5 Things Super Lucky People Do

“The Luck of the Irish” is an American phrase that comes from the days of the gold rush in the 1800s.  Intolerant Americans figured the Irish people weren’t smart enough to find gold, and blamed their success on being lucky rather than skilled. In reality, America’s early immigrants have time and again proven themselves to be hardworking and smart enough to generate their own good fortune consistently.
So often I have witnessed people excuse their own inadequacies by crediting the success of others to luck.  Salespeople I know disparage their more successful competitors as lucky. If those salespeople would make as many calls or work as many hours as their competitors, they would realize that their probability of closing is fairly equal. The competitors are simply swinging the bat more often.
The truth is that seemingly lucky people are opportunists. They do the things that allow them to take advantage of the world around them. For them, it’s not about being in the way of good luck or bad. It’s the actions they take to get what Jim Collins refers to as a high return on luck whichever way the pendulum swings. Follow these five tips and you can be as lucky as anyone, no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.
1. Play to your strengths. So much time and energy is wasted trying to do things you probably don’t do very well. Author and Inc. columnist Lewis Schiff learned from his survey of incredibly wealthy people that they got that way by focusing only on what they do best. Everything else you can delegate, or you could find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses. That way, you will shine where you excel and attract opportunity. Good things come to those who emanate success.
2. Prepare in advance. Unlucky people often get that way because they’re reactive and unprepared for whatever comes. People who have stored food and water in their basements aren’t lucky to find themselves prepared when disaster strikes, they used forethought to make sure they had what they might need just in case. I personally scoff at this horrible recent trend of disparaging business plans because things change constantly. The point of a business plan isn’t to follow it no matter what, it’s to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to succeed no matter what the future might bring.
3. Start early. Some people seem to have more hours in the day. I myself don’t need more than six hours of sleep and am constantly finding ways to be more efficient. I use that extra time to start my projects well in advance. My rewards aren’t dependent upon the time of day that I take action. (This column is being written at 3 a.m.) But it does matter that I’m beginning to explore projects I expect to complete months or years from now. So many people only want to put their energy into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted seeds early and now reap that harvest of happiness.
4. Connect with as many people as possible. The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you’re influential, people will come and bring opportunities to you. The bigger your following, the more powerful your influence. The only way to build a big following is to provide value to many people. You have to provide the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts far and wide, attributing credit to you when they do. Are you creating that kind of value? If not, figure how you can.
5. Follow up. Opportunities often come and go because people don’t respond in a timely manner. I’m always amazed when people ask me for something and I respond only to never hear from them again. Three months ago, a young woman asked me if I hire interns or assistants. I replied immediately saying I’m always willing to consider hiring people who bring value to my work. I asked her how she thought she could enhance what I could do. I never heard from her again. Perhaps she now considers herself unlucky that opportunity doesn’t come her way. I believe that following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.
May you be so lucky to have people in your life that follow up.
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What to expect at your very first show

shutterstock 25371889 What to expect at your very first show[This article was written by guest contributor Corey Dieckman of the bands Honduran and Great Wilderness.]

Life outside the basement

It’s your first show as a band and you are really excited.
Maybe even nervous. You’ll play every song twice as fast. Your fingers will cramp up. But you do have one advantage; no one is expecting you to be good.
Chances are the crowd knows you. Assuming you have friends, they are out there watching. They’ve seen you at work and at the bar, explaining the different kinds of doom metal, or using phrases like ‘austere sonics’ to describe garage rock albums. Now it’s time for your art to shine, to put on your headband and your sleeveless tee and really give them the what-for.
Eminem famously said ‘you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow.’ That’s not entirely true, because assuming you choose to keep performing and creating art, a chance to blow can come at any time. As your crowd grows and word spreads, you will have multiple chances to make a first impression.
Still, it’s best to hone your craft early, starting with your first show.

Be punctual

Getting to your gig early has its benefits. Nothing worse than showing up and having to load right onto the stage and play. An early arrival means time to get situated, to meet the soundman, the door guy, the bartender, the promoter, etc., and establish when you’ll be playing and for how long.

Get your sound right

If there’s a soundcheck, really take advantage of it. A long, narrow brick barroom with high ceilings is not going to sound the same as a soundproofed garage. Don’t settle, there is a soundman there for a reason. Louder is not always better in the case of adjustments. There’s not enough time to get into the shapes of different sound waves, but it’s easy to overdo it on bass and create a muddy, farty sound. Send a friend whose ear you trust to the back of the room, play a song, and watch for the thumbs up.

Keep it short

It’s a good rule of thumb to leave the audience wanting more, not less. 45 minutes is too long, 15 minutes is probably too short. 20-27 minutes is a good approximation of how long you should be up there. The people watching you won’t get burned out and slink back to the bar. It’s Wednesday night and everybody’s missing their TV shows to be here, so only play as long as an episode of Parks & Recreation to accommodate their attention spans.

Be appreciative

It’s not supposed to be a Grammy speech, but typically bands will acknowledge all the people that went into making a show happen, as well as any other acts sharing the bill. Really try to kiss ass here, so you get invited back to the venue or to be a supporting on future shows.
These days everyone is in band and/or has experienced some kind of public performance, so no need to be nervous; no one is expecting anything. Practice everything until you can play it backwards. If you’re going for the aloof, nonchalant performance, practice pretending that you don’t care about what you’re playing. It might be good to invest in a full-length mirror for the practice space, one where you can practice your hair tornados or your disenchanted swagger. Harass bands in your scene via Facebook until you get that supporting slot; it doesn’t hurt to ask, unless you’re blackballed for being a nuisance. It is hard sometimes to recognize a chance that is meant for blowing, but sometimes that opportunity comes once in a lifetime and you find yourself in the moment, with only one shot.
Have you recently played your first show? Or are you still preparing for you debut? Let us know all about it in the comments section below.
Marketing your music 101:  essential tips for getting your music out there
[Photo of young band practicing in basement from Shutterstock.]

Quick and Simple Things You Can Do to Help Your Music Career

Quick. Simple. And they make a huge impact. What’s not to love? 
#1 Remember Peoples’ Names 
Ya ya ya, you meet a lot of people… we get it. If you want people to remember your name, you better sure as hell try to remember theirs. Find a good system. Make notes. Facebook stalk. Do something.
#2 Send Thank You Notes 
A small and simple gesture that goes a long way to ensure you leave a great impression.
#3 Database Relentlessly
Keep organized and detailed databases of your mailing list, the local media, your supporters, promoters, and everything else. This will save you tons of time and help you manage relationships with ease. There’s a kazillion great databasing tools out there and a simple spreadsheet does the trick as well.
#4 Role Play
Now this is a fun one! As an indie band you often need to wear a number of different hats. One minute you are a publicist, the next you’re an agent, and the next moment you’re a merchandiser. It can happen so fast sometimes it’s easy to forget the intricacies that make each of these professionals so good at their jobs. Every time you write an email or make a call in one of these roles, approach it as if you are the best publicist, agent, or merchandiser in the world and think about what a professional in that field would do. Then do it. This will help people take you professionally.
#5 Read Up 
Being well read will do more for you then make you look cool while schmoozing industry types. Watching the industry, keeping tabs on changes, and more will allow you to make the best strategic decisions possible, and managing a band or being in one is all about strategic decisions, as I’m sure you know. Websites like Hypebotand Billboard Biz are good starting points.
#6 Learn How to do a Proper Show Advance
There are subtle intricacies that go into having a show run smoothly and a promoter walking out thinking you’re a professional. Lots of that starts with a great advance. Take a moment to learn from a professional on what a good advance looks like. Here is a good article to get you started: DIY Musician.
#7 Always Update your Materials
Don’t make excuses for old websites and demos when sending it around to industry – as a person who receives those emails constantly, they now read as, “Don’t waste your time clicking on this because it’s going to suck and even if it’s awesome I’m not so confident in it myself…so never mind.” It’s like a limp handshake. If you send someone something you should stand behind it and ensure it is the best presentation of your band, otherwise forget sending it! I know it’s hard to keep up but find systems and tools that help you stay on updating pretty please.
#8 Don’t be Sketchy About Paying People 
Being reliable and easy to deal with needs to carry through to your money dealings as well. When someone does work for you, no matter how discounted, it is a sign of good faith to pay them quickly. It shows you value their time and appreciate their support. This will go a long way in the relationship and allow you to use them again for discounted work. If you don’t have the cash flow at the time that you need it (it happens) be upfront and clear about when you can pay and set a plan. Stick to that plan religiously. The minute any professional realizes you are not reliable when it comes to paying bills is the minute they question how much energy they can invest in you project.
#9 Hire an Amazing Designer 
Your brand and artist logo is SO intensely important. Great designers have a special talent that comes through many years of experience in their craft and you just can’t shortcut this important step to presenting you brand to the public.
#10 Protest Your Assets
Gear ain’t cheap and there’s mean mean people in the world who like to steal it and sell it on Craigslist. Get your gear insured by a reputable insurance company. The cost of a plan is much less than the cost of having to re-buy everything. Also always load in/out when you can. Don’t leave your gear in the van overnight if you can avoid it and if you have to park the back doors tightly against a wall. Also padlock the back doors. Don’t take any chances.
#11 Ask the Right Questions 
Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right questions are but if you sit down with the band before an important meeting with an industry professional and really do some prep work the right questions can usually can uncover themselves. If you don’t understand something ask for it to be spelt out. If you have a concern, voice it! Asking the tough questions is what a good manager’s job is – if you don’t have one, you have to learn to ask these questions yourself.
#12 Go Direct to Fan Whenever Possible 
Interact and spend hours with your fans. They are the most important thing you’ve got. Learn from them, take their feedback, and inspire them to fall in love and promote your band from the heart. This will be the key to your success if you play your cards right. Amazing platforms like PledgeMusic and your various social platforms allow this to be an easy feat. Don’t miss key opportunities for interaction and engagement.
#13 Be Patient
If you stay focused and work hard you should start to see some great results. Nothing happens overnight.
#14 Be Humble 
Appreciate everything you have and get to do. Share your credit, wealth, and glory with those around you who helped you get there.
#15 Expect Nothing 
You are not owed anything and thinking that you are will only drive your dreams further in the wrong direction and push away the people you need to bring them closer.
Good luck friends! Being an artist can be the trickiest but most rewarding professional as all. Hope you find these quick tips helpful! Let me known what I might have missed @SARIDELMAR.
Thanks for reading!
Sari Delmar is the Founder and CEO of Audio Blood, Canada’s leading creative artist and brand marketing company. Through unique PR and promotional packages, Audio Blood continues to be on the cutting edge of music marketing and promotion. Their client roster includes the likes of Pistonhead Lager, PledgeMusic, Iceland Airwaves, Canadian Music Week, Riot Fest, Beau’s All Natural Brewing, The Balconies, Ben Caplan, and more. At the age of 24, Sari leads a team of 10 out of the company HQ in Toronto, Ontario, has spoken at a number of music conferences and colleges, and sits on the Toronto Music Advisory Council. Read more from Sari at SariDelmar.com

How to Use House Concerts to Create Career-Sustaining Superfans

There’s a buzzword I see popping up a lot lately in articles about how to become a career artist: superfans. The idea is that if you have a subset of your fans who will support everything you do – buy every album you release, go to all your shows, buy all your merch – then you can build a sustainable career with the support of these hyper-dedicated fans.
As someone who has made a career as an independent artist, I have found no better way to build a collection of superfans than partnering with existing fans to put on deeply connective concerts in their homes. The remarkable success I’ve experienced with this model has led me to abandon traditional club touring, instead performing almost 150 house concerts in the last 2 years.
House concerts are the most connective, fulfilling, and rewarding performance experiences I’ve had as an artist. I’ve built relationships with fans at house concerts that have turned into meaningful friendships. And those connections go both ways; it’s not surprising to hear a guest at a house concert say, “I’ve never been to anything like this before and it’s the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time!”
I’ve thought a lot about why house concerts are so good at turning audience members into committed fans. I think it comes down to intimacy, exclusivity, and connection.
Intimacy: Listening to someone perform music in a comfortable space where there are no barriers between the audience and performer can be a disarming and penetrating experience. An audience member is way more likely to connect deeply with an artist and their music in this intimate setting than in a club.
Exclusivity: Since in our house concert model every guest is there at the personal invitation of the host, they feel as though they’ve been a part of something special and unique.
Connection: A house concert distills the live music experience down to its essential parts: a performer and an audience occupying a space together to share music. And in those magical shared spaces, I’ve found my core group of career-sustaining superfans.
Here are six tips for maximizing the magic in order to get everyone at a house concert on your team:
  1. Pick house concert hosts who are big fans and who are excited to share you with their friends. In the model we use, each house concert is populated with the friends of the host, so there is always a crop of potential new fans ready for the picking. And because of the endorsement your host has given you, everyone in attendance is already expecting you to be great. You can’t lose!
  2. Ask your host to make sure that they get a minimum of 20 people to show up.Fewer than 20 and it can feel a little awkward. Once you hit 20 people, though, it starts to feel like an exciting event.
  3. Set up the space so that everyone has a place to sit for the entire show.Remember that you’re playing a house concert, not a house party or background music. Arrange the seating ahead of time so that when it’s showtime, everyone will know to come sit and relax and enjoy your performance.
  4. Make it an adults-only show. I love kids – so much – but when they’re at a house concert, they distract the audience. Think of the house concert environment as being like a little magical bubble that you create around you and the audience for an hour. Anything that breaks the bubble will diminish the guests’ experience and their engagement with you. If some guests must bring kids along, ask the host if they’ll hire a babysitter to take them to a separate space during show time.
  5. Let the guests participate in supporting you. We do all of our house concerts on a donation basis. Immediately after the performance, our host gets up and asks their guests to donate as an expression of their appreciation. Not only are the donations how you make money, they are a way for guests to feel that they are participants in a cool experience. This is a way for them to express and deepen their connection with you!
  6. Play your heart out. Some of us performers can get more nervous playing in front of a small, intimate crowd than for a larger crowd in a dimly-lit club. This isn’t the time to indulge your insecurities. The more you believe, the more the audience will believe in you.
If this were all described as a math equation, I imagine it would look something like this:
Partnership with fans + an intimate house concert experience = long-lasting relationships with hyper-dedicated fans.
But don’t take my word for it – go do the math for yourself!

#Artists here’s a few other ways to promote your music

These days, it seems that there are opportunities to promote your music everywhere you look. Some band services sites like Sonicbids and ReverbNation are full of opportunities that you can submit your music to (though often, that submission requires you to pay a fee). However, it doesn’t always require a submission service, a paid EPK site, or contests where you try to prod friends and fans into voting for you. Sometimes, it just takes some creativity and a lot of drive.
I always look looking for opportunities on the road less traveled. Not only is there simply less competition for attention, but when you find the right opportunity, there’s generally a higher payoff as well. Here are some idea generators you can use to find more ways to get income and/or attention:
  1. Bottoms Up! Do you frequent a local watering hole or know someone who bartends? While the “provide them with free coasters” idea has been done to death, bands seldomly ask to be put on the bar jukebox. Even more rare: designing a custom drink for the bar and have it named after you, your single, etc. In return, you put that drink on all of your business cards and flyers, telling people to visit that bar or club. You could even provide free download cards to patrons who order that drink. You could even do the same thing with a restaurant. It’s a win-win. You can even talk o them about slipping some music into the jukebox as well.
  2. Contact the Chamber. I’ve been a part of various local chamber of commerces and business networking groups for 15 years now and I’ve never seen another artist as a member. Chamber members are often looking for live music for special events and often rely on their network. The fee to join is nominal; not only can you meet business owners of important resources (printers, screen printing, graphic designers, auto mechanics, etc.), but if you book a single gig from it, it more than covers the dues. The chamber itself often needs music for each gathering, so offer to come up with a playlist for meetings and include some of your music!
  3. At the Car Wash! When the weather is warm, you can almost always expect to see high school students and local charities washing cars to raise money. Why don’t you consider doing the same to raise money for an album or tour? With every car wash, you could even include free samples of your music or sell CD’s while there. Plus, it could be a bonding event for you and your hardcore fans.
  4. Consignment. You can almost always place your record on consignment at your local record store, but have you considered making it available at other stores as well? For example, if many of your fans love comic books and you have songs about them, you could put your CD on consignment at a comic shop (same with skateboards, art stores, sports, coffee shops, or whatever the interest might be). In addition, you could ask the store to play the music, offer to do an in-store performance or signing to help promote it as well.
  5. Turn it Up in the Library! Did you know that many libraries allow members to check out music? In fact, many have a local music section, especially college libraries. Talk to your local library about putting your music in the lending catalog – but don’t stop there. Ask to perform at the library, especially if you have songs that are related to books, about reading, inspired by stories, etc. There is an entire genre of music called “wizard rock” of bands inspired by Harry Potter. The most popular act, Harry and the Potters, has been touring libraries for over ten years now.
This is a simple list to get ideas going. Think about all of the interests that you and your fans share, where you get inspiration from, where you spend your time, where you shop, and how other businesses promote themselves. Those are some of my favorite ways to find new opportunities to promote my music and make new fans.
I’ve done every one of the ideas listed above and they’ve all worked quite well (especially when you can work with a group of volunteers to help promote). It’s often just a matter of thinking creatively about your music and finding nontraditional methods of getting the word out. Another time, I contacted the small town of Astoria, OR because our band had a song about it. I simply contacted their local paper and called the tourism office, letting them know that we wrote a song about the city and would love to share it. Shortly after that, we got booked to headline the Astoria Crab, Wine, and Food Festival and played for thousands of people. Also, every time we made it into the news, the Astoria paper would write a story on the band!

8 Lessons From Music’s Greatest Blunders

The history of performing music is rife with goofs, gaffes and outright tragedy. Chances are, if you’re in the music game, you’ll make plenty of your own mistakes. But don’t worry, there are a handful music mishaps that can serve as your guide. Avoid making these particular mistakes and you’ll already be miles ahead of the average band.

1. Police your own money

Bands have a weird habit of losing money on the road. No, not through expenses, but actually leaving wads of cash laying around somewhere and then having a, “D’oh!” moment. A most spectacular incident of this sort happened to Neutral Milk Hotel at a Pizza Hut somewhere between Minneapolis and Chicago in 1998.
They remembered to not leave a bag full of money in the van (the amount of which is remembered as between $3,000 and $20,000) but forgot to actually take it with them when they left the Pepsi palace. They’d gone two hours down the road before they realized this, hot-footed it all the way back and luckily found the bag lurking in the shadows underneath their table.
Taking a page from The Minutemen’s playbook they started buying money orders and mailing their funds home. But that’s so last century. Get an account at a national bank and do daily ATM deposits.

2. Figure out how much of the band each member “owns” early on

Probably nothing has broken up as many bands or caused more post-break-up resentment than money. Sure, you’ll figure that out later when you actually have some, right? Plus, everyone gets along so well this should never be a problem. False, hombre.
Splitting everything evenly worked well for The Doors (and for a more modern example,R.E.M.) until decades after the fact, they weren’t so crazy about the idea. But even in cases where the decision is made that members doing the most heavy-lifting get paid more, a clear understanding and agreement upfront saves a lot of trouble down the road.
Nothing kills the myth of rock-band-as-street-gang more quickly than band members squabbling over money because, man, it’s all about the music, man, not money. Except, of course when it is about money. Still don’t believe me? See what the former members of The Smiths have to say about it.

3. Going overseas? Get your ducks in a row

It’s no secret that bands have flown under the radar for years when heading to the UK and Europe. That is, flying over with merchandise shoved in suitcases, no secure work permits, etc.  The thing is though, this is always risky and reeks of amateur-hour shenanigans. Athens, GA  band Cars Can Be Blue tried this a few years ago and it didn’t end well. The dirty duo landed in England with zero cash on hand, a bag full of t-shirts and barely knew the name of the person picking them up. Unable to convince the authorities that they were merely vacationing and really liked wearing t-shirts with their band name on them every day, they never even made it out of Heathrow. They were forced to turn around and head back to the USA on the spot. 

4. Hire a professional, not a party partner

OK, this isn’t actually funny at all but it bears repeating. The 1977 plane crash that destroyed Lynyrd Skynyrd  could’ve easily been avoided. In fact, before Lynyrd Skynyrd took flight, the plane had been inspected by Aerosmith’s flight operations people but they grew suspicious of the pilot/co-pilot team of Walter McCreary and William Gray since they’d been seen trading swigs from a bottle of Jack Daniels during the inspection. Although the crash was ultimately attributed to fuel loss, it still stands to reason that if 1970s Aerosmith—or whatever hard partying 21st century equivalent you like—says no to something because they think it’s too out of control, then your band probably should, too. And let’s not forget about the time Mancunian proto-ravers The Happy Mondays hired an ol’ pal, who also happened to be their drug dealer, to be their manager. The result? trip to Barbados (the crack-cocaine capital of the world at the time) to record their next album. Of course, it quickly devolved into a crack-fueled bender that lasted for months and literally bankrupted the seminal UK label, Factory Records.     

5. Choose your gimmicks wisely

Anyone outside of Australia remember Regurgitator? Anyone in the whole world rememberCartel? Both released albums in the past year and each was reported on widely due to their participation in last decade’s utterly corny “Band In a Bubble” project. No one remembers the bands but somehow people remember the bubble. And guess what? That’s exactly what was supposed to happen! The bands were fodder; the bubble was the product. I don’t care if it’s Dr. Pepper or MTV and all you can see is dollar signs and “exposure.” Don’t get blinded by the light. Be cautious and thoughtful about what gimmicks you want to align yourself with and consider how things may play out in the long run.

6. Look at your stuff and imagine how you would steal it

The world is a mean place sometimes and thieves will steal anything they think is valuable. Why? Because they’re thieves and that’s what they do!
It makes no difference whether it’s an entire truck full of well-worn Sonic Youth gear or awhole bunch of high school band tubas. It could be instruments crucial to a middle school band’s performance at Disneyland or Jefferson Starship’s bass guitar (nicknamed “The Dragon”) purportedly “made from the same tree” as Jerry Garcia’s guitar.
If they’re there for the taking, someone will do just that. So think like a thief and always protect your gear as much as possible. Take it into hotel rooms with you if you can. Have someone sleep in the van with it. Since no tactic will protect you 100% of the time, get your stuff insured. Best rule of thumb is to be aware, thieves don’t discriminate!

7. Don’t try to game “Fair Use”

Think that goofy photo you found at a yard sale would be a perfect image for your album cover? How about a straight barely-parody rip off of a corporate logo? Sure, you might get away with it and squeak through the door of “fair use” laws but heavy rockers Tad sure didn’t. They were sued twice over these exact issues For a more recent example, Lil’ Kim is currently being sued for ripping an image off Reddit. It’s just a hassle you don’t need and, look, there’s a whole world of useable artwork out there. Find some.

8. Know when to bite your tongue

Part 1 – When you get your wish say thank you

People have this ability to speak out of both sides of their mouth, as they say. People in bands are no different. To wit, an indie darling of just one year ago–DIIV–managed to get themselves banned from South by Southwest for speaking out publicly on the corporate culture surrounding the event.
Legitimate complaint? Possibly. They’re certainly not the first band to have an “A-ha!” moment, suddenly realizing that an event that accommodates hundreds of thousands of people might actually cost, you know, money! An over-reaction on SXSW’s part? Maybe. But there’s a way to air grievances without shooting yourself in the foot.
The lesson is this: Be careful what you wish for and when you get your wishes (i.e. high profile showcases, sponsorship dollars, sweet opening gigs for popular touring bands) try your best not to talk trash so publicly that it gets back to those who granted them. 

Part 2 – Don’t air your dirty laundry

Case and point: Metallica. In fact, they could fall under both of these categories. Remember when drummer Lars Ulrich successfully alienated an entire generation of fans by raging against Napster, the file-sharing platform that propelled the industry into the 21st century and changed how future generations will experience music in its brief 3-year existence?  
Not a smart move, and the lesson continues: Once you’ve sliced out your piece of the rock star pie and are sitting on millions of dollars please don’t reveal that you spend $40,000 dollars a month on a band counselor to help you and your mates work through your issues. Especially don’t reveal this in a documentary designed to help you push your dubious “new sound”. And especially don’t do this after your drummer has made your name synonymous with jumping on your largely working-class fan base for trading your music. It just feels tacky.

Tips for Doing a Killer DIY Show

Playing in non-traditional venues like art galleries, churches, libraries, and storefronts can be fun. Often times owners are more willing to work with an artist to make a show unique and worthwhile for everyone involved. And in many cases, these show are more fun and less stressful. But playing in these spaces can also be alot more work than gigging in the average bar or club.  No matter the space, here are 5 tips for make sure your DIY show goes off without a hitch.

Make sure there is a sound system

Might seem like a no-brainer but sometimes this little detail falls through the cracks. Usually DIY venues will not have a sound system. If they do, they don’t know how to use it. Often the owner of the small business is also the one booking you and they have absolutely no idea that a sound system is required. Hashing out sound requirements ahead of time will cause you alot less stress on the day of the show. You may discover that you need to bring your own. No matter what you need to do, just make sure you determine this in advance. It will save you plenty of headaches.

Determine show logistics

Will there be someone at the door taking cover or do you need to provide someone? You will most likely need to provide your own person. How soon can you get into the venue to setup and soundcheck? Will there be any volunteers to help with setting up chairs and tables? Anyone to help run merch, food, or anything else? This stuff is super important to determine, otherwise you’ll be stuck doing everything…and that usually sucks.

Figure out how you’re promoting the show

Ask the place to stick information up on their website? Ask them if you can drop off some posters for the storefront or if you can drop off handbills that they can keep by the register. Do they want to create the Facebook event or should you? Can you both work together to effectively promote? These are all important questions to ask.  Small business owners are especially great to work with because a successful show is a win-win for everyone. You get a good turnout and they get new potential customers. Any way you can help them to promote is a bonus.

“Sell” the show! Like really sell it!

Don’t play a show with bands no one has heard of in a place no one knows how to get to!  Half the battle of playing a DIY space is finding ways to get people in the door. When your venue is in a well-trafficked area or on the right side of the street, that can make all the difference. DIY venues usually don’t have the advantage of being well-known music venues, so you’ll need to rely heavily on accessibility.  People are more likely to go to familiar and recognizable places.
Now lets talk about the bill.  Make it a killer bill. Book other artists who will help you push the show. Book artists who have a good draw. Book artists who are willing to work with you to make the night awesome. See “4 Tips For Putting Together a Great Bill for Your Show“. Sell the show. Make people want to come out. They might not know where they’re going, but at least they know they wanna be there. And remember…people will go anywhere as long as their friends are too.
Good luck!

6 Essential Apps for Hip Hop Fans

hip hop apps
Hip hop fans and artists are constantly searching for the newest ways to discover, write, see, and record new music. As we continue to move forward in the digital age, smartphones and tablets are the means of choice for a lot of that.
These five apps that should probably find a home on every hip hop fan’s phone (hopefully, we’ll see some more Android compatibility on this list soon):

DJ Funkmaster Flex (Free, iOS orAndroid)

DJ Funkmaster Flex is one of the most popular radio DJs spinning at New York City’s Hot 97 radio station; this app (made with TopFan) is where he puts new tracks, mixtapes, and radio mixes, all available for free. With so much hip hop music released every day, much of it for free, often times it can be difficult to keep up. The DJ Funk Flex is conveniently laid out for easy browsing, and it updates daily.
It’s not just music, either — it also delivers newly-released videos and hip hop news. The app creates a community around the music and everything else, as you and other users can comment on specific songs or in the general Wall area.

Genius by RapGenius (Free, iOS)

Genius should be your primary source for rap lyrics, flat out. Like the above app, it updates daily, and it also contains the lyrics to virtually every hip hop song, but that’s just the beginning. It also contains annotations, descriptions, and opinions of the lyrics you won’t find anywhere else, written in a line-by-line format. It’s helpful for those who sometimes get confused by the wordplay in the music, or who want to share their take on what a particular line might mean.
The audio fingerprinting feature that accompany can negate the need for apps like Shazam as well — and not only do you get to identify the song, but you can learn all about what it means, right there on the spot.

Who Sampled? ($3, iOS)

Say you’re listening to a brand new song. As soon as the beat drops, there’s a small sample that you just can’t pinpoint. The Who Sampled?app comes to your rescue — just search by artist or track name to check the samples they used and other songs that sample what you searched for. Or, explore uncharted territory, discovering samples you didn’t even know you knew.
Although you have to pay for the app, and could just use the website for free instead, there are no advertisements in the app, and it comes with you wherever you go. Our advice: try the web version first, and you should soon know whether it’s worth your three bucks in mobile form.

Auto Rap by Smule (Free, iOS & Android)

Autotune seemed to take over the pop music scene for a while there, during which Smule created an app to autotune your own voice. This new app from Smule turns your spoken words into rap, by analyzing what you said and chopping them up to fit to the beat correctly. Then, it plays the song back to you, laid on top of whichever beat you choose.
Yes, you can sing, rap, or even talk into the app, and can literally “auto rap” it. Even if you’re an actual rapper, this could be fun to play around with.

Jukely (Free, iOS)

Jukely is a social discovery app for concerts. They post concerts that are upcoming in your area and connects you with other users that like the artist or have bought tickets. Unlike most of the popular live music apps, this one can filter everything for a given city or cities by genre, meaning that you can get just the hip hop stuff, if that’s all you want to see.
As you use the app and buy tickets through it, you earn rewards points that can eventually be used for free or discounted tickets. Unfortunately Jukely has only rolled out in 10 cities so far, but hopefully it will reach more soon. So far, it’s in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, and Seattle.

Rap to Beats (Free, iOS)

As its name implies, Rap to Beats lets you write and record raps over pre-made beats. It will then save the recordings you like, so you can share it or store it for later. Recording on an iPhone’s microphone will not leave you with the best-possible-sounding recording in the world, but you can buy any number of microphone attachments that plug into your iPhone to the increase sound quality of your Rap to Beats (or any other rapping) creations.
Stay tuned for more music app news, reviews, and analysis.
(Top photo courtesy of Flickr/chealseaaf)