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:

KevinMusic as Career: How to Stay Focused as an Artist
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Gear Talk: Dave Raymond of Hidden Hospitals

In our latest Gear Talk we caught up with Dave Raymond, front man of alt rock band Hidden Hospitals and who was recently endorsed by Jericho Guitars, to find out how he uses digital gear to bring consistency and quality control to live shows, how technology has influenced his production style, and more.

What was your first piece of equipment and how old were you?
Fender, Squier Stratocaster + Bullet amplifier. I think I was sixteen. Distortion makes any teenager feel like a god.

What do you take on the road?
We use 2 speakers, 2 mic stands, 2 small pedal boards, a trigger module and drums that are all connected to one small rack. Inside that is our MIDI I/O, interfaces, my KEMPER PROFILING AMP, a bass guitar chain and our in-ears boxes. A Macbook Pro runs our digital mixer and ABLETON LIVE. LIVE is our clock and source for all programming: MIDI control changes / program changes, samplers and all of our audio effects (vocal, bass, guitar, drums).

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Gear Talk: Ellie Herring

Kentucky-based electronic artist Ellie Herring has been praised by the likes of Paper Magazine, Pigeons and Planes, and Gorilla vs. Bear for her hard-hitting beats and airy vocals. With a highly-anticipated EP due out this fall we caught up with Ellie to learn about her versatile style, go-to gear, music production advice, and more.

Hey Ellie! Introduce yourself.
Hey guys!  I’m Ellie Herring, & currently I’m sitting in my backyard in Kentucky on my second cup of coffee… & also have a browser tab open to a page with directions on “how to make the best iced coffee at home.”  I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, not because I’m an insomniac, but because I’ve recently discovered The Rockford Files & can’t stop watching.  Have you ever read James Garner’s life story? It’s amazing.

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Starting a New Band? Don’t Miss These Essential Tips

It’s a new year, which means the perfect chance to break out of your musical mold and try something completely different. Starting a new project is equal parts exciting and exhausting, so we’ve come up with a list of helpful do’s and don’ts to get off on the right foot.

19696837921_d4f17cd216_o (1)Ask Yourself, “What kind of music do I want to make?”
This might seem like an obvious starting point, but if you’re thinking about doing something new, it’s essential that you have some sort of framework. Are you looking to ditch your guitars for turntables and see what EDM is all about? Or are you burnt out on oscillators and want to dust off your 6-string? The clearer you are about what kind of music you want to make, the easier it will be to get started.

But Don’t Be Afraid to Evolve

It’s important to not let your initial ideas about a new project get completely cast in stone. Because the project is new, your sound is going to inevitably evolve, and that’s a good thing! While it’s important to have a well-defined vision for a project, don’t get upset or frustrated if you end up somewhere different after a few rehearsals or shows.

Choose a (Somewhat) Practical Name
Google is a fantastic tool for any music fan, but naming your band something like “Chair” or “Fantaztik Adv3nturz” is not going to make it any easier for them to find you with it. Sure, you don’t want to limit your artistic vision, but with millions of new bands on ReverbNation alone, the more accessible your band becomes even in just a simple search, the better.

Register Email and Social Media Accounts
Even if you are still kicking around a few names, go ahead and register an email account, Facebook page, Twitter account, and ReverbNation account for those potential names. Doing that is free and only takes a few minutes, so you might as well cover your bases.

22324309081_11d6a4f8c1_oRecord Some Demos
Once you’ve got some finished material, record some demos as soon as you can. Today’s home recording equipment is not only better than it ever has been, but it’s more affordable, too. There are lots of great (and free) recording programs like Auadacity available to use. Or, if you’d rather have a polished sound from the start, pool your resources for a studio session to knock out a song or two — just make sure you and your bandmates are well-rehearsed and ready to record before the session.

Take A Decent Photo
Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, and the cameras on even the basic models are capable of taking a decent photo. Fans like to see the artist they’re listening to, even if it’s not the most imaginative or elaborate photo.

Establish a Band “Mission Statement”
It’s important to establish early on a few things like how serious you want the project to be or who has creative control of the project. Is this going to be a band that just plays a few local shows a year and rehearses mainly as an excuse to hang out with friends? Totally fine! Just make sure everyone in the band is on the same page. Similarly, if this project is going to get “serious” and require lots of time and financial investment, your bandmates should be aware.

19637351966_045946d851_oSpread the Word to Previous Fans
Chances are you’ve probably had some previous band experience, or at least you have enough friends on Facebook who know you play music. The best way to get some early buzz going about your new project is to let those fans know that you’re working on something new. Just make sure your old bandmates are OK with you promoting your new project on older social media accounts before you use that existing fanbase.


Set a Deadline
The most effective way to make sure that any new project gets off the ground is to set a deadline for yourself. Whether it’s booking a show, scheduling a studio session, or announcing a release date, having a set due date for something is the best way to keep yourself on track.

Have any other advice? Let us know in the comments!

Tips compiled by Ryan Trauley (lead singer, Hotline), Mike Robinson (bassist, Annuals; lead singer, First Persons), Nathan Price (guitar player, Lilac Shadows; bassist, The Lollipops) and Sam Logan (singer & guitarist, Lilac Shadows).

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A Beginner’s Guide to EQ & Mixing

Crooks Hall Studio’s John Metcalfe has laid out some basic guidelines to approaching your own mixing and EQ’ing. And these tips apply to both the DIY musician just starting out all the way to professional engineers — so take note!



What is EQ?

The main goal when mixing a song is to translate what the musicians intended the listener to hear into what is actually heard. There are many barriers you can face along the way, but one of the most essential tools to make this happen is through EQ.

Broadly speaking, there are two main uses for EQ:

  • As a sculpting tool to make sure each instrument has room to be heard in the limited available space in the mix
  • As a creative tool to make a deliberate and audible effects on the audio

The first method is like the work of a builder, laying the foundations of the mix. The other is like an interior designer, adding the finer details to the mix. Both are important to the end result, but here we will discuss how to avoid your mix resembling a pile of rubble with a few scatter cushions on top.

KevinA Beginner’s Guide to EQ & Mixing
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