In 2019, there’s no shortage of ways to measure a musical artist’s success. Between public play counts and the growing private listener analytic data that streaming platforms now give to artists, musicians have ways to see how well their music performs in real-time. This unprecedented reality clearly brings artists some sizable benefits. For example, a small, unestablished band doesn’t have to fork over cash for an expensive radio campaign to learn what cities listen to their music the most because streaming platforms give away that information for free.
But there’s some significant drawbacks to consider in today’s data-driven, instantly gratified music culture. There are constant, unavoidable reminders of whether an artist is conventionally successful or if their music isn’t being heard. Drawing a connection to your self worth and whether your music is successful or not is a recipe for the sort of creative-killing frustration that can do serious damage to not only your career, but also your personal well-being.
Humans are habit-forming creatures, which can be both good and bad for musicians. Routines are ideal for stuff like practicing an instrument or getting plenty of rehearsal time in for an upcoming performance, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s creative potential. Habits stifle creativity when they remove the potential of risk and newness from the music-making process. If you’re someone who struggles with succumbing to bland routines and predictable habits in your songwriting efforts, we’ve got three tips to help:
When I started making music seriously in my early twenties, I had an idea in my head that once musicians got to a certain level of success, they’d be able to focus purely on their music. Music promotion, finances, booking shows – I thought all the unpleasant grunt work of musical life could one day be handed over to managers, accountants, and record labels if I could just be successful enough. More than a decade later, I’m happier than ever making music and am nowhere near the point of being able to schlep off the non-musical duties of my music career off on someone else. Over the years, my views on what a musician’s role can or should be have changed completely. I now believe that musicians should care about the non-musical aspects of their careers, but not for the reasons you might think.
Sometimes, you just want to throw your hands in the air and tell someone else to deal with all the hard stuff, am I right?! You want to be able to turn to someone when you need advice, call on them when it’s time to strategize, and just know that someone out there has your back. For many artists, that means having a manager. But here’s the kicker—it’s not always the right time to bring one on.
Sure you may be wrestling with all of the above feelings, but just because you want a manager or feel like you need a little help doesn’t mean you’re actually ready for one. Here are five things to ask yourself next time you start to wonder if you’re ready for a manager.
Think of the coolest marketing campaign you’ve ever seen. It can be something your favorite band did, a campaign your favorite clothing company ran, or a contest put on by the local diner for their 25th anniversary. Whatever it is, think about what made it stand out, why it captured your imagination, and why you still hold onto it.
Odds are, it’s not because they ran some mediocre ad campaign or shoved the same generic t-shirt design in your face. It’s because they did something that spoke directly to you and what you believe in. They used their brand and their message to tap into what it is that matters most to you—their fan/follower/customer—and because of that, you were able to really grasp onto it, and it left an impression.
Anyone can create an ad, put out a new piece of merch, or play a show. The real power is in creating an experience that’s so valuable to your fans that they not only remember it, but they want to share it with all their friends.
So how do you make sure your next promo strategy is worth remembering?
For new bands, the experience of getting up on stage and playing is exciting and meaningful no matter the circumstances. But for seasoned musicians, shows with wretched sound, empty rooms, and non-existent payouts quickly gets old. The “down for anything” stereotype musicians have had flung at them is dangerous because it’s an attitude that devalues the immense work songwriters and performers put into their craft. If you’re serious about making music, you have to learn how to discern what opportunities are worth pursuing from the ones you should be gracefully turning down. Here are three shows to say no to if you’re an experienced musician:
Stereo imaging is an important component of creating a three-dimensional mix. Without this stereo imaging, our mixes would sound flat, two-dimensional, and uninteresting. Ensuring that the elements in your mix occupy the entire stereo spectrum in a balanced way is crucial for the success of your track. Below I have listed 5 ways you can stereo widen your sounds to create a professional three-dimensional mix.
Before I go over the top five tips for stereo widening, I would like to go over what exactly stereo imaging is and what instruments you should stereo widen. Stereo imaging is the perceived spatial locations of a sound source.
Instruments that respond well to stereo widening are sounds that are high-frequency dominant. High frequencies are directional, meaning that you can better perceive where they are in space much better than lower frequency elements. Leads, high hats, background sounds, and any other elements that contain a fair amount of high frequencies are all great elements to stereo spread in your mix to create a wide professional stereo image. Here are the top 5 tips for stereo widening.
Creating music can be bruising or even downright crushing at times. Writing meaningful music often requires isolation, vulnerability, and fortitude in withstanding dead-end after dead-end throughout the creative process. When an idea is finished, it’s put out into the world for everyone to hear and criticize – or even worse, to be ignored or never heard in the first place.
If you make music, you are inviting disappointment into your life in some form. And while young musicians seem to be able to roll with the inevitable physical and emotional punches of a music career, older musicians don’t cope as well. Add in the fact that as musicians age the non-musical aspects of their lives become louder and more pressing, and it’s easy to see why so many people stop making music after their twenties. An image of someone at a desk job reminiscing about the good old days of being in a band comes to mind. Lots of perfectly talented musicians trade in their dreams for lives that are financially and emotionally safer with claims that they weren’t good enough to keep making music. But the truth is that when musicians lose their passion, the world loses something as well. Individual musicians lose a vital creative outlet and the rest of us lose the music they would’ve made if they wouldn’t have quit.