The Music Industry’s Formula for Success – Does It Exist?

Artists often want to know if there is an exact formula they can follow to guarantee success in the music industry. Does a formula like this exist? What can artists to do to help ensure a successful outcome? Is it possible to follow an exact business plan to become a successful artist or is the outcome in the industry determined by pure luck?

Timing is Important

When it comes to getting it right in the music industry, timing is everything. It does not matter what other talents an artist has on their side, or what strategies they have put in place, timing is the main factor. Watch the market to see when an exact type of talent or unsigned artist is needed. This way, you’ll know when your perfect time might be.

Supply and Demand

Just like with any other product, the music industry has supply and demand chain. Some genres have more demand than others. Also, local demand and national demand for unsigned musicians are very different. Just because you have a breakthrough in your local area, does not mean you are going to have a national breakthrough. There are artists that thrive locally, but don’t generate enough publicity to get international or even national attention.

Talent Isn’t Black & White

Talent is a lot more than an artist’s voice or instrumental skills. It includes skills such as dancing, presence, songwriting, and musical composition. It also has a lot to do with how you present yourself to the public. Above all of this, the most important talent to have as an artist is the ability to connect with your public.

You must be able to connect with an audience and make them feel the message you are trying to convey. After all, music is about sharing a story and generating emotions. When record labels are evaluating talent and promoting musicians, they look at an artist as a package. If an artist has strong skills in one area, it can make up for lacking others.

Using Your Image to Maximize Success

Your image should be yours alone. While familiarity can help your cause, there should also be something completely unique about your personal style and image. Fans don’t want to see the exact same thing over and over and they definitely do not want to see an artist who is exactly like another.

Show Your Stuff

Experience as an artist can mean a lot of things when it comes to song promotion. It includes how many shows you’ve done and how well you prepare at rehearsals. But most importantly, it’s about how you deal with failure and overcome it. It’s how you overcome rejection or make positive things out of negative feedback. Experience is a good thing, and so is professionalism. When you’re an unsigned artist, the more experience and professionalism you have, the better chance you’ll have of being signed by a major label. Use what you know to let people you’re serious about your music.

Everything Comes at A Price

Real life isn’t like the movies. Most likely, you are not going to be magically successful overnight just because you have amazing talent. Plenty of people with amazing talent never see the light of day when it comes to the music industry. It takes effort, time, and many times, even money to get where you want. The music industry does not offer a free rise to success. Work with other artists, stay in the studio, network within the industry, play gigs, and more.

These things often take more money and time than some realize. Even the best of artists can fall flat on their face quickly without careful planning.

Learn from the Best

Learning from the best is both a blessing and a curse. Those who have had success can see things that you never would on your own. But it’s also possible for a mentor to focus too much on things that don’t work for you, too. Mentors and advisors are important. Just be sure that you choose the right ones and make sure to evaluate each piece of advice you are given to see if it will work for you.

Know What They Want and Use Your Bests & Worsts to Provide It

Connecting with your fan base is perhaps the best way to grow as an artist. Not only is it an important part of song promotion, but you get to know what your fans really want. Artists and fans can now communicate freely in ways that artists from past generations could only dream about. You can’t just give in to every demand that comes along, but take the good ideas as they come. While there are always going to be fan events set up by agents and promoters, social media is an artist’s direct lifeline to fans and can’t be underestimated. Know your personal bests and worsts and use those to decide what you can and cannot give to your fan base. Anything else that’s workable can be delegated to a team.

Getting Play

Music promotion can be a tricky thing. Sometimes the road to record sales and radio play can be longer and rockier than an artist originally thought it would be. It can also be a vicious circle, as it can take radio play to get record sales and vice versa. It also may take a lot of shows being booked and played to get either. Getting all three helps ensure success. However, it can be difficult to get play in any of those arenas without showing experience and a fan base from at least one. Yet and still, even artists that do get to that point still may not sell enough records to keep it going. This is why it’s important to constantly be doing things to ensure success in all areas.

Adapting to Change

Be patient. Even if you do everything right, success is not always an instant guarantee. You have to learn to be flexible. Sometimes that means just relaxing and not overdoing it. But more than anything, it means you need to get used to things not going as planned. Changes that occur in the industry, accepting gigs you might not usually do, breaking your fixed routines, and things that throw you off schedule are the only thing certain in the music industry. The artists that go above, and beyond and have the ability to go with the flow, will usually rise up quicker than those who can’t.

Learn the Industry Inside and Out

This is the only way you’ll ever succeed in the music industry. You must know every nook and cranny of the music scene, and exactly how each moving part works to make a whole when promoting musicians. This means you need to study exactly what to do in the studio, learn about royalties and other revenue, publishing deals, bookings, and so much more. Music may be the main focus, but it’s far from the only thing you need to know. You must also be a master at research and business. This knowledge will not only help you advance quickly, but it can help prevent people from taking advantage of you and causing you to start over from scratch.

Tips on Buying a Guitar

How to Buy a Beginning Guitar

You’ve finally decided that this year is the year; you are finally going to accomplish that New Year’s goal of learning to play the guitar. But, now you’re faced with the tricky part-purchasing your first guitar. Just as proper and safe equipment is crucial to the avid athlete, finding a guitar that is sturdy, comfortable and produces beautiful sounds within your price range should be important to you. The following are some guidelines that can help direct you toward finding your match, a guitar that will last through many years of practice and performance.

Type

Before choosing your guitar, determine what style of music you most likely will want to learn to play-this will facilitate your decision concerning what type of guitar to purchase. The electric guitar is connected to an amplifier, which can magnify and distort the sounds your guitar produces. If you envision yourself as a member of the next up and coming garage band, an electric guitar may be a good pick for you. Modern acoustic guitars produce a clear, distinct sound. The acoustic guitar is the most versatile of the guitar types in that you can strum chords to rock and pop songs, or play picking patterns for jazz, folk and blues music. Classical guitars produce more mellow sounds and are used more frequently in music that requires picking patterns in addition to strumming such as folk music.

Strings

Beginners will quickly discover that the tips of their fingers are tender after practicing the guitar. Many beginning guitarists choose to use nylon strings because they are easier on the fingertips. Eventually calluses will develop on your finger tips, which will help you to produce clearer sounds with less effort as you press on the strings. Medium-light gauge Monel light strings are recommended for beginners on an acoustic guitar. Keep in mind that the type of strings you use will vary depending on the type of guitar you play, the type of music you play, and most importantly, user preference.

Neck

The width of the neck is an important factor when choosing a guitar. The classical guitar has a thick neck and may be challenging for the beginner with smaller hands, whereas the neck of a modern acoustic guitar is more narrow, making it easier to grip and to play the chords. The “action,” or the height of the strings above the metal frets on the neck, is also important to preview. The farther the strings are from the neck of the guitar, the more difficult it is to press the strings down and produce a clean sound. Measure the height of the strings where the neck and body of the guitar meet; a height of 1/8″ to 3/16″ is ideal for beginners.

Size of the Guitar

If you are purchasing a beginner guitar for a child, the size and fit of the guitar will play a huge factor in the child’s comfort and confidence in playing. Modern instrument stores now offer guitars that are designed and shaped specifically for children. Suggestions for height-guitar size ratios include: 30″ size guitar for children up to 3’9″ tall; 34″ size guitar for children 3’10” to 4’5″ tall; 36″ guitar for children 4’6″-4’11” tall; and 7/8 to a full-sized guitar for children 5′ or taller. Your best option is to take your child to a music store and allow him to play a variety of guitars to see what type of guitar will be the best fit for him.

The Case

The guitar case will make transporting your guitar much easier and should be able to provide protection to your guitar when in storage or being moved from place to place. There are essentially two types of cases-hard covers and soft covers. A soft cover is made of a layer of padding covered by fabric, and opens and closes with a zipper. It is much lighter and usually cheaper than a hard case but does not provide exceptional protection to the guitar. A hard cover is heavier, but will secure your guitar in place and protect your guitar from outside forces. If you intend on traveling frequently with your guitar for lessons or performances, consider purchasing a hard cover.

Additional Accessories

Other accessories to keep in mind when purchasing your guitar include the strap, extra strings, and guitar picks. If you are purchasing an electric guitar, you will also need to consider the type of amplifier and cord that you would like to purchase.

Price

When purchasing your guitar, consider your purchase an investment. Embark with a budget in mind, but be willing to be flexible with the price you are willing to pay as you test and play different types of guitars. Spending too little on a guitar may give you a poor quality guitar that is challenging and frustrating to play. Purchasing a used instrument is also an option, but be sure that you play the instrument and examine it for any damage, cracks, warping or other defects that may affect the sound of the guitar. Purchasing a used guitar directly from another musician will also save you money as opposed to purchasing a used guitar through a music store.

8 Necessary Steps to Developing a Successful Music Career

No matter how successful you were in your music career last year, this year could be better. Then again, if you are unwilling to change with the tide, it could end your career completely. Here are 8 steps to make sure your music career develops into the most successful business venture it can be.

Write Down Your Goals

At the beginning of each year, you should write down realistic, attainable goals for the next twelve months. Break your long term goals down into short-term goals so that you can monitor your progress, and reward yourself every now and then.

Keep that list of goals in front of you every single day. What you do then is work out a plan of how you will achieve each of goal. By having an actionable plan that you can look at every day, will reinforce the need to complete a certain number of things per day. You may also come up with additional ideas as you go along. By the end of the year, you will be amazed at just how much you did accomplish from your list.

Learn How to Make a Strong Marketing Plan for Your Music

Your music is a product, so you better have a strong marketing plan to get the word out about it. This is especially true if you’re an unsigned artist, and still need to do a lot of your music promotion yourself. It’s a lot more than recording a great sounding album, commissioning artwork for it and spending tons of time on the packaging. These days, only the most die-hard fans even buy CD’s. You should be spending your marketing money on promoting the music itself. In the long run, your money does a lot more work for you that way.

Start Gigging

Playing shows is one of the best ways to promote your music. Not only is live music everywhere, but once you’re established enough, you get paid to play, rather than the other way around. It also offers a great venue to sell CD’s and other merchandise. You can’t really beat live shows, no matter how big or small they are, because they offer some of the best word of mouth you can get. They are also a great way to get contacts within the industry, as people scouting for talent scour even the most out-of-the-way places to find the next big thing.

Make Your Own Music Website

Having your own website is extremely affordable. After purchasing a domain name, hosting can even be free outside, of paying for the domain every year. Make sure that you have strong knowledge of online marketing or hire someone who does. Your website becomes the hub of all of your music marketing efforts and from there, visitors can branch out and see everything that you do. It can be one of your greatest assets and can make even unsigned musicians a lot of money through the exposure.

Get Your Music Promoted on Blogs

Bloggers are happy to promote good musicians and they are one of the easiest ways to get song promotion. They often only require a bit of your time for an interview, as people want to know the artist behind the music. By taking the time to interview, the blogger can gain a better grasp of who you are and provide valuable information to people who are looking for new artists in your genre. Bloggers get paid by their own advertisers and by referring their visitors to your music. The social media coverage that bloggers offer is also fairly substantial and can get you a lot of new followers.

Understand That Your Music is a Business

Like any industry, music is a business. This means you have to make money to get anywhere. Whenever you make a profit from your music, it’s smart to reinvest that money. You can put some into marketing and advertising, some into improved equipment, and some into getting to play better venues.

Streaming is Where the Money Is Now

With album sales going by the wayside, streaming music is the area to focus on. While it doesn’t look as glamorous as record sales, the long-term profit margins are actually considerably higher. People who like your music and listen to it all the time will actually make you a lot more money than they would have by simply buying an album or their favorite tracks. It also means that the tracks that aren’t as widely marketed are just as accessible as the hits, meaning that people will be a lot more likely to check out your whole catalog, meaning you can make a lot more money.

Learn How to Adapt and Grow with The Industry

Every industry is always growing and evolving, and keeping up with those changes is extremely necessary to stay successful. This doesn’t mean buying into every new trend that comes along. But if you can find a way to take advantage of new technology or other new advancements, while staying within your budget, and making a profit.

Musical Impact on Culture

I love music. There is so much beauty and culture to be found in varying genres of music. Of course, we all have different tastes. I personally am quite partial to what is commonly known as “Indie” music. Artists like Lighthouse and the Whaler, Young the Giant, and Chet Faker dominate a large portion of my car time. I have friends who are more partial to country music, favoring relatable lyrics and catchy melodies. My own brother enjoys the incredibly rhythmic properties of rap and hip-hop. Even within these categories, there are thousands of sub-categories with tens of thousands of artists all with varying degrees of fandom. These fans swear by their taste in music and often belittle those who like anything else. Why is that?

I had a friend in high school who grew up in a very musical family. His mother and sister are both very talented singers and his father composed and recorded music for years. He played in concert band for much of his schooling and is an insanely good drummer. He has a rich background in music, but would often swear that rap and hip-hop do not qualify as music. This style was foreign to him. He did not enjoy it and did not see how it pushed forward music as an art form. It had no relevance to his culture, so he disregarded it.

Music has the unique property of being a sort of second language for a subculture. Rap and Hip-Hop are commonly tied to urban areas and lower-income upbringings. Country music is often played in the Midwest and South. This music provides us with an easy way to relate to each other and to interact on an emotional level with strangers. It can provoke a vast array of emotions from sadness and anger to affection and joy. I hear it often said that artists are influencing youth culture, but I would propose the exact opposite is true. Popular music is a reflection of the culture that produces it.

My friend grew up in a middle-class household surrounded by classical music. Rap was simply not relatable to him. However, my hope is that as he grew up, he recognized that what is often being rapped about in these songs is actually an amazing window into a different culture. Music is an incredibly easy, accessible way to learn about other cultures. I believe that, given the proper exposure, it could be one the most unifying tools our generation has to offer.

Skype Guitar Lessons – The Pro’s & Cons

Learn to play the guitar through Skype

With the growth of the social media through sites like Facebook, Google+, Instagram & Snapchat, the whole world is now tied into the internet in one way or another. People are finding it easier to communicate online rather than actually talking via a normal phone line. We even find it easier by shop online rather than having to drive into the city, struggle to find a parking space and queue up in the store.

Companies are finding new and interesting ways of reaching out to people through the internet so it wasn’t hard to see that eventually education and learning would be available via the internet.

Skype isn’t a new program; it’s been around for a number of years now but it really wasn’t until Hi Speed broadband became readily available that it became a medium for reliable video and audio streaming.

Now we can replace the classroom with a monitor and the catchment area for students has become worldwide.

However, we must still remember that the same rules apply when selecting a teacher if you want to learn to play the guitar.

Education

Opinions differ over whether a guitarist needs to have studied their instrument formally. Your teacher may have gone to school, but also may have studied one-on-one with dozens of professional players.

If you’re considering a teacher without a college background, look for a list of references and review what they teach.

Besides showing you technique, you’ll want a teacher who will explain music theory to give you a deeper understanding of what you’re playing.

Experience teaching

Many great guitarists can teach, but they may not be experienced teachers. Conveying information is its own art form, and everyone learns differently. A good education alone won’t do the trick – choose a guitarist who has at least a few years of teaching behind them. If they’re new to teaching and you’re OK with that, make sure they give you a rate competitive with other teachers.

Teaching style

Casual or rigorous? Loaded with theory, or focused on a single technique or song? There are as many different ways to take a guitar lesson as there are teachers and students. Ask yourself what you want to get out of your experience. If you’re just doing this for fun, you may want a more laid-back teacher. If you’d like to learn as much as possible, find someone who will keep you on your toes.

Of course there are pro’s and cons for selecting to learn online, here are some of these in greater detail.

Pro’s

Because you are no longer confined to region locations you can select a teacher from any location in the world.

No more lost travelling to your lesson,

Student’s can practice right up to the point of their lesson to ensure they are warmed up and ready for the lesson.

Student’s are more comfortable being in their home environment and feel more relaxed and find it easier to perform and play more than they would do in a classroom situation.

Due to the nature of Skype lessons, student’s actually spend more time playing than they would normally do in a face to face lesson.

If you’re a busy parent and trying to find time to attend classes and also look after another sibling then is problem goes away, the student can take their lesson why you have time to do other things.

Con’s

Teacher isn’t in the same room as the student so he is unable to manipulate their wrists, fingers, elbows, etc.

Teacher and student are unable to play together due to a lagging webcam (and all webcam sessions experience lag).

Need Internet connection.

Student’s may find themselves distracted by outside sources, siblings, animals, neighbors, etc. however please note this can also occur in a lesson if a student is being taught at home.

Equipment Required

Here’s the minimum setup you’ll need:

High-speed internet connection

Computer, with enough processing power to send and receive streaming video and audio (anything on today’s market can handle it)

Webcam, either built-in on a laptop or bought separately

Microphone, again either built-in or separate, over time you may want to upgrade to a higher quality mic.

It’s also recommend to have a good set of headphones just in case they feel distracted or the internet quality starts to weaken during a lesson.

This is the minimum you will require to participate in a online lesson. You’ll need to install the Skype software on that computer. Go to Skype.com and they’ll walk you through it. Choose a username appropriate for you, usually your name itself, if it’s available.

Payments

Payment for online lessons are normally made through PayPal, speak with your teacher and he will normally advise you how he wishes to be paid. Some teachers offer packages of lessons that can save you money over a period of time.

Geoff Sinker is a Professional Guitar teacher currently based in Dubai. He has been teaching for over 30 years. He hold’s a Licentiate Teaching Degree from Trinity College London, and Guitar grade 8. A specialist in Rock, Blues, Jazz and Fusion. He currently teaches both one on one and also through Skype.

He has performed in bands in various countries including the UK, USA, Panama, and Dubai. He is currently working on a number of eBooks looking at all aspects of guitar playing.

Some of his lessons have been featured on Ultimate Guitar.

How To Find The Best Songs

If you clicked on this article that means you are curious about where to find the best music or you just did it by accident. Oh well, you are here now so you might as well stay right? Great, because you’re about to find out how to find the best songs. What I mean by best songs is personal to me and it will be different for you as well. You have had a different life than I, and we may also hear things a bit differently. A bad song to one person could be someone else’s favorite song. The best songs for me may not be the best songs for you, but that is what makes music so great! Now that you see the surface I am going to give you a few steps you can take that could help you find the best songs out there.

The first step you can try is changing your radio station or playlist that you listen too. If you listen to the same set of songs from the same genre all the time you are definitely missing out on some quality music.

There are a lot of different kinds of music in this world and all have something unique to offer. Try changing your radio station to the first song that comes on. Even if you do not like it stay on that station until they have played at least five different songs. If at that point you still are not satisfied with the songs move to the next one and repeat this process as often as you can. If you do not listen to the radio and prefer getting your music online then switch up the websites you are surfing. Or if you are like me just start clicking deep into YouTube, you will definitely find some gems there.

Another step you can take is searching a certain word and listening to every song that comes up with that word! This is particularly great for those of you who use streaming sites or for those of you who blog and use YouTube frequently. It can be really fun picking a random word and seeing what comes up. I sometimes like to scroll all the way down to the bottom and start listening to the last five down there and then work my way up. I would encourage you to use unique words though, simply typing in “you” or “the” will not be as enjoyable of an experience as would be typing in something more original. Places like iTunes and Spotify are ideal spots to do this. Apple’s endless catalog will make sure that you find a great song. I have had a lot of fun in my down time by using this step. There are billions of words so be sure to explore even if it is not English. Use French words and Spanish words to shake things up!

This next step is one that not many people like to do. However, I have found in my music experience that this step can go a long way. Listen to a song again even if you do not like it at first. If you are still unsure listen again. Are you still not sure? One more time. Listen to it until you are truly sick of it. By no means force yourself to like a song, just be willing to give it another chance. Sometimes it can take a few days to fully digest a song and hear everything in it. I find this tactic very useful as far as complete albums go. Most of the time an artist will have albums that contain at minimum ten songs and at maximum twenty songs. This is a lot of music and a full album cannot be fully listened to in one sitting. Sometimes full albums might take weeks to set in and you will realize yourself starting to like a song that did not really catch your ear at first. Do not be so quick to judge a song; sometimes you need to just keep listening. Combining the last step and this step makes a great tool to finding new music you never thought you would listen to and you end up loving it.

The last step here is a simple one. Have your own opinion. I have met way too many people that will pretend they like a song just because everyone else does. I strongly encourage you guys not to be this way. Like what you like and don’t like what you don’t like. Just because a song is the “most popular” song at the moment does not mean you have to like it. Have an opinion that is truly yours. Music is made for the individual and this is the key to understanding how to find the best songs for you.

These are steps I think that any and all music enthusiasts should take to finding good songs. Here is just a quick recap of the steps: Change your playlist or radio station, and stop on first song and listen to that station until you have heard at least five songs; You can search a keyword on a website or streaming service and listen to all songs that come up; Take your time when listening to music and give songs repeats even if you do not like it at first; and finally is just have your own opinion of music that is not influenced by the outside world. I have personally used all of these steps more than one time. Every now and then I like to search really deep for some hidden gems and these are the ways I do so! Really the key takeaway from this is to just be open and curious about music. I have my favorite genres that I listen to a lot more than other genres that I am not so fond of. Everyone has their own “style” of music they like the most and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just try new genres every now and then.