Music as Career: How to Stay Focused as an Artist

A few tips and suggestions on how to stay focused as an artist vying for a successful music career.

I too often encounter artists and bands who are obsessed with their musical career. Any driven individual could be described as ‘obsessed’ which I think is great, as long as your focus is on the music and honing your craft. I find that many young artists are too distracted by self-managing tasks and get bogged down in areas that take away from the very thing that will make you successful; creating impactful, deep and innovative new music. Here are some tips for staying focused:

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Do’s and Dont’s for Writing a Band Bio

First impressions are everything and your band bio gives people a first glimpse of what you’re all about. Our CONNECT Manager, Sharyn, who has written countless bios gave us some quick tips for how to make yours stand out.

  • DON’T overestimate the reader’s attention span. Keep it short and sweet – think one to two paragraphs max.
  • DON’T let writing intimidate you, reach out to your writer friends for advice
  • DO hook the reader in with the very first sentence
  • DON’T use cliche phrases like “hails from” or “we sound like (insert band name) and (insert another totally different band) had a baby. Be original.
  • DO create a strong, unique tag line for your band that press can latch onto like “disco pop princess” or “post-millennial Billie Holiday”
  • DO find a compelling story line about your life and music that sets you apart and build the bio around this
KevinDo’s and Dont’s for Writing a Band Bio
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Music Publishing 101: How to Get Started With A Performance Rights Organization (PRO)

Now that you know what a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) is and that they’re an integral part of the music industry and in getting public performances licensed, tracked and then royalties paid to songwriters, SESAC Creative Services Manager, Diana Akin Scarfo shares her top tips for how to get started with a PRO.

1. Do your homework/research.

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Music Publishing 101: What’s a Performance Rights Organization (PRO)?

Are you playing your original songs/music live or are they getting played on the radio? Was your song placed in a TV show, film or commercial that is being played on TV? Did you know that songwriters get paid for these types of public performances? PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) are an integral part of the music industry and in getting these types of public performances licensed, tracked and then royalties paid to songwriters. The administration and business side of your song catalog is as important as you creating it - read on to learn the ins and outs of how this works from SESAC Creative Services Manager, Diana Akin Scarfo.

What is a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)?
If you’re a songwriter, you have the right to be paid royalties any time your song is performed publicly. A PRO, also known as a Performing Rights Organization, tracks and licenses a songwriter’s music and pays the songwriter and music publisher public performance royalties (it is very common for the songwriter to act as the music publisher until a publishing deal/agreement is entered into).  Public performance royalties are when your song is performed on radio (terrestrial, satellite, and internet), TV (TV Shows, films played TV, commercials), live performances (i.e. bars, music venues, festivals, etc.), and digital streaming services (i.e. Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Pandora, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc.).

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Life on the Road: The Bergamot

Brooklyn-based indie rock duo The Bergamot have been driving around the U.S. in their Volvo on their 48-state “Unity Tour.” The husband and wife band took a break from their amazing journey to share their top touring tips, update us on the tour so far, and more.

What are your tips for touring musicians?

Touring… The final frontier. The only frontier. You know how you can turn the lights off in a room and for the first couple seconds of walking around you can remember where everything is and how to navigate. Then, after about 60 seconds, you slowly start to loose orientation and your memory becomes a little foggy. Then you just put your hands out and move your feet slow as to find your way. Finally, you hit into something and then it triggers your memory into where you might be. You just keep going and slowly the room reveals itself to you. That is the closest comparison I have ever had to life on the road. You can loose your sense of center and you completely become submersed in the moment and that is the guiding direction. It can be scary, but after a while you can get the hang of it. It can be frustrating when you are working hard to develop you career and others want to know how you are doing. But the truth is if you are still touring and performing you are still making it all work for you. It is just that simple.

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Gear Talk: We Are Temporary

Fresh off a tour in Germany, Mark Roberts of the electronic-goth project We Are Temporary, chatted with us about his new record deal with Trisol, the equipment he can’t live without, sound-pairing, and more.

How did you first get involved as a producer and what elements drew you in?
My mom was an opera singer and my dad a classically trained organist, so I fell into music pretty early. My first attempts at production probably occurred around the time I was 14. By then, I had been playing guitar for a few years, got my first synth around 12, and had fallen head over heals in love with computers—Amiga 500, early 386 PCs, amber screens, MS DOS, etc.

Around 1992, my world was turned upside down when Steinberg’s Cubase came out on Windows 3.0 and I discovered the world of MIDI. Computers, of course, still couldn’t record audio back then, and so, after pestering my Mom for months on end, she finally got me a 4-track Tascam Portastudio for Christmas, with me combining elementary midi-programed drums and synths with some very rudimentary guitar power chords and pubescent vocals. The results were almost certainly awful, haha, but the damage was done and I was having the time of my life! 23 years and a handful of technology innovations later, I’m basically still doing the same thing, still having the time of my life 🙂

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Gear Talk: Avi Sic

Performing over 300 shows a year, Chicago-based DJ Avi Sic has shared the stage with the likes of Calvin Harris, Icona Pop, and works with top brands including AllSaints and Nike. With residencies in Chicago, NYC, and Miami, Avi Sic is a driving force in today’s club scene. Read on to learn about her go-to gear, how she approaches music production, and more.

Hey Avi Sic, thanks for chatting with us! Introduce yourself. You were a radio DJ at KISS FM, mentored by DJWS (Lady Gaga’s Grammy-nominated producer), and have shared the stage with the likes of Calvin Harris, Diplo, and more. (Such a rad background!). How did you get started in music?
As a kid i was obsessed with space and music – my parents wouldn’t send me to space camp so i concentrated on the music . I took up instruments at an early age and by high school I was Djing and playing college parties. I wasn’t certain as to what i wanted to do as an adult – DJing professionally kinda fell into my lap. I took sound engineering classes in college and messed around with the basics of the the early 2000’s. Pro tools, fruityloops, garageband… After a few years I was supporting myself solely off gigs and basically continue to network my way up and up.

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Life on the Road: Good Graeff

From booking their first tour on their own to touring the country nonstop for the last three years, twins Brooke and Brit of indie-pop duo Good Graeff know a thing or two about living life on the road. They just premiered their music video for “Good Touch” on Galore Magazine and shared their go-to touring tips and rules for indie bands with us. If you’re about to hit the road, read on for advice from the ladies of Good Graeff.

Brooke and Brit here from Good Graeff!

We’ve been touring consistently for the last three (ahhh almost four!) years, the first of which was a three month tour we booked ourselves (Yikes!). Now we try and keep it to six weeks and under. Here are some tips we’ve learned, and some rules we have. Not to say these will totally resonate with you and your band, or work for every band… EVERY BAND IS SO DIFFERENT. Also, most bands are all guys, which I think also changes what can drive you crazy. So these are guides for an indie touring band. If you are about to embark on your first tour, there is a big learning curve I think, and you will have awesome highs, and probably a few tour lows, but hey! That’s kinda what it’s all about.

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