Four Smart Ways To Use Your Press Materials Better

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandescribes ways to improve usage of press materials in his latest article from Hypebot!

Most musicians know that songs, biographies, one-sheets, photographs, videos, press releases and interviews can all be used to help get gigs, blog reviews, radio play, endorsements, and so much more. But in what formats should these materials be submitted? Let’s review 4 possible options together with feedback from a few industry pros.

1. Physical Press Kit

This involves gathering your bio, press release, cover letter, business card, and CDs into an attractive two-pocket folder (such as one you customize using services like Vista Print), stuffing these items into a padded mailing envelope, and shipping them off via services like FedEX or The United States Postal Service.

Says Jeff Weber (Music Producer, Label Owner, and Author), “While I don’t care to receive anything other than the CD and a contact number, physical materials are the preferred method of delivery for me. A high quality CD allows me to evaluate the artist’s songs and performances in their purest form.”

Says Fred Croshal, former general Manager at Maverick Records and current Vice President and founder of Croshal Entertainment Group, “When I’m considering a band for management, I much more prefer to review and listen to materials that I can hold in my hands. It’s a more personal experience. “

2. Personal Website Link

This involves creating a customized destination on the web that includes music, videos, pictures, and bios, and then emailing a link (or links to different pages on your site) to your professional contacts.

Says Christian Stankee (Artist Relations for Sabian Cymbals), “I prefer an external link to the artist’s personal website. I want to see what the public sees. An artist’s site is a true tell of an artist’s ability to market their brand and to potentially market ours.”

Says Attorney Sindee (who helps license copyrights), “I also like an email with an external link to the band’s personal website. There’s no clutter on my desk or floor, it’s simple and easy to view, and I get a sense of what the fans and general public see of the band.”

Click here to read the rest!

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Max Mobley on WAAF!

Max Mobley, author of Rush FAQ, talks with Mike Hsu of WAAF about his book and Rush’s “R40 Live 40th Anniversary Tour”!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00110231Rush FAQ documents the amazing story of the world’s greatest Canadian prog rock power trio, from its origins in a church basement in Willowdale, Ontario, to its induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Covering 40 albums, 10 DVDs, thousands of mesmerizing live shows, and millions of rock’s most loyal fans, the story of Rush is as epic and unique as its music. Rush has been maligned by the press for decades, and misunderstood by a legion of mainstream rock fans and rock glitterati. And yet only the Beatles and Rolling Stones have earned more gold and platinum records. Few artists, if any, have been as influential as Rush’s three virtuoso – bassist-keyboardist-vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer-lyricist Neil Peart.

Rush’s focus has always been about its muse and its music. As such, Rush FAQ studies the evolution of the band’s sound, from the early days of Zeppelin-esque blues-rock to complex, synth-laden opuses to the return of concept-album bombast with the critically acclaimed Clockwork Angels.

With wit, humor, and authority, music industry veteran and unabashed Rush geek Max Mobley examines the music, gear, personalities, and trials and tribulations of one of rock and roll’s truly legendary acts. It is a story Rush fans will treasure and rock and roll fans will admire.

“Shout It Out Loud” Trailer

Coming soon in Fall 2015 from Backbeat Books 

Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

7 Uncommon Music Career Investments That Are Surprisingly Smart

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandetails smart music career investments in his latest article from SonicBids!

Most indie artists don’t have a lot of money in the bank, so if you’re going to spend your valuable savings or that money you raised crowdfunding, you’re obviously going to want to make sure it’s a wise investment. Outside of the typical things musicians have to shell out cash for, though (quality gear, recording, mercy, publicity — you know the drill), there are many less obvious investments you can make to enhance your music career. From hiring a songwriting consultant to getting a dedicated sound tech for your live performances, here are seven smart ways to invest your money that you might not have thought of — assuming you’ve saved up the money to spend, of course!

1. Songwriting consultant

Just because you can play your guitar doesn’t mean you can write a well-crafted song. Songwriting is a skill all its own that takes years of practice to perfect. A seasoned songwriting consultant can offer objective advice about your songs adn improve them significantly. It makes no sense to spend zero dollars on the most important aspect of your music career — your songs — and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars recording and promoting your music. People like Robin Frederick and James Blume are just two people off the top of my head who may be available to work with you in person or via the internet. Check them out.

[How to Write Songs That Get Stuck in People’s Heads]

2. Focus groups

Some of the most important people related to the success of your career are the very people to whom you are trying to appeal: your fans. Yet, it surprises me how most bands don’t spend the time or money to conduct research and get feedback from them. By rounding up two groups of 30 people, inviting them to your rehearsal studio, serving pizza and drinks, performing sets of your music, and having your fans discuss/rate your songs (or sound, stage presence, look, etc.), you’ll gather some crucially important information that can help save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

My band did this when we were planning our next recording project, and it worked great. We played 15 of our songs and let the fans pick the six compositions they wanted on our record. After all, if it’s the fans who you’re trying to satisfy with your music, doesn’t it make sense to see what they think before spending thousands recording your EP or album?

3. Photographer

Anyone with a camera phone in their bedroom can think they’re a photographer. While camera phones are quite impressive these days, an experienced pro who has access to amazing locations, knows how to arrange a shot, understands proper lighting, knows about hair and makeup, and understands fashion can give your band the real visual edge it needs. Look, if they say that a picture is really worth a thousand words, and you agree with this statement, then why not spend at least that much in getting some really professional photos done? Your brand depends on it.

[Photo Shoot Essentials for Musicians]

4. Graphic designer

Your band’s logo serves as the stamp of your brand. It’s what’s put on your drummer’s bass drum heads, your banners, your road cases, your mercy, and — you never know — it could even become your tattoos. While you might feel fairly confident playing around with Adobe Photoshop yourself, an experienced pro can really make a difference. Hire someone who has an outstanding portfolio of band logos and several years of experience to back it up. Remember, you want to have a badass logo that can become part of that badass T-shirt that people will gladly be willing to pay $15 to take home. So let the pros do your logo and design.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

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Hal Leonard Books Presents Unlocking Creativity

Unlocking Creativity: A Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art is now available! Below, Michael Beinhorn provides an introduction to what his new book contains!

00122314I am utterly and thoroughly chuffed, thrilled and delighted to officially announce the release of my book “Unlocking Creativity” this month by the very lovely people at Hal Leonard.

Since it is subtitled “A Record Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art” (and was written by someone who has been known to produce records—me), you might well suspect this is a book about record production (and, in many respects, you’d be right). However, instead of framing record production in the context of recording equipment and recording technique (as other books have done), this book attempts to define it relative to the principles, consciousness and intent behind the process.

It also addresses interpersonal interactions in creative situations, some of the psychology and methodology associated with those interactions and a bit of philosophy regarding the creative process in general.

One goal of this book is to conceptually reframe record production as a vehicle for creative expression and not merely as a technical function or as an occupational choice. Viewed in this context, record production (and music creation or any art form) can be seen as mere exterior shells- vessels that the creative process manifests itself through (and mediums that a creative person can- and must- use to the fullest).
My greatest aspiration is that someone who reads this book will be inspired- not merely to make record production (or any artistic endeavor) their job, but to make it their life- to embrace it, excel at it and to find the absolute joy in it. in that case, the book will have done its job and the title will then be self-explanatory. 

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciangives advice for recent music college graduates in his latest article from SonicBids!

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Probably the scariest thing about going to music school to become a more competent musician is graduating and having to find a paying gig. The pressure is on to start repaying those student loans and prove to your friends and family that you haven’t wasted the last four years of your life. While there are no surefire tips to take you from being a student to a celebrity, these seven invaluable tips will help set you and keep you on course for many years to come. Pay attention.

1. Locate yourself in the most opportune city to succeed

New technologies have made it more possible than ever for you to get discovered from virtually any part of the world. However, big cities are where the action is 24/7, and living in or near one is more likely to lead to networking opportunities and big auditions unavailable in small towns.

Research the city that makes the most sense to you given your goals, and then plan out a short visit. Utilize your school’s resources (such as the alumni outreach department) to get a few numbers of people who may be willing to meet up with you and provide some advice. Attend jam sessions. Visit the local musicians’ unions. Thoroughly check out the scene. Just don’t rush your decision. Once you move to a new city for your career, you should prepare to stay there and put in the work for several years.

[Top 10 Cities in North America Whose Music Scenes are Exploding Right Now]

2. Prepare for the long haul by becoming financially sound

Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, or somewhere else, there are countless stories about people who move to the big city and give themselves six months to “make it” while living on their friends’ couches. Needless to say, that’s a completely unrealistic plan.

Be prepared — both financially and mentally — to spend several years pursuing your goals. Look for work immediately to help cover your basic expenses and settle in by joining a local songwriters’ organization or networking group that will bring you a sense of belonging. Just remember that success won’t happen overnight, so be prepared for the long haul.

3. Bridge long-term goals with short-term goals

While finding work to meet expenses is crucial, stay as close to the music business as you can. Look for music-related opportunities such as private instruction, music transcription for educational books, equipment sales, equipment repair, or even stage production.

Who would have ever thought that one of my buddies would end up with a huge touring gig by setting up and moving equipment for SIR studios in Los Angeles? A band was holding auditions there one night and his boss and the music director were cool with him giving it a shot. He nailed the audition and his career took off from there. Moving gear wasn’t fun, but it paid off.

4. Don’t lose touch with your college friends

Remember that the majority of the work you do will be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The genuine relationships you form today can lead to the gigs of tomorrow.

After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I got hired to play weddings by my former teachers with whom I kept in touch. Within one year, I got hired onto my first pro session in New York City by two college buddies that I contacted all the time — this gig led to joining a band on Atlantic Records. Bingo! I was in!

Today, I run into friends from school all the time who are playing with some of the biggest rock groups and working on the biggest films. We still all help each other out in small ways. Remember that connections are one of the biggest reasons why people invest in school.

To read the rest of the article, click here!

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Morrissey is Officially on Tour!

Morrissey’s US tour has officially begun! If you’re a fan of Morrissey, hurry and get your tickets! And also, pick up a copy of D. McKinney’s new book Morrissey FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About This Charming ManFor now, please enjoy the following excerpt from the book:

Introduction

From Metalhead to Mega-Wuss: How I Became a Fan of the Great and Powerful Moz

You obviously know who my favorite performer is. But guess who is my second favorite?
KISS.
And my third favorite?
Alice Cooper.
Sparks and Devo are my other two favorite bands, so I’m not THAT cheesy.

But still—people always give me a strange look after I am asked about my favorite bands. Morrissey and Gene Simmons have absolutely ZERO in common: Moz likes veg, Gene likes vag. Both of them do have sideburns, so I guess that counts. So what made me go from “Detroit Rock City” to “My Life Is So Shitty”?

I credit my love of music to two things, the first being that I was fortunate enough to have young parents. There was always music in our apartment (and lots of weed). My mom was into Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper. My dad liked a lot of southern rock, white-boy blues, and Loverboy. Both of them liked oldies and soul music, so being the oldest and only child (at that point), I liked what they liked. I remember someone asking me what my favorite record was, and I had two—Private Eyes by Darryl Hall and John Oates, and Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (which are still two of my favorite albums). I never got totally into Frank Zappa or Loverboy, but it would have happened eventually if it were not for the second thing that turned me into a musical genius. 

MTV.

Oh yes, the glory days of MTV. Dee Snider versus Neidermeyer, Pat Benatar pretending to be a teenage runaway, and Madonna’s floppy “Borderline” hat with the bow—it did not get any better than that. The older I got (and the older MTV got), the more I started to lean toward the metal side of things. I still listened to all types of music, but as soon as I was welcomed to the jungle by Guns N’ Roses, it was on. Big hair, tight pants, and falsettos became my favorite. It did not help that I was starting to go through puberty, so besides being attracted to thundering drums and hot guitar licks, I was also attracted to thundering bums and hot guitar d . . . well, you know what I mean. I even stayed loyal to the “metal cause” through the grunge years, although I did like Alice in Chains because they were a little harder than the other Seattle bands.

I admit it, I got a little lost in high school. That is because metal kind of died on me. Grunge broke its legs, alternative stomped its head, and hiphop peed all over it. But that was okay, because like every other teenager, I discovered punk rock. Even my taste in punk rock was tainted by metal—my favorite band was the Misfits, which led me to Samhain, which then led me to Danzig. Man, I loved me some Glenn Danzig. He was going to be my future hairy husband. After punk, my tastes started to broaden again in the absence of metal. I started listening to goth music and industrial while revisiting my ’80s MTV favorites. And it was during this time that I fell in love with my other future hairy husband. 

I can tell you exactly when and how it happened.

I was hanging out at my friend Mark’s house. It was the usual gang of idiots and the usual Saturday night filled with cigarette smoke, cheap rum, and Jack in the Box tacos. Because I did not smoke and I did not want to listen to the Melvins, I was sitting on the couch in the living room watching 120 Minutes  while everyone else was in the dining room with the turntable. 

It was the usual college music crap fest: Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, and lots of PJ Harvey.

And then they showed “Tomorrow” by Morrissey.

 At first I rolled my eyes and was all “whatever” about it. But I continued to watch. I watched him slink around France in black and white. I watched him pout at me, asking me about “the one thing that I’ll never do.” And when he demanded “tell me that you love me” with that sly crooked smile, I was hooked like a vegan fish.

At first I was embarrassed by my Morrissey crush. I was “punk rock” and madly in love with Glenn Danzig at the time—no way could I let anyone know that I preferred sensitive sideburns now. Plus, I still was not all that crazy about his music. I had tried to listen to the Smiths in the past, and I just could not get into it. I liked “How Soon Is Now?,” but EVERYONE likes “How Soon Is Now?” And forget about even listening to his solo stuff—my friend Mark poisoned me by playing “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” to show me how dumb Morrissey was: “You’re right,” I said, “that song is pretty fucking stupid. Let’s listen to ‘Walk Among Us.’”

But after that, I would feast my twenty eyes on Morrissey’s hairless chest and pompadour. I borrowed Your Arsenal  from a friend and loved it. It was surprisingly harder than I expected it to be, and it encouraged me to check out more of his stuff. Surprise! Most of it was pretty hard, and I loved how the slow jams were over the top. Soon after, I found myself giving up the devil lock and accepting the pompadour poof into my life.

I was now a member of the Church of Morrissey.

Whenever I meet people and Morrissey comes up in the conversation, I find that there are two kinds of people: Morrissey Lovers and Morrissey Haters. I am totally understanding and tolerant of other people’s tastes, and I usually don’t get mad when people disagree with me—as a record collector, there is nothing I like more than having a conversation with others about music. But when people tell me that they hate Morrissey, and I ask them why, they can never give me a good reason. It is always:

• He is stupid.

• He is whiny.

• He is all gloom and doom.

• He is still stupid.

I never get a good reason because there is not a good reason to not like Morrissey. They realize they can’t hate on someone who writes witty and insightful lyrics. They can’t hate on someone who was a great front man—Morrissey brought just the right amount of mystery, sexiness, and audience interaction. They can’t hate on someone who wants some privacy. And how can you hate someone who wants to save the animals? You can’t, so that is why I get barraged with lame arguments, insults, and jokes about my Morrissey love. But the joke is really on them—after all, if you have such passionate feelings (both negative and positive) about someone or something, then it is obviously affecting you more than you would like to admit.

Like him or not, Morrissey has an effect on pretty much everyone. 

But don’t think for a minute that I am a blind worshipper. I fully believe that the only true fans are real fans, and to be real, you have to remain truthful. I love me some Morrissey, but there are songs that I do not like. He has said stuff that I do not agree with. And there have been times when I just shake my head and roll my eyes. I have met other Morrissey fans who blindly love everything he does and have gotten belligerent if anyone says anything negative. I always point out that underneath all of the hair and satin shirts, he is a normal person like you and me. And then I out-asshole them and remind them that he is human and needs to be loved—just like everybody else does!

So now let’s talk about love. 

Why do I love Morrissey? I think the one thing I love the most about Morrissey is the “drama.” I love the mugging, the curling up in a fetal position on stage, the brooding, and the microphone cord whipping. I love the songs where he is mock crying, mock angry, or mock in love. I love the moaning and groaning and the yelping. I liken him to menopause: sometimes he gets you hot, sometimes he gets you depressed, and he changes your life forever.

I hear a lot of Morrissey fans speak about why they love Morrissey, and usually their #1 reason is “I can relate to him.”

Well, I guess that works for some people, but not for me. I am sorry, but I cannot (and could not) relate to Morrissey—I did not grow up in gloomy, dreary, working-class Manchester; I did not feel like an outsider; I am capable of loving someone other than myself; and I prefer cardigans to pullover sweaters. Yeah, we both buried ourselves in music and literature, but other than that, we really have nothing in common. After a long time thinking about what my deep-rooted reason is that I love Morrissey, it suddenly came to me.

I love Morrissey not because I can relate to him, but because he was there for me.

I have loved Morrissey literally for most of my adult life, and he has been the one solid constant thing throughout. Always there with a great album, always there to be judgmental of my meat consumption, and always there when I needed a laugh (or a well-deserved snicker). I knew that if I wanted to feel better or to tune out life, I could just turn on Morrissey.

Morrissey and the Smiths in general proved that you can really just be yourself when it came to music. Sure, they promoted the consumption of flowers during the early years, but other than that—no gimmicks, no bullshit. They brought a new and fresh sound to listeners and paved the way for indie bands to become indie bands. Morrissey also proved with his lyrics that no matter how tragic life was, you had to see the humor in it—because as Morrissey has proven for many people, humor is the only thing that can keep a person going in life.

Morrissey FAQ will look at and explain how a shy and quiet introvert became the hero to millions just like him. Because of the worldwide fan base, fans and information regarding Morrissey are widespread— Morrissey FAQ will provide a complete volume of everything a new fan or old vet needs to know about Morrissey.

I want you to think for a minute: Have you ever met people who have admitted that the Beatles saved their life? That Elvis Presley knew how they felt about getting bullied in high school? Not that the Beatles and Elvis aren’t just as important as Morrissey, but they’re just not as real as Morrissey. Real people have emotions and real people are very much human in nature, and that is why real people can relate to pretty much anyone. And Morrissey is very much real to a lot of people.

Other than the Beatles or Elvis Presley, I cannot think of anyone else but Morrissey who evokes such a crazed and passionate following. From the sweaty dudes who climb up onto the stage to hug him to the legions of fans lined up for his autograph, we are there for Morrissey because he has been there for us. And he represents us: the misunderstood loners, the sexually repressed, and the sardonic chubby people like myself. And although I could not relate to his life, Morrissey represented mine: all of my trials and tribulations, loves current and lost, and late nights lamenting about life.

I have said it once and I will say it again: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is the “Free Bird” of my generation. 

I have evened out my musical tastes again, liking a little bit of everything (except Zappa). I am at peace with my eccentric tastes—Black Flag sounds great next to Bell Biv DeVoe on a playlist, and I love to get into conversations with fellow music nerds about Duran Duran stealing everything from Japan (I am talking about you, Nick Rhodes!). Writing Morrissey FAQ was quite an adventure for me: I continued to work full time while writing in my spare time, I had two major surgeries, and I dealt with an abnormal number of ups and downs. But the one person who was there for me throughout it all was Morrissey.

My boyfriend was also there for me, but he doesn’t have the cool sideburns.

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