Artists House website just released it’s Christmas Community Compilation! In the spirit of the season (and full disclosure) – yes, I am on it, but so are a lot of other cool indie bands, and I’m so excited to be a part of this holiday compilation.
Special, special thanks and praise for Andrew Goodrich of Artist’s House for putting this compilation together, and helping to build the indie music community.
Create a Vision Board for Your Music Goals
by Carla Lynne Hall
Creating a Vision Board for your and/or your band’s musical goals is a powerful way to set your musical intentions for the next year. As today is the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year), ancient civilizations believed that it is a powerful day for planting “spiritual seeds” as they waited for the Sun (and Spring) to return, but you can make a Vision Board any day of the year!
If you’ve read or seen The Secret, or you’re into the Law of Attraction, you’ve probably heard about Vision Boards by now. But if you haven’t, I’m happy to share my how-to’s!
What is a Vision Board?
Also known as a Treasure Map, it’s basically a collage of pictures and words that represent your goals. The purpose of a Vision Board is to inspire you, and keep you on track. If you have a band, this can be be a fun project to complete together.
Step One – Set Your Intentions
What do want to accomplish musically in the New Year? Here are some ideas to get you started:
* Get booked at the hottest venue in town
* Tour Europe
* Open for a major label artist
* Sell 500 (or more!) CDs
* Record or complete a CD
* Have 100 paying guests at a gig
* Play a solo gig
* Learn to play a new instrument
* Take vocal lessons
* Start or join a band
Step Two – Find and/or Create Pictures to Represent Your Goals
One way is to get a stack of old magazines, and cut out pictures and captions that represent your goal.
Be sure to include pictures of yourself and your band!
Step Three – Make Your Collage
With a glue stick (probably the cleanest method), or other adhesive, arrange your pictures and captions
on poster board, or a bulletin board. You can also use a sketchbook or scrapbook if you like.
Let your imagination be your guide!
Step Four – Keep Your Vision Board In View
The whole point of a Vision Board is to keep your eye on your vision. If you prefer to keep your Vision
Board in a scrapbook, be sure to review it often. If your band rehearses in someone’s garage, there’s no
better place for a band’s Vision Board to be. I once visited a singer who had her Vision Board framed and hung
on her living room wall, which I thought was a nice touch. The cliche is true: Out of sight, out of mind!
Another idea that I learned from musician Luna Jade is to create a Vision Board on your computer desktop. This is a great way to keep your vision within sight!
Here are some of the pics from my Vision Board. If you’re handy with Photoshop, you can also do cool things like put your band’s photo on the cover of Rolling Stone!
My CD Supernova #1 on Billboard
Me with J.Lo’s body 😉
Thanks to the magic of flickr, I was also able to find pics of other Vision Board examples to give you more ideas:
Obviously, my focus here is music, but you can also create Vision Boards for your personal life, for other goals like taking a great vacation, and meeting your Soulmate. If you have kids (or not), this is also a fun project that you can do as a family.
Be as creative as you want, and have fun with your Vision Board!
It is beyond cool that Egyirba won the $25 cash, as she entered the blog contest a number of times, which gave her the highest probability of winning 😉 Egyirba blogged about the contest, and signed up for my newsletter, The Soulflower. She even stumbled one of my articles, which may have been the first time, but hopefully not the last, that that has happened!
Egyirba is also a creative artiste, so she will also get a feature in Rock Star Life Lessons next month, so stay tuned!
I want to thank everyone who also entered the blog contest, as I was worried that no one would. I learned a lot from this experience, and I look forward to holding more blog contests in the future – with bigger and better prizes!
When you want to record a “quick and dirty” holiday MP3 for your fans, the first thing you need to do is look at the means that are already and easily available to you. If you have the time, of course you can always write a song, and then upload it with whatever technology you have around you. If you have the creativity and the means to make a video like Space Zombie Christmas, knock yourself out! My HP laptop has a Sound Recorder option available in the Accessories section, so at the very least, I could record an a capella track if I wanted.
But I wanted to do something a little more than that, so I decided on getting a Karaoke track from iTunes for 99 cents. For weddings or other gigs where I had to use a background track, I used to go to Colony Records in NYC and buy an entire Karaoke CD for $30. Mind you, I would only need one instrumental track out of twenty,
which would be a bit of waste. Through a tip I learned from an opera singer, turns out that you can buy ONLY the track you want for $1.00 at iTunes. Very cool.
It’s also important for me to mention that these holiday tracks are for PROMO ONLY, and will not be for sale. That would be a violation of the copyright of the Karaoke Band’s recording, which is a BIG NO-NO! If I get any cease and desist letters, I’ll remove the songs with the quickness, so get your holiday MP3s now!
My first step was to choose the song. I started by entering “christmas karaoke” into the iTunes search.
Then I tried searching for specific songs, such as entering “12 days of christmas karaoke”
By checking the “popularity” column, I can get an idea of which karaoke tracks are the less cheesy ones. I also click to hear samples myself, to make sure that the particular version is in the right tempo and key. For these kinds of recordings, there are no vocal overdubs, so choose a song that you know particularly well (or practice the mess out of it!)
So I purchased “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from iTunes. To record the song, I played the song, using iTunes.
By placing a headphone mic between my voice and my laptop speakers, I experimented with the distances in order to get a decent live “mix” recorded by my laptop’s Sound Recorder.
After finally recording a take that I liked, I played it back in my iPod headphones. The track sounded okay, but it felt like something was missing, as if the song was stuck inside the track, and the holiday joy didn’t quite come across.
Then I remembered that I had purchased an iPod voice memo gadget ages ago, also known as the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo. I had yet to use it, but now seemed like a good opportunity to figure it out!
By adding this gadget to my iPod, I’m now a bit more dangerous!
Here’s my new and improved recording set-up
It took a few tries to get the recording together from a technical standpoint. I had to trigger iTunes to play the track with my right hand, and record the vocals using my left hand on the iPod. And I had to remember to click all the gadgets in the correct order.
This time I liked the live sound of the recording a lot. I sang a few more versions until I was finally satisfied enough to relieve my neighbors of the misery caused by hearing the same Christmas song over and over at 2am in the morning. Then I burned the track to a CD.
Since the CD contains a .WAV file, I then had to rip it into MP3 form. Since I still don’t know how to do that using a computer, I used my secret weapon: my standalone KLH CDR-2000 MP3 Recorder.
I placed the CD-Rom with the .WAV file on the left side, and a blank CD-Rom on the right side.
Then I clicked the buttons that convert the .wav file to into MP3: Voila! The MP3 is ready!
After the MP3 was burned to a CD-Rom, I then saved it to my hard drive, and uploaded it to my You Send It account so I could share it with you lovely people.
Like any good Rock Star, I blame this on my publicist.
As you may have heard, Ariel Hyatt is holding her first Holiday Fundraiser. So like a good girl, I set up my blog to support my fave charity, Songs of Love. And I think I’m all set, right? That is, until I get the email from Ariel, saying something to the effect of,
“Send me a holiday song so I can promote you!”
“Just like that, record a holiday song? Ha!” I think to myself. But when your publicist assigns a task like that, I know damn well that she is offering an opportunity here. And I love opportunities. So I challenged myself with the question: With little resources, how can I record a holiday promo song???? And this blog post was the answer. For those of you on Twitter who requested the specific how-to’s that I used, I hope these tips help you too! In all honesty, I’m flattered that you even asked 😉
I hate when musicians apologize onstage before they even start playing, so I will not apologize for any recording imperfections, glaring or otherwise. Enjoy my tracks for the love offered.
It has been a great year musically, but I’ve decided to skip a “Best of 2008 Music” list in favor of listing my personal list of “Best Indie Music Web Resources of 2008”. And as I’ve designated December 2008 for “The Great Give Back 2008”, I’m not limiting my list to a measly 10 either. All of the below sites have been a source of great information and/or inspiration for me this year, and I’m grateful to have found them online.
Rock Star Life Lessons’ “Best Indie Music Web Resources of 2008”
by Carla Lynne Hall
About.com Music Careers
Heather McDonald’s About.com Music Careers site covers the music industry topics that musicians need, from being a musician, contracts and publishing, industry careers and more. Heather is a music industry veteran, having tons of experience in indie labels, marketing and publicity. I’ll be featuring an interview with her later this month, and you’ll see why top-rated About.com has her running the Music Careers site.
Ariel Publicity’s Cyber PR Service
Ariel Hyatt and her team gets reviews and placements for her clients (Yes, I’m one of them!) on podcasts and internet radio, and is an amazing resource. Whether your musical style is rock, pop, or urban, check out the link to watch a demo video for her Cyber PR Service. If you’re more of the DIY type, then get her eBook Music Success in 9 Weeks, in which she shares her tips and secrets for building a buzz for your band. With the purchase of her eBook, you also get to join her private Cyber PR Mastermind forum for free. Since I happen to also be the forum manager, you’ll have TWO coaches, plus a supportive community of musicians joining you on the road to success.
Artists House has got to be my favorite industry music blog and Twitter partner this year. Every time I visit this site, I lose myself for hours in the sheer volume of great content. And if you’re following @artistshouse on Twitter, you are sure to learn about the latest trends that they find all over the internet. I’ve stopped trying to keep up with them. It’s best just to visit their site directly, and soak it all in. You won’t be sorry!
Bands need newsletters, right? Well Band Letter makes it easy for you by designing a customized html newsletter for you to send to your email list. In addition to enabling you to keep your fans up to date, you can also make your newsletter a mini-store for you and your band by including links to merchandise, and even your songs on iTunes. I had been trying to take my former snail mail newsletter online for a while this year, but I was constantly frustrated at my efforts at doing it myself. Finally, I signed up for this service, and designer Kevin Greenstein has made my life so much easier – and saved me from pulling out my hair. As much as we indie musicians love to do things ourselves, it’s also good to delegate. Thanks Band Letter!!!
Bob Baker’s The Buzz Factor Blog
Bob Baker has been THE VOICE of indie music promotion for as long as I can remember. Whether you read his Guerrilla Music Marketing or MySpace Music Marketing eBooks, or visit his blog, attend his events, or just listen to his advice, you will be blown away by the generosity of the information he shares.
Now that Derek Sivers has sold CD Baby to Disc Makers, he is still scratching his itch to help indie musicians. On his personal site, he shares his unique perspective of the indie music scene and indie musicians. His upcoming new project MuckWork, will “help you make a living with your music, by doing your uncreative dirty work for you, so you can focus on playing, writing, and improving.” Love that!
Hypebot is the first website that I found this year that used the term “Musician Middle Class” – what an empowering concept! This site features tons of articles and tips for the musicians who are serious about getting the job done.
Indie Band Survival Guide
Co-authors Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are lead members of Beatnik Turtle, a rock band based out of Chicago. They play live, have produced eighteen albums, written music for television, films, and comedy shows at Second City, and licensed music to ABC Family, all without a label. They’ve also created a website with TONS of resources for you to use. Oh, and they also published a book of the same name on St. Martin’s Griffin Publishing. Wow!
Kavit Haria is a tabla musician in London who also consults about the music business. He has a great mind for marketing and strategy, and I’ve enjoyed a number of his books, in addition to his blog this year. He is a huge proponent for musicians becoming music entrepreneurs – musopreneurs – and taking their power into their own hands. I’m also working with Kavit on an international musician project that you’ll be hearing about in 2009, and I can’t wait because it will be very tasty!
Know the Music Biz
I met David Rose this year through the Cyber PR Mastermind Group, and was amazed at the amount of information and articles on his site. You may have even read one of his articles here! To keep his blog fresh, he also includes many guest bloggers, and the marketing strategies he presents are effective and affordable.
Love him or hate him, Bob Lefsetz is always keeping it real during his rants on the music industry.
Madalyn Sklar’s Music Biz Blog
Also founder of GoGirls Music.com (Cuz Chicks Rock!), Madalyn offers her down to earth wisdom for indie musicians. If you ever meet her in person, she’s just like that for real. Love her!
How can I not include this blog that’s dedicated to the working musician? Here you can find out what to take with you on that cruise ship gig you just booked, as well as how to haul your gear on mass transit. This is also where I found Cameron Mizell’s article on selling original music on iTunes, which by itself was awesome!
New Music Strategies
Andrew Dubber is a gentleman, scholar, and a DJ. Ian Wallman from Output production call’s New Music Strategies a “site that both informs and stimulates ‘fresh & forward thinking’ about an industry that’s in its greatest period of change since the introduction of the wax cylinder”. Need I say more?
I love Reverb Nation for the TOYS!!! This site has all the free coolest widgets, fan sign ups, and band newsletter templates to keep you busy for a long time. And did I mention that it’s FREE?
Sound Music, Sound Money
I really love where Doug Ross is coming from. As a full-time musician for 20 years (without getting famous or going broke!), he shares what he knows about personal finance, so we can learn how to keep – and grow – what we earn.
Thirty Day Challenge
In August of this year, I joined thousands of people worldwide to participate in the 4th Annual Thirty Day Challenge. Led by Ed Dale, the Australian guitarist turned internet marketer, we all learned the basics of niche marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). I practiced my new tricks on test blogs, and have been tweaking Rock Star Life Lessons ever since. This was also free, so there was no charge for the awesomeness!
Tone Box Digital
Can’t forget to mention Tone Box Digital, the online music label that’s going against the big dogs for WIRED.com’s Small Business Contest. Run by Jason Bradford, this digital label is founded on the idea that the artist always makes the most money. Tell me THAT’s not a new music business model!! Check out the contest, and Vote for Tone Box Digital while you’re at it! 😉
Ah, what else can I say about Twitter? For one thing, if you’re reading this blog post, there’s a damn good chance that you heard about it via Twitter, so that’s a good reason for a plug right there. If you are a musician, and you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out. Nuff said!
December is The Great Give Back 2008 here at Rock Star Life Lessons, and I’m supporting a few fun initiatives:
My First Blog Contest
You still have until December 18th to enter to win $25 cool cash! It might not sound like a lot now, but it will surely come in handy for the person who gets it via PayPal on December 19th! It’s a token of my gratitude for all the readers who have supported my first year at this URL, also known as my new “home on the web”.
My Songs of Love Foundation Fundraiser
Ariel Hyatt Publicity is sponsoring it’s first holiday fundraiser, and I’m very excited to raise money for The Songs of Love Foundation, an organization that I’ve worked with for a few years. Songs of Love provides personalized songs for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, providing the medicine of music.
Tone Box Digital’s Bid to Win WIRED.com’s Small Business Contest
Jason Bradford who runs Tone Box Digital says that I’m the loudest person to make a push for his company to win this contest. It’s probably true, but I truly believe in what he’s doing for indie musicians. You have until December 31st, and it just takes a click!
Tone Box Digital, the online music label run by Jason Bradford, has made it to the TOP 5 finalists of WIRED Magazine’s Small Business Contest, and I want to help him WIN.
In my opinion Jason’s nomination is awesome for a couple of reasons: A) Tone Box Digital is the only music company listed, and B) Tone Box Digital is the “smallest” company of the five finalists. While it’s an honor for Tone Box to even be nominated, I would like to help him win the whole enchilada. By rallying the die-hard indie music fans, I know we can do this.
1. A win for Tone Box Digital would not just be for him alone, but for any indie artist that dares to go up against a major label artist.
2. Tone Box Digital is a company that helps indie artists market and sell their music, and if he wins, indie artists will also win because it is further proof that indie musicians can make a living from their music.
3. PLUS, it would just be really cool!
I recently interviewed Jason, who’s also a musician, and l was impressed with his mission to empower the artists on his label, Tone Box Digital. If you believe in indie music, please go to Wired.com’s Small Biz contest page and vote for Tone Box Digital. It only takes a click. Voting ends December 31, 2008 at 12:00am.
ALSO – Jason has also started a group on Facebook for the fans of Tone Box Digital. If 200 voters join his group, he will give away a $30 gift card to a lucky winner! Says Jason:
Here’s The Deal:
I’ll be selecting one random winner to receive a $30 gift card from Amazon, iTunes or Starbucks– Your Choice!!! All you have to do is tell me where you posted the info! Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, your blog, your website— that’s it! Just pass it on!!!
Use the wall to tell me where you posted it and you are entered to win!!!
If you believe in indie music, vote for Tone Box Digital by December 31st, and help empower indie musicians everywhere!
To learn more about Jason Bradford and Tone Box Digital, read the Rock Star Life Lessons interview!
I recently interviewed Jason Bradford, musician and owner of Tone Box Digital, an online music label, and l was impressed with his mission to empower his artists.
Indie Artists, Musicians, Bands, please go to Wired.com’s Small Biz contest page and vote for Tone Box Digital. It only takes a click. Voting ends December 31, 2008 at 12:00am.
Rock Star Life Lessons Interview with Jason Bradford, owner of Tone Box Digital
by Carla Lynne Hall
Rock Star Life Lessons:You recently received attention from Wired Magazine for Tonebox Digital, your indie record label/distribution service. What is that about, and what was it like to be recognized for that?
Jason Bradford: This is actually going on right now. Wired.com started a small business section on their website and to launch it they began the search for new businesses that would line up with the Wired mentality. We were chosen in the top five and I was flown to NY to do an video interview, which is live on their site right now. Now it’s up to the public to determine which of the five should win the program. It’s been amazing. I know there are many labels big and small who are trying to find there way in this industry and for Wired to recognize our business model and plan as a good one is truly amazing. (Tone Box is also the underdog in this program. We’ve never had backers or investors so it’s all come out of my pocket– small pocket! The other four are pretty well funded and have some great ideas, good company to be in.)
RSLL: How does Tonebox Digital differ from the old school music business model?
JB: Our model is pretty simple. We make sure that no matter what, the artists makes more money than anyone in the chain (the chain consists of artist/label/distributor/service). We partner with artists and get them placement in all the major online sales outlets then help them connect with bloggers, social media sites, music review sites, podcasters and any other outlet we can manage to find.
We also do everything online. We do not print physical CDs nor to we promote to traditional radio…However, our artists may do these things on their own and we advise/consult on placement but normally do not go that route unless we have a proven artist/music piece to work with. The word “label” can be misleading because I feel like we are more of a partner to the artists and what they are trying to do.
RSLL: How did you decide to start a label?
JB: I had dreams of running a major label one day… I went to school and got a Music Business degree and knew that I would work at a label one day. The funny thing is that I never worked at a label besides my own. I’ve been told that’s a bad thing because I “needed” that experience but I can tell you that I’m glad I didn’t. It’s been fun building my own thought process of what the music business should look like and I know that I haven’t fallen into any traps that the traditional or big labels would have “taught” me.
I’ve had opportunities to work at some big labels but the timing was never right. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there now, with the shift in our digital world I think some new thinkers and idea shakers could do a lot of good at a major label… who knows, I may end up there one day or I may not! 🙂
RSLL:Why did you decide to go digital?
JB: It was simple for me. I was an early adopter for buying music online and knew that there had to be a way to get indie artists out there. This was in the early 2000’s… by 2003 I was prepping Tone Box and by 2004 one of my artists had spent over $100K trying the traditional model (photo shoots, lots of CDs, clothes, video, radio promotion). It wasn’t fun- even though he had backers, I wanted it to work! I immediately started thinking there has to be a better way. I started working with another band and we spent less the $5K on the record put it out digitally and starting making money right away. They went on to sign a bigger deal but had the credibility from the stuff I did with them. That was two different artists with two different approaches and you see which one worked. I’ve been full on digital since then.
If you believe in indie music, vote for Tone Box Digital by December 31st, and help empower indie musicians everywhere!
Thanks to a tip from Pitchfork (via Artists House), I learned about Oregon’s Glass Caster Union offering up its second year of indie rock themed holiday ornaments, featuring bands like Built to Spill, Bright Eyes, and Iron and Wine.
I found this to be a cool idea that any band can use to treat their fans to a special treat during the holiday season. While you don’t have to use glass like the Glass Casters Union, you can use other materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments for your fans.
Band Holiday Ornament How-to’s:
* With a digital camera, take holiday photos of your band: the goofier the better 😉
* Cut into holiday shapes (Christmas trees, stars, dreidels, etc)
* Laminate or place photo within full sheet clear Avery labels.
* Cut away extra plastic
* Punch hole at the top, and string ribbon or yarn through the hole for hanging
While you’re taking those holiday band photos, also consider sending band holiday cards, thanks to this tip from Christopher Penn
There are places online – tons – where prints are 8 cents per print for 4×6 prints. I don’t mean the gimmicky holiday cards, just straight photo prints that you can write on the back of.
If you take the photos yourself, you’re making a custom gift with personal involvement AND saving a ton of money over regular holiday cards. Use free photo editing software like Photoshop Express (understanding that there are intellectual property issues with it, like giving up some rights, but for holiday cards, who cares?) and make some cheap yet thoughtful holiday greetings.
I’m going to try my hand at holiday ornaments this year, and I’d love to see pics of any bands out there who make their own holiday ornaments or greeting cards. Send pics to moxiemaven64 [AT] gmail [DOT] com, and I’ll post them on the site!
For my second song written for Songs of Love, I paired up again with Carl Allocco to write this tune for Prince Ali, “an amazing 7 year old boy”. This song also became another singalong at Credit Suisse, an investment bank in New York City.