the importance of songwriting and musical ability can get lost behind things like, “Do our haircuts match? Is ‘Bacon Rollercoaster’ a good band name? Is that poster really right for us?” All you need to worry about is getting in the rehearsal studio and playing and getting together and writing. This is the invaluable foundation of everyone who has ever been great.

3. Don’t overdo it.
It might feel like gigging all the time is definitely the way to grow a fanbase. The more you gig, the more fans, the more fans, the more gigs. Wrong. There are not an unlimited number of people in the area and therefore if you gig too much in one place, people will stop coming. You will be doing a lot of gigs at a low level. If you do one show in your town every 2 months then your gig is an event that you fans look forward to, there are less shows to put energy into promoting and the quality of shows will be greater as both you and your fans will be more up for it.

4. Value the importance that physical promotion still has.
You can tweet and facebook till your eyes dry up, fall out and your left bashing your keyboard desperately trying to tell the world you just had a cup of tea but really nothing will help boost sales for gigs or your fanbase like physical and social interaction. A good poster put up in the right place or somebody flyered on the street will have you and your band burnt into their memory for so much longer than had they just come across a facebook post. The real physical world means something and cannot be ignored so easily.

5. Touring is only impressive if people show up.
Many bands nowadays view touring as a right of passage that is due immediately. Bands will often book tours in places before they have even done the smallest things to even make sure there is anyone in these areas that will buy a ticket. Touring will only make you successful if there are people in these places that actually want to see you. Make sure you’ve built a solid foundation first and then consider moving forward onto touring

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Tour plane

5 things to think about when organising a tour

Touring can be so very exciting as well as very daunting indeed. To give yourself the greatest chance of success make sure you prepare everything as best you can. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep these 5 things in mind as well.

1. Van Rental
You’re not going to able to tour if you can’t get anywhere. If you decide to take the train to all the venues then your drummer really isn’t going to like you. Planes can be very expensive and not very fuel efficient. It looks like the only option is to rent a van or a bus. Make sure that when you’re doing this it’s big enough, it fits all your gear and for god sake make sure at the very least one of you can drive it!

2. Gig venues
When deciding which venues you are going to play you will want to keep in mind the capacity with regard to how popular your band is. It’s probably a good idea not book Wembley Stadium just yet, unless you are in the Foo Fighters. . . are you, can we have your autograph? Stick to smaller venues to begin with, use mailing list data to work out in which towns you’ll find it easier to sell tickets and research what walk-in sales they usually get. If it’s an established venue then that might pull in new people which means an extended fanbase for you. Bonus.

3. Pulling in an audience
If you are thinking about touring there is a good chance you already have something of a fanbase but you will still want to expand it. When you’ve booked the venues in, use google and find out about the local radio stations, local papers and magazines. Email them and tell them that you are coming to the area, lots will be very responsive to the idea of interviews. Do it well and bring in a new audience. Also contact the venues ahead of time and make sure they put posters up around the venue. Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised.

4. Geography
This may seem like quite an obvious thing to mention but you’d be amazed how often professional tour managers get it wrong. If you are doing a gig in Paris one night try to make sure you’re not in Ukraine the next night and then the night after that in Ireland. This is obviously a large scale problem but it exists in a smaller more localised way for smaller tours. Make sure that you try and book venues that are close to each other so that you can move in one direction. You will be tired playing shows every night anyway, try not to travel more than you need to.

5. Merch
Touring in the early stages of your career is not going to mean you can finally afford a Kanye West style engraved marble coffee table. This is more about building profile, so if there is the chance you can make some extra money then that is absolutely what you should be doing. Merchandise is a fantastic way to get a bit of extra cash. It’s a good idea after you have played to go and sit at the merch stall as a band, people will want to come over and say hello, therefore buying more stuff. Also any bit of merchandise that people buy will serve as a reminder of the great time they had at your gig. It’s a no brainer.

 

For more on this check out Gigging and Touring – Decoded

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5 Things To Consider When Recruiting A New Band Member

Relationship’s are difficult enough to maintain with just one other person, add a few more into the mix, each with a conflicting artistic vision for something that means the world to them, it’s no wonder that not all bands stay together forever. Not forgetting the fact that talented musicians are at a premium, so people’s heads may get turned by other opportunities. Here are some things to remember when looking for a new band member.

 

1. Style 

We’re not talking about whether or not he or she wears a cravat and funky red shoes, we mean playing style. Your band will have a sound that you want to supplement but you will not want a complete shift. It’s probably obvious not to recruit a Jazz guitarist to a Black Metal band (although that is not us saying that will never work, keep an open mind), but you may want someone who leaves space, fills it, a shoegazy feel player, a mechanical Matt Bellamy-esque player, a sonically diverse guitarist like Tom Morello or you may not even know what you are looking for when you start looking, but rest assured you will certainly know by the time you have auditioned a few people. There are different fits for different bands. Make sure you are vigilant when listening to them play. This is probably the most important thing to think about.

 

2. Location

It’s great finding a musician that you get on well with, whose playing you really like and who is keen on the band, but should it turn out that your brilliant new guitarist lives in Warsaw and your band is based in Milan you should realise fairly quickly that this is not going to work. Obviously this is an exaggeration, but you should be careful in making sure that the band has the proximity to rehearse as often as you need to.

 

3. Availability

It is not uncommon for certain musicians to be involved in more than one project at a time so when inviting a musician to join you in your bands quest for greatness make sure that they are going to be available for rehearsals, writing sessions, gigs. If they are also gigging with other people and they play with them instead of with you it could lead to tension. As long as there are rules set up, you both understand each other and that there is a system, you should be able to avoid angst.

 

4. Enthusiasm

You want passion from everyone in your band. You want to know that every single member is behind the project and is going to give time, focus and effort in a way that only somebody passionate about the music can do. You do not want someone who is biding their time, who is lazy, or is just a mercenary with you for the wrong reasons. Make sure that any enthusiasm you have for a musician is mutual.

 

5. Relationship

Ok. So you have found a band member. This is the best player you have ever met, they’re local, they love the band and their availability matches yours totally. Only one problem. You hate each other personally. You just do not get along. Musically its great to begin with, but these problems with each others personalities begin to fester and rise to the surface affecting the music. It’ll never end well. If playing style and musical fit into the band is the most important thing, finding someone you get along with is a very close second. Make sure you have plenty of band meetings and drinks before any final decisions are made, you need to be sure you want the player and the person in the band.

 

Ok so you’ve got a band together, now what. Read Building A Fanbase – Decoded

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5 artists who (almost) every musician today is influenced by, whether they realise it or not

As you’re busy pushing forward the creative boundaries of acoustic techno speed metal r&b (and please don’t ever stop, it sounds very exciting) you might be surprised to find out that you actually share common influences with almost every other working musician today.

Well, surprise! You do. And they do with you too. There’s a common musical DNA that connects everyone, and these five artists did more than most to help form it. If you love music, and seeing as you have a pulse we’re taking that as a given, give thanks to these towering figures and what they have given all of us.

1. Enrico Caruso 
If you’ve ever listened to a recording artist, have or plan to record your own music, you have this Italian gentleman to thank. You see when sound recording was invented in the 19th century, established artists didn’t want anything to do with it. They said it was gimmicky, not becoming of a proper performer. Caruso, already a very successful tenor, didn’t go for any of that and in 1902 he became the first established artist to record music. Thanks to his many recordings Caruso became even more famous and also much much richer and every other artist realised that recording music was actually a rather good idea after all.

 2. Big Joe Turner
If you like or have any connection with rock, r&b or pop music then tip your hat to this gentleman. An American blues musician from Misouri he was one of the grandfathers of rock and roll. Not the only one for sure, but his 1938 recording of ‘Roll ‘Em Pete’ with pianist Pete Johnson is one of the earliest examples of the back beat (ie the standard 4/4 beat that is foundation of pretty much every rock song). Then after finding the beat his 1954 song ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ was a huge hit for him but an even bigger one soon afterwards for Bill Haley & The Comets which kicked off the era of rock, pop music, teenagers, etc. You get the idea. Big up to Big Joe Turner.

3. Bo Diddley
Another American blues/r&b musician who helped give birth to rock music. Which is enough to make this list anyway frankly but in 1955 Mr Diddley introduced the ‘Bo Diddley Beat’. Basically it’s playing the same chord on a guitar in a syncopated way that gets your hips moving but in so doing he introduced rhythm into rock music and got people who can’t dance dancing. They haven’t stopped since. And he helped Marvin Gaye get into the music business long before he found fame with Motown.

4. Little Richard
If you’re a performing musician who does anything other than stand still on brightly lit stage then Little Richard set you on your way. His 1950s songs like ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ were some of the first rock hits but what really stood Little Richard apart were his incredible live performances. Before him artists used to just sit or stand and play. Not any more. He would tear about the stage generally drive the crowd into a frenzy. He was also the first pop artist to use lighting concepts from stage plays like spotlights. And if that wasn’t enough he gave the then-unknown Beatles a support slot at one of his gigs in Germany and taught Paul McCartney how to sing and scream like him. He also gave a support slot later on to another unknown band, the Rolling Stones. Oh and for a couple of years in the mid-1960s the guitarist in his band was Jimi Hendrix.

5. Delia Derbyshire
The only lady on this list, Ms Derbyshire has basically influenced every musician working today. She worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in London from 1960 to 1973 producing all kinds of music and sounds for BBC productions, most notably the theme tune to Doctor Who. At a time when most pop music was largely guitar and piano based, Derbyshire and her team were experimenting with all kinds of electronic equipment to create and manipulate sound. They were so ahead of their time that as well as inventing electronic music they pioneered things that are today absolutely standard for all recording artists such as sampling, looping, reverb and filtering. Artists and composers from Pink Floyd to Stockhausen to George Martin were all fans and popped in to say ‘Hello’, and with pretty much all music today recorded digitally, we’re all Delia’s children now.

If you’d like to carry on reading then try Artist Management – Decoded

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Sparkler

5 New Year’s Resolutions Artists Should Make For 2014

A new year. A new start. Here are some things to keep in mind for the beginning of the year to make sure your foundation for the rest of it is super strong.

1. Develop A Routine

One of the best ways to stay proactive and aware of what needs to be done on a day to day basis is to set up a daily routine for yourself. As a musician you are self-employed and therefore the pressure to get up at 7am is nil and if you get up at 2pm, there isn’t really anyone to get too angry with you. Set yourself a realistic routine, wake up at what you think is a reasonable time. In your allotted work time make sure you fit in the creative and administrative sides of your career, as well as anything else you think is important for you.

 

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment

One of the most terrifying things as a musician is to experiment, to not only push the boundaries of what you have done but maybe even of what music has done. Experimentation is what makes music beautiful and progressive, all the music we love today we owe to the people that were willing to be different. If you try something different and it’s completely dreadful and you’re so embarrassed that you want to crawl into your own shoe, relax, nobody ever has to hear it except you. Move on and try again, because when it works, that’s when you’re onto something special.

 

3. Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Overworking is another pitfall of the self-employed. There is no bell, no co-workers all going for lunch at a set time. It’s just you worrying to yourself that anytime not spent working is wasted time. It’s a noble way to think and your work ethic is very admirable, but you’re no fun! What are you going to write about if you don’t have a life? Meet your friends, go out on dates or see your boy/girlfriend, go and see your Parents and not just so they can do your washing. Give yourself a life to inspire you to write more. Be impulsive, adventure and most importantly have fun, your writing will suffer without it.

 

4. Set Yourself Targets

Now I know what you’re thinking ‘Time is an illusion and a year is an arbitrary unit to try and give some meaning to a terrified human species’. . . but stop being so cynical! Setting yourself realistic targets to have achieved by the end of the year is a great way of getting yourself to keep on going when you haven’t done enough and to give yourself some hard earned time off when you’re bang on schedule. We would advise though set yourself targets that you yourself can achieve, it’s all very well setting yourself the target of a major deal and sponsorship from Givenchy, but that isn’t really up to you.

 

5. Exercise For 30 Minutes A Day

Right ok. Fine, maybe this is more general than you would like from a music website but it’s advice thats just too good not to follow. If you do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day you will be happier, more productive, less likely to get MS amongst other things. It’s easy to forget that we are animals and we evolved moving, being athletic and agile so that we could eat, we our built to exercise.

 

So get on it! It’s time to conquer! Check out Social Media – Decoded for some cracking advice about how to get the most out of the internet.

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