4 ways to make your next gig easy on the sound engineer

Unknown 1 650x433 4 ways to make your next gig easy on the sound engineerSimple steps to help you get the sound person on your side

In every concert there are two types of people running around.
Before you sigh, this isn’t turning into a “there’s two types of people in the world” joke.
No, this is about the two personalities that work at every concert.
The musician. And the sound engineer.
As a musician, for a good show to sound great, you need the sound engineer to be on your side. He’s the one that’s looking out for you when you can’t hear what the audience is hearing. He’s the one that’s walking around the venue making sure you sound good.
Sadly, bands often don’t realize the importance of this relationship. As a musician and a sound engineer, I’ve often found myself on both sides of the stage. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about your sound person the next time you’re out gigging.

The sound guy is your friend

You didn’t hire him and he can finish the job without needing to be friends with you. But make him your friend and he’ll treat you better.
You need HIM to sound good. Not the other way around.
Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is just as relevant in the concert scene as it is in the business world.
Introduce yourself to the sound person, remember his or her name and treat him as you would any of your fans. Communication and friendliness is key to a good sound.

Don’t be loud

There’s another, more technical term for live sound.
It’s called sound reinforcement.
Basically, the sound engineer takes the sound that you have on stage and reinforces it out to the audience. This gives him the power to create a balanced live sound mix. Makes sense, right?
Now, if you all crank up to 11 and the stage sound is too loud, you don’t give him any control over what the audience hears.
And if all they hear coming from the stage is distorted guitar then congratulations; that’s what your show will sound like.
The key here is to get a good stage sound that’s not too loud. Then you reinforce that stage sound with some monitoring for the vocals and the instruments that are lacking. If the sound engineer is asking you to turn down he’s not doing it to insult you. He’s doing it to make you sound better. Nobody is attacking your ego here and everybody is just trying to have a good sounding show.

Be prepared for your own instrument

There’s only two ways you will be plugged in:
* Quarter inch jack cable
* XLR cable
Do yourself a favor and buy yourself the adaptors that you need.
Sound engineers don’t have every possible configuration of a cable in their pockets and it’s dangerous to rely on that.
So if you need to plug in your laptop, bring an adaptor that turns into a quarter inch cable.
You’ve spent hours upon hours working on your music. You should spend 5 minutes figuring out how it connects to the sound system. Jack plug or XLR cable. If you have a way to connect that way you’re golden.

Don’t tell him how to do his job

I have to admit I do this too much. It’s hard when you’re both a musician and a sound engineer.
Some sound engineers don’t want (or need) your help. They have a set way of doing things and interfering with their job is the best way to piss them off.
If you feel especially persuasive, or you know something that you’re certain he’s overlooked, feel free to let them know. But it’s risky to tell other people how to do their jobs — so veer on the side of caution. If you followed suggestion number one then it’s to point something out because they already like you. However, if you’ve already pissed them off and are now trying to tell them how to do their jobs, you’re not doing your sound any favors.
Keep this in mind during your next gig and make the sound engineer feel like a part of your band. Your concert will go smoother because of it. I guarantee it.
Author bio: Björgvin Benediktsson is a musician, audio engineer and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Crowd Audio, a unique new startup connecting musicians that need professionally music production services with audio engineers all over the world. Check it out at www.crowdaudio.com and sign up to their blog for more tips on becoming a better musician.
Advertisements

How to make the most of your back catalogue

OK, so you’ve spent loadsa money and time making a record; you’ve put it out; you sold a couple of hundred of copies to friends and relatives whose interest in your musical activities seems to dwindle with each release…and now you’ve got an idea for a bigger, better, brighter album that will knock the socks off the last one. Time to consign the previous release to the dustbin of rock history, so you can focus on your new material, right? 
No.  And here’s why: when you made that old album, you produced something very valuable in this day and age: content. Have you heard that old / new saying ‘content is king’? Well, content IS king. It’s what generates visits to websites, streams on Spotify; sync-deals for films; background music for Phil and Kirsty to sell houses to on Channel 4. Good content takes time to produce, and even if you are bored with your old songs, and they’ve been knocking around for more years than you care to remember…they can come in very handy. Just because a previous album didn’t sell millions, it doesn’t mean it’s not any good, and it could contain tracks which if produced, packaged or promoted differently (or individually) could well advance your career or generate moolah to fund the next album. 
So, here are some ways you can make the most of your older material: 
  • Think about approaching publishers and other artists’ managers with a view to getting your tracks covered by whoever the latest anodyne-but-chart-topping muppets are. You might be sitting on a track which might never be a hit for you but could sell millions for a reformed-tax-avoiding-and-ever-so-slightlier-hairier boy band.
  • You can approach TV producers, film-makers or advertising people with your music: there’s nothing like a John Lewis advert featuring one of your songs to get a few quid in the run up to Christmas. The other advantage of this is that works out significantly better for you than a Wonga loan.
  • You could think about approaching games companies with an old track and ask them to have your tasteful and tender folk song form the background music to a violent shoot-em-up (OK, so maybe something a bit more electronic / upbeat might work a tad better for this particular suggestion).
  • You can give away your old material in exchange for email addresses or Facebook likes. This can be a really good way to build up a bigger database.
  • Create deluxe editions of your older albums. If you have a devoted-enough fanbase, you might find that they’re willing to shell out for a remixed and remastered version of a previous opus. Hell, you could even create a box set containing all your previous albums plus, if your music isn’t rare enough already, some ahem, rarities.
  • Sell your older albums at gigs. It’s amazing how many bands forget to do this – they often rock up at venues armed only with their brand new release (when several punters may well want to buy other CDs – particularly if they are signed).
  • You can also use physical copies of previous albums as incentives to attend gigs – if you’re sitting on a pile of CDs that never sold, why not give one away with each ticket sold for a show? 
  • You could also do a ‘two for one’ deal where people can buy the new album plus an older one at a price that is simply too good to be believed.
  • Rework a song for your new album. You might have a killer track on an older release – but one which suffered from a terrible production. Give it another go and release it as your next single. Who knows; it might be a hit second time round.
When you stop to think about it, there is actually quite a lot you can do with your older material. Dust down those old CDs and get the boy band directory out. 

4 ways to promote your album independently

shutterstock 170976539 4 ways to promote your album independently[This post was written by guest contributor Dave Kusek of New Artist Model.]
You’ve worked long and hard on your new album, but all that work is for nothing if no one knows about it! That’s where promotion comes in. The key with album promotion is to start early and to be really active. Just changing your Facebook cover photo to the album cover and announcing the release the day of isn’t going to cut it. You need to build up hype over time and keep on going even after the album drops.
The fact of the matter is you don’t need the marketing department of a record label to launch an album campaign of your own. With all the tools available on the internet, you can spread the word for little cost, or even for free. In fact, the creative campaigns executed by agile indie musicians tend to be more effective than the one-size-fits-all strategies employed by big labels. Here’s four cool creative strategies you can use for your next album release.

1. Employ your fans

For the most part, as an indie artist you need to make things happen on your own, and that includes marketing. But, you actually have a whole team of marketers out there just waiting to spread the news – your fans! While you can’t email them a plan and expect them to finish appointed tasks, you can, and should, build a strategy that incentivizes them to share.
One of the best ways to get fans talking is involvement. If people feel they have contributed something meaningful to a project they are more likely to share with their friends. This could be as simple as asking fans for photographs to use in your single’s music video. Crowdfunding platforms let you offer fans cool rewards like using their name in a song, allowing them to write a line of lyrics, or personally thanking them in the album booklet.
Contests are another great way to get fans sharing. Make sure you offer something really awesome, like a live webinar/Google Hangout concert and Q&A in which you’ll be exclusively premiering a new song. Ask fans to share something, like your single, via social media to be entered in the contest. You’ll be getting the word out while also incentivizing the winners to talk about their awesome experience.

2. The live promotion

These days, album releases are becoming more and more digital. You don’t need to worry about getting your album in the big stores and then going to signings on the day of release. Instead, you just have to press the upload button, send out a few tweets, and call it a day. However, just because you can release entirely online doesn’t mean youshould. The person-to-person experience is still extremely important in the music industry.
I know recording an album can be a little chaotic as you scramble to get everything done on time, but this is exactly when you want to start playing some gigs. Let your fans know that you’ll be premiering a new song at your shows. Not only will this bring people out and get them excited for the album, you’ll also have a chance to tweak the songs based on your audience’s reaction. If it doesn’t sound quite how you wanted when played loud, you can still make some changes! You could even schedule four shows in the month leading up to the release and tell your fans that you’ll play the entire album at one of them. This way, if they really want to hear the new songs early, they’ll have to come to every show.
We all know the live show can be used to build up local hype around your album after the release. It’s pretty common practice to have an album release show or party and then set off on a tour, but you need to be thinking about how you can take this strategy to the next level and deliver something that will really get your fans excited while simultaneously spreading the word about your album. Doing a mini house concert tour in your local area is a great way to give your biggest fans something extra special. You could even run some cool contests or sell two CDs for the price of one to incentivize sharing.

3. Constant content

The last thing you want to do is start working on your next album and disappear for a few months. After months of silence, when you finally come out with an announcement your fans may not be listening or looking out for your content.
Social media is one of the easiest ways to stay on your fans’ radars. Post Twitter updates about the recording process, pictures from the studio, or short teaser Vines. If you have a blog configured on your website, keep the content flowing! Share stories from the studio or your inspiration behind the album or certain songs. You want to get your fans coming to your website on a regular basis leading up to the album release. That way, they’ll be able to purchase the album and maybe even some merch when it drops.
You could even go a little deeper and open up the door to show your fans the writing process. A lot of people find the creative world of musicians really interesting. Post short videos of rough songs you’re working on or photos of short lyrical ideas. Ask for your fans’ opinions and talk to them about your inspirations. Not only will they follow your interesting content, you’ll also be able to forge a more human connection.

4. Bloggers and press

If you want to reach out to an audience beyond your active fan base, bloggers are the way to go, and placement on a blog is totally within your reach as an indie artist if you have a strategy in mind. The best part about blogs is that they tend to have a dedicated following that really trusts the blogger’s opinion. On top of that, their following is usually very niche specific. This means you’re guaranteed an audience that already likes the type of music you play.
Do some research and find blogs that cover musicians in your genre and at a similar career level to you. Next, you’ll want to send out an email. You can usually find the blogger’s contact information pretty easily with a little digging through the website. Make the subject line clear and the email personal, short, and to the point. Share an interesting story about your album with a link to your music, but don’t send them a long, drawn-out life story. Remember, the point is to intrigue them enough to check out your music – the music should do the talking.
If you want to convert the blogger’s followers into fans, try offering them an exclusive first-look at your single or a free download for their users. If they get one song and like it, they are more likely to go and buy the rest of the album.
SourceThe DIY Musician