BandLink Helps Piece Together GRAMMY Dreams

As the GRAMMY Awards have come and gone for another year, many GRAMMY dreams are just beginning and BandLink is working to help piece those dreams together.

Many of you have followed us on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and even on Pinterest, but you still are not quite sure who or what BandLink is or does. BandLink is a new social networking platform for the music industry. Our site is fresh out of beta testing and is designed to help musicians, songwriters and music business professionals network to find other musicians to partner with in performing and songwriting. BandLink has already seen daily signups jump due to the demand for quality sites that facilitate musical networking for all levels of the industry.

One of BandLink’s co-founders, Rob Platek says that the ultimate goal of BandLink is to help local musicians network. “Since most of our team are musicians, we’re always looking for people to play and record with, and finding the right musicians to jam with can be quite a challenge.”

He continues, “We needed a way to search the musicians we didn’t know were in our area, but might just be the perfect fit for our projects. We created this tool we all can use to make new connections and help speed up the process of creating our bands.”

Platek describes how the service works, “Say you’re a guitarist starting a band and you’re missing players – you simply go and search drummers, bass players, singers, etc in your area and make connections. You can filter your search by music genre, favorite bands and distance. It’s easy.”

Anyone interested in becoming part of our growing network of musicians, songwriters and music industry professionals can sign up for a free account on the site.

Essential Apps for Musicians

Another Holiday season has come and gone and that means a new round of technology gifts were given and received. For musicians, these gifts can be a huge addition to your craft with the right apps. There are more music related apps out there than you can possibly download, and to be fair, most are apps that are geared for the casual musician or someone who aspires to be a musician. But what about the serious musician? Here’s our list of must have apps.

1. Cleartune - Bitcount ltd. $3.99 iTunes

Cleartune is a chromatic instrument tuner and pitch pipe that allows you to quickly and accurately tune your instrument using the built-in mic in your iPhone or using an external mic on your 2nd or 3rd generation iPod Touch.

Cleartune features a unique “note wheel” interface allowing you to quickly find your pitch, paired with a highly responsive fine-tuning meter for the perfect tune.

With support for custom temperaments, transposition, notations such as solfège, adjustable calibration and more, Cleartune packs more power than most pro tuners, yet is simple enough for everyone to use.

Cleartune can tune acoustic or electric guitar, bass, bowed strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, tympani, tablas and any other instrument that can sustain a tone.

Features:
- Note Wheel Display
- Ultra responsive 25 cent range fine tuning display
- Needle Damping option
- Precise to ±1/100 semitone (±1 cent)
- Selectable Temperaments
- Selectable Notations (such as Solfège)
- User-defined temperament and notations
- Support for transposing instruments
- Adjustable A4 calibration in 0.1 Hz increments
- Pitch Pipe/Tone generator
- Selectable tone waveform
- Automatic or manual note selection

2. FourTrack – Sonoma Wire Works $4.99 iTunes

For any musician on the go, FourTrack is perfect for you. FourTrack is  a multi-track audio recorder that allows you to record songs on the go. FourTrack is worth far more than the purchase price and you will be amazed at the recording ability: true 16-bit, 44.1 kHz quality. “I’m obsessed with this FourTrack recording app – a superpowerful studio in your pocket.” – Trey Anastasio

FourTrack Features:
• Multitrack recording: use bounce for more than 4 tracks
• 16 bit, 44.1 kHz recording quality
• Pan Control: move tracks from left to right
• Timeline: seek to anywhere in a song instantly
• Latency Compensation: accurate to within 1ms
• Compressor-Limiter: fattens sound of output mix
• Bounce: mix song to track 1 and 2 of a new song to record as many tracks as you want
• Metronome: select tempo by number or tapping. Record along with real drums, including beats by Jason McGerr (Death Cab for Cutie)
• Wi-Fi sync to a computer & import into any recording software
• Wi-Fi sync to RiffWorks T4 free recording software (Mac/Win) to add effects, mix to WAV or OGG, post to RiffWorld for an MP3, capture pain and gain settings and more
• MasterFX: sweeten the sound of your recordings with a compressor-limiter and a 4-band parametric EQ
• AudioPaste from compatible AudioCopy apps including InstantDrummer, DopplerPad and more
• File Import – Import audio into FourTrack by opening an audio email attachment or by dragging audio files into FourTrack’s FileImport area in iTunes. Supports .wav, .mp3 and .aiff formats. This feature requires iOS 4.0 and iTunes 9.2 or above
• Input Monitoring – Use FourTrack’s settings tool to enable/disable input monitoring. Input monitoring is enabled when a track is armed and in either Pause or Record mode. Playback of existing tracks overrides input monitoring. When input monitoring is on, sliders on armed tracks are enabled and control the monitor mix
• GuitarJack Control Panel – Adjust the input settings of the GuitarJack audio interface for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Select from 1/4″, stereo 1/8″ or both inputs simultaneously, and adjust input levels with 60 dB of analog gain control. GuitarJack can be used by most apps that do recording or playback. When a stereo mode is selected, tracks will arm in pairs (1&2 or 3&4). Record in stereo! Simultaneously record 2 inputs, like guitar and vocals.
• TaylorEQ – Sonoma Wire Works teamed with Taylor Guitars to create an input EQ for enhancing the FourTrack recordings of Taylor Guitars or any acoustic instrument. Select from a range of Taylor body styles in basic mode, or select the Advanced tab to adjust the 6 band parametric equalizer manually.

See FourTrack in action as The 88 records their song, The Making of Love Is The Thing, entirely on the app. Watch on YouTube

3. MySongbook (Chord Charts Manager) – SimonsApps $4.99 iTunes 

Take your entire songbook of chord charts wherever you’re going to be performing or practicing. Create setlists and switch between your songs with a quick swipe. You can also transpose your songs to the key you will be performing them in, as well as setting a capo position which will automatically transpose the chords for you. While there are other chord chart management apps, this one stands out to us because of the Nashville Number System adaptation.

Some Features:

  • Add unlimited songs
  •  Add guitar tablature
  • View Chord Diagrams – over 1000 chords included for guitar, bass, ukulele and banjo, plus you can add your own
  •  Nashville Numbering System support
  •  Import .txt files (look in the help section to find the format that these files should be    in before importing)
  •  Create setlists with unlimited songs
  •  Transpose your songs and set a capo position
  •  Easy song creation with ‘Chord Picker’
  •  Auto-scroll
  •  Tag songs for easily finding songs by style and topic
  •  Email PDF’s for printing and sharing
  •  Email MySongbook files, so other users can import directly to their app
  •  Optional Passcode Lock
  •  Night Mode Option
  •  Adjust the font to fit your needs
4. SongWriter HD Lite – SimonsApps Free iTunes
 Another great app from SimonsApps. SongWriter HD Lite is a simple, yet powerful solution for songwriting on the go. Recording your ideas and writing your lyrics and chords has never been so convenient. This app is the perfect companion to MySongbook.
Some features:

  • Write your lyrics for each section of your song (ie. verse, chorus).
  • Record audio for each section separately.
  • Use the ‘Chord Picker’ to easily insert chords.
  • Chords display above the lyrics when in display mode.
  • Add guitar tablature
  • View Chord Diagrams – over 1000 chords included for guitar, bass, ukulele and banjo, plus you can add your own
  • Nashville Numbering System support
  • Search for rhymes or synonyms to help find inspiration. (Highlight the word you wish to find a rhyme/synonym for, only highlight the word with no space before or after the word, then touch Rhymes or Synonyms from the menu that appears.)
  • Email your songs, with options to send PDF’s, Songwriter Files, or MySongbook Files.
  • Optional ‘Passcode Lock’ to protect your ideas from prying eyes
  • Backup/Restore powered by Dropbox
Since New Year’s is the time for making resolutions. Resolve to work smarter. With these apps, it won’t be a struggle to keep your resolution! Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

Treating Your Fans As Customers

 

There’s one thing that will kill a music career. It’s worse than a band breakup. It’s worse than realizing that the biggest show of your life is tomorrow and you suddenly end up with laryngitis. The one thing that can take you down quickly is called complacency.

Complacency can sneak in at any level of a music career and before long, your career begins a downward spiral. Complacency with practice. Complacency with songwriting. But being complacent in one specific area will send your career into a quicker decline than the others, and that is complacency with your fans.

Your fans are your customers. Whether you have realized it yet or not, your band (or yourself as a solo artist) is a brand and a business. Your fans are your customers. Just as in the “regular” business world, without customers a business fails. Without your fans, you fail.

Building positive relationships with your fans can be like pouring gas onto a fire. An energized fan has more power over your marketing than a six figure ad purchase in Billboard. Why? Because when a fan is behind your music, they are REALLY behind your music.

A recent Nielsen report details how important a positive fan relationship has become in today’s music scene. Here is one set of numbers that is highly important and should be considered:

Positive recommendations from a friend are most likely to influence purchase decisions

  • 54% are more likely to make a purchase based off a positive recommendation from a friend
  • 25% are more likely to make a purchase based off a music blog/chat rooms
  • 12% are more likely to make a purchase based off an endorsement from a brand
  • 8% of all respondents share music on social networking sites, while 6% upload music.

In business, there is a mantra that reflects how important a satisfied/happy customer is to the business. There are various numbers often used, but in general the average number of people a satisfied customer tells about their experience or the business is around 3-5.  Keep in mind, that is word of mouth. Social networking has the power to exponentially influence your brand in a positive (or negative) way.

As a new year is about to begin, if you have not placed a significant effort into creating highly satisfied fans, this should be one of your top new year’s resolutions. To see more info on the Nielsen report, click here. On behalf of everyone at BandLink, we want to thank you for a great 2012 and look forward to an even more exciting 2013! Happy New Year!

The Power of the Press Release

You have heard the old saying that any publicity is good publicity. It’s even better when it’s free publicity. Too often bands and musicians overlook one of the most powerful publicity tools available to them, the press release. While it’s true that there are services available like PRWeb that you can pay hundreds of dollars per release for distribution, with your due diligence and a little work online, you can create your own distribution list for free!

A well written press release can carry a lot of weight in helping to drive traffic to your website, announce a new CD or tour, or just about anything that you want to get into the media. Releases go out by the thousands each day, so you must do your homework and make your release that, upon review by media outlets, is viewed as a credible release and not something quickly thrown together and hastily emailed to a distribution list. A well written press release can quickly put you on the radar of media outlets, not just from your initial release, but for some time to come. Once the media begins taking notice of you on their own initiative as opposed to your flooding their in boxes with releases about your band, you have garnered something many musicians strive for but never achieve – the ear of the industry media.

As you prepare your distribution list, you need to be aware that many outlets have specific guidelines on how to submit, what to include and other pertinent information. Above all, don’t think these requirements do not apply to you. If anything, they apply to you more than anyone when trying to make that first impression with your release. The music industry can seem overwhelming and without borders, but when it comes down to specific industry media, it’s a small, small world. Word can spread quickly, both good and bad. Just as we have mentioned about the power of first impressions when trying to make industry contacts or book a gig, the same applies for your press release. You never get a second chance to make that first impression, so make the most of it. Make it count!

Coming up in our next blog post, we’ll take a look at what makes a press release work and what needs to be included in your release. Until next time…

 

 

Thanksgiving From A Musician’s Perspective

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is not exclusive to the US as other countries celebrate Thanksgiving on other various dates, but there is one constant theme: being thankful. As musicians, it can be a tough journey.

Sometimes we have to play gigs for free just to get our name out in the public. If you are totally honest with yourself, it’s hard to be thankful for opportunities like that. Other times, we work two or three jobs just to allow us to follow our dreams of playing music…and possibly, just possibly, making it to where music is our full time “job”. As your body tells you to slow down because three jobs is taking its toll, something keeps pushing you. Music. Yet again, it’s hard to be thankful as you clock out of one job and hit the road to clock into another.

Every year thousands make the journey with dreams of stardom to Nashville, Los Angeles, New York and other central music locations across the world and every year, thousands retrace their route back to where they came from only to give up on their musical dreams. For the most of us, music is a passion that we are thankful for being able to simply pick up an instrument and make music. Some of us have worked hard and still find ourselves on this side of breaking through to huge success. Most of us never will see the other side. But that’s okay. Music has power in our life. Music is our passion. Music is our life!

As we stop today to reflect on what we are thankful for, at BandLink, we are thankful for you. All of you musicians, songwriters and performers who tirelessly pick up your instruments and make music for the pure enjoyment of making music and performing for an audience. We encourage you to take some time today to count your blessings. Maybe as a child your parents made you start taking music lessons that you hated every second of every minute that you had to practice. Today, the end result is a musical ability that you would not trade for anything in the world. Be thankful for those days you hated because today you can be thankful for the musical abilities you have that enrich your life in ways you can really never fully put into words.

So as millions of people focus on sports today or planning out their Black Friday shopping strategy, be thankful that you have something many people can only dream of having…the ability to play and write music! From all of us at BandLink, Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Without music, life would be a mistake.  Friedrich Nietzsche

If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere musicThomas Carlyle 

A Christmas Carol: Is Your New Holiday Song Copyrighted or Public Domain?

Well, the calendar has changed over to November and now the holiday season is quickly approaching. The hustle and bustle of the season turns people’s playlists into merriment music. Radio stations across the world wipe the dust off holiday tunes for a constant month of carols and classic Christmas songs. It’s the perfect time to introduce the world to your band through music everyone knows and expects for the season. As you contemplate musical choices for the grand introduction, there’s a big Grinch you need to be aware of for your song choices: copyrights.

Copyright infringement can totally give you a Blue Christmas when the letter arrives in the mail alerting you that you have violated a copyright with your song choice. Believe it or not, just because many of those songs are as much of our holiday traditions as trees, lights and mistletoe, that does not mean those songs are free for your taking to help spread Christmas cheer. Many classic songs are public domain, but just to avoid a holiday fiasco, ensure the song you want to record was published in 1922 or earlier. Music and lyrics published in 1922 or earlier are in the public domain in the United States.

Here are some copyright basics that should help you avoid any infringement issues:

  • The creator of the original expression in a work is its author.
  • The author is also the owner of copyright unless there is a written agreement by which the author assigns the copyright to another person or entity, such as a publisher.
  • Copyright infringement happens when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.
  • A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection.
  • Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.

Hopefully this is just refresher info for you. If not, we hope that it helps you make wise choices in your song selections so that fans all over the world can enjoy your future holiday music in celebrations for years to come. Who knows? Your rendition of a holiday standard may become one of the new holiday classics that becomes as much of a holiday tradition as Santa and sleigh bells! Until next time…

Revisiting the Importance of Your Band’s Website

It seems that social media has dominated conversations over the last several years and many major companies, sports teams and musicians have been focused on pointing people to their social sites versus their website. Don’t get the idea that we are opposed to social because social is a highly important tool for your band’s marketing and promotion, but so is your website. Social sometimes becomes a detour for information that should find its home on your website.

After many bands form, they have a tendency to jump right on social and bypass a website all together. It’s still incredibly important to have a website. Wait, let’s rephrase that. It is imperative that you still have a website. Your social media presence should support your website presence, not skip it. So whether you are on a few social media sites or on a majority of the sites, here’s some thoughts on driving traffic back to your website.

Blog

Do you blog? Blogging has huge power to drive traffic to your website. If you don’t have a blog on your website, make that a priority. Also, if you are new to the idea of blogging on your website, you might be wondering what topics you can hit on that your fans would be interested in reading. Here’s a few thoughts to get your blogging adventure on its way:

  • Recording sessions
  • Upcoming album progress
  • Songwriting adventures
  • Personal experiences on the road

New Music Debut

Make your website THE go to place for your fans to hear your new music. Forget posting it first on the music social sites that you may belong. Besides, on social sites the significance of your new song debut may be lost with all the other distractions that those sites provide.

Merch

Every band knows the importance of merchandise to your band’s survival. Your fans might not be able to make a concert when you hit their town, but your fans still want to hit their town in your gear. Make it easy for them to buy your stuff! Use social to promote an item of the week or an item of the month that your fans will want.

Hopefully these three ideas put your brilliantly creative minds to work in thinking about your website. We would love to hear how you are using social to boost traffic on your band’s website. Post on our Facebook wall how your band is using social to grow your website! Until next time…

 

 

 

 

The Road to 2013: Summer Music Festivals

 

A Conversation with Dixie Fuller, Riverbend Festival

We continue our look at music festivals across the country with a stop over at the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga,Tennessee. Riverbend has been a regional festival for over thirty years and has perfected their approach to being a mainstay on the summer music festival scene. Before you hear any music during the nine day festival each June, Dixie Fuller is hard at work booking major acts and ensuring all logistics are in place before artists arrive at this water front festival.

As we continue our look, don’t forget that most festivals are beginning their look at artists now for their 2013 festivals. Our goal is to you insight behind the approach of festival booking staffs and to help you secure one of summer’s coveted gigs.

 

BandLink (BL) What’s your official title?

Dixie Fuller (DF) Production coordinator/talent buyer

BL: Describe your responsibilities with the festival.

DF: Contracting all aspects of stage production, buying all talent for those stages for 9 day run.

BL: What’s your musical background and what brought you to the festival?

DF: Having been a production guy all my life has made the production of Riverbend easier and made talent buying fun.

BL: What’s your process in booking bands for the festival? Small bands first? More well known bands first? Etc.

DF: Main stage first, then B stages.

BL: How many band submissions do you get in the booking process and how many do you ultimately book?

DF: Probably 350 submissions, actual booking number approx 96.

BL: What makes an unknown’s band press kit stand out to you?

DF: The appearance of the presentation is not as important as the CD or DVD in the kit.

BL: What’s an immediate turn off for you with a band applying to play?

DF: My first impression is the relationship between the bass player and the drummer. If rhythm section isn’t together, there is no show! Embarrassing!

BL: Have you run across bands who simply won’t take no for an answer?

DF: Yep, they normally will eventually get played—persistence pays with me.

BL: What advice do you have for bands as they begin the process of submitting their material to festivals all acrossNorth America for next summer?

DF: Start early, follow up with a phone call for stronger consideration.

BL: In closing, describe your festival’s target audience/how long in existence/etc.

DF: Festival is 31 years going on 32 for 2013 and we target all ages but lean on music lovers.

 

If you missed our first post in the series, you can find it here. Until next time…

Connecting With Your Fans

 The Benefits of Email Marketing – Part I

You want them. You need them. We’re talking about your fans. Without fans, who else will fuel your musical ambitions? You and your fans form a dynamic relationship. The relationship has to be maintained and like your other relationships in life, communication is vital. Social media is a great way to communicate, but are you missing one of the most efficient and effective forms of communicating with your fans? We’re talking about email marketing.

A study by ExactTarget shows that 77 percent of us want to get marketing messages via email. 77 percent! In fact, the second place in the survey is direct mail…at 9%! You will be surprised to know that social media ranks behind text messaging in preference, and it ranks in the low single digits. (See the full survey preferences here)

Social media is out of your hands. You control your own email list! You don’t have access to your fans email address on social media. The only connection you can make is by users connecting with you…and then it’s hit and miss on whether or not your fans see your updates or tweets. Think about that! You have big info to announce and your fans may never know about it because they were not logged in to the various social media options when you made the announcement.

Email is the game changer. You create an engaging newsletter with the big announcement and voila! Your fans have the announcement waiting in their email box without the distraction of sorting through hundreds of tweets or lost forever in Facebook’s timeline.

We’re going to look more at email marketing with the next few blog posts and if you are not currently leveraging email marketing in promoting your band, you’ll begin to see what you are missing. On top of building a great connection with your fans, you are also missing out on money. Yes, money. We’ll look more at that in the near future. Until next time…

The Road to 2013: Summer Music Festivals

A Conversation with Zak Pashak, Sled Island Music and Arts Festival

The curtain has closed on Summer 2012 but musicians all across the country still have summer on their mind. That’s Summer 2013. While several seasons still have to pass before thoughts turn to next Summer for the general public, musicians are planning now for next year’s festival scene.

While bands are dreaming big of filling festival slots at the likes of Bonnaroo, Coachella, Summerfest or SXSW, hundreds of other music festivals are looking for bands like yours to perform. Playing a music festival is a big opportunity for a band and has potential to expose your music to new listeners and future fans. If have ever played a festival, you know that getting a festival gig is highly competitive. Remember how important first impressions are for your band. While your gig at the festival may only be a 90 minute (or less) performance, the festival usually spends the better part (if not all) of the year preparing for the next year’s event. Festival organizers are serious about their jobs and expect the same from you.

Coming up over the next few months, we will be looking at different festivals and examining what it takes to secure a coveted festival time slot. Kicking off the series, we are taking a look at Sled Island, the annual music and arts festival in Calgary. The 2012 edition of the festival had a huge lineup that included Feist, The Hold Steady, Archers of Loaf, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Plant, Thurston Moore and many more! Check out the festival by visiting their website by clicking here.

Zak Pashak founded the festival in 2007. Recently we chatted with him about his involvement with the festival, what they are looking for in new bands, as well as general advice for bands on getting booked at music festivals.

BandLink (BL): What’s your official title?

Zak Pashak (ZP): Officially I am the founder, a board member, and the artistic director.

BL: Describe your responsibilities with the festival.

ZP:  I used to do a lot of the work for the festival, but a couple years ago I moved to anew city and since then have been doing my best to remove myself from most things.

Right now I help with gentle guidance on operations as much as possible. I work with our booker, and I work with the guest curators and book their bands. I also book some of the bands that fill in the gaps once we get closer to completing the schedule.

BL: What’s your process in booking bands for the festival? Small bands first? More well known bands first? etc.

ZP: The process for me was always pretty flexible. I found flexibility made it possible for me to make things work- to some degree I had to just let it happen and connect things where I could and make sure certain things were done. When you try to overly control the festival it breaks up a bit.

BL: How many band submissions do you get in the booking process and how many do you ultimately book?

ZP: I think we get just under 1000 a year these days. Ultimately there are anywhere between 250-350 bands that play depending on how many venues we are working with. About 150 come from the submissions and we approach and book the rest.

BL: What makes an unknown’s band press kit stand out to you?

ZP: I don’t review the press kits anymore, we have a panel of different people in the community who do review everything together. They listen as a group and decide on who should be booked. We try to get people from all kinds of different backgrounds who love music to sit on the panel. It’s all about the music- they don’t accept traditional press kits with stickers and paper and CDs (all that wasteful crap that we just throw away). We just work with electronic press kits- and usually the extra stuff other than just the music makes bands look desperate or silly. The best thing for us is something nice and clean with some clear info and at least a few great recordings.

BL: What’s an immediate turn off for you with a band applying to play?

ZP: A band with some cheesy, horribly written, way too wordy bio about how they formed. Many bands do this- like they think they are Metallica and people are going to care how they met each other.

BL: Have you run across bands who simply won’t take no for an answer?

ZP:  Yes. I used to book a lot of bands and work with a lot of other bookers. I would remember these bands, and not in a way that did them any favours. It’s a small world, and the small group of friends you might make, or the week of attention you might get for attacking a booker or acting like sociopaths is not worth it. I’ve noticed this in music- the bigger the band and the better they are doing usually directly translates to how nice they are. You can almost tell who from the smaller bands is going to do well because they stand out by how nice they are.

It amazing to see that these not very good, not very known bands are often the ones who act like a bunch of J-Los. And then the bigger bands are always nice and easy and never complain as long as you’ve lived up to your side of the deal (ie- made sure the sound was good, etc).

BL: What advice do you have for bands as they begin the process of submitting their material to festivals all across North America for next summer?

ZP: Don’t do the old school paper and plastic press kits (unless you’re dealing doing a casino tour, or trying to appeal to a very old booker). They are wasteful and have nothing to do with your music. Everyone can make a CD now- there is nothing impressive about having or sending a CD. Try to make a good recording and try to have excellent songs. Make it clear and hopefully something that gives the listener an idea what you sound like live. Describe your live show briefly (without overstating how awesome it is- just describe it). It’s about the steak- not the sizzle. Bookers get nothing but sizzle from way too many people. We like steak.