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YouTube

Decoded: A musician’s complete guide to YouTube

You know that YouTube has the power to propel artists to new heights. The problem is, so does everyone else.

It’s an incredible tool, free-to-use (sort of), and available to all. But how do you approach it in a way that gives you the best chance of standing out above other talented artists?

If 300 hours of video gets uploaded to YouTube every minute, how can we you make your 3 minutes count?

Well, fear not Spinnup artists, we’re going to give you some expert advice here that has the power to set you apart from at least 99% of all videos on YouTube.

We’re not promising a guaranteed formula for viral invincibility, that comes down to your skill and artistry, but we can promise that these techniques are recommended by the experts and that learning them will give you the best chances of success.

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • How to plan your video like a pro
  • Shooting from the hip – smartphone techniques for great results
  • Top dos and don’ts of video production
  • YouTube video optimisation hacks
  • When to publish YouTube videos for best results
  • How to market your channel like an expert
How to plan your video like a professional

The biggest mistake artists make when shooting video for YouTube is adopting a ‘spray and pray’ approach that doesn’t works for anybody.

Planning (AKA: ‘Storyboarding’) is everything.

A storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold. It might sound a bit ‘Spielberg’, but all you really need is a piece of paper and a pen.

Break each section down into frames by drawing a box for each one, then roughly sketch the shot and describe underneath what will be happening in it.

Make sure that you know all the shots you’ll need to complete the final edited piece in advance. Do not start until you have this.

Timings

YouTube penalises videos that can’t hold viewers’ attention until the end by showing them lower down in search results.Therefore, it’s vitally important that you keep your videos, short, punchy and on-point.

Aim for 90 seconds for a short film, interview or behind-the-scenes clip. 180 seconds for a track. Try and avoid anything longer than this, especially if you don’t have a dedicated following yet.

Storyboarding is a great opportunity to get your timings right. For example, if you have 90 seconds and want to include 8 shots, you could set aside 10 seconds for the intro and 5 for the outro, leaving you 75 seconds to divide between the remaining shots.

Another tip, if you’re writing a script, is to work out timings at 3 words per second. So, a 90 second film script should be no more than 270 words.

This might all sound like a lot of extra work, but it forces you to get focussed and not waste a second of your film. This will give you better production results which will lead to more YouTube views.

Shooting from the hip – smartphone techniques for great results

Here’s a question that media organisations expect their journalists to know the answer to straight away: How much free memory do you have on your phone right now?

It’s critical because you never want to be in a position where you can’t capture something if you’re out on tour, working in the studio, or just hanging around with fans or bandmates and collaborators.

Those spontaneous moments, when edited into your videos, are the storytelling moments we all love. Just think of Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar in his Notting Hill kitchen whilst frying an egg or Cardi B freestyling ‘For That D’ backstage. Priceless.

Luckily, we all have an entire camera crew in our pockets these days.

It’s worth saying that an artist you are also a marketer, so you should never scrimp on your phone. It’s a business expense and money well spent. Just make sure it has enough spare memory to capture those moments!

With that in mind, here are 10 tips for creating mobile video content on the fly:

Smartphone video tips:
  1. Turn on airplane, flight mode or do not disturb.
  2. Clean your lens!
  3. Hold it the right way. For example, Snapchat is portrait, YouTube is landscape. If you are unsure stick to landscape.
  4. Always zoom with your feet (that means walk!) Phones don’t optically zoom.
  5. Hold it steady. You carry all the weight in your wrist so wedge your elbows in at your sides.
  6. Place the phone on palm of your hand, lift it up and steady with your other hand. This is known in the business as the ‘human tripod’.
  7. Alternatively, buy a cheap mini tripod and keep it to hand.
  8. Lock your focus and brightness. You should never let the camera decide what you’re interested in.
  9. Shoot in short focussed sequences (don’t spray and pray).
  10. Make sure you have enough memory to save your footage and never leave the house with a low battery!
Top do’s and don’ts of video production

There are some other key things to consider when shooting your video. Let’s start with the most important:

Audio quality

Viewers will forgive a momentarily shaky hand or some dodgy lighting, but they will never forgive bad audio. As an artist this is especially important to you.

Carpeted and curtained rooms usually offer better sound quality than kitchens and open spaces.

Check your audio quality and make sure you are happy with it. If using a smartphone, remember that your headphones will have a built-in mic.

Alternatively, pick up a good mic like the BOYA by M1 or RODE iRig iXLR. For radio broadcasting quality, take a look at the Zoom H1.

Lighting

Good lighting is tricky, but fortunately YouTube is an organic platform where fans are not expecting the earth here.

As a rule, use natural light as much as possible and try to shoot in the day to avoid that grainy look.

Sequence formula

A lot will depend on the type of video you are producing, but a simple shoot sequence formula, like the one below, can be used as a template to enhance any video content you create.

  • CLOSE UP OF HANDS: eyes drawn to hand/motion – 8 seconds
  • CLOSE UP OF THE FACE – 8 seconds
  • WIDE SHOT – 8 seconds
  • SEE THEIR POINT OF VIEW: over the shoulder 8 seconds
  • UP HIGH, REFLECTION, SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT: any reflection or arty idea – seconds

Collaborate!

We’ll keep saying this on our decoded guides. Collaboration leads to great things!

As an artist you have an opportunity to reach out to filmmakers and videographers who are at a similar stage to you and looking for subject matter.

Check out your local film schools and colleges or network with start-ups. Not only will they help you make better content, they’ll also be an extra promotional channel for you as they’ll want to promote their work too.

YouTube video optimisation hacks

YouTube is a search engine just like Google. It’s owned by Google. It’s also the second biggest search engine in the world after Google.

As such, you should follow these simple optimisation hacks to:

  1. Make sure YouTube understands exactly what your video is about
  2. Make it easier for people to find your content
  3. Make it more likely that YouTube will favour your videos over others

———- 

  1. Video Titles

These are important for telling YouTube about the content of your video. Include any keywords that people might search for as close to the beginning of the title as possible.

  1. File Names

Before uploading your video, save it using the file name of the video title or using keywords, rather than the stream of numbers and characters it uses by default.

  1. Description box

Use all the space you have. Write as much detail as you can about the video in the description box. YouTube will crawl and index this content so it’s a great opportunity to give your video more chance of appearing in search results. Think along the lines of terms that describe your music, like ‘atmospheric strings’ or ‘dirty guitar riffs’.

If it’s a track, you could also add some memorable lyrics in here. People often search for a song by typing in a few lyrics they remember.

  1. Pick the right channel category

Type your main keyword into YouTube and check out the top-ranking videos. This will probably be a genre of music. Pick the same category as the top-ranking video for the keyword you have chosen.

  1. Tag it up

You can use tags to add more keywords to your video, which will help more people discover it through the search bar. Enter things like subject matter, location and music genre.

  1. Use Thumbnails

Thumbnails are little images you can upload that sit on the preview of each video. Pick some nice shots that will entice people to click on the video or you’ll end up with a weird mouth-half-open-eyes-half-shut thumbnail. Or if you’re handy with Photoshop design a bespoke one. Remember to save them at 16:9 aspect ratio.

When to publish YouTube videos for best results

There are lots of studies out there that try and work out the best time to publish videos. When it comes to music we would recommend scheduling for 2-4pm local time on either Thursday or Friday as this is when YouTube has the highest engagement levels.

If you are planning on publishing at weekends, I’m afraid you’ll have to set your alarm. The best time on Saturday and Sunday is between 9-11 am. No-one said this would be easy!

How to market your channel like an expert

The best way to promote each video is to approach it like a professional media company. Stick to scheduled times and be consistent. If fans expect content from you at a certain time it will help to build momentum and lead to more views over time.

You should also adopt an integrated approach. Promote your video widely across all your other social channels and make sure to talk it up in your newsletters both before and after release.

If you are really interested in maximising views, study the methods of artists you admire. Join their newsletters and subscribe to their channels to see how they do it. Above all, be consistent and passionate, there’s not point putting out something that isn’t perfect.

In summary….

You want a summary? Why? What are you waiting for? You have the tools now go; go and make amazing videos and share them with the world. We’re waiting…

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Introducing: Eif

“Scandinavian music at it‘s finest.”

– Valgerður Anna Einarsdóttir, Event Manager, Reykjavik.

This week we take you to Copenhagen, and introduce you to Danish singer, Eif. Denmark never disappoints musically, and Eif is no exception – I mean, she was a finalist in last year’s Danish Scholarship competition!

She is premiering her new live video for her single ‘Bridges’ with us here at Spinnup today. It was recorded in the heart of Copenhagen in an old control tower on Knippelsbro, a bascule bridge across the Inner Harbour. It was in this location where Eif was inspired to write the song whilst she was riding her bike across the bridge with its stunning views.

Eif Bridges Cover

The track itself is creates a spherical dark aquatic universe where Eif’s raw and powerful voice lies. Think the atmospheric guitar patterns of London Grammar meets digital synthesizers with the pazaaz of Christina Aguilera’s vocals but softer and more soulful.

If you can get to the bridge’s tower (now called “Kulturtårnet”) on 7th April, you can catch her live at her intimate release concert!

You can find ‘Bridges’ on Spotify (or stream below) and even more on Soundcloud, where you will find her EP Teal.

Keep up to date with Eif on her site and socials:

eifmusic.com

soundcloud.com/eifmusic

facebook.com/eifmusic

instagram.com/instantly_eif

Spoti.fi/2xZiAC5

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Video Premiere: Eif’s ‘Bridges (live session)’

We look forward to Friday every week for many reasons – it’s the end of the work week, and it’s when most new music comes out. If that wasn’t enough to make today special, we are premiering the new live video for Spinnup Denmark artist Eif’s debut single ‘Bridges‘.

Released in October last year as part of Denmark’s annual scholarship competition, Eif wowed the guest judging panel of A&Rs and Scouts with her particular brand of dark electronic tinged pop. Taking note from artists like London Grammar and MSMR, Eif combines digital synths with atmospheric guitar patterns and powerful vocals laced with smooth pop/R&B melodies.

 

eif SoMe kulturtaarnet

The video for the R&B inspired ‘Bridges‘ was shot in the heart of Copenhagen in an old control tower on Knippelsbro, the city’s famous bridge, which inspired the track. Stirred by the beautiful view while cycling over the bridge, Eif wrote the song as a love story that stretched from the small pocket of Copenhagen to the wide reaches of Iceland. If you’re in Copenhagen you can catch Eif performing ‘Bridges’ and other new music in the bridge’s ‘Kulturtårnet’ tower tomorrow, April 7th. Click here for more info.

Follow Eif on Spotify and Soundcloud for new music, and on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest news.

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Spotify for Artists Guide

Updated April 6th 2018

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
• Adding social media links to your profile
• 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.

spotify_Monthly-Listeners

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.

Spotify-Playlist-Notification

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.

Pimp your profile with an image gallery

As of March 2018 artists can now make their Spotify profile look even better than ever with new custom image galleries. Once you login to your Spotify for Artists account, go to Profile under Tools in teh left hand menu, just like you would to edit any of the info on your Spotify artist page. Above where you enter your bio you can now add up to 125 photos of your choice! These could be official artist images, photos on you in the studio or making music, or on the road performing live – the possibilities are endless! It’s a great way to show fans what you’re up to and let them get to know you better. You can also edit your gallery from the Spotify for Artists mobile app.

You can edit the order of images, add or delete them at any time – so get creative!

Image requirements:
jpeg, gif or png
690px x 500px
Avoid text, logos, and busy backgrounds
Max 125 images

 

Add your social media links

While we’re on the topic of editing your profile, artists can now add social media links to their profile, making it easy for fans to find them elsewhere online. No more hoping artists will find your Instagram handle where you’ve misspelled your name and use a 3 instead of an ‘E’ because someone already has a profile with your regular artist name.

Like above, just head to the Profile tab in your Spotify for Artists account, click About, and on the right hand side there is a new ‘More Info’ panel. Here you can add links to your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia pages.

artist-account-spotify

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-for-artists-data-graph

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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What happened in: March

It’s March. The year is literally a quarter over and we’re still trying to figure out how the hell that happened. While everyone sits around and work out what we’re doing with their lives in 2018 (and that’s totally okay), we’re back with our monthly wrap ups of what went down in the world of Spinnup, independent music news, and of course – music!

As always, if you come across anything for next month you think we should include, shoot us an email at blog@spinnup.com

The best of the blog 

  • You’ve figured out your sound, your release plans, and maybe even your look – so how do you take it one step further and nail your brand as an artist? It’s much more than your fashion sense, imagery, messaging on socials. Read our Complete Guide To Branding Yourself As A Musical Artist for more.
  • In case you didn’t go anywhere near the internet on March 8, it was International Women’s Day. We’re very proud of our company culture and the women who run our team. Find out more about Who Run The World of Spinnup.
  • We unveiled a very special new offer from our friends at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios. Now all Spinnup artists can get 10% off all online mixing and mastering services, click here to find out how.
  • One of the toughest things about being an independent or up and coming musician is the criticism and rejection you face. Do you know who else faced the same thing? The answer is only one tap away.
  • A huge number of independent musicians spend their lives  juggling other commitments, mainly university, other study or work. Before it gets a bit too overwhelming, we’re put together some helpful hints on how to balance your music and uni or work life.

Music industry news 

  • Facebook is changing the way it reports organic reach for page posts, which could impact the way you read your social media stats. Read more 
  • Good news for all our Spinnup France artists, the French recorded music market grey by almost 4% last year! Read more
  • Internet giant Google has introduced a very cool way for musicians to reach out to their fans with a new feature allows artists to post messages in search results. Read more
  • Ever thought, “I think Spotify needs to be more like Wikipedia” ? No? Well now it has thanks to Spotify enlisting its users to add music metadata. Read more

Our favourite March Spinnup releases 

Spinnup newcomer Steffan released his debut single with us in the form of ‘Closer To You‘, a beautifully simple and stripped back R&B-soul ballad reminiscent of Miguel.

Swedish-born London-based artist China Yggström released her debut single ‘Halcyon Days‘, which received instant praise from indie music blogs and is quietly accumulating a healthy number of streams on Spotify.

German emcee Ahzumjot returned with his latest single, ‘Wieder Nicht Dein Jahr‘. The latest in a string of release Ahzumjot, brings a grimy beat with thumping bass and crunching synths to sit under his trademark confident flow.

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How to balance music & your degree (or side hustle!)

There are many ways going to university can benefit your music career – particularly if you study music. Even if you’re studying a totally non-music related subject, there are still a number of ways that being at university can help progress your music career.

But not everyone goes on to study at uni, so the tips below will apply not just to university but work as well, and will help you to balance your music and other work/study commitments. Here we’re going to cover

• The benefits of university or study
• How to manage a degree, job or side-hustle alongside your music
• Some practical tips & apps you can use to make your life easier

It helps to you find yourself

As cliché as it sounds – university really does help you to bring out, well, you! It is a time for learning and a journey of self-discovery. You’re living independently for the first time, and from my own experience, it was a bit of a musical journey as well! Mixing with some many different people is great to discover new music, ways of thinking and creating, which brings me onto my next point.

University is super good for networking.

Generally in the creative industries it comes a lot down to WHO you know, no matter how talented or skilled you are. You are bound to meet so many like-minded and different people, each with their own story. This obviously depends on the courses at your chosen university, but think about how many people there are studying subjects that may benefit you, such as promotion or journalism. Need a good artist bio written? Or where to start on your release promo plan? These are your guys.

The good thing about mixing with so many people is that you can help each other out. People can use your music as a platform, such as a videographer who wants to shoot a music video for their show reel, or a designer with new clothes they want larger audiences to see – this ultimately benefits you both.

If you study music, you’ll be surrounded by other musicians, which can be trying at times because we all are guilty of comparing ourselves too much. However, one of the best parts of university is learning and sharing ideas with others – you will not only discover yourself (again, apologies for the cliché), but you will open up fresh ideas and hidden talents. These people will be at mixed levels, but with the same passion and drive. You’ll also get a chance to form a band if you haven’t already done so.

You will be taught by people who really know their stuff, people who have worked in the industry for years. These people will be very important contacts as well, stay in touch with them, utilise them. You never know – your lecturer may play or send one of your tracks to someone important they know! Like I said before, this is all part of networking, and the more people you do that with, then the broader your horizons are and the more your confidence will grow!

Opportunities galore.

When I studied a music course at university one of the most amazing things about it was the opportunities we had. You’ll get the chance to meet industry personnel, musicians, and songwriters at various conferences and get the chance to go to important networking events.

It’ll give you a platform build a repertoire

If you are one of those people (like me!) that need some sort of direction or foundation to work on, then your university projects will be a great for building your repertoire, and assessments may tie in with what you’re working on musically anyway – so you won’t have to see it as uni work but something you’re really enjoying, and getting a qualification out of at the same time! Also, it means at the end of it all you will have a great portfolio of work to show for it.

Choosing to study in a city that has a large music hub can be of great benefit, for example London, Manchester or Brighton. Moving to study in these cities can open up doors that you would not have necessarily had in your hometown. These cities bring gig opportunities, artist communities, venue spaces, music labels/companies, and events.

Professional facilities

By studying a music degree you’ll have access to facilities and professional equipment. This means professional recording studios and rehearsal rooms – all free of cost! (not including the university fees you’ll have to pay for of course)
Once you leave uni and actually have to pay real world costs for gear and studio time you’ll miss it, trust me!

Okay, but how the hell do I budget this?

You will get your student loan and let’s be frank, after rent, bills and food you’re not left with very much, but there are little ways you can minimise costs. On food shopping for example try going to Aldi instead of Asda. Have more pre-drinks than drinks out on the town, and think of every little bit of money you save, however small, as an investment in your career.

There are many little ways you can save and get extra cash, like getting a weekend job and putting the money into your music. There are some pretty cool money budgeting apps out there such as Loot. A good ol’ spreadsheet wouldn’t be a bad idea either! Most programs like Excel and numbers have great budget templates available for free. Also, here’s a handy article from The Guardian with a list of good budgeting apps that you can use right from your phone!

It’s worth noting that most universities offer the chance to get a grant for a business project, and for this you will need to make a business plan – which is pretty important for your music career anyway! In most creative and industry related degrees you will come across a business project of some form or another. You’ll want to include an overview of the project, market information and your costs and returns. This sort of grant can be a great starting point to push your music. Obviously what you put in is what you get out, and putting money into promotion, better equipment and studio sessions is vital! Make sure you put every source of support and direction from your university to good use – that’s what it’s there for.

And how do I manage my time and workload?!

If there’s one thing EVERYONE wishes they could do at university (this goes for any work) is manage their workload. Just like money, you need to budget your time as well. Well, luckily if you’re studying a music degree you can tie in your assessments to what you’re working on musically, and when you have free time on the weekends you can always work on extra projects, even if the subject you are studying doesn’t even relate to music at all. If you’re serious about your degree, then it has to take priority, but there are many ways to manage your time effectively to ensure you have a life too.

Make a to-do list

I spent a lot of time at university stressing about something I was currently working on, whilst stressing about the work I was not currently working on and this is definitely not an effective way of working! Write down all of your tasks, how long each will take, and the day you are going to do them or do them by. This way you can focus on one thing at a time. Be mindful and work in the present and put all of your focus into the task at hand. Then set aside some specific time for your music. Even just half an hour, every small amount adds up. Check out some to-do-list apps, our favourites are:

A great way to manage your time is minmizing the time the task takes. For example, ordering your food shop (back to the food shopping example again) will take you half an hour maximum rather than doing the trip yourself. Little things like that can save valuable time for your music.

Get up earlier

Spending a few less hours in bed in the morning can be so productive! We musicians are usually night owls, but if you get up at say, 8am everyday – which let’s face it is not that early – you’ll instantly have a lot more hours in your day. Use the time you would normally still be snoozing to get a few items on your to-do list out of the way. Think admin jobs like paying your rent and bills on online banking, doing the washing, organising your weekly shop. Getting those done early then leaves the rest of the day for big things like assignments and music-making. Going to bed/waking up earlier means you’ll sleep better as well!

Work in a work, break, work, break system.

We use rhythm in our music, so why not our work? By this I mean work for 20 minutes, then spend a bit of time on your music, then go back to your work. (But make sure you do go back!) Switching between the two will stimulate your brain and stop you from getting any sort of ‘writer’s block’ or hitting a wall with it.
Even when you have to stay up all night working on that essay that you (god forbid) left to the last minute (we all do it!) then why not listen to some music or a new playlist to get inspired whilst you’re working. There’s a really cool app that I used whilst I was writing my dissertation called ‘Forest’ where you plant a tree for a certain amount of time and the tree is killed if you leave the app. It’s a pretty nifty way to stay focused. It can be used for your music as well – remember what I said earlier about putting all of your energy into the task at hand!

Sometimes at University you’ll not only need to manage your own workload, but your team’s time in a group assignment or project. I would really recommend using Trello for this, it’s a good way to keep track of all the work that’s done/needs doing, and you can even set the board background to a cool picture to keep you inspired! This kind of app is brilliant for managing your projects as an artist, especially if you have band members or a manager.

Lastly, if you’re worried about how you’re going to fit in a social life as well then do not stress. Go to gigs with your friends, collaborate, have jam sessions as well as study sessions so you’re working musically as well as spending time with the people you love. Hell, we all need down time!

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You’ll definitely be told ‘NO’ – but so did Kanye

If anyone has ever told you that the road to the top is a piece of cake – we’ll be honest here – you’re probably going to be disappointed. Being a musician is a dream come true for most of us, but living that dream comes hand in hand with a lot of rejection, and lots of criticism. Okay this post has started out a bit sad, but the most important thing you can do is never give up! Each and every artist has experienced exactly the same, and each ‘no’ you hear could just be bringing you one step closer to success.

Don’t believe us? Maybe you’ll believe these three artists (you may have heard of them) who prove that it’s worth believing in yourself and your music, and persevering!

KANYE WEST HAD NO ‘SOLO ARTIST POTENTIAL’

A record number of record companies rejected Kanye ‘Jesus Walks’ West, before Def Jam saw his huge potential. The record labels thought he was a fantastic producer, but they just didn’t see him as a solo artist. Kanye, known for his enormous ego (some things never change), was not easy to knock out – on the contrary! Kanye later said that the many rejections made him work even harder for his dream; “I would be up till 4 in the morning … focussing on my dream and praying for the day when I could just do that all the time.”
After repeated and insistent emails, calls and meetings, Jay Z and Def Jam threw the contract on the table. I think it’s safe to say they did not regret their choice to believe in his genius.

KATY PERRY WAS DROPPED FROM THREE RECORD DEALS

Before Katy Perry broke through with ‘Kissed a Girl’, she had to face repeated rejection. In 2001, Perry was dropped by her record company after publishing a gospel album that sold only 200 copies. Then she had to fight for a signing to Def Jam in 2003; only to be dropped again without publishing a single. In 2004, Katy was writing for Columbia Records, who had plans to make her the lead singer of a band. Again, the project ended before it was started, and Perry was dropped for the third time. Against all odds, she continued to fight, and in 2006 proved that third time’s the charm and inked a contract with Capitol Music Group, which marked the start of her huge success.

 

ED SHEERAN ‘CAN NOT BE MARKETED’

Multi-platinum selling artist, Ed Sheeran, says he was rejected by reputable record companies because he was ‘petty and red-haired’. It was about image, and they did not see Sheeran as an artist that could be marketed. Though the message from the record labels was tough, that never stopped Sheeran, who believed that there was a market for him and his music. Countless awards and hit singles later, it’s also pretty clear that it those labels missed a huge opportunity.

 

So what did we learn dear musicians? Stick to your dream and keep fighting. No industry in the world hands out more rejections than the music industry, but don’t let any criticism get you down, whether that’s from people in the music industry, or people online. Learn how to use constructive criticism wisely to grow as an artist, but to stay positive in the face of hardship.

The best thing you can do is to disprove those who do not believe in you – use it as the driving force for your next move! Who knows maybe your big opportunity is waiting just around the corner.

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Introducing: Harry Fisher

“But what can you do when he’s already gone?”

From the first line, Harry Fisher has us hooked on his R&B influenced ‘What Have I Done?

The Hampshire born artist displays his gorgeous and poignant vocals on this breathtakingly emotive track, showcasing a range almost unhuman! Having worked with Yazz, Womack and Womack, Foor and Boy George during his successful stint on ‘The Voice’, Harry shines completely in his own right on this ‘ghosted’ anthem, accompanied by swaying synths, trap percussion and experimental vocal effects on the actual title track line.

Arguably, Harry’s non-conforming and daring image and use of honest pronouns on his tracks all streaming on his SoundCloud challenges the notion of the typical male artist, sparking an incredibly exciting and fresh new outlook for the British R&B scene having performed in the famous Concorde Club in Eastleigh, the Southampton Maritime Festival and Southampton’s Music in the City festival (now one of the biggest free festivals in the South)

 

Currently working on new music and projects such as ‘The Osborne Open Mic’,  we’re too excited for the future of Harry Fisher and so should you! Catch up and follow Harry Fisher on his socials:

Soundcloud
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Spotify

 

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