5 Easy-to-Avoid Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Becoming a Master Musician

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandescribes mistakes to avoid in the quest to become a master musician in his latest article from SonicBids!

5 Easy-to-Avoid Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Becoming a Master Musician

Master musicians are those who possess exceptional control, knowledge, and understanding of their craft. They wow audiences with every performance and bring packed houses to tears, they write and produce songs that become the soundtracks to fans’ lives, and they survive (and sometimes make fortunes) creating music for many decades. Does this sound like the level of success they you’d like to achieve – or get close to achieving? If yes, then be aware of these five easy-to-avoid mistakes that might be holding you back from your full potential.

1. Practicing your craft inconsistently

As Malcolm Gladwell eloquently states in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, anyone wanting to be a master at a craft must put in 10,000 hours of practice. While this is a no-brainer for most people, you’d be surprised at the number of musicians who don’t adhere to a regular practice schedule each day and treat rehearsals as if their life depended on them. I never missed a practice session, even if my family was on vacation or it was Christmas Day. In fact, I practiced consistently for over a decade, sometimes training up to 18 hours a day ’til my hands bled. For sure, consistency was one of the biggest reasons why I was able to get to a higher level of playing.

2. Not taking lessons

While there are many examples of musicians who excelled at their instruments without a teacher, there are countless more examples of musicians who never reached their full potential. A skilled music teacher can prevent young musicians from forming bad habits, train them to perform well in real-world situations, and so much more. Drummer Kenwood Dennard, who played with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sting, helped me to identify my musical strengths and excel at them. Kenwood even served as a mentor and inspired me to push forward when I was feeling low. Even better, he took me to jam sessions and introduced me to a variety of different pro musicians in New York City. While this was costly (around $75 per hour), most teachers (from local heroes to national pros) will agree to meeting with you monthly and/or to letting you attend group master classes where several other paying students help to minimize the overall costs. In any case, private instruction is priceless.

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Down the Rhodes Interview

Gerald McCauley is a fantastic musician. In this great Acting on Film interview with Del Weston and Mark Giardino, he talks about his new book, Down The Rhodes: The Fender Rhodes Story, music, famous players and his fight with leukemia. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Interview. More at aoffest.com


Huffington Post Interview with Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick

Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick, two of the authors of The Pensado Papers, had a great discussion about their book with Mike Ragogna of Huffington Post. Read the rest of the interview here!

Mike Ragogna: When did all this Pensado/Trawick bromance begin?

Herb Trawick: Oh God, about twenty-five years ago in the lobby of a studio when we were both aspiring kids from the south. Dave was from Atlanta by way of Florida, I was from Kentucky by way of Montreal. We came to L.A. to make our bones and ended up in the same studio lobby accidentally. We connected there and I had a chance about a month later when somebody called me for a referral–I had just met this white guy who worked on James Brown and I thought that was pretty cool. I hadn’t heard a note, but I referred him and he went over and did a job on a hip hop record and absolutely killed it and has been hot for thirty years and we’ve been friends for that long.

Mike Ragogna: You’ve released a book, The Pensado Papers that we’ll talk about, but first, how did the television show come about?

HT: Because of our friendship, we’ve always kept in touch. I was his first manager, but he and I have been amongst a small group of best friends for a long time. We were talking career stuff at the time, he was being managed by Roc Nation and Jay-Z, this was about five years ago. We were re-examining our careers and where we were going to go, we’d been blessed these last three years. In the middle of that, Dave had a brain incident that put him down for a little bit. He had a miraculous recovery and since we were talking careers, I tried to come up with something he could deal with from home, and deal with these prodigious, outsized talents that he has. By fate one of our friends worked at a digital network and heard about this idea I had for him to just stay at home. They sent an email and said, “We’d like to do this as a show.” They were putting out online television from this little broadcast studio. We only did it because in Dave’s case he didn’t necessarily want to spend the money to capture the contents of the idea that I had for him to stay at home, so I said, “Well, let me cut a deal, we’ll go over here, this will last maybe three months and we’ll be able to cut some content and we’ll be able to get it started and everybody will be happy and you won’t have to write a check.” Three months is now five years, two hundred episodes, a hundred and eighty seven countries, a hundred and fifty school around the globe and it’s just turned into an amazing ride, an example of digital media and a huge platform that continues to grow every day. It’s the most amazing thing that either one of us have dealt with in our career.

Dave Pensado: And let me just add, there were several things that I found interesting from an insider/outsider perspective. One was that when Herb and I started we were just trying to be entertaining, but from the very beginning Herb was like, “Man, if I’m going to be involved it’s got to be good TV.” So we patterned the show originally after Charlie Rose. Every day Herb would give me broadcaster lessons, so I’ve grown to really enjoy the process of sitting in front of cameras and disseminating and sharing information. I want to give my partner full credit for insisting from the beginning that everything be done right. The business part was perfect, the financial elements were perfect, and first and foremost it was going to be quality television. I think that kind of helped separate us a little bit from the rest of the pack. We weren’t trying to make an interesting YouTube video, we were going for NBC. I know that sounds arrogant, and I’m not saying we’ve reached that yet, but that was probably the foundation upon which the show grew. Plus the fact that my friends and Herb’s friends in the industry really helped us out. All the top names in audio, engineers and producers and artists, just saw a value in it that early on I didn’t see. It really helped us get this thing to where it is today.


How to Have a Happy and Productive Career in Music

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandescribes how to have a happy and productive career in music in his latest article from Echoes!

These 17 tips can keep you focused in your quest to have a long and successful career in music.

Pursuing a career in music business is not easy nor is it for the thin skinned. In fact, with all the challenges one has to face to get noticed, it can actually be pretty darn depressing. It’s the time of year for lists and goals, so here are 17 ideas to help keep your spirits high and your focus sharp as you pursue new heights in your career in music!

1) Feed your brain. Keep expanding your knowledge of your craft and the music business and better yourself every day. It gives a feeling of growth and potential.

2) Focus on your craft. Put in your time, and be great. Write amazing songs and be amazing on stage. Always deliver quality and never cut any corners with the work that you do. As Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, “Be willing to put in your 10,000 hours.”

3) Give knowledge back. Volunteer, teach, and help others. It will give you a feeling of purpose and belonging.

4) Avoid negativity. Negativity is an extremely infectious disease, so try to limit or avoid people who are unhappy with their lives and careers, who have a false sense of entitlement, who are envious, and who try to manipulate and control. And stay away from the haters!

5) Know how to party. What I mean is, know when enough is enough, which could mean not at all. Restraint is power, and if you really want a career in music, you need to focus when it’s time to do your job!

6) Be healthy, eat healthy. The way you feel directly affects your mood, so eat healthy, be healthy, and find ways to be good to yourself.

Read the rest of the article here!


Listen: The Jazz Spotlight with Bobby Borg

The Jazz Spotlight host Yannick Ilunga chats with Bobby Borg about his book, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician.

>>Listen Here<<

00124611Written by a professional musician for other musicians, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. It’s the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain marketing.

This book is the culmination of the author’s 25 years in the trenches as a musician and entrepreneur, and over a decade in academic and practical research involving thousands of independent artists and marketing experts from around the world. The goal is to help musical artists take control of their own destiny, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters – and music that gets heard!

Audiofanzine Interview with Mixerman

Mixerman, author of Zen and the Art of RecordingZen and the Art of Mixing, and Zen and the Art of Producing, had a great discussion with Mike Levine of Audiofanzine. Read the rest of the interview here!

Audiofanzine: You talked a lot about recording drums in the book, including the concept of “top down” drum recording. Can you explain what you mean by that?

00333246Well, for a lot of people, the first thing they’ll go for is the kick drum and then the snare drum, and they’ll make those sound fantastic on their own, without any thought about how the entire thing works. Even I used to do that. And then I realized, “Why do I do that when 90% of the information is on the overheads and the rooms [room mics]. I probably accidentally had my overheads in some fabulous spot when I had that “ah ha” moment. I then I realized that. The top down method keeps you from getting in trouble, because your close mics work in relation to the overheads.

Audiofanzine: So when you’re tracking drums, you start by listening through the overheads and getting a good blend without listening to the other mics at first?

It’s the difference between getting all your drum tones and then miking your cymbals, rather than trying to mic00127033 the entire kit. Sometimes you do want to just mic the cymbals, like if you want a very, “in your face” kind of sound. Let’s say it’s a metal album, I know I’ll have an “in your face” kick and snare and the cymbals. I don’t necessarily want the whole aggregate of the kit, rather I’m just going to mic the cymbals. Which means I’ll have the mics lower to the cymbals, and try to put the kit together that way. With the aggregate method, however, I’m capturing the image of the kit, and then I’m filling in the missing information. I’m going to actually spend time getting those overheads so that my aggregate balance is the best it can be. If I have the mics up here, and I’m getting a ton of room information and I’m really not getting a good balance, I’m going to bring the mics down a little bit so that everything comes into focus to the point where if I had to live with just those two mics, I could do it.

Audiofanzine: So you just spend a lot of time trying to get the overhead sounding great, and then the other mics are icing on the cake.

Or the room mics — depending on the room. Sometimes the rooms give you the aggregate picture.

Audiofanzine: For people who have a limited amount of gear. What would you say is a good minimal kind of setup? I’ve had some luck with 4-mic setups, two overheads, kick and snare.

I would never use 3 or 4 mics on anyone but a great drummer. That only works if the drummer really has great balance. The greater the balance of the drummer, the less mics you need.

Audiofanzine: Because the drummer has good dynamics?

00123881Yeah. Because their dynamics are good, but more importantly because they play the instrument in balance. If I put two microphones over JR [studio drummer John Robinson] or over Matt Chamberlain — they’re perfectly in balance – you listen to them and you go, “Wow, that sounds really good like that.” You put it over a band drummer and you go, “I’ve got a big problem on the kick drum,” or “I’ve got a big problem on the snare drum.” And you start adding microphones and compressors and you’ve got to create a balance that he’s not capable of creating on his own at this point in his career.


5 Marketing Methods That All Musicians Who Want to Succeed Should Be Using

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandetails several helpful marketing methods for musicians in his latest article from SonicBids!


Execution is the art of getting things done. It involves adopting the right policies to help you close the gap between what you want to achieve and what you deliver. But many musicians fail to execute, and as a result, they never get to that next level of their careers. They create master plans to rule the world, but they fall short of seeing these plans through effectively. What a waste of time! As Ralph S. Larsen, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, said, “The best thought-out plans in the world are worthless if you can’t pull them off.” Here are five music marketing execution tips that can help get the results that you want.

1. Utilize reminder marketing techniques and multiple mediums

Many artists send out one marketing communication before their show (e.g., an email two or three weeks before), and expect their fans to remember to show up. The result: they experience poorly attended shows, which means unhappy promoters and missed opportunities. Look, you’ll get nowhere by believing that you’re at the top of your fans’ minds 24/7. To be successful, you must send out several notices spaced out evenly over two to three weeks before your gigs or releases, and use a variety of mediums (postcards, phone calls, face-to-face selling techniques, etc.) to get the job done right!

2. Be persistent (and nice) when you follow up

It takes a lot more than just one email to that blogger to review your music, or to that talent buyer to get a gig. Sometimes it even takes calling back at a specific date and time as requested by a certain contact. Tenacity and patience, in this regard, are extremely important! After sending off your initial correspondence (e-mail, tweet, or whatever), follow up in a week if the intended receiver hasn’t replied. Repeat this technique or attempt to use another means of communication (phone, letter, etc.) if necessary. Keep notes of your attempts in an Excel spreadsheet. And remember to always be nice in your correspondences. The world owes you nothing.

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